It has been a bit since I have blogged and I made a point to stay in from lunch today at work so I could write-up a part 2 to my ‘Loony Bin’ blog because I never did finish writing about that experience but I am going to have to do that at another time.
I have started listening to podcasts. I began looking into those when I finally gave up the Blackberry and went to the dark side (aka. bought an iPhone) and realized there was an app on which I could download mass amounts of podcasts about any subject I wanted. Since my attempt, I have absorbed every thing I could find on the subject of mental illness, and suicide and anything related to those in any type of medium possible. Podcast was an as-yet untapped resource. So in doing this I found Dr. Drew’s podcast (I highly recommend it, by the way) and after listening to all of those looked for something else he may have done and found ‘The Adam and Drew Show’ which is much different in that it is more of Adam ranting about his newest obsessions/annoyances/opinions on un-PC common sense that he feels people get wrong which is actually very entertaining and I don’t aways disagree with him. Drew is there to offer a buffer of sorts and is more of a sense of reason and often the Ying to his Yang. This creates a great show that you can’t take too seriously. However show #004 recorded on December 20, 2012 hit a nerve with me. I am by no means an expert on the subject they discussed (other than experiencing it myself) and I have no professional designations or degrees in this matter specifically but Adam made two comments specifically on depression and suicide that I can’t help but comment on.
If you click on the site (listed below) and download episode #004, listen to mark 2:00 to 15:05 for the entire discussion, but during this Adam Carolla said, “You can’t be a depressed person and get up early and swim 200 laps at the Y. It is NOT what a depressed person does!” Also, “No one is depressed during a tsunami.” I need to give a little more perspective on these comments but basically what he is inferring is that only lazy people are depressed/suicidal and that people do not have depressive episodes or commit suicide in already life threatening circumstances. It is EXACTLY these type of misconceptions and stereotypes that I want to help dispel. Yes, you can be more tired and less motivated during a depressive episode but I have known of MANY active, fit, highly functional people who are/were depressed and have attempted and even completed suicide and to think someone who would get up early to swim laps or run miles or climb mountains wouldn’t then later try to end their life is a very dangerous assumption to make. The day I tried to kill myself I ran 10 miles at 6am. I had also run a 3 mile interval track workout the night before with friends. After my release from ICU and subsequent 2 week stay in the Behavioral Health Rehab Hospital, the few people who knew what had happened said I was the last person they would have thought would have been depressed. But I had been slowly sinking into the dark abyss for years. I ran multiple marathons every year and succeeded at work, often logging 60+ hours a week and volunteered for worthy causes and raised two little girls on my own. I never lounged in bed all day, or went without washing, or complained about a single thing. And I have talked to and met dozens of other people like me. And even more tragically, I have also met and spoken to dozens of family members and friends of people just like me who were dead because they completed their suicide attempt. Yes, Mr. Carolla, you ABSOLUTELY can be a person who wakes up early to swim laps at the Y, then bike dozens of miles, and end with a five-mile run (known as a brick workout to a triathlete, by the way) and then go home, take a shower and contemplate, plan and even carry out your own death. Depression is biological (which he did express in this podcast) and it is an illness and it can be a very serious and deadly illness. And just as sometimes no matter how much chemo, and radiation, and healthy eating, and prayer, and lack of unhealthy habits may save a person stricken with cancer; the same is also true of someone stricken with depression. Sometimes no amount of activity, or therapy, or medication, or love of family will save them. Then sometimes the depressed person who will stay in bed for a week and not shower will feel much better in a week and not be depressed again for a decade or even ever. This is the nature of illness. There are varying degrees. *But I cannot stress enough that it is extremely dangerous to assume someone who is active and highly functioning is not in any danger of harming themself!*
Also – in my research I have found that there are, in fact, depressed people in life threatening situations that will purposefully end their lives. There are women in starving villages in Africa who will have sex with known AIDS sufferers to make sure they will die themselves. I have read about a woman who succumbed to flood waters when help was reaching out for her and no one felt she was depressed before she got caught in the waters. Although I understand the point, again that was an untrue generality about depression and suicide.
This illness affects people with poor and affluent backgrounds alike; the educated and uneducated; all races and religions; the vast conglomerate of sexual orientations; those bullied and those who bully; the successful and those lacking self motivation of any kind. Depression doesn’t discriminate. Suicide doesn’t evade those that wake up early to exercise nor will a person who climbs the highest mountain be immune. Mental illness doesn’t care what your hobbies are or even if you have any. If a person is afflicted, it does not make them selfish. If he or she attempts suicide it does not mean he or she is “just making a cry for help”. This is serious. This is life threatening. I hope this misinformation is corrected. I pray this hasn’t perpetuated the already looming stigma of suicide and mental illness. And if anyone happens to read this who knows the people from the show, I would be thrilled to point them in the right direction to collect cutting edge information that can be discussed to end such misunderstandings and help alleviate these preventable deaths and immeasurable suffering.