• Malachi Moore

Lamented Lessons: Therapy

Updated: Sep 12, 2020

For some time now I have been attempting to relate my studies of mythology and psychology to practical occurrences of contemporary life. What incidentally ended up happening through my obsession of classical literature, epic poetry and the works of Dr. C.G. Jung would be the makings for a foundation of a romanticized life that—for better or worse—has greatly affected my perspective on the significance of self-discovery throughout the journey of our lives and how the two directly affect the status of the other.

I must admit correlating my psyche to that of the pilgrim in the Divine Comedy…or really any Disney protagonist I grew up watching in the 90’s has at times left me isolated or unsatisfied with my current surroundings, producing in me an unforgiving anxiety, but I have never found the dangers of the unknown to outweigh the golden opportunities of transcendence. I also wouldn’t deny the romanticized hero’s journey being any different to the actual Black American’s experience either, especially when your sense of being is married to people who are nothing like you, but I digress.

What I’ve come to understand, still perhaps at a primitive level, are the similarities in sequential trials every generation faces throughout their lives. Broken down to its most fundamental element, an individual’s personal journey is taking what they’ve learned from past generations, applying it to the earliest of life’s trials, is then—at a certain point—exposed to the unfamiliar, and acquires wisdom for dividends at every threshold. Being 26, I guess at this point I can only presume that it continues to go on this way. It’s comforting for me to know that whoever I am right now will always be tested for the man I can be tomorrow, but as I continue to live, whatever former wisdom used to keep me afloat can also surely serve as an anchor. Holding on to attitudes and norms of the past might not always serve our traumas of the future, and that is exactly my point when referring to the lamented notion of therapy in our society.

There is a foreign, unforeseen trauma that is brought on with the technological advances made during the years of my upbringing. With only tentative, impromptu, and not often profound guidance from former generations, my own is now tasked — perhaps for the first time ever in the history of modern civilization— with psychologically staying on par with the massive influx of information and technology without any wisdom or hindsight to the situation at hand as a foundation to stand on. And while I ultimately, as a millennial myself, do not see any hindrance on the progression of the human psyche (there’s hope for us yet)—at least from the majority of those that I’ve encountered—there seems to be a level of pragmatism we fail to reach in our coping methods. And I think it starts, simply, by acknowledging this specific type of trauma no one has traversed before.

In ’98 I was five years old, living in one of the more synthetic suburban areas of the Midwest, subsequently susceptible to a significant amount of popular culture influence. I would use the term,’brainwash’, but am too overwhelmed with 90’s nostalgia to dismiss anything from my childhood. I remember sitting on that omnipresent Road Rug in Kindergarten, listening to my teacher explain to me the hero our president was—of course— leaving out Infinite Reach, the three strikes bill or the oval office scandal. The only piece of technology in the classroom would’ve been her gratuitously large, white boom box (used to play songs to help me count by two’s) and the scarcely used overhead projector.

At home I remember landlines, fighting between using the phone to plot out my next cul de sac adventure with my neighbor and dialing up the internet. From there on, other than the occasional interaction with video games or the short-lived tamagotchi craze, there was nothing else that kept me distracted from living in the present. Everyone, compared to how we live now—just twenty two years later—lived a private life, and this remained to be the norm from the beginning of my childhood until the birth of my adolescence.

By the time I was seven, I had begun to feel a sense of pride that came with the familiarity of my compact surroundings. My innate curiosity was subdued by the comfortability and general, warm contentment I felt on the small-scale amount of discernment I could comprehend.

I was awake for Good Morning America’s breaking news of the North Tower crash and collapse, but paid no mind until the worried, frantic adult faces around confirmed in me a new feeling of apprehension. Within the next twenty minutes of broadcasted news, my sheltered reassurance of naivety was lost. The seal of my unworldly comfort was broken in the most violent of extremities on a global scale. And while this traumatic experience is justly recognized, remembered and mourned, we are constantly being reminded of a time in where the end of the world seemed plausible.

It begs the question whether or not any one of us have healed properly from that paranoia, what that is even supposed to look like, or—considering the world’s current affair— was something to prepare us for events to come. In any case, not one person can know the answer; the only rational step towards progression is by looking past old generational norms to facilitate our current state of minds, and more importantly leave as much guidance for the pending trek of the next.

Someone who is actually qualified to make diagnoses might find something interesting in the connection between the time my generation began to develop their projected identities and when social media came around. I learned very quickly, naturally as if learning how to breathe, that if I did not have an online presence I basically ceased to exist. And so right after school, Maladude3000 was on AIM like clock-work.

Thinking back to that time, at one point I even had several active accounts—each with what now seems to be a different projection of my own self— whose screen names I might actually take to the grave with me (I had a goth faze in middle school...it's okay.) Besides the point, it’s strange to now be so comfortable with having a projected online identity, the necessity almost dire, with glimpses of a life before it could ever be thought of. And I think we take that perspective for granted sometimes.

For detail on the events that would eventually construct the economic environment of my adulthood, I do not have in the slightest; when the financial crisis hit in 2008, I was fifteen and not concerned with anything other than the drama that shrouded my small, rural town in New Jersey. Facebook had already arrived, Twitter was catching on with iPhones, Instagram pretty much sealed the deal, and Snapchat was the gratuitous cherry on top.

From the beginning of my time in high school to the day of graduation, the entire world and how we lived our daily lives had changed. With a societal obligation of sharing our most intimate selves online, it was now time to begin thinking of who we would actually be in the world. Suddenly it became a competition, and the stress/anxiety to be of relevancy now had a pulse.

I think that it is safe to say, aside from the obvious negatives to this added pressure of virtual conformity— one that is nearly impossible to take flight from— that our vulnerabilities have subsequently been very well documented. Perhaps, only by chance has this conception found a community of its own, but the amount of Twitter threads I’ve read concerning the issue of mental health is enough to confirm a sense of normalcy surrounding the topic.

There wasn’t a single day during my time in undergrad and graduate school when a joke was not made about depression or the actual act of committing suicide. Have you ever heard someone say that they were “living the dream” before? How both ironic and profound this statement has become in recent years; maybe these are the emotions rendered from the fantasy lives my generation both promotes and aspires to imitate.

To say that I have not found comfort and insight in a setting where mental health has been desensitized would be a lie. When dealing with depression and anxiety, one might find that humor and solidarity are the only outlets for appeasement, especially as a Black man, whose communal stigma surrounding the mere discussion of therapy is—for whatever reason—muddled with a toxic masculinity stigma. But there have been too many times, in my own life, when a cry for help has been misconstrued as a joke or chalked up to banter between close friends, and it should only take one mishap to discern that desensitizing our trauma is not working.

Very quickly after the consequences do we then start to realize the severity of our mental status’ and begin to question how the individuals of my generation can be at one moment at the edge of collapse, and still seemingly be as friendly and put together as whatever their virtual presence portrays. What then internally occurs is an added pressure to live up to that mold of ourselves, as if not concerned about any external or existential force permitted to our lives, connected to everything/everyone, yet still so very much detached and dependent on a technology that exacerbates our woes.

And so we are trapped in it. The relationship we have with the constantly growing state of technology and all that it brings is our inevitable reality. What I fear is that this notion has been given far too much priority over the relationship we have with ourselves, first and foremost.

Holding on to certain passed down values while caught up in the whirlwind of pop-culture influence has made it difficult to discern who we are as individuals, which will never— no matter how much it appears to be so—harmonious with the collective mass. The thoughts you have, the things you crave, the fear and anxieties that only you can imagine are unique to your own personal journey, and there are too many therapeutic outlets available for us to not seek them out.

When I can properly discern how to share my own personal involvement with therapy, I hope that by doing so others will see the effects its delivered, as well as the horrors I myself experienced and projected onto others before finally realizing that how I felt about myself directly affected those around me and the relationships I had with them. I might just be speaking to my eighteen-year-old self at this point, but therapy is not just going into a room and discussing your problems with a complete stranger. It’s about discovering different, healthy perspectives one might either not see, or is having difficulty holding themselves accountable to. It’s about being comfortable with your past selves in order to feel present with who you are now, that will then prepare you for the future. And with the latter concept in mind, I can only speak for myself when I say that I will need all the help I can get.

Self-love is a tremendous responsibility, and yet the only one worth taking. There are too many instances where individuals emulate the norms of their social climate without considering whether or not it is beneficial or even nourishing to themselves or to those who inhabit it. If I could get rid of any stigma surrounding the concept of therapy, it would be the one that regards it as a privilege, because knowledge of the self never will be. What I’ve found to be both helpful and cost accordant to living as an artist in LA (so, broke) are a plethora of options in the form of podcasts and self-help books. Until my next post, I will leave you some of my most favorite, the ones that have helped me transcend into the person that I am today, and the ones I continue to go back to in this crazy, unprecedented time. Remember the chilling certainty that you alone are responsible for your contentment; putting your past, present and future trauma into perspective, being comfortable with everything, is the only way to figuring all of this out.

Top 10 of my favorite therapeutic outlets/self-betterment

NOTE: The links to these books are to Amazon, and while I myself literally just made a purchase on this website, I'm sure there are plenty of small-businesses near you that would appreciate the purchase :)


Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person - Shonda Rhimes

The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho

You Are A Bad Ass - Jen Sincero

Atomic Habits - James Clear

Meditations - Marcus Aurelius

TED Talks/Discussions

Robert E. Grant - Beautiful Minds Are Free From Fear

Dr. Ivan Joseph - The Skill of Self-Confidence

Amy Cuddy - Fake it Till You Make It

Alan Watts - Relax Your Mind

Brené Brown- The Power of Vulnerability

35 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All