Depresion - Not Something one can beat with will power alone


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Apr 2, 2010 - 12:57pm PT
"Why the depression."


Tucson, AZ
Apr 2, 2010 - 01:01pm PT
How you doing lately, Juan?

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Apr 2, 2010 - 01:14pm PT

Why do you say this?
This can't be good:
"FAA: Pilots allowed to take antidepressants on job"

To me, that's simply the converse of the "depression is only a chemical imbalance" argument. As Dr. Hunter, Largo and others suggest, we still don't know that much about depression. My medication might merely work like an expensive placebo, but it certainly worked to get me back to (and maybe a little beyond) my pre-depressed self. Without many years of functioning at this level unmedicated, I wouldn't trust myself in any responsible position without proper medication. I, and those around me, have complete confidence in my performance now, however.

I think the thrust of the FAA reg change is to allow those whose depression is demonstrably under control to fly. Otherwise, the de facto rule would be that no one may pilot who suffers from depression. That would exlude a lot of extremely capable people.


Mountain climber
Monrovia, CA
Apr 2, 2010 - 01:20pm PT
Since my knowledge of such is strictly anecdotal I supposed it
based on hearing how people aren't necessarily at their
sharpest when on anti-depressants. That wouldn't matter in most
professions. The FAA also has a time-honored tradition of
questionable decisions.

Apr 2, 2010 - 01:21pm PT
Where is the data supporting the assertion abnormally large numbers of climbers suffer from depression? Since the condition itself is not easily defined, there will have to be some solid data.

"And as Coz pointed out, a lot of it has to do with being "bound by self," or being crazy self-absorbed. That cycle also has to be broken by various means, one of which is being of service to others."

I have to say I get depressed on those weeks when I take the time to stare at my navel 24x7.

I have found choosing goals and then going all out for them leaves one little good navel gazing time. And then if one never forgets that quitting easily becomes a habit, depression becomes simply a waste of otherwise useful time.
Dr. F.

So Cal
Apr 2, 2010 - 01:23pm PT
JE, at least we can agree on some things

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Apr 2, 2010 - 01:34pm PT

I'd suggested the possibility (as opposed to asserting its existence) that the populations of climbers contains a higher proportion of people with depression. I think that was on a different thread, though.

The mental health professionals with whom I've dealt all say that lawyers have an abnormally high rate of depression. I know more lawyers than climbers (how's that for a really damning admission?) but I know more climbers who've committed suicide than lawyers who have done so. I based my conjecture on that observation.


Big Wall climber
Apr 2, 2010 - 01:40pm PT
So I am a bit concerned. Do Antidepresives work?

Am I fighting a losing battle?

I really trying to hang in. But its not easy.


Dr. F.

So Cal
Apr 2, 2010 - 01:45pm PT
Studies have shown stress can be a factor of causing depression

Maybe the daily mental stress of climbing, being sketched out on a lead, long belays in the cold, the exhausting march to the top after a long day of slaving on a route, the devious descent, miles of boulder strewn talus fields that must be traversed

Climbing is very stressful a stress we happily volunteer for

My depression became severe after writing my first guidebook, the endless late lights working on it, the deadlines, the lose ends, maybe it was too much, along with my 40 hour a week job
Dr. F.

So Cal
Apr 2, 2010 - 01:52pm PT

they work, they are not a placebo

The problem with them, like depression, is expressing it in terms that the non-depressed can comprehend

When you are not depressed from taking them, you can't say if they are working or not, since you aren't depressed, or maybe you are still a little depresesd

Its hard to tell if they are working or not
after saying that

I really think you should try them

There is one major problem with them, and this is were so much confusion lies

They may make you MORE depressed for awhile, the first 4-6 weeks are tough, thats when the teenagers commit suicide, They think "it should be working, but its not, I'm just getting worse, there is no hope, I might as well kill myself"

You have to give them time to build up in your system

Social climber
santa rosa
Apr 2, 2010 - 01:55pm PT
just heard on the "news" that it is now legal to fly a plane on anti depressants - not sure what to think about this??

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Apr 2, 2010 - 02:29pm PT

I'm not saying that antidepressants always work. I'm saying that professional help almost always makes things better, and I'm quite certain it will help you.

I might as well tell my full story, because I hope that if you see how low depression took me, and therefore how far I've recovered, you'll see that what looks hopeless is not so.

Since 1991, I've had the highest legal peer-reviewed rating (Martindale-Hubbell "AV") and through the 1990's, at least, had a very admired, successful and lucrative law practice. Although I had momentary bouts of depression since at least 1994, they always went away on their own, so I didn't think I had a medical condition.

That changed in about 2002. Gradually, over the next few years, I grew unable to accomplish even the simplest of tasks at work without monumental effort. In addition, I slowly stopped climbing (a sure sign of illness!), playing the piano, cycling, and just about everything else that I formerly enjoyed. In addition, by then, my wife said I'd become very withdrawn. I slept inordinately. Both my wife and my secretary worried that I was suffering from depression, but I blew them off. I thought that I'd just snap out of it, and anything that was behind in the office would be cured by a couple of extra Saturdays of work.

I was wrong. Finally, in 2005, one client for whom I started litigation, but then stalled, had enough. She said she was coming to my office to see the results of the litigation I'd promised her. I knew it would take her about 45 minutes to get there. Desperate not to be confronted with my inaction, I made up a pleading, and even faked a court order. That latter act was one of forgery and counterfeiting under federal law, and something no sane lawyer would do. I gave her the "order," hoping to shut her up long enough for me to do my job.

Well, the good news was that the immorality of my action really did wake me up. Within a few minutes of her leaving my office, I was so appalled with what I'd done (or to my way of thinking, what I'd become -- a liar) that I immediately sought professional help. A few days later, I went to the court to tell them what happened. Unbeknownst to me, my client was already there, and the court clerk suspected what I'd done before I fessed up. My client had also already gone to the FBI, and my legal goose was cooked.

By then, though, I was hooked up with a physician and a psychologist, each of whom shared my Christian faith. I got good medication and good therapy. I also hooked up with a group of lawyers dealing with mental health and substance abuse issues (although the latter has never been an issue for me, the two often go hand-in-hand. Probably a form of self-medication.)

Talk about an inopportune time to regain my sanity! I saw in my immediate future at least the following: (1) the end of my career; (2) the destruction of my reputation; (3) abject poverty; and (4) no discernable way out. In fact, reality was worse in all respects except no. (4).

My wife had not worked outside our home or my office for almost 20 years, and had let her nursing license lapse. I knew my law license wouldn't remain for long, and I had already decided that I could not take any more new clients, and that I needed to refer all of my existing ones out so that I could end my practice. Unfortunately, our debts still remained. I had to file personal bankruptcy. I resigned from the Bar. I was indicted for forgery, pled guilty, and was sentenced to six months in federal prison. Had I known all this when I first went for help, i certainly would have seen no way out.

Nonetheless, several amazing things started happening then. First and foremost, friends started coming out of the woodwork. Virtually all of the legal community lined up to help me. My church rallied around us. My family did the same. Instead of rejecting me, they came to me. It was like being at my own funeral, and hearing all those nice things people say about you. Perhaps as importantly, they all knew that something had been wrong with me, and were delighted that I was finally doing something about it. Although I cannot excuse my dishonesty, everyone I care about has foregiven that dishonesty.

As my mental ability returned, so did my business opportunities. I had been, in addition to an attorney, an econometrician since 1973. My old roommate from college needed econometric help, and came to me. We're still working together. In addition, after serving my sentence (which I treated like a vacation, but that's another story), two lawyers I'd trained 20 years before hired me to be a sort of in-house scholar. The combination of these two jobs, plus my wife rejoining the nursing profession, is providing sufficient income. More importantly I am the happiest I have been in decades. Even though I'm 58 and had to start over at age 56 when I got out of prison, I see a good future for us.

I hope you conclude that whatever is in your future, it can't be much worse (and, I hope, it is much less worse) than what I went through. We all can help. You're not facing a hopeless battle.

Unfortunately for my comments, but fortunately for my wallet, I need to do some paying work now, but email me if you need someone who's been through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, but now fears no evil. That offer stands, by the way, for anyone dealing with depression.


Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
Apr 2, 2010 - 02:52pm PT
Wow, quite a story John. It seems there are a lot of these tales of woe on this thread. I won't tell my tale, because it pales in comparison to some on here, but it is fairly common and treatable, but each lesson is definitely unique and requires a unique approach. I'm not the first to say it. Let go, be patient and take help in whatever form it comes, and it comes in strange forms. Some folks need to get pretty dark before they can accept the light.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Apr 2, 2010 - 03:32pm PT
My hat is off to John for the above post. You're the man. Way to live.

A5 aid climbers, I can't see doing that if you aren't depressed, but I guess some like it anyway.

Depressed or not, we're all struggling for meaning and satisfaction in life. We have to give heartfelt contemplation on where fulfillment comes from to find the path to wholeness.

Sometimes the depressed people have a leg up on that, because they know they aren't happy, others are just sleeping



Trad climber
Sacramento, CA
Apr 2, 2010 - 03:41pm PT
I am touched by all the caring encouragement posted to this topic... a great bunch of folks!

Juan, if you are in a place where you need to do something now, call your doctor - or the suicide prevention hotline - now.

Tell them you think you are depressed, that you are having dark thoughts, and that you need help. They will evaluate your situation and provide referrals and/or drugs.

USA National Suicide Hotlines
Toll-Free / 24 hours / 7 days a week


TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889)

Come back to this forum when you need encouragement. Contact those that have offered and if possible speak to them.

One step at a time, Buddy!

Apr 2, 2010 - 03:45pm PT

You don't think for a moment that JuanDeFuca doesn't know all this sh'it!

He's a real smart guy who knows the art of trolling ......

Social climber
Apr 2, 2010 - 03:49pm PT
Alex has a good point...
"2. your mind still holds images / sounds / scents of times when u werent so depressed

3 - a believable achievable forward vision to get u to one of these not depressed places in your future picture of things is possible

This is the exact method I use when I get struck by the fog of depression..

I have a memory of a time when I was not in the fog.. that thought is usually enough to keep me going...

Just know that you will make it through.. in your own due time... it may be difficult, and a huge struggle.. but it's possible to make it through without thoughst of JC (which ultimately is your own inner voice assuming the possition of JC) or with presciption drugs (which is a nice way of putting off until tomorrow when can be cured today....) I don't think that paying a big drug company for your personal "happy thoughts" is the way to go, but that's just me. Like Alex says...its an expense that I cannot afford.


Trad climber
The state of confusion
Apr 2, 2010 - 04:01pm PT

I'm truly sorry to hear the experiences you've been having.
It's not fun. I know. Like John above, I experienced a couple of
bad periods in my life. Almost to suicide the first time, but fortunately
got help--both psychological and medical. Twenty years later my
mother died, and my fiance dumped me almost simultaneously.
I didn't want to die, but I wished I were dead. But I was already
in counseling and had a good doctor. I was ready to check myself
into the hospital for it, but managed to get enough help and not
have to. I really feared that. But the meds are a strange thing.
I've been on quite a few of them, and it takes time to find the
correct one and the right dosage of it also. Sometimes the side-effects
really suck too.
But I urge you to get professional help--those guys know what they
are doing, but if you aren't happy with a doctor, get another one.
With counseling and finding the right medication you can get the
spring back into your step and the joy of life.

I hope you'll get the help and work things out.
My very best wishes to you.
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Apr 2, 2010 - 04:16pm PT
Whether or not Juan/Jeff/LA is trolling, this seems to have been a useful discussion for many. I don't have any personal or family experience with this affliction, but think it's quite likely that some relative or friend has had depression, even if transient and not apparent to others. Noting that Canadians tend to be more reticent about discussing such personal matters with family and friends, let alone others.

One lesson seems to be that these sorts of things may be more prevalent than might be thought, aren't all that well understood, and that there's nothing "wrong" with having depression, or seeking treatment. Another seems to be that there are a variety of treatments that may help, but many are external. Some may be able to pull themselves up by their soulstraps, but not many. And that the treatments may include time, exercise, volunteering, community and commitments to others (family, friends, climbing community...), informal or formal therapy (friends/family/colleagues, minister, psychologist...), religion, philosophy, and drugs.

And the real lesson is that there's nothing wrong with seeking help, or at least finding out if there's reason for you to seek help.

If there objectively is an increasing prevalence of such afflictions, then you have to wonder about the values of our society. Shallow materialism doesn't correlate well with happiness, and there's some evidence that once people are reasonably comfortable in the material sense (per capita income about half of the US), they don't get happier with more money.

Gym climber
U.S. of fukkin' A
Apr 2, 2010 - 04:19pm PT
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