What a Day That Was

 

Wow.

Wednesday was, without a doubt, the hardest day emotionally in a long time for me.

Depression placed a huge rock on my shoulders early in the day, and there it stayed all day long. I could feel the weight of it pushing down on me, getting progressively heavier.

It hurt. Physically hurt.

By the time I arrived home that evening, I was crushed under the weight of it.

Almost to death. At least, wishing for it.

 

I can’t really put my finger on any specific thing that triggered it all. It would be nice if I could, so I’d recognize it next time. (next time??)

I don’t know; it was like anxiety, pessimism, insecurity, self-criticism, and just anyone who wanted to join in, were all waiting on the corner to beat the $#!t out of me when I showed up.

And, boy, did they do a good job. It was just about too much to take.

 

And then, I got home, and I asked my wife to hug me and tell me she loves me while I wept on her shoulder.

So she did. And in the process, she pushed that stupid rock off of me. I so don’t know what I’d do without her.

(Oh, and my cats provided some additional therapy. 🐱 It was appreciated.)

Later, my wife reassured me of all the good things in my life, and there are plenty, I know. But, as I explained to her, the insidious thing about depression is, it persuades you that none of that matters; you’re worthless, and your life sucks, end of story.

It’s mean, y’all.

 

I’m gonna share my good days and bad days with you, just in case any of you out there think you’re alone in this fight. Believe me, you’re not.

I know I should have some kind of defense for this. Something to help me stop this before it spirals out of control.

And maybe I do. I just couldn’t think of it Wednesday.

Also, I may need to ask my psychiatrist for a change of medication. This stuff I’ve been taking for years may not be so effective, anymore.

But, thank goodness, at least I had a lifeline, and all I can say is, if you have a problem with depression or any other mental illness, find a lifeline for you.

I don’t care who; it could just be a stranger at the other end of a phone line who, in that moment of utter desperation, can be the best friend you ever had, and push that rock off of you.

I wish you all no days like the one I just had.

I wish that for me, too.

Thanks for your time.

 

How You Doin’?

 

 

From the Associated Press, 06/08/2018:

“Anthony Bourdain, the celebrity chef and citizen of the world who inspired millions to share his delight in food and the bonds it created, was found dead in his hotel room Friday in France while working on his CNN series on culinary traditions. He was 61.

“CNN confirmed the death, saying that Bourdain was found unresponsive Friday morning by friend and chef Eric Ripert in the French city of Haut-Rhin. It called his death a suicide.”

 

From the Associated Press, 06/06/2018

“NEW YORK (AP) — The husband and business partner of designer Kate Spade, who died in an apparent suicide, said she suffered from depression and anxiety for many years.”

 

From the Washington Post, 06/08/2018:

“Suicide rates rose in all but one state between 1999 and 2016, with increases seen across age, gender, race and ethnicity, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In more than half of all deaths in 27 states, the individuals had no known mental health condition when they took their own life.”

 

Is there anyone out there who still doesn’t see how serious a problem this is?

We’re dying, folks. By our own hand.

In ever growing numbers.

I find that both terrifying and heartbreaking.

Not to mention, completely unnecessary. This doesn’t need to be happening!

My brothers and sisters, we need to look out for one another. Where are we failing?

Well, I have one possible explanation:

The CDC report pointed out an apparently high number of suicides among people without a known mental health condition, saying: “In the 27 states that use the National Violent Death Reporting System, 54 percent of suicides were by individuals without a known mental illness.”

But Joshua Gordon, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, added an important asterisk to that statistic, saying that, “When you do a psychological autopsy and go and look carefully at medical records and talk to family members of the victims, 90 percent will have evidence of a mental health condition.” So, many of the suicides were completed by people who were never even diagnosed, and consequently, never got any treatment for their condition.

According to the report, a likely reason for that is, most people aren’t asking for help. Especially, men. 

 

And, listen, I understand the reluctance. Mental illness still has a huge stigma attached to it. Nobody wants to admit there’s a problem, because it comes with a great big Scarlet Letter.

So, rather than be negatively labeled, people will just keep killing themselves.

THAT’S why the stigma has to be eliminated. That’s why we need to discuss mental illness as easily as we do cancer, or heart disease, or any other physical malady. It’s an illness, and it can and should be treated. People with mental illness aren’t crazy; they’re sick, and they need help.

And here’s the important part: If you know them, they need you to ask them if they need help.

I know that’s tough but, many times, they’re simply waiting for someone to ask them; they just won’t come out and say it.

Look, I’m no doctor. I’m no psychiatrist. I do have an illness. It’s called clinical depression, and I sure enough need help for it. And I’m getting it. Because I deal with those thoughts that visit me sometimes, and tell me just go ahead and check out, because you’re hopeless, you sorry, no good SOB.

But then, I realize: after posting information on this blog about what some of the warning signs are in someone who may be suicidal (08/31/2017), where to go to get help (08/31/2017), and how to help someone who is suicidal (09/13/2017), and after offering personal encouragement (09/23/2017 and several other dates), it would all ring pretty hollow if I just went and killed myself, wouldn’t it? I’d be the world’s biggest fraud. (Well, second biggest; you longtime readers know who I think has a lock on first place.)

But, back to my point: We all need to learn to be more observant of the behavior of those around us and, if we notice something that’s off with somebody, ask if he or she is okay. That’s not nosy, that’s caring.

And, you never know. It could be the difference between someone getting help, or ending it all. The stakes are that high.

Please, folks, let’s get out of ourselves and our cellphones a little more, and check in on our family, our friends, our colleagues. They may be waiting for us to ask.

But for how much longer?

By the way, how are you?

 

Treading Water

 

I’m sorry, folks.

The truth is, lately, I just don’t care about anything enough to write about it.

And I don’t know when I will.

But, even if I did, I’d likely tell myself you wouldn’t care, so why bother writing? That’s due mainly to my rather low opinion of myself these days. Depression, and all that.

Besides, trying to write anything lately is like trying to swim in mud. I just bog down at some point.

I’m sorry to disappoint any of you.

I don’t know if I should even post this.

But I just want you to know, I’m still here.

That’s about all I want to say for now. I love you all.

Those “Mentally Ill” Killers

 

I know I’ve dwelled on the subject of gun violence of late, but it’s really been on my mind. Way too many people, especially kids, are being shot to death; it’s an epidemic.

Our beloved leaders in Washington, however, are rendered impotent by their own partisanship, not to mention their allegiance to the National Rifle Association’s money.

Which is why, after this latest horror scene in a Florida high school, the focus is again not on the proliferation of and easy access to guns in America, but on mental illness.

I would simply ask the President, members of Congress, and anyone else who would seek to blame mental illness for all the gun violence, to at least consider the findings of an article published by Psychiatry Online entitled, “Mass Shootings and Mental Illness.” Here’s the link:

https://psychiatryonline.org/doi/pdf/10.5555/appi.books.9781615371099

Among the points it makes are:

“Mass shootings by people with serious mental illness represent less than 1% of all yearly gun-related homicides. In contrast, deaths by suicide using firearms account for the majority of yearly gun-related deaths.

“The overall contribution of people with serious mental illness to violent crimes is only about 3%. When these crimes are examined in detail, an even smaller percentage of them are found to involve firearms.

“Laws intended to reduce gun violence that focus on a population representing less than 3% of all gun violence will be extremely low yield, ineffective, and wasteful of scarce resources. Perpetrators of mass shootings are unlikely to have a history of involuntary psychiatric hospitalization. Thus, databases intended to restrict access to guns and established by guns laws that broadly target people with mental illness will not capture this group of individuals.

“Gun restriction laws focusing on people with mental illness perpetuate the myth that mental illness leads to violence, as well as the misperception that gun violence and mental illness are strongly linked. Stigma represents a major barrier to access and treatment of mental illness, which in turn increases the public health burden.”

Now, don’t you think, if psychiatrists were convinced that mental illness actually was the problem, they wouldn’t be presenting all this evidence to the contrary?

Gun violence is a public health crisis, but please, let’s not be so quick to brand it as a public mental health crisis. I’m fully aware that a lot of you will disagree, but the problem is, and has always been, the guns.

Period.