September 7, 2005
Remedial Psych 101
I have opinions about certain things. About many things. I think hundreds of busses should have been waiting at southern borders ready to move immediately into areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina, if not in the area beforehand to remove mandatory evacuees. I believe that no matter how good looking and fit she is, there is a time early in life when a woman needs to stop baring her midriff; for men, there is NEVER a good time to start. I also believe the consumption of lame alcoholic beverages, namely Smirnoff Ice and Zima, should be done in the privacy of your own home, much like removing nose hairs and treating your corns. But there are few things on which I have such firm opinions as I do on narrow-minded views of mental health.

As of late, I’ve been reading an increasing number of fellow blogger (mostly blogette) accounts of struggles with anxiety and depression. Most of these writers have friends, family and significant others who think their problems are simple mind-over-matter issues.

Don’t go on medication for that; it’ll change your personality. Well I sure as hell hope it will. She can’t get out of bed everyday, hasn’t washed her hair in a week, snaps at her loved ones over white vs. wheat bread, and can’t concentrate on her TPS reports at work. I do hope these prescribed meds make her more level headed so she can work on getting back to being the person you knew and loved.

There’s no reason for you to air our dirty laundry. The effectiveness of both “talk” cognitive-behavioral therapy and psychotropic medication has been demonstrated repeatedly in the literature, as have the sometimes-devastating effects of letting these illnesses go untreated. But she does have to talk about what she is experiencing to get help. Besides, your loved one already keeps a blog and tells 300 of us everything about her daily life and yours. You’ll get over her seeing just one doctor.

You should be able to think your way out of this. If you can’t, you are weak. Hear ye, hear ye, people who do not understand the struggle. Asking someone who suffers from a psychological disorder to snap out of it is akin to performing surgery on your own genitals. How is “helping” yourself out of a clinical depression any different than resetting your forearm after it has snapped in half? You could probably do it, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Person, but it sure would be easier if you had someone to help you, wouldn’t it? The very resilient Lance Armstrong didn’t think his multiple cancers away, did he? You wouldn’t direct the people of New Orleans just to swim out of town, would you?

Views such as these take us back to the ill-conceived eras of Bedlam and lobotomies. Instead of empowering the people you love, these opinions – and that is all they are – undermine what efforts those with an illness have made thus far, whether they be telling you they have a problem, or even more difficult, seeking external help for it.

Help in the best way you can. Enlighten yourself by exploring empathy and what the literature says about the many effective treatments now available for those who are suffering. If that doesn’t suit you, it might be best just to hole up with your Zima and keep your opinions to yourself.



Blogger A Unique Alias said...

The very resilient Lance Armstong cycled his cancers away . . . or doped them away, we're still not sure of that.

I really hate it when people discourage others from seeking treatment . . . too many times I've heard someone with a serious problem, be it bipolar disorder or whatever, say something like "well, yeah, but everyone tells me that stuff changes you!"

Blogger babyjewels said...

Kris, this is why I love coming here. Sometimes you crack me up and sometimes you make me think. I can't help but draw lines to Tom Cruise's horrendous public flogging of brooke shields regarding antidepressants for postpartum depression. I do think anying public swaying to his way of thinking failed. thank god.

Blogger Mel said...

Kris, Thank you for this.

You have no idea how much it irritates me that people fail to recognize that depression and anxiety are a sickness, and they need to be treated.

I firmly believe that if it wasn't for my medication, I wouldn't be here today.

No one is perfect. People who haven't experienced depression or knew someone who suffered can't understand that. Depression is real. And without treatment, the results of depression are devestating.

My brother suffered from it. This is where he is today.

And if that doesn't enlighten you, then I hope you choke on your Zima.

Blogger JJ said...

Brilliant. Sometimes I wonder why I'm taking these pills. Do I really need them? Isn't it a sign of weakness? I'm strong enough to do without these. Six months later I'm back on them.

Blogger Lushy said...

Hear, hear. I was finally strong enough to realize that I couldn't simply dig myself out of the hole I was in by myself and that I needed help. I view my decision to try medication as one of the strongest things I've ever done for myself. To hell with anyone who thinks it is a sign of weakness.

Anonymous Jorge said...

Kris, this is one of the best serious entries you have written.

I will stand beside Kris on this one, backing her up with my arms folded over my chest ready to draw my opinions and hold then sideways at yo' face - Gangsta Style.

Indeed, the fact that people spout idiocy about what they don't know about is a sad statement on the declining state of human empathy. It would be excellent if there was a way to temporarily allow these people to feel what the afflicted have to go through every day.

Anonymous Neil said...

I think those "snap out of it" views have certainly lessened in the past 25 years, as most everyone is pretty familiar with psych terms from TV and movies. If anyone is still stuck in the past, it is probably men, who would be most fearful of expressing any concerns. I've met a couple of cancer patients through a family group I went to in a support capacity. The women were very open about how they felt about their breast cancer while men with prostate cancer would only show up if their wives dragged them there -- and hardly talked about their concerns.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you. This was wonderful to read.

Blogger erin said...

kris, you are tom cruise's nemesis...THANK YOU for that.
he's hot but needs ducktape over his mouth.

Blogger Kim said...

Well said K. You tell 'em. It's amazing that the people that are closest to those struggling are the ones that don't really see how big the problem is. Maybe they don't want to see.

And I always drink my Smirnoff Ice at home. Gawd, I wouldn't want people to know I actually drank that stuff..

Oh, wait...

Blogger Danielle said...

It has gotten to the point where I don't tell people, even some of my closest friends, because I don't care to hear what they have to say about meds or any of it. I feel as though it puts me in a position of weakness and vulnerability, and that I am inevitably judged for it.

Great post Kris.

Blogger Sizzle said...

kris, that was so right on. you are awesome. i concur!

p.s. ewww zima.

Blogger t2ed said...

You forgot about telling your problems to either a bartender (who just listens) or the town gossip (who tells everyone else in town).

You gots to think outside the box in your treatments.

Blogger Biscuit said...

Kris, will you talk to my MIL? Her advice regarding my son with Aspergers was "What would happen if you just told him to cut it out?" Another gem, "Just enroll him in school and don't say anything. Maybe they won't notice." Uh...yeah.

Blogger Oh, that girl. said...

As a person who suffers from the afore mentioned illnesses (i.e. clinical depression, generalize anxiety, panic attacks, etc.) THANK YOU! Thank you for finally saying what us "crazies" have been trying to say, but of course when your "crazy" no one listens. Its so frustrating when people treat you like that, or when they refuse to understand these are illnesses and not just "issues". I am so glad that someone understands. Thanks for not being one of the "Assholes". And thanks for not asking me "have you taken your medicine today" when I am just truly having a bad day.

Smooches from the pooches (and the husband too)

Min Pin Momma

Blogger KlevaBich said...

I just wish that Tom Cruise could somehow be given medication to make him feel the effects of post-partum psychosis and/or everyday clinical depression. Then let's see how Mr. Can't-Act-Worth-A-Damn feels.

My personal contribution to the cause is to be very open about the fact that not only am I on Zoloft, I will most likely be on it or a similar medication the rest of my life. And without it I'd be in the same basic condition as Mel's brother.

Thank you so much for writing this.

Anonymous Bad Maria said...

Kudos Kris! I have a sister who is on meds and another one who should be - manic depression runs in the family. It is a serious chemical imbalance in the brain and needs to be treated with chemical correction. End of story. Telling them to "cheer up" (or "settle down") does not help.

Not sure what all the Tom Cruise references are - I mean I understand that he is very "snap out of it" kind of guy but was there a recent idiot moment that I missed? Oh, and the New Yorker had an article a few weeks ago "My Dog is Tom Cruise" that was hilarious. Total stream of consciousness from a dog's POV and it sounded exactly like Tom Cruise.

Blogger Megarita said...

Right on right on...there are so few things in this world that can be alleviated. Why not help make these few things better because we can!

Brava on a marvelous post, lady.

Blogger Kiki said...

I think I was one of the blogettes who inspired you. Am I right?? If so I'm so stoked. I couldn't agree with you more.

And for a person suffering through the disease to have to hear things like that--it makes it worse tenfold. Like your brian is different from all the normal ones and you should be able to control it. Bulls*it.

Thanks kris.

Blogger Bobby said...

Thanks. That is all.

Blogger mysterygirl! said...

Yeah, you gotta love all the mental health "experts" who come out of the woodwork in those situations... those decisions should be up to the person seeking treatment and their healthcare provider (or as many healthcare providers and regimens as it takes to come to a positive conclusion).

And fuck Zima. I hate that fucking drink.

Blogger Wicked H said...

Standing Ovation!


toasting you with my Tanqueray & Tonic

Blogger Spinning Girl said...

An uber-fabu and very important post!

Thank you for bringing this to our attention!

Blogger lizzyjane said...

While I disagree with you wholeheartedly on the ZIMA issue, I must thank you for such an important post. Mental health issues are not merely an "attitude problem".

Blogger NARDAC said...

I agree with you on everything in this post.

What actually frightens me is how I think mental health on the large scale seems on the decline. I think, as much money as we spend on pharmaceutical research should also be spent on examining maybe social/work-related causes to our depression. Is there something in our modern society that is exacerbating our already fragile mental state?

Blogger Bridget Jones said...

I am so with Mel and the others up there.

Have been on Paxil since 1981 and have nooooo desire not to take it (also a bunch of other meds for heart related issues).

Unless a person's been through the hell of chronic depression, where thoughts of suicide are actually a sign of getting better, I'm not going to listen to any rants about self sufficiency/pull yourself out of it. Thank heavens at the ripe old age of 53, can pull that off pretty well.

Thanks for writing this post. It's about flippin' time someone wrote this.



Blogger nutty said...

Great Post of the Day. *clap*clap*

Blogger still_figuring_out said...

i agree. there are many bloggers now who are suffering from depression, and i think blogging is a way for them to express themselves without being judged! where i stay, people still think that to even suggest someone getting psychiatric help implies they are mentally insane! they don`t understand there is a difference. a very good post indeed.

Blogger Miss Penny Lane said...


You are my new favorite! You are a great writer, and I thank you for your good common sense regarding treatment. I can't wait to get back on health insurance so I can continue mine. Tom Cruise can kiss my ass...

Blogger Patsy Darling said...

I'm thinking people who drink Zima should be shot. That stuff will kill you. You know you're right all these people are quite depressed, it's starting to get wweird in blogland.

Blogger deanne said...

You know, I never wanted to do that on my own blog -- I always got a little bummed when I saw a fave blogger either kill their blog entirely, or 'take a break' (which I can't think of without having Ross Gellar in my head yelling "WE WERE ON A BREAAAAAK!!").

And then I go ahead and do it myself, and go on hiatus.

The issue for me, is that I know the reasons why I'm in a funk, and I'm 80% sure of what I need to do to get out of said funk. And I can chop it up with a billion people and get their opinions on what course of action I should take, but what I really need to do, is be comfortable with the course of action I choose to take - sort of like trying on different dresses, and seeing which ones fit and which don't.

Am I babbling? Someone slap me!

By the way, I love the shiny new template, but the olives make me hungry (and thirsty).

Blogger Slade said...

Thank you, sista, for writing what has been on my mind for years now!!!! I am a firm believer that people who have not been in the shoes of depression or anxiety or some other mental disorder, REALLY TRULY don't know what it is like for us who have. It is a constant struggle...some days are easier than others. I just want to scream, I'M NOT CRAZY, DON"T JUDGE ME!!!

Great post Kris!

I wanna give you a big hug and kiss.

No tongue though, I don't know where you've been.

My verification word was: mbgldc

Which is Algonquin for "Zima?!? Not even elven Legolas bitches drink that crap. Nancy boy!"

Blogger Alecia said...

Well Said, Kris. This hits extremely close to home for me and I'm sure many others. I think depression is a much more widespread problem than people are aware...and yet it is so rarely discussed openly.

Blogger Hope said...

I'm commenting even though this post is a few days old. I love it! I didn't need anyone to ask me these questions when I contemplated therapy and medication. I questioned myself, convinced if I needed therapy and medication I was weak, but I let my mother convince my otherwise, and it was one of the best things I ever did for myself. Someone who has not been through depression has no more right to tell someone who is depressed to "snap out of it" any more than a "layman" has to try to diagnose a cancer patient.

Blogger Bethalow said...

Amen Sister- you are so dead on- I like your attitude and I am so glad I stumbled across this blog...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many of our modern drugs have harsh side-affects and cost the “earth”, so the next time you come down with a cold or the flu or ways to relieve stress, why not try a gentle alternative that costs next to nothing?

Instead of immediately forking over large amounts of money for over-the-counter drugs, go to the kitchen cupboard and see what you can find to relieve your symptoms including ways to relieve stress.

Here are some helpful hints for ways to relieve stress …

A simple hot compress applied to the face is very soothing to those throbbing aches and pains of a blocked sinus, while a few drops of eucalyptus oil on a handkerchief can provide welcome relief for similar conditions. While supplements of vitamin C, D and zinc will shorten the lifespan of a common cold, a hot lemon drink is also extremely good. And be sure to cuddle-up in bed when you have a cold, as it will make the body sweat out the germs.

Cool lemon juice and honey are a great soother for a sore throat and gives the body much-needed vitamin C at the same time The juice of one lemon in a glass of water is sufficient. Melt the honey in a little hot water for ease of mixing.

A smear of Vaseline or petroleum jelly will do wonders for those sore lips and nose that often accompany a cold.

A 'streaming cold' where the nose and eyes water profusely, can respond to drinking onion water. Simply dip a slice of onion into a glass of hot water for two seconds, then sip the cooled water throughout the day. Half an onion on the bedside table also alleviates cold symptoms because its odor is inhaled while you sleep.

People prone to catarrh may find that chewing the buds from a pine or larch throughout the day will clear up their condition in just a few days.

Do you suffer from sore eyes? If your eyes are sore from lengthy exposure to the sun, try beating the white of an egg and then spread it over a cloth and bandage the eyes with it. Leave the preparation on overnight. Soft cheese (quark) is also a good remedy for this condition.

For those unpleasant times when you suffer from diarrhea, two tablespoons of brown vinegar will usually fix the problem. Vinegar can be rather horrible to take, but who cares! The problem is more horrible. Vinegar can usually be found in most people's cupboards, so you don't need to worry about finding someone to run to the shop for you in an emergency.

Sleepless? Instead of reaching for sleeping pills, which can quickly become addictive, try this: Drink only caffeine free tea or coffee starting late in the afternoon.. Go to bed earlier rather than later, as being overtired tends to keep people awake. Make sure the bedroom is dark and quiet. Use only pure wool or cotton sheets and blankets. Polyester materials can cause sweat and make you thirsty (if your child constantly asks for water throughout the night, this could be the reason).

And don't watch those scary movies just before retiring! If you still can't sleep, make a tea of lemongrass or drink a nightcap of herbal tea containing chamomile. It's easy to grow lemongrass in your garden or start a flower pot on the balcony for ease of picking. Simply steep a handful in boiling water for five minutes. Honey may be added for a sweetener.

Of course there will be times when you do need modern drugs, so if these simple remedies don't have the required affect, be sure to see a health care professional.

ways to relieve stress

Blogger acoach2 said...

Great blog about anxiety disorder. I also have a website about anxiety disorder
Stop by if you get time.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a anxiety treatment site/blog. It pretty much covers ##KEYWORD## related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

Anonymous Jurgen Nation said...

The hell? Why is a post from '05 showing up in reader?

Anyway, as you know I am unrepentant about discussing these issues. For those who don't like it or think I'm whining on my blog, leave. What the fuck are you doing somewhere where you don't want to be?

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