Wednesday 23 January 2019

All this talk about anxiety is making me nervous

We've had 40 years of Big Pharma in the States inventing a pill for every ill
We've had 40 years of Big Pharma in the States inventing a pill for every ill
Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty

I was watching Sky News the other afternoon - how I came to have an afternoon free to watch the telly is another matter entirely - and a woman from an organisation called Anxiety UK was being interviewed.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that anxiety is now worthy of its own lobby group, and there's no doubt that some people can feel completely overwhelmed by anxious feelings.

But it seems we have missed a rather important point when it comes to our societal obsession with always feeling good all the time.

Obviously stress and anxiety can morph into full-blown mental disorders, but we should also remember that we wouldn't be able to function without either of them.

Anxiety and stress are part of life and they can't be ignored - they just have to be managed properly.

Rather than accepting that these feelings are simply an inevitable and important part of the human psyche, we have succumbed to another mental ailment - the idea that somehow people have a right to feel fulfilled and happy. We don't.

In fact, I've become firmly convinced that it's the constant belief in, and pursuit of, happiness that fuels depression. Happiness is a fleeting sensation and an illusory one at that.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but life sucks most of the time. Deal with it. This tendency to feel depressed just because we don't feel gloriously happy every day is not limited to older people, nor to the Millennials we all enjoy insulting so much.

Feeling freaked out is simply part of the human condition but when you have a weird cultural urge, as we do, to pathologise every unpleasant emotion and call it a disorder, is it any wonder that so many people now seem to think that there's something wrong with them when the negative emotions they're experiencing are, actually, proof that there's nothing wrong with them at all?

Bear with me while I don my tin-foil helmet, but there's no doubt that after 40 years of Big Pharma in the States inventing a pill for every ill, even the imaginary ones, we've created a society which has become endlessly devoted to feeling bad about itself and wanting to fix things which don't actually require any fixing. I know that from the experience I had with one relative who is now dead - everything was a drama. There was no such thing as just feeling down - it had to be a condition.

We're going to see a lot of that self-aggrandising nonsense in the next few weeks as the evenings draw in and the weather gets colder - play a little game with yourself and see how many people tell you that they suffer from SAD (seasonally affected disorder), rather than just admitting they hate the winter.

A person who never feels anxious is a person who just isn't paying attention.

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