Position of weakness
I stumbled upon an extremely interesting post by Kevin Love who is (apparently) a professional NBA Basketball player. It is a fantastic post about mental health issues, the title of which neatly sums it up: "Everyone Is Going Through Something".
I read this post and it set my cogs spinning not specifically in relation to mental health issues but rather.. life.
It seems apparant to me that the issues outlined arise from a position of weakness (or rather, perceived weakness). Humans have evolved in such a way that doing certain things and/or discussing certain things are considered taboo. Being unmanly as a man is considered shameful.
I appreciate that I am probably a minority but I have never really cared about other peoples opinions. I think myself a fairly well rounded individual and I believe that most of my opinions are not too 'out there'. Given that assumption I live my life in the knowledge that whilst some of my opinions/ideas may be considered 'weird' they are not obectively 'bad' and no-one is actually going to get hurt. Noting that assumption I do not care in any way that you don't like my flower jacket. It is fucking cool.
I have taken some fairly non-traditional decisions regarding my career and lifestyle. For example I made the decision that I would never work for someone else again because my few limited experiences of doing that were so mentally and physically soul destroying.
I am fortunate enough that my decision worked out well for me. I run my own company. It is successful.. enough. As such I tend to preach the 'do what I did' mantra to anyone with whom I discuss the matter. Suprisingly (to me at least) a significant number of my friends have discussed hating their jobs with me :S
The problem is that this is surely a confirmation bias issue. It worked out OK for me and thus I am happy to preach it as tried and tested advice. In reality other people's mileage may vary. It is also definitely one of those things where you get out of it what you put in. I suspect that in reality more will fail than suceed and I acknowledge that I was in many respects lucky with my chosen path.
What is definitely true though is that most people are in a position of weakness. They can not just quit their job because they need to pay their mortgage and feed their kids.
They can not tell their boss to fuck off when he is an arsehole because otherwise you will get fired.
This is for the most part.. society. The game is setup such that most are pawns in a horrendously one sided game. There is an argument that people choose to play this role and that their position of weakness is warranted. That just seems a little messed up to me.
My philosophical views are fairly 'be the best', 'dont be a sheep', yadda yadda in nature but even I think that if it is possible a game where no-one gets screwed is always best.
The crossover with mental health (in my opinion) is that the playing field is setup such that discussing mental health issues is considered 'weak','unmanly' etc etc. That is inherent in the game that we as a society have chosen to play. My takeaway from posts like this is that we should all start playing a different, more fun game.. like UNO.
Mental health issues are front and center nowadays. The big problem is that mental health issues are varied and tend to be fairly invisible. I am not sure if it is simply the fact that everyone has a platform nowadays (which they didn't ten years ago) but whilst discussing the subject matter more is a great thing I find myself a little swallowed up as to who to discuss it with. Not to take away from the seriousness of the issue, but how does one sort the Wheat from the Chaff? How do I know who I can help when the issues are so varied and (from my experience) super difficult to explain/understand.
I have never had a medically diagnosed mental health issue. I have had prolonged periods (weeks, months) of mega lows. Some of the shit that has caused me a lot of issues is not even 'bad'. Some of it, to other people, might be insanely good. Feeling shit about good things is a mind fuck. Feeling shit about good things for a month is less than enjoyable.
I don't talk to people about my issues because I straight up don't want to. It doesn't help me. But I do acknowledge that if I wanted to I could talk to people and I am completely open to helping (in any way that I can) anyone else who has issues that they do want to discuss.
That Logic song about the suicide hotline number and other mental health awareness things are super welcome in my opinion. Helping people who have problems is always good but.. train metaphor.
In the UK they are building the new high speed rail. HS2. Its going to take decades. It will probably be super expensive, go over budget, and take way too long. It will get done, and one hopes it will actually be good. Whilst that is happening we don't just get rid of all the other train infranstructure. We manage and maintain it until it can be replaced.
We need to maintain our forward progress in helping people with mental health issues whilst designing and implementing a new.. less awful.. society.