Recently, I went to the doctor. After a few blood tests, a couple of rather amateur forms and a quick chat I was diagnosed with something bizarrely known as “depression”. The doctor said t... »
Interesting article, worth a read!
Recently, I went to the doctor. After a few blood tests, a couple of rather amateur forms and a quick chat I was diagnosed with something bizarrely known as “depression”. The doctor said their tests confirmed that I had probably suffered from “severe depression” from my early childhood brought on by childhood trauma.
Hmm… OK, I thought. Bit confused but let’s try to work this one through. My father left when I was around 6 years old. He went to work one day and never came back. He tried to commit suicide in front of me twice by slitting his wrists and when one day my mother told me they’d been in contact again and were planning on re-marrying, my father decided it would be a good idea to get married to a Thai women in the interim period. For my 12th birthday he kindly sent me pics of the wedding and caused my Mum to completely lose what she had regained over the past few years.
So yes, the diagnosis rang true in that respect. Where it did not ring true was my life. I’d travelled the world, lived in 40 countries, spoke 3 languages, had trained as a commercial pilot and passed every psychological test with flying colours. Yes, I’d also partied way too much and had trouble with long term relationships but “depressed”? Before my aviation days I’d spent many years as the top salesperson for a chemicals conglomerate. I managed 30 sales people, sometimes well and sometimes not so well but does this sound like someone who’s depressed?
My point is this: why do we call “depression” “depression”?
Apparently, I suffer with a chemical imbalance. That imbalance can be addressed via medication and/or diet, and/or Jesus. The problem is that half the nation these days seems to be suffering from “depression” and if you’re a Tottenham supporter (which I’m not) that will surely come with the territory…
Whether your brain is slightly broken or your body suffers from an imbalance of chemicals, a state that feels a lot like being “depressed” is not you actually being “depressed”.
If I think about sad things day in day out I will eventually become “depressed”. If I have a chemical imbalance I will experience something that feels like I’m “depressed” but I’m actually not “depressed” at all.
So why on earth do we insist on calling “depression” “depression”?
If I get a bad cold or flu we call it a bad cold or flu. By the thesis that calls “depression” “depression” we should not give the illness a name but instead call it by it’s symptoms. Therefore, a cold should rightly be called “snotty, throat on fire, sweating, can’t do anything disease”.
Gonorrhoea should rightly be called “burning ball disease”? And PMS? Well, you take your pick!
Because “depression” is the one illness which seems to have been named after it’s symptom, 99% of the world’s population seem to be confused as to what it is or how to best deal with it. Can you imagine if we’d done something similar with cancer?
Would it really be too much to ask doctors, and those in the medical profession, to come forward and label this debilitating illness in a way that would not cause prejudice and misunderstanding? Come on guys, we’ve got enough on our plates!
A Letter To Myself
I’m starting to get more and more bugged by social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter. It’s not the medians themselves, per se, but how we interact and how we choose to portray ourselves and our lives on them… Let me divulge and we’ll see if I’m once again alone on this one…
Yesterday evening I was surfing the net as usual and in one browser tab I had open Facebook. During the evening a constant stream of “positive” posts alerted me to their presence, as well as the regular rubbish from a couple of “friends” who “use” social media as a method of keeping their name highlighted; their name is obviously linked to their business and they have a program which sends generic, partially related posts every few hours to Facebook. Any other personal input into any kind of social media amounts to maybe 5% of their posts and yet because we’ve “befriended” each other at some point I struggle with the idea of “unfriending” them, despite them upping my motivation to do so with every generic “inspirational” post that their program posts on their behalf.
What really made me think, however, was a reply I got to a relatively throw-away comment that was actually misinterpreted by a Swedish friend of mine who once knew my old self quite well. Her boyfriend had made a comment to her, straight after mine, so I’d pretended he’d made the comment to me and joked with him. Either way, the stern rebuke of:
“DuncMan, var inte så självgod!”
which translates to:
“DuncMan, don’t be so self-righteous!”
got me thinking.
My friend knew me in days when I was not a Christian (though for the purposes of this article we can effectively leave Big J out of it). I made many mistakes and hurt my “friend” greatly and eventually we parted company. As all good friends do, however, we eventually befriended each other again, this time from different countries and via social media.
As an active member of my local church I try to post an eclectic mix of jokes, throw-away comments, inspirational quotes and bible verses mixed in with plenty of very personal stuff. What I don’t do is post the negative stuff about myself, however. Nope, pretty much every personal post tells of my quest to become a great father, my striving to become a great husband, my uphill battle to become a good, positive, unselfish, decent, law-abiding, (Christian, God-fearing) individual.
Sanctimoniously and hypocritically, I totally fail to point out any of my failings on a day to day basis.
Does this ring a bell with anyone? Up until last night I had 153 “friends” on Facebook. I spent 10 minutes cullingy 50 of them who either never posted, never replied to me, were rude and arrogant when they did post or who were simply not “friends”. It was refreshing and my count fell to a reasonable 105, although I still struggle to believe that 105 people really like me but hey, ho. ;)
So, before this becomes a meteoric rant, what’s my point?
Well, if I study the timelines of all (now) 105 friends, it would seem that all but around 5, myself included, are getting pretty close to rivalling Jesus with our perfect lives, our positive sentiments (and initiatives) (guilty again), our lovely photos portraying the perfect families that we would like others to believe we are?
BUT!! By doing so, are we actually being “friends” to those who chose to receive our timeline gems? How many of our friends are struggling in real life but shy from asking for our input due to the shame of not having the perfect lives that we “have”…? How many “perfect family posts” can we make before our friends switch off and see us more as aliens rather than friends?
Since becoming a born again Christian I’ve undoubtedly “improved” as an individual. I don’t make nearly as many mistakes as I used to (at least not when I choose to connect with Jesus rather than just myself); I’m a better husband than I used to be and fatherhood has generally done good things for me.
BUT!! I’m still a prat sometimes; I still say things to my wife that I shouldn’t; I still set a bad example for my son now and again and get to regret it at my leisure; I still fail my friends in need sometimes, despite my greatest efforts not to and whilst I’m still good at making money I’m also still rubbish at dealing with it; my wife is stunning looking and is the best friend a man could have; she’s also a wonderful Mum to our little son and does things I simply wouldn’t even think of doing; do I tell her enough? No, I don’t.
OK, I’ll stop there as that paragraph could quickly turn into a chapter and the chapter turn into a book.
What I’m asking is that would it not be more helpful to our friends, and also to us, if we also posted about out weaknesses as well as our strengths? If we also posted a pic of the plate of chips we dropped on the floor by the wee the dog just did whilst we were mittened and oven attentive, as well as the “perfect weight-watchers salad” pic which I myself have now posted twice this week (sorry guys…).
I’m going to stop nominating “friends” on Facebook to post 3 positive things a day for 5 days. Why? There’s enough of that already (and I’ve already done it :-)). Instead, I’m going to encourage both myself and my friends to post some crap about ourselves, stuff they may not be proud of… but stuff which reminds us of why we love that person; not because they have the perfect life; not because they look perfect; not because they sing well, or fly well or make tons of money. Nope… simply because they are who they are, with all their faults. In fact, the faults, to a great extent, are what I appreciate in many of my friends the most. They’re what make them who they are and they’re what place us both on an even playing field. You with your faults, me with mine, and I still love you.
So to all my my friends, remind me of your old faults, tell me about some new ones. Mix it in with some positive stuff but for crying out loud, let’s keep it real!
And thanks to my friend who reminded me “not to me so self-righteous”.