Depresion - Not Something one can beat with will power alone


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Social climber
Apr 2, 2010 - 07:02am PT
I woke up this morning at my alloted hour only to do the "roll over" and go back to sleep.

I still have to drink my coffee and look at the taco before getting on with the day.

Wow, too much posted on this thread to process without the proper dosage of coffee and time.

Juan, I am glad you are trying another med; hope it helps!
Lynne, thanks for your words and I will get back later.

To all others. This is an interesting discussion of a problem that has plagued me since birth. Positively I have to take responsibility for not helping myself as much as I could. The concepts, other than meds and exercise written about here need to be explored.

I am interested in the workbook and the meditation.

I hope this thread continues in the direction it is going. It could lead to some help for all that suffer from this problem; not only that I am starting to believe that the time I have spent on the taco, when I should have been doing other things is looking like time well spent... )and I haven't gotten to the music thread yet to see what new music I might find).

Dr. F I wish I had of expressed my disagreement with your opinion with some other words.

Trad climber
Apr 2, 2010 - 11:14am PT
Lots of wisdom here, particularly from Largo.

I'd like to point out to Dr. F and other chemical fundamentalists that few if any neuropharmacologists (and yes, I am one) believe the strict chemical imbalance hypothesis of depression any more. In fact there is a substantial amount of data to suggest that most of the SSRI's are merely active placebos (that is they do something because they feel like they are doing something). Of course even that effect is useful, but to imagine that serotonin re-uptake is the reason for some or all depressions is almost as unscientific as the belief in jesus you deride. Depression is profoundly complicated and we scientists do not understand it very well at all. What is evident is that talk therapy is as effective as drugs in the short run (less than a year) and that the combination of drugs and therapy is better than either alone. Longer term it is not clear if drugs are useful at all: the few studies that have been done on longer term anti-depressant treatment have shown that patients are more likely to be depressed if they are on the drugs for more than a year. It is also clear that exercise and social support are equally important in predicting the outcome of a depression. That is the science, the rest isn't subject to our scrutiny as yet and much of it may never be, as our present scientific model isn't well adapted to the study of our inner lives.

Trad climber
Apr 2, 2010 - 11:44am PT
JL - your last post was really (from my perspective) excellent. You took a series of totalistic diatribes (from Dr. F), and brought reason and reflection back into the mix. I've really come to respect (for lack of a better term) your "appreciative agnosticism" on matters of spirituality and psychology.

And Juan, hang in there, man. You've got some great support from some pretty thoughtful and caring folks here. There are clearly quite a few who can look back at moments that seemed pretty bleak, and recognize how they got through--and are getting through. I hope their stories encourage you.

Tom Patterson

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Apr 2, 2010 - 12:34pm PT
Dr. Hunter wrote: "Depression is profoundly complicated and we scientists do not understand it very well at all."

Another factor with depression and other challenges that have a strong physical aspect, is that the symptomology changes a lot, meaning you're often looking at a moving target. One day it can be a sleep disorder, another day, anxiety, yet another, the blues, and so forth and so on. The reason why the strict medical model isn't especially useful for this is beause actual diseases don't present like this. For example, diabetes doesn't look like gout one day and influenza the next. So in this regards, listed to the scientist: "Pofoundly complicated."

It's my impression that understanding how causality works in human life is totally key in treating depression and other disorders like this. What's more, changing how we feel is the consequence of doing things diffrently - a little understood dynamic, and one of the reasons that talk therapy is often of little use in this. Also, the idea opf working a "program" is very useful in this regards.


Mountain climber
Monrovia, CA
Apr 2, 2010 - 12:44pm PT
Dr Hunter,
Thanks for an excellent and succinct post! :-)
Thanks to Moosie, Allez, Largo, and others.

This can't be good:
"FAA: Pilots allowed to take antidepressants on job"

Apr 2, 2010 - 12:49pm PT
What is Chemistry, then?

The term comes originally from Arabic, then was latinized to
"keme" = "value". It is the science of matter. (Wikipedia)

Odd how the science of matter is named in terms of value.
A very insubstantial term to describe our most staunch idea of density.

One asks, Why the depression?
Perhaps, it is not a "matter" of Why, but of Who...

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.

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.



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.

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