Steve and Facebook

Did you know that Steve Martin can sing AND tap-dance? Neither did I. Here he is, performing "Fit as a Fiddle" with Gregory Hines in 1981:

Also, he plays the banjo:

Who knew?

Okay, now I have to address something kind of important in a space where it won't make any difference! Yay!

If you have a Facebook, it's possible you've heard about, or maybe even joined a group called "Four guys, one destination, one mission: suicide prevention". I admit, that bit after the colon is a little confusing. I checked it out, and basically 4 guys from Baylor were eating dinner with their buddy when he confessed that he's terribly depressed and had actually attempted suicide the night before (by trying to suffocate himself in a plastic bag??? This guy really DOES suck at everything! Okay, that was cold. Sorry). The friend refused to seek professional help, and in the course of conversation, it was decided that the 4 guys would make a Facebook group, and when that group's membership reached 250K, they would bicycle to Alaska.

The group claims this is proving to the friend that he can do anything he puts his mind to, and it is giving him something to live for. While I admit I might want to watch my friends try to bicycle from Waco to Alaska in the winter, I feel it is perhaps not actually doing much to help their friend.

The thing is, clinical depression is more than just being kinda in a funk. It is a serious and potentially life-threatening disease. If your friend contracted, say, cancer, you would probably not encourage them to "walk it off" and try to distract them from their pain by funny jokes or questionable bicycle tours of America. This is because no amount of bicycling through snow will cure cancer, and in the same way, no amount of bicycling through snow will cure depression. I am constantly baffled by the number of people who don't understand this.

Part of the problem with this "distraction" plan is that depressed people tend to detach from life. They distance themselves from the events and people around them, and often complain of simply feeling nothing, or boredom, rather than the heart-wrenching, shirt-tearing sadness that (non-depressed) people imagine when they think of depression. The 4 guys are certainly caught up in the excitement of doing something larger than life, but chances are good that their depressed friend is wrestling with the disturbing thought that even now, with all this going on, he just doesn't really feel anything. He is probably also becoming very aware that his closest friends, the ones he confided in, simply don't understand him.

I think it's great that these guys, who clearly have no background in Psychology, are trying to help their friend. It's touching. I'm just concerned that they're going about it all wrong. They've shifted their focus from "You need to get some help." to "Let's give you something to think about besides killing yourself." But they really need to get back to that first bit.

Untreated depression is usually accompanied by cognitive cycles (thought patterns) that are negative and self-defeating. These thought patterns can influence the actual chemical balance of your brain, making you more depressed. Learning to identify and change depressive cognitions actually impacts brain chemistry in the opposite way - elevating mood. This is not to say that clinically depressed people don't need medication; just that medication isn't ALL they need. Therapy is a vital component for treating depression and learning to live with depressive tendencies. Bicycling to Alaska is not the same as therapy.

One last thing. If you have a friend who is suicidally depressed, and refuses to seek treatment, please, tell the other important people in their life. Call their parents. Tell their siblings and teachers. Will your friend feel betrayed? Maybe. But at least then they'll be surrounded by people who are aware of the problem and trying to help. You do NOT want to be in the other scenario - the one where your friend later successfully completes suicide, and you're stuck telling the friends and family who "had no idea he was so upset!" that your buddy had come to you with his depression and you didn't tell anyone, for fear of hurting his feelings.


I learned how to use YouTube


WTF - World Taekwondo Federation!

Yes, that's actually the acronym for the legitimate World Taekwondo Federation. I love it!

What I don't love is not being able to post pictures. I've had trouble with this before, you may remember. Well, I thought,"I've got a new camera, it's a new day! I can upload pictures!". But now, inexplicably, my computer thinks my camera is an iPod. An iPod that REQUIRES configuration before the setup and installation process can be completed!

So anyway, I don't understand technology, and I can't post any pictures.