Let’s Face It, We Are All Pretty Jacked Up: #Unafraid To Speak Out

I must make a confession and come clean.
Several years ago I could not understand why so many of my friends and acquaintances were on some form of medication for some type of emotional/mental health disorders -in most cases for depression.
I would wonder, often aloud, why nearly everyone is so damn depressed.  We live in an age in which everyone one is well fed, possess some form of shelter and is safely out of harms way for the most part. There is no black plague or killer virus wiping out the masses.  We have our 42 inch plasmas, smart phones and tempurpedics. What is there to be so depressed about?
The worst part is I proceeded to judge these people as a type of weak and frail human being, perhaps just a little too brittle to deal with all the wonderful entitlements afforded coddled 21st century North Americans.
Bad move.  I did not follow my own frequent advice to not criticize that which you do not understand. Not that you should criticize what you do understand, well, you get the point.
It was approximately 2 years ago when it happened. After some incredibly emotional and soul-searching conversations over a period of days with Rene’, I experienced my first bout with anxiety.  I was in a Coco’s eating lunch on July 13, 2012 when my mind completely lost control.  Thank goodness I was with Rene’ who completely recognized what was happening -having experienced a few of these herself- and successfully guided and coached me through the painful process of this attack.
A couple hours later I was fine…but oh so scared. I did not know what happened. As one who always had complete control over my mental faculties, controlling my emotions like a skilled master pilot maneuvering a 747, this turbulence seemed to come out of nowhere and left me helpless to its tossing and turning powers.
I just knew this could never happen again. Yet it did, not with same vengeance and force of the initial one, but happened nonetheless.  Thankfully with some additional education and lifestyle changes, namely completely eliminating all forms of caffeine and decreasing my alcohol intake, the anxiety has all but disappeared.
As a result, I judge no more. I get it.
I realize it is precisely because we live in an age of our basic needs being met -and often exceeded- that our minds have the time and space to land in the mental swamps of emotional illness. Of course, emotional illness has been around since the beginning, in times of both feast and famine, yet with our contemporary society more worried about our body fat percentage over having potable clean drinking water, our cerebral activity far exceeds our physical activity -resulting in more people landing in the dark waters of emotional disorders.
My suspicion is that if we did have to wake up each morning designing strategies how to feed our self and our loved ones, the only anxiety we would experience would come in the form of how to successfully chase down our food supply.  Today, with the world at our fingertips and our food delivered directly to our door and nearly directly into our mouths, we are completely out of touch with the basics of life and have time to think and ponder while spending copious amounts of time within our own heads.
In athletics, we tend to injure the parts of the body we overuse. As a former marathon runner, I know first hand the results of overuse injury and how these will sideline you for quite some time.
Why should the human mind be any different?
I am not referring to the overuse of the human mind in the intellectual sense, as in figuring out problems or writing blogs, rather I refer to the overuse of the human mind in the emotional and spiritual sense, as in spending large amounts of time pondering our own identity and meaningful relationships, our personal meaning and relationship to the world, our self-worth and self-esteem, the reason for our existence and how we measure up to the standards society has created for us. These are quality and necessary mental endeavors, yet too much time spent in earnest dissecting these things can potentially land us in some pretty dark places.
When we have time to deconstruct the illusions that keep us sane from day to day, watch out -anxiety and depression ahead.
I am not suggesting this abundance of cerebral brain activity is the sole cause of an increase in mental health disorders, of course not. The frenetic pace of a technologized world and the constant multi-tasking of activities must have something to do with our mind’s ability to juggle and competently keep it all together; not to mention simple brain chemistry gone awry – of which we have absolutely no control.
So, Jimmy, what’s your point? In the same sense we are not afraid to discuss our broken legs or sprained ankles, we must be unafraid to discuss our mental illness, our “sprained brain” if you will.
#unafraid
If you are on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, check out #unafraid. Show your support by liking or subscribing to this great cause. #Unafraid is a movement to change the negative stigma surrounding issues of mental health today–in society, on TV, on the internet, and in conversation.
And, of course, in our digital age of comfort and control, it is only a mouse click away.
 

jimmysintension

7 Comments

  1. Jimmy. You nailed it. My partner (thanks for educating me on that term and the respect it holds) and I frequently discuss this and how we need breaks either from being in solitude for a lengthy period of time or just from our own minds which can continually run even in a social setting. My point? Thank you. Thank you for reiterating that I am not crazy, but just need to handle my idle mind in a different way. Thank you for allowing those of us who read this to be more tolerant of others whom we do not know their inner demons or battles. This was posted at the exact moment I needed to hear this. Thank you 🙂

    • Trisha…we are all in the same boat together. There is not one of us above any other. We are all human beings living in a difficult age of sanity. We need some illusions to occupy our life and keep us sane. I prefer blogs, fitness, red wine. Thank you so much for the courage to share your thoughts publicly.

  2. For once, I’m not sure if I have an opinion to contribute. I cannot express how much I appreciate seeing the birth of this movement and I hope it goes further. I can say with honesty that I truly feel #unafraid.

  3. The higher incidence in depression can also be attributed to overzealous diagnoses and over-medicating in the psychiatric and pharmaceutical communities. Before Zoloft and Xanax and Prosac and Lexa, housewives in the fifties were popping prescription pills like candy. In France, among many other ‘crises,’ there is an endemic in ‘crises de Panique.’ We do not have a monopoly on this geographically but it seems to be as you say, a sign of the times. Although there is evidence anxiety and depression, untreated, can be a downward spiral, and I support anyone who needs to rely on drugs to repair brain chemistry, perhaps there is a next step in order to avoid dependency, one many sidestep. There are schools of thought other than that of those prescribing and profiting from the pharmaceuticals. Many chemical imbalances are much more grave than depression and must be treated for the safety of the individual and society. Those aside, perhaps not everything less-than-ideal in life needs to be ‘fixed.’ I am with Thomas Moore in that we can ’embrace melancholy’ and embrace darkness as a seasonal part of life and a cultural value. And at the risk of sounding like Tom Cruise. there is the school of thought that through introspection, therapy and hard work, one can repair the balance of ones own brain chemistry and restore the euphoric chemicals responsible for joy: dopamine, adrenaline, seratonin, etc. This may be an ongoing challenge, or a lifelong challenge, or even one we inherited. But there is also evidence ( in the field of Epigenetics ) that behaviors and experiences in our own lifetime permanently affect the genes we pass on to future generations. So working through depression without relying on the ‘quick fix’ of antidepressants my have its own rewards for future generations. I agree with you Jimmy that many institutionalized practices evolved to replace rituals that were once part of the daily struggle to survive- perhaps when humankind was operating as intended. If we had our hands in the earth and felt the wind in our hair every day, I seriously doubt we would be prone to depression. We go to the gym and stare in the mirror while reading a tabloid on the life cycle, in place of the activity of hunting or foraging or building a hut. A separate blog could be devoted to perceived societal ills that contribute to cultural depression. But to stay on track, I will end by saying that we could restore some of the rituals that naturally alleviate depression. All of us drew as children, ( in school if nowhere else. ) All of us sang as children. At some point we all dropped the ball on creativity. That unfulfilled drive alone is something most people lament. My sister Rene Urbanovich pointed out in our meeting a few days ago that singers have statistically identified as some of the happiest individuals. I would venture to say that singing provides the same physiological benefits as chanting, prayer and meditation. The Om chant and
    namyohorengekyo both are meant to resonate in a way identical to singing Ave Maria. So perhaps nurturing creativity as a cultural value not to be abandoned after childhood, and returning daily spiritual practice to a ‘Godless’ society would help. Just sayin.’ All that to say, I agree with much of what you said, but I don’t think we’re ‘thinking too much’ as a culture due to all the time we have on our hands. I think perhaps we’re thinking about the wrong things ( the Kardashians ) at the expense of intrinsic or metaphysical values. ??

Leave a Reply to Lorelly Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *