Monday, August 27, 2012

We don’t need another hero

Today I’m at odds with the self-help industry.

I’m a former self-help junkie. There was a time when all that occupied my bookshelves was one self-help book after another. As much as I can say that it at times helped me enormously trying to help myself - it sure beats apathy – and that I did learn a lot about myself and how to help myself I also wonder about the wisdom of taking some strangers “word for it” just because they managed to get a book published.

If you have not seen yet seen through the rather transparent workings of marketing and how it influences your day to day life you probably need to start taking notice. You’re at the mercy of marketing people in your daily life and they dictate your life in so many way. These people don’t know you, they don’t have a vested interest in you; they’re interest lies in making money for the company they work for so that they can in turn make more money themselves. I have no problem saying that marketing is probably one of the most evil and detrimental things ever conceived on this planet.

I think a lot of the time when you buy into the self-help merry go round you but into hope. While that can be a very important part of getting you through a difficult time in your life it doesn’t beat having support from other people. This idea that you can cure yourself is a tad bogus.

I’m not saying that you can’t. I’m saying that you should seek help when you have a problem. This whole isolating process we have adopted is rather insane and I don’t think it promotes wellbeing. We need, possibly more than anything else, to belong to a group, a unit, where we feel cared about where we feel safe and where we feel part of something. Humans are not solitary creatures.

Too many people I know try to be their own hero and while it’s admirable they also fail a lot. They end up being more worn out than they ever were before and they muddle through a process that would be quicker and easier if they had help.

It’s not easy to get the help you need. The barriers can be great and sometimes it’s just pure luck that you end up stumbling on a person who can actually help you. Trying to convince your doctor that you need help is sometimes hard because your doctor nowadays doesn’t know you as well as doctors used to know their patients. Navigating medications, treatment options and advice is not easy especially since you doctor now has to leave it up to you to choose what treatment option to accept. They can suggest a range of options but ultimately it’s up to you. You’re not qualified to make those decisions and you may not even be in a state of mind where you should.

Self-help is in my opinion something that you should digest before you get into something deep, dark and depressing in life. Trying to fight major depression with affirmations (and several authors tell you it can be done) is like spitting on a house fire hoping it will do the trick.

There’s no regulating body for self-help books and yet I feel there should be. If mental health is a health problem then why aren’t at least some parts of the self-help industry scrutinized and vetted? I know it sounds like I’m advocating something that isn’t free speech but I’m not. I just think that some of these books should come with warning labels.

What I’m really trying to say, or the point I’m trying to get to, is that you should never try to be your own hero when you suffer from certain conditions. Anxiety and depression require treatment and help. If you refuse those options then you’re at risk of causing yourself and others a lot more suffering than that’s needed. There are things you really need to seek and accept help with.

Speaking from experience. I’m just saying.

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