Wednesday, September 10, 2014

World Suicide Prevention Day - Keeping It Simple This Year


Two things I wish everybody knew:

No matter how you package it, shaming suicide does not prevent it, and

Understanding never pushed anybody over the edge.


photo of candles by Nevit Dilmen, used under the GNU license.

Friday, August 15, 2014

On Surviving - I Wish Robin Williams Had

Nearly a week's worth of reporting on Robin Williams' death, some of it heartfelt, some of it educational, some of it ignorant bloviating -- even if you have been living under a rock and not heard any coverage at all, you can name the bloviators, can't you.  By now, my readers surely wonder, What is the Prozac Monologues take on his untimely death?

I have written reams on suicide and suicide prevention.  Click on those two links and take your pick.  But skip the Suicide Monologue, at least for another week.  It is inappropriate for another week.  And if you do go there, then mind the humor alert.  I am serious -- about the humor alert, that is.  Some of you won't find it funny. It wasn't written for you.

But before we abandon the suicide conversation in favor of the next thing, let's expand the frame.  Here's the deal.  Of all the people alive on the planet today, 50,000,000 will, at some point in their lifetimes, struggle with suicide.

I can't say we will think about suicide.  Those of you who think about it in passing seem to think that the seriously suicidal think.  There is lots going on inside our burning brains.  But thinking doesn't really describe it.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Antidepressants and Suicide: Defending Prozac

It amazes me how many research scientists seem to have flunked statistics.  Or ought to have.  Me, I majored in the liberal arts.  But at Reed, even those who took Science for Poets would be required to rewrite some of the scientific papers I have read on the subject of antidepressants.

So the vocabulary terms for the week are observer bias and confounding variables.  No worries -- lots of pictures.

Clinical Experience in Defense of Prozac

Let's say you are a doctor treating 100 patients with severe depression.  You give them all antidepressants.  It seems irresponsible not to, doesn't it.  Thirty of them get better.  Fifteen do not make a follow-up appointment.  You switch the fifty-five who are still trying to another antidepressant.  Another fifteen get better.  And another fifteen do not make a follow-up appointment.

Over the course of a year, you get up to fifty whose depression is remission and ten who are still struggling.  You don't know what happened with the forty who are no longer seeing you. They couldn't afford treatment; they didn't like your face; they couldn't find parking; they got worse on your medication. You have no idea.  But you have fifty patients who think you saved their lives.  You feel pretty good about yourself, don't you.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Antidepressants and Suicide: A History

Do antidepressants prevent suicide, or do they cause it?

Yes.

Well, maybe.

It's a no-brainer, right?  People who commit suicide are depressed.  Take away the depression, and how better than with an anti-depressant, and you decrease the risk of suicide.

So what's with the question?  Here is the story:

History of Antidepressants

Thursday, April 3, 2014

How To Tame Your Mind -- Ruby Wax

It's like training a dragon, only harder.

Ruby Wax nails depression: when your personality leaves town, and suddenly you are filled with cement.

She nails the problem: our brains don't have the band width for the 21st century.  Nobody's brain does.  Yours doesn't, either.

And she nails the solution: learning how to apply the brakes.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Richie Cox, Rest Easy Now

Any story worth telling is worth improving.

Richie had a fisherman's philosophy when it came to story telling.  He inspired, or provoked, or was co-conspirator in many of the Bar Tales of Costa Rica.  The following excerpt is my tribute to this cowboy/hippie/mystic who will be sorely missed.

Apology

There is one particular table at the Pato Loco where deals get made over American breakfast.  Mama, who has overheard a lot of deals being made, said, “It gets so you can tell the real ones from the ones who are all talk.  Paul, he never talks about his deals.  He’s one of the real ones.  But that Jerry who reneged on the house, you could tell he was all blow.”

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Christina the Astonishing!

Basil the Great vs. Christina the Astonishing – Lent Madness begins.

Saints and Lent – is Prozac Monologues straying from its mission, reflections and research on the mind, the brain, mental illness and society?  Hardly.  First, note the Madness in Lent Madness.  Then wait ‘til you see the saints.

Lent Madness

The forty days before Easter are traditionally a time to focus on one’s spiritual growth.  But there is a looniness built in from the start.  Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday – count them – 46 days.  Oh yeah, Sundays don’t count.  Does that mean I can smoke and eat chocolate on Sunday?  Opinions vary.

And once you are debating whether you can smoke on Sunday (does it depend on what you’re smoking?), you have already leaned in the direction of madness.  Leaning, leaning…

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Suicide Is Not a Choice

I peered over this very overpass on the Eisenhower Expressway.  Years ago, there was no the fence along the top, just a rail.  It was pie that brought me there.  Yes, pie.  It was Thanksgiving night, and the holiday was ending without pie.

Of course, it wasn't a reason to commit suicide.  Of course, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.  Don't treat me like an idiot with your clever lines.

No, pie brought me there, but that was not why I would jump.  Pie was a match, a tiny little three letter match.  My problem was a brain filled with gasoline.  And one tiny match, that I should have been able to snuff with my fingers, threatened to ignite it and send me over the edge.  The shame of being powerless over one tiny match poured on more gasoline.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Suicide Immoral? WTF?

Guilty pleasure: Eavesdropping on psychiatrists talking with each other about us loonies.  Like many guilty pleasures, it is not always good for my well-being.  But I am endlessly curious.  And it has yielded a number of blogposts in the OMGThat'sWhatTheySaid thread.

My go-to source for blog material is Psychiatric Times.  It reports the latest news and research in Loony Land.  It reflects on the practice of psychiatry.  Sometimes it turns to mud wrestling.  Oh, the good ol' DSM days!

A couple months ago, one of the editors, Ron Pies wrote a brave (foolhardy?) editorial inspired by Jennifer Michael Hecht's book, Stay: A History of Suicide and the Philosophies Against It.  Intending to provoke, he titled it, Is Suicide Immoral?  Let the rumble begin.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Andrew Solomon on Depression

I want to be Andrew Solomon when I grow up.  Only briefer.  And funny.

In the absence of blood tests, people with depression have words.  And Solomon has a lot of them.

Solomon's book The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression sits by my bedside. I'll get through it someday soon, because I want to tell potential publishers that Prozac Monologues is Noonday Demon, only briefer.  And funny.

Solomon went around the world to report how the world experiences depression.  Yes, he found it everywhere.

Last week when I told my doctor I was going to Costa Rica, he asked if I would feel better there.  You know what? People in Costa Rica get depression, too.  Hard to imagine, I know.  But it's true. They have psych wards and therapists and ECT and everything in Costa Rica.  I have a card for a psychiatrist in San Jose, just in case.