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Unpredictability-the main link to depression Unpredictability-the main link to depression
by Joseph Gatt
2021-03-10 11:38:46
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I've discussed depression in the past, and the cures for depression. I've hinted more than once that I was not all for depression medication (sorry, big pharma) unless perhaps depression turns into psychosis, but you want to consult with a good doctor on that.

I discussed in the past that I thought a thorough investigation of the patient's activities and food intake could identify perhaps an ingredient or an activity that is causing the depression.

But, having dug deeper, I figured out that unpredictability is probably (I insist on probably) the main cause for depression.

What is unpredictability? To me, there are two types of unpredictability factors in life: external unpredictability and internal unpredictability.

depres01_400External unpredictability

We've all had this moment. I work at an office as an accountant. John takes care of inventory and Jack takes care of most purchases. Jack also collects the receipts. And I do the balance sheets. We work in great harmony.  

John gets married and moves South. He is replaced by Andrew, who has no idea what he's doing, and is very unpredictable. Then Jack gets a job North, and gets replaced by Tracy, who was hired because she's the vice-president's sister, and things go a little sour.

Jack and Tracy make life unpredictable. Receipts never come in on time, and they don't understand that I need the receipts by the last day of the month so I can close the balance sheets. Jack and Tracy start making purchases with the company's money without telling me. They also alter the way inventory is done, and overvalue a lot of our products. The whole thing is a mess.

I have trouble sleeping. Have no appetite. The only thing that tastes good is a burger and fries because it's easy to chew, swallow and to hold. I stop shaving, I stop showering. I'm burned out, depressed, I want to have a talk with those guys but I can't even express my thoughts clearly.

So you get the idea. External factors in life, be they inside the home, at work, at school, can cause depression. When every day life has its load of surprises, especially bad surprises, you become depressed.

So why are A-list stars more prone to depression? Specifically because the very nature of their job is completely unpredictable. Film sets have their loads of surprises. The press always has its load of surprises. And finding the next movie to star in, or recording the next good album can cause anxiety to think about.

What about COVID-19? For some people, COVID-19 triggered a chain of bad surprises. It could be the loss of a loved one. Could be the loss of a desperately needed job to pay the bills. Could be a chain of surprises at home or at the office related to reactions to all the COVID regulations and unpredictable circumstances.

Internal unpredictability

You've heard this one before. “It's all in your head.”

Maybe you're an American in France and everyone around you is speaking French, and you don't understand a word. Soon enough you start thinking all they ever talk about is you and your bad work, because if they weren't talking about you, they'd probably be speaking to each other in English.

Or maybe you're in love and he or she doesn't love you back. You start accusing all kinds of factors that caused the person not to love you back. “If I had been allowed to go to ABC University instead of EFG university, I would have had access to a gym and healthier food, would be a lot slimmer, and he would have loved me back!” It's all in your head.

So sometimes people around you are behaving completely normally, doing predictable work. But inside your head, it's all unpredictable.

Why? Often because you can't make sense of what goes on around you.

There could be two reasons for this.

Reason number 1: you have too much anxiety, and tend to “tune out” or to “freeze” when people tell you what goes on around you. The stress could be caused by life circumstances.

Reason number 2: you really can't understand what people tell you or make sense of what goes on around you because the neurons in your brain are not wiring properly, so you develop a form of mild autism. That's when medication could be needed to help your neurons connect properly.

Other factors: alcohol and drugs tend to lead to paranoid thoughts and to the inability to make sense of the world surrounding you. So life could become unpredictable when the people around you are behaving completely predictably.

Being comfortable with unpredictability

To me, there is “acceptable unpredictability” and “unacceptable unpredictability.”

Let me use examples to make things clear.

When I worked as a teacher, very few classes very held in predictable slots. A lot of the classes were scheduled at the very last minute, in some cases a couple of hours before they were held.

I did not have a problem with that, because if there was a mismatch between my schedule and the student(s) schedule, we'd find a better time. That was acceptable unpredictability.

Unacceptable unpredictability is when a series of unpredictable events are imposed on you. My bouts of depression in the past tended to be related to people completely improvising my tasks, and I was not allowed to say “no” to any task. For example, when teaching, it tended to get to the point where I was not allowed to decline offers to teach classes, and it was hinted that if I rejected the offer to teach a class, I'd get fired. So I ended up teaching 45 hours a week, taking the bus where the bus stop was in the middle of a landfill, and having to wake up at 5 AM and pay hard cash for a cab to teach a class at a very remotely located company.  And I was not allowed to drop the classes.

So if you live in an unpredictable world where you are allowed to say “no” a few times to tasks that seem impossible, that's acceptable. But if you live in an unpredictable world where you get punished for saying “no” that's unacceptable, and those stuck in those routines where they are not allowed to say “no” tend to grow depressed.

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