The other day on CBC Radio One they were talking about teen depression and how it’s on the rise in North America. Some stats say that approximately 20% of all teens will experience a major depressive episode before they reach their adult years.
I find this information quite off-putting and disturbing and it’s made me reflect on the why of it all.
Why, in a nation where the majority of us have way more than anyone could ever want, let alone, need? Where we have freedom, food, and fresh water? Where we have education, elected government, and employment? Where we have safety, social services, and supermarkets? Where we have so much. so. much. Why are we becoming less and less satisfied, less and less fulfilled, and less and less happy?
Because we are becoming more wealthy, more independent, and more self-sufficient. Because we no longer have to rely on one another to meet our basic human needs.
And because we don’t need to rely on others as much for the practical, we have deluded ourselves into thinking we don’t need one another for the emotional or psychological. And THAT is one of the biggest and most tragic fallacies of our time.
When did it become a badge of honour to be seen as totally independent, and self-sufficient? When did it start being seen as a flaw or a sign of weakness to ask for help or support?
Alfred Adler, one of the founding fathers of modern psychology believed, preached, and propagated that human social connection… real connection… real interdependent relationships… are as essential to human survival as oxygen, food, and water.
In our frantic race to have it all, do it all, and be it all, we have little or no time left for each other. And as research shows time and time again, healthy relationships are one of the main things that actually do have a significant effect on our happiness – NOT the superficial things many people spend the majority of our time on.
As wealthy westerners we are actually on a relational regression, and are finally starting to overtly see and experience the significant emotional and psychological consequences.
How many of us know our neighbours well? Just a little while ago, before moving in to an intentionally community focused condo building, I had told my husband that I wanted to invite the neighbours in our building over for a little open house in order to get to know them better and build some community… his response was that he didn’t feel comfortable inviting a bunch of strangers into our home. Strangers.
Since when do we have no time left to get to know our neighbours? Since when have our neighbours, who we literally share walls or fences with, become strangers to us?
Since when have we become so busy with bustling around thinking we are doing things that matter only to then find ourselves having to book time to get together with some of our closest friends days, or even sometimes weeks in advance?
This is a serious issue. And things like chronic stress, anxiety, depression, and significant feelings of sadness and loneliness are only going to become more and more pervasive, prevalent, and persistent if we insist on keeping to the delusion that our independence, self-sufficiency, and frivolous busy-ness is providing us some kind of superior quality of life.