“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them have never happened.” – Mark Twain
Our Secretary of State recently identified the U.S. as the biggest contributor to the problem of drug trafficking from Mexico: but for the high demand for drugs here, there would be no trafficking from there (see, e.g., http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/18/politics/tillerson-mexico-drug-trade/).
But the solution that’s once again being run up the flagpole — better-educating the public on the evils of drug use and addiction — misses the mark. When will we finally look at the underlying stress, malaise, anxiety and profound hopelessness that grips our nation — the things that cause people to turn to drugs and suicide. People are looking to escape from a culture that fails to offer any existential meaning to their lives. Meaninglessness is the elephant in the room. Sacrificing meaningful personal relationships in order to work like slaves so that we can buy more meaningless stuff; spending the vast majority of every day plugged into electronic devices — this is the stuff of insanity. When in hell, why not use drugs?
One of the worst things about depression is that, in my experience, few people believe it’s actually legitimate. Sure, it’s trendy now to equate depression with an affliction affecting some other part of the body, like cancer, but skepticism or outright disbelief are the most common reactions I’ve experienced. Most seem to believe that one just needs to “snap out of it” or “buck up” or “get busy” to overcome it, but that’s rarely ever helped me.
Nor is it “laziness.” I have been anything but lazy my entire life: I earned my BA degree from a prominent California state university in five years while working full-time, my law degree from an ABA law school in downtown San Francisco in four years while working full-time and, after passing the bar exam on the first attempt, have worked full-time-plus as an attorney ever since. Yet depression has been a part of my life – and often debilitating – for as long as I can remember, certainly since middle school.