The Catch-22 of Simplistic Advice – The Depression Monster Ate My Social Skills



Stumbled on this article in my internet travels. I have a love-hate relationship with happiness advice blogs and articles. I sometimes read shit like this obsessively, looking for some kind of miracle cure for my depression. I have yet to find it. And that’s frustrating, but that’s not necessarily the why of the hate end of this relationship.

It’s condescending. If only I had remembered to be grateful I wouldn’t be so depressed. If only I didn’t eat pasta, or meat or cooked my food, if only I wrote in my journal more or snuggled a rattlesnake or…or…or…

…if only I had a different brain? If only I had a brain that functioned like it’s supposed to?

This particular article is called “Living a Healthy and Balanced Life”, and it’s on WebMD.  This line stood out for me:

“A person’s happiness is best predicted by their connections to other people….Give some thought to how connected you feel to other people, like your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers.”

I guess that is very telling, because I don’t connect with people, at all, mostly due to this neverending depression. If I have the energy, I can usually fake my way through, but for the most part I feel disconnected. So yes, I guess it is very telling. I feel disconnected from other people therefore I’m a depressed person. And?

The article goes on to do what all articles do best: give simplistic advice that might help smooth over the surface layer but doesn’t go any deeper. I’m sure for many people with minor depression this is as deep as you need to go. But for those of us with a lifelong companion called Major Depressive Disorder, this just doesn’t cut it.

I don’t spend a lot of time with people. The reason is because I can’t connect with them. This means I’m depressed so I should spend more time with people? It sounds a little Catch-22 if you ask me.

I just took a quiz because I love quizzes. Apparently even ones about depressing shit like depression. It was through WebMD and it was, of course, a waste of time. After asking a whole lot of questions, their only advice is to see a doctor because they may have treatment options available for you. Um thanks. That was very helpful. And by very, I mean not at all.

Also not helpful: asking questions that require over-simplification, like this one:

“Since your diagnosis, are your symptoms much worse, slightly worse, they haven’t changed, slightly improved or much improved?”

Well, my depression is less volatile than it was, but my baseline “mood” is lower. So does that mean things are better or worse??

Here’s another excerpt:

“You’ve already been diagnosed with depression. That’s an important step. Many people with depression quietly suffer because they think their symptoms are ‘all in their head.’ Or they may fear that being diagnosed with depression will get them labeled ‘mentally ill.’ Neither is true.”

Um, call me crazy but I’m pretty sure they are both true. What a completely false statement. “They may think their symptoms are ‘all in their head'”? Maybe that’s because they are. Brain chemistry anyone? “They may fear… [being]…labeled ‘mentally ill’.” Do they not know that depression is indeed a mental illness?

Emphatic sigh.

Here endeth the rant.

(My simplistic advice? This video.)


If only I had a dog.

If only I had a dog.


2 thoughts on “The Catch-22 of Simplistic Advice – The Depression Monster Ate My Social Skills

  1. Aaron says:

    I have to confess to you: as I am sure you have noticed I have avoided commenting on your blog entries about depression because I am frightfully worried that I will say something inane like that article you mentioned. I work in IT, and I always have ignorant people (in the nice way, not in the name-calling way) that tell me how they think the problem can be solved. “No, you don’t need to add memory to the monitor.” I have not experienced clinical depression; how could I possibly know what you are going through? How can people assume childbirth pain is as painful as a guy getting kicked between the legs? Nobody really knows because they have not experienced both (besides: everyone knows it hurts worse for guys. ;)) I don’t want to chuck your chin and say “cheer up kid!” because from what I’ve read that does not help one iota. I do want to say that I am SO sorry that you have this in your life, and I am sure it is frustrating to feel helpless in the face of this adversary you call your monster. I’m sorry you have to deal with people telling you everything will be fine when it feels like nothing will. I hope you find someone who will just hold you and be with you without offering advice.

    • marypoppinz says:

      Add memory to the monitor? That made me laugh out loud for realzies. If you haven’t already, you MUST MUST MUST watch the British comedy show, The IT Crowd. (I believe it’s on Netflix).

      I’m generally not offended by advice because I acknowledge that there might be some wisdom to gain and because people giving advice generally mean well. Even better when the people giving it are not dismissive of the problem or pretending to have all the answers. It seems like some people give advice without empathy, and that just won’t do. (I’m pretty sure you would not be one of those people.)

      Thank you so much for your empathy and support. It means a lot.

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