4) Depression and the Post Human: Daniel van Schaik

October 23, 2014

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— The more Intelligent we get, the more accepting we become —

 

“The world I believe in is one where we’re measured by our ability to overcome adversities, not avoid them. The world I believe in is one where I can look someone in the eye and say, “I’m going through hell,” and they can look back at me and go, “Me too,” and that’s okay, and it’s okay because depression is okay. We’re people. We’re people, and we struggle and we suffer and we bleed and we cry, and if you think that true strength means never showing any weakness, then I’m here to tell you you’re wrong. You’re wrong, because it’s the opposite. We’re people, and we have problems. We’re not perfect, and that’s okay.

 

So we need to stop the ignorance, stop the intolerance, stop the stigma, and stop the silence, and we need to take away the taboos, take a look at the truth, and start talking, because the only way we’re going to beat a problem that people are battling alone is by standing strong together, by standing strong together.”

-Kevin Breel[1]

 

The subconscious is a powerful mechanism. From the moment we are born we begin to observe and absorb the social structures set by society. As children we watch our parents and discern how they interact with the social mold. Then as we mature we start to look to our peers, teachers and employers as martyrs for what we can achieve. Falsely constructed Male and female roles are still engrained in our lives today, and as a child grows he/she takes on these grouse misconceptions. Males get a head start when it comes to pursuing a career because to them “that’s what men do.” Females on the other hand receive a different first impression, one that centers on a home-life rather than a work-life.

 

Using the construction industry as an example, a woman born in the 1930’s may have subconsciously accepted the fact that men controlled the workforce and therefore decided to steer away from a career in that field. Her parents’ most likely fit the mold of a working husband and full-time mother; the male works to bring home the money whilst the female worked longer hours, doing everything she can to keep the family home comfortable.

 

This dynamic is still true of many households today and it comes down to the lack of choice given to both males and females to pursue their life goals or ambitions. The roles of both men and women set by society force each gender into a particular position and without precedents, both genders have to work particularly hard to break through the glass ceiling. Thankfully today, many women have already paved the way for other females to follow into industries that used to be dominated by men.

 

Previously the main tool used to control the gender singularity within these industries was fear; fear of being incapable, fear of being shunned, fear of being held back and fear of wasting time. However as more and more women enter the workforce this fear diminishes and those previous ‘home based’ notions engrained into young women begin to shift. Thus, every “career woman” becomes a precedent for young females to chase the profession they have always been capable of succeeding in, they reduce the fear and enable self-confidence.

 

People with depression are equally shunned and held to the outside of the construction industry. Granted that increased awareness has helped to soften the overly abrasive industry and make it easier for women and sufferers of depression to survive, it still has a long way to go before it could be considered equal and fair. The self proclaimed “boys club,” “where only the strong survive,” has for a long time ignored the existence of depression.

 

Unfortunately this tendency to ignore the problem and push it under the rug has meant that those who work in an industry with some of the highest rates of depression[2] are forced to suffer in isolation. The expectation to always be strong and energetic is exhausting and it either pushes people out of the industry or restricts their ability to pursue higher positions. The general belief is that the depressed cannot survive in its cutthroat environment so they lack the confidence to climb the ladder. However, if the industry is so rife with depression, then its fair to assume that many successful employers and employees within construction companies have, at some point, battled depression. Therefore its so much that people with depression are incapable of success, it’s more so that the culture in the industry forces them to hide it.

 

Like young women entering the construction industry, the depressed need precedents to increase their own self-confidence. Women are more than capable of doing any job a man can do and so to are those who are susceptible to depression. Unlike the case of females needing to forge new ground in male dominated industries, for the depressed its not about finding precedents because we know they exist, its more about removing the shame and making depression a part of normal conversation. We should expect our coworkers to be sad as much as we expect them to be happy, for many, being depressed is a normal human emotion. It’s not something we should be ashamed of; and in a post-human society we will no doubt understand this fact.

 

 

Notes:

[1] “Kevin Breel: Confessions of a Depressed Comic,” http://www.ted.com, Accessed 22 Oct, 2014.

 

[2] “The Challenge of Suicide in the Construction Industry,” www.headsup.org.au, Accessed 22 Oct, 2014. http://www.headsup.org.au/news/2014/06/26/the-challenge-of-suicide-in-the-construction-industry

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