Tag Archives: Mental Health

[Guest Post] Depression, Stigma and Society

Hi, I’m Depressionless and I am fortunate enough to be able to write a guest post on this blog. For more of my writing, check out my blog at depressionless.wordpress.com.

Some people have depression because of family issues, some have depression because they have lost someone they love, but when I was asked why I have depression I just couldn’t reply. It is not because I didn’t want to tell them, I actually had no idea. I still cannot figure it out. It doesn’t make sense. Depressionless, you can’t be depressed, look how good your life is… Yeah, that probably makes the whole feeling worse.

There is a lack of understanding about depression. The first friend I told (except for my really good friend who lives 3000 miles away) could not understand how I had depression. “But you look so happy all the time” was one of the first things they said as we sat on the park bench discussing my mental illness. I just replied with “Yeah, I look happy, but I have depression”. Maybe it is because teenagers have no understanding of the world yet, or maybe people judge a book by it’s cover. This is why I do not tell people about my depression. Those who don’t understand (the majority of people) will think I am making it up or think I am attention seeking, just because they don’t really know how depression affects me.

I’m not the only one. There is a stigma around depression which forces those suffering from it to stay silent. For me, the internet is the only way I can talk about it because people cannot judge me, only what I write. Without the internet I would never have seen a doctor, or my counsellor, or realised I had depression, or receive help from my friend who lives 3000 miles away. People don’t understand depression until someone they know suffers from it, which is very sad. It takes anonymity for many people to get help, and anonymity is not the best way. It is hard to help your depression by sitting behind a screen in your bedroom, in fact that could make everything worse.

If the stigma behind depression were to disappear I am certain you would suddenly hear about a lot of people you know suffering from depression. At the moment, I don’t know anyone who has depression yet statistics suggest 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience some kind of mental health problem each year. I know quite a few people, so I can’t see how that statistic would make sense if I was the only one in 20, or 50, or 100. The truth is that people you know will be hiding their depression from you. I am hiding my depression from most of my friends. That may not be your fault, society as a whole is to blame. But society must change, and then the care of those suffering will also improve.

Hiding your depression hurts. You need to be cared for in a special way. But you can’t get help because of society. That is the problem. How do we solve it? Simple, we must educate. When everyone knows the truth about depression, they will understand what sufferers go through better, and they may be able to help instead of forcing the sufferers to stay silent. Bloggers such as myself try to show the world the truth. The internet has various sites that teach you about depression, teach you about the illness that is more than just feeling sad. Many of you will have thought depression is just feeling sad, and if that is your belief you should read up on it. I hope you never have to suffer from depression, but I do hope you can understand and empathise with those who do. The more you know the better you can help.

wintery reflection

beuaty and the beast

tale as old as time
song as old as rhyme
beauty and the beast

the beast hides out in his castle, disfigured from his once acceptable self. “surely, no one could love such a wretched beast such as me”, he says. or maybe the story needs a minor rewrite. maybe the words should read, “i say”.

Continue reading

the power of an empathy

Brene Brown, in Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead,  writes, “If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.”

i’ll go even further. when one of our life adventures, no matter how awful, is received with empathy, we feel accepted for who we are and where we are. that acceptance is powerful and a form of love.

i went to my psychiatrist yesterday. recognizing how my depression can be a drag on Mary, i not so eloquently asked him, “any suggestions along the line, obviously when i’m in a bad space, it’s also a bad time for Mary. any suggestions along that line?”

dr. rogge replied, “…have some empathy for one another…just acknowledge it; that’s all you have to do.”

simple. yet, at times so difficult.

i recognize when i’m in a bad space, i am so wrapped up in myself. it is hard to see anything. i can imagine the difference it would make if i could say something like, “i recognize that when i am in depression, that it’s a hard time for you. i wish i didn’t have to drag you through it. when i do, it brings me sorrow as i’m sure it does for you, too. i wish that didn’t have to happen.”

or perhaps from the other side. “i recognize the depression puts you in a horrible place. that place is not of your choosing. when you get taken to that place, it makes me sad. i wouldn’t wish this on anyone.”

both of these statements ooze empathy. they acknowledge the wretched state and do it with out judgement. being on the receiving end of either of these statements, would make the situation feel a little less heavy and i would feel a little more accepted, a little more loved.

one thing that has become clear to me is  the power of our group, that being the people who suffer with mental disorders. we tend to seek solace with one another. we unknowingly and unwittingly become a support structure, a shoulder to lean on. its that willing ear, an understanding being, someone who has walked a similar walk. that makes it easier to leap to the feeling of, “been there, done that, i understand.” that generates strong feelings of belonging and empathy. those feeling give us a feeling of connectedness, that connectedness we as humans all desire.

so in closing, i offer up a challenge; act out of empathy today. in doing so, you will be taking a small step towards making the world a better place.

bird in the reeds


today is a hard to get out of bed day. i wish it wasn’t, it just is.

and Mary, bless her heart, having grown up in a boot strap family, wants me to get up and do something. anything. sometimes i wish she’d put the bootstrap away. it hurts too much.

tatoosh range

a request of support

hello my friends in the web world,

as you might know, I have recently been diagnosed with a mental disorder, bipolar disorder. i have been through something like ten depressive cycles. i am finally seeing a good psychiatrist who hopefully will get me set up with some medications that will work for me.

societal misperceptions hold me back from freely sharing. if i had cancer, i would likely freely share on my struggles. same goes for a thyroid problem, a heart disease, a kidney or liver problem. that’s because there aren’t societal misconceptions about cancer, thyroid problems, heart disease, a kidney or liver problem; they are a disease, a disorder. let’s face it, mental disorders are that, too; a disease. one in four people struggle with some kind of a mental disorder!

there are problems that go with mental disorders. society has misconceptions about mental disorders. those misconceptions cause people to feel uncomfortable. fears of not being accepted or shunned cause people with mental disorders to “hide”.

it is time for me to try to break through the stigma, to get the support i need and hopefully many others like me. on may 18, i will be participating in a NAMI walk. NAMI is the national alliance of mental  illness. they are a national group set up to advocate and support people, family and friends who struggle with mental disorders. this walk will help to support local NAMI chapters.

i am asking for donations in support of NAMI in the NAMI walk. your donations will go to help support the NAMI organization in snohomish county.  you can make a donations set up at a url just for me at http://namiwalks.nami.org/sojourner.  the website is setup to take cash, checks or credit card donations. if you are unable to give financial support at this time, that’s okay. i would still appreciate it if you could drop by the site and leave me a message of support, an “adda boy”, a “fight the good fight”,  a “good for you”, a “bully for you”, or something else.

additionally if you have any questions about mental disorders, do not be afraid to ask. i may not know all the answers, but i am willing work with the resources i have to hopefully get you an answer.

thanks for your support as i continue my battle,


clouds rolling by…

headline reads, “Ricin suspect had mental problems”

great headline, especially for people with mental disorders, NOT!

what a way to perpetrate the misconception about mental disorders. for too many people this will become just another example of how all people with mental disorders belong in the cuckoo bin.

you know what? i’ve never looked up the recipe for ricin. i’ve never written a letter to the president and never threatened anyone. the closest i’ve come to any problems is being overcome with despair to such a degree that i thought about taking my life, twice. yet, for too many people, i’ll get grouped with this guy with “mental problems”.

As i sit here and watch the reports from boston, i am inspired. they talk of soldiers from afghanistan and iraq showing up at hospitals offering support to people who had lost their limbs, letting them know that they will run again.

similar to those soldiers, i hope to be with a person dealing with deep dark despair that comes with being diagnosed with a mental disorder. i hope, like those soldiers, i can pass along a message of hope, that they too can survive and prosper even though they have a mental disorder. that mental disorders don’t have to be a death sentence. and finally let them know that they can look forward to dieing with a mental disorder as opposed to because of a mental disorder.

really? i belong grouped with this guy? i don’t think so. neither do most of the people who suffer with mental disorders. they are fine upstanding citizens trying to live with a chemical imbalance in their brain. nothing more, nothing less.

postscript: the headline online has since been updated to “Ricin suspect had mental problems”. while the new headline softens the wording, it still perpetrates misconception.

life in a effing brick room!

I hate being in a depressive state. my wife wants me better yesterday. hell, i what to be better yesterday, too. but i’m not an i believe that frustrates my wife. she doesn’t understand how difficult getting out of this dreadful state is. her hope is i could just wish my way out of it.

here’s a story that kind of drives that point home. my mom once told my sister, “i was depressed once; then i got over it.” too many people think we can just get over major depression. i wish it could be so, but it is not that way for me.

i had a marriage counseling appointment last night. i found it mind–blowingly difficult. I spent a good amount of the appointment in tears.

in the appointment, came a time where I got asked what it is like to be depressed. for me, it is like living in a brick room. removing each brick requires an incredible amount of effort and energy. simply trying to remove a brick leads to total and complete exhaustion. this exhaustion sometimes makes it difficult to function.

I hope for some light in that hedious brick room. that light is what is required for me to have hope that there is a way out. if only i could make a hole.

i realize that one way i try to get light in to this wretched room, poke a hole through the wall, is through photography. i find awe in nature. it is one way i know that there has to be a god. otherwise, how could there be relationship between everything in nature and have everything work. it boggles my mind that all of this works.

how could the waste of an organism be important to the well being of an other organism. and to continue that cycle and in return, their waste becomes critical to the well being of the organism that gave them what they needed. i’m talking about the o2–co2 cycle. animals breathe out co2 as a waste gas. plants use the waste gas to complete the process of photosynthesis that it needs to live. one of the by–products of that is oxygen. that oxygen is then used by animals for their well being, closing the cycle.

how much gets overlooked even at a walking pace? perhaps a distinctive bird , some interesting plant or interesting insect hides or lurks around the next corner or rock. but most people are so unaware and do not see it. i try, in my walk, to have an awareness of the stuff that maybe others leave behind. i call it my walk with wonderment.

I take my camera along and search for those unique plants or some angle that doesn’t get explored and take pictures. those pictures are my attempt at bring light into the brick red room that i currently occupy.

On one of my recent posts, i threw in a couple of pictures. it surprised me that by doing that i brought in a whole new audience.

for that reason, today i introduce my new photo blog, walk with wonderment. I have quite an exstensive library, so i plan to post a picture a day. all of the photos will be photos i took in my life journey. i’ll also add a brief note about the significants of the photo or a little something about the photo. but wait! that’s not all! i’ll throw in a haiku! now how much would you pay? :^)

i hope that by doing that i can draw in people who find interest in my photography. perhaps they will be interested in the person behind the photos and find its someone with a bipolar disorder. maybe i can start to break down just a few people’s misconception by seeing bipolar people can give great contributions.

so if you follow me the bipolar sojourner, i hope that you join me in my walk with wonderment. I’d don’t want to be in the brick room. come look at the light i let in.

bird in the reeds

avoiding suicide’s side effects

my last psychologist, Jacob Mathew, introduced me to the works of psychologist, Kirk Strosahl. i have made reference to his work before, the three i’s of depression. He has done work on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or ACT.  this is a new, scientifically based psychotherapeutic modality that is part of what is being called the “third wave” in behavioral and cognitive therapy.

in The Suicidal Patient,  Strosahl asserts that suicide is  a permanent solution to a temporary problem. he contends that suicidal thoughts are a common place in human experience, and best understood in context of language and a problem solving strategies. the suicidal person considers trading the elimination of her/his distress and despair  for their life. The distresses, whether it be external, financial problems, problems with the law, family or relationship problems,  or internal like depression, anxiety, or psychotic breaks  drive the despair. their thoughts goes to the elimination of distress as a short term gain. in the process, they overlook the long term and permanent side–effects of a suicide.

Strosahl attempts to shift the thoughts of the suicidal person: “while i recognize that you are in pain, can we discuss other possibilities of dealing with your distress that doesn’t require trading  in your life?”  he introduces the three i’s of depression, inescapable, interminable and intolerable. hopefully the person struggling can see themselves in one or maybe all three of the i’s. he then works to get the struggling person to see that these problems are temporary and they can be overcome.

with my most recent depressive episode, i notice i, for the most part have struggled with two of the three i’s,  inescapable and interminable. if that’s all that is on my plate, i am free of suicidal ideations. the problem occurs when i add intolerable to the mix. at that point, my plate becomes too full and my despair starts to peak and taking my life starts to creep into my mind. that’s not a fun thought. thankfully, i have not struggled with intolerability recently, so thoughts of taking my life have dissipated.

looking at the three i’s, they are all a form of despair. it is the despair that causes problems, problems that can seem to big and overbearing. the challenge to me and other people struggling with suicidal thoughts is to replace the thought and feeling of despair with the opposite, hope. i can’t say i’m there, yet.

while not there, i have started a travel down the right path; at least i have hope that i can beat this despair. i guess that’s a good start.