What ‘Fight Club’ Taught Me About Depression 

“Our generation has had no great war, no great depression. Our war is spiritual. Our depression is our lives.” – Chuck Palahniuk

Depression is often mistakenly described and understood as sadness triggered by a particular event or series of events in one’s life – usually traumatic.  Like many mental health disorders, chronic depression is commonly oversimplified in such a way that breeds the attitude that the afflicted are weak or too immature to accept the harsh realities of life in such a way to keep pressing on. In all actuality, it’s the attitude that one must keep pressing on that leaves many running away from their feelings leaving them anesthetized to not only life’s lows but also its highs.

Chuck Palahniuk wrote the book that inspired the cult-classic film starring Edward Norton, Brad Pitt and Helena Bonham Carter. Palahniuk offers a solution to those numbed by the patriarchal cadence of our society that rings out like a Rihanna and Drake song. He created something that the afflicted could quite literally feel: Fight Club. The metaphor not so subtly suggests the idea that one could be punched out of depression to regain their connection to the world and to their feelings that depression makes one so far removed from.

However extreme that may seem, if you’ve ever dealt with depression you could probably relate to the feeling of desperately needing to feel something— anything, so much so that a fight may not seem as ridiculous as the book and movie plays out. Our society’s attitude is to “suck it up,” whenever a feeling less than extreme happiness rolls around. It’s impossible to expect one to be happy all of the time and I, for one, don’t find it fulfilling. That’s like watching the sun rise and set in black and white, there’s such a wide range of colors you miss out on.

Society’s “man up,” attitude is an understandable reaction to the bumps in the road called life. Life moves too fast to take a timeout every time a less than desirable situation presents itself. We preach the words, “Live in the moment,” so much that we forget the value of reflection and foresight when it comes to awareness. We’re taught to keep our head down, keep grinding, ignore the lows, remove yourself of negativity and only speak positively. Fight Club says, “Fuck that. Honor your feelings. Embrace them,” and it does so in a way that cannot be ignored. People are so afraid to feel pain that they put off the feeling to the point that they feel nothing. My response to that is summed up in a quote that resonated with me from a video my friend G sent to me one day:

How can you truly understand yourself if there are parts of you that you won’t face? How can you learn to manage your feelings if you won’t even admit they exist? The same idea is presented in the film “Anger Management,” starring Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson. When you don’t honor how you feel, you’re not versed in how to manage said feelings. When those feelings manifest in your actions, which they inevitably will, the damage could end up being irreversible whether that means through time lost not honoring your feelings, an explosive argument with a loved one or worse.

To honor one’s feelings is not weakness. In a time where our generation glorifies not having feelings, it’s refreshing to come across those willing to be honest enough with themselves to express their feelings but if that isn’t an option watching the brutally ridiculously honest film, Fight Club comes in at a close second.

What did you take from the movie or book, Fight Club? What are your thoughts on our generation’s relationship with emotions? 

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