Perfect Quitters

I used to really like Jon Acuff. I stumbled across his Stuff Christians Like blog a few years ago during a season of my life when I was feeling jon-acuff-headshotpretty lost spiritually, and Acuff struck me as something of a kindred spirit. He was a Christian like me, but he was still able to step back and realize the ridiculousness in a lot of the things we do. In short, he seemed like a fairly regular dude.

Then things began to change. Acuff wrote a book with the same name as the blog, and his posts began to shrink in length. It became difficult to separate Stuff Christians Like the blog from Stuff Christians Like the book advertisement. Even worse, Acuff began to write more and more about “haters,” which I eventually realized were people who didn’t see things the way he did. All of that paled in comparison, though, to the changes that came once Acuff got a job with Dave Ramsey’s organization. He suddenly went from a relatable everyman to some kind of motivational guru, writing books about fulfilling your dreams and converting his blog to follow suit.

I pretty much stopped following Acuff altogether, so I nearly managed to miss the news that he had somewhat abruptly resigned from his dream job with Ramsey in late September. Of course, the supreme irony of the situation is that Acuff had written a book (still advertised on Ramsey’s website) titled Quitter, which is all about pursuing your dream job. No one seems to really know why Acuff did this, and the only response issued from Ramsey’s camp was one of surprise. The Stuff Christians Like blog seems to have disappeared for the moment, although Acuff continues to tweet like a madman about, well, basically nothing of much substance and has a new blog at acuff.me.

simmonscornIt’s a difficult tightrope to walk when you set out to help others by setting yourself up as an authority on something. Whatever his reasons for quitting may have been, Acuff couldn’t have been ignorant of (and I hate to repeat the word) the irony of his actions. The guy who was telling everyone else how to get their dream job just quit his. This is like catching Richard Simmons loading up plates and chowing down at the local Ryan’s Steakhouse. The reality doesn’t seem to match the ideology. It was a reality Acuff set up, though.

I’ve written a few posts on here about depression, and I received a lot of response from those. So much so that I considered just turning this into “the depression blog,” where that’s all that was discussed. I didn’t want to just go online and complain, though, so I found myself trying to drop in little encouraging tidbits here and there. People seemed to like it. Forget the blog; I was beginning to feel like “the depression guy,” someone who could become something of an inspirational voice for others.

And then my plan sort of went sideways. I had a couple of weeks where I didn’t feel particularly inspiring. Some of the bright and happy nuggets I had thrown out earlier didn’t seem to be working quite as well, to the point where I wondered if I had actually meant some of them. Maybe becoming “the depression guy” wasn’t such a good idea after all. Maybe being plain old, ordinary me would be a better idea.

The book of James in the Bible wisely advises, “Not many of you should become teachers … for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” I don’t know what happened with Jon Acuff, but my suspicion is that maybe his dream job turned out to not be his dream job. Since he had already built his persona on achieving the dream, though, his backing out became nearly as awkward as his entry in. It has become my realization that setting yourself up as “the anything guy” bears a huge burden, because you’ve got to be that guy all the time. You’re not allowed to have doubts, bad days, or changes of heart; you have to be perfect.

So, in effect, I’m quitting on the dream of becoming the next great voice for those suffering from depression. Most days, I don’t know any more than you do. I may have a helpful bit of advice to toss out every now and then, but by and large I’m just going to be me. I am not perfect, but everyone with a mega-successful blog or talk show isn’t either. We’re all going to quit on something someday. Question is, will we have left ourselves enough room to do it?

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Sorry, Kid, You Blew It

Well, Sara, you made it. You managed to survive your first year of life. You certainly made it interesting, what with the pneumonia and the ventricular septal defect. You were a tiny little thing before those doctors worked their magic on your heart. Now you’re sporting the oh-so-fashionable baby fat rolls. Well done, little sis.

You came through your open heart surgery in May with flying colors.sara cake In fact, you may have come through it a little too well. I mean, who has their chest cracked open and their ticker tinkered with on a Tuesday and is sitting up in bed greeting visitors by Saturday? If they had done to me what they did to you, I’d still be laid up in a bed somewhere. That just ain’t right.

Most people have told me this was because babies and small children are more resilient and heal faster than adults. That may be true, but I think there’s more to you than that. I think you had the hand of God on you the whole way. I think you’re a tough little stinker who wouldn’t be kept down. I think you have a life full of unbelievable things ahead of you.

The only this is, you’ve made it kind of tough on yourself from here on out. I mean, you survived major surgery. What do you think your mother and I are going to say when you tell us you can’t pick your toys up or you’re too tired to take out the trash or not strong enough to help pack in the bags of groceries? “Whatever. Do you know what they had to do to you when you were around seven months old? You’ve made it through a lot worse than this.”

Yep, you’ve set the bar pretty high. After watching you grow this first year, though, I have no doubt you can handle the expectations. I’m in awe of you every time I see that scar running across your chest. If we get down the road and you feel like your dad is expecting too much out of you, just know it’s because I’ve already seen you do amazing things. And you managed to do them before you could even say your first word.

So I’m sorry to say this, but, kid, you blew it. The world of ordinary is no longer a possibility for you. Maybe one day you’ll understand why, but until then…

Happy birthday, Sara.

I Just Don’t Know

I’ve come to the realization over the past year that some people are never going to understand what it’s like to deal with depression. I’m not saying they can’t ever feel empathy or develop sympathy for those who do. I’ve just reached the point where I believe there are those whose dispositions are sunny enough or constitutions stout enough they’ll never be able to fully comprehend how depression affects a a person.

I don’t begrudge them this fact. In fact, I’m a little jealous I’m not more like them. I guess you could say there are times when I don’t understand them. This can, obviously, lead to all kinds of misconceptions and misunderstandings, because when people like that collide with people like me we may as well be from different planets. I have an idea of how they’re supposed to act, and they have an idea of how I’ve supposed to behave, and, inevitably, neither one of us winds up being correct.

I say all this to set up what may seem like a fairly simple statement: I don’t know much of anything about post-partum depression. The extent of my knowledge is basically this: Moms have babies and then get depressed. A mom being down because of the added workload of caring for a new human life makes perfect sense to me. Moms who have thoughts of harming their babies after giving birth to them does not. I’m not making a judgment here; I just can’t get my brain around it.

So when I awoke this morning to find every news agency in America declaring Miriam Carey – the 34-year-old dental hygienist from Miriam_Carey_2_270x270Stamford, Connecticut, who was shot and killed yesterday after crashing her car into a White House barrier – suffered from post-partum depression, I was somewhat confused. From everything I had heard about this form of depression, moms who suffer from it don’t usually pack up their 1-year-old toddlers in their vehicles and head off to Washington, D.C., to attempt to … well, whatever it was Carey was attempting to do. Does post-partum depression really have the potential to push a woman that far?

According to Northwestern Medicine Women’s Health Psychiatrist, Dr. Nehama Dresner, the answer to that question seems to be, “Maybe … but not without some help.”

“That kind of behavior comes from another source,” Dresner said in an interview with CBS Chicago. “They may have other challenges, either circumstantial or mental health challenges, such as psychosis. It’s not common at all for women with post-partum depression to become violent.”

An additional report from CNN today indicated Carey may have believed President Barack Obama had her house under electronic surveillance, and her sisters did mention in the same report she had been diagnosed with post-partum psychosis, so it is likely this was more than just a case of the baby blues pushing someone over the edge. What bothers me about what I heard this morning, though, was that again the media attempted to link depression with trying to kill someone.

I mentioned in a post concerning Aaron Alexis, the D.C. naval yard shooter, my concern that people with mental disorders were beginning to be viewed as ticking time bombs. This seems to be another instance of that occurring. It seemed as soon as the word depression was associated with Carey, that became the most likely culprit behind her behavior. The only problem was this theory was mostly being floated by people who didn’t understand post-partum depression or know much of anything about the personal life of this woman.

As I am finishing typing this, I’m watching a story on the news about a man who set himself on fire on the National Mall in the nation’s capitol today. I certainly don’t understand that kind of behavior either. There’s obviously some type of mental issue going on there. Could we at least get the whole story, though, before we slap the “depression” tag on this person? Tragedies like these are never that simple. I think that’s something we all can understand.

Passing It On (The Good Stuff)

Niles_CraneFor my money, Dr. Niles Crane is one of the greatest creations in the history of television. Just go watch the opening sequence of the Frasier episode “Three Valentines,” where he nearly destroys the apartment of his older brother, Dr. Frasier Crane, simply by attempting to iron a pair of pants. I don’t know if anyone could have made that sequence work like David Hyde Pierce. I’m simultaneously amused and incredibly impressed every time I see it.

Sadly, Pierce has been virtually absent from television entirely since Frasier ended its run on NBC in 2004. He appears to be spending most of his times these days on the stage, even picking up a Tony Award in 2007. As much as I remember Pierce for his work on Frasier, though, I think I will forever remember him equally for a comment I once heard him make during an interview concerning Alzheimer’s disease. Pierce’s grandfather and father both struggled with this form of dementia, and its spectre hangs over him still, as he continues his work as an advocate for the Alzheimer’s Association. Although I cannot remember Pierce’s direct quote, it went something like this: Every time he forgot a line or a cue, he felt fear rise up in him. Could this be the onset of Alzheimer’s? The history is there. Is it an inevitable outcome?

I read recently that only 10 percent of the people who report having an allergic reaction to penicillin are truly allergic to it. Well, meet one of the 10. And guess who now has two children who also appear to have had an allergic reaction? Whether they are truly allergic to Alexander Fleming’s most famous discovery remains to be seen, but for now we just assume that they are. I remember when we made this discovery, I made a remark along the lines of, “Good grief, why can’t I ever pass anything good on to them?”.

Now, there is nothing – short of completely altering my genetic makeup somehow – I could have done to prevent this particular glitch from passing from me to my children. There was no way my wife and I could have ever discovered this potential allergy without my children getting sick and, subsequently, having an allergic reaction to this drug. In short, there was no good and fair way to find this out. They get the crappy symptoms, and you find out you were probably the cause of it.

When you make your first discovery as a parent that you can pass down not-so-good stuff to your children simply by, you know, being you,goofy faces the temptation is there to become hyper-attentive to other traits you may have shared with them. Now that I am trying to sort out what it means to be someone who has been diagnosed with dysthymia, the emotional states of my five children (Well, maybe not the baby. Little difficult to gauge emotions at a year old.) have become of particular interest to me. In fact, I think I’m about a hair’s breadth away from becoming so sort of weird amateur child psychologist.

Every flare-up of anger, every pouting frown, every appeal from one of them to not attend some class or gathering by themselves… What if I passed this on to them, too? I’m not panicking or lining them all up to be psychologically evaluated, but the thought that some dark seed from my brain might have worked its way into theirs does cross my mind. One of the hallmarks of dysthymia is feelings of guilt, and what better way to trigger those than the notion you could emotionally handicap your own children simply by just being the way you are.

Just as Pierce continues to fear Alzheimer’s while still working to derail its effects on others, I find myself in the strange position as a parent of  working to unravel the mystery of depression in myself while simultaneously attempting to ward it off in the lives of my children. Also like Pierce, though, I am attempting to turn what could be a fear-inducing situation into a rallying cry for hope. If I can make some sort of sense out of what is inside me, I can pass on what I have learned to my children.

I can’t change the building blocks of who I am that get passed on to those I love. My children may have all kinds of allergies, skin problems, flat feet, and sensitive stomachs, but maybe they’ll also have access to a hope I didn’t always know how to tap into growing up. That’s something I would be proud to pass along.

We Don’t Break The Same

Breaking Bad scares me. I’ve never actually watched an episode of the show, but it sounds like something I could get hooked on fairly easily (No meth-related pun intended.). Just the intensity of the thing frightens me. If you saw the end coming, what would you do? Would it bring out the best in you … or the worst?

As hard as I’ve tried to stay ignorant of the misadventures of Walter White, though, I keep finding myself sneaking glances at episode 031619_walter_whitesummaries on the internet, especially now that the show is in its final season. Pretty intense stuff. So when I noticed a link to a Rolling Stone interview titled “Bryan Cranston Reveals Walter White’s Motives,” I immediately had to check it out.

Turns out that in addition to having cancer, Walt was suffering from depression when the show first began. Or at least Cranston seems to think he was. “When he received the information about his cancer, his depression made him more susceptible than if he was whole and feeling good about himself,” Cranston said of the character he has portrayed for the past six seasons. “My theory is, everyone is capable of being dangerous. We’re all capable of inflicting harm to ourselves and to others.”

130916165617-navy-yard-suspect-aaron-alexis-fullframe-horizontal-galleryWe are all capable of inflicting harm to ourselves and to others. Shortly after Aaron Alexis opened fire at the Navy Sea Systems Command building in Washington, D.C., Monday, I noticed a comment concerning mental illness beneath one of the many news articles on the incident posted to Facebook. Upon further investigation, it has been revealed that Alexis was being treated for several mental disorders, not the least of which was his belief he was hearing voices that weren’t really there. A Google news search for the term “mental illness” today yields a plethora of results.

Is the answer really that easy, though? “Alexis was mentally ill, so we should put a greater focus on getting people like him the help they need.” That sounds nice, but Alexis was receiving treatment already. He had told police how he had heard voices coming up through the floor of a hotel he was staying in and how he believe people were using “‘some sort of microwave machine’ to send vibrations through the ceiling, penetrating his body so he cannot fall asleep.” His troubles didn’t seem to be that difficult to dig up … so how in the world did he have security clearance to get into a U.S. Naval facility?

The blanket use of the term “mental illness” worries me. I mean, technically, I have a mental illness. I’m guessing a least a few of you reading this right now have one as well. President Barrack Obama has repeatedly called for the stigma regarding mental illness to come down in this country, but I fear his efforts may just be making things worse. Let’s say an employer flags a job applicant because he or she has a history of depression. This could be a totally rational, law-abiding citizen who is more than capable of filling a full-time position, but their efforts to seek help could actually wind up working against them because of their classification.

So do people with mental illness issues hide their issues, hoping to get by the best they can and avoid scrutiny? I think Alexis as much as anyone proved that course of action to be ineffective. I think of the people I’ve know in my life who have flown off the rails, and they seemed to be perfectly normal before something set them off. Certainly not everyone who suffers from a mental illness is a ticking time bomb, but then again there are those who are. To lump both sets of people into the same category would be totally wrong, but the temptation is now present because the words mental and illness have now become equated with someone who gunned down 12 people on September 16, 2013.

I once heard a comedian say that the insanity plea should never be used in a murder trial because anyone who would kill another human being is obviously crazy anyway. To argue insanity is sort of a moot point. I know I’ve never wanted to go on a mass shooting spree (Well, not today anyway… That’s a joke, Mr. President. Please don’t sent the white coats after me.), but what might I do if I was pushed far enough? I choose to seek help so I may never have to answer that question. Hopefully, that will be viewed as a sign of strength by those I encounter. Cranston believes Walt’s emotional makeup “didn’t allow him to reach for the stars.” That doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t, though.

Circles

One of these days, I should probably apologize to Brant Hansen.Brant Hansen

These days, Hansen is a deejay for the Air1 Christian radio network. Once upon a time, though, he was the host of the morning show on WAY-FM, another Christian radio network. He had deep conversations with people who would call in during his show. He was in shape and had nice stubble. His name was well-known among Contemporary Christian music fans. He went on meaningful mission trips. And he had an excellent blog with an even more excellent title: “Letters From Kamp Krusty.”

Oh, how I hated Brant Hansen.

“Hate” is probably too strong a word to use here. It would probably be more accurate to say I was insanely jealous of Brant Hansen. I was working at a small, Christian radio station, just trying to make sure we could actually keep something on the air 24 hours a day. I didn’t have an elaborate phone system designed to put callers on the air, and I wasn’t so sure anyone would actually call in while I was on the air even if we did. I’d never been on a mission trip. My name was not only not well-known among Contemporary Christian music fans, I wasn’t sure it was known to the people across the street. And I had no blog at that time.

Yes, Brant Hansen was everything I wanted to be but wasn’t. Outgoing, witty, popular, respected by his peers. I could never measure up to any of that. We were just totally different people.

And then I read one of his blog entries titled “Is Jesus Enough?”, and I wanted to take him out for coffee.

Hansen has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder I am only vaguely aware of. At the time he wrote “Is Jesus Enough?”, though, he wasn’t exactly sure what was going on with his mind and was taking the antidepressant Fluoxetine (also know as Prozac) – and he wasn’t entirely comfortable with that fact. Since I didn’t get permission to reprint the post in its entirety, I’ll link to it here and just give you a brief excerpt:

” I’ve been taking fluoxetine for the past year, and there hasn’t been a day I haven’t struggled with the fact that I’m messing with my brain.”

As indicated by his chosen profession, Hansen is a Christian, and so am I. We’re not supposed to need help with depression. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” We’re not supposed to need things like therapy and medication. “The Lord is my strength and my shield.”

And, perhaps most importantly, we’re never, ever supposed to talk about any of this stuff.

I think I may have inadvertently left the impression with my last post that maybe Jesus isn’t enough for me anymore. That the steps I was taking to deal my dysthymia weren’t connected to Christ at all. That by acknowledging I had a problem I was somehow denying the victory of the cross. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Without the hope and peace provided by Jesus Christ, I probably would have gone over the edge long ago. It pains me to read of people dealing with depression who aren’t Christians, because I always think, “What do you hold onto then?”.

Still, to even be talking about this makes me feel as if my faith is somehow not what it should be. There are plenty of examples of depressive behavior in the Bible – Jeremiah, Elijah, David, Paul. Jeremiah wished he had never been born. David wrote Psalm after Psalm detailing his varying states of mental anguish. Elijah asked the Lord to take away his life. Paul even “despaired of life itself” at one point. And even though God did not necessarily totally lift any of these men out of their trying circumstances, I somehow feel as if they all dealt with their conditions better than I have.

I may as well go ahead and admit something here: The therapy I’ve been participating in hasn’t been strictly Christian in nature. It’s not atheistic either, though. I guess it could be defined as “secular.” If God and Jesus enter into the conversation, well enough. But they’re not necessarily introduced up front. In much the same way taking Prozac bothered Brant Hansen, participating in this kind of therapy makes me uneasy, like I’m somehow stepping out on the church.

The only way I know how to define why this works, however, is like this: I had basically reached a point where I had a low enough opinion of myself that I believed all the wonderful promises of God could not possibly be reserved for someone like me. I still believed Jesus died for my sins and I was going to heaven, but I felt like God would only be taking me in because of some glitch or technicality. I told someone not so long ago that, “I believe God loves me. I just don’t think He likes me very much.”

It’s not “I’m okay, you’re okay” therapy. In fact, the majority of it frames what I’ve been reading in the Bible for years but never taking to heart: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good…” My thinking was broken and had been broken for quite some time. I couldn’t imagine anything good possibly coming from any bad situation. Some days, I still can’t. The hopefulness that comes from Christ just isn’t in me on those days, and the war is raging in my head. When Romans instructs us to “renew our minds,” can’t that include repairing our cognitive reasoning?

All this long-windedness (and I promise I’m going to try to stop writing so much) was born out of a Facebook comment I received after my last post mentioning people’s fear of discussing depression in “Christian circles.” I find it odd and more than a little sad that in a religion which instructs us to confess our sins to one another the last place we want to confess anything is within the confines of our churches. The one place we should be the most vulnerable has become the one place we want to look our shiny best. And I am guilty as anyone of judging the heck out of someone if they ever do get brave enough to admit their struggles. Everything is backwards somehow. If “Christian circles” aren’t safe anymore, where is?

I tuned in to the Air1 the other day just to catch some of Brant Hansen’s afternoon shift. Since I was using my smart phone, a graphic popped up with his picture. His stubble was still in perfect 5 o’clock shadow mode, and he was striking the cool pose by wearing a sport coat and dress shirt with no tie. His afternoon shift is apparently called “Club Awesome.” Oh, and if you go on the internet, his blog is still way better than mine.

God bless Brant Hansen. I still hate that guy. 🙂

Finding The Order In Disorder

Hello, my name is Eddie, and I have a disorder.

To many of you who know me, this opening line may read like an attempt at humor. After all, I’ve been known to start many a written work with a remark of sarcasm or self-deprecation. In this instance, though, I am being absolutely serious. My name is, indeed, Eddie, and I have been diagnosed with a disorder – but it might not be the type of disorder you think.

For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, and depression. I, literally, cannot remember a time I did not feel this way. I’m sure it existed at some point, but I don’t recall it. I never reached the point, though, where I couldn’t still be at least semi-functional. The emotional road for me has not always been easy, but I have managed to make a few friends, earn a college degree, and get married and have five wonderful children along the way.

As the years progressed, however, it seemed life was becoming increasingly more difficult to manage. Every failure – real or perceived – took on more and more weight. Every problem lacked concrete solutions. Every tragedy felt like a bigger blow than the last. I found myself getting angrier and angrier, and sometimes I wasn’t even sure what I was angry about. I was contradicted at every turn. I would yearn for a day off, and then when I got one I would obsess over the fact I wasn’t doing enough. In fact, I could never do enough, no matter how hard I tried.

Through it all, I never thought of killing myself. I will admit, though, there were several nights when I closed my eyes and wondered what it would be like to never open them again. I just wanted the pain, the anger, the hurt to stop. I wanted to stop failing everyone around me, wanted to stop failing myself. And if I felt that way about me, well, I could only imagine how poorly everyone else viewed me.

As difficult as all this made my teen and adolescent years, there’s nothing that can rattle someone’s cage like throwing a spouse and children into the mix. Suddenly, not only was I letting me down, I was dragging totally innocent people down with me. Instead of getting angry with myself, I now had others to direct my wrath at. My bouts of indecision not only drove me crazy, but they now created utter chaos for everyone else as well. And those nights I mentioned before … well, they were becoming more and more frequent.

My wife and I celebrated 15 years of marriage July 11, which is astounding when you consider what a trial I’ve been most of that time. My wife has displayed an amazing amount of patience with me, but even she has her limits. That is why, a few months ago, as I was in the midst of one of my darker days, she finally looked at me and said, “Whatever it is that’s going on with you, I can’t help you anymore.” This was her not-so-subtle way of telling me it was time to get some help of the more professional variety.

A consultation with my physician (I should note here that several years ago a different physician put me on an antidepressant, with no assessment whatsoever. Maybe one day I’ll tell that story, but let’s just say for now that it didn’t end well.), I was directed to take an assessment for Attention Deficit Disorder. I had considered this as a possible explanation for my personality in the past, but had always written it off because I had managed to do pretty well in school, and I was relatively sure people with ADD didn’t do that. At this point, though, I was willing to consider any and all possibilities, so I went in for the assessment.

Without getting into too many details, an ADD assessment consists of a series of tests and sessions to determine whether you have it or not. I don’t know the length of the assessment process, but I’m fairly certain it consists of more than just three sessions, which is as far as I got before I was told ADD was not my problem. The verdict? Disthymic Disorder.

If you knew what that was when you read it, give yourself a gold star, because I had no idea what it was when I first heard it mentioned. In fact, I got a little concerned. This sounded serious. No one had ever told me I had a disorder before, especially not one with a weird name like that. The person telling me all this discussed it with me a bit, and I was sent home with a sheet explaining it in a bit more detail. And, of course, I had the internet to consult as a soon as I could get to a computer.

Turns out Dysthymic Disorder (or Dysthymia, as it’s sometimes called) is basically a fancy way of saying “chronic depression.” It’s symptoms are not as severe as a major depressive disorder, but it can last for several years, causing many who suffer from it to merely assume “that’s just the way they are” and adopt it as part of their character. And because there doesn’t seem to be anything special about it, many people with Dysthymic Disorder don’t even bother talking with anyone about how they feel.

I do not want to get into specifics at this point, but I will say I am now taking some steps to deal with this disorder. Everything seems like baby steps so far – a little change here, a little change there, but no sweeping transformation. There is a certain relief in the enemy having a name, though, and that has made as much of a difference as anything else.

Now, why would I mention all this in a public forum? Depression has a tendency to make people view you as damaged goods, and I don’t know anyone who would willingly bring that upon themselves. I could really disappoint some people. I could make some people angry, specifically those who steadfastly believe the key to overcoming depression is a swift kick in the rear and a willingness to pull oneself up by your own bootstraps. I may make some people uncomfortable.

Then again, I may save someone’s life.

A big reason I am coming forward at this point with my disorder is I am tired of watching so many people die. In 2012, the number of United States soldiers who committed suicide surpassed the number of American troops killed in Afghanistan. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported in May that more people now die of suicides than in automobile accidents. The Boston Children’s Hospital reports that suicide is the third-leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds in the United States, and is the fourth-leading cause of death in children between ages 10 and 14.

Depression can be a result of any number of factors – chemical imbalance, childhood trauma, physical or emotional or sexual abuse, self-pity, broken relationships… The list goes on forever. Some of these require treatment, and some require a simple act of will. Whatever the case may be, though, something is required to break the hold of depression, and if we foster a society where anyone dealing with it is too ashamed and frightened to seek help then we are digging our own graves.

I also chose to write this because I simply can’t go any further without acknowledging this. Over the course of these past few weeks, I have thought of numerous topics to write about, but none of them seemed as pressing as this one. I had reached the point where I could not write in a voice that felt like mine without first confessing who I am. I’m not sure if that makes any sense, but I say it both to explain why I haven’t written much here lately and also to say that from here on out depression and related topics will no longer be out of bounds for me. That doesn’t mean I’m going to write about it all the time, but it will likely appear here quite often.

I apologize for the length of this, but I feel as if I could write a thousand more words and still not cover all the ground I need to. If you think less of me now, so be it. I am who I am, and if I am wrong the truth will bear things out. I just hope I can use what I’ve written here as a starting point for good. I hope I can find the order in disorder.