Depression Kills People: Keep the Conversation Alive

“Ideas are merely sensations imprinted deep inside us…Like attracts like…There is great wisdom in the subconscious mind. If you begin to work with it, it can be of tremendous benefit to you and serve as an excellent reservoir of knowledge..”                 James Van Praagh

1.  From John at Storied Mind: “Recognizing the Shadow in the House”:

“As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, for years I had a very limited understanding of what depression could do. Apart from the feelings of bleakness and despair, I never grasped that so many other things I was experiencing were linked to this condition. That’s important to know because a partner may be in treatment for depression but not be dealing with all its effects and distortions of thought and feeling.”

“I assumed that other symptoms, now so familiar to those who have tried to educate themselves about this condition, were either a part of my nature or were caused by some external circumstance. The anxiety, the obsessive way of thinking, the inability to focus and mental blank-outs seemed to be limitations that I could not change, even though they were by no means permanent.”

“My constant negative thinking and the shame I felt seemed justified by my inner failings. Projecting negative judgments about myself into the minds and attitudes of others also felt like reality. That’s the way they must be judging me. Everyone should think badly of me because I was empty inside.”

“On the other hand, I blamed my wife for the problems I imagined were plaguing our relationship. I could certainly see that I was contributing to them, but that didn’t stop me from raging at her and our kids for eveyrthing – and for nothing.”

“All of this made any real communication about what was happening completely impossible. I cast around me a net of control to capture and hold everything still. Most of my crazy behavior was based on fear of ripping that net. Everything I saw felt like part of me, an extension of my nervous system. On the surface, I was enraged at each unexpected tremor, sudden shift, raised voice, spontaneous action.”

“But anger can be a mask for fear, and inwardly I often burned in fear, even panic. Any effort by my wife to tell me what she was seeing in me and the effect it was having on her and our children only prompted more anger as I denied I had any problem and shut her out even more.”

“How did we begin to cut through the defenses and barriers to real communication? At calmer moments, we applied some tools we had learned from a therapist and gradually retrained our reactions to each other. That process made a breakthrough possible, but it was a long time coming.”

From S. Nassir Ghaemi: “Death of a Prince”:

“Politics may be debatable. Depression is not. The statistics are unforgiving: about 90% of those who kill themselves have depression, but only about 5-10% of those who have depression kill themselves. Depression is a necessary but not sufficient condition: the prince probably was biologically predisposed to severe depression, and all the rest – social isolation, loss of power and privilege, death of a sibling – added on to finalize the lethal mix.”

“Whatever the other factors, suicide in two family members generally implies biological and genetic sources. Whether the genetic source is in the paternal Pahlavi line, or the maternal Diba heritage, is unclear. The Shah also had depression, towards the end of his life, but by then he had terminal cancer. The prince’s  grandfather, Reza Shah, was not known to have had psychiatric symptoms, but it is possible that such symptoms were not noticed or recorded; he was highly energetic and charismatic, sometimes characteristic of manic symptoms, but beyond that possibility, one can say little based on what is documented.”

“Depression does not recognize princes or kings, rank or riches, privilege or power.  Biology cares not for politics. The sins of the father were not simply visited upon the sons, despite the fall from immense power to anomie. This is not enough to produce self-destruction; something else was at work, something that created such a bleak darkness that the eyes could no longer see, and the head could no longer think, and all that remained was a heart that sensed only darkness, and nothing more.”

3.  From Colleen Perry: “Saving the Lives of Those Who Save Yours”:

“Doctors in the VA are under pressure NOT to diagnose PTSD, because a diagnosis of PTSD leads to increased benefits and disqualifies the soldier from re-deployment. Bodies are at a premium here, folks, with many soldiers being deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan numerous times. Hardball on reports that the VA docs are giving out the diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder instead. That’s like saying the soldier who shot up his comrades at an Iraqi mental health clinic was just having a bad day.”

“A 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that nearly 74,000 former soldiers who returned from Iraq and Afghanistan between 2003 and 2004 sought VA treatment for mental disorders in the year after they came home. Many of those same men and women were sent back to the combat zone. The current figures must be staggering. Keep in mind that 30% of the army has PTSD or TBI (traumatic brain injury). According to Mark Benjamin who was being interviewed by Chris Matthews on Hardball, that means 30% of the army has no business carrying a gun. If we were to admit the truth of this, how would our military survive? But if we don’t, how will our military survive once they are “safe” at home?”

“Paul Rieckhoff, a U.S. Army veteran, who led an infantry platoon on more than 1,000 combat patrols in Bagdhdad, founder of the nonprofit Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) says “The reality is that mental health issues are probably one of the greatest threats facing Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. But our country is not ready to care for them. Contrary to what our president keeps telling us, we’re not a country at war. Less than 1 percent of this country is at war. Our military is at war. Our military families are at war. Everyone else is shopping or watching American Idol.”

“I couldn’t agree with Paul more. What are you doing to show our military personnel that you support them? Are you making sacrifices so that our freedom can be protected? Even if you don’t agree with the war, you can still support the sacrifices made by these men and women. As a citizen you need to ask how you can be involved. If you don’t have money, volunteer your time. If you don’t have time, then donate money, goods, or services. If you don’t have any resources whatsoever, write a letter to congress supporting more programs specifically designed to increase benefits to those combat vets who need them, be they mental health or otherwise.”

“You see the problem is that we don’t treat our military personnel as the Warrior class they are. We treat them as expendable soldiers, and once we are done with them, they are of no use to us. You need only to look at the statistics of alcohol and drug abuse, homelessness, spousal and child abuse, depression, anxiety, divorce and suicide among veterans to see the truth.”

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