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Thursday, April 14, 2011

How Not To Be Depressed, from a former self of mine

A child shivers in the freezing nighttime temperatures of the deserts of Southern Sudan.  A sister turns to prostitution to keep her family alive while her father is in prison for his religious beliefs.  A man is beaten to death with electric rods for sharing his faith with a friend.  A starving mother sings a song of hope to her child as she feeds him close to her breast for the last time before she dies.  The world around us, outside us, burns with the fires of pain and passion. 

One would think that the poverty and persecution of other human beings, of entire peoples on this planet, outside our nation, would motivate teens as individuals to action, or at least to deep gratefulness for the grace that has allowed us to live daily without fear of dying for what we say or for lack of sustenance.  American teenagers wallow in freedom and power.  We can freely write to our elected officials without worrying about arousing their wrath with our words.  We are largely educated.  We usually have extra money on our hands.  We are young and strong, fruit trees planted by the coolest spring, not yet worn by the seasons of life.  We, out of all the teenagers of the world, and possibly out of all the people in the world, have the most capacity for good, and also the greatest worldly resources to inspire contentment.

Yet American teens seem to be among the most hurt and desperate people in the modern world.  Depression is the number one psychological disorder in the western world and by 2020 will be the 2nd most disabling national illness next to heart disease.  The increase is higher in kids than in adults--twenty years before now, depression in adolescents was virtually unknown. (Clinical) Teenagers also spend an increasing amount of time writing about their lives on personal blogs (Kumar).  The American blog is an informational, communicative, and effective innovation--however, how helpful is it to a teen if he spends all his online energy writing about the tragedies of his daily life?  Furthermore, if a teen devotes a large portion of her spare time to writing about herself, how much of her spare time could possibly be spent helping anyone else?

When we focus so much on ourselves, and how we do or do not measure up to today's standards, or how we wish we had kinder families, or better jobs, or whatever, we lose time and energy that could better be spent focusing on someone else.    Teens have committed suicide over losses as small as the transfer of a boyfriend's affection or a lower GPA.  Things like these are serious to us as human beings and important to our self-understanding and relational health.  However, when our own performance and personal lives become THAT important, we are not only binding ourselves to a vicious cycle of uselessness, we are depriving someone else of the aid we could have given had we cared enough to devote the time and the energy. 

Perhaps if we, as able-bodied, capable youth, spent a little more time volunteering, giving, writing to officials, lobbying the governments of our world about human rights, and striving to encourage and bless the people placed in our daily paths, we would find that we had less depression simply because we had less time for it.  Perhaps if we took our lives into our own hands, rather than allowing our feelings to control our hearts, this world would be a better place.  Perhaps that child would have a blanket.  Perhaps the sister could find gainful employment.  Perhaps that man would be allowed freedom of religion.  And perhaps the mother could watch her baby grow into a healthy young person with a passion for life, rather than seeing him shrivel before her eyes as she takes her last lonely, starving breath.

"For...years have I come searching for fruit on this fig tree and have found none...Why should it use up the soil?...If it should bear fruit next year, well and good, but if not...cut it down."--Luke 13:6-9[/center]

Clinical Depression. (
Kumar, Ravi. "Structure and Evolution of Blogspace" [u]Communications of the ACM  archive[/u], Volume 47 ,  Issue 12  (December 2004) Pages: 35 - 39, Year of Publication: 2004, ISSN:0001-0782

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