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Looking for Answers

detective-156961_150 When does it all stop? Depression gives rise to obsessing which gives rise to self medication through alcohol or pills or worse which gives rise to even worse depression to no self worth to total absorption in self to more depression as people draw away.

Depression is a downward spiral and those around us have the ability at any time to stop the spiraling by asking the right questions, by responding in the right way, by learning more about mental illness. Too often though we either don’t know the right questions or we do ask the right questions to a person not ready to hear them.

That raises for me as I muse as to whether or not a type of intervention might work for people who refuse to deal with or recognize their brain illness. Is intervention something that will help or does it merely serve to complicate the illness, making the person draw further and further away from the life support so necessary to dealing with depression?

My mind is reeling with questions and thoughts, all of which are a result of having to deal for so many years with a depressed spouse who now seems to be spiraling out of control into his worse depression ever. Having talked also many years about depression and dealing with someone you love who is depressed, I should know some of the answers but I don’t. Do you have any answers? All of us who deal with depression in someone we love are looking for some answers that might work.

– Bernadette

Letting Down PTSD Veterans


Today I read a story in Time magazine about a Marine Sergeant David Linley. As the author of the piece Mark Thompson said, “When his nation called, he answered. But when he came home hurting, his country let him down.” Mr. Linley during an attack of PTSD engaged in a shootout with police, not wounding any of them, but obviously self medicated with alcohol and re-living a wartime episode. He is presently in prison in Illinois.

Reading about Mr. Linley brought to mind the many stories I have read and heard first hand of returning soldiers not finding the help they need to deal with PTSD or other mental ills. In Mr. Linley’s case, he sees a psychiatrist about every six months for 30 minutes and that is supposedly because he’s not behaving poorly.

John Maki who heads the Chicago based John Howard Association of Illinois dedicated to improving the state’s prisons, says in the article, “There’s a real lack of capacity to deliver any meaningful mental health care, especially specialized care like PTSD treatment for veterans.”

And this is not just in the Illinois prison system but throughout our country. Veterans are returning wounded mentally and they are not receiving the treatment they need. For those incarcerated, mental health treatment is spotty at best. Psychiatrist Stephen Xenakis, a retired Army brigadier general says, “These cases are much too common. We are throwing these guys away.”

Our veterans are returning to families they do not know. The families are dealing with a person who is not the same. Episodes happen that cannot be explained. Care is difficult to come by and the stigma of owning up to PTSD is strong.

What has been your experience with PTSD and a loved one? Has the government been there for you? Have you endured frustration beyond belief? What have you learned? What do we need to teach others about PTSD? What can people do to help? I’m at a loss for what to do, what to say.

– Bernadette

How do I talk to my spouse about the possibility of depression?



Getting your spouse to discuss the possible presence of depression is no small feat. Many times when Bern and I have led groups or offered presentations, the most difficult question to tackle is “How do I get my husband to even hear me?” And yes, it is almost always a woman asking about her husband, rather than the other way around.

This past week when we met with the support group we lead, a new friend joined us. And she asked the big question. She was considering the fact that her husband was self-medicating with alcohol, that fact that he has a family history of bipolar disorder, the fact that his sleep regimen is a complete wreck…over all, she was adding two and two and coming up with a “four” that made her feel very concerned. Combine all this with the fact that her husband refuses to see any kind of doctor for any reason at all, and she was at a loss.

There’s only so much a concerned spouse can do. And yet our lives are profoundly affected by our spouse’s behaviors. It is simply a fact that no matter how much we care, no matter how much we want to make things better, the ill person himself must take some responsibility for seeking help.

Our advice in this situation tends to fall back on our mantra of “Take care of yourself.” Whether the husband hears or not, it’s important that we state very clearly exactly how his actions and moods affect us. Speaking the truth might make a difference. It might not. But we have the right to say how we feel. It’s part of recognizing the worth of our own feelings and needs.

Speaking the truth is an important aspect of taking care of ourselves.