Where are the heroes? Where are the role models? Where are the adults?
In an attempt to bolster credibility, the mainstream media nowadays publishes opinionated blog entries by amateur (or fictional) writers, generally young progressive stay-at-home mothers with rimmed hipster glasses or dyed hair. There was a time when mixing personal viewpoints with the free press was considered unprofessional, misleading, even unconscionable. But in 2010, every mainstream outlet does it, either with "experts" interviewed to spew a particular opinion, or supposed blog entries like this one...
It begins "I've had really bad weeks in my life."
You know you've found a good piece of journalism when it begins with "I". Every good investigative reporter talks about themselves, especially first off. And a vague statement about the writer's emotional experiences is an excellent way to begin a news report. [/heavysarcasm]
Borrowing a hot and loaded popular social-justice-warrior term, the article is headed "Sometimes My Depression Is Triggered".
The intrepid reporter goes on: "A trigger for me is something that spurs feelings I'd rather not feel."
By this early point I was already embarrassed for the writer, for the news organization (CBC), and for myself for wasting minutes of my life on such drivel, clearly meant as a little slice of societal manipulation, not unbiased reporting on important facts the public needs to know. I decided to turn the learning experience into a post to help others.
As for "Leslie", if she's a real person and not merely a nom-de-plume of the propagandists at the CBC, my response to her is THAT'S LIFE. You say you're a mother of 2? Then grow the hell up. Feelings are a part of life, and yes, sometimes they're unpleasant. But they're part of every human's experience.
"Something seemingly innocuous can send me down the rabbit hole of anxiety and depression."
I'm sorry to hear that. While I am medically trained, and while I do have 10 years experience working in psychiatry, and while I have in recent years been myself diagnosed with anxiety and depression, I'm not going to try to diagnose "Leslie" or claim I know how she feels. But I DO know that her anxiety and depression are NOT reportable news on the national level. This should have been a FaceBook post and nothing more. But she goes on:
"One really bad day, I sent my 8- and 10-year-old off to school and immediately got back into bed. I woke up in time to welcome them home, but I was in no mood to parent. My temper was short and my patience was shorter."
What I'm hearing is "I'm lazy, sad, and angry!" If she truly has major depression, she needs hospitalization or close outpatient support in the community, not to take her issues out on her children. Using public school as daycare so she can sleep the whole day away is harmful and negligent (by my standards as a parent of 3 healthy and happy children).
"I told them I needed some time to myself, and I let them veg with their technology while I curled into bed..."
In other words, she stayed in bed all night, all day, and then all the next evening too, leaving her children alone with her smart phone and TV. For anyone to so brazenly expose their poor (and destructive) behaviour is shocking, let alone to be reading it on the front page of the biggest news organization in the country.
One thing I know about depression is that we sometimes have to force ourselves to get a bit of exercise, fresh air, and stimulation. In psych we sometimes called this strategy "fake it until you make it". Even if you don't want to walk around the block, doing so on a regular basis can lead to gradual improvements in mood and energy. Sleeping life away may feel like the way back to health, but for many sufferers, it leads to further stagnation, fatigue, and low mood. Even if "Leslie" weren't neglecting her children's needs in order to sleep, she's not doing herself any favours! Her article blatantly reveals that she's harming herself along with her innocent children.
Surely someone with the diagnosis of depression has been told this basic information at some point? Could Leslie really be lacking THAT much insight into her own condition? If so, why is she allowed to spout this dangerous ignorance on national news? For many people, sleeping away depression leads to further decompensation and death! Get help, Leslie. If not for you, then for your kids.
Still on the same quote, do I even need to mention that leaving young children on devices without parental supervision is incredibly reckless?
"When I woke up, I wasn't in a better mood."
Are we supposed to be surprised by this development? Ugh, I really feel for those children, if they exist.
"I went downstairs and recommended cereal for dinner, which they were excited about.. I was relieved."
Recommended? Like she's not the parent, not in charge, just suggesting something. She's shifting blame - saying it was their decision to have Coco Pops for dinner.
Setting aside that a diet of Monsanto corn, white sugar, preservatives, and cow breastmilk is helping ensure Leslie's children end up sick and unhappy adults, of COURSE they were "excited". Kids will eat candy and drink Coke for supper if you let them. Leslie's refusal to parent may be commonplace in 2020, but it's not acceptable. If (due to her depression) she can't feed her children the basic nutrients they need to maintain long-term health, she's a danger to them, and this article should be used to get them all some proper help.
"The next day was more of the same. The kids came home to a mom with no energy or desire to do anything.. who had little patience for kids being kids."
I can't imagine how those poor little ones felt, going day after day without a parent, left in front of various screens in a distant part of the house. Wow, first world problems. You know what's depressing? This article!
"I hibernated for a week and I feel an overwhelming sense of guilt. Because I didn’t parent. I didn’t really adult at all."
(Yes, "adult" is now being used as a verb. It means "take any responsibility for one's actions".)
Well, at least Leslie feels some guilt for abusing her children. But why is it allowed to go on? Shouldn't she get some help? Is the father in the picture at all? If so, doesn't he notice that Leslie is unable to parent, and his children are being harmed?
The reader feels helpless as the story - hopefully fictional - continues:
"I didn’t neglect them. In fact, I made sure they were fed, clothed and loved."
Neglect could be seen as anything that interferes with a child getting all needs met optimally. It's not a black or white thing, as Leslie tries to make it. Could her kids have had better than eating Sugar Puffs for a week? Absolutely, and she even admitted so. They were "fed", as in not left to starve, but Leslie had access to better nutrition for them, and chose not to provide it.
As for loved, she didn't interact with them for a week: "I admit, I basically didn't parent." I'm sure she did love them, but by her own admission she spent a week in bed, all day and night. Yes, they were fed and loved, but not the way they could have been.
As for "clothed", are we to feel relieved that Leslie didn't have her children go completely naked while she hid in bed? Of course they had clothes on! The point is; her children could have been fed, clothed, and loved far better than they were, by Leslie's choice. And that's neglect by very definition.
"I wasn’t much more than a lazy babysitter that week. I knew I was triggered, and I knew their ability to trigger me more was high. So I decided to keep myself quarantined."
The pity party just goes on, and on. (As does the parade of hot-button word choices. Quarantined?) It sounds like she was so short-tempered she had to isolate herself so she didn't become violent.
"What I really need during an episode is a time out. There is nothing wrong with asking for it. There is actually nothing wrong with demanding it. It is an illness and I don't have control over it."
But you do have control over your choices and actions, right? Having a diagnosis doesn't excuse you from all responsibility, or any potential blame. You still have to do what you can to improve your life and take care of your children. Claiming you have no control is just more justification for bad behaviour. Leslie has a diagnosis she flashes about like it's permission from an expert to neglect her children and get paid to write about it as though she's a journalist.
"Like with any illness, ignoring it will make it worse."
Okay, then why does she choose to "hibernate", "time out", "quarantine", and "refuse to adult"? Did anyone even proofread this nonsense, or is the general public so desensitized to fallacy and hypocrisy that it doesn't matter?
"My mental health needs the same attention as the flu."
It's true that mental health shouldn't be treated as totally separate from the rest of our health. The brain is an organ. The mind and body function together, and they break down together as well. That aside, what does Leslie mean by "attention"? She wants people to focus on her depression and anxiety? She wants attention for it? Does she need help, perhaps? Or does she just want the reader to feel sympathetic?
If it's professional help that she thinks she needs, she should go about seeking it. Admitting in a blog post disguised as a news article that you've harmed your children is one potential way to do that, but really, CBC should not have covered this.
"How many of us feel depressed and anxious at how our depression and anxiety manifests?"
Huh? Not a strong finish. If she's referring to how depression and anxiety cause vicious circles that perpetuate themselves, that's true, but the reader is left wondering why Leslie does nothing to break the cycle.
The end of the page blurb informs the reader that Leslie is a writer and mother, who enjoys being on the computer, trying out yoga, and binge-watching television with her husband. Other than the yoga, wow, what a depressing existence. She and her husband appear to be completely useless and ineffective people, and their children sound like they're already unwell and headed for uncertainty, at best.
Leslie, if you're real, please get some proper help for your mental illness. It's true that stigma and shame shouldn't enter the picture, but that doesn't mean you can go untreated while your children are brought up to be depressed and anxious professional victims like yourself. Reach out for help, and educate yourself about depression before you write any more "articles" on the subject.
If you're going to hurt yourself, we can't stop you. And if you're determined to bring your kids down with you, you'll probably succeed. But you've got no right to be attempting to educate the public on this crucial matter that can mean life or death for so many.
And if Leslie isn't real, shame on the CBC for another piece of blatant social engineering. There's a REAL epidemic of depression and anxiety in today's world, even more dramatically in 2020 than ever before. Meanwhile, our mainstream media is busy normalizing non-parenting and neglect.
My final comment is that unfortunately, I expect opinion pieces like Leslie's - disguised as news - will be used increasingly to mold the public's attitudes and behaviour going forward.