Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How To Cure Our National Depression- Part One

I am having a profound kind of week. One of those weeks when problems- and then solutions- to vast mysteries appear with crystal clarity. I think I stumbled onto something worthy of passing along.

But first, I want to use a quote someone left on my "American Enlightenment" blog. It seems quite fitting here.

"When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it--always."

Mohandas K. Gandhi

Many years ago, as I was about to begin my law enforcement career, nobody told me the range or the depth of mental illness that I was about to run into. I think that happened for a number of reasons. I think mental illness was seen as something that was not really law enforcement related- it was just something we tried to contain. Bi-polar disorder or depression was rarely diagnosed accurately- and although schizophrenia tended to be the mental illness that gave us most of our violent outbursts, problems, and calls to 911- depression was an entirely different animal. It didn't manifest itself in some outrageous or violent conduct and so it was never really placed on the front burner. We dealt with it in small doses or on suicide calls.

We didn't understand dual diagnosis back then either. That mentally ill people, without a proper diagnosis or prescriptions that worked, would simply self medicate with any booze or illicit drugs that they could find. 

Depressed people will always try to find a way to change how they feel. That is absolutely key to what I am about to say. People suffering from depression are either going to seek a chemical solution, a spiritual solution, or a radical solution like suicide. There are 100 different shades of depression.

Very often the first responders to any mental illness, crisis, or emergency call were either family members, police, or paramedic firefighter types. All of us were largely and sadly, unprepared to deal with mental illness. I received 2 hours of law enforcement training in mental illness, zero hours in Advanced EMT A-D training. Most family members, if they are lucky enough to diagnose mental illness in their family members, still tended to hide or downplay the effects of because it is so highly and negatively stigmatized. Yet...

Most of us have suffered transient bouts of depression. We all apply solutions. If that is true then....

The problem is enormous and because of a lack of honesty and disclosure among the patients, I am not sure that anybody realizes the epidemic proportions of mental illness, primarily depression, in this country. It manifests itself in literally hundreds of ways. Alcohol, drugs, fits of anger and rage. Do you know anybody that enjoys driving in heavy traffic? Of course not. We all hate it.

If we all hate driving in heavy traffic, but we are forced to do it, how do we cope with that? Do we really forget about it every night? Do any of us enjoy doing things we hate every day?

If we all hate the fact that our government is broke, our paychecks and our buying power are getting smaller- yet taxes are getting larger- we are beginning to get frustrated and pissed off, aren't we? What if our government lies to us about all of those things? Does that make us happy?

What if we hate our jobs? Our marriages? Our spouses who change for the worse? What if we have kids only to find out that children are a giant responsibility that we weren't really prepared for? 

What if we never live up to our expectations? What if we, heaven forbid, disappoint loved ones with a less than average career?

What if we have to lie about all of this or at the very least- keep it bottled up for years because we are too afraid to tell anyone? What if we have dying parents or children, serious illnesses, or we are continually in financial distress month after month or taking bankruptcy because the cost of living is insane? If we live in a world where we are exposed to all of this, perhaps several of these things daily or weekly, how do we cope with that?

If we are doing emotionally unhealthy things, forced to or not, how are we supposed to stay away from depression and anger? In fact, how can we pretend that it doesn't effect us?

The answer is simple. We can't. You can't lie to yourself. Yet I see people who lie about their depression and their problems every day. They lie about it because they know that's what society expects of them. 

If we are doing things that we hate or that depress us, how can we possibly feel good about ourselves? By lying to ourselves? Is that going to work?

World War II, Korean, and Vietnam veterans all have suicide rates far below that of Gulf War veterans. Why? Isn't our health care, drugs, and therapy better now days? Aren't we more aware, better at diagnosing depression? Isn't our education better? Stop and think about that for a moment. I will supply this bit of information while you do. I am going to use this to jump into the real problem in the United States. I kind of consider the armed services as our canary in the coal mine and a very good indicator about how we feel about ourselves. 

A 2009 U.S. Army report indicates military veterans have double the suicide rate of non-veterans, and more active-dutysoldiers are dying from suicide than in combat in the Iraq War (2003-2011) and War in Afghanistan (2001–present).[10]Colonel Carl Castro, director of military operational medical research for the Army noted "there needs to be a cultural shift in the military to get people to focus more on mental health and fitness."[11]
Suicide rates for lesbiangaybisexualtransgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth and adults in the U.S. are three times higher than national averages.

This is a fantastic article and I encourage you to read it because it really strikes to the heart of what I'm about to say. This article is well written, well researched, and though there are pinpoints of truth in it- I believe that it completely misdiagnoses the underlying problem.  

We have a moral problem in this country. We have an integrity problem. We've been lying to ourselves and to others for so incredibly long, that we have mis-diagnosed our own problem. The kids today aren't any less capable of dealing with stress than WWII, Korean, or Vietnam vets. If anything, they should have better access to education, therapy, groups, and doctors than any of their predecessors. Their suicide rates should be lower. So no, I don't believe much of this article as it applies to today's higher suicide rates nor do I believe some of the very logical points it touches on.

Because if I believed that- I'd have to ignore what I have seen. I'd have to ignore the skyrocketing suicide rates for people in the youth, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities which this article doesn't touch on. I'd have to ignore millions of unemployed, angry people. I'd have to ignore mass murderers that seem to go on rampages once every week or two. I'd have to ignore the 150 million people using anti-depressants, alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, and suicide to change the way that they feel about themselves.

Our nation is stressed out, angry, and depressed. We are tired of living paycheck to paycheck, living our miserable little lives, simultaneously being lied to and taxed to death by a government that we all know couldn't give a shit less about any of us. We sit mired in traffic, going to some miserable job or interview which will supply us with chump change, no benefits, and a crappy boss. Coming home at night and hearing more depressing shit on the nightly news or reading online stories about Warren Buffett and Kim Kardashian. 

It's no wonder the nation checks out on booze, drugs, or Dancing With the Stars. It's the only relief they can find. Except that- they have to do it day after day after day.

“I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me.” 
 Hunter S. Thompson

So yes, we have a collective national malaise which begins in the heart and souls of individuals- of people that know the truth but deny it for any number of reasons. I think this lack of integrity is biting us in the ass. In fact, it is causing a national depression. So that is the statement of the problem. We simply don't feel good about ourselves because we don't do good things anymore and we don't tell the truth about it. Gandhi was right. The ways of love and truth will win.

This lack of honesty or in some cases- our willingness to punish people for speaking the truth because it is inconvenient or embarrassing- is a huge part of our problem. Problems and issues don't get resolved until the correct diagnosis is applied. Lying about things is no way to live your life.

There's a reason that our national depression is getting worse and not better. I don't think it has any thing to do with "this generation was tougher than the current one." Statements like that are designed to make some people feel good, while others feel worse about themselves. That's not very honest either, is it?

If we want to start feeling good about ourselves- to gather self esteem- well then I think it's time we started doing some esteem able acts.

That's what I want to talk about in part two which I will have up by Friday.


Anonymous said...

When I look around at what we in the West have been brainwashed into believing is an advanced or superior culture, I really have to call that belief into question. Superior to what, and to whom? Superior because we are technologically advanced? Because we walk around like a bunch of social retards, finger fucking some ishit device all day? Because we have achieved a pace of life that is destroying us in a thousand different ways? And who is the more enslaved to this system we have fashioned for ourselves? The 1% who control it or the 99% who labor under it?

Like Billy Joel sings, "if that's moving up, then I'm moving out." Can't wait for part two, Brian. You're pretty cool, and insightful, for a fellow who used to be a cop.

blurred said...

Anonymous should post using a name, I liked your comment. Great post Brian, clearly I'm on the same wavelength right now. Looking forward to part II as well.

Anonymous said...

I hate my job, I hate the fucking politics of it (government), I disdain or outright dislike 1/2 of my co-workers (morons, knuckleheads, backstabbers, dog fuckers or bullshit artists), the commute in getting to that job repulses me (a packed subway train and an hour each way), the deductions on my paycheck seem to be getting bigger each year and it has been this way for 25 years and counting. Fuck me but I am goddamned fed up of the whole stinking scene. Stress? Yeah, a little, and to cope with that stress, it ain't out of the ordinary for me to take a nip of Jack's each morning to ensure I don't strangle one of my fellow slaves on the way in to my daily drudgery, and to have another nip on the way home. Less than 4 years, baby, and I can take my pension and then fly the fuck away from it all by maybe moving to some shack in the mountains where I don't have to lift another fucking finger doing some shit that I don't particularly give a damn about in the first place. God give me the strength.

Anonymous said...

Thanks blurred. I'm just some anonymous pig, but Brian knows who I am (I'm just too lazy sometimes to log into my google account at times).

Brian said...

Thank you for taking the time to comment here. Especially the part about dog fuckers, LOL.

Your comment, and I must assume it is an honest one, took me right back to 2007. I could have written this very thing back then. Good luck to you. When you exit that fucking mess, life will get so much better if you don't kill yourself first. That's the place I found myself in 2007. I never imagined life could get so much better.

Jim at Asylum Watch said...

Looking forward to Friday.

Anonymous said...

Yes, life will indeed get better when I exit that mind-numbing, soul-sucking cesspool of anguish, misery and despair which has been bleeding my heart and soul for the last quarter century. In fact, when the people at the company's pension office ask what I will do with myself now that I'm retired (August of 2017, baby...I'm counting the days), I'll look them straight in the eye and say that intend to live. By that I mean the last 25 years have been one of "existence", not living. Soon I will live. Yes, it is truly pathetic that so many of my best years have been wasted, and some are right to say I should quit that place and go elsewhere, but the shithole it which I toil wasn't always so (it's only in recent years it has become very much politicized) and I now have too much vested in it to just walk away. I'll stick it out, keep my eyes on the prize and hopefully not throw a rope around my neck anytime soon, a though which has occasionally entered my mind, sorry to say.

Anonymous said...

typos....shithole in which I toil & a thought which has occasionally entered

sorry, I'll double-check next time before publishing