via Daily Prompt: Underdog
When I was a child, I used to watch reruns of the cartoon show “Underdog.” The show ran from 1964-1967 and was a spoof of Superman. Underdog was by day a “shoe shine” puppy (mutt) but whenever reporter Sweet Polly Purebred gets into trouble, he takes a pill out of his ring and transforms into a hero to save the day, “the secret compartment of my ring I fill, with an Underdog super energy pill.” Yes, perhaps the show was sponsored by Pfizer. In any case, I always rooted for Underdog, literally and figuratively. I would argue that most of us do. As Maya Angelou has said, “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.” The more I get to know people, the more I see how this is true.
I think most of us struggle with unforeseen circumstances every day and those moments when we feel like complete losers. Ugh, can this day get any worse? And then, it does. But when Underdog faces challenges, he simply says, “I am a hero who never fails, I can’t be bothered with such details”and continues along. Underdog sees adversity as a minor setback, he downs his super energy pill, and saves the day. In fact, I’d argue most of us are doing the same thing. NBC news reported in 2016 that 1 in 6 Americans are on some kind of psychiatric drug (Fox, 2016) and a recent study has shown that the use of anti-depressants in the US has risen by 65% over the past 15 years (Mundell, 2017). So why are so many of us turning to prescription drugs?
Some experts point to the destigmatization of mental illness (Mundell). And I would agree that people are more likely to get help if they are struggling with mental health issues more now than ever. But I also worry about the normalization of taking a pill to solve our problems. Of course, if we all were to seek out the therapy we need, there probably wouldn’t be enough mental health professionals in the world to help us all. So I guess the easy solution is simply to drug us, dull our minds. First world problems, right? Here in North America, a woman wakes up with depression and anxiety about having to get groceries; somewhere in Asia, at the same time, a woman wakes up HAPPY even though she doesn’t even know if she’ll be ABLE to feed her family.
I’m going to argue, that it’s not you. It’s not me. You’re not crazy. I’m NOT crazy. We are ALL crazy. We live in a society based on excess and perfection. The woman in Asia with “nothing” is happier than us all because she’s not constantly exposed to media messages telling her to be skinnier, sexier, happier… Oh and here’s how to achieve happiness, folks: buy this, buy that, buy, Buy, BUY, BUY! Still not happy yet? Well, here, buy this pill. Let me sell you this bottle of Evian water to wash it down with. Don’t you feel happy now?
Most of us are Underdogs. Most of us are trying to be heroes in our society by placing high expectations on ourselves and others, all of these expectations being perpetuated by media images. As a society, we’ve set our standards so high that none of us, or very few, can actually meet them. And when we fail? It’s “super energy pill” time.
Fox, Maggie. “One in 6 Americans Take Antidepressants, Other Psychiatric Drugs: Study.” NBC News. <https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/one-6-americans-take-antidepressants-other-psychiatric-drugs-n695141)> November 25, 2017.
Mundell, E.J.. “US antidepressant use jumps 65 percent in 15 years.” Medical Xpress. <https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-08-antidepressant-percent-years.html> November 25, 2017.