Depression, Mental Illness

Rewire Me: ‘After Depression’ Broadens Mental Health Conversation

There are many books about mood disorders, but few so brave or descriptive as Greg Harman’s. His book is called After Depression: What an experimental medical treatment taught me about mental illness and recovery, and explores Harman’s involvement in a clinical trial studying a magnet-based medical device. A first person account, Harman’s book walks us through the experience of depression and ensuing experimental treatment by thoroughly describing the symptoms, suffering, and hope of relief.

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Read Full Review at ‘Rewire Me.’

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Depression, Mental Illness

What is your favorite mental-health media outlet?

What podcast, blog, news site, Twitter feed, Facebook journal, radio show is of most benefit to you? How much do you gain from the feeling of community that comes from hearing of others’ struggles as opposed to the tools offered by self-health sites run by trained counselors and psychiatrists? Are you a member of a mental-health org? Why?

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Depression, Mental Illness, News

Robin Williams’ Suicide: Blaming the Victim, Shaming the Ill

I know next to nothing of Mr. Williams’ health history and have followed news of his death only in passing. It’s not that I don’t care. It’s just, like the Williams we’re all suddenly becoming better acquainted with, I have my own struggles demanding my attention.

Truly, I’ve always felt the allure of Williams as a performer and human being. As a young comedian crashing into the nation’s psyche via the Mork and Mindy show, his high-energy antics communicated to my young mind the stimulating possibilities of life itself. In later performances, he exuded an almost palpable sense of compassion and tenderness betraying the perfect frailty of human existence.

While bad acting can so often feel like the clumsy fabrication of a life from dead matter (thinking Nick Cage here in his more Frankenstein monster moments), the good stuff springs from the deepest parts of a person and seems to tap into a shared emotive energy that binds all people. We recognize ourselves when gifted with such performances.

What came from Williams, I choose to believe, came from inside of him. It was earned (it would seem) in the forge of his own suffering, a suffering that concluded this week with his final decision: the decision to silence the pain by extinguishing his own life.

That decision has been kicked around in public for days now by a good number of commentators and supposed friends. And, in almost every case, these people just need to shut the fuck up.

Continue reading

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Depression, Mental Illness

End The Stigma: Prejudice Still Punishing The Mentally Ill

Self-portait as a drowned man

Out of nowhere, something like an ocean crashes on top of you, burying you in the deep. Your sudden impossible depth, the smothering weight, means your next gasp will be your last. Your brain screams of death’s imminence. And while the clock at your bedside, or in your car, or on your workplace computer shows time ticking faithfully by, that initial terror doesn’t dissipate. It lasts for minutes, sometimes hours. You cry and grasp at those around you, unable to form words. After some time, you realize you may not be dying, but another equally disturbing thought emerges from the frenzy: You’re going crazy.

You’d be in good company. Two of every 10 adults – 45.6 million — experienced some form of mental illness in 2011, according to a survey by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

My first panic attack struck at 14. I had no words to describe it, no explanations, so I kept it to myself. Depression and dysfunction followed. I dropped out of high school. A revolving door of therapists sought to credit my condition to an early trauma. Continue reading

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Culture, Mental Illness

Depression Time Gets Real: On Abandoning Anonymity To Fight The Stigma

greg harmanThe editor called me on the phone. Didn’t want to just write me, he said. He wanted to hear from me personally that I was good with this.

“You’re really putting yourself out there,” he said. And he’s right.

This week for the first time my name will appear in several Texas newspapers not as an alt-weekly editor or environmental journalist but as a decades-long depression sufferer — one who who went to the ER and a mental-health treatment center last year desperate for help. One who participated in an experimental clinical trial earlier in this one in the search for wellness.

Of course, readers here have known all these things about me for months, but now what had previously been very distinct identities are merging: my carefully closeted illness, what has become a defining characteristic of my very being, finally assumes a proper place alongside that of the public professional.

It’s about damn time. Continue reading

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