The Catalogue: No. 16

Sunday, September 9, 2018

I've always found that not taking care of yourself/struggling/sadness/depression/etc. is super romanticized especially in academic institutions. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with the entire spectrum of human emotions and being vulnerable, I can't seem to understand why so many of us idealize things that hurt and suck. We try and normalize not eating or not sleeping because "I was studying so hard", instead of making it sound as disruptive as it actually is. (On the other side, I can see that all of this has made being mentally ill more de-stigmatized. But I still think there's a line we need to tread carefully on moving forward.)

So here are some ~interesting~ thoughts and articles (worded well by other people since I'm not always great at formulating the thoughts I have):

Depression's Upside | Jonah Lehrer, The NY Times
It doesn’t matter if we’re working on a mathematical equation or working through a broken heart: the anatomy of focus is inseparable from the anatomy of melancholy. This suggests that depressive disorder is an extreme form of an ordinary thought process, part of the dismal machinery that draws us toward our problems, like a magnet to metal.

But is that closeness effective? Does the despondency help us solve anything? Andrews found a significant correlation between depressed affect and individual performance on the intelligence test, at least once the subjects were distracted from their pain: lower moods were associated with higher scores. “The results were clear,” Andrews says. “Depressed affect made people think better.” The challenge, of course, is persuading people to accept their misery, to embrace the tonic of despair. To say that depression has a purpose or that sadness makes us smarter says nothing about its awfulness. A fever, after all, might have benefits, but we still take pills to make it go away. This is the paradox of evolution: even if our pain is useful, the urge to escape from the pain remains the most powerful instinct of all.
We Need To Stop Romanticizing Mental Illness | Lara Kahn, Thought Catalog
Mental illness and low self-esteem are terrible things. But it seems that the movement to de-stigmatize them has gotten horrifically confused with a movement to romanticize them. [...] A culture has developed that idolizes mental illness, and encourages self-harm, self-medication, and even at times ending it all and becoming immortalized as a romantically tragic soul. [This] can feed into the [wrong] attitude that has become more and more prevalent: that doing the raw, tedious, unexciting and difficult work of therapy is not the answer. That embracing mental illness, glorifying it as tragedy, and staying insulated in a community where no one will ever tell anyone that mental illness is not a way to live, is the answer [when it is not].
Project LETS (Lets Erase The Stigma) | Think globally, act locally. Project LETS is building sustainable peer-led resource systems in communities through LETS Spaces & our Community PMHA Model.

I don't want to be a damsel in distress, because there is nothing that great about being in distress. It sounds cheesy, but I'd much rather be happy.


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