innocent bystander //a weblog

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Wednesday, March 19, 2003

12:27 AM: 

thoughts on an article about depression:
i grew up a nearly optimal candidate for depression. let's see how. from the article:

"Children who look outside themselves and think if they get enough money and are popular enough then they will be happy are actually much more likely to be depressed than those that think money might be a nice thing to have but at the end of the day their happiness comes from their own personal development....

"Children were asked to identify their top life goals and what would make them happy. Close relationships with family and friends and feeling good about themselves were among the most popular goals.

"But nearly 12 percent thought having lots of money was the most important thing in life. Those children were also the most likely to experience depression....

"(Dr. Helen Street of the Queen Elizabeth Medical Center in Perth, Australia) advised parents to.... help their children understand what is likely to make them happiest in life and that it is not all about fame and fortune."

okay, so step-by-step this means:

  1. having the goal of feeling good about yourself lowers your risk for depression: for my parents, personal development was a non-issue. feelings were never discussed, including one's feelings about oneself. my parents never had anything to say about understanding emotions, or handling them. the sole emphasis was on controlling behavior-- learning what to do, but never why.
  2. having the goal of developing or maintaining close relationships with family lowers your risk for depression: closeness in the sense of "intimacy" or "familiarity" was also a concept foreign to my upbringing. they did their duty by each other and nothing more-- never displayed affection towards each other, for example-- and i learned by their example how to interact with family members.
  3. having the goal of developing or maintaining close relationships with friends lowers your risk for depression: again, i was not given any indication, as a child, how to be "close" to another person. i didn't know how to be close to family, and i didn't know how to be close to friends. in fact, my parents actively discouraged me from associating with my friends. they told me that i was being used by them for my toys, my homework, and so on. looking back, i am fairly certain that reality was contrary to their perception.
  4. equating happiness with money or popularity raises your risk for depression: who hasn't at some point thought that they would be happy if only they had money or popular acclaim? i have certainly thought this, too. and during many of the years i spent craving those things, i was unaware of the desirability (or even existence) of close emotional relationships between people. i was aware of the concepts of self-image and self-esteem, but without any personal understanding of emotions, the terms were just words to me. i was surrounded by many influences which told me that money and popularity were desirable. i believed them. but i had no influences which told me that relationships and self-development were desirable. there was nothing, or very little, to balance my negative influences.
i think i was handicapped just about every way i could be... weighted down to sink ever lower and closer to depression. so i guess that i should count myself lucky that i have begun to learn to throw off the ballast in my life-- so that i can float, happy and high and free.


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