RISE: “Drunk On Emotions” (Chapter. 3)
Written by Andi Bazaar, Co-wrote by Oliver Schofield | Jan 13, 2023
"how do we treat those suffering with mental illness, addiction or contemplating suicide?" — We encourage people to speak up and ask for help, yet we continue to implicitly: shame, blame and roll our eyes when it comes to the topic of mental health unless it affects us personally.
- In 2017, suicide was the second leading cause of death for American Indian/Alaska: Natives ages 10-34.
- Violent deaths, unintentional injuries, homicide and suicide account for 75% of all mortality in the second decade of life for American Indian/Alaska Natives.
- The overall death rate from suicide for American Indian/Alaska Native adults is about 20% HIGHER compared to non-Hispanic white population.
- American Indian/Alaska Native females ages 15-19 have a death rate 3x higher than non-Hispanic white females in the same age groups.
These stats are staggering.
These stats are sad.
These stats need to change.
“Indigenous mental health is a priority, learn more on the resources available and how we can band together to make an impact.”
I would like for all of us to ask ourselves: "how do we treat those suffering with mental illness, addiction or contemplating suicide?"
We encourage people to speak up and ask for help, yet we continue to implicitly shame, blame and roll our eyes when it comes to the topic of mental health unless it affects us personally.
We design systems where people have to be in their worst possible state before they can access help and when they tell us they’re thinking about it suicide we use coercive approaches to detain them and lock them in wards that dehumanize them.
I work in this same system and frankly it sucks, those suffering deserve better. Yet advocating for change can be difficult when there are powers interested in preserving the status quo. After many years of advocacy I have concluded that the key to transformational change is inclusive leadership, leaders who believe in decentering themselves and codesigning systems of care where patients and caregivers are decision makers.
No more excuses, no more empty promises. It is past time for us to make the system work in the ways that it needs to, "how can we do it together?"
My brother Austin would have turned 21 today but he died by suicide in 2011 following a long history of dealing with substance use disorder and major depressive disorder, every year on his birthday I talk openly about mental health.
I talk openly about it because he was never able to do so, Austin was ashamed of his problems and felt like he had let everyone down that he hurt people. So he stuffed it all inside, if he had received good help and enough of it he might still be alive today and Austin’s disorders were not his fault.
Sure, he chose to try drugs but one doesn’t choose to be addicted. One doesn’t opt in to a genetic predisposition to addiction, one doesn’t select the kind of deep, guilty depression that often follows.
I try whenever possible to use complete terms, I try not to say “Austin was an addict” or even “Austin had depression." — it’s not that those terms are inaccurate but I try to give full names to substance use disorder and major depressive disorder.
I do that because the full name conveys that these things are illnesses, nasty and persistent ones too. These illnesses and other mental health disorders tend to not just disappear on their own, there aren’t always white blood cells for these.
“There are treatments, though. Talk therapy, medication, counseling on nutrition and exercise, mindfulness, stuff like ECT and TMS.”
Nothing works for everyone, if something did we’d all just do that but a lot of people can find through an often frustrating trial and error period that they find something that is effective in learning to manage this stuff.
I try to be very open about my own struggles with persistent depressive disorder, sometimes called "Dysthimia."
I’ve found ways to manage it that work for me, including therapy and meds, still sucks but I’m in control of it. Now look, this world we live in has problems big ones. Being a person in it a person with love and sympathy and empathy and kindness is fucking hard, the bastards are everywhere and it can feel like they got us outnumbered.
The bastards don’t have us outnumbered, by the way. There are more good people than there are bad people, they’re just often not as noisy as the bastards. Bastards are noisy, we all know this.
PLEASE KNOW THAT DEPRESSION LIES:
- it tells you that you’re not worth getting help.
- that you’re not worth saving.
- that people don’t want you around but it can be hard to refute those lies because they’re dressed up as your reality but they’re lies.
You are worth it, people do want you around and even now you might be struggling to believe that. So try this...
Let’s say you met someone for the first time, total stranger and they say they’re life is worthless that they don’t matter. "What would you say?" — you’d probably say no, you do matter. You’re just going through a hard time.
You’d tell them not to give up on all there could be in the future, you’d try to find a way to help them as best you could. You’d do all that because it’s evident that people deserve help and hope. So apply that to yourself, give yourself at least the kindness you’d pay a stranger. We need you and yeah, this place (gestures to world) is pretty fucked up sometimes so we need you to lend a hand, we need allies ande need people with hearts. Please stay!
Okay, that’s all the “from the heart” stuff, in closing a brief section on “getting help” a term that is important though nebulous, so you should get help and where to start?
Psychiatry is a logical step but getting an appointment with a psychiatrist can be horrible, often booked out many months in advance. If you can wait, okay but if you’re in a really bad spot not even necessarily suicidal but just all fucked up from what your mind is doing. Get to a regular MD, family doctor. Hell, an urgent care clinic, mental health is health and they can help you.
Maybe that Doctor can’t solve all your thought pattern problems and trauma management but they might be able to get you to a more stable place while you piece out the trickier bits over time.
If you’re looking for a therapist and are in the US, I’ve had good luck with "Psychology Today’s" search function. You can sort by gender, language, proximity, insurance and specialties. They've improved this a lot.
Often, there’s an indication if they’re taking new clients, have a wait list or are just not taking new people. You can also check their years of experience and where they trained.
Find some you like then email them asking *again* about insurance, new client status, in-person or video. Summarize why you’re looking for a therapist and what you hope to gain from it. Some may not even respond, so send a few.
If you find someone and they don’t seem to get you, maybe they have different cultural perspectives or it just feels of and you can dump them and try again. It’s fine and happens all the time.
Also, try to learn family history. See what people have faced and how they dealt with it, successfully and unsuccessfully. Also, see about making health adjustments to diet and physical activity and keep track of how those go. It might be revolutionary! It might not do anything, keep track!
Thing is, the people in the most distress are the people least equipped to do all the freaking work to get the help. It’s so much work, often in the byzantine and infuriating for-profit American healthcare swamp but you’re worth it and feeling better is worth it.
There was once a very real chance I wouldn't be alive right now, it's been more than 11 years since my nearly successful suicide attempt. My recovery is thanks in large part to an amazing support system, talking about mental health is important as is getting help.
Some of you might be shocked by this, it's not a secret. I've been speaking out about mental health and my own experiences for years now, that you might not know from the surface I've dealt with depression is an indication you might not know someone around you is suffering.
It's easy to talk about waiting lists and the healthcare system and the cost of psychotherapy and any number of other political and policy-related issues pertaining to mental healthcare, these are important but the first line of defence is the individual.
Pay attention to those around you and pay attention to yourself, I'm still amazed at how many warning signs in myself I ignored for months before my thinking got so insurmountable there didn't feel like a way through but there was and I'm still here trying to kick butt!
I live with chronic clinical depression, over the past 11 years I've spent a lot of time at rock bottom alone and ashamed. I've contemplated suicide, I've felt completely and totally hopeless and convinced I wasn't worth anything.
These feelings are what make depression so deadly, this disease had me convinced I didn't deserve to live because it tricked me into believing I was worthless and it shamed me into keeping all of it a secret. Finally telling someone and asking for help is what ultimately saved my life, talking about it really does help seriously.
“It’s scary but having the courage to say all of this out loud takes away its power, for me the battle will never be over but refusing to keep my depression a secret is how I fight back.”
“Depression is a serious mental health condition that can have a wide range of negative effects on a person’s life, young people with brighter future end their lives by committing suicide because of depression.”
IN THIS CHAPTER TALKS ABOUT SIGNS AND WAYS TO AVERT DEPRESSION:
- unexplained or aggravated aches and pains.
- feelings of hopelessness, helplessness or worthlessness.
- anxiety, worries, irritability, a pervasive sense of guilt.
- memory problems, slowed movement and speech.
- thoughts of suicide or preoccupation with dying.
- lack of motivation and energy.
- loss of interest in socializing and hobbies.
- an inability to function or neglecting personal hygiene, skipping meals, forgetting medications.
- seeing or hearing things that are not there.
Being active physically, mentally and socially can help reduce or prevent depression. These can be achieved by:
Stay active — it may be just as effective as antidepressants in relieving depression even small things like light housework or short walks can help.
• Staying in touch with others — even if you don’t feel like it, keep in touch by phone or email, get out of the house, or invite a friend or loved one to visit. It’s never too late to build new friendships, or join a group of people with similar interests.
• Getting enough sleep — 7 to 8 hours each night are recommended, lack of sleep can lead to an imbalance in neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine which are involved in mood regulation. This can contribute to the development of depression.
• Eating healthy meals, making it a point to avoid too much sugar and junk food. Certain nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins and magnesium are important for brain health and may help to improve mood.
• Volunteer care for a pet or find a good movie or book that makes you laugh, volunteering can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment and can also help individuals feel more connected to their community and environment. Interacting with a pet can also provide a sense of comfort and can be a source of enjoyment and pleasure.
• Seeking support from a mental health professional — they can provide you with an accurate diagnosis and work with you to develop a treatment plan tailored to your needs.
• Self-motivation and positive self-talk — saying good things about yourself and rewarding yourself for completing a simple task, tune in to the tone and content of your inner chatter and work on changing it if it isn’t positive.
Self encouragement works better, it can be difficult to find motivation when you are struggling with depression as the condition can sap your energy and make it hard to find joy in things.
However, it is important to remember that recovery from depression is possible and that taking steps to manage your depression can lead to significant improvements in your quality of life.
A SPECIAL THANKS TO:
- Dr Oliver Schofield, MD (Co-wrote/Consulting)
- Dr Seth Gryffen, MD (Consulting)
- Timothée Freimann schofield (Photographed)
- Clayton Euridicé Schofield (Editor/Journalist)
- Scott Wynné Schofield (Publisher)
- Henrie Louis Friedrich (Analyst)
- Jwan Höffler Conwall (Art Interior Design/Model)
- Hugo-licharre Freimamm (Ass Director)
- Shot at GQ’s Studios by José Schenkkan and Benjamin Schenkkan Joseph
- In appearance by “Jwan Hoffler Conwall”