Thursday, July 12, 2012

Norway, DNA, depression, anxiety and the best country in the world in which to live

I had a flash of lucidity last night, insight into life, Norway and everything (thank you Douglas Adams).

If statistics are to be believed, despite being “the best country in the world in which to live” 50% of Norway’s population will suffer from “depression” and / or “anxiety”. That could be regarded as a pointless piece of research since I reckon you can take any group of people anywhere and they will all have different degrees of anxiety about aspects of life but depression? What IS depression? I’m reluctant to give clinical psychiatric diagnoses of life’s inevitable ups and downs,

I see countries as being like people. I know very unhappy rich people and happy poor people. Maybe Norway’s apparent wealth has moved its perspective somewhere “strange”. Norway WAS the poorest country in Europe until oil was discovered there. Oil brought wealth and wealth brought ….. people who like money? People who are motivated by the pursuit of money which was, according to Jesus, the root of all evil? Not everyone can handle wealth.

Norway is undeniably pretty but Norwegians go for holidays or even choose to live in countries from which economic migrants seek new lives in Norway. Norwegians dream of the sun perhaps even seeing it as a cure for their “depression” whilst people from sunnier climes dream of a car, an apartment, healthcare, education for their kids in Norway even if their skills are average.

I wondered years ago about the alleged Norwegian tendency for depression as I have many years experience dealing with and reading about the use of venlafaxine hydrochloride (a psychiatric nurse told me I knew more about its contraindications than anyone she knew). I’m not in the medical business at all but had a deep personal interest in knowing what the implications venlafxine hydrochloride use and abuse might have on the life of my Norwegian son. There is the simple theory that Norwegian DNA has a tendency to be depressive because those Norwegians that weren’t depressed sailed away to sunnier climes thousands of years ago and new DNA wasn’t attracted to Norway until it became rich from oil, a pretty sad story really. Norway could be seen as the poor kid who became popular when they won the lotto attracting the “wrong kind of friends”.. It must be hard for any country or person to deal with the reality of sudden wealth but I’m struck by the slippery nature of wealth. Wealth needs “storing”, “protecting” and “tending”.

Everything is worth what you can get for it and trust is a commodity that seems to be dwindling faster than the west’s access to rare elements. When, for example, Norway “buys” Regent Street in London (or was it Bond Street?) it trusts the property will, in real terms at least hold its value (bearing in mind the migration of retailing to the internet, I’d have thought owning the Hindi, Mandarin, Hispanic and Portuguese net domain equivalents of “” or even “” would have more potential for growth).

There is no rule that having a lot of money is any prophylactic against future poverty. The world is full of people who have found their pensions didn’t buy them much in their old age since the west’s system of banking and money creation means currencies are constantly devaluing and inflation is a fact of life. If you are 18 years old now, you will sound like your grand-parents one day saying “£8 for a loaf of bread? The world’s gone mad”. Like a man smiling because his bowl has a few more grains of rice in it than the previous day, can Norwegians ever learn to be happy simply because it’s more fun deciding to be happy? Forget the money, the brand of clothes, the version of smartphone you have, the car you drive … how happy has any of this made you? … but if your concept of happiness has always been based on these things, conceiving of “another kind of happiness” may be impossible. Norwegians learning to be happy for no reason might be a good insurance policy for Norway’s oil fund losing its value.

So, to try and pull all these threads together, did those in Norway who were not depressed, who had the energy to leave, go with the Vikings as far as Corsica or to the US to Minnesota etc. leaving a pool of DNA with depressive tendencies behind? or, did the depressed leave, so fed up with the Norwegian climate? The 500,000 or so foreigners living in Norway now, what attracted them to Norway? Do they have any character traits that share common threads of DNA? If they were motivated by money to come to Norway, has Norway experienced its native depressive DNA being heavily mixed with “wealth seeking DNA”? Does this create a “tendency towards happiness”?

It’s this dichotomy I can’t work out. … if Norway really is “the best country in the world in which to live”, why ARE 50% of them depressed and anxious? Is it because they have something to lose? Their wealth? The poor have the luxury of an “happy-go-lucky-YOU-CAN’T-TAKE-IT-WITH-YOU” attitude and can be wildly happy for tiny triumphs whilst the already wealthy or hyper-ambitious need more substantial reasons to celebrate.

Personally, I don’t care where I am, what I’m doing or who I’m doing it with as long as I’m happy. My life has already been a triumph since I have a great son with whom I have a phenomenal relationship which will withstand the trials of separation as I seek somewhere outside of Norway (probably my native UK) where I will have permanent residency rights to grow old and settle. I also have a great love in my life with a girl I met years ago. For many good reasons we cannot be together but our love thrives despite the distance or the lack of prospects of us ever being together as if the love has its own life and owns us.

The Chinese say what you own eventually owns you and Norway’s wealth seems to have taken some of its inhabitants down a material cul-de-sac. Far better to be owned by a love that puts a smile on your face every day for free than the nice car you only think you can afford because the person who worked out the credit deal said you could.

Read “Thinking of Working Abroad?” by Warren Michael Davis. It may well vaccinate you against any latent desire you may have to leave your home town, nation, race, community and family to be a lone, lost soul fighting a bureaucracy that was never designed with your interests as a priority.

Choose happiness!

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