Monday, December 8, 2008

Depressed? No, Just Finnish!

I found this story in a comment to a post entitled Quirkiness Among Finnish Males Is A Positive Trait, in the already mentioned Finland for Thought.

Pekka, an expatriate Finnish man visiting California, was recently diagnosed as clinically depressed, tanked up on anti-depressants and scheduled for controversial Shock Therapy when doctors realised he wasn’t depressed at all - only Finnish.

Mr Pekka, whose characteristic pessimism and gloomy perspective were
interpreted as serious clinical depression, was led on a nightmare journey through the American psychiatric system. Doctors described Pekka as suffering with Pervasive Negative Anticipation - a belief that everything will turn out for the worst, whether it’s trains arriving late, Finland’s chances at winning any international sports event or even his own prospects to get ahead in life and achieve his dreams.

“The satisfaction Mr Pekka seemed to get from his pessimism seemed
particularly pathological,” reported the doctors.

“They put me on everything - Lithium, Prozac, St John’s Wort,” said Mr
Pekka. “They even told me to sit in front of a big light for an hour a
day or I’d become suicidal. I kept telling them this was all pointless and they said that it was exactly that sort of attitude that got me here in the first place.”

Running out of ideas, his doctors finally resorted to a course of “weapons grade amphetamine”, the only noticeable effect of which was six hours of speedy repetitions of the phrases “mustn’t grumble” and “not too bad, really”.

It was then that Mr Pekka was referred to a psychotherapist.

Dr Isaac Horney explored Mr Pekka’s family history and couldn’t believe
his ears.

“His story of a childhood growing up in a grey little town where it rained every day, gloomy snow-filled streets of identical houses and passionately backing a hockey team who never won, seemed to be typical depressive ideation or false memory. Mr Pekka had six months of therapy but seemed to mainly want to talk about the weather - how miserable and cold it was in winter and later how difficult and hot it was in summer. I felt he wasn’t responding to therapy at all and so I recommended drastic action - namely ECT or shock treatment”.

“I was all strapped down on the table and they were about to put the rubber bit in my mouth when the psychiatric nurse picked up on my accent,” said Mr Pekka. “I remember her saying ‘Oh my God, I think we’re making a terrible mistake’.” Nurse Alice Sheen was from Upper Peninsula Michigan, and recognized the descriptions. Identifying Mr Pekka as Finnish changed his diagnosis from ‘clinical depression’ to ‘rather quaint and charming’ and he was immediately discharged from hospital, with a selection of brightly coloured leaflets and an “I love California” T-shirt.

:) Hyvää Itsenäisyyspäivää!

36 comments:

Kaisa said...

The story was excellent! I loved it - and I'm a Finn. In fact, it saved my until-so-far depressing day.

I have been going through some sort of depression myself without any clear reason to feel down. But now I know it: it's just my genes. Can't really help it, can I? :D

hazel said...

Kaisa, kiitos komentista!
No, you can't! Such a great reason to continue feeling depressed:))

marsupial said...

great one!

Tarzan bundolo said...

Excellent post! I feel my sorrows already drifting away.

OR maybe it's the fact that I'm flying to southern Spain from Finland next week :-)

Megan said...

A wonderful story. I'm a Finn, and from Michigan's U.P, and I attest to the fact that you are completely and totally correct. It's not a disease, it's a way of life :p

cialis said...

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nules said...

Must have been horrible, but the story rocks! Kiitos, mahtava tarina :D

PS. http://randomfunnypicture.com/wp2/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/meanwhile-in-finland.jpg

Joakim said...

Made my friday, thanks!

Joonas said...

Now we've been told to expect the coldest winter in a century. Greetings from snowy Helsinki :)

toni said...

I think this is kind of alarming. If you don't fit the happy-happy-joy-joy mentality of your surroundings, you will be strapped down to a table and given electro-shock therapy until you start behaving like the rest of us.

MahaTar said...

Nauroin vedet silmissä! What a story! No doubt we finns are introverts and depressed in "outside world".

Thanks for sharing!

-Massu

hazel said...

Hei!
Thank you for your comments. I haven't written anything in this blog for a while, but I am still struggling with Finnish. For example I knew Nauroin was past tense of something but wasn't sure of what:D

I also agree that we are under a lot of pressure to be happy and failure to comply with others' expectations is punished severely both on individual and societal levels. That's why it is so important for Finns and non-Finns alike to repeat Finnish words like 'surumielisyys' and indulge in a bit of healthy melancholy:)

Kiitos, taas!

korpiq said...

Giggling by myself while reading this at Malmi railway station - train 20 minutes late - in dark, -15c, surely gets everyone to think I'm mad or foreigner. Thanks a bunch!

Anonymous said...

happy happy joy joy
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8c86Q0fUT0

Lelle said...

I was just wondering if I should cut down on my winter anti-depressants as they combined with morning bright-light-hot-yoga sessions are making me strangely energetic and posit... non-depressive November-person.

Can't be this happy jumpy person in a -10 celsius- snow- probably- until- may -Helsinki. Don't want to stand out in a croud..

Anonymous said...

Joo! So let's not forget we can actually enjoy all that silence and apparent gloominess here in Finland, although it seems difficult to grasp to many, some of them finns even! :D

uitettu rakki said...

Thanks! This was a hilarious story of us Finns! I'm a Finn with diagnosed severe depression... you can guess what a combination at UNIs any language (compulsory) "conversation course"... I really love them!

Extended_feline said...

Nauroin niin, että putosin tuolilta! I hope the story was a piece of fiction with very twisted, dark sense of humour and not a true one, though.

hazel said...

I laughed so much I fell from the chair! Thank you for improving my Finnish, folks.
As for the truth of the story, I think it may be slightly exaggerated:)

Elina said...

Thank you so much for that! For a few days I've thought I was depressed, but now I realise I've only become a normal Finn. Finally!

Super-Seppo said...

Unfortunately the whole story was just an altered copy of this one... Not very original ;)

http://www.hellsgeriatrics.co.uk/humour-depressed-you.htm

ylimuuli said...

Clever and funny. Really appreciated your story. :-)

Kat said...

Haha this is funny. That's exactly the way it is

walopää said...

It's a well known fact that one out of four finns suffers from depression. And of course the other three are depressed as well, but they don't mind.

Robert Kurvitz said...

"Passionately backing a hockey team that never won" -

Terveisijä virloaiseltä leiojana-fänilta. Olen ihan itkenytkin siitä, kun ne aina häviä...

William Kendall said...

Good one!

Elisa said...

Brilliant article. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Does not say much about the Pychiatric Services,if you ask me !!!!

Anonymous said...

This story does not say much about Psychiatric Services !! Pretty sad.

MamaMia said...

This story is funny...but if it is true it does speak too well of the Psychiatric Services in USA.

That is for sure.If you get depressed talk to your neighbour and save your money !!!

Marja said...

If this story is true...then it is a sad commentary on the Psychiatric Services as a whole.

If it is not true...it gave us all a good laugh !!!

And yes...It is best to talk to your Mom or friend or neighbour and save your money.

kaikenhuippu said...

If it was for me to decide, I'd strap down all those grinning b*stards I see around the world, and give them some shock therapy, just to normalize them.

"Mies se tulee räkänokastakin, mutta ei tyhjän naurajasta". :)

Anonymous said...

At least no Finn doctor would diagnose Patch Adams with "excessive happiness" just like in the film.

Alex Warren said...

fabulous story after reading this peace of work now i am feeling great

Toni said...

haha, I laughed so much to this story.

When I visited US and everyone was smiling, up-beat and cheerful. I could not comprehend it. I was 100% sure they were ALL on drugs...

Where they?

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