Howie Mandel Pushes for Mental Health Reform

We saw this video on Ellen today, in reaction to the recent Las Vegas shooting tragedy.

Howie makes several great points in this short interview, and provides a fresh perspective on events like this, but also for mental health and how it is treated. He expressed strongly his favoring in a change to nevada marijuana laws in the treatment of mental illness.
The most poignant part of the whole segment though is when the audience begins to chuckle, thinking he had made an off-the-cuff joke, and he stops them and puts them in their place. This highlights the issue; that so often mental health is a source for humour that the stigma will almost always be there, where its difficult to get people to take it seriously.


Stand on your own two phantom feet

Two weeks after her 41st birthday, Sue Cook’s life changed for ever.

She was on a pheasant shoot when she was injured in a freak accident.

A woman standing near her failed to unload the unused cartridges in her gun.

As she put it away, both barrels went off.

‘I looked down and stared at my left wellington boot. I couldn’t see blood, but it appeared to be on fire,’ says Sue, now 45, a marketing specialist in Stamford, Lincolnshire.
Sue had her leg amputated.

Four years on, she is struggling to cope — and not just because she has lost a leg.

For though it isn’t there, the missing leg causes Sue constant pain.

‘It is excruciating,’ she says. ‘I have a constant burning sensation down through my leg and foot, even though neither of them is there any more.

“Phantom limb pain is now understood to be a consequence of how the nervous system adapts to damaged nerves and the loss of a limb, and affects around 59 per cent of amputees. However, it is still poorly understood and difficult to manage.”

Phantom Limb Syndrome has been well documented and publicised and those that are still fully-limbed can understand how amputees could still imagine that their limb would still be there. But understanding is not experiencing, and I can’t begin to pretend I know what it’s like to have to go through it.

However, as I was walking through my home suburb this morning, it got me thinking of a way that others might be able understand the darkness those of us with depression go through.

Early in my battle I was told by a so-called friend that I needed the hard word and that I should learn to stand on my own two feet, rather than rely on them to always be there for me. Such comments essentially lead to the destruction of the friendship, which certainly hasn’t helped with my illness at all.

But it got me thinking about standing on my own two feet. Earlier this week, my wife showed me an article from Conquer Worry.
In it, the writer describes what depression is like for them, and it is reasonably accurate for me too.

They write:
“For me, this is Depression. This is how it has felt for me. It’s as if I could see the possibility of living a happy life, and all I had to do was break the surface of that water. But I didn’t. It’s not that I couldn’t do it, because I don’t think that I tried. And people judged me, and blamed me for not trying. It wasn’t that I couldn’t break the surface of that water; it was that I couldn’t even try.

It took all of my strength (in fact it took more strength than I thought I had) just to get up every day, go to school, go to work, and crawl back in to bed. It was a living hell, a nightmare. And they were right, I wasn’t trying. But they didn’t understand that I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. I wanted to, I really did. I just couldn’t.”

You see, now that I look back on it, I found (and still find) the comments from my friend to “stand up on my own two feet” insulting. It’s not that I didn’t want to. I just couldn’t try. I couldn’t do it. Not on my own.

It got me thinking of what I used to say about my situation. You wouldn’t ask a man with a broken leg to walk without some help.
Taking this one step further, you wouldn’t ask a man with no legs to stand up and walk (while in recovery). It’s not that he doesn’t want to. It’s simply that he couldn’t. He might even feel like his legs are still there, but regardless, he can’t bring himself to walk. Even though his mind might create the sensations of having legs, it doesn’t change the physical limitations because of his situation.

In some ways what I’m going through is the reverse of this. My legs are fine, as is my body. Physically I feel in as good a shape as I have been in the last 10 years. But I almost have a phantom mind. I may want to be better. My body is completely better. But no matter how much I want to, I wasn’t trying. Because I couldn’t. I can’t. And while my body gets up every day, and gets ready for work and school, and takes me through my day, my mind doesn’t want to and doesn’t try. It can’t, and so it won’t. Everything else tells me my mind is there; but it’s not. It’s phantom.

For now.

Related Reading

WW1 surgeons could do little for amputees’ pain

The amputees in agony from limbs no longer there

When Depression Feels Like Drowning


Dead to Me

“You’re dead to me.”
A saying we use to dismiss someone when you’re annoyed, angry or pissed at someone at a level that you never want to see them again.
The hardest thing is having to say this about someone who you like, someone who means something to you, someone who you still consider a friend, someone who is a loved one.
This completely removes the ‘good-riddance’ aspect of the saying, and replaces it with the kinds of feelings experienced when loved ones pass away. Grief. Agony. Pain. Sorrow. Anguish. Sadness. Depression. Emptiness.
All normal and acceptable for someone who is no longer with us.
Inconceivable, and inconsolable when you know this friend – this loved one, is still alive and well; just not for you.

Depression: When You Understand

I used to think suicide was a way to get attention. I’d threaten it to get someone, anyone, to notice me; to take me seriously.

Then I experienced it. A mate I’d spent time growing up with hung himself. His funeral still leaves an emotional scar on my heart; hundreds of young folk with an amazing outpouring of love that was unknown to him, but also too late.

It made me sad; but also figured it was an easy way out, cheap, nasty, and so unnecessary. It made me see those who end it themselves as selfish, wasteful, ungrateful, and almost ignorant as to the pain they impart on those left behind. I didn’t have much time for people like that.

Then I began fighting depression. The murky black fog that consumed my entire world suddenly made suicide a reality. Not in the sense of going out and measuring a length of rope, but in the sense that I finally understood. To me, every conceivable option to usually simple problems was way out of my reach. I could hardly see across the room, let alone deal with the next day, next week, or even contemplate how to get help or get better. It was completely crippling; physically, emotionally, mentally. But it made me see how suicide becomes the only option for some people.
>During my fight; three celebrities took their own lives within a year of each other. Charlotte Dawson, publicly ridiculed and berated; but also suffered from depression. Philip Seymour-Hoffman; one of the best character actors in my lifetime, overdosed whether on purpose or by habit, was relentlessly plagued by both addiction and depression. Both can fuel each other.

Related image

This week the world reels in shock from the death of Robin Williams, one of the most eccentric and eclectic, yet incredibly versatile comedic actors this world has ever seen. He too was plagued by addiction as well as depression.

Each and every time I have felt more connected to these peoples fights and plights; I’ve been able to empathise on a level I never could before; because I completely understand what they must have been going through. Whilst I of all people know that every case is different, and come with different triggers, emotions, and outcomes, having experienced this I can at least understand the type of pain that afflicts them. While the rest of the world is plagued by black and white portraits and famous idyllic quotes from their acting days, I can only sit and hope that one day there will be a day where people are so much more aware of others around them, that they are able to show love, show care, show kindness in such a way that suicide is no longer the only option left for those who are troubled by these demons.

And these are just those who have made it in the public spotlight. No doubt there are countless more who have taken their own life; in this country and worldwide, in similar circumstances. It made me realise that if this can happen to the rich and famous; to those with the world at their feet, but also the ways and means to get help, then it can happen to anyone, no matter how well they think they can cope or how strong they think they are to hold it together.

It made me realise that suicide is not a selfish option. To those people at that time it is the only option. It is a reality that no one wants to face, but has become so intensely real for them that they are left with no other choice. I can no longer blame anyone for taking the easy option out through suicide; because I know what they have already endured for them to get that far gone.
It has made me realise the need for people to be more open and real with each other. There are those that want to help out there; but they can only help if they know and if they are enabled to help. There are those also who are too petrified to ask for help because it puts them in an incredibly vulnerable position of complete humility. Don’t abuse that trust if it’s given to you. If you can’t help because you too are struggling; reconsider. You will find that actually, someone who understands what you’re going through because they too are going through it can be the best help both of you will get.

Those with mental illness; We’re not dark. We just feel intensely inadequate. We’re not untouchables. We just feel out of touch with reality. We’re not scary. We just feel scared and alone. We’re not some other being. We are just human; just like you; except we’ve stood in a torrent of darkness for so long, that shadows have become our friends and the light is just another shade of black. Sure it is hard to overcome depression, but I firmly believe it is possible, I recently started learning about the benefits of CBD honey, I’ve heard of a lot of people using cannabidiol, depression is a mental trap. And it takes time and patience to rewire a depressed brain but I’m willing to do what ever it takes to get passed it.

Be a brighter shadow for us; one of flesh and blood. One of three dimensions and not a flat silhouette on the wall. Be a friend to those who need it most.

CBD oil for depression

CBD for depression

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