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When the World Goes Numb

May 17, 2013 Blog Posts 10 Comments
Today’s post is in memory of Marc Block, a fellow blogger at Divided Dad.

Marc_alone-300x300

Image courtesy of Dad of Divas

He left us too early; his life too short; his blog just starting. There is absolutely nothing about his story that isn’t tragic or sad, so I won’t dwell on it here. Mostly, because we don’t know the entire story, nor will we. And, I won’t be part of any conjecture. I’m only going to write about what I do know:

He took his own life. He left two beautiful children behind. He reached out for help.

(Click the image for another great post about male depression.)

 

 

Depression is a many splendored thing. It has so many faces, it makes it hard to diagnose and treat.

They say hypertension is a silent killer…so is depression. So often, we see commercials where someone is being followed by a sad little cartoony cloud. Depression gets the marketing makeover that almost tells people that being depressed is nothing more than a little bump in the emotional road of life. Hey, if you’re ‘bummed out’, we have a magic pill that can help. Or, they tell you that depression is a hole that never leaves you. EVER. Oh, and if you take our magic pill, you can tolerate the hole. It won’t go away, but you won’t care as much. Also, if the ads are to be believed, only rocks and women get depressed.

What are ads selling us?

What are ads selling us?

Add to that, the fact that everyone reacts to depression differently, and you see how problems can arise. While Marc and I weren’t fast friends, I remember when he started blogging and gave him a few shoutouts and well wishes. Then about a month ago, he fell off the grid. No one really noticed, because bloggers stop blogging for all sorts of reasons. Hell, I took a 6 month hiatus and no one noticed! So, someone going Blog-MIA for a month isn’t a big sign of problems. Also, his latest blog posts weren’t particularly ominous. Not everyone lets on there’s problems.

For instance: Hyperbole and a Half did a rather poignant piece on her slipping into depression. Then she disappeared for several months. You saw the writing on the wall…LITERALLY. And it was scary as shit, knowing something was wrong and knowing there was nothing you could do to stop what was going on. Then several months later, she comes back with the single best representation of depression the world has ever seen. There was a collective sigh of relief as tens of thousands of her fans saw her re-emerge on the other side of a black hole. Her struggles aren’t over, but at least there’s hope. Reading her post, you can understand that suicide sometimes isn’t so much a tear-filled anguished scream from the rooftops…but a silent sinking into oblivion just to stop not feeling things. Please go and read her posts HERE. NOW! It’s okay, I’ll wait.

You back? Good.

This all hit me pretty hard, actually. It brought up memories of wanting to commit suicide. Just wanting needing the hurting to stop. While I didn’t have the soul-crushing ennui, I can relate. And to think that there are people who, through no real fault of their own, are just done with life. They can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. They can’t imagine a time when they will ever feel normal or happy again. So, what do you do? Are you the one depressed? Do you know someone who is? How can you be sure?

I’ve called on the pros here. My sister is a clinical psychologist and I tossed a few questions her way. And despite the research I’ve been doing, she still managed to school me on some things. The first thing I want to bring up is…

Warning Signs:

According to the manual used by psychologists, psychiatrists and the like to diagnose mental health disorders, the DSM-IV-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 4th edition, text revision), a major depressive episode occurs when “5 or more symptoms of depression are occurring in an individual during the same 2-week period and represent a change from previous functioning; at least one of the symptoms is either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest in pleasure”

The DSM goes on to list possible symptoms. Below is a somewhat paraphrased version:
(1) depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report (from the person) or observation by others.
(2) markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
(3) significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., a change of more than 5 % of body weight in a month).
(4) insomnia or hypersomnia (over sleeping) nearly every day.
(5) psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day (observed by others, not merely the subjective feeling of restlessness or feeling slowed down).
(6) fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
(7) feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day (not merely self-reproach or guilt about being sick).
(8) diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
(9) recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent thoughts of suicide without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.
The severity of the depressive episode is determined by the number, severity, and duration of the above symptoms. A clinician should interview the individual also to determine that this is different than normal bereavement, is not caused by a medical condition or the effects of a medication or substance of some sort, and that the symptoms are significantly impairing to the person in most areas of life, like work or school and home.   If you read through this list you can appreciate that depression is not just feeling down or bummed out about something for a while. It is more severe, more impairing and affects every area. Everyone has times they feel sad. They do not necessarily have times lasting over two-weeks in which they, for example, can’t eat well, sleep, can’t feel pleasure, feel sad or irritable, or feel like worthless human beings. You also do not have to feel suicidal or have what’s called “morbid thinking” or recurrent thoughts of death to be depressed.

 

Another question I asked regarded the ‘types’ of depression…i.e. chemical imbalances, seratonin levels etc. And I learned that this is actually a debated topic in the mental health industry, but science is making some strides in clarifying things up for us.

I caution anyone from getting their information from just “anyone” on the web about any psychological condition.

The crux of the “type” question, I think, goes to the conflicting reports and research about causes for depression. Over the years psychology and psychiatry have struggled to adequately define depression for the public and the science is emerging and changing regarding causes. The result is a confusing and vague definition that changes based on who is describing it and what “camp” they may subscribe to in terms of “nature vs. nurture.”  As with so many conditions the research seems to be leaning toward a combination of nature or the genetic predisposition (e.g., a possible inborn tendency toward “chemical imbalance”, which is the lay term for deficiencies in various neurotrasmitters in the brain, such as serotonin and noeprinephrin that influence mood) and nurture, which is a complicated mix of how you learned to manage major stressors in your life via your family of origin and general environment.  Personally, I also believe it’s confusing  because mental health continues to be such a taboo subject. In certain cases I think it is easier to say, “I have a chemical imbalance, it’s a medical condition, therefore I can’t help it,” than risk judgment from oneself and other people who sometimes see it as some sort of moral weakness. No matter what camp you subscribe to, it is most definitely NOT a moral weakness and there is most definitely a biological component, even if that component is not the trigger for the depressive symptoms in every case. The National Institute of Mental Health and the American Psychological Association both have great public information that is research based about identifying depressive symptoms.
I caution anyone from getting their information from just “anyone” on the web about any psychological condition. Again, this is an emotionally and socially loaded topic and given that aspect you have to be an informed consumer of information. If your not at the point of being willing to talk with a professionally licensed psychologist, psychiatrist, or licensed professional counselor, then stick to websites that are ethically bound to release only professionally monitored and researched information in the field.

This is an incredibly detailed answer and yet only scratches the surface,

 

 

Next week we’ll be going over

Roadblocks to Treatment:

 

Resources:

The nice thing about the internet age is there is no lack of resources. But depending on situations, they can be a pain to look up. So, I’ve got several listed here.

HopeLine – Get Help Now

Motherhood Unadorned – Crisis Resources

You can also follow her on Twitter: @MotherhoodUnadorned

—————–

In an effort to raise awareness, several other dad bloggers have joined in and lent their voices to the conversation. Some of them have had family members who suffered through depression. Some of them went through it themselves. And some of them are still on their journey, navigating depression’s waters. Give everyone a visit.

Krazy Dad Memoir – Do Not Go Into That Good Night

Dad of Divas – The Time Is Now To Ask For Help

Clark Kent’s Lunchbox- Dump Truck Full of Dead Babies

Canadian Dad – The Day the Darkness Crept In

Blogger and a Father – The Solitary Confinement of Depression

Dad’s a Lawyer – Words From the Wife

The Daddy Files – Come Back to Me

Be a Little Weird - Recognizing Depression in Men for What it Really Is

Dads Round Table – Strategies to Fight Depression

The Rock Father –  The Death of DIVIDED DAD and the Pain of Depression…

(More to Come)

 

 


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10 comments

  1. I am so proud of all of you Dad bloggers for banding together to open up and share information about suicide. It’s so swept under the rug, but the more we can talk about it openly, the more lives we can save. I’m so sorry for the loss of Marc, and hope his story and your words make an impact on others.

    • diaper_dad on said:

      If all of our efforts save one person, then it was completely and 100% worth it. I just wish we could have saved Marc. I don’t know if anyone could have, but that I will carry that with me for a long time.

      • That is a HUGE part of the grief of suicide. The guilt that you couldn’t save them. It’s so hard to live with and recover from. I wish you the best on your journey of grief. I totally get it. I’m right there with you. Just know you’re not alone.

  2. Pingback: Do Not Go Gently Into That Good Night | KrazyDadMemoir

  3. Pingback: The Day the Darkness Crept In | Canadian Dad

  4. I’m so sorry to hear about Marc. Depression touches many families — and kudos to all of you who are using your platforms to open discussion and shed light.

    I showed my husband that Hyperbole and a Half post last week. He agrees — she nailed it.

  5. Pingback: Strategies to Fight Depression - Dads Round Table

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  7. Pingback: Dads Who Change Diapers – When the World Goes Gray Depression Pt. 2

  8. Pingback: It Hurts To Talk About (But Talk About It We Must) #SABD13 #suicideprevention - the robot mommy


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