Saturday, May 23, 2015

A very courageous confession

Ken White, one of the lawyers who contributes over at Popehat, has put up a remarkable article in which he discusses his battle with severe depression, including recent voluntary treatment in a specialized hospital.  Here's an excerpt.

I'm still here. That's a consequence of the grace, and love, and generosity, and decency of others, and my own ridiculously good luck. I'm here, I feel good — not just okay, but good — and I'm very happy to still be here. Not only that, I feel hope. If you haven't been depressed, that may seem like just a little thing, but it's not. I don't feel the hope that I'll never have a low point of anxiety and depression again. It's going to happen again; that's the deal. No: I feel hope that when it happens again, I have the tools to face it.

Every time I write about depression, I feel like I'm having the naked-at-school dream, exposed and poised for incoming ridicule. No matter how often I say that depression is nothing to be ashamed of, and how sincerely I believe it in my head, my gut tells me otherwise. But every time I write about depression, I get emails from people thanking me for talking openly about the subject and for describing what it's like. And, as I said, I'm only here because of the decency of others. I owe back. I owe back more than I can possibly repay. A little squeamishness doesn't weigh much in the balance.

So here we are. I'm Ken, and though I live an outwardly "normal," high-functioning and successful life, I suffer from grave anxiety and depression, and last year it got bad enough that I was hospitalized "voluntarily" for it. Maybe you suffer, or maybe you love somebody who suffers, or maybe you want to understand depression and anxiety more so you can support people who suffer. I want to share some things I've learned in the course of a harrowing experience, in hope that it might help someone, even a little.

There's much more at the link.

As a pastor I've worked with people suffering from depression, and once suffered a temporary, short-term bout of it myself during a particularly difficult period in my life.  It's no fun at all, even from my limited experience, and I've seen how utterly debilitating it can be to those who suffer from more severe forms of it.  Fortunately, treatments have been developed that are light years ahead of those available to our parents and ancestors.

I think Mr. White is to be applauded for his willingness to share so openly about what is a really serious problem, one that affects far more people than most of us realize.  If you also suffer from depression, or know someone who does, or would like to know more about it, I strongly recommend clicking over and reading what he has to say.  It's long, but well worth your time.



Ted said...

The Art of Manliness has been doing a series of articles on depression, including its history and cultural perception in various eras.

The Overgrown Hobbit said...

I'm not sure how brave it is anymore, since stoicism is openly despised and people compete for Biggest Victim Award in the mass media and academy for the privileges bestowed.

Still, if his post manages somehow to help someone who might otherwise have despaired, it wasn't in vain. The book Altered Perceptions, edited by Dan and Robson Wells (part of an fundraiser to help Robson, who suffers from debilitating mental illness), is more my line than social media confessions. It's available on kindle, and the author introductions (and some of the short works contributed might help a young person (or an adult) realize that their Black Beast has a name, a diagnosis, and a treatment. Highly recommended.