S1E10: Depression Breakdown: What am I really worth?

banner image

Transcription S1E10


Almost 20% of US adults suffer from depression and we really don't have real cure. In this episode, we will break down the spiritual aspect of depression because depression tries to answer one of our core spiritual question of life: what is my worth? First, we will discuss how our world is programmed to "measure" our worth and how it is really not in our best interest. Our world is programmed to push us to a depressed state. SPOILER ALERT: Next episode, we will talk about how to re-program this in our minds so we will be more resilient. 

This is It’s Like This podcast with your host Dr. Uejin Kim, a dual-board certified child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist. If you want more understanding and control on mental decisions and options in your life, this podcast might be for you. By providing fun analogies, real stories, and empowering messages, I want you to have the tools to live your best life and thrive.

Hey, everyone! This is Dr. Kim from It’s Like This podcast and in this episode, we'll be dissecting the concept of depression and understand why it hurts us to our core. It is actually a spiritual issue, and not in the way that you heard before. So, today we'll talk about how depression is almost programmed into our world and into our lives. Depression is not a voluntary feeling that you can't just shake off. It actually answers a spiritual question of ‘what is my worth?’ So, we'll dig into that.

So, a little history lesson. So, depression was initially called melancholia. So, the earliest accounts of melancholia appeared in the ancient Mesopotamian texts in the second millennium BC. So, at this time, there was a lot of connection with mental illness and spirituality. So, a lot of times mental illnesses were attributed to the demonic possessions, you know, and were attended to by priests. But over a course of, you know, history, there is more medical and clinical understanding of mental illness. And the physicians and medical care started to be a treatment option for mental health disorders, just like depression. So, when you look at the definition of melancholy, it’s a gloomy state of mind, often gloomy state that is some sort of a continuance or habitual, and depressions of spirits and induced by grief or dejection in spirits. So, I just wanted to emphasize here that the emotional state of melancholy, the mental state of depression, and spiritual state of not possession, but depressed kind of grieving spirit, I think they can kind of coexist in one setting. So, in a clinical setting, when I'm trying to separate or identify the presence of depression, in the patient's story, I oftentimes ask, ‘Do you think you're a good person or a bad person?’ Because at the end, a spiritual question is, ‘What is my worth? Am I worthy of being alive?’ And depending on that answer, I can kind of tease out the presence of depression, apart from just anxiety, just trauma, or just grief, you know. And in this episode, we're gonna kind of more talk about this conceptual understanding of depression, and then how it comes about in our society. Because the causes of depression are definitely multifactorial. It has bio-psychosocial and spiritual factors. But when I asked that question, you know, ‘are you a good person or a bad person?’ and the spiritual question of ‘What is my worth?’ When there’s a presence of depression, depression clearly has an answer for that. And the answer is ‘No, I/you are not worthy.’

So, let's dig a little bit deeper and get a little bit nerdier again. Okay? So, in Webster Dictionary, what is the definition of a value, you know, and it’s worth that property, or those properties of a thing which render it useful, or estimable, or the degree of that property or of such properties. So, you know, long wordy definition. But key words here are ‘innate property.’ There are characteristics about you or something that are innate, like you're born with it. You're created with it. So, there's a characteristic of a property. The second key word is ‘measured’ or ‘estimated.’ So, there's a measurement that is quantifying your characteristics. And the third key word here is there's a certain standard that is being used to measure the usefulness or productivity of that thing. So, in other words, if I am kind of relating back to the mental health, you know, we all have innate property or characteristics that keep getting measured by a certain standard of usefulness or productivity. And those standards are usually external. They’re outside of us. Now, in our society and in our lives, how do we get measured? Because every time we get measured, it gives us a sense of worth, right? And I want to kind of explore three ways that we get measured in our society and in our lives. Number one-by popularity, number two-by productivity, and number three-by appraisal.

So, the analogy that I wanted to use to kind of explain how we get measured and estimated is a real estate. So, for example, we get measured by popularity. So, the real estate market, sometimes it just doesn't make sense. Like why a square foot in New York City or San Francisco is just so ridiculous, and illogically high, while square foot in like a state like Texas is dirt cheap. And it’s because of the popularity. Popularity drives up the value of the square footage of the land, even if it has the same soil makeup, even if it has a just as good square foot to build a house in Texas versus in New York City. It’s the popularity that determines the value. And in this terminology is the market value of the land, right? So, measuring the self-worth, or your worth, can follow very similar “logic,” or lack thereof. So, it doesn't matter that you're same as the next person, you're the same height, you have the same color of hair. You seem to have less value if you have less likes or subscribers, if you didn't get attention from people, or if you look different by the society's trends of what's beautiful, or if you don't have a date to prom, you seem to have less value than the next person. And really, the truth of the matter is, it really doesn't matter. Your quality of life really doesn't matter if you have more or less likes, right? And when you start to kind of wake up from that illogical kind of argument, people start to realize that square footage of the land in New York City is the same square footage of land. And maybe that's why people are coming to the south, or maybe that's why they're leaving certain very popular cities, right? It’s just, the cost of living gets so ridiculous, it makes people wonder like, ‘Hey, what's going on? Maybe my life is not about just being the most popular,’ you know. And we see a lot of TV shows kind of breaking apart from that, you know. Classic! I'm dating myself, but Mean Girls, you know. Like, just being popular by popularity standards isn't everything. And there's something more than that.

The second way that we get measured is by productivity. So, when we purchase our new home, it was our first home, so we didn't really know anything, and we got a lot of good advice on how to maintain or increase the value of our home. And quickly, whenever we, you know, pressure wash our driveway or something like that, we had to kind of calculate ‘Is this bang for a buck? Is this going to add a value to our home?’ Right? And we learned that some addition add a lot of value to our home, and some didn't, you know, adding a pool or a solar panel. We had to kind of calculate the productivity of each addition. And the standard to determine it, how productive is that addition was because of our goal. And our goal was to increase the value of our house. So, where the goal is, determined the direction you want to go. I want to add, you know, maximum, you know, value to our house. And productivity is measured by how far you get in that direction. So, adding a, you know, solar panel, let's say that it'll be 10,000, but it will add to 20,000 value. So, it will double, you know, what the dollar that you put in. So, that is how the productivity gets calculated. So how do we relate the productivity in our world? So, you know, when we see people around us, especially in our own age group, achieving more things than us, we start to use that evidence to compare our value, our worth, compared to them, right? Or what our life choices were, that we made versus the choice that they made, you know. And we lived, you know, 30 years on this earth and what choices do they make that increase their productivity, increase their value, right? So, this is how I want to relate real estate to a sense of worth. So, the question is, like, you know, for me, why did I become a doctor after hundreds and thousands of dollars in student loans and years of, you know, living in debt, while the guy who is the same age as me, went into business and became a millionaire, right? Or some people will be like, ‘Why did I quit college to help out my family when I should have stuck through and got the college degree and have a better job.’ You know, all these comparisons of productivity and increasing our value, right? So, what's our goal here? Right. And sometimes we are indoctrinated with goals that are not really personal to us, you know. Who determined that going to college, finishing college, getting a job, having X amount of kids, raising them right, staying married, being popular was a desirable goal? You know, it wasn't really like we woke up one day and were like, ‘That's my desire. That's my goal in life.’ It’s usually by the society and culture around us.

So, for example, if your family was a family of locksmiths, or real estate agents, or car salesmen, it was so natural to join them. It was what you knew, you breathe in and out, and you talked about all the time. So just kind of to bring it back to the definition. Where do you want to go determines the productivity of each choice you make in life. But a lot of times, goal was determined before you chose them. And imagine, if your family was a family of locksmiths, and you decide to be a real estate agent, you're going to expect, and you're gonna feel some turbulence in your family, in your culture. So, the question here is, you're measuring yourself by the standards of goals that might not have been yours, or maybe you didn't even have a chance to question that. So, before you join the rat race of achieving the next thing towards that goal, that the culture or society set for you, know that you do have a choice to stop and question, ‘Do I really want this? And why do I want this?’ So that you can make your own goals and your own direction of your life. So, that you can have your own sense of productivity. So, the second way that we get measured, you know, in regards to our worth, is productivity. But a lot of times the goal of being productive, the direction of that was determined outside of our control.

And the third way that we get measured, our worth gets measured, is by appraisal. So, if you know a thing or you just bought a house in this crazy hot market, you've heard of the term appraisal. So, it's a little bit different from the term market value, which is determined by popularity, and it’s a little bit different than productivity, in addition to the house that you bought. An appraiser is a person who comes into your house, like actually into your house to inspect your property, uses some kind of calculation or comparison, you know, or comps, right, to put a value to your property. So, it's a little bit more personal, a little bit more in depth than popularity lead market value. But at the same time, the  appraiser doesn't live in the house that is your home. He doesn't know or care about what this house means to you. He just knows a little bit more than a random stranger who's looking at realtor.com. Okay? So, as we go through life, we get a lot of appraisals. So, by our parents, siblings, friends, teachers, coworkers, your girlfriend, boyfriend, or random strangers. And sometimes we seek out appraisal. Sometimes, you know, we ask an appraiser to come to our house and say, ‘Hey, what's our value?’ Or sometimes we never wanted it. Just like when the appraiser comes to, you know, do an appraisal for your value for property tax, right? Some appraisers have no idea what they're doing. And some appraisers are very known to be an expert in knowing your home. And especially if that appraiser spent more time in your home, you know, instead of a guy who just Google search and comps and just spit out some numbers. If they actually came and inspected the property, you know, touch the window seals and all that stuff, right? Like, the more personal the appraiser got, the more validity his appraised value means to you, right? So, let's kind of relate that back to our sense of worth, okay? We get appraised by a lot of people. But we will pay more attention to the appraisers that spent a lot of time with us. For example, our parents, family, close friends, our romantic partners. What they think of us and say about us and tell us about ourselves. Our ears and our hearts are curious to hear what their appraised value of us are. And so hopefully you had more fair and positive appraisal experiences from these appraisers, especially if they're close to you. But I know many of us did not have a positive experience.

So, when we get appraised as “The problem kid”, “imperfect”, “needs improvement”, “less than” or “not worth it”, it is disheartening and it is spirit killing. And it feels like the truth. Now remember, no matter how detailed or calculated or, you know, close and personal this appraiser was, the appraiser still doesn't live in this house that you call home, okay? So, however detailed or painstaking the appraisal process was, or the, you know, the quality or popularity of that appraiser, remember that you're the one who lives in this home. And you're the embodiment of your spirit. And external opinions, no matter how close that they get to you, is an external calculation, and they cannot be replaced by the experience and life that you have inside your home.

In summary it’s like this. The cause of depression is multifaceted, and it’s hard to pinpoint what is the cause with depression. But there's a close connection with spirituality. And the reason why presence of depression causes so much pain to our core, is because depression tries to answer our spiritual question, ‘Am I worthy,’ ‘what is my worth,’ and we dug a little bit into the definition of worthy, right? Seems like measuring or estimating the worth and value of someone seems to be in a process of measuring something internal, like of us, by external standards, okay? And the examples of three standards, three external standards, were number one-popularity, number two-productivity, and number three-appraisal. And these are three external ways to measure our worth. But I want you to kind of remember after this episode, that measured amount by certain standards, no matter what it is, doesn't have to be the only way to experience and value worth, okay? Your worth is not just measured by popularity, productivity, and appraisal from other people. And there's a new way to see yourself, even measure yourself. So, in the next episode, we're going to be discussing the new ways to get the sense of worth. Ways that will make you feel great and confident about yourself, that will be more positive, and fairer to you, so that you can live your best life.

I hope this episode was helpful today. This is something that I'm continuously working on myself too. But I love using analogies of real estate because it was so hot. The market was so hot last year, and I'm just learning a lot about real estate. And this was a perfect analogy for that. And if you like my analogies and how I'm using them, you know, subscribe to my podcast. It will come out at least once a month. Sometime if I have extra talk, it'll be more frequent than that. But I just love, love explaining to you mental health concept that is so personal. Because a lot of people have hurtful and painful experience in their lives. And I just want to untangle some of that and making sure that you know yourself and you're confident. And that you are your best advocate. So hit that subscribe, come back and join us for the next episode.