Depression, Anxiety, and Capitalism.

When I first started looking into getting help with my struggle with depression, I initially wanted to be treated to be more productive and nothing more. A part of my depression was fueled by the fact that I didn’t feel productive enough and my sense of worth often hindered on the fact that I wasn’t (and continue not to be) working enough compared to many of my peers. For a while, my end goal wasn’t happiness or feeling something more than the emptiness that often consumes me but productivity and the ability to do more.

We honestly live in a society where work and producing takes more precedent than both physical and mental health. A record number pf college students have been dealing with depression and anxiety but their schools just can’t keep up. Anxiety and stress are now the new normal in relation to many careers and there are so many decisions that come to favor capitalistic end goals instead of the greater good.

For example, support for health care professionals in many settings are slashed in favor of saving money – one job left me alone on the night shift to repeatedly care for 20+ patients (many who were fall risks or dealt with dementia) because the budget needed to be cut back. It felt me incredibly anxious every time I worked, to the point where I cried from stress nearly every shift.

All of this isn’t even counting the fact that within a capitalistic society like the US, health care (including mental health care) is difficult to access and often has a price tag attached. With many folks in the US struggling to make ends meet, taking the time off work/family/responsibilities and having the money for any kind of mental health care (or sometimes even just health care in general!) is not an option.

Therapy, medication, and other mental health care practices can be a vital part of dealing with mental health problems and there are so many reasons other than productivity for making these practices truly accessible for everyone. The notion that people are only inherently worthy of care and kindness because of what they’re able to produce/contribute in a narrow understanding of work seems flawed, as it prioritizes work over health and some work over others.