Saturday, February 12, 2005

Liz Ditz, of I Speak Of Dreams, sends e-mail:
My goodness. Today seems to be "let's talk about depression day." I had lunch with a friend today. Two weeks ago a mutual friend committed suicide. This friend was a year older than I am (55) and was very much part of a net of love and respect. He was a good father and husband, a leader in his men's prayer group, and part of warm and loving family. His wife's brother had recovered from a hellacious alcohol and cocaine problem, 15 or 20 years ago, so the family circle was no stranger to pain and struggle and redemption. Despite this love and affection, the friend dove under a train in motion. The big question at lunch was "Why"? Why would you so hurt your family and friends? Why did he walk and walk down the railroad right-of-way that runs through this sleek, privileged Silicon Valley town, just to leap from leafy hiding into the noise and metal?
Into the noise, and metal, and annihilation. We're left to guess why. For clues, I turn back to my previous post, "I was just going to take all my medications."

Liz goes on:
In talking with non-psychiatrist physicians, I find a touching faith in the magic-bullet nature of medication.
(I love that sentence!)
But maybe they have to....protect themselves from a sense of loss. Here's an essay from a woman who left medicine for elementary school education:

Gone were the days when I could spend two hours getting to know a new patient as a person. The constraints put on me by insurance and government restrictions required that I see more in less time. Neurological diseases are often complex, unpredictable--and progressive. I needed time to explain the potential benefits and the limitations of medications, surgery or therapy. This time was no longer available. I had enjoyed collaborating with my patients, hearing their concerns, considering their unique situations. But those opportunities were fading, replaced by hurried answers and minimal collaboration.

(more at

I wonder if the kind of depression I seem to have (the first episode I clearly remember being in 3rd grade) will someday be viewed like other chronic conditions that wax and wane...

A clue for me that I am in an "more affected by depression" phase is an inability to initiate needed work. This plagued me in college, of course, and I didn't understand the mechanism, so berated myself for laziness and lack of discipline. I look at my 16 yo daughter now (who is very self-motivated) and wonder....if I hadn't felt so shamed by these episodes of, of, of, well it is like not being able to find the keys to your car, really, it is not procrastination but the inability to start. I wonder about finding a self-help group online for these episodes...

I e-mailed back: are you sure that you want this on my blog? Here's her reply:
Post away. No, really, do. People who have asthma don't get all tongue-tied when their disease acts up and they have to medicate or are otherwise affected. Nobody expects the asthmatics to get on without their inhalers...

I think if a society got more matter-of-fact about neurological malfunctions (which is what I regard my depression to be) maybe the shame and the hidden costs would be less. At any rate, I believe easier-to-find workarounds would be in place.
So I've posted away. Thank you, Liz. It's an honor to do so.
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