Tag Archives: stigma

The Depression Files–The Launch!

I had been “stockpiling” the interviews for several months. My idea was to launch a podcast in which I interview men who had experienced depression. The goal? It was threefold:

  1. To educate people on depression; the serious and often times debilitating nature of the illness
  2. To give hope to those who may be suffering from depression
  3. To help minimize, or even eliminate, the stigma around mental illness

I wanted to create a “stockpile” of interviews to eliminate any stress of getting episodes published on a regular basis.  I knew that I would need to find willing guests, schedule the interviews, record the interviews, and edit them. In the meantime, I was having a friend help me create a temporary logo (one that I hope to change in the near future) so that I could also post to iTunes.

I had a teaser up…and I had even created a “Sampler” for possible guests. I had no interviews published, so I figured possible guests may want to hear a sample of my interview style and get a feel for the project. I had created an intro, but had not yet created an outro. All of this allowed for me to continue down the path of promoting my teaser, without the worry of whether or not the show would be successful once I actually launched it. In the coaching world, we call this the Saboteur…and mine can be HUGE. The Saboteur is the negative self-talk that prevents us from moving forward. For example, “What makes me think I could be a successful interviewer?” or “I’ll never be as good as Terry Gross, Mark Maron, or Larry King” or “What if nobody listens to the show?”

Sometimes, there needs to be something that gives one a big kick in the rear to begin to move forward. That kick in the rear for me…World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, 2017. I figured, if I were ever going to launch this project, The Depression Files, there would never be a better day than World Suicide Prevention Day. I quickly made an outro, finished editing the show that I had decided would be the first episode, and…launched it! That was a big day for me! My teaser had been published at the end of June and I had been working on the project well before then.

My first episode was an interview with Steve Austin. As someone who is used to public speaking and hosts his own podcast, he was an ideal interviewee that made my “job” pretty darn easy. Steve is a life coach, author, speaker, and host of the #AskSteveAustin podcast. Steve has a website at iamsteveaustin.com. He is the author of the best-selling From Pastor to a Psych Ward: Recovery from a Suicide Attempt is Possible and other books, which can all be found by clicking here.

I have a new episode coming out every other Sunday and have just published my third one. I have been thoroughly enjoying the interviews and learning a great deal from every one of my guests (I believe I have about eleven more interviews recorded, awaiting to be edited).

I hope that you will listen to The Depression Files and that you are able to get something out of them. I hope that you will understand that depression is much, much worse than simply feeling sad. I hope that you will gain a deep sense of empathy for those who may be struggling with depression. In addition, I am hoping that any listeners who may be in the midst of a depressive episode, or living with chronic depression, are able to gain a sense of hope from the show. As cliche as it may sound, after going through major depression myself, I would never wish it upon my worst enemy.

If you would like to read more about the podcast, you can check out one of my earlier posts: Giving a Voice to Men with Depression: New Podcast Coming Soon!

As always, comments to this post are welcomed and encouraged! In addition, I hope that you may be willing to ‘like’ and/or share comments to any of the episodes of The Depression Files. Thank you!

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My Thoughts on the Word “Stigma”

I have recently heard of the idea of getting away from the word “Stigma” when speaking about mental health. There are various articles that speak directly towards eliminating the word from the conversations altogether. For example, the article titled, “The Word Stigma Should Not Be Used in Mental Health Campaigns”. In this article, the author makes the case that “The focus of our efforts should be upon society and the perpetrators of this discrimination, not the subjects of it. If we accept the concepts of parity of esteem, then we should describe not stigma, but rather bigotry, hatred, unlawful and unjust discrimination.”

I prefer the definition offered by Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, Ph.D., “Stigma is a perceived negative attribute that causes someone to devalue or think less of the whole person.” in an article titled, “What is Stigma?

In my opinion, the stigma is the negative feelings that some have regarding mental illnesses.  When one mentions that they have depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, or another mental illness, the stigma is what causes people to take a step back. The stigma causes people to begin to whisper when they discuss a mental illness. Another example of stigma is when someone tells a person who is suffering from depression to “Just go for a jog” or “Watch a funny movie”. This minimizes the serious and often times debilitating nature of the illness.  Stigma also creates shame and/or fear in people and often times prevents them from seeking the support they need.

The stigma, I believe, is what leads to the discrimination and bigotry and, yes, this certainly needs to be addressed as well. The discrimination and bigotry are the actions one takes towards a person living with a mental illness. For example, an employer not hiring a prospective employee because the employer discovers that the person has a history of depression. Another example would be a landlord choosing not to rent to someone due to the fact that they discover the possible tenant lives with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

In summary, I do not believe that we need to stop using the word “stigma” in our conversations around mental health. I believe that both the stigma and the discrimination/bigotry need to be addressed. If we are able to minimize or even eliminate the stigma, we would see much less of the discrimination. We need to continue to talk about mental illnesses, share our stories of living with a mental illness, and help educate others. These are a few of the ways that we can help end the stigma…and the discrimination.

As with all of my posts, I welcome and encourage comments. Thank you!

I’m “Depressed!” – A Poem

The weather outside is depressing.
I failed my test…I’m so depressed.
My soccer game got rained out…how depressing!
Really? REALLY?!?

I couldn’t get out of bed.
I lost 60 pounds because I couldn’t eat.
I was only able to sleep four hours for an entire week, yet laid in bed for hours throughout the day.
I couldn’t do the simplest of household chores.
I got lost driving to a neighbor’s house three blocks away.
I couldn’t concentrate.
I couldn’t read.
I couldn’t watch TV.
I lost all interest in my hobbies.
I couldn’t socialize, although I’ve always been outgoing.
I had delusional thoughts.
Finally, I had thoughts of suicide that I couldn’t escape and eventually a detailed plan of taking my own life.

And you’re depressed about the weather? Your failed test? Your soccer game getting rained out?
Really? REALLY?!?

The Importance of Hope

 

One of the most devastating pieces about depression is that it often times squashes all sense of hope. Without hope, people may lose any little bit of “fight” they have to work towards recovery. Dr. Jon Allen states, “I can’t think of anything more important than maintaining hope when you’re striving to recover from depression. Catch 22: at its worst, depression promotes hopelessness.” (Coping with Depression: From Catch 22 to Hope, (2006) p. 249). Depression counselor, Douglas Bloch, considers the presence of hope as an “absolutely essential” part of recovery from depression. He believes that without hope, one may believe that there is “no reason to put the work in today and do what it takes to pursue recovery” (“The Importance of Hope in Healing From Depression”).

One man who I met at the support group that I attend (see my post titled, “The Power of Support Groups”), stated that it was easier to stay on the couch and that he was “fine with it”. He didn’t want to deal with any of the challenges of life and wasn’t willing to put in the necessary effort to recover. This was a man who had been through depression in the past, knew what he needed to do in order to work towards recovery, even blogged in order to support others to work through depression, yet…in the midst of it could not get himself off of the couch.

One member of the group questioned whether or not staying on the couch was easier, as there is no possibility of “failing” if he wasn’t to work towards getting better. There would also be no possibility of being disappointed after being hopeful about a recovery, so therefore, perhaps, it was argued, he had no hope. He must have, however, as it was pointed out, had at least a glimmer of hope, as he was able to tear himself off of the couch in order to make it to the support group. Depression is an awful illness whose symptoms work against everything that should be done in order to become healthy. Many people with depression want to isolate, yet it’s known that connecting with people is helpful. Depression takes the enjoyment out of doing things that in the past were enjoyable. This particular man loved writing and playing music. However, he put down his pen and left his guitar sitting idle in its case throughout his struggle with depression.

Other men from the group reached out to this man, as it was clear that he was in a dark place and needed support (see my post titled, “The Importance of a Support Team”). Suddenly, he was off the couch and in various coffee shops meeting individually with other men from our group. I, too, invited him to coffee. By the time he met with me, he had mentioned that he had been online to seek out resources and programs for recovery. It was clear that he had made a significant and critical shift from having no hope, to having hope. He was getting out of his house, connecting with others, and seeking resources in order to recover. It was a great moment, as I was able to witness the shift from a lack of hope to hope that was energizing and palpable.

The lack of hope can be devastating and even life threatening. It’s important for those suffering from depression to understand that there is hope. People do recover. There are resources. You are not alone.

As with all of my posts, comments are welcomed and encouraged.