Depresion - Not Something one can beat with will power alone


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Trad climber
Nov 16, 2012 - 04:10am PT
My climbing partner killed himself. He was clinically depressed and would not take prescribed meds. He was 45.

Trad climber
Nov 16, 2012 - 01:56pm PT
I have suffered a few periods in my life where I could not sleep for months on end. It just hammers a person and makes living day to day very difficult.
I was lucky enough to know the real cause of this state. It was always work related, working too hard, working in the wrong situation, work stress etc.
I am fortunate that I was able to go to part time work(60%) in blocks so I have 12 days off at a time. The time off means I can spend lots of time in the outdoors, do a lot more climbing, and take some good holidays. This has the effect of cleaning my brain so I am enthusiastic and very productive when I get back to work. My productivity per hour has increased so my employers are actually getting a good deal.
People are reluctant to talk about their problems because we don't want to be seen as weak.
If you can identify the underlying cause of the issues then there is the possibility of fixing things.

Trad climber
Nor Cal
Nov 16, 2012 - 02:14pm PT
I suffered what felt like a bout of depression in the 90's when 'we' invaded Kuait. Listening to NPR describe bombs falling while my children ran naked thru the poppies in the meadow. This lasted several months and resulted in alienating myself from my family and friends. I found relief one day in about ten min. when I came across the mental health chapter in 'The Better Homes and gardens guide to family health'. I know that my problem is not the same as anyone else necessarily. but to gain that insight saved me from who knows what. Oh yeah. then I found climbing!

Trad climber
Yosemite, ca
Nov 16, 2012 - 03:42pm PT
So what was your insight Cove?

climber a single wide......
Aug 12, 2014 - 10:24am PT
On the wings of Robin Williams- and in memory of the OP Juan de Prow Solo- I thought I'd bump this thread.

My experience w the Big D was late '10. Heavy multiple family & marriage stuff, serious biz challenges, then I got real sick (whooping cough) conspired to send me south. I was not exercising, got hooked on Ambien (which frucked up my sleep cycle). Psyc meds probably made things worse, tho Wellbutrin helped pull me out.

Friends made a big positive difference. Dave Bruckman was always trying to get me out mtn biking. Tony Yeary was in my corner. Pat Nay’s door was always open. Ditto Tarbuster Roy’s telephone. I recall at the ’11 Flanders Fest, Dean Cragman was super encouraging trying to get me to attend in spite of the fact I could barely climb out of bed.

3 years later, I could not have imagined life being as good as it is. The below photo is NOT a depressed man, no….

Credit: Sewellymon

Somewhere out there
Aug 12, 2014 - 10:32am PT
Look, the fact that you've been through what you've been through personally should be the evidence I point to.
The fact that you are here to write this should be enough to stick with it. A new idea is just around the corner, a new way of thinking about this happens.
If you notice yourself starting to cycle your thoughts, shut it off with a hum (secret - you are in control of your head more than you think).

Keep it up

Trad climber
dancin on the tip of god's middle finger
Aug 12, 2014 - 10:42am PT
thanks for the bump and the success story, swelly.

my trip is cyclical.
one week i'm conquering my world, and then some,
and the next week i recede into a self-imposed beating.

i recognize it,
and have dabbled with ill-coping mechanisms.

for now, i just ride it out,
and await the return of the my hyper-glow.

the highs and my accomplishments during such
are what emotionally drag me thru the down times.

i forsee a time when
i am less able in the body,
and thus will become more
prone to extended lows,
as i will lack the verve
to re-ignite my dim torch.

we'll see, huh.
when the light shines.
and we'll see
when it doesn't.

i haven't a self-concern, nor a selfish care in the world.
i am very much extended in
building up and protecting my two lovely daughters.


Aug 12, 2014 - 10:49am PT
Some non-doc advice:

Get advice from your doctor. The internet is fine, but you get what you pay for here.

Be very wary of advice from those who do not experience your condition. Their advice tends towards the exercise/diet/sleep - everything will be OK line. Good advice for anyone, of course, but that often isn't enough.

Examining one's life philosophy (Choice Theory and Rational Emotive Therapy is a good start) can also help short circuit those downward spiraling thoughts.

If you're a diabetic, you take insulin. Nobody says boo. If you suffer from depression and you take meds, some folks still think that's not the proper course of action.

Ignore them. Do what works for you.

And track your moods daily. Jot down some data to track what does and doesn't work.

Here's one not a lot of folks think about: suicides often happen not when a person is most deeply depressed (when there isn't enough motivation to act - but when they are climbing out of a period of depression, and 'seem to be getting better', and so have the motivation to act.

Life may serve you a sh#t sandwich, and you may have to eat some of it, but you can also change restaurants.


Trad climber
dancin on the tip of god's middle finger
Aug 12, 2014 - 10:58am PT
i concur,
and i am methodically
instigating a vast change
in my domain:

i am selling the home that i built
and our mountain cabin;

and then reinvesting the equity
in a humble shack
with no land
and thus i'll be responsible
for 300 dollars a month shelter expense.

the old mid-life is creeping in (i'm 40)
and i am dodging crisis
by increasing my situational elasticity.

Aug 12, 2014 - 11:02am PT
And furthermore, f*#k all these tough-love shitlords throwing around words like "cowardly" and "selfish".

If you don't have depression, you need to shut the f*#k up about suicide. Have some empathy and thank your dear lord in heaven that you don't have it because it f*#king sucks.


Trad climber
The state of confusion
Aug 12, 2014 - 11:04am PT

Mental health issues are a huge problem in the US. . .
and still looked on as 'weakness'. . .
Unfortunately they're a real disease. . .

climber a single wide......
Aug 12, 2014 - 11:07am PT
Weeg- you still sober? That sure helps. My wife stopped drinking a year ago, and over the last 3- 4 months I am down to just dribs and drabs. I like that at 10:30 at night I can practice guitar and not be all muddy headed....


Aug 12, 2014 - 11:13am PT
Yeah, the drinking has to go. 100%. So much easier and less stressful than trying to 'manage it'.

Mos def step one. Gotta get to a baseline to track the positive results of any experimentation.

I know several friends who just have a glass of wine a night or every other night but let even that low level of consumption go. They report feeling incredibly better and more vibrant - more energy in the evening - brighter i in the morning.

They're always surprised at the negative effects of even a wee bit o' the sauce.

Oh, and it goes without saying - lose the guns and pills. The stats are grim there.


Trad climber
dancin on the tip of god's middle finger
Aug 12, 2014 - 11:17am PT
no. i hold on to my off-track love affair with beer.

but i only enjoy liaisons maybe twice a month;
the criteria being that
i have more than one day to myself.

i.e. the girls go out of town with mom,
or i'm allotted a daddy holiday in strawberry.

but basically i never drink around
anyone that i love.

i get along just fine with my inner dirtbag.
it's those around me whom love me that clash
with my filthy heart.

Trad climber
Aug 12, 2014 - 11:21am PT
Those that don't know, don't know.

Big Wall climber
Aug 12, 2014 - 11:23am PT
juan defuca will always be missed!


Trad climber
Central Valley, CA
Aug 12, 2014 - 11:30am PT
If anyone ever feels that they need someone to talk to, referrals, advice, please don't hesitate to shoot me an e-mail. In the essence of full disclosure, I am an MFT intern, will be graduating this Fall, and currently see clients. The common denominator in depression is feeling alone. There is a difference between being along and feeling alone. There is tons of help available, you just need to find the courage to ask.

As for the outsiders, the best thing you can do is to sit quietly and be an active listener. Ask questions to understand the person's world through their own eyes. Depression and personality disorders are a result of trauma. Most people have no idea how much the people around them are suffering. Suffering from years of physical, mental, sexual, and emotional abuse, and neglect. Don't make the conversation about yourself by telling the person how you got through a situation. You will lose that person. People don't like being told what they should and shouldn't do. Listen and have some compassion. You may just save someone's life just by simply listening and getting them to see a professional.

Gym climber
Great White North
Aug 12, 2014 - 11:31am PT
And furthermore, f*#k all these tough-love shitlords throwing around words like "cowardly" and "selfish".

If you don't have depression, you need to shut the f*#k up about suicide. Have some empathy and thank your dear lord in heaven that you don't have it because it f*#king sucks.


Aug 12, 2014 - 11:33am PT
Depression is largely genetic. The idea that it is the result of trauma - the 'you're damaged goods' theory - is dated and, in many cases, counterproductive towards achieving a better outcome.

The hard fact is - neither you nor anyone else can discern the root cause of your depression - but that doesn't matter. Searching for a cause you will not find is an utter waste of time and money. All you need to know is that you experience it, and all you need to focus on is what positive steps you can take in the present to mitigate it.

Listening is good, but dragging someone through whatever life trauma they've experienced can backfire and produce a worse outcome. Anyone want to re-experience those negative emotions based on a bunch of highly altered memories? "Understanding your past" doesn't necessarily equate to making better choices now, and that, after all, is the end game.

Such a strategy, while well-meaning, can also reinforce a victim mentality - not a great baseline for good decision making going forward. It can increase defensiveness and other socially counterproductive behaviors which can eventually make things worse, not better.

A much better strategy for many is to live in and appreciate the present, look towards the future, and realize the power we have to make choices to make things better - now.

The past is gone. F*#k the past. THAT realization is true power. That may seem like harder cheese at first, but hey, hard cheese keeps longer. Healthy and intimate peer relationships with people who 'get it' - are key to this process. Having a strategy to find and build these relationships, not always easy at times, should be a focus.

Do what works for you, of course. My somewhat limited experience with therapists was neutral results at best, and sharply negative results at times. The efficacy of therapists is very much in doubt in general. What I've found has helped far more was some group time with other folks in similar circumstances.

Anyone who feels 'crazy' might be reminded that 8 out of 10 Americans believes in angels.

Winged supernatural humanoids with magical powers who live forever. Jesus.


Trad climber
Northern California
Aug 12, 2014 - 02:27pm PT
^^^you had some very bad therapists

And, it is not true that depression is not correlated with early childhood trauma. In fact we know a lot more about that correlation than we ever did.

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