I've just read a new Hub purporting to offer help for depressed people. To call it simplistic would be to praise it. (But of course it did have a large number of Amazon links, so hey, there might be a buck in i; what else matters?)
Here's the line that offended me the most:
"The way you function is changed and you become a negative bitter individual who enjoys being sad and eventually derives a peculiar pleasure from being this way."
Self-loathing is a common enough aspect of clinical depression; sufferers don't need this kind of simplistic crap levelled at them as well.
I suggested to the 'compiler' (no original content or insight, so not worthy of being attributed to a 'writer')that the Hub would be the better for the deletion of that line. But my question remains:
It's all very well applying 'reader beware' to what you read on the net, but this amateur psychiatric stuff is dangerous to people actively seeking help with mental health issues.
It could have been that the original writer suffered from depression and maybe he realized that his thought process was exactly the way he put it. And, I'm not saying he's right, but there's the possibility he's right. People do self-loathe because they are depressed, and they do get off (for lack of a better phrase) on the attention they receive from their peers.
I do understand what you're saying, though. It's simplistic. But one of the things I'd rather not lose is the ability to write whatever I'd like, however I feel like writing it, either. A crap hub will be a crap hub, and it'll get flushed down the google toilet if it's no good, anyway.
You can always paste the link, to those kind of hub, then they can be flagged down, so that people that need help doesnt get false information. And pertaining to those kind of sensitive topic, only certified writer should write about them, and people that have been in such position before should write little about them.
OK. Here's a longie post, but it's a serious discussion (and I agree with you):
I very much agree you, and the interesting thing might be that I wrote a Hub on depression not long ago. (It wasn't the one you've quoted.) When I wrote it I was very careful to make sure readers knew it was a first-person type of thing, and that what I think I've learned about myself is nothing more than that. In fact, I felt self-conscious about the Hub, because it's "folksy" and written in the first-person. I thought about how I was fairly certain that as soon as anyone saw that Hub he'd click away because it wasn't "professionally written". (And, I'm sure that will be the case with the Hub.)
My "thing", though, was that if you ever look up "depression" on the Internet, you'll run into blogs written by who-knows-who and that present information as if it's written by an expert (and often wrong information). You'll also find sites of people selling nutritional supplements (and that type of thing), and even though they may have been careful to provide accurate information, much of the time it's about 300 words; or else they'll also tell people how they cure their depression (or course) with whatever they're selling.
I didn't cite specific references on that Hub, because I wrote it from assimilated knowledge (I'm not a kid, and I've been researching one thing or another most of my adult life) and personal observations/experience. I made that clear in the Hub, though. The irony is that my Hub probably looks "half-baked" because I made it a point to let readers know that I am not an expert and was not presenting what I wrote as if I am. What I did provide to readers were some links to very reputable and expert sites (like NIH, Mayo Clinic, etc.).
Why did I even write it all (if I'm all that concerned about what is written by solid experts and what's written by people who say stuff that's clearly "off the wall")? Because there are so many people who say they've gone to experts and read all the books by experts, only to find none of it helped. I've seen things written/said by experts online, or on television, and I know (because I know how things have happened in my own situation, and I know how I feel and what helps and doesn't) that sometimes the experts have a kind of standard set of things they say and do; and while I don't question that those standard things may help some people, I know for a fact that they don't help a whole lot of people.
So, having had to figure out and understand whatever has gone on, or does go on, in my own situation; and having figured out ways to deal with, compensate for, or reduce some of the symtoms I've had; I figured I'd write the "informal discussion" (and include a recommendation that people seek professional help) as someone who has found a way to (sort of) keep things from getting too out-of-control and (kind of) keep my life from being too off-kilter because of my own situation.
Even with as mild as situation as I live with, I know what it's like to have people just not "get it" when it comes to some of the advice (and even "accusations") they seem prone to when they hear someone else say s/he's struggling with "exhaustion or depression of something". My own Hub wasn't aimed at people who have more serious depression, or whose situations are just completely different from mine. I hoped it would reach people who were in similar situations as I am (as far as degree of manageable depression goes), and I hoped to, maybe, be one person who actually did recognize that such people/situations exist (and that sometimes, for the person who doesn't want to risk the side effects of medication, and who knows that talk therapy isn't what s/he needs, there's pretty much no option but to figure these things out for oneself). Because I understand how it has happened with me, and because I know how I feel, and because I'm managing quite well; I thought I had something to share with others like me.
First-person Hubs come across looking as if the writer doesn't know how to write a professional article. A whole lot of people are looking for professional articles, complete with all the references. There's nothing wrong with such an article (although sometimes, as you implied, those articles are nothing more than regurgitating what someone else found researching someone else's site, even if a professional one). I have no doubt that some people will vote down my Hub because it's written in that "unprofessional" first-person point-of-view and doesn't have any references" (I'm not going to include references for the sake of references when I didn't use them for the Hub.)
So, the irony is that sometimes writing that looks least professional may actually be most accurate (even if it doesn't sufficiently provide what some searchers were hoping to find in terms of an expert piece of writing).
I agree with you, though. I think articles on something like depression, that are being presented as if they're facts (rather than being clearly presented as first-person observations/experiences), need to show clearly what the credentials of the writer are and/or provide solid, direct, references to legitimate research sources used in preparing the article. To me, it's either one of those two things; or else make it a very clear point that the article is based on personal experience/observations and nothing else. I suppose another option might be for the writer to write his/her own opinions (based on neither personal experience, adequate credentials nor solid research), but make it a point to clearly say, "What I'm presenting here is nothing more than my personal opinion about...".
The funny thing is, when one of these articles shows up with bad information being spouted in them, anyone who asks for clarifcation or debate will often find his comment not approved. It's almost predicatable. Someone who is honest, knows what he's talking about because he's careful to talk about ONLY what he, himself, knows for a fact (unless he clearly says something like, "I wonder.." or "I can't help but suspect that...") will stand behind his words, be ready to explain his reasoning/research, and be easily able to provide expert resources that would back up what he has presented.
(As a writer, I've had conflicted feelings about first-person type stuff often. I always choose looking less professional as a writer over misleading readers (or an ego so big I'm not even willing to assume I may not know everything).) The other side to the approach I use on here, though, is that I keep what I write on here very separate from what I write offline (as a freelancer), because I'd be embarrassed for anyone dealing with professional writing to see the stuff I write on here. Still, the whole point of my writing on here (for me) is to be able to share some of the things I think I have to share - so, I go with the "unprofessional looking" style of writing and often live with the remarks about how "people on here don't even know how to write a professional article". (and I guess a little of: )
Thanks Lisa, this is a very fulsome reply indeed! I feel a little bad now, because (unexpectedly, for the reasons you cite) the hubber responded graciously to my request/suggestion, and deleted that line. (Not going to ID them, didn't before, and don't want to cause anyone to go over and beat them up now).
He/she also said the statement it was based on how he/she felt during a short bout of the affliction. Which brings me to the other aspect of your thoughts - I can't help feeling the hub I'm questioning would actually be more effective, if the hubber simply said "I've had some personal experience with depression, didn't enjoy it, it made ME feel like this..., I've gathered this (generally available/accepted) information as a guide for anyone who thinks they might be headed down the same path"
I've written quite a few 'how to / 'advice' hubs on writing (used to be a copywriter before semi-retirment), and I always use the first person, as a shorthand way to communicate 'these are one person's thoughts, not a set of Rules or Principles'. Seems more honest to me, especially since I totally agree with you that not everyone who professes to be an expert in fact is; equally (very much agree) that real experts don't necessarily have all or even most of the answers; (esp in areas like depression).
Third party voice can often create the perception of certainty / expert / professional, but that perception can be illusory.
My beef is in areas like mental health, where it's pretty predictable that someone seeking information, is likely to be someone really seeking help. And, in a less than rational state of mind, is vulnerable to potentially harmful misinformation.
Anyway, thanks again for your insights, Lisa. Cheers.
writeronline, I do think there are some subjects that require writers' being more clear about how they present things. Those blogs that I ran into had - like - one page with no other obvious information, and only one article on depression. I just think people need to better identify (and honestly) who/what they are on subjects like this.
Years ago I got an assignment to do a feature on teen suicide (after a teen in the area had taken his own life). Every single expert I interviewed couldn't emphasize enough how careful I needed to be about how I presented the feature. I was walking on eggs with each sentence I wrote.
Ordinarily, I stay away from that kind of mental-health stuff; but that Hub I wrote was actually "inspired" by a forum thread that was so full of misguided information I couldn't stand not responding (but in that case, I thought a long response would be better in a Hub). In the case of this discussion, I went ahead and posted the long response because, as I said, I think it's an important subject that at least a few people should be discussing on here.
I think it's nice (and also dignified) that you didn't name the person. I, personally, didn't (and don't plan to) go looking for the person's Hub. Who wrote what isn't the point. It's the overall issue of handling a subject like this, I think.
Lisa, "I think it's an important subject that at least a few people should be discussing on here."
That'd be me; adeaugustus; and you. If the lack of wider dialogue after nearly 24hrs is any guide
So, it seems that how little you need to know, is matched by how little anyone cares. Except, presumably, that "heaps of people have depression. So there's probably heaps to be made hustling Amazon books and shi*t to them."
To me, that's quite a sad indictment. (Been nice talking with you though).
It seems to be a subject people steer clear from for who knows what reason; fear, ignorance, prejudice.
Having suffered from clinical depression myself the reaction here is similar to society as a whole. People would rather not know. Preferring instead to sweep the issues under the carpet and pretend they don't exist.
This has been taken to such a degree here in New Zealand that it is illegal for any news or press agency to report any death that may be suicide. The rational behind this policy is in order to prevent copycat cases. Of course all this does is marginalise those who feel they live in a society that does care about them!
New Zealand as a result has appallingly high suicide rates, among young men in particular. That coupled with the endemic culture here of men being told repeatedly to 'toughen up' leaves them bereft, alone and desperate.
Sorry that is a bit off topic but it illustrates how backward some societies are regards depression and suicide.
Depression drains your energy, hope, and drive, making it difficult to do what you need to feel better. But while overcoming depression isn’t quick or easy, it’s far from impossible. You can’t beat it through sheer willpower, but you do have some control—even if your depression is severe and stubbornly persistent.
You can make a huge dent in your depression with simple lifestyle changes: exercising every day, avoiding the urge to isolate, challenging the negative voices in your head, eating healthy food instead of the junk you crave, and carving out time for rest and relaxation. Feeling better takes time, but you can get there if you make positive choices for yourself each day and draw on the support of others.
The succinctness of the comment in relation to such a broad issue does make the writer sound rather uncaring about the issue at first glance. That being said, he or she is absolutely right!
Have you ever heard of an "adrenaline junkie" or someone being "boy crazy"? Emotions are addictive! Just like any other range of emotion, depression at its most basic explaination is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. In the same way that a person can become addicted to a substance like drugs or alcohol, a person can also become addicted to the feeling created by a substance in the brain.
If a person who is addicted to feelings associated with being depressed is not feeling depressed, they will create circumstances or pull up memories that will invoke such a feeling. Emotional addiction is just as real as any other - and it's just as deadly.
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