I'm still sad about the death of Dolores O'Riordan, 5 years ago. Also, 7 other things worth knowing today.
I can’t say I’m a genius, but I am a successful entrepreneur and my early days working for others did bring on some major depression and anxiety. But once I was on my own, that all basically went away. Was it age? Meditation? Or just not having someone make me do things that didn’t make any sense? Who knows, but I’d rather have the last half of my life happy and context.
This subject really hits home with me. Great topic Bill. I think about it often these days. I struggled with anxiety most of my adult life (48yo) and although I didn't know it, depression as well. I am a successful entrepreneur and I believe that in some small part the anxiety and depression played a part. But I was never overly creative. I will skip all of the details as it is a long story, but I saw a psychiatrist (I had been going to therapy for around 10 years at the time and love it), got prescribed an antidepressant and after about 3 months I realized that my whole life I had been depressed but I didn't know because it had always been there. Now my creative side has blossomed, and I believe that I can achieve more than I ever have, sort of like I was just getting started before. Once the medicine started working, all of my therapy work came shining through like it had been downloaded to my mind. So, was I successful, in large part, because of mental health problems or were they holding me back and the success to come will be even bigger? Time will tell and it will be a fun ride either way!
I think of Dolores often myself. Love the Cranberries, and had a chance to see them in Atlanta the September before she passed, but the show was cancelled because of her back problems (?). I’ve been a self-employed “entrepreneur” since 1983 and don’t think I’ve ever been depressed for long enough to remember. I’ve always found something exciting to work on. Family, work projects, self-improvement.
These are the thoughts, feelings, discussions I have been waiting and yearning to read from your newsletter. Today, I have read your words and I will be mindful of how fortunate I am for this day to be filled with peace and hope.
I just finished reading What Happened to You by Oprah Winfrey. It is about mental health and talks about healing trauma. It says that we all have trauma and the way to heal is through community, touch, music. As someone who has had crushing depression on and off (mostly on) for 30+ years and no emotional support it was a hopeful read.
Confidential Response- Neurodivergent individuals literally experience their lives very differently than neurotypicals. ( I generally dislike labels but “it’s hard to tame that which you cannot name”…) Much has been made about whether the “benefits” of being “non-typical” can actually be a blessing… that really it’s the difference that makes one “special.” I believe this attitude has evolved over the years to compensate for the decades of being misdiagnosed, being prescribed the wrong meds for “emotional instability” in order to make the medical “professional” more comfortable whether it improved the patient’s life or not. We’re still in the Dark Ages relative to understanding & affording mental health the same level of respect (& investment) as we value, understand & invest in our physical health. Why is diabetes a disease that invites sympathy & understanding while ADHD/Autism/Bipolar/OCD.. etc… are “conditions” from which we politely look away? Isn’t it because we instinctively believe most problems like this are a function of personal failings not illness? The brain is arguably the most important organ in the human body & certainly the most complex. (My primitive argument here being that while obviously we need almost all of them to survive, w/out a brain, most organs would just sit there waiting for orders.) Yet, as compared to everything we KNOW about our physical bodies, our understanding of what actually goes on up there in our brains is criminally-limited. For the first time, we now have tools available to realistically begin analyzing the myriad of surprising ways the brain functions…& how it hiccups badly sometimes. The roots of many “conditions” previously treated as emotional/psychological “maladjustment” issues have recently been physically identified along the same genomic allele as intelligence/IQ determination (based on what we know today.) Practically speaking, the single greatest unifying characteristic of these neurodivergents is simply that of “intensity.” They FEEL life more than regular folks. (It’s almost like comparing an American 110 volt hairdryer to a European 220 volt hairdryer. Superficially, they’re the same… until they actually have to perform. Be careful how you plug them in.) General psychiatry & physicians alike have failed miserably by mis-identifying so many of them as “maladjusted/neurotic” or simply “depressed”…then prescribing any old SSRI & then playing at “Hertz Rent-A-Friend” therapy that pays for their vacation homes while benefiting the patient very little. Unskilled/misdiagnosed talk therapy w/neurodivergents such as ADHD’s often accentuate problems by stimulating venting & destructive rumination. There are exit ramps but very few street signs. Extraordinarily detailed mental health research has been conducted in the past few years that demonstrates how wrong most general practitioners have been in treating these neurodivergents. Depression is simply “low-hanging fruit” and it represents a temptation most mental health professionals cannot resist. We show great deference to those among us who triumph over physical handicaps/hardships. In time, perhaps we can learn to respect, & be sympathetic, to those among us who are, most literally, mentally-handicapped but whose triumphs are equally extraordinary. Education is the key. Most importantly, for medical professionals who already consider themselves experts, but haven’t added to their knowledge base since their residency 25 years ago.