Stigma of depression

The stigma of depression appears to be back. All the hard work by charities such as MIND unraveled this week. We still don’t know for certain what the undisclosed medical condition was on the torn up Drs notes that belonged to Lubitz. It is a tragedy for everyone involved – including his family and those left to bring back the remains. Maybe we need to think about why he felt he had to conceal an illness. If it is to do with mental health, then why did he not have more support? It took me years to ask for help with depression, anxiety and an eating disorder as i was so ashamed of  being this way. I was worried people would look at me, and treat me differently. Now i’m open about it i do get the odd person who doesn’t know how to process that information. That is not their fault and i don’t judge them. Mostly, since telling people about my mental health struggles i get others talking about theirs. At work if i have a client who is mentally unwell, and apologising for their behaviour, i explain about my own struggle. The more we share our stories the better things should be. However, since the crash in France things have gone backwards. The Daily Mail had a head line of “Madman in Cockpit” is utterly unacceptable, and means people who are living with mental illness will feel the need to hide.

It was great to read someone write intelligently on today’s Observer front page:

Britain’s most senior psychiatrist has warned airline authorities to avoid a kneejerk reaction to the crash of the Germanwings flight, insisting that depression should not lead to a lifetime ban for commercial airline pilots.

The intervention came as it was reported that Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot believed to have deliberately guided Flight 4U9525 into the Alps, killing all 150 on board including three Britons, had secretly sought treatment for vision problems that may have been linked to his history of mental illness.

Claims that Lubitz, 27, suffered a prolonged period of severe depression in 2008 and may have concealed continuing problems have prompted calls for those with a history of the disorder to be prevented from flying for commercial airlines.

In a sign of continued nervousness in the light of the tragedy, there were reportson Saturday of pilots offering personal assurances to passengers. One woman tweeted: “Pilot on my @Delta flight announces he and co-pilot are ex-military and ‘we both have wives and kids and are very happy’.”

Professor Simon Wessely, who is president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and an adviser to the British army, urged civil aviation authorities and airlines to avoid repeating the panicked reaction that has often followed similarly shocking cases, such as the crimes of the Manchester GP Dr Harold Shipman.

Since the crash questions have been raised about European Union regulations that permit pilots to fly for commercial airlines a minimum of four weeks after symptoms of depression have been resolved. Pilots are also allowed to fly if they are free of symptoms but on approved antidepressants.

Civil Aviation Authority documents seen by this newspaper estimate that around 100 commercial pilots in the UK have some history of depression, with 42 currently on medication.


Wessely told the Observer: “It is not a good idea to rush; it is like the response to Dr Shipman, an utterly bizarre and unpredictable event is not a good basis of policy. The procedures that they then brought in would not have prevented Shipman.

“I have dealt with some pilots with depression and when they recover they are still monitored. But the two I have dealt with returned to very successful careers.

“Why should they not? What does cause trouble is saying that if you have ever had a history of depression then you should not be allowed to do whatever. That is wrong, as much as saying that people with a history of broken arms shouldn’t be allowed to do something.”

Wessely added his voice to those of mental health charities who have raised concerns about the media’s reporting of the crash.

He said: “We are all concerned. There are two reasons why: there isn’t a link between depression and aggressive suicide, if that is what this is. There isn’t normally such a link. And second, because of some of the ridiculous things that are said.

“Piers Morgan said that it was a disgrace that a man with acute depression was allowed to fly. Well, they are not allowed to fly. There may have been some fault in the procedures that let this happen, but they are not allowed to fly.”

The investigation into the circumstances leading to the tragedy is continuing, with prosecutors announcing on Friday that they had found a torn-up doctor’s note covering the day of the disaster during a search of Lubitz’s homes in Düsseldorf and in the town of Montabaur.

No suicide note or claim of responsibility had been found, prosecutors said, but they claimed the evidence uncovered so far supported the theory that the pilot was hiding an as yet undisclosed illness from his employer.

On Saturday the New York Times reported claims from two sources said to be close to the investigation who claimed Lubitz had sought treatment for vision problems that may have jeopardised his ability to continue working as a pilot. One source told the newspaper the authorities had not ruled out the possibility that the vision problem could have been psychosomatic.

It was also reported that Lubitz’s father said he had been left “completely destroyed” by the theory that his son deliberately flew the Airbus A320 into a rocky ravine in the southern Alps on Tuesday.

Bernard Bartolini, mayor of the village of Prads-Haute-Bléone near the crash site, met the co-pilot’s family on Thursday, after the public prosecutor had spoken to victims’ families to break the news that the crash may not have been an accident.

Bartolini, who said that Lubitz’s family had travelled to the area before news of their son’s apparent actions had been disclosed, said: “The father was beaten, he is a man completely destroyed. He is taking all the responsibility for the crash on his shoulders. This is a man whose life has been shattered.

“It was painful to see, he was emotional because he’d lost a loved one but also because his son was perhaps the cause of all that tragedy.”

On Saturday a mass was said at the church at Digne-les-Bains, near the crash zone, in memory of all victims of the tragedy.

About 40 gendarmes and alpine search teams are still searching the two-hectare site where the Airbus ploughed into a mountain.

The second “black box” flight data recorder has still not been found.

The operation had to be halted temporarily because the clear weather meant the sun was blinding the helicopter pilots who are relaying searchers into and out of the zone and removing bags of human remains and evidence.

Clinging on for 5 more days

Yesterday really did make a mark on me. I stepped off the hamster wheel of life for awhile. The pressure was much less. Being me was still exhausting and awful, but the change in pressure was noted. Overnight i decided to take some annual leave. With the upcoming Easter break i can conjure 17 days off, with just 9 annual leave days used. I just have 5 more working days to get through. Each day is a struggle, and 5 seems a lot, but it could be worse, it could be 10 days before a long break. I know i have to be careful how i use these days. I know my suicidal thoughts might be worse if home alone, but i do need to take some time off and work through the muddle i’m in. I also need rest. I get up at 5.40 everyday (well the alarm goes at that time, but i’m normally up already), my job is very demanding, i have a long commute too. Maybe if i can recharge my batteries i’ll regain some fight.

A day off

Of work anyway, i still had to be up early for psychotherapy. This was as painful as yesterday’s session with Dr Shaggy. Next week Freud Dude is on holiday, and it feels good to have a break. I’m exhausted. We did discuss ending the sessions completely, which is very enticing right now, but i know will be a bad idea in the long run.
Not having to go to work after the session was such a relief. I met Ray in a nearby market town and just mooched. He’s had this week off and today was the only day i could take off due to staffing levels. We looked like a temperature version of the nursery rhyme, Jack Spratt and his wife (Jack Spratt could eat no fat, his wife no lean. So, you can see between them they licked the platter clean). I’d headed off for the 7.25am bus togged up in my thickest coat, big mittens, and ear muffs. I met Ray in Chesterfield as we were coming from different sides of the city…and he was in short-sleeved shirt, sans coat. I know he’s from the North West, but it was a bitterly cold day. He explained the sun was shinning when he left home and our porch was a sun trap…and now admitted his folly. It was lovely just wandering around. We’d not been for some months, which merited a hug from the big issue seller we always talk to. It was sad to see so many shops closed down. \we left early afternoon as my exhaustion was getting on top of me. Home for a snooze on the sofa. Ray was playing chess and i fell asleep to the comforting thud of the weighted chess pieces on the board, and the sound of the filter bubbling awake in the fish tank. Today has made me realise that taking a break from work, might be a sensible thing after all. The awful thoughts are still troubling me, but being in our home environment has been easier. For today the sharpness of this pain has been softened a little.

How to help a friend with depression – Hufington Post


Have you been there? Those who have aren’t likely to forget it.

Basic tasks become cumbersome monsters, impossible to conquer. Brushing your teeth can feel like a marathon. Sunshine is offensive. Rainy days make it worse.

My best friend suffers terribly from depression. It breaks my heart to see. At first, everything inside of me wanted to drag her out of her house into a world of sunshine and happiness. Maybe she would feel better if, well… she just tried? I talked to her about how beautiful life is. Reminded her of her countless blessings.

Cause that will totally fix it!

I wasn’t being helpful. In fact, I was being clueless.

Depression isn’t rooted in laziness or ingratitude.

And while my ideas weren’t innately bad — I realized I was trying to make myself feel better about her depression. I spoke with my friend. I asked outright: What should someone do for a loved one who is suffering? What helps?

Together we discussed her feelings. Her perspective. Her pain. And then we worked on some bearings that really helped me be a better friend. Today I’d like to share those with you.

1) Ask and Accomplish.
First of all — ask your friend: What is overwhelming you most right now?

Is she tired from a fussy baby? Are the dishes in the sink feeling like an impossible task? Maybe the laundry is piled up to the ceiling and it makes her want to hide in bed. Do it. Hold her baby so she can shower and sleep. Start a load of dishes. Fold the laundry. It’s amazing what a small thing can do for the mindset of an overwhelmed sufferer.

2. Understand that depression is a chemical, physical illness.
A whole host of “invisible” illnesses are caused by chemical imbalances of the brain. You wouldn’t tell a buddy with a broken leg to “just walk it out.” In the same way, your hurting friend can’t make the pain just disappear. Be kind. Be patient. Your friend is sick, in legitimate pain, and in need of support.

3. Offer your presence with no expectations.
Sometimes, doing little things can make a huge difference. Check in with a phone call. Drop off a Starbucks with a hug. Offer to babysit.

But do these things with no strings attached. No expectations. Your friend’s mood may not visibly brighten when you are with her — but that doesn’t mean you aren’t helping. Remember that her sadness is the illness. Try not to take it personally.

4. Notice — and celebrate — little efforts.
Did she get outdoors? Does her hair look nice? This may seem like common sense-but tell her! Little encouragements are very affirming to someone who is pushing back against their depression.

5. Know Your Limits
Your friend has an illness that merits professional intervention. You can’t be their doctor, so don’t try. Suggesting ways they could “feel better” is really a bad idea unless they ask. What you can — and should do — is be a shoulder to cry on, a hand to reach for, and a hug that is sorely needed.

Depression is hard. Not only for the sufferer, but for their loved ones as well. But you-as a friend — have a powerful opportunity. You can bring a little sunshine to someone stuck in the rain.

And that is a beautiful thing.

Dr Shaggy

I saw Dr Shaggy today. It was a long appointment. I’ve realised i thought i would be all fixed by the end of the psychotherapy. Now, i realise that although there are changes, not the massive change i thought there would be though. This is  tough realisation, and not improving my lack of hope. I see Dr Shaggy again in three weeks and to phone in a crisis. I need to think about going of sick and letting the home intervention team care for me. He did talk about inpatient admission (this was really scary – to think that i am ill enough right now for such a thing), but he feels the hospital environment would be counterproductive. I left exhausted and into a snowstorm outside.