This weekend, like so many others, I was enjoying a little NFL football. My Browns are legitimate championship contenders for the first time in three decades, making it a much more enjoyable part of each Sunday.
There was a stoppage in play that led to a commercial break, so I had turned to my phone to fill the void.
As I was scrolling, I heard something from one of the commercials that immediately grabbed my attention. “I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression” was the phrase that snatched my attention, resulting in raised eyebrows, a stunned look on my face, and this dialog in my head has continued on for days as I now write about it.
When I heard the comment, my instant reaction was “Wait, who wouldn’t be diagnosed with anxiety and depression?”
You see, the more I’ve studied my own addiction and have gone down the rabbit hole of trying to understand human behavior, the more convinced I have become that anxiety and depression are simply part of the human experience. Put another way, on any given day we could all be diagnosed with anxiety or depression.
Now, do we experience different levels of anxiety and depression? Absolutely, and I understand that this spectrum is an element of diagnosis.
My point here though is that if we are trying to destigmatize depression and anxiety, a better way to soften the world is to point out the various ways and levels that we ALL experience them on a daily basis.
By adding depression and anxiety to death and taxes as the sure things in life, we can move beyond the stigmatization and to a place where we discuss more actionable components such as the impact our environments and stories have in amplifying these issues as well as strategies to address them.
I’ll wrap this one up by assuring you that struggling with anxiety and depression simply means that you are a human. And we humans have been hard-wired via evolution to survive and adapt to changing external forces. It’s what we do best.
So maybe anxiety and depression aren’t bugs in the system, but features.
And these features are present in all of us.