We all know Nicole Arbour from the Dear Fat People video. To call that controversial would be an understatement. While I do not agree with the radical part of fat-acceptance and faux body-positivity campaign that encourages 350+ pounds worth of people eating at Heart Attack, Nicole misses the goddamn point by miles.
The same is true with this video at times mocking depression, although, if one really tries, you can see that the purpose of this tries to be to shift the public opinion from pitying depression and to urge people suffering from the condition to be more proactive in their recovery.
Unfortunately, there are so many inaccuracies in the way she goes about it people who follow her can easily take away the wrong message. First of all what bothered me was that she kept saying confirm all the time, which is basically the first thing you get taught in any BSc course: that science can only support certain types of phenomena with robust data; it will never prove it 100%. And that is fact.
This 'Depression Ain't Real' notion was coined by pharmaceutical companies who endeavoured to convince people that the source of it was soy, all the while promoting meds that contained this substance. This is easily regarded as counter-intuitive AF since surely one of the treatments that have shown to be effective in alleviating the symptoms of depression happen to be good old pills and tablets.
Now, this misinterpretation led to something akin to what followed the infamous Wakefield study, who chose to sacrifice his scientific and arguably moral integrity at the altar of money. People were, and still are, confused as to what to believe.
Videos like Nicole's do not help disperse the fog clouding the mysteries of mental health conditions — if anything, they trivialise it.
She mentions in her slapdash manner that a general dissatisfaction in life and claiming victimhood over that should be eliminated by those suffering from depression advising these people to take their lives in their own hands and do something about it. Well, for those who truly are just whining about how bad their life is without having any true reason to do so, this might be a viable advice. To tell a clinically depressed person to 'get over it' or 'pull themselves together' — not so much. Trust me, if they could, they would.
Another factual bit that this video gets wrong is that managing a mental illness does not equal getting rid of it for good. Antidepressants, which apparently had no effect on Arbour or did not 'happify' her enough, stabilise mood states. That means they eliminate the very lows as well as the very highs. Dismissing the effectiveness has serious consequences since for some people anti-depressants are the only solution. While I am an advocate for both therapy and antidepressants as an effective treatment, some people do not have the baggage that therapy can solve or the problem is mainly genetically rooted and you need to address the chemical imbalance in the brain directly.
This leads to the other problematic bit where Nicole sees it fit to rid yourself of all external balls of plummet that hold you back from eternal happiness by simply leaving your job, quitting the toxic relationship and magically becoming joyous again. She does not account for previous trauma in life or genetic factors that can make a person more sensitive to depression and its comorbid playmates like anxiety. A pill, she is right, will not erase the real life incidents that render people suicidal and herd them into a mindset where they're worthless to themselves, their loved ones, and to overall to the world. This is another reason why this blatant dismissal of it is just in your head is extremely offensive and dangerous. Depression can be brought on by pregnancy, taking birth control pills, prolonged stress, and not being able to digest events that people had no control over but had happened to them nevertheless. Men show an increased rate of suicides and suicide attempts because they are not encouraged enough to talk about their problems and Nicole's contribution to the subject minimalizing the relevance of what they're battling on a daily basis is severely harmful.
It isn't difficult to see why. If you imagine that you are lethargic, feel like no one loves you or acknowledges your accomplishments, and are unwanted by everyone, everything you do seems like a failure and you disappoint everyone around you and this keeps you up at night; then someone confronts you with the 'this shit ain't real' mentality would you still have hope for being taken seriously when you open up to express your problems?
Or would you be afraid that people won't believe you, so why bother anyway?
Genetic predisposition exists and it is not an external factor unlike Arbour claims... To proceed to speak about the chemical imbalances in the brain as mentioned to be the origin of depression in a derogatory manner is appalling, especially when one has absolutely no expertise in the field. Advocating dopamine production by exercise is fine — it has scientific background that supports the benefits of working out battling depression — but one should know that dopamine is famously known as the addiction hormone and leads to risk-taking behaviour once the receptors are not stimulated sufficiently by simply doing squats. That would just pile up additional problems like drug-use, alcoholism etc. on top of depression. And burying it deep is not an advisable policy to adopt with mental health issues at all.
From the imbalance of chemicals argument derived the 'scientists have been working on it for decades and we still haven't got a surefire way to target it' complaint. Which, if you think about it carefully, is what devout Christians say about evolution. There are several ways to counteract and treat depression: antidepressants are only one. Any reasonable person who does not mean to vilify science will be able to comprehend that individual differences govern the majority of a medicines success. Antidepressants do not work for a lot of people long-term because they treat symptoms not the underlying cause of the disorder. Which can be different for everyone. Brains are vastly different therefore they can have different chemical imbalances, dopamine receptors might not be the only malfunctioning elements or there may be causes such as trauma that will not be expelled by restoring the equilibrium of mood regulating hormones.
Like in other cases, simplifying a complex problem to find a two-word solution does more harm than good. While Nicole's whole video is not a load of garbage since I think in her special way she means well by saying no one is going to solve your problems, including the depression you suffer from but you, framing it in a different, more enlightened way would have been more beneficial and informative as well as truly helpful.
I have very little tolerance for people who preach for the sake of saying something that bears the semblance of being important but have clearly no intention to actually give aid. To sensation-seek to the detriment of people who are suffering from mental health issues or suffering from any kind of condition for that matter is appalling and should be taken down from platforms such as YouTube — free speech be damned. Unfortunately people like her will take advantage of the clicks they get for their highly inaccurate opinions and will profit for spewing BS without having to take responsibility for their actions.
For those who suffer from this condition; rest assured, despite Arbour not including this in her video, there is a way out. Clinical depression can be beaten, people can lead normal lives provided they will ask for help in time. We should encourage people to be more willing to reach out since not in a way Nicole wants to convince you, but it really is in your head. What you take as facts - that everyone hates you, that you are worthless or not worthy of love or that no one loves you is something this illness, the Big Black Dog, makes you feel and — are not true. Therapy and medical treatment will help you to gain back control and take the leash in your hands and see the world as it is again. It will enable you to view yourself and the world from another perspective which will be in direct contrast to this skewed world depression has presented you with.
To live with a quote from a very wise, bearded man: just because it's in your head that doesn't mean it isn't real. It certainly does not mean you are beyond help. It does not mean you do not have a choice or that your plea will be dismissed. Realising the problem is not that difficult, reaching out is. So do it.
About the Creator
Studying Psychology, getting angry about issues on the web, addressing social conundrums concerning humans that surround me. And just pointing out my subjective majestic opinion. :) Film buff, artsy, reader - I do art too @morcika96