Lets play a game. Call up your friends and take a quick poll. How many of them are taking anti-depressant medication of some kind or another, whether it’s tranquilizers to help them sleep at night or the full impact Prozac? Then, and this of course is quite unscientific, extrapolate that percentage across the population as a whole. Scary huh?
Supposedly one in four to one in three adults in North America are on some kind of stress relief medication. Which means that at least one, if not more, of your friends can’t face a day without drugs. Even scarier is that the number of people who are depressed is probably far greater then those taking medication to relieve its symptoms.
But you know, given the condition of the world today, why should this come as a surprise to anyone? In fact, being stressed is probably the sanest reaction possible. Look around and take inventory of what is happening then try to come up with convincing arguments for anyone to have a sense of well being.
The province/state that you live in claims poverty and is cutting services, spending and whatever social safety net you may or may not have had. This has the direct effect of increasing the crime, poverty and homelessness in your city. While most of it may not affect you directly some of it can’t be avoided: your doctor retires and there is nobody to replace her, and no one is taking new patients because they are already overworked.
The people you commute with are starting to worry about their job security, whether their kids are doing drugs, or if they will be mugged. Your political leaders talk about “tightening belts” and new “fiscal realities” and each drop in interest rates whittles away your projected savings. Then they decide to raise the rates and all of a sudden your debt load increases three-fold. Your mortgage payment jumps and those debts you incurred contributing to the economy while rates were low go through the roof.
Can you even imagine what it must be like for those who are on a fixed income? Seniors, the sick and the just plain unfortunate whose E.I. ran out? Nope, you can’t even picture it can you? There is a desperation and the descent into hopelessness that all too often accompanies those situations. Oh well, at least they can get anti-depressants for only a small dispensing fee, if its covered by the state drug program.
Of course there is also the increase in world tension as the terrorists our government’s foreign policy have created come home to roost. There’s nothing quite like the commute home to fry your nerves in the first place, what with the crowds, the smells and the overall fatigue. Now you find yourself checking out every knapsack and carry on bag as a potential bomb threat. That’s about the time you notice the vein throbbing in your forehead just behind your right eye.
Lucky you were able to pick up a newspaper before getting on the train. You’ve folded it open to the story of the latest quarantine at a hospital as fifty patients have mysteriously fallen ill. There’s a picture of doctors and nurses dressed in paper suits, covered head to toe, making their rounds. The latest outbreak of the more and more virulent, antibiotic resistant, viruses are making the rounds. You notice how hard it is to read with your left eye twitching.
You’re finally home in one piece so you park yourself in front of the television and turn on The Discovery Channel. They’re running a David Suzuki special talking about how were running out of land. Our continued population growth is quickly eating up all the space on the earth from our efforts to both feed and house us all. Combine this with the water that is rapidly becoming undrinkable, farmland that is being used up from the over planting of single crop fields, and the air becoming un-breathable and you have to wonder if there is going to be any world left for your children. You forget the glass and begin drinking straight from the bottle.
How can a person not be stressed or depressed with a steady diet of this? In fact, it makes you wonder why the hell all of us aren’t on some sort of medication or another. But medication and trips to the shrink are not going to solve anything for anyone. The reasons for our anxiety are painfully obvious. Isn’t it about time that we started dealing with the causes not the symptoms?
What can you do? Well, first of all, the next time someone tells you that everything is great, and the future looks bright, look them straight in the eye and call them a liar. We have to start calling people on the bullshit their feeding us. Those folk who claim they represent our best interests, the ones who call themselves politicians; we need to start making them more accountable.
But we can’t just sit back and point fingers at others. Use your power as a voter to effect change at all levels of life. From your local school board to the leader of your country. All the special interest groups do that, from the religious right to the tree huggers. Become a special interest group of one human being representing your children’s future.
Maybe there’s not much you can accomplish on your own. But think of it this way. You’re not doing anything at all now and your slowly going crazy. If you do something, no matter how successful, you’ll feel like you’re fighting back. That in itself will relieve some of your stress by alleviating your sense of helplessness.
Most stress is caused by feeling that there’s nothing that can be done about a situation. Doing something is half the battle. Worry about winning later. The finish line is a long way away and a lot can happen before we cross it.