Tag Archives: psychological

The State of Depression

19 Feb

This article on http://www.weather.com was rather interesting until the last page.

The 10 Most Depressing States in the U.S.

To summarize, it lists (rather irresponsibly and), alphabetically, indicators of what makes these states possibly depressive to live in.  Things like poor economy, high unemployment rate, poor health statistics, etc.  I was rather intrigued by these statistics until I read the last page, listed for West Virginia:

The Mountain State is ranked last or next-to-last in every mental-health category on our list, including the average number of “mentally unhealthy” days residents have per month and the percentage of people who experience frequent mental distress (15%).

One reason may be that roughly two-thirds of West Virginians live in rural areas, where both steady jobs and access to mental health care can be hard to come by. A 2000 study found that while nearly 1 in 3 residents living in rural areas had “a high level” of depression symptoms, almost half had never been treated for the condition by any doctor, let alone a psychiatrist or mental-health specialist.

I think the most interesting sentence there is the one listing their supposition behind these markers for frequent mental distress: these people live in rural areas where almost half had never been treated for their conditions by any doctor, psychiatrist or mental-health specialist.

Doesn’t this seem a bit arrogant to you?

I can see one side of the coin, and probably how it was meant, that it is a largely agrarian, mining, and industrial society that has incredibly sparse access to the luxury of a mental health physician…but the other side of the coin?

Are they really implying that rural society must be depressed because they are rural?  That’s how this last page read to me.  Not to mention that it was incredibly irresponsible to make a LIST of the most depressing states for those states to see.  Gee, let’s just tell people how sick they are! (and watch the money roll in for the medical profession, I think?)

Look at that last sentence.  “1 in 3 residents living in rural areas had a ‘high level’ of depression symptoms“.  Where are the actual numbers stating that these people have depression?  I can sigh and have a bad day, but maybe I just stubbed my toe.  Does that mean I’m depressed?  Maybe I’m having trouble making my checkbook balance and my kid’s clothes weren’t completely dry before sending them off to school today so they might catch cold before the day’s out.  With winter storms like we’ve been having, every day being cloudy and rainy and snowy…YEAH, I’m going to look depressed, but that doesn’t mean I am clinically or chronically depressed to the point where I need help.  You can observe many points where I might look like I need medical attention, but I can look on Webmd.com all day long and find symptoms I’m sick with, too.  That doesn’t mean I’m really sick.  I can write an entire thesis on the supposed connection between strep throat carriers and autistic children, but it doesn’t mean it’s true.

My point is, the medical profession and their researchers are becoming increasingly arrogant to believe that just because they say something is so, we need to believe it and never question them.  I know this is one report and one article, but honestly, how many times do you read or see some kind of advertisement that wants you to try something new, simply because you “might” be expressing those symptoms?

THAT’S unhealthy, and something incredibly arrogant in the current pharmaceutical and medical professions.

I leave you with this:  Please don’t hesitate to question your doctors.  They are human and second opinions are well-respected.  Don’t fall for this claptrap that someone puts online about “depressing states”.  If you feel depressed, yes of course, get whatever help you need and I’m sure you (and especially West Virginia) have a medical professional or at least a counselor within at least 100 miles that can help.  Do not forget the power of friends and family, or if you’re religious, the higher power of your faith.

What have you seen recently that has been a solid representation of irresponsible medical advertising?



6 Mar

One of my least favorite things about traditional American media (movies, literature, etc.) is the necessity for a complete, tidy “Happily Ever After”.

Don’t get me wrong, I used to eat it up like after-dinner pudding, licking the spoon clean and going back for more…but somewhere down the line, my brain grew up. Actually, not somewhere. I can pinpoint it. Two instances in particular.

Becoming familiar with Andrew Lloyd Weber’s The Phantom of the Opera, and watching the movie re-creation of a little play called “Educating Rita” starring Michael Cain and Julie Walters (who is better known now cast as ginger matron, Molly Weasley) were the exact turning points for me.

I think I saw POTO enacted in a cartoon on HBO as a child first, but did not know what I was watching. I wasn’t truly introduced to it until my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Sullivan, decided we needed a little culture during the last week before Christmas break. I was, of course, terrified and obsessed from that point onwards. The story is so beautifully unreal and complicated, you find yourself struggling with Christine…well, I don’t need to tell you the story. We all know it. The true tragedy lies in that we feel sorry for Phantom at the end and actually want him to win, somehow, even while being horrified by what he’s done and identifying with it at the same time. It’s not a wrapped up, clean, neat happy ending. You wonder, does Christine regret? Does she ever wonder about the life she could have had with Erik versus Raoul? What happens to Erik? Did he die? Did he keep watching over her (as the movie suggests, long after the play gives us these questions)?

No neat, shiny bow, giving us the answers. And yet, we knew the story was over. There was no more to tell, we were not invited to intrude on their lives anymore. It was lovely.

Now, on to “Educating Rita”. I’ve taken the following synopsis from www.imdb.com:

Bored with teaching undergraduates English literature, Frank Bryant morosely reflects through a whiskey glass on his failed marriage and his attempt at becoming a poet. His world is turned upside down by the arrival of Rita, a hairdresser who has decided to find herself by taking an Open University course. Excited by her freewheeling and acute observations, and – let’s be honest – by Rita herself, Frank also feels a deep sadness as he watches her warm impulsive reactions being replaced by the sort of cold analytical approach he so much loathes in other students and colleaguesWritten by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

This sums up such a lovely story and you’d think from reading this that Frank and Rita would end up together, right? WRONG! Oh, I wanted them to. I SO wanted them to, especially after the hair-cutting scene (delicious!) but in the end, they don’t. He lives his life, and she lives hers with both of their choices made on their own terms and you feel satisfied with that. No sloppy kisses or frantic sex in a dark room, no awkward moments for professor and student, just…respect and friendship and a really good story.

I will tell you: I watched this when I was about ten. It shocked the hell out of me that there was no wrapped up little ending with them flying off to the tropics together. I had become so trained and so inured to watching American media that I had come to expect the happy ending.

But, this was a happy ending, wasn’t it? Rita got out of her crap life and Frank started taking interest in life again, thanks to her. That’s pretty happy to me. It’s just…not American (and let me say that American cinema has made leaping inroads on this lack in genre since then, but I digress).

Once, I remember watching a movie with my mother on television and getting bored with it. I got up to leave the room and she asked me, “Don’t you want to find out how it ends?”

I responded, “No, I already know. He [does this] and she [does that], they kiss and make up, music swells, the end. Nothing new.”

She blinked at me like I’d grown a second head, but I remember pining for stories like the ones I’m talking about here. I couldn’t find them, growing up. There were tragedies, aplenty, but who wants to bawl their eyes out? I wanted to be happy at the end but not turn my brain to mush in the process.

The day I got my driver’s license I went to the bookstore and started searching, hoping books were the answer since it was an older medium. I was already addicted to romance (backwards, I know but I was still hooked on that happy ending without all the frills). There were a few authors that could do it and I clung to them like limpets. The more I read, the more I would look back at my first-reads with disgust.

I was constantly searching for an intelligent, open read with a happy ending because I couldn’t find it in American cinema and the international market wasn’t open to me at the time.

And then it was.

I went to college, and it was. I devoured foreign films, particularly Chinese and English because they seem to have the knack of not getting too weird (on the mainstream, I can’t vote for the goat-guy…don’t ask, it was a bad night for movies) and having an open, happy ending with intelligent plot you had to chew on. I also discovered new genres in reading, particularly Science Fiction. I am ashamed at how closed-minded I had been over that genre and happily eat that crow daily!

Now, one of the worst things you can do to me is hand me a book or movie that has all the little plots and people tied up in little boxes and bows on my front doorstep in a neat little pile. I want to take that neat little pile and toss some boxes under the bushes, then throw some in the street, chuck a few onto the roof and when I get down to the last five boxes, I’ll burn three of them. The last two boxes will tell me the protagonists are happy and a possible, plausible future. I don’t care if her second cousin found a boyfriend at last and is planning a wedding this Thursday, but the cake is spiked. I. Really. Don’t. Care. You can tell me that the bad guy/girl/spiny jungle squirrel either got away or got its come-uppance. Those kind of bows are fun.

Now, before your very eyes, I shall take this rant and turn it into what I want to write (ahem: Marc Schuster’s advice was to find what I love and/or hate, well, here you go). I want any story of mine to be intelligent, tangible, and thought-provoking, but for God’s Sake NO BOWS! I love happy endings, but I don’t want to be pat or trite or predictable. I want to be a contribution to the written word, not as fodder or escapist literature, but as something to chew on. I want my reader to want to eat my book with both hands, then lick their fingers afterwards. Burping is okay in my book, it’s a compliment to the chef.

It’s going to be hard, but then again, I was the girl that learned division before subtraction, multiplication before addition. To quote: Baby, I was born this way.

If you want a list of authors I’m trying to emulate or that I think have the ability to write like I’m attempting, check out My Inspirations page.

I introduce to you images of Seph and Saravis from “The Education of Miss Persephone Norris”

6 Feb

Just for a bit of background, I usually find an actor’s picture that gives me the image I’m looking for when creating a character.  Writing fanfiction has changed that a bit for me, allowing me to break that mould and play with my own ideas, using my fondness for portraiture to play with the images in my head.  Unfortunately, sometimes those images get a little adjustment.

Drawing is a funny thing.  It’s completely organic (for me, at least) and I will quite often end up with something surprising and different from what I started out with.  Take my image of Saravis (below) for instance.  He was supposed to be something between Bill Nighy and Rutger Hauer.  (insert eye roll here, please)  What came out was…well…interesting, but not what I’d originally intended.  I kind of like it.  (vote: would you rather see Saravis as I described above, or as I’ve drawn below?)

The Education of Miss Persephone Norris


What do you think of my character images?  To be perfectly honest, they’re not emoting what I want for the story, but I like how they’re a bit quirky and you can see some of their personality eking out, and also how they’re NOT comic-book perfect.

I find I hate it when I pick up a book of a favorite author that I know has well-grounded characters but has the image of something otherwordly and “perfect” (ahem–airbrushed) on the cover or bookjacket.  I know it sells, but I think people are starting to move beyond that, now.  I think there are more, like me, who want honesty and reality in what they read, mixed in with the fantasy or HEA (happily ever after).  We’re such a grounded and hardened society, with our heads filled with gruesome news every day, I don’t think we like to be so completely removed from it ALL the time.  Some of the time, sure ;)  I still pick up my Julia Quinn collection for a comfort read. (Romancing Mr Bridgerton, my favorite–and first–of hers).

The Education of Miss Persephone Norris


Seriously, though.  Would you rather pick up a book with something perfect and airbrushed on the cover, or would you sooner pick up something that looked a bit more…human?  Foregoing the art aspect of the cover, of course (if the human images could be more everyday, but in an artful cover as easily as the increasingly manga-style covers we see so often?)

S0, notes and asides, well, aside–I give you “Persephone” and “Saravis” from my Work in Progress named The Education of Miss Persephone Norris.  I hope to have character outlines up in a few days…we’ll see if they match ;)

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