Category Archives: Depression

Mental Health Stigma in the News

Sure enough, last week, one of the first tidbits of information that was given by the military, thus becoming the focus for the tragic shooting at Fort Hood was that the shooter, Ivan Lopez, had been treated for “mental health issues”.

John Grohol has the run down of the various news stories that came out in the wake of that information, blaming these mental health issues, or the lack of proper mental health care, as the reason for the shooting, when in fact, that probably had nothing to do with it. He also explains that the issues he had sought help with, probably had nothing at all to do with this.

We talk a lot about encouraging people to get help when they are suffering from PTSD, depression or any other form of mental health problem, but then we turn right around and make these connections between those who might have mental health problems, and violence.

Imagine if we told people that they should speak out about being victims of abuse so that they can get help in healing, and then every time a violent act occurred, we proclaimed that it must have been a result of them being abused as children, because “you know how those people are”. Would any one want to come forward and admit that they are, in fact, one of “those people”? Yet the media does the same thing with mental health issues all the time. Sure Ivan Lopez spent time in Iraq, and had sought treatment for some sort of mental health issues. So do thousands of other people, every day. Are they all just a mass shooting waiting to happen?

I don’t think so.

 

Depression and Self Help

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No, I’m not going to suggest that a couple of self-help books here and there are all you need to overcome depression.

But, I saw a couple of articles recently that reminded me of my own struggles with depression, and that the best friends, the one’s who can really help and make a difference in the lives of a loved one with depression are not the ones who coddle them and tell them it’s ok. It’s the ones who remind us of our responsibility to take care of ourselves, that have the most impact.

First, the quotes:

10 Ways to Show Love to Someone With Depression:

5. Encourage them to focus on self-care.

Depressed people often stop taking care of themselves. Showering, getting haircuts, going to the doctor or dentist, it’s all just too hard, and they don’t deserve to be well taken care of anyway in their minds. This can snowball quickly into greater feelings of worthlessness since “Now I’m such a mess, no one could ever love me”. Help your loved one by being proactive. Tell them “I’m going to do the dishes, why don’t you go enjoy a bubble bath?” can give them the permission they won’t give themselves to do something normal, healthy and self-loving.

Continue reading

Depression for Christians

Since I have written before about Evangelicals and the seeming belief that no treatment is needed for mental health issues, I thought I should share this article that a friend of mine on Facebook posted.

5 Things Christians Need to Know about Depression and Anxiety

I can honestly say, these same things should be taken to heart by everyone, not just Christians.

Davone Bess and Metal Illness

Cross posted from my sports blog.

 

As someone who’s been interested in news about mental illness and also sports, I read Greg Doyel’s piece on Davone Bess, and whether the Dolphins had a duty to help Bess deal with his demons, or were free to trade him away and let it be some other team’s problem, with great interest.

On the one hand, as someone who went through a period of mental illness and clinical depression, and someone who was accommodated by a fantastic boss at the time so that I could continue working while getting help, I feel like the Dolphins acted poorly here. On the other hand, I also understand that getting help and following a treatment plan and building a support network, isn’t the employers job, it’s the individuals. The Dolphins couldn’t do the work for Davone, nor could the Browns. He has to do that, and it appears that he might not have. That is absolutely on him.

Of course, I wasn’t there when the Dolphins decided to trade away Bess, so I’m not privy to what the reasoning was. Does it appear suspicious? Sure. Could I make the football case for it as well,? Yeah. Bess was an “extra” slot receiver on the Dolphins, somewhat expendable.

So whether the Dolphins knew what they were doing and were just trying to get rid of a “problem” by dumping him on another team is debatable. Continue reading

Thankful That You’re Here

Since tomorrow is the Thanksgiving holiday here in the US, and I have sort of been writing about the idea of thankfulness each year at this time, I just wanted to take a minute to say that I’m thankful for you, the readers of this site. I’m thankful that you take the time to read, to comment, to send me links, to share posts from here with your social networks, and that you sometimes even let me know when something that has been written on the site has had a positive influence on you. Knowing that someone, somewhere, is getting something out of this site makes all of the time and effort worthwhile.

Beyond all of that, though, I’m also glad you’re here in a more existential sense. I’m glad you’re here, still working to move forward in healing. I’m glad you haven’t let the abuse take more than it already has, that you are doing whatever you can to heal, and to support others who are trying to heal as well. It may not always look that appealing, and it might be the toughest thing you’ve ever done, but as long as you’re here, there’s at the very least hope for healing and joy to come to your life. That sure beats the alternative!

Enjoy your holiday, however you are marking it!

Bullying in the Locker Room

Cross posted from my sports blog

First off, let me just say straight up that I have no idea what the heck was going on in the Miami Dolphins locker room. I also am willing to admit that an NFL locker room is an environment that is, and should be, different from the typical workplace. Most of us are not being asked to do what professional football players are asked to do every day. That’s why I haven’t really had much to say about it.

But reading Brian Phillips piece on “warrior culture”, suddenly the story became something I feel very strongly about. That is the mental health angle to this story. Because when you look at the responses from within the NFL and the media, there is far too much “toughness” and not nearly enough understanding that mental health problems are real and need to be dealt with.

Because this — this idea that Jonathan Martin is a weakling for seeking emotional help — this is some room-temperature faux-macho alpha-pansy nonsense, and I am here to beat it bloody and leave it on the ground. Every writer who’s spreading this around, directly or by implication; every player who’s reaction-bragging about his own phenomenal hardness; every pundit in a square suit who’s braying about the unwritten code of the locker room — every one of these guys should be ashamed of himself, and that’s it, and it’s not a complicated story.

When we talk about reasons why it’s so difficult for men and boys to seek help for depression or other mental health issues, this story provides us with a crystal clear example. “Real men” don’t go running for help, they stand up and fight, they go down swinging, they take care of their business. This is just plain stupid.

The brain is a part of the body. It’s an organ. It’s a physical thing. Sometimes it breaks. Sometimes it breaks because you beat it against the inside of your skull so hard playing football,1 and sometimes — because it’s unimaginably intricate, the brain, way more intricate than even a modified read-option — it breaks for reasons that are harder to see. Your ability to chortle “boys will be boys” doesn’t mean that psychological abuse of the sort that Martin apparently endured can’t widen that kind of fracture. But then, does the cause even matter?

Look at it this way: No one thought Joe Theismann was soft for leaving the game when his leg was hanging sideways. Sometimes the brain goes sideways, and when that happens, “brave” or “cowardly” shouldn’t even come into it. Seeking help is just the practical thing to do.

Of course, this is not the message that is sent to young men. The message is that seeking help is something weaklings and women do, not real men. Real men face their problems with toughness and, if necessary, violence. Better to go down swinging and be remembered for how hard you were than to admit to having a problem you need help with.

This is the sort of logic that leads to angry young men who beat their partners, commit suicide or walk into a mall and start shooting. If being tough means standing up for yourself and never asking for help, then it’s only natural to rage against anything that interferes with you. Unfortunately, it’s your own brain that is often interfering with you and there’s no amount of fake toughness that is going to make it stop. Only the real toughness that is willing to buck the message and get help.

Yes You Do Know Someone With Mental Health Issues

Almost two years ago I wrote about the prevalence of childhood abuse and told you that you know victims of childhood sexual abuse. I told you plainly then, that given the statistics, there’s almost a 100% chance that someone you know, someone you work with, someone you go to school with or someone in your family was a victim of sexual abuse.

Today, in connection with World Mental Health Day I want to tell you that, no matter what you may think, yes you know someone who is dealing with a mental health issue. In fact, there’s a very good chance that not only do you know someone who’s been treated for depression or some other mental health issue during their lifetime, but there’s a very good chance you know someone with a diagnosable mental disorder right now. According to the NIMH statistics, about 25% of the adult population is diagnosable for a mental health disorder in a given year. Almost 50% will be diagnosable during their lifetime.

So yes, someone you know, right now, is dealing with depression, considering suicide, struggling with bipolar disorder, an eating disorder, or is being medicated for ADHD, among other issues they may have. Given that basic fact, maybe it’s time you stopped with the jokes about being “off their meds”, or freaking out at the site of a medication bottle, or making excuses to stay away from people you know who are in therapy. It’s common. It’s a necessary part of life in 2013.

Despite these numbers, those people who fall in the 25% of the population are left isolated, alone, unable to communicate about what they are going through. Tragically, this means that many of them never get the help they need, for fear of being the odd one out, the nut case. While we are making strides to accept various minority groups, maybe we could spare a few thoughts for one of the largest groups out there, huh?

Stop right now, and think of the last 4 people you talked to during your day today. Chances are, one of them is dealing with a mental health issues, and at least one other is dealing with someone in their family with a mental health issue. These aren’t the rare freaks that you never have to deal with, they are around you all the time, and they deserve your support, not your scorn.

I blog for World Mental Health Day