If there was one word to describe the Olympic Opening Ceremony last Friday, it would be ‘original’. Then again you could throw in ‘impressive’ and probably ‘expensive’ into the mix too. Personally speaking, I thought that the ceremony was a roaring success, a very lively affair to say the least and the part when the ‘Olympic Cauldron’ was lit was simply spectacular. Credit where credit’s due to Danny Boyle! Even if you don’t agree with the Olympics, the planning and technical know-how that went into the ceremony was something to impress.
For seven years now the 2012 Olympics have been widely publicised, though this has gone into complete overdrive in recent weeks. Something else that seems to have gone up at the same time is ‘happiness levels’.
Everywhere you look on the TV, in the newspaper, internet or wherever, you see smiling people praising the Olympics as if they are the best thing since sliced bread. It’s nice to see so many people looking happy, the community getting together with the Olympic torch bringing a lot of people all together out on the street. Whatever the complaints about the games (such as the expense, security concerns, empty seats, many of the events based in London etc), it has been a boost to the country at what has been, and still is, a difficult time.
Not only this, but the Olympic events themselves and the medals being won have taken over the news of late: and good news stories are always good to see.
While good at present, the ‘happiness distraction’ of the Olympics is a great concern in the longer term. While it is good to see the news focusing on something other than the troubled economy, war, famine and whatever else is going on out there, these issues have not gone away by any means – even though it would be nice if this were the case (a thought that the Government would probably agree with).
If anything, this short-lived happiness can actually make matters worse. Like the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee a few weeks ago, a short sharp burst of happiness with a change of normal routine can lift people’s happiness, only to make the person feel more depressed than before. A useful analogy is feeling depressed and going to a very good party. You may feel miserable before the party, but after entering and having a few drinks everything is fine and you don’t have a care in the world. Then next morning ...bump. You will be back down to earth; probably with a hangover and the person who hosted the party probably having a house that looks like a bomb has hit it. You will also likely be feeling awful – worse than before the party started.
This I feel is similar for the Olympics and to a certain extent after the Diamond Jubilee (though this lasted far less time than the Olympics will). After all the festivities have finished, we will sadly be left with all of the underlying problems that are still there bubbling away under the surface, probably with the country still in recession, high unemployment, cuts for eight more years, wars abroad – and not forgetting paying for the Olympics. After feeling so high and forgetting about everything else going on, as soon as the Olympics have finished and then with the winter months starting to move ever closer, the bad news will be back in the spotlight with nothing else to cover over it. Especially after the national collective high during the Olympics, this could be a real shock to the system for many people even though it would not be a surprise to most.
Without going into too much detail, while there is good news about, the constant flow of bad news (which at the end of the day seems to travel further and faster than the good) must be having an impact on the population. Indeed, last year 43 million prescriptions for anti-depressant medication in Britain were issued – a figure that rose 25% from the figure three years before. Though not scientifically proven, this increase could be linked to the economic troubles post 2007-2008, with unemployment in Britain at over two and a half million (with a large number of unemployed ‘economically inactive people not being recorded in this figure), poor summer weather and everything else going on.
Though the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee for that matter have been very positive and lifted spirits, the after-effect going from a national high to normal level, may be very marked and could make many people actually feel more depressed than they were beforehand. It will be interesting to compare the number of prescriptions issued in 2012 with the previous year and even, if possible, seeing how many were issued before the Diamond Jubilee and after the Olympic Closing Ceremony.
Mark joined our one day Anger Management course in September 2009.
Initially he was skeptical, how could a one day course change anything as he and his partner Julie were at the point of breaking up.