I’m currently reading Lost Connections by Johann Hari ~ Uncovering the real causes of depression and the unexpected solutions. It was one that came to me from a simple paragraph quote, shared on Instagram..
What if depression is, in fact, a form of grief – for our own lives not being as they should? What if it is a form of grief for the connections we have lost, yet still need?
I am very grateful to not suffer from depression personally but in this fast paced, overly busy, online life we live in, it is so prevalent and we all care for, or know someone who is. My sister and I have spoken about this so much lately, the myriad of issues caused by disconnection and isolation, choosing a life to please our family or friends, or society. Making choices throughout our lives that we think we should do, even when our gut tells us it’s not right for us. Checking off the normal life milestones regardless of whether they actually make you happy. And then coming to your midlife crisis – that isn’t a crisis at all – it’s just you’ve ignored what you’ve really wanted for decades in order to please everyone but yourself – or attained certain things believing those things would MAKE you happy and – surprise! – they didn’t – only to find your body and mind have had enough and the so called crisis is actually an awakening or a return to your true self, coming to terms and finding the courage to shed every layer of yourself that you grew around the real you.
I’ve been reading for a couple of weeks and am almost there but it is not something I could read all at once. It’s one you must concentrate on, full of information. Incredibly insightful. I read it in the early morning after yoga, and then switch to something more nourishing for my soul at bedtime – currently Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown. Lost Connections is a book everyone should read.
The very short gist – Johann speaks of his personal and long term battle with depression and anxiety, thirteen years of which he was prescribed varying forms and doses of antidepressants after being told his depression was caused solely by a chemical imbalance in his brain (completely acceptable and normal diagnosis in previous decades). During those thirteen years of visiting doctors and filling prescriptions, he was never once asked by a physician about his personal, day to day life, and how that could be affecting his mental health. One day he heard a professor speak about how incorrect this routine diagnosis was and that depression is also heavily linked to the way we live our lives. Feeling as though the rug had been pulled out from under him by such a revelation, he decided to do an enormous amount of research in the hope of proving the professor wrong – and then wrote a book about his findings. He is happy to openly admit in his book that that professor was in fact, correct.
It is fascinating. And scary. Learning how drugs make it to FDA approval and onto our shelves. Then handed our like lollies. Horrifying in fact. But the crux of the book is not about drugs, it’s about connection. Connection, disconnection and reconnection. As human beings sharing our lives together. Or lack thereof, which he believes is the root cause of depression, understandably growing exponentially because of the heightened level of disconnection in which we live our lives right now.
Never more connected – through all our advanced technological channels online – but never more disconnected.
My sister and I often have deep, reflective discussions. We both find it fascinating and have been on our own separate awakened journeys the past five years. Her story is well documented and bravely and openly shared. She writes without restraint at her blog A Lyrical Mind, and more recently began a conversational project titled The Thread. The Thread – Sharing stories that intertwine our lives.
Her aim with this project is to talk about things we don’t talk about. Because they are covered in guilt or shame or embarrassment. Series One: Raising Boys, explores topics around early childhood diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, developmental behavioural phases, gender inequality, porn addiction, domestic violence and suicide through the lens of parents, some who are exclusively raising sons, others who are raising daughters and some gifted with the insight of doing both. Parents who share their joy for lessons learned, fears for milestones yet to come but one overarching sense of hope about what the future looks like. One thread of the series comes from discussions with a psychotherapist who facilitates Men’s Behavioural Change Programs, providing an in-depth look at the complex issue of domestic violence in our society and sharing the details about an early intervention program he is piloting through Monash University in Victoria, Australia.
Series Two: Addiction is almost ready to wrap. This was the series that sparked this beautiful project into life. You can read about Courtney’s story here, and her husband Carl’s story here. Please read – and then share. With everyone and anyone you think may benefit from an open and honest discussion about addiction.
This is my brother in law, Carl. He is a recovering addict. He shouldn’t really be here. But thankfully, he is. He has worked so hard to rebuild himself and his life. And to come to know and trust himself for the first time in his life – as a 30 something adult. His story is not rare. It is common. And these stories should be spoken about. Because Carl is our brother, our mother, our neighbour, our grandfather, our bus driver, our sport coach, our teacher, our librarian, our gardener, our corner shop owner.
Yes, these are difficult topics to discuss. But they should not be ignored.
I also recently read Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig. I borrowed this from the library after I listened to his beautiful chat with Dolly Alderton on her Love Stories podcast. She asked him to read the final chapter of his book at the end of their conversation, leaving Dolly in tears, and that is what made me want to read it. It is both beautiful and deeply sad. But completely delightful. I encourage you to add this to your reading list too. Along with Dolly’s Everything I Know About Love – I listened to the audio book as I just love her voice. Highly recommend. I laughed out loud and sobbed into our dinner, standing at the stove listening. Aching to feel the connection she has with her girlfriends throughout her life. I thought it was brilliant.
If you’re suffering from depression and/or anxiety, please try and reach out for connection. To someone – anyone.