Editor’s Note: The following was written by a longtime reader. In light of the Capitol Hill shooting death of Miriam Carey, this week, she decided to weigh in with her personal story as someone struggling with depression as are many of us in society.
As odd as it may sound, I can fully imagine Miriam Carey’s state of mind when she acted on what has been reported as “delusion” and postpartum depression.
One thing I can state with certainty, as someone who has battled chronic major depression for 20+ years, is medication interactions and incorrect dosages can lead to erratic behavior and mood swings. Often it’s not until weeks of taking a medication that one realizes the odd changes that in no way mirror their true temperament and personality. Upon hearing a news report that Mirian was prescribed both an antidepressant and another med for schizophrenia it all started to make sense.
I’ve taken nearly every medication created to alleviate depressive symptoms, I know how frustrating and seemingly hopeless the process of finding one that “works” with your body chemistry can be. Irrational thoughts, heart palpatations and manic behavior are some of the side effects experienced when seeking relief through medication. Often, just when a medication appears to be effective, one can experience an extreme descent back to a flat-lined furrow.
Many who deal with depression are skillful actors, masking disinterest, a severe lack of energy and an inner emotional rollercoaster. It’s not an exaggeration to say most days are spent dealing with depression in silence. When we keep this condition to ourselves, the changes tend to be seen as an attitude problem, introversion and a myriad of other polished descriptions that are often way off base. The truth is that we desire to wake up with a positive outlook, make the day work in our favor and enjoy the fruits of life….feel what we consider “normal”. Yet, when you’re in a barren valley void of understanding and support, weeks and months may pass before those around you muster up the interest and/or concern to ask how you’re feeling. That’s not to place the blame on others, but to say we have to do a better job at recognizing mood changes, not having a “get over it” reaction and being unafraid to lend a helping hand.
The magnitude of health disparities prevalent among Blacks is overwhelming. Millions of dollars fund research and statistics, yet the core issues remain, we’re over-medicated and under-educated in this area. Thankfully I’ve been able to maneuver the health system maze because of my background (20+ years in the field), but I fully realize there are countless others suffering due to the stigma of 1) acknowledging the need for help and 2) the mere presence of a mental health issue.
I’m sincerely thankful her precious daughter was unharmed and police officers were not mortally wounded, but can’t help but wonder how we failed her. We who, you may ask? We, as a community and nation, have to work towards eliminating the stigma through education amd general openness, remove barriers to accessing mental health services and care enough to reach out when we witness obvious signs of distress.
Will this tragedy be seen as an illogical act or what seems closely akin to suicide? When will we stop judging based on actions and address the core issue of why so many suffer without appropriate clinical treatment and counseling? Something tells me this won’t happen in my lifetime, but I’m determined to take action.
May Miriam’s soul find the peace it could not in the past couple of years.