As editor, I get an array of emails for a number of different reasons but all of them aim to give recognition to something.
The latest one I received encourages people to get tested for “depression and related mood and anxiety disorders” in honor of National Depression Screening Day which was enacted in 1990.
Soon after showing up in my inbox I dismissed the subject matter of the email because it immediately elicited unhappy feelings.
I have never personally suffered from depression though as I reached my teen years, I unintentionally became surrounded by peers and sometimes friends who claimed to suffer from depression.
Growing up I treated the word ‘depression’ as such a heavy and critical state of being.
I supposed it was commonly associated with adults who had just gone through a traumatic experience or whose life had always been traumatic.
How did this awful feeling consume so many people around me?
At least with the friends I had as a young teen, I could link their feelings of anger, anxiety and misery to a familial, friendship, self-esteem or stress related issue.
In my line of reasoning, these factors justified the person’s emotions and actions which only made me feel sorry for them in the end and disappointed that the relationship discontinued.
It wasn’t until my second year of college that my sociology teacher’s lectures enlightened me on the matter.
I pondered the main points of the course which covered C. Wright Mill’s “The Sociological Imagination” and Karl Marx’s four alienations.
To summarize, the tragic and simultaneously magnificent lesson in “The Sociological Imagination” is that no one’s problems are unique but rather they stem from a larger public issue that must be dealt with.
What I get from this is that, if depressed people took a step back and realized that their problem has been felt, in some form, by others, then they would understand the pattern of the root problem and attack the real issue.
In other words, heal it and alleviate their sadness.
Every person has problems whether they are grave or minimal, the difference between each individual is their attitude.
There are millions of people suffering in the world from famine, drought, poverty, so on and so forth and I’m not one to say that less severe problems don’t matter because they do.
I just believe that if a person does not have third-world problems, they should reflect on what they have, big or small, and value it whether it be material, like a roof or medicine, or intangible, like love and loyalty.
I find that nowadays so many young people self-diagnose themselves and consistently complain about their problems almost as if it were some contest or attention mechanism.
Only then do I start to become skeptical of their situation and no longer feel sympathy.
Doctors also don't seem too hesitant when diagnosing a patient.
If you so much as have stress they would probably say that you have chronic anxiety issues and give you medication.
The email I was sent about national screenings claims that anyone can be examined at a participating location or by taking an online questionnaire.
Out of curiosity I took the quiz and was diagnosed with "generalized anxiety" and it suggested I get help — from a computer.
I’m not an expert or a doctor but I am a strong believer that one major purpose of living is to produce, to create and contribute something to humanity regardless if it will withstand time or not.
With such a mission, there would be no time or energy to be depressed. There would only be hard work, courage, discipline and ultimately, art in all shapes.