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?
Here endeth the rant.
(My simplistic advice? This video.)