First things first, some needed definitions:

The Diseases of Despair are three classes of behavior-related medical conditions that increase in groups of people who experience despair due to a sense that their long-term social and economic outlook is bleak. The three disease types are drug overdose (including alcohol overdose), suicide, and alcoholic liver disease.

Diseases of Despair, and the resulting deaths of despair, are high in the Appalachia region of the United States. The prevalence increased markedly during the first decades of the 21st century, especially among middle-aged and older working class white Americans starting in 2010, followed by an increase in mortality for Hispanic Americans in 2011 and African Americans in 2014. It gained media attention because of its connection to the opioid epidemic.

For 2018, some 158,000 U.S. citizens died from these causes, compared to 65,000 in 1995.

Deaths of despair have increased sharply during the COVID-19 pandemic and associated recession, with a 10% to 60% increase above pre-pandemic levels.

There are four basic types of despair. 

Cognitive despair denotes thoughts connected to defeat, guilt, hopelessness, and pessimism. It may make a person perceive other people’s actions as hostile and discount the value of long-term outcomes. 

Emotional despair refers to feelings of sadness, irritability, loneliness, and apathy and may partly impede the process of creating and nourishing interpersonal relationships.

The term behavioral despair describes risky, reckless, and self-destructive acts reflecting little to no consideration of the future (such as self-harm, reckless driving, drug use, risky sexual behaviors, and others).

Lastly, biological despair relates to dysfunction or dysregulation of the body’s stress reactive system and/or to hormonal instability.

Being under the influence of despair for an extended amount of time may lead to the development of one or more of the diseases of despair, such as suicidal thoughts or drug and alcohol abuse. If an individual suffers from a disease of despair, there is an increased risk of death of despair, usually classified as a suicide, drug or alcohol overdose, or liver failure.

What is an ACE?

An adverse childhood experience (ACE) describes a traumatic experience in a person’s life occurring before the age of 18 that the person remembers as an adult.

Adverse childhood experiences are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood (0-17 years). For example: experiencing violence, abuse, or neglect. witnessing violence in the home or community. having a family member attempt or die by suicide.

Nine types of ACEs: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, mental illness of a household member, problematic drinking or alcoholism of a household member, illegal street, or prescription drug use by a household.

Now about the show.

I just finished watching a gut wrenching one season drama on Netflix called Maid which just so happens to take place here in Puget Sound. Through the series I could only watch one episode at a time. Sometimes I got so angry I just wanted to scream at the TV or throw something. It was like watching a car crash in slow motion, yet I couldn’t stop. It was riveting.

Throughout the show all my brain would do is circle me back to the Disease of Despair and Adverse Childhood Experiences. It was brutal to watch yet I just couldn’t turn away.

Maid is an American drama streaming television limited series. The show premiered on Netflix on October 1, 2021

The ten-part Netflix series is adapted from Stephanie Land’s memoir, Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive. After working as a maid for six years, Land moved to Montana and used student loans and grants to start an English degree.

I have met that woman a hundred times before in real life. Unfortunately, sex and love addiction never make’s the spoken word in the show. Alcoholism, domestic abuse, and co-dependency are central themes. To say this young woman has a broken picker when it comes to men and who to trust is an understatement.

One of the classic hall marks of co-dependency is the inability to state one’s adults needs and wants and to hold boundaries. A by-product of ACE & the Disease of Despair that’s she seemingly can’t outrun. As painful as it was for me to watch I’m glad that I did. I won’t give away anymore of the story, but I will say that this show Maid is a must see.

If the show, your current life struggles, or ACE & the Disease of Despair trigger some willingness to talk about it feel free to contact me. No More Secrets (NMS) currently has four working groups, and we are starting to come out of the COVID-19 bunker. Loneliness is one of the symptoms of the affliction. You are a phone call away of getting help, remember MISERY IS OPTIONAL.

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