News TED Conversations

Comment(s) of the week, Dec. 21, 2016: You write, speakers respond

Some wonderful comments to choose from this week … so I chose two:

Experiencing the full range of emotions, including sadness and grief, can be good, inspiring, motivating, in balance with the self. Please do not confuse sadness with Major Depressive Disorder. Medication that works well for a person is a tool that allows them to be themselves, to feel the full range. It has the opposite effect of feeling like a robot. Depression can lead to numbness of emotions, loss of sense of self, no motivation or pleasure, going through the motions. I am a clinical psychologist, a person with mental illness, and a person on multiple psychiatric medications. Medications are not a cure or solution. They are not for everyone that experiences sadness, or even for everyone with Major Depression. Please, though, do not speak to what you do not understand. Medications help me be there for my son, for my husband, and parents, and friends, for myself, and for the people I work with as a therapist. Medications, for me, are necessary but not sufficient, and I use other tools such as my own psychotherapy, meditation, good nutrition, and exercise. Depression good? No. Of course not. It is devastating. It is incredibly painful. It can ruin relationships, careers, and lives. It is a serious illness. Depression is as similar to healthy sadness as a coma is to taking a refreshing nap.

Amy Cox writes: “Experiencing the full range of emotions, including sadness and grief, can be good, inspiring, motivating, in balance with the self. Please do not confuse sadness with Major Depressive Disorder. Medication that works well for a person is a tool that allows them to be themselves, to feel the full range. … Depression is as similar to healthy sadness as a coma is to taking a refreshing nap.”

I like Amy’s comment for a few reasons. It is in response to a comment that implied that depression could be a good thing, which can stir up many emotions for those people that depression has been anything but good too. When something hits so close to home, we tend to act — and comment — defensively. Amy was firm in her beliefs, and what she knows to be true, without becoming overly defensive or resorting to ad hominem attacks. She stated her areas of expertise clearly — as a clinical psychologist, a person with a mental illness, and a person taking psychiatric medications — which added context and credibility to the points she makes. Being able to disagree with respect, even over the most personal of topics, is so important, and I’m very grateful for Amy’s calmness and clarity.
Jeff L.: Dena Simmons touches on a topic that is rarely talked about in the annals of education. Rarely do we hear about the transition in emotional state that is required as a prerequisite to academic success in the middle grounds of established American institutions. This abrupt transition is not atypical for minorities, and due to the nature of white privilege well misunderstood. The lack of recognition or the boot strapping deposition of those that wield that privilege make the transition even more difficult. Young men and women are being forced to leave behind a large part of their identity by the slightest effort to attain opportunity through education, more so then their white counterparts. I have lived this and continue to do so in my professional life. It is high time that we address it.

Jeff L. writes: “Dena Simmons touches on a topic that is rarely talked about … Rarely do we hear about the transition in emotional state that is required as a prerequisite to academic success in the middle grounds of established American institutions. This abrupt transition is not atypical for minorities, and due to the nature of white privilege well misunderstood.” 

I intend to highlight Jeff’s comment, but felt I must also share our speaker’s response. Really, it’s their interaction that I feel is so wonderful. Dena’s question to both Jeff and the community at the end, if answered, can be the best part about comments. The discussion of what can be done, with honest, respectful people, can ease anxieties around what isn’t being done right now. Also, crowd-sourcing ideas in this way, on this platform, has the potential to be quite powerful. Our community always has *incredible* ideas, and I’ll hope they’ll put that brain power to work and join Jeff and Dena’s conversation.