Posted by: scintillatingspeck | March 22, 2016

Depression and ADD as acts of resistance to the Culture of Busy.

What if depression, ADD, and a whole slew of other “disorders” or “illnesses” are, in fact, our bodies’/minds’ wisest attempts at resistance and reintegration?  I know there are many who would vigorously reject such a notion, pointing to the obviously painful and maladaptive aspects of these conditions.  But my readings, thoughts, and experiences are guiding me in this direction.

I’m focusing on depression and attention-deficit disorder (ADD) at the moment because of my own long history of depression and the fact that I suspect my daughter Lily would qualify for a diagnosis of ADD.  For that matter, I might qualify for it myself, at this point.  I don’t know, and I’m not inclined to get either of us tested and processed by the psych-pharma-industrial complex.  And in part, that’s because I’m not convinced that these are Problems That Need to Be Solved.

There are plenty of Problems, to be sure.  Like the fact that we live in the Culture of Busy, which is my shorthand for the Culture of Unmitigated Insane Behavior, including but not limited to: fomenting greed, competition, isolation, oppression of all sorts, soul-killing, poverty, hatred, polarization, violence, biosphere destruction.  Must I continue?  I really don’t want to spell it out every time.  But spell it out I must, if it’s to provide the needed contrast to pointing fingers at individuals for their own misfortune, claiming that if only they were happy enough, or relaxed enough, or focused enough, then everything would be fine.

But underneath, we know it’s not fine.  We’re supposed to get with the program, fall in line, jump through the hoops, adapt to the Way Things Are.  But what sense does it make to adapt to conditions that are fundamentally wrong?  To be able to say, “I didn’t rock the boat; I didn’t cause problems for others; I fit in, sort of; I didn’t have to confront my fears or move towards my own liberation”?

Depression slows us down, causes us to turn inward, ruminate, not be able to function like “normal” people.  I’m hardly a fan of the suffering aspect.  I don’t want to suffer, and I don’t want others to suffer.  But it gives me a modicum of consolation to think that this could be an action of last resort in the realm of resistance.  No, I don’t want to play this game.  No, I don’t think all the false positivity is a good and healing thing.  No, I don’t want to contribute to an economy that primarily serves the most wealthy rather than everyone.  No, I don’t want to pretend to be someone I’m not.  No, I don’t want to set aside my grief over real losses.  No, I don’t want to ignore the travesty of the air, water, and earth being poisoned and killed on a daily basis.  No, it can’t wait until I do something productive.

I see Lily and her defiance of schedules, timing, and efficiency in a different light than I was raised to believe.  She knows how to tell time.  She doesn’t want to, though—she doesn’t want to monitor the clock, develop that ingrained, automatic response that says I must bow to the agenda, probably someone else’s and not mine.  She relies on me to manage our scheduled activities.  I tell her it’s still important to respect the time of others, to be on time to meet friends and attend events, and that in the future I can’t always be the one to do this for her, that she will have to learn to do it herself.  I don’t want to shove it down her throat, though.  I’m more reluctant every day to insist, to nag, to get upset and anxious when she drags her feet and wants to play-act a scene from the latest chapter book she’s been reading.  We have enough leeway in our schedule, as unschoolers, to allow for flexibility.  It doesn’t come without anxiety on my part.  I started reading a book about how to manage ADD without drugs, using behavioral interventions, but they all seemed mostly geared towards kids who are in school and having them adapt to that environment.  It seems like the mainstream goal is to have compliant, obedient children, that they will be happier and learn more if they can just fit into an environment that many find artificial, confining, and geared towards meeting the goals of others rather than one’s own intrinsic strivings for meaning and success.

But I’m raising a revolutionary, and I’m not sorry.

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Responses

  1. This is an interesting theory. If it isn’t exactly evolutionary, it is at least a reminder to our culture to slow down and to value all. Great thoughts!

    • Thanks, abarn003. I know I’m not the first to frame things in this way.

  2. As for ADD. can she sit/lie for half an hour or more reading a book that has grabbed her interest? Does she seek and find things to occupy idle time in an enjoyable/creative manner? Will she work on something you think is a good idea even if she is not so sure? If a few of those are true, I would not call that ADD, I would call that normal creative kid. Count yourself blessed.

    • George, if she’s in the right frame of mind, she can be very happily occupied with reading, drawing, or other things she thinks are engaging and worthwhile. I’m not seeking to slap a diagnostic label on her, myself, since I don’t see how it would be useful in our circumstances. I’m aware, though, of how she might be perceived in other contexts.

  3. Have you read any books by Bruce Levine? I can’t remember titles right now but you might want to check him out – this is exactly what he talks about!

    • Jenna, yes, I’ve read his book “Surviving America’s Depression Epidemic.” I’ve also read a number of articles he authored. I’m an admirer of his work.


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