"So I try to laugh about it / Cover it all up with lies"
March 11, 2007 7:46 PM   Subscribe

Men get depression too. An excellent article about the hurdles men face in coming to terms with having the Black Dog. (Click "Print this" at the bottom for an easier to read one-page version; bonus links inside.)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (73 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
Further reading:

-Demystifying Depression part 1, part 2, a personal essay on depression by Name of Feather on Kuro5hin.
-A criticism of the aforementioned essay on Mind Hacks.
-The satirical yet still spot-on How to Be Depressed.
-Why Intelligent People Tend to Be Unhappy.
-CrazyMeds, a refreshingly honest discussion site about pills for the mentally interesting.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:46 PM on March 11, 2007




I had recently read Lincoln's Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness by J. Shenck and went to William Stryon's account (mentioned in he Lincoln book) of his near-sucidal bouts of depression, Darkness Visible, and found them opning up an area I had not not known much about and both works very well done. Clearly Depression (melancholy) goes back as far as recorded history, andI believe Aristotle mentions it. And in college, we read Burton's massive Anatomy of Melancholy, in connection with that seemingly famous suffer of black humour (melancholy), Hamlet
posted by Postroad at 8:09 PM on March 11, 2007


Eponysterical?
posted by OverlappingElvis at 8:24 PM on March 11, 2007


I had no idea that there was, in this day and age, any question that men suffer from depression as much as women. Bizarre.

I remember when I was reading A Brief History of Nearly Everything (or whatever it's called--the Bryson book I always forget the title of)--thinking how few breakthroughs in science we would have had anti-depressants in "olden days". It seems pretty clear that a great many scientists and artists were bipolar or manic (Newton, Hemingway, van Gogh...). Bryson's book makes half the greats sound totally whacked.
posted by dobbs at 8:25 PM on March 11, 2007


Good post, thank you.

...and apropos after news of Richard Jeni's passing.
posted by dhammond at 8:25 PM on March 11, 2007


If modern psychologists were slow to understand how men's emotions affect their behaviors, it's only because their predecessors long ago decided that having a uterus was the main risk factor for mental illness.

So damned true, though there is also still a small sector of the world that believes that having a uterus automatically *causes* mental illness. (Insert PMS joke here. Unless you have PMS. In which case, you are free to cry.)

Anyhow, great post. Thanks. There are an awful lot of really great depressed men in my life - not being a man myself, I couldn't directly relate to it, but I've seen a lot of the behaviors they're describing and it gives me hope to think that more men will be able to get real help rather than continuing to wander through the quagmires of depression.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:26 PM on March 11, 2007 [3 favorites]


80% of suicides are male.

So this idea that men might not be all that happy doesn't strike me as particularly novel.
posted by Jezztek at 8:33 PM on March 11, 2007 [3 favorites]


(It's hilariously inappropriate that there's a "WHAT IF YOU DIED RIGHT NOW?!" ad for life insurance on page 4 of the main link.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:34 PM on March 11, 2007


I'm a guy. I had depression once, so I know all too well that men can suffer from this too. I got over it. Sadly, for my best friend and my eldest brother, they have yet to conquer their depression. And many other people I know, both male and female, are struggling with it too.

My depression came about because of a break-up with a girl I thought I loved. I know now that I didn't, but when I was with her the world seemed so blissfully excellent that my brain equated it to mean it was possibly love. So naturally, when it ended, I was devastated.

I know depression is an awful thing to have. My memories of it are every single day being a black funk. On the outside it would seem as though I might be a normal, perfectly functioning human being. I'd wake up, have breakfast, go to University and hang out with friends. But on the inside, it was a disaster zone. And it was only when I was alone that it would manifest itself in forms I don't dare speak of here in a public forum.

After I broke up with her, University suffered. For the first time ever, I failed one subject and had to withdraw from another. This would mean I would likely have to extend my degree by an extra semester to make up for it. This only proceeded to depress me even more. As an impoverished student, the thought of being separated for an even longer time from vast piles of money was... well, it just sucked.

It was late one night that I began my road to recovery. I was in a particularly gloomy mood that night. It was about 8pm, I had had a late class, I had very little money in my wallet and I was tired and just wanted to be home where I could brood in solitude. My bus was late. But finally it showed. I stood up from the bus stop seat and stood near the edge of the road, waiting for the bus to pull up next to me. And then my mind had a sort of Matrix 'Bullet Time' moment. The bus and everything around me was in slow motion and I imagined stepping out in front of that bus and ending it all. I wanted it so bad. I wanted everything to just end and I knew in that slow motion moment that if I did it then I would finally have peace.

But then everything returned to normal time and I actually said to myself "Whoa... that's fucked up." And I realised even more than I had in that moment just a few seconds ago that my death would bring me peace but would torment the driver, my friends, my family. It would be an incredibly selfish act and I couldn't let that happen. And so in that moment I decided that this was no way to live and I began a long hard road to recovery.

I know a lot of people think prescription drugs are the key to coping with depression and even recovering from it. I am not one of those people. I believed then and I believe now that the human body has it within itself to recover from depression, amongst many other things. However, I recognise that for many people with depression, many of my friends included, drugs are necessary and I do not begrudge them that. I decided to explore other avenues, however.

I instead started looking into things such as meditation to treat my depression. And so I immersed myself in that line of study, reading everything and anything I could to overcome it. And then I started to meditate, spending endless hours in solitude, something I had become used to, meditating and simply trying to find my inner-self.

I won't act like it was an overnight fix, or an end to itself. It was a long, long road to my recovery and my livejournal and my other writing projects were instrumental in helping myself to overcome my depression. But I got there. One and a half years went by until one day, whilst writing in my livejournal, I realised that I was no longer depressed. I was actually happy, and had been for quite some time. I was happy being me, with how I looked and being single and pretty much everything to do with my life. And I haven't looked back.

I'm engaged now, after having met the girl of my dreams not long after writing that livejournal posting. We dated for two years before getting engaged in January this year. During those two blissful years, I have started a job I love, my friends have become closer, my finances have improved and I even won a Wii! Life has been great.

But whenever I read about people who are suffering with depression, or whenever I think about how close my brother came to taking his life and who is still dealing with his depression three years on since being diagnosed with it, I can't help but think back to what I went through because I know the hell they're going through. I wish I could do more than just be there for them, but I know from my own experiences that that's all I can do for them. They will need to help themselves to a large extent first before they can truly overcome it.

It also makes me wonder why depression isn't something we're throwing more money at in a social context. They say everyone knows someone who has or has been affected by cancer. And we throw tonnes of money at cancer research and cancer wards in public hospitals. But depression seems to me to be more prevalent. I know at least 6 people who have it and one of those people is my brother. I only know one person who had cancer, my sister-in-law, who died last year after a long battle with it.

I'm not saying cancer research deserves less money, but it seems unfair that depression, which anecdotally speaking seems to be a bigger problem, is less well funded.

I think the reason for this is people don't get depression. Remembering back to when I had it, I seemed normal on the surface, and my parents didn't even know I had it until my brother said he had it. When they pooh-pooh'ed the idea he had depression, arguing it didn't really exist, I told them my story, and told them it was very real, and that it needed to be taken seriously. It's been a struggle to get them to accept this fact but I think they're almost finally there.

And I think that that's how most people see depression. "Oh he's just sad" they'll say. No. NO. He or she is depressed. It's a serious problem. They don't say "Oh he's just got a freckle" when someone is diagnosed with skin cancer. Public attitudes need some serious alterations before depression is taken as seriously as it should be.

goodnewsfortheinsane, this was an excellent post and I thank you for it. I apologise to everyone for my overly long post but for some reason I felt like writing it and once I got to this point I couldn't even bring myself to delete it (as I sometimes do before hitting that 'Post Comment' button). Maybe, at the very least, people will now see why writing is something I do so often here at this site, and forgive me whenever I do post the latest of my intellectual fartings.

And to everyone who has depression and is reading here (and given that Metafilter has some of the smartest readers I've ever seen, its bound to be a few of you), my thoughts are with you, and I hope you get better soon.

Peace out.
posted by Effigy2000 at 8:39 PM on March 11, 2007 [26 favorites]


Effigy - it's posts like yours that make me love MeFi. Thanks.
posted by skammer at 8:46 PM on March 11, 2007


Also:

"Hey, hey, mama, said the way you move
Gonna make you sweat, gonna make you groove."

(Sorry - couldn't resist)
posted by skammer at 8:51 PM on March 11, 2007


For years, I thought it was normal to have incredibly depressive and moody spells every now and then. In 2004, I finally talked to a doctor about it, and he put me on Lexapro.

I finally went off it last year because the new doctor I got here in Houston wasn't paying attention to my complaints hat it killed my concentration and made my thoughts all "fuzzy".

I've since learned how to deal with things without a daily pill and a doctor that must have only cared about her office fees. It's nice to have emotions again.
posted by mrbill at 8:56 PM on March 11, 2007


Effigy2000: Excellent post, I for one am glad you wrote it.
posted by nightchrome at 8:57 PM on March 11, 2007


For decades, scientists believed the main cause of depression was low levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine. Newer research, however, focuses on the nerve cells themselves and how the brain's circuitry can be permanently damaged by hyperactive stress responses, brought on by genetic predisposition, prolonged exposure to stress or even a single traumatic event. "When the stress responses are stuck in the 'on' position, that has a negative effect on mood regulation overall," says Dr. Michael C. Miller, editor of the Harvard Mental Health Letter. A depressed brain is not necessarily underproducing something, says Dr. Thomas Insel, head of the National Institute of Mental Health—it's doing too much.

These discoveries have opened up broad new possibilities for treatment. Instead of focusing on boosting neurotransmitters . . . scientists are developing medications that block the production of excess stress chemicals, hoping to reduce damage to otherwise healthy nerve cells.

So if I wanted to learn more about these new-fangled medications, where would I look? What are some keywords I would use on Google?
posted by jason's_planet at 9:25 PM on March 11, 2007


I have not read any of the links in the post or any of the supplementary links but I echo dobbs. It is surprising to me anyone does not know that depression hits men. At 45 years of age I have lost more male friends to suicide than to all other causes (the balance is the same on the female side). In one two year period my two sons lost six friends.

What is not to know?
posted by arse_hat at 9:34 PM on March 11, 2007


I remember when I was reading A Brief History of Nearly Everything (or whatever it's called--the Bryson book I always forget the title of)--thinking how few breakthroughs in science we would have had anti-depressants in "olden days".

No doubt. If paxil had been around in the time of Nikola Tesla, we'd still be using DC power for everything.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:01 PM on March 11, 2007


ooops. can't write tonight. Obviously, that shoulda been:

thinking how few breakthroughs in science we would have had if we had had anti-depressants in "olden days".
posted by dobbs at 10:11 PM on March 11, 2007


Thanks, E2k, I hope I get better soon, too.
posted by Eideteker at 11:06 PM on March 11, 2007


(I guess that's me coming out of the closet? I also have borderline ADHD which doesn't feel very borderline.)
posted by Eideteker at 11:07 PM on March 11, 2007


I entered this thread expecting to find the cure, but it seems we are still a way away from that.

At least men don't get hysterical.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:31 PM on March 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Maybe men would get hysterical if they could borrow a hystericus. Funny how a word coined to decribe a mental disorder presumed to arise in the female uterus has morphed into a word that means exceedingly humorous.
posted by Cranberry at 12:35 AM on March 12, 2007


You know what's really depressing? I can tick off 15 of 17 symptoms from here,
(no substance or alcohol abuse yet) and all 8 of the job stress triggers. Yet I've a lovely girlfriend, a decent salary, and just bought a nice flat. Yet I find myself enraged over trivial things, can sometimes sit in a chair and stare at a blank screen for hours. I quit uni years ago as a result of depression. I had suicidal thoughts at that time, and a few times since, but like Effigy2000, dodged that one due to not wanting to cause pain to my family.

Anyway, gotta go to work. Seeya in 12 hours.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:40 AM on March 12, 2007



My own thirty-year PTSD/RTS and associated depression I’ve had to diagnose, treat and deal with myself, despite seven years of prescribed drugs, therapy, and, dare I say it, a concatenation of "cries for help" a few years ago (previously discussed).

Correspondents alive to nuance may note that the Independent hack describes me as ‘cracked’. This is British for ‘fruitcake’. I’d like to take this opportunity to say thanks, c**t (this is British for ‘douche who mocks another’s affliction then jumps into bed with their former publisher’).

Coincidentally, had some fun in the water last week.This led to my first contact with the medical establishment in several years – most of which was spent (hooked up to an ECG, drips, oxygen, and a hypothermia 70s-hairdryer thing) trying to persuade doctors that this equipment failure was in fact an equipment failure not a suicide attempt. Get pathologised once and everything you ever do will be interpreted as pathology. Such, such are the joys.

I echo jason’s_planet’s question.
posted by hangten at 2:16 AM on March 12, 2007


"too"?
posted by DU at 4:13 AM on March 12, 2007


Get pathologised once and everything you ever do will be interpreted as pathology. Such, such are the joys.

Whoa, way true.

I'm doing way better than I ever have w/ issues stemming from separation from a lousy marriage and child of that marriage, but if I have anything less than a really 4.0 day, a co-worker (who has issues of her own) worries that I'm sliding into a major depressive episode, as opposed to being appropriately wistful or frustrated from time to time.

And yeah, if anybody knows more about what jason_planet referred to, well, I'm also interested in hearing more.
posted by pax digita at 4:32 AM on March 12, 2007


I'm not sure where the idea comes from that many of the great breakthroughs in history would not have come about if their authors were treated for their depression. I'd like to see someone do a study of scientists and artists that addresses that. Personally, when I experienced a depressive episode, my creativity sunk to zero.

Like others, I am suprised that there might be a perception depression isn't for men. Like arse hat I (at 33) have lost more male friends to suicide than anything else.

I'm also very intrigued by the new research and would love to learn more.
posted by miss tea at 5:14 AM on March 12, 2007


I'm not sure where the idea comes from that many of the great breakthroughs in history would not have come about if their authors were treated for their depression.

miss tea, I've mostly heard that one w/r/t bipolar disorder, a somewhat different beast. I thought I had that goin' on for a while, but now I understand that 99% of the problem seems to have been marriage to the wrong person coupled w/ terrible coping skills, perhaps because our culture doesn't encourage them in guys. The latter, I think, is how we lose valuable people like Ted Westhusing and (CNO at the time!) Jeremy Boorda.

Anyway...a good book about that manic-depressive genius meme from back in the day: Touched with Fire.
posted by pax digita at 5:26 AM on March 12, 2007


miss tea, pax digita, I believe that said hooey comes from the notion that suffering is required to produce greatness. This finds many expressions in our culture, from Keats & Dickens to Jesus to Bush parlaying his coke binges into born-again integrity. Stuff em all. For my part, I write despite the crap - to bite my thumb at it - not because of it.
posted by hangten at 5:43 AM on March 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure where the idea comes from that many of the great breakthroughs in history would not have come about if their authors were treated for their depression.

People like to think there's a reward of some kind for depression, that suffering nobly somehow leads to artistic/creative brilliance. This leads to all the knee-jerk anti-antidepressants stuff and from there, probably, to a lot of suicides.

There's no evidence that those famous people would have been less creative had they had anti-depressants. They could very well have been more productive.

And of course, if the inventors hadn't made those scientific breakthroughs because they were on prehistoric Prozac, wouldn't some other "troubled genius" who was off his meds have made the same discovery the next year? I love Bill Bryson's work, but, for him to apparently imply that those inventions wouldn't exist today if the inventors hadn't been depressed is wild speculation at best.

I can to some extent buy the idea that the depressive part of their personalities is inextricably linked to the creative part, or even that their desire to feel better led them to drive themselves so hard.



But saying depression "causes" creative genius is silly. It's a disease, like cancer. When someone with cancer does something creative, is it because they had cancer?
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:59 AM on March 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


drjimmy, right on. Especially if your handle comes from the Who song.

'Greatness requires suffering' persists perhaps because it lets the top 5% off the hook - they demonstrably own all the resources, yet demonstrably produce so little greatness.
posted by hangten at 6:19 AM on March 12, 2007


I love Bill Bryson's work, but, for him to apparently imply that those inventions wouldn't exist today if the inventors hadn't been depressed is wild speculation at best.

You should probably try reading it then. Bryson implies no such thing. I did.

People like to think there's a reward of some kind for depression, that suffering nobly somehow leads to artistic/creative brilliance.

Now you're the one implying things--if you were referring to my statement.

This leads to all the knee-jerk anti-antidepressants stuff and from there, probably, to a lot of suicides.

And now you're the one speculating.

You know, it could be that people who suggest such things are themselves depressives and creative people who've tried anti-depressants (for years, maybe; multiple types, maybe) and found that they stifle creativity. It is possible that, at least in their own case or of those with whom they're familiar, they may actually know more than you do.

But saying depression "causes" creative genius is silly.

Yes, it's very silly. Who said it?
posted by dobbs at 6:38 AM on March 12, 2007


As a female, I don't know if I'm quite on topic here, but I can give some first-hand experience about depression.

Depression in most people is cyclical - odds are that the famous persons with depression succeeded despite the illness, not because of it. Would you suggest that Alexander Graham Bell was a success because he had dyslexia, and that treatment would have prevented his innovation?

In my case, medication is a tool toward coping with depression, although I don't know that I'd call it 'key'.

One of the worse episodes I ever had lasted nearly three months, from the end of November to the beginning of February. I lost my job, barely left my apartment, and slept 12-18 hours a day. I went off my medication. I cut off everyone I could, because they were too good to deserve to have to deal with someone as wretched as I was. I curled in on myself -- the fact that I could not pull myself out of the pit was proof that I deserved to be there in pain. I wasn't suicidal because that would end my pain, and I deserved to suffer -- and those around me I'd fooled into loving me would only suffer in my place (because I'd never let them see that they were wasting their love on me). Every time I got up (on the days that I got up) I thought "This is unbearable; I can't go on like this" but I was stuck there. One morning in February I got up, I thought "This is unbearable; I can't go on like this" -- and then I picked up the phone and made an appointment to see a doctor. Within a week I had regular appointment for therapy, a new prescription for anti-depressants, and a job.

Anti-depressants didn't do that for me, because I wasn't taking them. I didn't suddenly have more willpower or happen to be a better person. Generally I attribute that moment I could take my first step to grace (in the religious sense) -- and the rest to a lot of work. The drugs help, but they're not what put my life back together.
posted by Karmakaze at 6:54 AM on March 12, 2007


I have come to accept depression as a personality trait. I remember the first time 'it' really hit me. I had re-applied to university after getting kicked out, and they didn't let me back in. I was 19, stuck at my parent's house, with no job, no school to get back to, and no real friends. So, it was easy to dismiss the crushing emotional distress I was in as a product of the events in my life. I saw someone, briefly, and hated every minute of it. I decided it was just easier to fix my life myself and not blather to someone about it.

I eventually sorted all of that out and my life was working. But a few years later, 'it' came back unexpectedly, when everything else in my life was ok. My girlfriend kept insisting that the anger, irritability, and desire to spend most of my time alone was not normal.

A friend who is a doctor recommended I try Zoloft. So I did. And I have to say, that despite my skepticism, it made a difference. I noticed that I wasn't shy anymore. I really had no more social anxiety, which actually made it possible for me to become a social human being. Which I'd never, ever been in my entire life. That link from this FPP about being one of the 'smart kids' that no one talked to? That was me. And I think that was almost certainly what molded me into what I am now.

Where does that leave me now? I have issues with the drugs. On one hand, I am sociable and don't mind being around other people. But I'm also a sort of emotionless zombie. I don't get functionally-impaired level sad, but I also don't really ever get overjoyed, or even overwhelmed with positive emotion. At one point, I decided I was finished with the Zoloft, and was going to keep myself sane on my own. I tossed the pills into the fireplace (in the bottle). After going through some unreasonable withdrawal, and turning into one of the angriest people I've ever known, I decided maybe I liked myself better on it. And when I don't like the way I feel on it, I smoke some pot so I can have a few hours of emotion. It's kind of nice actually, it gives me an on/off switch.

For what it's worth, I agree that the smarter you are, the more unhappy you tend to be. That's just how it is. You think more in-depth about the world around you, and you realize it isn't great. You have fleeting moments of happiness, or maybe you laugh at a tv show or movie, but it doesn't change anything. You learn to live with it.
posted by ninjew at 9:12 AM on March 12, 2007


Maybe depression, my therapist of 2.5 whole visits said I was normal.
My story:
Married, happily 2 kids, dog, mortgage, good job, great homelife, yet not REALLY happy. Went to see a BCSW and explained to him that, although life was good, I felt like I was an asshole and unhappy for no reason whatsoever. He listened for a bit and said: " I'm writing a book...it's called I'm an asshole and your're an asshole." He then proceeded to tell me that all men were assholes and that I was maturing into an asshole and that there was no medication for my ailment. I went for my 2nd visit (clearly out of morbid curiosity) and he re-iterated the same point.
3rd visit, he stood me up. DICKHEAD! And my anger at that also somehow SCREAMS ASSHOLE.
I never went back and now I just listen to the voices in my head and make a determined decision to NOT BE AN ASSHOLE.
Not really sure if this is depression. Could be anything I guess and I have a seroius distaste for anti-depressants. Oh, yea for therapists as well.

It's a daily struggle to not get pissed off because someone doesn't use their blinker or comes off as rude or mistakes my kindness for weekness, but I manage.

Possibly no more or less depressed than any of you guys!
posted by winks007 at 9:34 AM on March 12, 2007


1. eff states that break up with gf was the initial event of a period of "depressed mood"
1.1 pain is likely to be caused by losing a factor of happyness, such as the feeling of being loved
1.2 abrupt (and I am wild guessing) unexpected and unconsciously feared break-up ...greatly pains eff, that maybe
was in slight denial of signs of trouble in relationship, maybe blissfully unware, maybe there were none evident.

2. the pain for the loss is subsiding, but still present. Probably this distracts eff from other efforts as this lingering sensation of "feeling bad" is very felt ; maybe eff is also ruminating the experience (why oh why, damn it's not fair, if only I , I miss her, it's not my fault but still) which, I hypothize, re-evokes painful memory, thus feeling some pain again.

3. this focuses eff on his pain, distracts eff from other effort. Probability of failure are therefore incresed and failure happens. Failure is often perceived as undesiderable and undermines eff' self-confidence.

3.1 this time pain is caused by frustration, as the desidered goal of money is now a little more unreacheable then before. This maybe compounds with the the other pain, as the two aren't separated by enough time and completed elaboration.

4. Eff feels so much in blue mood, which is imho some form of pain not associated to any external event (being punched, gf going away, people yelling at eff he sucks) therefore eff feels desperated, frustrated by lack of evident external causes, consider how blissful it would be to end "his misery" because he doesn't see external causes, therefore feels lack of control on what is happening to him, which further suggest him to do anything BUT feeling blue again.

5. luckly self conservation instinct kicks in and eff rationalizes it would be unfair for his loved ones. As taking a "magic pill" would make him feel even more powerless over himself, he decides another way is necessary and finds meditation. By focusing on medidation, eff is now focused on understanding self and "make peace" with self


Karmakaze's is another interesting story
I curled in on myself -- the fact that I could not pull myself out of the pit was proof that I deserved to be there in pain. I wasn't suicidal because that would end my pain, and I deserved to suffer -- and those around me I'd fooled into loving me would only suffer in my place (because I'd never let them see that they were wasting their love on me).
Without one hint of offence intended nor ill intentions, that has to be the most convoluted thought I met in a while.

1. I am in pain because I am in pain. ( assesment of how KK feels, no cause found)
2. If I can't end pain then I deserve pain. (that seems to be an overblown internal critic going on)
3. I deserve to suffer even more, because I think I never showed these who love me that they were wasting their love on a pit of worthless spit like me, I cheated them (for the love of Joe's christssake !)

For reasons that escape me , KK has an interal critic spitting out this chain of sentences : KK is a wretched, fat, undesiderable, smelly, retarded, cum guzzler, ass invaded, parabolic convergence incompetet, 2nd derivative failing , cheating, stealing, lying , child murderous, incestuous, liberal, republican, asshat, nigger wigger wop .....you know !

I'd look back and try to understand why KK has internalized this self-flagellating feeling of being inferior scum...which reminds me of the story of the kid whose mother was a failure and told him he was bad and not good enough and whatever...so much that the kid started blaming himself as he saw the mother didn't criticize him anymore, as he was already doing it.

It can be overcome :D !
posted by elpapacito at 9:39 AM on March 12, 2007


And thanks to eff and kk for sharing their story with us :)
posted by elpapacito at 9:40 AM on March 12, 2007


Real men walk it off. Maybe rub some dirt on it.

It’s funny that the issue needs to be addressed. Of course men get depressed. But we’re not supposed to.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:06 AM on March 12, 2007


It's the very concept of "real men" that is shaky and often laughable.
posted by elpapacito at 10:25 AM on March 12, 2007


Without one hint of offense intended nor ill intentions, that has to be the most convoluted thought I met in a while.
No offense taken. One of the things that makes depression a mental illness is that the sufferer can be in an incredibly messed up condition and not be able to recognize the flawed nature of the reasoning. I had a few people call me on it. They'd ask "give me an example of what makes you a terrible person" and I couldn't come up with anything worse than petty human flaws, but that didn't stop me from believing I was a sub-human wretch anyway. It was just axiomatic.
It can be overcome :D !
It can, but it's not easy. I'm more than aware that I'm prone to relapse. I've been fighting this since I was a kid, and am likely to be fighting it the rest of my life. Probably the most successful tactic (and the hardest to implement) was going to a set of friends and explaining to them what I go through and what the warning signs are -- and then I trust them to catch it, and to call me on the destructive impulses before I internalize them. It still bothers me to do it ("If you were a better/stronger person you wouldn't need pills to be normal; what right do you have to complicate other people's lives with your problems..."), but, amazingly enough, they don't despise me for needing to lean on them sometimes. Sometimes just knowing there's someone there to catch me keeps me from falling.
posted by Karmakaze at 10:51 AM on March 12, 2007


It can, but it's not easy.

But it is less hard then you think. Granted, help from friends is precious and it already suggest me you have partially overcome the contradiction between being helped and feeling a misery for being helped. Excellent, really !

The goddamn internal critic (which is imho a deeply ingrained self deprecating habit, hard to overcome, but can be done, has been done) is always able to find something wrong with you because..it is _part_ of you :)

You can't just kill the critic, as it would imply killing yourself..that'd be curing influenza by shooting your lungs...that's no good.

Obviously the critic has access to all the information and knows what you are afraid of..or so she thinks. Clearly anytime you disprove your weakness, anytime you win a tiny bit of fear the deprecating habit kicks in , critic doesn't surrended to the contradiction..why ? Because you wouldn't easily surrender to evidence..no one does if it give us discomfort.

You see..you said YOURSELF that you employed an hard to implement, but successful tactic ! Your critic doesn't attack your achievement directly (eheh smartass) but finds another weakpoint to put you down like "if you were good you wouldn't need pill" . See ? Get it ? It doesn't off you directly, it attacks from sides, reducing all the achievement you see to a miserable microscopic step when compared to AH the absolutes the critic adores so much !

HOW DARE YOU SOB KK not being divine like GOD !? AAAHHHH you SOB ! Why aren't you perfect ! AHAHAHAHAH I laugh at your little achievements because it is always, mathematically always less then perfection AHAHAHAHAHAH !
posted by elpapacito at 11:26 AM on March 12, 2007


Greatness may not require "suffering," but it does require sacrifice. And that sacrifice extends to family and friends, often neglected and even lost to the single-minded purpose. Is it any wonder that the personalities driven to such lengths and capable of making such demands on their loved ones might not be the most even-kealed, well-adjusted souls? There's correlation there, I think, is all. Happiness is overrated. It makes for pleasant enough dinner conversation, I suppose, but there's no art in it.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:33 AM on March 12, 2007


IRFH, that's not always the case. Brilliant individuals are able to produce great work without sacrificing their personal life given fair working conditions. The sacrifice/suffering comes in because of unfair working conditions. Many great movies were made under the studio system at those times when the studio system was doing what it said on the box - creating the conditions in which creativity could flourish free of market forces. Now, in the free market, you hit jackpot with your first effort, or you spend the rest of your life in the suffering/sacrificing loop.
posted by hangten at 12:16 PM on March 12, 2007


In fact, aren't you saying ("that sacrifice extends") that if you're any good at something and you desire to be as good as you can be at it, then you have a right to be a git in your personal life? Maybe I'm conflating, but I see your sacrifice and I call Judao-Christian horseshit.
posted by hangten at 12:24 PM on March 12, 2007


Of course men are depressed- and in a way it's worse since as Smedleyman demonstrates there is a belief that being depressed is akin to laziness, thus reinforcing the hiding of it and the shame at even needing help.

That said, lots of people die for completely unfathomable or unjust reasons. Life isn't fair that way. So why should suicide or depression be any different? Our lives simply don't matter, and some of us are more aware of that than others. There is no logical reason to be happy, but some people just are. It's like having a switch on your back that you can't reach. Flick it one way, you're happy, you don't understand why you or anyone would be sad. Flick it the other, you're sad, and you rightly don't understand why anyone can be happy. It's not about reason- there's no reason to it. You just are or are not happy. And really- it's not a sad thing if some of us die by our own hand. That's kind of a nice relief- it's nice to know you can leave the game anytime you choose. God knows I'm counting on that, because things keep getting worse. For whom are any of us living, anyway? Ourselves. It's selfish to expect someone to stay around in a life that makes them unhappy, just because they amuse you, because you want them around, like they're a pet or a fancy electronic appliance, existing only for your enjoyment. Blah blah blah selfish... it's not selfish to kill yourself, it's selfish to expect someone to stay alive simply because you don't want to go to a funeral.
posted by hincandenza at 12:41 PM on March 12, 2007


I think you are conflating, hangten.

First of all, I suspect that we may have very different ideas of what constitutes "greatness." The examples above that I was addressing included some of the best minds in history, including Newton, Hemingway, van Gogh, and Tesla. Not your garden-variety Hollywood movie producer.

Also, I was suggesting a correlation, not a causation. In other words, try as we might, neither of us could become great simply by being a git. Or depressed. Our behavior would not create our greatness. On the other hand, if one of us had greatness within us and the circumstances thrust on us in which to take advantage of our incipient greatness, it would still require choices and drive and obsession to forge through to fruition. And that is where I have seen the correlation in those in whom I have glimpsed a hint of the golden stuff: greatness is inherently selfish. And I don't mean that in a pejorative way. Being a bit of a git often tends to come with that territory. Or at least being on the intense side. Which is where the subject at hand comes into play. My point being that calm, happy, satisfied folk are rarely driven to make the leap to greatness. Is that "always the case?" Not likely. But then I have nothing but my opinion and totally biased anecdotal evidence to support my contention, anyway.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:45 PM on March 12, 2007


IRFH, where was I talking about producers? Or anyone "garden-variety"?

And I counter your Newton, Hemingway, van Gogh and Tesla with my Ben Hecht, William Sansom and Paul Weller. Your culture vs. my culture, nyah nyah.
posted by hangten at 12:49 PM on March 12, 2007


I think most people will have a brush with depression at some stage in their lives. I know I have, and when I think about it, most of my friends too.

Cancer research in general is a money spinner controlled by Big Pharma and has no value to most sufferers.

I would have thought that the magic of the interwebs would create more avenues for expression, which can lead away from depression. But then it can also create avenues for re-enforcing feelings of depression I suppose.

My top tip is fairly unremarkable (not unlike the revelation that depression is common amongst men) [Also works to combat cancer*].

Taa daa-

Eat well and exercise. Exercise makes you happy, eating after exercise (roughly) means more of the food is converted to muscle rather than fat. Positive feedback loop ensues! Check yourself for food allergies as well, they are more common than generally assumed.

Referenced in the above is the work of Maurizio Fava on eating and depression, which I highlight for it's eponysterical nominative determinism.

Also, reading the work of Tim Krieder seems to help in a perverse way.

*If you ignore the oxygen-free radicals aspect.
posted by asok at 12:57 PM on March 12, 2007


Nyah: Newton was wrong. Nyah: Hemingway was a misogynist arse. Nyah: van Gogh's reputation rests largely on his auction price. Tesla, don't know dick about.

Love your very btw.
posted by hangten at 12:58 PM on March 12, 2007


asok: you and Chaucer.

Hir freendes sawe hir sorwe gan to slake,
And preyde hir on knees, for Goddes sake,
To com and romen hir in compaignye,
Awey to dryve hir derke fantasye.
And finally she graunted that requeste,
For wel she saugh that it was for the beste.
(Miller's tale).
posted by hangten at 1:04 PM on March 12, 2007


compaignye there means countryside (like the Italian campagna), not 'friendly company'. And duh, Franklin's tale.
posted by hangten at 1:08 PM on March 12, 2007


Not sure why you're getting all playground, hangten, but those were not my examples, nor "my culture." As I clearly stated, those were the examples of greatness raised previously in the thread (here and here) to which I was responding.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:10 PM on March 12, 2007


"Not sure why you're getting all playground, hangten, but those were not my examples, nor "my culture." "

Excuse me?

"I suspect that we may have very different ideas of what constitutes "greatness."
posted by hangten at 1:16 PM on March 12, 2007


No - excuse me. I emphasized the gap in our world view by italicizing the word "very." You literally said "Nyah. Nyah." If you can't see the difference there, then we might as well be a fish talking to a wall. You can be whichever anthropomorphic absurdity you choose. But I can see no point in further exchanges. I'm not sure how to spell "neener, neener."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:28 PM on March 12, 2007


My nyah nyah's were calling you on the childishness of your italicised 'very'. You were talking down to me and you know it ("garden-variety" etc).

Perhaps my getting riled at you has something to do with depressed men being infantilised ("playground") for expressing justified anger at the conditions that create depression in creatives ("[greatness] does require sacrifice")?

Particularly when spouted by non-creatives (as your verse attests, sunshine).
posted by hangten at 1:35 PM on March 12, 2007


That should have read "Perhaps my getting riled at you has something to do with depressed men being infantilised ("playground") for expressing justified anger at unreflexive glorification of the conditions which encourage depression - in creatives, for the purposes of our particular debate ("[greatness] does require sacrifice").

Why can't doing great work just be a job? It is, and was, for many greats (Dawkins, for example. David Attenborough. Paul Weller.). Why must greatness only derive from being flayed half alive for the sake of some bullshit notion of achievement through sacrifice?

Forgive the crappy phrasing, I drowned on Thursday. Nighty night.
posted by hangten at 2:08 PM on March 12, 2007


Particularly when spouted by non-creatives (as your verse attests, sunshine).

Oh, no you didn't!

depressed men being infantilized ("playground") for expressing justified anger at unreflexive glorification of the conditions which encourage depression - in creatives, for the purposes of our particular debate ("[greatness] does require sacrifice").

I tend to drop into the depression threads to read and sometimes share a little perspective, because, as I think I've mentioned around here a few times before, I'm a lifelong depressive (Dysthymia with occasional bouts of severe clinical depression). I'm not infantilizing depressives. I'm also a creative type (whether you admire my work or not) at least to the extent that I spend most of my (admittedly limited) free time with other creative types. In fact, I would love to spend most of my time writing, drawing, carving, and creating music, but feel that I cannot, because I have to earn a living. Because I am not willing to take the chance and make the sacrifice or ask my family to make the sacrifices necessary to gamble that I am good enough to "make it." And I am not great. Which only makes the gamble greater.

So I am not, nor have I been spouting "glorification of the conditions which encourage depression." I was acknowledging them. If I mention a correlation between crime and poverty it doesn't mean I'm defending crime or poverty.

As for the italicized very, I stand by it and repeat it: we have very different ideas of what constitutes "greatness." This is not talking down to you or judging your ideas – it’s simply a statement of fact. I do not consider any of the men you listed to be what I’m talking about as “Great Men.” Not Ben Hecht, William Sansom, or Paul Weller. Not David Attenborough. Not Dawkins. I'm talking about men who changed the course of history, or at least within the sphere of an entire (and notable) discipline. (I include "notable" not to eliminate any of your candidates based on subject matter, but rather to exclude quirky disciplines such as "Elvis impersonators.")

Why can't doing great work just be a job?

It happens. Sometimes. But great men are also often not so easily satisfied. What makes a work truly great is often that it transcends the system, which creates its own kind of friction. The energy required to overcome that friction creates heat.

I drowned on Thursday.

Try not to suck so much when you're underwater. /kidding
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:07 PM on March 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Tell you what, laddybuck, let's put it to the test: I'll make you suffer, you see if it makes you great at your whittling or whatever.

/Kidding.
posted by hangten at 3:45 PM on March 12, 2007


Wow, this kind of got ugly. You two want to go get a room and have some makeup sex?
posted by hincandenza at 3:55 PM on March 12, 2007


I haven't noticed any improvement so far.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:58 PM on March 12, 2007



"I'm talking about men who changed the course of history" - you're talking about the Bumper Book of Bonzer Boffins. Dawkins hasn't? Paul Weller didn't? David Attenborough isn't, right now?*

[*For US consumers, David Attenborough is a deeply-respected BBC naturalist (though this is by no means his only achievement) who is currently raising climate change awareness to unprecedented levels in the otherwise sewerlike mainstream of British culture]

So trying to make a living doing creative work means "[asking ones'] family to make sacrifices"? If this is where you are, you should not be attempting creative work. Can you not hear yourself here? "My fulfilment comes necessarily at others' cost." Sheesh.

And tell me, big guy, ("I do not consider any of the men you listed to be what I'm talking about") - who is William Sansom? Just tell me who he is. Or do you want to eat that one too?
posted by hangten at 4:02 PM on March 12, 2007


This was a tea party, by Internet standards. Anybody want a bloody scone? (Pardon the blood - I cut my hand off.)
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:03 PM on March 12, 2007


Can we return to the topic of the fpp? Anyone know anyone who might have access to journals that could answer jason's_planet's question, for instance? Which I think we could all use an answer to.
posted by hangten at 5:12 PM on March 12, 2007


Dawkins hasn't? Paul Weller didn't? David Attenborough isn't, right now?

Nope. They are accomplished men in their fields. They have earned your obvious respect. They have earned my respect, also, and I'll happily grant it. I actually like all three of them. That doesn't make them Great Men, according to the terms I was considering when I wrote the comments you've been objecting to. And that's all we're doing here, defining terms.

You're talking about the Bumper Book of Bonzer Boffins.

If I understood English, I'd guess my response would be, "Yes."

But even your list doesn't make your point. Dawkins has evolved to his third marriage, already. Weller is divorced.

So trying to make a living doing creative work means "[asking ones'] family to make sacrifices"?

That does often seem to be the case, yes.

If this is where you are, you should not be attempting creative work. Can you not hear yourself here? "My fulfilment comes necessarily at others' cost." Sheesh

My point, exactly. It's why I don't.

Who is William Sansom? Just tell me who he is.

A beloved English author.

Or do you want to eat that one too

Are you under the impression that you've won something, here?

We are clearly talking past each other, now. I seriously don't see the point in responding anymore, but feel free to pretend you've ripped me a new one in the name of proving how creative people don't have to be assholes.

/derail
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:30 PM on March 12, 2007


Let's see: you've mocked my stated condition (RTS - "suck some more").You've googled "William Sansom" - so beloved that he's been out of print 40 years? You've talked self-contradictory whiny crap to assert yourself over me. And you get to derail? Enjoy your moral high ground, brother.
posted by hangten at 8:05 PM on March 12, 2007


You would have made the 'suck some more' crack to a woman who'd said, in this thread, that she suffers from RTS? Perhaps this brings us (finally, tortuously) back on topic.
posted by hangten at 8:15 PM on March 12, 2007


C'mon, now. Settle down, some. You're making us depressed.
posted by Drexen at 5:06 AM on March 13, 2007


hangten, I never said 'suck some more,' and I never mocked your stated condition, RTS. What I said was, "I drowned on Thursday. Try not to suck so much when you're underwater. /kidding"

You made a point of saying that your surfing accident was an equipment failure and not a suicide attempt, and I took you at your word. If that was not honestly the case, and your drowning was somehow RTS related, then I apologise sincerely.

On another note, I took some time this morning to read your statements in the press about the publishing industry, and I must say I think I have a much clearer idea now of where you're coming from, and how commited you are on the subject. I still think we have very different world views (yes, "very"), but I do respect yours. I have an uncle who was a fairly successful Bay Area painter years ago, who gave up his gallery and dropped out of the business to protest similar kinds of bullshit. I have the utmost respect for his integrity. I'm also kind of sad that he's been too busy making a living to paint anything new for the last twenty years.

As for jason's_planet's question, which you seemed to have some interest in, I found that the phrase medications that block the production of excess stress chemicals (no quotes) returned quite a few Google hits in addition to the original article.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:11 AM on March 13, 2007


This just in from the monthly "Healthbeat" free e-newsletter from Harvard Medical School. (link unfortunately autoforwards to a subscription form)

Act, don’t think, to relieve depression

Emily is having a conflict with a coworker and decides to stay home for several days. By withdrawing from a possible confrontation, she spares herself immediate distress. But at the same time, she is also depriving herself of the satisfaction she gets from work — the pleasure of completing tasks and earning money. She gets nothing in exchange for sacrificing these daily pleasures, because the original problem remains. As a consequence of avoiding a temporarily difficult and unpleasant situation, Emily only sinks deeper into depression. She eventually finds that getting out of bed in the morning has become as difficult as going to work had been a week ago.

In many cases, if Emily went to a therapist, the therapist might use cognitive therapy, which targets persistent self-defeating thoughts, or a variation called cognitive behavioral therapy, a version that includes behavioral training and homework. Cognitive behavioral therapy has become one of the most widely used treatments for depression. But some researchers have questioned whether cognitive behavioral therapy achieves a good-enough outcome. In a recent study comparing standard cognitive behavioral therapy with a new version of behavioral therapy called behavioral activation therapy, behavioral activation therapy showed promising results.

Behavioral activation therapy, the alternative used in the study, is based on the idea that depressed people experience the kind of vicious cycle that Emily does. They withdraw from the routine activities and demands of daily life to avoid emotional pain. As a result, they receive fewer rewards and become more depressed.

In behavioral activation therapy, the therapist is interested in the function of negative thinking — the way it promotes withdrawal — rather than its rightness or wrongness, as in conventional cognitive behavioral therapy. Patients are shown how to:

find out and record what gives them a feeling of accomplishment, then do it more
maintain regular routines and schedules — for example, keeping commitments even if they’re anxiety-provoking — while exploring alternative behaviors by role-playing in the safer setting of the therapist’s office
avoid pessimism and gloomy rumination by directing their attention to the immediate experience of their senses — to observe the experiences rather than reacting to them or becoming self-critical.
In this respect, the authors point out, behavioral activation therapy resembles newer forms of cognitive therapies that encourage patients to acknowledge their thoughts and feelings as they arise, without judgment, and then let them go.

In a study at the University of Washington, nearly 250 people with major depression were divided into four groups that received either behavioral activation therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, an antidepressant medication, or a sugar pill (placebo). Treatment continued for 24 sessions over four months while standard questionnaires measured changes in the symptoms. Results were tracked separately for mildly depressed and severely depressed patients.

Patients in all four groups improved, and all treatments were equally effective for the mildly depressed patients. For the severely depressed, behavioral activation and the antidepressant drug were equal, and both were superior to cognitive behavioral therapy and the placebo. But patients taking the medication or placebo were much more likely to drop out of treatment than those receiving psychotherapy. So, over all, behavioral activation therapy was the most successful treatment. In this study at least, when depressed people were prodded into action, they needed little more to experience improvement.

posted by mono blanco at 3:35 PM on March 13, 2007


As for jason's_planet's question, which you seemed to have some interest in, I found that the phrase medications that block the production of excess stress chemicals (no quotes) returned quite a few Google hits in addition to the original article.

Thanks!
posted by jason's_planet at 4:03 PM on March 13, 2007


You're welcome. Dr. Thomas Insel stress also returned some interesting hits. Haven't been able to filter down to anything like actual clinical trials, if such exist, yet, but I'll keep sorting through when I get an odd moment. A lot of the stress suppression research links seem linked to HIV, which makes sense. It's an intriguing angle.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:10 PM on March 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


The list of clinical trials for depression by the National Institute of Mental Health is here. I don't see anything listed yet specific to addressing depression through chemically reduced stress response. They may not be ready for clinical trials, yet - or they may be going on elsewhere.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:46 PM on March 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


A lot of people, men and women, I know or have known struggle -or struggled- with depression. I do and have.

In my experience depression has little to do with either stereotype of melancholia or anger-turned inwards, as is commonly thought. Depression can be subtle, chronic or clinical and dramatically paralysing. Depression comes in many styles and strengths. While in the midst of clinical depression I have sometimes also been joyous, worked very hard, had wonderful laughs. I don't think joyfulness, occasional hilarity, being energetic or cheerful are necessarily things that may not coexist with depression.

On male depression at the Mayo Clinic online.

MaleDepression.com

A doctor I know once casually said in his experience that men suffer more from anxiety-depression, often are treated with Paxil, while women suffer more from sadness-depression and are often treated with Prozac.

Best book I've read on male depression is, I Don't Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression by Terence Real. His websites, 1 and 2.

Another practical book: Stop Depression Now by by Richard Brown. Some journalists have publicly talked about their depression, or self-medicating depression with alcohol, as part of their way of taking the stigma away from the issues, including Mike Wallace and Pete Hamill.
posted by nickyskye at 4:01 PM on March 18, 2007


« Older Goodnight, Mr. Jeni.   |   To Have and Hold, Until Bedtime Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments