When She Flipped The Table

This morning a couple of my Facebook friends shared an editorial column published in today's Helsingin Sanomat, which is basically the leading newspaper in Finland. The article is in Finnish but here is a link to it if you want to have a look.

"Everybody is responsible for their own happiness", states the title. To sum up, the author talks about how in today's world people tend to fall in negativity and blame all sorts of things for their personal misery: the corruption of society, high demands of professional life, immigration, indifferent spouse or the neverending winter . He suggests that instead of giving way to anxiety and melancholic thoughts we should all just give it a rest, appreciate the good things in life, forgive, and accept what we cannot change.

Basically what he's saying:

You have seen The Life of Brian, haven't you?
In the end, the author does see some fault in the society as well; he finds the lack of psychical training in comprehensive education a serious downfall for the national mental health. Perhaps, if the art of avoiding negative thinking patterns and learning to face disappointments was an essential part of the curriculum alongside with the compulsory Maths and Geology, the amount of depression, suicides, stress and general anger might diminish.

And perhaps if I wish upon a star, my dreams will come true.

Do forgive me if you found reading the article in question an inspiring experience, and alike my two Facebook friends, felt a sudden urge to go and share it with everyone you know - because my reaction was just massively unimpressed. I don't - obviously - know anything about the personal history of the author, hence I can't put his writing into a proper context in my head. He does mention something about a big crisis and how his psychological skills were only good for making it worse for him - but then he eventually got back on the track again, by which route, we do not know. What I do know, however, is that demeaning  anyone's anxiety/depression/you name it is not okay.
Because that is exactly how I interpret this piece of journalism.

I can't even begin to estimate the number of times that I've been told not to worry so much about things, people, skating, school, presentations, exams, travelling. Every single time I am reminded of my weakness, my incapability to not take everything so seriously, I feel a hundred times worse. I feel guilty and powerless - a burden to the society, my family and friends, and myself. I feel inadequate because more often than not I cannot summon the powers to remain infinitely positive when facing major obstacles. I'm not an innately pessimistic individual - on the contrary: I find sparks of happiness in the smallest of things, I always believe that things must eventually get better, and when I'm happy I try to share it with as many people as possible. But I also get stressed and anxious, I worry, I can brood for days without knowing the reason. And when you're sometimes so afraid of falling apart that you simply can't find the strength to leave the house, the last thing you need is some ignorant  ass telling to take it easy. Do you not think that having such terms as melancholy, depression or anxiety in our vocabulary would be a bit pointless if getting rid of the phenomena they describe was so ridiculously simple as that?

This over-simplifying, diminishing and fundamentally naïve just-smile-and-the-world-smiles-with-you attitude harboured by the author of that article, and my ex-coach, for example, is in my opinion really offensive. I can't imagine anyone suffering from some mental disorder/illness/whatever you want to call it feeling particularly enlightened about having their faces rubbed with this kind of a reminder of how different they are from all of the normal happy people around them.
I know one person who genuinely finds the silver lining in every cloud regardless of the hardships of her family. She's a rare being, though, and on the other hand I know such a vast number of people who struggle with mental health issues that the kind of bullshit offered by the column makes me cringe violently. Ignorance is undoubtedly blissful if it makes you believe that the way to cut down annual suicide stats is to tell people to smile more often.
What it does instead when published in a respectful paper is encouraging people to shrug off any signs of prolonged unhappiness as - I don't know, stupidity, laziness, weakness (?). Do your research before claiming the authority to presume to have any kind of a solution to the problem as severe as mental health issues in fucking Finland.

Good day. Sorry for the rage.


  1. I know exactly what you mean. It's been a now three-year struggle for me to stop becoming so stressed over schoolwork/university. At one point, I became seriously physically ill because of how stressed I was. Over these three years, I've tried my damn hardest not to be so stressed over everything, and I'm making slow, slow progress, while fighting about it tooth and nail. And every day, when I'm just being meticulous about certain things, people tell me "oh, don't stress", as just a form of speech, and it drives me up a WALL. THIS IS NOT ME STRESSING. THIS IS ME TRYING TO MAKE SURE I DON'T HAVE TO STRESS LATER. >: (

    Stress is terrible and managing it is very difficult when you have natural tendencies toward it. Good luck with everything <3

    1. Thanks, you too <3

      I think for me it's been pretty much a ten-year on-off struggle with all kinds of manifestations of stress, and I'm still finding new unexplored dimensions. No but really, at least the amount of introspection that I've conducted has really lowered my tolerance for condescending attitudes toward stress.
      I know it looks like I'm severely overreacting but this is just how I function, I'm working on it, and I DON'T NEED ANYONE TO TELL ME TO CHILL OUT because heck if I haven't been trying to do just that for the past eternity.