Mental Health and Damn Idealism…REALLY???

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By Kenneth Justice

“I think you’re just stubborn and don’t want to accept the world as it is” he said


~ I was sitting at coffee recently when an older gentleman struck up a conversation with me. He was one of those ‘let’s discuss politics and if you don’t agree with me I’m going to yell you” kind of people. I tend to take moderate positions in political discussion, partly because I’m at a point in life where political debates have begun to feel a bit tedious to me, and partly because I actually am a rather moderate person in my political philosophy.

However, somewhere between the older man telling me the only solution for peace in the Middle East was to drop a nuclear bomb on Iran and murder every single Middle Easterner and that white people are inherently better human beings than “people of color”…..I started getting extremely annoyed.

While I was careful not to take his bait and allow myself to get wrapped up in an emotional debate that would go nowhere, I did make a couple comments and suggested he consider a few things that weren’t apart of his worldview. My comments got him to stop for a moment and actually listen, and after a few moments of reflection he said, “Kenneth, you’re a damn idealist. You’re too wrapped up in a world that sounds good on paper but is entirely unrealistic. You need to grow up son

Yesterday on my blog I discussed me trepidations regarding our pill popping culture; statistically 75% of all North Americans are taking at least one kind of prescription drug. Although most of the feedback I received from my article was fairly positive….I did get a few detractors; which is good. If everyone always agreed with me the quality of discussion on my Website would probably decline.

The simple fact of the matter is that I believe strongly in the theory that the culture we’ve created here in Western Society is not the best environment for mental health,

—-) Studies have found that large amounts of time sitting in automobiles increases anxiety and depression levels

—-) Studies have found that children have different learning styles; and forcing ALL children to sit in classrooms and ‘learn’ the same way can agitate them exponentially

—-) Studies have found that lack of exercise and proper diet have a direct effect on our mental health

Thus, for some time I have questioned the way we ‘do life’ here in North America and other parts of the Western World. I’m concerned that our fast paced, fast food, individualistic culture is contributing to mental health problems that would otherwise not exist in a different society.

My article yesterday on mental health and specifically Bi-Polar Disorder was a cursory suggestion that there may be other ways to deal with mental health problems then lifelong medication. Yet as many readers pointed out yesterday, there are a lot of people who go to doctors looking for a ‘magic pill’, a pill that will take away all their problems; we’ve taken our fast food attitude into the medical profession.

In 2008 after my father died, coupled with a number of other issues going on my life I realized that I was struggling with a lot of anxiety and depression. Because my day job requires me to visit clients I have to spend a significant amount of my time in the car and all that driving was not helping my anxiety levels. And so I made a big decision to purchase a house at the center of the city and in a walking and biking friendly community; my depression and anxiety practically disappeared over night.

While I still have to drive a car during the day; I’ve cut my commute time in half. And in the evening I’m within walking distance of the grocer, multiple coffee shops, and only a mile walk from the downtown restaurant district. Instead of having to force myself to go to the gym to get exercise, by living within walking distance of the grocer I’m able turn a trip to the store for groceries into a positive mental health activity.

The simple fact of the matter is that there is no scientific tool or study that exists which is able to measure the level of neurotransmitters in your brain; when a doctor tells you that your brain isn’t releasing enough dopamine or serotonin; it’s merely a guess. To build an entire philosophical system upon a guess seems rather foolhardy to me.

It bothers me that people with Asperger’s are told they aren’t ‘normal’. The medical profession says that men and women with Asperger’s need to be ‘fixed’ or ‘taught’ to ‘deal’ with their disorder. This bothers me a lot. I have good friends who have been diagnosed with Asperger’s and I believe they are wonderful people; the problem they struggle with is not that there is something wrong with them…..but rather that there is something wrong with the damn society they live in that isn’t able to accept them as they are.

Obviously, the issue of mental health is a lot bigger than taking a walk or going on a bike ride. I definitely don’t want to trivialize the subject. I do however want to point out that until we the citizens begin making proactive decisions to change our culture; then the rates of depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems will continue to skyrocket.

Is it too damn idealistic of me to want to make the world a better place? I don’t think so. What’s the point of having serious discussions about life and culture if we’re not going to interweave a sense of idealism within our thoughts?

Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee this morning,


—-) If you haven’t heard I’m co-hosting a weekly podcast, The Kenny & Kylie Show, a link is available on my home page. New episodes air every Monday

Categories: Culture & Society

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82 replies

  1. “What’s the point of having serious discussions about life and culture if we’re not going to interweave a sense of idealism within our thoughts?” Reminds me of an NLP book from years back. A bunch of peeps with depression sitting in a big hall waiting for the ringmaster to arrive and make them better.

    The “ringmaster” used to peek through the stage curtains at this normal bunch of expectant peeps all talking amongst themselves. Then as he made his entrance and boomed ” We are here tonight to talk about depression …” used to see everyone’s heads go down, and “that expression” on very face. The “I am depressed” face.

    Not trivialising anything here either. Just think you make a lot of good points on this topic.

  2. But, why exercise and change my diet if a pill can fix me.

    As we have discussed on Twitter, people want the quick fix and they don’t want to invest the time or energy. I applaud the fact that you changed your lifestyle. I wish more people would do the same.

    • I might suggest a ‘pill’ is not a quick fix – it is often only a temporary ‘bandaid’ (or at worst, a ‘feel-good fix’ because the doctor doesn’t know what’s wrong with you).

      I don’t believe mankind was born to lead a sedentary lifestyle or eat junk food. Our bodies were meant to be on the move and eat freshly gathered food each day. If people spent less time working trying to make money to acquire material possessions, they would find more time to be outdoors in the fresh air (assuming your city is not too polluted), cooking fresh food and drinking more water. Besides how long does it take to cook dinner or take a fresh salad, or packed lunch, to work each day. I did it for most of my adult working life.

    • RIGHT ON Vicki!!! So true, so true.

  3. Yesterday I enjoyed a wide ranging visit with the program director of our county senior center. It is a large and very active place. They offer many kinds of classes, activities, discussion groups, etc, for area residents over 50. I was there to offer my services as a volunteer teacher for those who want to know more about the sciences.

    Programs like this are some of the most effective ‘drugs’ available to us. They help keep our mental health strong.

  4. funny how nuking countries because they are a problem is a “realistic” way of handling things.

    quite agree about the issue of learning styles. there is so much coming out (and much that has been out for some time) on how our schools are made for only one learning style. some extremely smart and creative people have been labeled failures by this system. hopefully our current systems can learn to view all kids as learners.

  5. Kenneth, I think my philosophy is quite similar to yours as expressed in the last two posts. Kudos to the girl who researched out other options on handling her mental illness. Your handling of stress and commuting was another example of other options.

    I am quite familiar with alternatives to drugs in handling stress and was against the use of drugs, though have known some people who will swear by the pills. I have learned to accept that each of us has our own way of handling situations and the most important thing is what works for the individual.
    It’s hard to sit and look at the mess inside your head if your attention is directed towards things on the outside. Taking walks around your neighborhood is an excellent therapy. So is turning off the news which for the most part only stirs up the negativity that is going on in the environment, making it seem like it is all over the place…which it is not.

    I think I am more bothered by people using mental health issues, including “being off meds” as an excuse for bad behavior…especially when it comes from family members and the judicial system. I am quite beefed up about a recent event (graphic comment alert). Sadly, there was a rape very close to where I live, the perpetrator being shot as he fled the scene. The guy had mental problems and according to his parent couldn’t get the meds he used to get in Mexico. This story starts out with reporters trying to understand why someone would do something like this but over several days the full facts evolved. He had a repeated criminal history including incarceration. He was married and had a child and his family reports he’d been depressed lately and expressing wanting to end it all. So this guy decides before he ends it he’s going to rape some innocent person, holding a gun to her head and telling her that he has already raped and killed three people…don’t be the fourth. Yet the news almost forgives this heinous crime because he was off his meds. What about the poor young girl whose life may be ruined, the business owner who now has a tainted business as it occurred inside a business? What about the rights of the innocent? Okay, you get my point…all people are responsible for their actions whether they are on meds or not…we can’t afford to let bad behavior become acceptable…which it has. I know this was slightly off topic…but is it really?

  6. Yes, the forcing students to all learn (and test) the same way is super frustrating. It gets demoralizing to see them struggle. It seems we are victims of convenience these days. Funny how that works.

  7. Very well said Kenneth.

    I have two boys who are nearly opposite. One goes to the magnet school as a high achiever. The other is in regular high school with an IEP due to Asperger’s. Funny thing is we suspect the child with Asperger’s is actually “smarter” than the child in the accelerated program but core curriculum leaves no room for a different kind of learner.

    My child with Asperger’s is funny, loving and full of life. I have no desire to change him. I am concerned however about him surviving and thriving in our inflexible society.

  8. I very much agree with all of what you say here, and was just talking about one aspect of the pill culture as I walked home with Angelica a few moments ago.

    Obviously, out bodies deal with different things in different ways, yet all of the chemicals our bodies have to be a result of what we put in them and how our systems manage them. One of the ways we can make sure our bodies deal with some of the things we put into them better is by regular exercise, which doesn´t necessarily have to mean paying to go to a gym in order to torture ourselves while inhaling other men’s testoterone and steroid exhaust fumes. Walking is definitely good for mental as well as physical health. I have never owned a car and never really wanted to.

    Diet is incredibly important. Big food companies are trying to get us addicted to salt and sugar while big pharma is trying to get us addicted to pills, not designed to cure us, but designed to keep our symptoms at bay, so we need them for the rest of our lives. Drugs that cure people completely aren’t good business.

    Our meats are being contaminated with growth hormones, and antibiotics, our vegetables are being scientifically altered to produce sterile seeds, so our famers become dependent on chemical giants for life. GM foods are destroying bees and other insects vital for an ecological balanced environment where diversity can flourish. Banks lend you money to buy houses make you customers for the rest of your working life. All these things cause stress, and stress causes illnesses, as well as lowering your natural resistence to those very illnesses.

    As for your old friend, unfortunately, a young fool usually grows into and old fool, as wisdom does not necessarily increase with age. In some people it diminishes.

    • I agree with you wholeheartedly Bryan.

      I sincerely believe its the growth hormones that make the chickens ripe for slaughter in 6 weeks (instead of normal growth in free range, organically fed chickens of 3-4 months) that have contributed to my nieces and nephew being exceptionally tall at 34, 31 & 17 yrs of age). They all ate a diet much higher in chicken meat (than beef or lamb) in their growth years.

      Stress (and lack of deep ‘restful’ sleep) was certainly a strong force in the chronic ill health that forced me to take early retirement in 2010.

    • So sorry to hear about your stress-related ill health. I have suffered ill-health from stress myself, but was lucky enough for it not to affect my sleep.

      I hope you’re well enough to put your retirement to good use. We spend so much time having to work at jobs many of us would rather not do, only to find ourselves too ill to enjoy retirement.

      I can only wish you better health for the future. Thanks for your reply.

  9. Reblogged this on The Road Less Traveled and commented:
    “For some time I have questioned the way we ‘do life’ here in North America and other parts of the Western World.”
    Excellet post from my friend Kenneth Justice, The Culture Monk.

  10. “For some time I have questioned the way we ‘do life’ here in North America and other parts of the Western World.”

    I told you we were kindred souls, and this quote proves it. Thank you for this post. And in your travels, I think you have seen that there are some of us living in spite of this fast-paced chaotic culture, making wiser choices and seeking a full life with true experiences and real value.

    And by the way, you handled the older gentleman’s replies better than I might have.

  11. Ditto to all that (post), Kenneth.

    Imagine the modern world today without all the Eccentrics & Aspergers such as Sir Isaac Newton, Jane Austen, Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Michelangelo. Mozart and Thomas Edison, to name just a few.

    Besides……exactly Who decides, who or what is ‘normal’. Surely, that segment of society is both prejudiced and ‘abnormal’ in their inability to live with those who are different to themselves.

    Its the Eccentrics who have made all the great discoveries in Science (and perhaps) even Medical Research. Its the people who don’t accept the standards of today and go on to research and experiment, question and explore ‘outside the box’, who have made the most startling and unexpected discoveries.

    Who would have guessed that 2 Australians would discover and prove the Helicobacter pylori virus caused up to 90% of Ulcers and a simple treatment would eradicate the bacterium – leading to the two receiving the Nobel Prize for Physiology/Medicine in 2005. If Dr Marshall hadn’t been brave (& eccentric?) enough to infect himself with the bacteria & then treat the bacterium with the right antibiotic, perhaps the whole discovery might never have been accepted by the medical community and been lost for years.

  12. Hahahaha! Wow! I love you you bolded “I started getting extremely annoyed.” Uh, yeah! You’re a sane person, and obviously that man is living blind. And I agree, that in theory, yes, the culture we’ve created in western society, is not the best environment for mental health; for any form of health issues, for that matter, and for many other things. I love how you addressed people with Aspergers. It totally bugs me that the medical community regards them as different and needing to be fixed; because before there was a name for it, there was people with this condition. Not every child responds to regimented instruction in a classroom for hours every day; not every child can emotionally handle both parents being gone from morning until evening. Does this mean they’re problematic, simply because they don’t “fit in” with society’s mold? Grrr! No it does not! Same with ADD or ADHD kids. Medicating them and labeling them a problem sure isn’t doing anything to help those kids. I remember working at a summer camp, and everyone was talking about this boy, in 4th grade, who we were going to get who was ADD, and how bad he was, yadda yadda yadda. And lo and behold, he behaved perfectly for me. I treated him like all the other kids, I spoke softly to him, smiled at him, asked him things politely, and he never got out of control with me, he would stop doing his disruptive behaviors, I let him help me and he did so good, even his mother thanked me for what I had done. Another great article, gets people thinking and talking.

  13. I agree. One thing…if anyone started saying the things that man said I would have left. I don’t allow that kind of hatred and ugliness in my life. I don’t give air time to bigots, racists, etc. They don’t get that from me. I don’t argue, it’s pointless, but I do walk away immediately and direct my attention to better and more positive things.

  14. Nice thoughts Kenneth.

    What you are saying here reminded me of the “dog whisperer”, hah.

    “exercise [daily], discipline [in the proper moments – during problems], affection [in the proper moments – during calmness] (all three in that order of importance)” are his three steps to having a better behaved dog. This works relatively well for people too, but we are probably wired a little differently than dogs.

    “Handiwork,” “Conversation,” and “Play,” are my three guesses. Good food and exercise can go a little ways too. Much more could be said on this 😛

    • I think many people also “self-medicate” through alcohol, tobacco, TV, and video games, shopping… and all kinds of other vices.

      And yes… good sleep is also good 😛

  15. I may have forgotten to comment but I listened to the podcast Monday morning and I really enjoyed it. I hate to agree with everything you’re saying after hearing that you like having some variety to the discussions, but what can I do? I’ve never considered mental therapy to be within my sphere of need or affordability, so I’ve always turned to exercise, meditation, diet, and physical, creative hobbies to keep my emotions in check and to improve my peacefulness. I like it. I was one of those kids that always acted out in school and barely graduated, thinking that school wasn’t for me. Is it possible that the way schools educate wasn’t for Little Surfer Rob? Yes sir. I didn’t know that, though; and if I had been born ten years later maybe I would have been diagnosed with ADHD.

    The thing is — I don’t believe ADHD is nearly as widespread as they say. I don’t think I had it.

    Perhaps the problem with the pill-popping mentality is not something that lies with the people who seek the medication; but rather, that for every unhappy person out there with a deep-seated need to find peace, there is an equal and opposite desire to exploit that need in the interest of profit. Add to that the fact that there’s simply no checks to keep that kind of exploitation from happening.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think it’s the doctors that are doing the exploiting – that’s not what I’m saying. I think it’s the drug companies. It’s their product to sell, and they are the ones that are providing the information that the medical establishment uses to prescribe medications.

    I think this is a tough thing to fix on the society level because people tend to go to doctors as the experts on medical health; we trust that are doctors know what they’re doing, and often we swallow their advice whole without really putting any thought processes or any of our intrinsic desires into play. Some of us will reject auxiliary treatment and medication, as I am prone to do when I think it’s unnecessary – after research, of course. But some people think, “this is going to make me better.” That’s the motivator, but that’s not the source of the problem. I think if anyone wanted to put a stop to this kind of exploitation, that have to go right to the source and break the power of the drug companies, possibly with better regulation.

    That was a really long comment, I hope it’s coherent.

  16. Hmm.. I think it’s true that we rely way too much on medications, but I think we’re beginning to replace that with the “everyone’s special” syndrome. We’re each unique, but that’s vastly overwhelmed by the ways we’re all the same. Tailoring school, for example, to every little quirk of each child only creates the illusion of success, however you want to define that. At the other extreme, it’s true that leaving no leeway for differences is no good either. How about a uniform curriculum for children, but with good teachers, who have always taken children’s differences into account? We might even consider better training for them, and (God forbid) a decent living wage. I suspect the Asperger’s child mentioned in the comments, who is attending regular school, will do just fine, maybe even better than his “special” sibling.

  17. While I’m on a roll, consider the logic that an above-average child, i.e., one who already has an advantage over peers, needs special schooling. Did Einstein have special schooling? You might respond, “No, and he did very poorly in school.” Indeed he did. That explains why he made no contribution in life. [sarcasm alert!]

  18. I haven’t the stomach anymore to handle conversations with the man you described. As soon as I hear the words ‘nuke’ in reference to anyone, or about how any one race is better than another I pretty much tune out and walk away. I used to engage people like that, but I have to admit such garbage has taken a toll on my blood pressure. That said, I think there is some sort of large plot to totally anesthetize America. I know so many people who have become addicted to prescription drugs, so many who have turned to street drugs, and believe me, a slew of people who believe they are above it all as they drink themselves into oblivion each night. And now pot is on the rise (don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-marijuana), but what the heck is going on.

  19. As you well know, it can get me down when I try to have these kinds of discussions in real life. I’ve had wonderful discussions that made me really happy. All people involved learned something and – while that doesn’t change the world overnight – I felt I was making a difference. But then someone will end this discussion with “Well, doesn’t matter anyway since nothing will change.” On my stronger days, I’ll think to myself ‘well, not with that attitude.’ But other days it’s just say. It brings me down to see good people with good ideas stay silent and squander their knowledge in the believe that nothing they can do will make a bit of a difference. Where would we be is Susan B. Anthony or Gandhi had thought that way? Just because nothing will change dramatically in our lifetime does not mean that our lives can’t contribute to change.

    When it comes to mental health, I think society would do well to be more accepting. It’s not just about allowing people who can manage their mental health without medication exist free of stereotypes. It’s about removing the stigma so people who really, truly need medical help can seek it out without fearing repercussions in the personal or professional life. I honestly think that only would reduce a certain amount of violence in this country. If people only felt comfortable giving a name to a problem they have with their mental health, understanding they can change and manage it without stigmas, we’d see more people getting treatment they need.

  20. It is hard for me to believe that 75% of our nations takes a prescription. I am searching for something that I disagree with in this post oh well maybe the next one. Since you are moderate and I and not I am sure I will find something soon.

    • There are huge numbers of people on cholesterol and blood pressure drugs. Almost everyone I know over 50 is taking one or the other. When you consider all of the drugs that are routinely given to kids, the 75% figure that Kenneth mentions here seems a bit more likely.

    • Ya I am sure the stat is correct just so high I am very close to 50 myself no medication though

    • WE, yea, I’ve cited the stat’s in the past but its become such common knowledge that 75% of the public is on some type of prescription drug I figure at this point we all just know it.

  21. I read your entry yesterday, and decided I should also do as what the girl on your post did. So I did some research on depression. Thank you for that post. I am feeling positive about what I have been reading about how to fight depression and all. And yes, walking (and regular exercise) is among the recommendations. Next stop, meditation.

    I have been reading your entries for a few weeks now, the only blog I am reading consistently so far. And I do like how you think– most of the time. Anyways, here are my thoughts, my father died 2005 and along with that are strings of unfortunate events; friends betrayed me, a lover left me, more family issues. And just like you I was then depressed. But somehow I did manage to cope with that depression. Maybe because I was in the varsity then. Maybe because back then I read a lot. Or maybe because I had a better support system. I don’t remember (to be honest with you) how exactly I have managed to survive that episode. But I did– eventually.

    I do think you are right, people these days are living in a world where almost anything is in an instant. “Fast paced, fast food”, and because of this, people are more impatient when there is something they are not able to control– or will have to wait for the results. We just want things to be done, right away. Which makes me wonder, maybe I was able to fight my depression no matter how persistent it was, because I was more patient then? I was not rushing things to be fixed overnight. I was patient even to myself. The thing with mental illness (in my opinion) is that it is never resolved overnight or in a pill or two. Things like this should be coupled with the right attitude as well. And more than the mental health issue, I think everyone should learn to be more patient these days. Because we tend to get a little short tempered when things don’t go our way (and I am also guilty at this), that sometimes, we fail or refuse to see what we should really do to resolve an issue or two. I have been a tech support before, and sometimes, the silliest calls come to me, like, “Why is my computer not working”, me: “Is the power light on?”, “No”, “You may need to plug the power adapter to the power outlet”, “oh…” And I am not exaggerating…

    • Estella,

      Thanks for the great comments. Ultimately, I’m not prescribing merely ‘one’ way to deal with depression but to suggest to people that they approach it from a multi-faceted manner. There are a lot of problems with the way we ‘do life’ and until we correct our external problems… how can we really know if what we have is really an internal condition? Can and do chemical imbalances in the brain occur; sure! But since we can’t actually measure them scientifically…. my attitude is to first to do everything in my power to create the right living situation, and then, if I’m still struggling to then consider possible medical intervention.

  22. Good post Kenneth…actually they’re all good!

    Like the gentleman in your article our society seeks easy solutions to complex problems. People look for quick fixes rather than working with difficulties to make a better situation for everyone involved. Bird brain mentality would suggest nuking something should take care of it, which sadly is the type of thinking among many so called academics today. When dealing with people who are mentally or even physically challenged even professionals (doctors, politicians, lawyers and people et al) in our society call them disabled. They have, in essence, nuked an entire group of people with their enlightened, higher that thou, rational thought process.

    My question is who sets the standard to say one person is disabled and another is not? As an example, is a person in a wheelchair disabled simply because they can’t get around as well as a person with legs to walk on?
    Perhaps society is disabled because, like the school system, it seeks to lump everyone into the same mold regardless of our individual needs…one size fits all mentality.

    I have been working with mentally/physically challenged youth for more than two decades and my experience has taught me that no one is dis-abled…as society would have us believe, but everyone is differently-abled. Some people may not be able to do something the way most people can, or as fast as some people can, but that doesn’t mean they are disabled, they just do things differently. A good society is one that considers the needs of everyone and patiently makes the changes that are necessary for the good of all…no nuking allowed! Of course this may be a little too idealistic, eh?

    ~ Dave

    • Dave, that’s exactly it; who DOES get to set this damn arbitrary standard. Currently we are letting the government and doctors decide what is normal and what is not….. and I don’t want to put up with it anymore.

      We’ve created a culture where if you don’t look or act a certain way than life is much tougher for you…. so people with various levels of autism get discriminated against because they don’t ‘fit in’…… it makes me mad.

  23. I buy all that. . . . as well as . . . being old and white in this country probably means you grew up in an entirely different and in many ways better culture. ( for whites anyways) I know I did. It is so easy for the old guy to get pessimistic if he sees life from that viewpoint. I know lots of guys like him. I’m sure everything in his experience revels the truth of his words to him daily.

    I wandered the world enough to know better, but had I stayed in the old neighborhood all my life I could have been moving on the same low vibration that the old man was.

  24. That I’ve liked about your recent posts is how the Manic/Depressive college student managed to take her situation into her own hands and work it, and how you have been able to examine and re-work your own work situation. One reason I distrust government intrusion is because of their ‘one-size-fits-all’ fixes, such as schools. Though I like government intrusion where it expands options. For example, bike paths, handicapped access, buses, civil rights issues, etc. I wish we had a culture of walking paths like in England. I live out in the countryside and not only is there no place to park – there is no place to walk! (Unless you drive to the created ‘Nature Trail’). It’s crazy. It’s a beautiful day and all I can do is circle around my cul de sac.

  25. Thank you for addressing the uncomfortable realities about our culture. I don’t think drugs will solve all our problems, unfortunately.

  26. All I can say is thank you, thank you so much for this post.

  27. My son is autistic and this was by far the greatest line I’ve read all day: “the problem they struggle with is not that there is something wrong with them…..but rather that there is something wrong with the damn society they live in that isn’t able to accept them as they are.” What is normal anyway?

    Fast-paced America and society created requirements, both have a large negative influence on people’s mental health. It’s a sad world we live in, where society and psychiatric ‘professionals’ have convinced people that they are no longer good enough.

    • Thank you so much for the comment. I’m tired of people thinking that all I’m merely trying to do is bash drugs…. cuz its not; I’m not against drugs. I’m against drugs though when doctors try to say that people with autism are somehow not normal..that makes me REALLY mad. Because they ARE normal. There is nothing wrong with someone with something like Aspergers….and they don’t need drugs; we need to CHANGE the way our society is. Because we have created a damn culture that only favors people who look and act a certain way; THAT is the problem…..

  28. Good for you, being proactive about bettering your living situation to lessen mental and physical stress (I know first hand how toxic chronic emotional stress is to your whole body). I’m taking the same route. Being single again and living in suburbia, having to drive to get anywhere, surrounded by couples and families with kids…not ideal.

    In two weeks time, I’ll be selling my car and living in a lovely neighborhood of DC. When I walk out of my apartment building, my feet can easily take me to shops, a hiking trail to Rock Creek Park, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, the library, bookstores, farmers’ markets, grocery stores, and a Metro station that for a couple bucks can take me to all the free museums, monuments, festivals, protests, etc., I’ve missed dearly living in the suburbs. My car’s been very good to me these 15 years, but I can’t wait to let her go. To be around people, single people, all kinds of people, and making connections, community, and a difference, hopefully…I’m looking forward to that the most.

  29. We are always fixing others while we could be working on ourselves above anything else.

    And there is a thought of the day.

    We fixing an issue we create a problem. It is true we to easy pop pills. It is up to the Individual to try and think it over and maybe ask a second opinion.
    Doctors diagnose on a possibility. Never knowing for sure unlike a dentist lol and those we fear even more.

    • “its up to the individual and maybe ask a second opinion”

      Yea, that’s all I’m asking people to do; go see a second or third doctor before you make such a big choice

  30. I’m a big believer in idealism! But, I’m also not taking any pills for anything! 🙂

  31. “It bothers me that people with Asperger’s are told they aren’t ‘normal’. The medical profession says that men and women with Asperger’s need to be ‘fixed’ or ‘taught’ to ‘deal’ with their disorder. This bothers me a lot. I have good friends who have been diagnosed with Asperger’s and I believe they are wonderful people; the problem they struggle with is not that there is something wrong with them…..but rather that there is something wrong with the damn society they live in that isn’t able to accept them as they are.”

    I have not been officially “diagnosed” with asperger syndrome, but I know that it describes me. I am not sure I want a diagnosis either. I agree with you that the society needs to be fixed so that people who are different are not seen as somebody to be fixed.

  32. I really fucking hate when someone tells me I’m too positive to be “grown up.” This post is everything.

    Peace always 🙂

  33. So many people are unhappy because none of us really live how humans were intended to. Convenience and security are great but there is a mental price we pay for them.

  34. “I think you’re just stubborn and don’t want to accept the world as it is” he said

    I get called “stubborn” often; don’t know why..😆 but I think it’s always room for improvement.

  35. Great anecdote about how you overcame depression and anxiety. Sometimes you just have to get out of your bubble a little more often!

  36. The US is probably to blame for most tension and war in the world- who says Boko Haram isnt funded by the Pentagon? Have you seen the film Dirty Wars? The US is stirring up countries and we have so called security from our government against Terrorism when actually this is a myth.
    The west has serious problems with food. Look at consumer culture and advertising. We should be eating at least 5 fruit and veg a day to live as long as 80. I suffered for migraines for 5 years to find out that I am intolerant to gluten wheat milk and egg white- just realising this made me realise that all the man made things, even bread, is not good for us. People think they are healthy eating but its still far from actuality.
    No wonder the NHS is having problems and needs to be privatised (yet another issue in the UK)….
    Drugs, mainly prescriptive are a massive problem, causing people to believe that illegal drugs are worse when in fact they have been used for centuries for remedys, including marijuana and now ketamine is being said to help depression.
    People need to open their mind and look past what is being said in the media, people who we think know what they are saying because frankly everyone has an agenda and thats why we are in this mess.

  37. “Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee this morning,”
    –Just a few damn good thoughts, if I must say so myself.
    Here here to not believing in the western concept of doing things as the be all, end all to life. Because – holy cow – it certainly isn’t. You know, I once read something about people from Vanuatu being number 1 as the happiest people on Earth. And they don’t have a wide variety of food choice, nor a comfy lifestyle. Hmmmmm, makes you think eh.

    “the problem they struggle with is not that there is something wrong with them…..but rather that there is something wrong with the damn society they live in that isn’t able to accept them as they are.”
    –You hit a bone with me here on this one. Today I made a decision to take my Aspie son off of ritalin. It’s been a horrible experience. It was suppose to help him concentrate and pay attention better. Instead, he’s bouncing off the walls and all over the place. I literally cried in front of him today trying to do his English reading. I could have whacked him, I was so frustrated and angry (really though, I’m not a bad mother). Then his school called and asked me to come pick him up because he freaked out in class. Couldn’t handle any noise, couldn’t handle the door being open at all, he’s been trying strangle other kids and showed his freakin ‘you know what’ to the other students and the girls screamed. So sorry, I’m on a rant again. Can you tell I’ve been just a tad stressed lately. Oh yes, back to the quote. Who ever gave the ‘professionals’ the right to say there’s something wrong with them?

    Ohhhh, there’s so much more I could comment on this post, but then I’d write a book.

    Another great, but really great post Kenneth.


    • I applaud your decision to seek alternatives solutions for Ritalin but please seek the advice and supervision of your doc while doing so to ensure safe withdrawal. If your doc won’t help you find one that will. Wishing you much success.

    • Actually he just started. It was to test out so there won’t be any withdraw effects. We see his neuro on Tuesday. Thanks for the concern.

    • Staci, there are good therapists out there that can offer alternatives to Ritalin… and more importantly they could help give you the support system. But I don’t know what the situation in Brazil is like 😦 Ultimately, I believe VERY strongly in communal help in raising children; whether it is through counselors, therapists, ministers, relatives, etc. One of the things that I love about places like Vanuatu, is that the parent(s) isn’t all alone and by themselves; they have a huge support system.

  38. Dear Kenneth,

    As usual, great post. (I am behind in my reading and have yet to read yesterday’s post, but I look forward to doing so.) Because I am one of those 75 percenters that you speak of who take medications for one or more conditions, I felt compelled to respond, at least to your points and some comments about depression and the use of medications.

    First, many of us experience a degree of depression or sadness that does not rise to the level that requires medications. While it is true, as a number of the comments noted, that it is fashionable for defendants in criminal cases to use mental illness as an excuse for their bad acts, some only add to the societal stigma and disregard of legitimate cases of mental illness. (Nevertheless, while I think that it should not serve as a protection against punishment for crimes committed, it should not be overlooked that a fraction of the defendants were not taking prescribed medication when they committed their heinous acts.) Moreover, I have no doubt that there are scores of people who use anti-depressants as the first tool in dealing with non-clinical depression, yet, there are many who are not treated or under treated for serious cases of depression. Insurance companies have only recently begun to give parity to mental health conditions. Granted, pills are not the answer for some people, but the fact of the matter is that they are savior to many others.

    At some point, I ‘came out’ on my blog about my fight with clinical depression, so I will not bore you with the gory details. Suffice it to say that at one point in my life, I was wholeheartedly against the use of drugs for my depression. I was convinced that exercise, diet and alternative medicine was my Mecca. I tried countless forms of alternative medicine, intense yoga, meditation and other means of treating the disease–none of them were effective. In hindsight, the societal stigma that one is weak for resorting to medications, was another factor in my refusal to go that route.

    Fortunately, I had a caring and astute doctor, who after a year of hearing me deny that my depression was serious enough for medications, began a campaign to convince me to, at the very least, give the medication a chance. Between pleas from him and my husband, I finally relented, and took the damned things, if only to get them off my case.

    After about a month, I began to come out of my depression haze, and was astounded at the clarity that they brought and difference that they made in the quality of my life. Actually, I found that only by reaching the other side of my depressive episode was I able to comprehend the true depths of my clinical depression. I had zero quality of life and aside from my job as a trial attorney, nothing could touch me while in the grips of depression, not even my amazing children. Answering the telephone took more energy than I could muster, and all that I’d previously enjoyed held no interest for me. I felt helpless, hopeless, unworthy, and even the smallest decision seemed monumental–and I felt that I had no control over it. I say this knowing full well that many do not understand the nature of true clinical depression. I also have migraine headaches and I’ve found that it is as difficult to explain clinical depression to one who has had no experience with it, as it is to explain that migraine headaches are not mere ‘headaches.’

    I am elated for you and all of those for whom prescription medicines were unnecessary. Nevertheless, for many, they have to accept that anti-depressants are a vital part of their lives, sometimes until death do they part. I know of no one who prefers this as an option. It is what it is.

    Finally, in many cases, a “medical tool” is unnecessary to diagnose clinical depression. An experienced mental health professional need only spend some time with the person, talking to, listening and taking note of their actions. Clinical Depression is not a passing phase. It is a jealous mistress and consumes all that one finds joy in and treasures.

    I apologize for the lengthiness is this comment but I wanted to present the other side. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to do so.

    Blessings, Lydia

    • Lydia, Sometimes you have to write a lengthy post to really get your point across! Your journey was a well traveled and educated journey. You tried all other avenues and it didn’t work…until you went on meds. And, I agree with you…sometimes meds are just the right thing. Someone I care for very deeply was on medication for a little over a year after the death of a loved one. Had it not been for the meds, this person might have hurt himself or others. The meds gave him a pause…just long enough to keep him from exploding. After a year, he could take his own pause without the meds and stopped using them. I certainly don’t know what life is like being clinically depressed…but you do and if you say your quality of life is better with meds, then I believe you. Good on your husband and doc for hanging in there and helping you find a solution. I am a firm believer in one size does not fit all.

    • Dear Mrs. P.,

      I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your kind and thoughtful comments. All that I intended in my tome, disguised as a comment, was to express the positive impact that medications can have on one’s life. In fact, for certain people it can literally be a case of life or death. I am so happy to hear that meds helped your friend as he journeyed through a difficult period in his life and that when the time was right, he was able to go on without them. He is fortunate to have a friend like you. These are the types of stories that get buried beneath the cases of improper use of medications. I really like your last sentence as it is so simple but true, one size does not fit all. Blessings and thanks, Lydia

    • Thank you for this comment! While I do think that perhaps medication might be a bit over-prescribed, the fact of the matter is that there are plenty of people who suffer from serious prologue mental illness who need to take medicine. I am another example. I suffered with unmediated clinical depression for 12 years and was hospitalized twice for serious suicidal ideation. For me exercise was just not cutting it. All power to the people who do not need medication, however, a good number of us might need it or we might end up committing suicide. In addition, medicine isn’t really a magic pill. If anyone takes medication and magically feel better, then please let me know what the name, prescription, and the dosage for that pill! For me, medication is taking the edge off of my depression and my suicidal thoughts, which means that I can at least begin to deal with any underlying issues. Mental illness is so often stigmatized and while I appreciate the stories of those who do not need medication or only had to be on it a short time, I think it’s vitally important to hear from those of us who need medication in order to survive and to let others know, yes there are people who feel better without medication, but if you need some that’s ok. I think it’s important to acknowledge that mental illness exists on a spectrum and for some exercising and meditation will be extremely helpful in providing relief for their symptoms, for others of us, we need medication and it’s nothing to be ashamed off. So thank you for sharing your story.

  39. Agree, agree agree.
    Sorry for agreeing as it won’t stimulate debate ;).

    It is rather scarry how we in western society want to push everyone (especially children) into a big grey mass. Anyone that do not want to fit in (and kids are really got at being who they are until we grown-ups forces them to something else) get’s labeled un-normal. Which most probably is the first step for them to later get into the drug and pill dependancy….

    • Thank you for the comments Louise….. its an important issue that I believe needs to be discussed more. Its arguably one of THE most issues in Western Countries that is being ignored.


  1. Journey Into the Light: May is Mental Illness Awareness Month | the tao of jaklumen

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