Thursday 18 January 2018

#417 Infectious insanity

I'd kept seeing articles on mental health lately. A week or so ago, there was a piece in the Guardian saying depression might sometimes originate in circumstances rather than in the brain itself. Then today Hetal shared a vid of that Linkin Park guy before he died looking all happy to show that mental illness wasn't always detectable. Then a friend studying a psychology doctorate disputed the facts in the Guardian article. I kept my tweet sharing it anyway because the overall message seemed valuable even if some of the supporting data was bogus.

Earlier in the week, I'd watched a clip of part of a lecture given by a clinical psychologist, who explained that a much of the time, if someone was depressed, it was because circumstances had conspired against them. For example, a loved one had cheated on them, then a year later they'd been made redundant, at which point the subject might still consider him/herself mentally stable and then a week later their cat dies and they just completely fall apart because they'd been holding it together in ways they didn't even realise and then one more thing pushed them over the edge.

In other words, if you have depression it's not necessarily because there's something wrong with your brain, it might just be because there're a few different things wrong with your life. Possibly these are things that haven't even occurred to you, as can be the case in relationships, where we develop our own view of normality as a child and then measure things against that in adult life even though we were actually way out on the bell curve as a kid and we never realised.

I think, not always, but sometimes, the mental illnesses that some people suffer are the "fault" of, by which I really mean they're in some way causally linked to, people they've had close relationships with in the past, who've themselves had above average anxiety, depresion, narcissism, or some other kind of problem that hasn't been dealt with. I think what I'm saying here is I believe it might be possible that mental illnesses can in some sense be contagious. Now there's a statement that will never catch on. And rightly so. It's just crying out to be misinterpreted.


Fizzfan said...

The Guardian article was really good.
I particularly liked the references to people working in a busy democratic tribe with no bosses and people feeling they have autonomy and control.
My thoughts are pretty general on depression but I do think pressures to achieve seem much greater today. I genuinely had no feeling of having to be anyone or even try when I was younger. I’m not saying life wasn’t without the standard ups and downs, I just think it was generally much less stressful. In fact I can’t remember that word ever being used when I was growing up.
I’m only speaking of my own life, but something seemed to change in the 90s.
I left work to have my son and when I returned, having had to write my first ever CV AND been through a 3 Step interview (good grief!) I still remember very clearly being astonished by the advent of emails in the workplace. Someone told me to email a colleague sitting a few feet from me and I genuinely thought they were joking because it seemed insane to me to just not get up and go and speak to them.
It may seem an odd thing to remember but the transformation in the workplace as far as work friendships and social activity and having a laugh is concerned has been significant, and not in a good way.
Facts, figures, statistics, data, news, fake news, fear, social media, emails, blogs, 24 hour TV, convenience food, online dating and ripping people apart for so called physical defects etc etc.
Information overload, trying to be perfect, job insecurity, debt, competing, growing isolation because we don’t have to interact anywhere near as much as we once did, and not measureing up to whatever or whoever.....the list seems a bit endless.
No life wasn’t perfect then, but something shifted when computers started to rule the world and I’m never able to shake a feeling that without them we wouldn’t be happier. I think they’re a far too convenient substitute for real interaction.

Profound Familiarity said...

That's quite a comment. I think you're right. Our brains aren't designed to handle all this artificial stimulation.

I... have no plans to sacrifice any mod cons for the time being but... I do think you're right.