Thoughts on Depression

I wanted to share that since my injury I struggle with depression and loss of a life and career I truly enjoyed. Yet, I am even more dismayed to find that anyone, including physician colleagues, have had to suffer for their honesty about undergoing treatment for depression....

I am not ashamed to say that I take an anti-depressant, obtain periodic counseling and seek advice from those around me to pull me through.  Like any normal human would, I have my better days, and I have my down days; I think this is part of life.  This trauma has given me a new attitude regarding depression.  While I previously thought the presence of depressed feelings would mean I had a character flaw or fault, I now know for certain that is not the case. Counseling, though not always enjoyable, is deeply beneficial (and is even a covered medical benefit!)  I have come to view anti-depressant medication as more of a legal performance enhancing drug; it helps motivate me to exercise, improves both my outlook and communication with my wife, children and friends, and does provide some optimism for the future.  As it turns out, if I am feeling better, then I am easier to live with, and can in turn be an encouragement to others. I believe that treatment keys in managing depression, beyond medication and counseling, are cultivating relationships with family and friends – that is more specifically being deeply connected with others, and goal setting for the future in regard to both physical (bicycling and exercise for me) and mental (future job possibilities, speaking, writing) goals.

Just mentioning the above thoughts brings me to recall the wise teaching I received in first year medical school, offered by Dr. Corcoran who at the time was in his 70's.  He believed the key to happiness and satisfaction in this life was having "Something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to".  Those words have stuck with me for over 25 years since I first heard them, and I do again and again find them to be true.  I also see that they are primarily "others focused", that is to say in following such advice it causes one to focus away from ones own problems and self concerns, to instead look outward to others and to the future.  I have found that when I focus on my life and look to my own interests and problems, it is most often then that I enter into that downward spiral of depressing thought.  Yet I tend to be most satisfied with life when I feel I have helped serve others - whether that be family, friends, community or others who have been traumatized. 

It is my experience that in staying focused on how I can bring hope to others, how I can share a bit of Christ's compassion and love, and how I can impact our family and our community - in these endeavors with the help of counseling, medication and a loving family, I have learned to live again and enjoy most ( > 99%) of life.

More on all this later...


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Tom Crane - March 29, 2008 12:50 PM

Great site Ernie. It will be interesting to see where this takes you.

Thanks for your help connecting me with the right folks for the blog. Also for all your support through every stage of this ongoing recovery - from sharing painful cracked-rib laughs over "Best in Show" while at Harborview, to cycling with me now.

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