Dear Lana,

Today, I was thinking about how I became more mentally stable over the years.

There has been a lot of serotonin memes going around in the meme pages that I follow. The prevailing sentiment is that people’s issues will be solved by having more serotonin. I get the point of the meme — it references some psychiatric literature that claims depression is the result of some imbalance of hormones — but it is one of those memes that makes me question why people feel the need to ascribe pathological underpinnings to all of our emotional issues.

I read an essay a couple of years ago offering a sociological perspective to our current mental health crisis, particular in regard to the role of pharmaceutical industry in quintupling the number of depression diagnoses over the past couple decades. One of the biggest takeaways from the essay is the claim that people are becoming more and more uncomfortable with being sad, which results in people searching for a pathological explanation to explain feelings that are realistically very common. Obviously, big pharma eats that shit up.

Don’t get me wrong, Lana. I have taken antidepressants before, and I get the point of them. But, it seems that people around me always ascribe their feelings to some external cause.

It’s the same with capitalism. Some people always blame capitalism for their issues, and I don’t understand why. For sure, there are many valid critiques of capitalism. But, no one lives in a purely capitalistic society. It seems when people are blaming capitalism they are more blaming society more than blaming capitalism. I used to do research on the relationship between capitalism, burnout, and art. I wrote a couple of solid essays on it, and it was quite interesting. But, somewhere down the line, I realized that I couldn’t take myself seriously because it seems so abstracted from real life.

Having more serotonin won’t make people happy. Abolishing capitalism won’t make people happy. Concepts like serotonin and capitalism are real, for sure. But, oftentimes, I feel when people are talking about them as source of their problems, they are attributing their emotional turbulence to sources outside of themselves, so they don’t have to address the more fundamental issues that are real to their lives. I don’t know, Lana. That’s just my two cents.