Thursday, March 15, 2012

Depression, Happiness, and the Power of the Anonymous Article

It is possible, according to the anonymous author of this Guardian piece. Kind of long, so here are some highlights:
"I wanted to write this article to demonstrate that a successful career, mental illness and enjoyment of life need not be incompatible." Word.

"As proof of this, I don't feel able to 'come out' in this article. I am not ashamed but I do wonder how the relationship with colleagues, and pursuit of promotion might be affected if it was generally known that I suffer from depression." Fair enough. Two observations. I guess the most apparent one, the one I feel somewhat obliged to say, is the "this shows that there needs to be more open discourse about depression." True, and I think this writer is contributing to that. I can't, however, take issue with his decision to remain anonymous for a few reasons. First, I like the idea that "it could be anyone", and I'm sure that he is speaking for a number of people. Second, though he writes that he doesn't "come out" because he doesn't "feel able", he is also making the article about the issue itself rather than about him. I have a lot of respect of famous people who open up about their issues with depression, and we certainly need people to be the "faces" of depression (though those faces should not be associated solely with depression or it would take away the point), but the focus here is rightly placed on the issue. The writer does not need to flaunt his accomplishments, unlike Greg Smith did in the New York Times:
"My proudest moments in life — getting a full scholarship to go from South Africa to Stanford University, being selected as a Rhodes Scholar national finalist, winning a bronze medal for table tennis at the Maccabiah Games in Israel, known as the Jewish Olympics — have all come through hard work, with no shortcuts."
And this relates to Goldman how? Oh, because "Goldman Sachs today has become too much about shortcuts and not enough about achievement." Rather than boost his credibility with that little paragraph, Smith simply made people question his motives. The author of the depression piece doesn't do that.

To close, the author remarks:
Finally, I love the words of the Roman poet Catullus who was obviously suffering, when he said: "One day all this will seem funny." 
Nope, not Catullus. You're thinking of Vergil's line in the Aeneid, "forsan haec olim meminisse iuvabit." I was always taught to read it as "perhaps even this it will be pleasing to remember" but I know there are other more literal translations.

But in all seriousness, whoever you are, it was a good piece with an important message. Respect.

No comments:

Post a Comment