Yesterday three lovely young women came into the shop later on in the afternoon.

I was on the floor by myself as it was a holiday. I got to talking to all three really. One girl told me that she had Facebooked us re the holiday hours and I was like ‘ Yeah I saw that’. It was Devon who had answered. Another told me that she had bought her grad gown back from us back in the late nineties when we were having 15 minutes of fame and selling about a million handmade grad gowns a year resplendent with all the accouterment and alterations included.

I miss the money from those days but not all the hard work and definitely not all the groveling required of the grad girls mother’s.

Two of the ladies made purchases and as I was completing the sale we got to talking about their personal mental health. This required a bit of background on both of their parts but I didn’t mind as I’m naturally nosey. After all, people are the most interesting thing in life, don’t you think?

It turns out they were both ADHD.

I’m beginning to wonder if this diagnosis is a kinda mental catch-all. Kinda the way cancer is now a label for all myriad of deceases. Grad girl ( I’m sorry I didn’t ask their names) explained that she had been having mental issues since her childhood but her parents hadn’t wanted to have her designated.

I can understand this as a parent ( I’ll explain later).

Grad girl’s mother thought the best way to deal with her daughter’s anxiety was to give her alcohol. As a young child, this meant icecream topped whatever liqueur was going to help her sleep. As a teen in high school, her mother provided screwdrivers as afternoon refreshment on her returning home from school.

Grad girl went through many doctors and experimenting with different drugs before she seemed to have a good (whatever that means) chemical mix for her to be able to function. Her shopping partner echoed this.

You know I have strong opinions about this, but I kept it polite.

I was amazed that such seemingly high functioning ladies could be diagnosed with mental health designations. Grad girl is an artist ( a multimedia sculptor), a roller derby girl and a vet assistant. Her partner is a writes computer code.

” I’m amazed that such highly functioning people such as yourselves have mental health problems”.

In life, there are two types of people in my opinion. Some are proactive about their health and others just want to take a pill and be better. My mother is in the latter category.

I shared this theory with my new friends and they concurred.

“I have some experience with this. ” I said, ” My mother was under care from her early 30s until she died at 70.”

She never really lived outside of care in all that time. It’s terrifying when you think about how easy it is to slip into care and just make a career of it. It can become your whole life. One has to be very proactive about one’s health, mental or otherwise in order to live a full life.

“I believe some people can be helped by drugs” I conceded though this theory goes against my personal instincts I have seen some evidence that it is true.

Grad girl pointed out that it’s hard to find a proper prescription and the two described many different scenarios, including different doctors, drugs and side effects and also the huge expense in some cases not covered by Medicare.

It struck me that there is a whole industry benefiting from ADHD diagnoses.

I know it’s very conspiracy theory of me, but where were all these mental illnesses when I was growing up? They just didn’t seem as common. People dealt with emotional issues anecdotally. We treated the symptoms.

I only remember one other woman with mental health issues in our neighborhood and I feel like my mom was quite close to her, almost as if she was in training for her life’s calling. A strange thing for a daughter to think, but there it is.

I think it’s great that we are more accepting of others diversity now but were we ever really unaccepting? I feel like a lot is made of renouncing the stigma of mental health diagnosis when back in the day weren’t some people that were say a little off kilter just accepted as part of society. Please say this hasn’t all come to pass in order to sell more drugs.

Why does it seem like there are more mentally ill people than ever before? Is this a Maslow’s hierarchy of needs issue? Are we doing so well in our first world that we have now met the basic requirements of food, clothing, and shelter and we are self-actualizing ourselves into a lack of direction and there some kind of general discontent?

Are people making a hobby of being mentally ill with ADHD, because they lack direction and a sense of purpose in life?

Do first world people need a diagnosis in order to deal with their boredom and is big Pharma cashing in?

Say it isn’t so.

I think people who live in the third world have much greater issues to deal with and not as much time or energy to spend on their mental health. There are simply too busy traveling miles to get fresh water while avoiding landmines and wondering where their next meal is coming to think much about whether they’re crazy or not. This is inherently a first world problem.

Counter to that I did hear a news story lately that told of one of the many war-torn areas of the word and spoke about people’s mental health issues in response to being bombed day in and day out. This strikes me as an appropriate response to a terrible and inappropriate situation.