Cranky Cuss wrote a post that was on the cover this morning that really resonated with Open Salon readers:
One segment in particular caught my attention: "But I was thoroughly shaken by the realization that my “unplugged” state was still one of morose pessimism. Even worse, that state of mind was reflected in most of the people around me." He describes the angst that we read about every day on Open Salon-- financial issues, health issues, relationship issues, etc.
The thing is, though, Open Salon is not a representative sample. Angst makes for better material. Think about it-- the contented life tends to be uneventful. Who wants to read about your commute to work, what you had for lunch, and how you fell asleep on the couch watching The Daily Show? Plus, to write about happiness here, in this forum filled with people who are truly suffering, would be kinda asshole-y, wouldn't it? ("I'm sorry to hear that you lost your job and your house and have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. That sucks. ...Hey, have you read my post about how I just got promoted and refinanced my mortgage at 3.5%!? I ROCK!!")
We tend to seek out like-minded people. Bookworms join book clubs. The Tea Partiers flocked together with stunning swiftness. Depressives tend to hang out with other depressives. It's reassuring-- look how many responses to Cranky Cuss's post said "It's nice to know I'm not alone"-- but it leads to a skewed view of reality.
So, I'm gonna put some happy out there.
My boyfriend lost his job two years ago, when the recession was in full swing. Don't ever let anybody tell you the recession wasn't real-- it was genuinely horrible. Luckily, I work in a field that is fairly recession-proof (knock on wood), so I was able to pick up a second job to help with the finances. I literally drove to the interview, talked with the interviewers for 15 minutes, and got the job right then. Hurray for me! (That was kinda asshole-y, I know. Sorry, but I was really impressed with myself.)
I won't lie, though, working two jobs for the first time in 10 years SUCKED. I was working 13-hour days, spending hours and hours in the car. The only food I managed to get was fast food. I gained 18 pounds. I could feel myself sliding into depression.
Then, miracle of miracles, my boyfriend started to pick up some feelers for possible jobs. He ended up getting three job offers in two weeks, and he was able to pick the position he wanted rather than just take whatever crap job he could find. He's been working for a month now and he's enjoying it. (Enjoying the paycheck too!) And I'm back to just the one job, thank you very much. I'm going to the gym and cooking healthy meals. Life is good.
I have two other friends who were out of work for nearly two years, who recently found jobs. One just got a promotion. Things are picking up.
Cranky Cuss points out that there are deeper problems with the economy that will have to be addressed. I *wholeheartedly* agree with that. My hope is that things will improve enough that we'll be able to address those problems in a well-reasoned, thoughtful way, instead of having to just run around putting out whatever fires are flaring up at a particular moment.
Cranky Cuss et al, I know what depression is like. I know how you tend to hang out (in person or on the interned) with other depressed people, partly because it's a natural thing to do, and partly because they at least understand you-- people who've never been clinically depressed just can't understand it. But doing that can blind you to the larger reality. Things are getting better. They really are.