Monday, December 19, 2011

In which I don't grow up or get over myself

[Originally posted at Slacktivist (page 3).]

To recap, the generation known as millennials was brought up, I happen to be a part of this generation (which surprised me because I thought it referred to the generation after me.)  It was originally brought up in the context of the evangelical church but pretty soon afterwards people indicated that, basically, the generation is being counted on to fix everything.  I responded to that, saying that what I find really problematic is that I'm being told this while I have untreated depression, others in my generation are tied to bad jobs they can't leave because they need healthcare, and generally speaking cleaning up the previous generations' messes would be easier if we weren't expected to do it while sick.

That got this response:

Which is exactly why so many despair of the Millennials changing the world - your priority isn't changing the world, it's getting something for yourself.  Somehow, the world has changed radically without the preconditions you insist one... So the problems aren't in your stars Horatio, it's in yourself.  Grow up and get over yourself. 

And I responded to that thus:

Ok, first off, fuck you.

Second, that line isn't from Hamlet, it's from Julius Caesar.  "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves..." the speaker is Cassius.  Think about that for a moment, do you really want to be comparing yourself to that?

Are you seriously asking that the millennials get together and decide that the fault "is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings"?  Because if you're asking us to change our status as underlings by means of brutal murder, maybe you're not the best person to be giving advice.

Also I note that things didn't work out too well for Brutus or Cassius.  Octavian took the empire, they were killed as traitors.  The republic was destroyed.

When I say that they were killed as traitors I oversimplify somewhat.  Cassius, the person you cast yourself as, ordered his slave to kill him after losing a battle.  Brutus, in whose role you have cast me, killed himself later on also after losing a battle.  Both died in disgrace.

So why, in hell, would I want to take that advice?

If you're going to glibly quote a literary reference then do it right.  Because right now, you kind of suck at it.

Third, if you honestly think that depression is something you can grow up and get over then you know even less about that than you do about Shakespeare.  If you're not a medical professional, perhaps you shouldn't be giving treatment advice.  If you are a medical professional, quit now.  You took an oath to do no harm and you are failing, quite badly.

For anyone else who might be interested, I'm somehow guessing Derek_L isn't, I did my best to do a write up on my experience a while back, and other resources can be found around the internet, one example of a different, more hopeful, experience with depression I have encountered is at hyperbole and a half.


And that was what happened over at Slacktivist.  While it might be nice to act like I had a point in posting this, I really don't except to say a couple of things.  The first thing is that I don't even like Shakespeare (though some of the sonnets I don't mind) if someone knows less about Shakespeare than I do they shouldn't be trying to quote it.  This is a minor point but it is important.

The second thing is that the response I got is probably as close to a textbook example of how not to respond to someone with depression as you'll ever see in the wild.  "Grow up and get over yourself," is a way to say that depression is the depressed person's fault.  Because when you're dealing with depression what you really need to hear is that you're at fault.  Surely telling someone that they're what's wrong with their life is a great way to deal with depression, right?

But it goes deeper than that, I'm not just responsible for everything bad with me, I'm also responsible for my entire generation being looked down on.  Bonus points for that.  It's not quite the worst thing like that I've seen, once my French uncle told my mother she made him ashamed of the entire human race (in French) because she'd had the audacity to send a card to his daughter.  (I think it was for her birthday.)

Still, even if it doesn't make top marks, I am apparently a stain on my entire generation.  I'm bringing them all down.  Great thing to say to someone dealing with depression.

And then we have the interesting dichotomy set up: your priority isn't changing the world, it's getting something for yourself.  You see, apparently that's either-or.  Either I can try to change the world, or I can get treatment for depression.  If I try to get treatment I'm being selfish.  If I want to be a good person then I have to forego treatment.  There's no hint that maybe I'd be able to do more good if I got treatment first and then tried to change the world.  There's no allowance that maybe doing both is possible or even preferable.  Instead it's set up as two things in opposition.  If you want to be healthy that's getting something for yourself when you should be trying to change the world.

So in a few short sentences we have the idea that depression is my fault, the idea that I'm a disgrace to my entire generation, and the idea that seeking treatment is being selfish.

If you should ever be writing a textbook on the subject, I really think that would be a great bit to include in examples of what not to say.

Also, who the hell confuses Horatio and Brutus?

1 comment:

  1. I was about to reply to the previous post that this guy is clearly speaking from a position of privilege (not having suffered chronic, clinical depression) and possibly even is older than the Millennial Generation (I'd not say probable, because I know plenty of men my age (about 30) who talk like that - can't think of a single woman, though that might be confirmation bias).

    But I see now that everything I was thinking in a foggy vague sort of way, you've pinned out quite clearly. Specifically, the idea that changing the world and getting medical treatment are an either/or, and not that one is a prerequisite to the other. I'm nearing 30 years old, but I feel like I'm only 18 in terms of life experience, because I'm only just starting to explore the world in the way an 18 year old should do - because I've spent the last 10 years under a fog of depression. There is so much I could've done these last ten years, or would've done, but for having no ambition or drive. It looks like it's been somewhat of the same for you, with different details.

    Also, I hate the idea that getting something for yourself is inherently bad. Do you know how much the idea of "selfishness = wrong" messes people up? Being selfish is a good thing, as I discussed with a therapist recently, because you need to be selfish to survive! The problem is being selfish but completely ignoring the needs of everyone else - hoarding ALL the food, rather than ensuring that you get enough to eat, instead of giving it all away to other people so that you starve. How can "I want universal healthcare" be selfish in a bad way?