Laugh It Off: Depression Awareness Through Memes and Humour
With Dinosaur Bum Bonus Info
Hello, and welcome to a compilation of depression memes and depression quotes to educate, entertain, or inspire.
It’s winter and still pandemic times, so today’s digest will include validation of our collective rage, as well as a reminder that life is ridiculous, through the combination of science and the word “butt-hole”.
In this post you’ll find
- Meme: DYK depression is an actual thing???
- Science: My super-short recap of a Harvard Health article on the many things that can cause or worsen depression
- Resource: Facebook group for people who don’t always feel “normal”
- Tweet: Reminder—Don’t apologize for your feelings (and/or a potential crime confession)
- Unrelated: Scientists are studying dinosaur butt-holes and it’s actually really interesting
Depression is an actual thing
Depression is real. Depression also tries to tell you it’s not real; that you are weak (or lazy, or stupid) and just need to try harder. Moreover, depression and other chronic conditions can make you feel that you have “become a burden” to your loved one.
When we listen to these lies, we feed the depression with our shame. Shame comes from being blamed for something that is not our fault. In many cases, mine included, that “lazy” feeling comes from unreasonable internal and external expectations. Often it also comes from trying to be/do things that are not meant to be.
Prepare to have your mind blown. There are, in fact, some who assert there is no such thing as laziness at all.
And here’s further proof. According to a top article on the Harvard Health site, science says unequivocally that depression has a demonstrable effect on our brains. Further, there are plenty of factors that could be ganging up on you to trigger or worsen it.
[T]here are many possible causes of depression, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medications, and medical problems. It’s believed that several of these forces interact to bring on depression. (What Causes Depression?)
Important note: These things are out of your control.
But that doesn’t mean you are helpless. You can learn about which of these might affecting you and then see what can be done about it. There’s nothing you can do about genetics, but there may be ways to distance yourself from major sources of stress (or mitigate it through coping tools and, therapy, or lifestyle changes). Similarly, you can’t turn off your medical problems, but you can work on finding the right treatments (or doctors) that offer help with the fewest side-effects.
Either way, the point needs to be stressed that depression is a real condition. It is, indeed, “all in your head” but very much not in the way people usually mean.
Recovery also needs to be treated the same as other physical recoveries, which is, as a major endeavour. Your system is working to repair very real damage.
For example, we are learning more about why antidepressants can take a month or more to really begin to work (even after they’ve already helped level off any chemical imbalances):
The answer may be that mood only improves as nerves grow and form new connections, a process that takes weeks. In fact, animal studies have shown that antidepressants do spur the growth and enhanced branching of nerve cells in the hippocampus. So, the theory holds, the real value of these medications may be in generating new neurons (a process called neurogenesis), strengthening nerve cell connections, and improving the exchange of information between nerve circuits. (What Causes Depression?)
Now, compare your brain nerves (neurons) to any other nerve in your body. Can you think of another medical condition where someone should be blamed or rushed while their body recovers from nerve damage? I would hope the answer is no.
The next time you feel the urge to say “I’m sorry I’m depressed; I’m sorry you have to deal with this” remember, this is something that is happening to you, not something you are doing to others. (Dialogue based on a real conversation.)
Support for people who don’t always feel “normal”
About a month ago I chanced upon a community and blog on Facebook that shares the best memes and posts about being neurodiverse. Those of us who don’t feel like we fit in or understood are easy pickings for feelings of isolation and depression, so sites like this can be a real gift.
From the About Me for "Neurodiverse empathy, love for all & coping skills":
Laughter is the best medicine. I love memes, things related to autism, equitable society, chronic illness, disability &/or mind set that can uplift our souls. Together we can try & be happy in this lonely world in our pursuit of happiness… You’re not alone!
If you check it out, make sure you read the comments. Many of them are moving, so consider having tissues on hand. They frequently feature people expressing feeling understood for the first time due to finding the posts.
These are people who always felt something was “wrong” or “different” about them, only to suddenly find kinship and validation in this group. Many have been undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for most (or all) of their lives.
Don’t apologize for your feelings (and/or a potential crime confession)
Though in some ways, some things may be slowly getting better, on a societal level we are all still pretty angry. Angry and tired and frustrated. This is allowed, and there are many funny folks out there to remind us of that.
Here’s a great shout-out to the experience of women in particular. Remember, we are allowed to exist, be who we really are, and feel our justifiable rage.
Remember, we should expect to be accepted just as we are. Ok, maybe not without legal conditions. (Be sure to read to the end.)
Unrelated: Scientists are studying dinosaur butt-holes and it’s actually really interesting
I don’t flatter myself. The butts are probably why you clicked on this article.
If you scrolled right past all the content above, I do not blame you. Just know you scrolled past gold, though. Gold. So think about scrolling back up later.
In January 2020, news came out that the butt-holes of a particular dinosaur (Psittacosaurus) were very colourful, like baboons, and that similarly they likely served as a means of signalling (like availability to mate).
Which brings me to your word of the day: Cloaca, which is the combination hole that many animals have instead of humans’ multiple hole systems.
The fossil with the well-preserved bum was found in what is now north-east China, and lived between 126 and 101 million years ago. This is a very special fossil, as according to the original article:
To our knowledge no other non-avian dinosaur fossil preserves the cloaca, which limits comparison across this diverse stem group. (A Cloacal Opening in a Non-Avian Dinosaur, Current Biology, 2021)
Because of the “exceptional skin preservation” they were able to determine much of the dinosaurs physical appearance. They figure it was a 6-7 year old subadult and may have looked something like this:
(Robert Nicholls, CC BY 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
There are also colourful pictures of the butt on the article’s site, so I’ll make you work for those.
They were also able to determine, that although this dinosaur had a beak and is more closely related to birds, its cloaca (butt-hole) was more similar to that of a modern crocodile.
What does that tell us? I’m not sure. But I know I’m happier for having learned it. And I always look at birds differently when I remember they are tiny dinosaur cousins.
It’s well worth your time to click over to the radio program and article from CBC. But, more importantly, it gave me the chance to write the words “dinosaur” and “butt-hole” repeatedly in a blog post.
That’s it for today’s digest. I hope you found something useful, entertaining, or at least distracting.