While in Cusco I found out about the death of Chris Cornell, the lead singer of Sound Garden and Audioslave. It is rare but I was stunned and saddened. I have always been a fan of grunge. I was living for a short while in Seattle just at the tail end of the grunge scene. How I wish I had been there a little sooner. Someone posted a blog reflection entry about his death, thanks Katy, where this person explored why he was surprisingly quite upset about Cornell’s death.
The entry lead to a discussion about mental health and depression amongst the Gen x generation. I have never considered myself part of the Gen X generation but neither part of the Baby Boomer generation since I was born right at the end of the latter and beginning of the former. So as is so typical of my life I didn’t feel I belonged to either group. I remember reading Douglas Coupland’s book Gen X who coined the term, and I couldn’t relate or even really understand what he was talking about. But I could relate to this blogger’s discussion about depression and often concomitant mental health issues, e.g. anxiety, anger, especially when it comes to the support or lack thereof one has. However, from a different stand point.
Quoting here: “It’s possible that, along with grunge, Generation X’s other great gift to society is depression. I mean, of course it was here long before the Baby Boomers started re-producing, but we talk about it more than those who came before us. We talk about it as a demon or a monster. It’s a dark shadow that shows itself at any point in time without warning. It surrounds us, isolates us, and quiets us. Depression likes to blame things. We feel like shit because of mistakes we have made in life or because of the state of the world or because we aren’t perfect.
You might think grunge is about anger, but that’s not completely true. Yes, it can sound that way, but it’s really about depression and cynicism. Those two go hand-in-hand, along with their nasty little sister, anxiety. When the three of them get going, they just eat hope as quickly as it can be summoned. That leaves despair and despair is exhausting, not just for those who experience it, but for the people around it as well. So we keep it to ourselves because we don’t want to be a burden. And then it gets to be too much.
I have never been one to not be open about how I am feeling. I say if you ask me how I am doing, I won’t take this for simply the Canadian standing greeting – I am going to tell you how I am feeling otherwise don’t ask. I know, how impolite a Canadian can I be. This is just my literal self so too bad. So when I was going through my work hell several years ago now, which was a mid-life career crisis initially and then essentially an existential crisis, I told people what I was going through when I saw them. I soon realized who were my true friends and who were simply acquaintances.
They say that folks who are experiencing mental health issues have difficulty seeking help. I don’t or at least not in the conventional way. I have no shame in seeking medical help. I have been very fortunate to have had access to mental and other extended health services usually through employee assistance plans available through my jobs. As for friend support, I guess I thought it was pretty clear that I was going through a bad time. I rather think the problem is perhaps that others can’t deal with your pain since they are stuck in their own, and/or people don’t want to be in the company of people who are not in a positive frame of mind, and/or people are fearful of the level of deep emotion they might feel if they open’s up to another’s pain – a sort of mirror to themselves. I could of course have simply misread the signals of friendship, something I have dealt with a few times in my life. I know this is connected to the relationships of family. Because of my wanderlust path in life (not all those who wander are lost!), I have always felt friends were my family, my support, as opposed to my blood family who were too far away and people I had difficulty relating to. Heck we can choose our friends but not our family right?