Sunday, June 27, 2010

Some days, I have no patience

Waking up on the wrong side of the bed is annoying as hell, and not just to the waker-upper.  When you have no patience with people and you have to interact with others, the peevish, pissy, and pedantic behaviors come out in full force.

  • Everyone is a lot stupider all of a sudden
  • Nobody knows how to do things the right way
  • Friends are too cloying, close, and getting in your business
  • Friends are too distant, ignoring you when you need them
  • Let's not even talk about politicians
Shouldn't come as any surprise that loss of patience can be a symptom of depression.  Like most symptoms, however, this one doesn't seem abnormal when you're suffering from it.  That guy really did complain about his cappuccino being "too light" when he obviously should have ordered a latte if he wanted a lot of steamed milk.  The woman laughing at every joke your best friend tells is obviously flirting with him and he is being a complete idiot by paying attention to her.  Obama just doesn't get it about [fill in the blank].  It's all quite reasonable as it's happening.

Patience is a virtue, and a hard-earned one at that.  On days like these, no one seems to deserve it, but look out for warning signs that it's more about you than them:
  • Rolling your eyes at a remark (even if you only think about rolling them)
  • Interrupting someone because you already know what they're going to say and they shouldn't waste their breath
  • Yelling at another driver in traffic
  • Yelling at another driver when you're the passenger
  • Noticing how rude or stupid that person was and really wanting to say something
If you've done anything like that or similar three times in the past hour, consider taking some time away from people.  You're getting rubbed the wrong way and you're probably doing the same to them, and it's not fair to any of you.  Smoke a cigarette if you're still addicted, meditate, go for a walk . . . just get away, break the pattern, and don't get sucked into choking the living crap out of that bastard who so desperately needs it.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Motivational problems in kids: clue about depression to come?

Motivational problems in kids are probably an indicator of what may happen in the future.  I don't have access to any of the studies on motivation and depression in kids that are out there, but I can share an anecdote.
In the fifth grade, I was ready to resume my place as one of the smart kids.  I'd spent a year with a teacher who hated children so deeply that I have carried a dislike of tenure ever since, but this year I had a teacher whom I respected, and who liked me.
We were given a science assignment, the specifics I can't recall but my excitement over it I remember clearly.  I actually took my teacher aside and asked him if there was a maximum word count, because I was afraid I would write too much.
Something happened, though, and it didn't turn out quite like I expected.  I lost interest in the project, and I did the fifth-grade equivalent of "phoning it in."  It was so poor, in fact, that my teacher took me out in the hall to talk to me about it.  "You asked me for a maximum word count," he said, his disappointment showing in his every word, "but this is a minimum of a minimum!  How can I accept this from you?"
I didn't have an answer for him.  Sure, I had problems with a bully and a few kids who made fun of me from time to time, but that was nothing new.  Family life wasn't perfect but the parents weren't beating us or preparing for a divorce.  I had been hit, and hit hard, with a lack of motivation, and I had no clue why.
I can't fault my teacher or parents for not recognizing it in the 1970s, but I was showing early depressive symptoms.  Not every child is lazy if they don't do the work, and not every child is suffering from vision problems (which I first got corrected in fifth grade, as a matter of fact) or reading disabilities.  Some of them are having troubles which are completely beyond their comprehension.

The fact that "depression" means both "sad" and "serious condition affecting the brain" only adds to the confusion, making it more of a challenge for parents and teachers to tell the difference.