Four down, one to go.

That’s a rather fatalistic view of my family and the likelihood of the presence of depression/anxiety-related illness. But it seems accurate.

I’ve just sent the second of our three out the door for a visit with a therapist. After months of creeping depression symptoms and distinct anxiety symptoms, it’s a necessary step.

I know depression and anxiety too well. They’ve been constant, intrusive partners in my marriage for over twenty years. They’ve both hit me at times. Our oldest was diagnosed with both this past winter. Now I feel fairly certain our middle child is struggling with them. How long will it be before our youngest goes down the same path?

To be quite honest, I’m sick to death of brain illnesses – or at least I’m sick of dealing with them in close family members. Tired of the constant vigilance, the watching for symptoms, the dealing with mood swings and dark clouds that sometimes hang over the household. As it becomes more and more apparent that this is what we’re seeing in daughter number two, I find myself thinking, “Not again. I don’t have it in me.”

But of course, I do have it in me. I have to. Thankfully, it’s an open subject in our home. The obvious family tendency has forced us to talk about symptoms to watch for and what to do when we see them.

And I refuse to hide it. As Bern and I have said over and over again, the best way to overcome the stigma associated with brain illnesses is to talk about them just as we would any other illnesses. No hiding, no embarrassment.

But that doesn’t mean I like it.

-Amy

Are We All Mentally Ill?

When are we going to learn that we have to act, not just bemoan the fact that these shootings happen again and again. And we fall again as a nation into a temporary depression until we forget. But we don’t do anything to resolve the issue.

Some things to consider:

– We need to be serious about getting halfway decent laws about gun and gun possession and use into our laws.

– We have to as a nation re-look at the second amendment and stop using it as a way for people who think they are entitled to have guns “just because.” That amendment didn’t apply to your neighbor and you arming yourselves against perceived dangers. Give our forefathers better credit than that.

– We have to get better in how we treat mental illness. We have to draw the entire community into the treatment and we have to teach each other about mental illness so together we can help people get better.

– Maybe, if that entire community is working to learn and respond to mental illness, there won’t be enough time for people to think only of themselves and to what they are entitled.

– We have to address anger – anger at our government, anger at our lives, anger at each other and anger at ourselves. We have to learn better ways of dealing with our anger than with guns.

– We have to address fear which will only continue to grow with each and every shooting. We have to see that fear empowers those that would harm us.

We have to be ready to do all of the above and not go into the safe haven of seeing that it has happened again and we turn the page onto other things that are easier to digest, easier to do than finding a way together to solve the problem of guns in our country. We need to become mentally healthy.

Bernadette

P.S. This is addressed to gun advocates and gun foes alike. Until we can talk together in a measured and open way, we will continue to have things like this happen and we will continue to be a nation depressed until one day we find we can’t climb out of the fear and anger and depression and the nation we love is no longer. People with mental illness deserve better and we as a people deserve better.

Speaking Out About Teenage Depression

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/22/opinion/depressed-but-not-ashamed.html

Not too long ago at a high school journalism event, two young high school women had the courage to share their depression with one another.  This sharing between the two of them gave them support from one another they hadn’t expected.  In addition, these two women wanted to help their community in the high school by publishing a school newspaper issue dealing with depression.  It would contain the honest stories of those who were dealing with the illness.  The school stopped publication.

Read the opinion piece in the New York Time (link above) and  consider what you think about this issue.  Studies are finding that when depression asserts itself in the early teens, one can expect the illness  to only worsen and be a life long struggle for the individual, particularly if a support system is not in place for the individual.

Amy and I have always talked about the importance of truth in dealing with this demon.  These young women have been truthful.  We need to let their voices be heard.  Maybe then, we will make very needed changes in how we view and deal with depression.

– Bernadette