Mental Illness, News

Mass Killings, Our Simple Media, and Mental Illness

OK, America. Breathe a sigh of relief. I am not a gun owner.

The reason why I don’t keep a gun probably has more to do with the fact I wasn’t raised around them than the miserable statistics of death and despair.

More important to my abstinence is my long history of depression. That and the fact that guns are the number one suicide tool used by men in this country and are used in two-thirds of all suicides. It’s easy as pulling a trigger, after all. And it’s a lot harder to dodge a bullet than pills or a noose. And that, for me, is a big reason for avoidance.

But it’s not just a distraught gun owner (or distraught child or spouse of a gun owner) that is at risk from guns, as we have seen time and again in recent years. Mass shootings are the new normal.

Town hall after town hall, shooting after shooting, the issue of the “mentally ill”—some bizarre other—and guns are beat about as if a quarter of the nation wouldn’t qualify for the label during any given year. What I don’t hear nearly as much about is fixing a broken health care system and eradicating the stigma surrounding mental illness that keeps millions from seeking help around the world.

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was on the right track Sunday discussing the Louisiana shooting that claimed three when she tore into Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad for vetoing legislation that would have kept two of Iowa’s mental health institutions from being closed.

Pardon me for saying so, but when does such national tongue lashings over mental illness occur in the absence of mass violence?

As dramatic as these too-frequent lethal assaults on innocent bystanders are, as horrendous and senseless, when will the 40,000 annual deaths due to suicide dominate the news cycle for days or weeks on end? What about the gaping emotional sinkhole that sucks in families and even entire communities with each one of those frequently preventable deaths?

Why is it that only when one of these momentarily shattered psyches decides that killing others is more attractive than killing themselves that we find mental illness in lights?

An 11-year-old kills a dog? Mentally ill? Most likely, however you choose to define that term. All those suicides, at that final moment of crisis? I guarantee you nearly every one of them would be placed somewhere on the spectrum by the experts.

So, I don’t know. America. You don’t have to worry about me. But your broken health care system, easy gun access (yes, I’ve roamed the aisles of my neighborhood pawn shops marveling the sheer range of killing devices there for the taking), and enduring stigmas against those who actually chose to self-identify as victims of inexplicable mental intensities and seek help: these great failings can be addressed together or one by one.

Each one is a shame on this nation and reaching the goal of a nation free of such horrors, self-directed or otherwise, requires action on each. Our elected leaders, each one of us, and our media have a responsibility to press to remove that cursed spot—before it bleeds onto the front page of Sunday’s edition. Again.

Top Image: Gun show at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas, courtesy of WikiMedia Commons.

Culture, Depression, mental health

Grateful for “After Depression” reviews

It’s been a couple weeks since I published my new book, “After Depression: What an experimental medical treatment taught me about mental illness and recovery,” on Amazon. The comments, text messages, and reviews left on the book page have been incredibly encouraging. Best of all have been those who have reached out to tell me that this book helped them in some way on their journey. If nothing else, it’s another shot across the bow of the unjust stigmatization of those who wrestle with mental intensities.

Continue reading

Book Image
Depression, Health

New Book, ‘After Depression,’ Just Published on Amazon

“Depression advances along a million unique tracks shrouded behind a gallery of distortions,” opens ‘After Depression,’ my new book about mental illness and the burgeoning world of magnet-based brain therapies.

“It sails to mind from an unfamiliar distance, picking apart confidence and undermining relationships as it weaves its way through one’s mental and emotional body, calcifying there as a sort of malign superstructure. With time the victim comes to define their essential self by this colonizing force, this veritable subtraction of the self. And that is, perhaps, the greatest tragedy of this global epidemic.”

I’m happy to say that since publishing yesterday, ‘After Depression’ is already generating positive reviews. Many of you that know Depression Time have tracked my progress over the last couple of years. You’ve pushed me to dig deeper into recovery. Challenged me in my understanding of the behavior of my brain and body. You’ve encouraged me in more ways than you know and made this publication possible.

Continue reading

Screen Shot 2014-10-24 at 3.16.59 PM
Depression, Meditation

Depression and Mindfulness: My ‘Rewire Me’ Essay

To beat back the Great Bleakness that is clinical depression takes a lot of falling sick. For the depressive, there is often no choice about sinking into despair—darkness so overpowering that it would shock the uninitiated. For us, it can be a daily occurrence. But to fall sick mindfully, to observe our experience of depression—that skulking trickster, part physical malady and part creative storyteller—allows us to learn its language. And in that is power.

Continue reading