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Offline PowerSlave

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Mental Health and the Stigma attached to it...
« on: November 15, 2018, 05:18:52 AM »
First of all, I hope that I'm not starting a post that has been covered in great detail in this sub forum. I've been a member of this forum for a very long time, and a thread completely devoted to this sort of thing doesn't come to mind. I'm also going to use this thread as an opportunity to share my personal story, and hopefully find some answers to help myself. There are a lot of amazingly intelligent minds with many varying political/religious viewpoints in this forum, and I'm hoping that these various points of view will be helpful when it comes to shedding light on some of the subjects that may arise in this sort of discussion.

I do realize that many people have shared their experiences with depression in the General section of this forum over the years, but I want to make sure that the discussion in this thread is free to move into the P/R direction if need be. I also realize that there are certain topics in this sub forum that deal with some of the things that I'll eventually be talking about, but I think that this topic deserves it's own thread for reasons that will hopefully become apparent.

One last thing before I really get started, I'm going to be sharing some experiences that are extremely violent in nature. I'm not seeking any sort of sympathy by revealing these things, because I may as well go shit in the ocean for all the good sympathy does for me. I seek enlightenment. These experiences have led me down some very dark paths over the years. From a certain point of view I could be viewed as a villain of sorts. That part of the story comes much later. I'd also caution anyone from reading this if that sort of thing has a bad effect on you.

The straw that broke the camels back as far as me sharing my story and looking for some answers in here was as I was watching a news report about the ex-marine that killed several people in a bar in California last week. The newsman gave some basic details of the shooter while some video taken from inside the bar during the shooting was playing on the video screen behind him. All of this is good so far. Report the news and some facts etc. etc...Then came the part that I always dread hearing. At the end of the report the newsman quips "It is expected that the shooter was suffering from PTSD." Like that just explained it all away. Paraphrasing (in my own words) "The guy did it because he was a crazy fuck!!! Be wary of the mentally ill because they'll mow you down while you're at the bar trying to pick up the local whore!!!"

I see this garbage in all sorts of media. Movies, TV and the news likes to cast people with mental illness as a time bomb just waiting to go off. Don't get me wrong. As my story unfolds, I will in fact reveal that some people with mental illness can be seriously dangerous. But the way that we're treated by media and society often times causes much more trouble rather than helping the situation. When things are presented in this way, the people that are dealing with some of these challenges feel extremely isolated. Agoraphobia is one of many symptoms of certain mental illnesses. Society's treatment and view of us makes that isolation very tempting. This ends up becoming a very self destructive coping mechanism, and worsens the problem in the long run.

This leads to something that I like to refer to as "The Cycle of Violence." In this instance, the word violence doesn't always refer to the basic definition that I think that comes to most people's minds. The Cycle of Violence are certain events/behaviours that are ultimately self destructive actions by the person that is dealing with the mental illness.

To really bring the point of this thread home, and hopefully achieve the end result that I'm hoping for, I'm going to share my personal history over several posts as time allows. Here we go...



Hello, my name is Jason. I was born in June 1973 in a small town in North Central Ohio. I'm the second of two children. I have an older brother that was born in '67 (like the PT song). My father served in Vietnam during the early stages of the war in the Navy, on a supply ship. I have no way of verifying this, but my mother has told me that his ship was close enough to the shoreline that they took fire from enemy units on the beach. I've made the assumption over the years that this led to him having mental illness issues after he got home. My father died (as I'll soon recount) when I was very young, and the vast majority of my memories of him is of him being an extremely angry man. Screaming non-stop obscenities, punching holes in the walls of our homes and breaking various objects were common occurence with him. My mother has also told me on several occasions that he was very different after he came back.

By the time 1976 came around he began delving into a serious drug habit. He had a loving wife, two healthy sons, two new cars in the driveway and a house in a nice middle-class neighborhood. The American Dream!!! But it wasn't enough to keep him from dropping into a deep depression, and turning to a chemical escape. By the end of that year he had quit his job, told his wife that she was going to have to support the family on her meagre salary and wouldn't shower for weeks at a time. Needless to say, my mother had had enough by the spring of '77.

She found us a small upstairs apartment across town. We moved out and she filed for divorce. I remember him coming over to talk to mom a couple of times a week, but he certainly wasn't there to see us. On one of his visits, right after he had pulled up, my brother was outside riding his bike. He said something to the effect of "Hi Daddy!" My father's reply was "Fuck you, I'm here to see your mother!" My brother was 9 years old at the time. You can imagine the effect this had on him.

This went on for a month or two until a night in the middle of June. Keep in mind, I was only a 3 year old child, so certain aspects of that night are spotty in my memory at best. But some of it is very clear.

He came over like he did many times before. It was dark outside, but me and my brother were outside playing with the downstairs neighbor's kids. It was almost summer, and a cheap apartment with no air flow was very warm at that time of year. I remember him pleading with my mother over something. I can only guess that he was trying to get her to back out of the divorce. At some point I had wondered into the neighboring yard and was standing underneath a pine tree. My parent's "discussion" had gotten louder throughout the time that he was there. My mother had grabbed my older brother, and was pulling him into the doorway to our apartment. I think that she was probably calling for me to come inside with them, but I can't remember for certain.

That's when he pulled a small handgun out of his pocket, put it up to his temple and said "Look boys, look what your mother made me do!" And then he pulled the trigger.

The rest of the night is a blur. There was a fire station on the corner of the next street, and I remember a few of us younger children running over there to get an ambulance. And I remember being back up in the apartment with my mom and brother. I kept trying to act like a doctor that I seen on TV and telling them "Daddy will be ok." The rest is gone from my mind until the funeral. One thing you can give my old man is his sense of timing. He was buried on my 4th birthday.

I was obviously in shock at this point. I remember a mysterious pain in my right leg that started about a week after the shooting. I couldn't walk and I was constantly crying. Mom eventually took me to the hospital and they ran tests and did x-rays. There was nothing physically wrong with me, and mom ended up telling me that it was growing pains. Of course, what had happened was too much for me to deal with on a mental level, so my brain allowed the pain to be manifested in my leg.

What kind of mental health services were available for him as a war veteran in 1977? I don't really know the answer. I do know that I didn't get any help for the after effects of his suicide. Can you help a 4 year old child that has just witnessed a violent death? I don't know the answer to that, either. My mother and brother certainly could have used some as well. But I don't remember anything happening at the time. If it was 2018 instead of 1977? I'd like to hope that the outcome would have been different, but I still see things about mental health that I find disturbing in our society all the time. Sometimes it's hard to have hope.

More in a later post...
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Offline lonestar

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Re: Mental Health and the Stigma attached to it...
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2018, 08:09:35 AM »
Definitely following, I'll read your post on my break. I'd also like to expand this to the stigma surrounding addiction as well, something I've had more than my share of battles with,if you don't mind.
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Online gmillerdrake

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Re: Mental Health and the Stigma attached to it...
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2018, 09:04:59 AM »
Wow....Jason, that is brutal. I know you said to leave the sympathy at the front door but it's tough not to want to offer that. Having suffered sexual abuse as a 9 year old (from an older cousin...always want to clarify that so no one suspects my parents or siblings) then having an interesting teenage career watching my parents marriage fall apart......I know I had some trauma that affected me greatly.....but always insist like you have for people not to 'feel sorry' for me or whatever. I guess that may be a victims response, I don't know.....but I always wanted to assert that I was fine and for people not to worry about it.

I know you spoke of where was the help for your Dad in 1977 being a vet.....but, in the aftermath of you witnessing that....what kind of 'help' did you and your brother get? Was there counseling involved? I'd imagine there had to be, right? I mean, does a small child believe his dad when he says your mom 'made' him do that?

I know there are a lot of people on this forum who have had their share of struggles and tough situations. Like RJ mentioned, addiction is something I've battled since my late teens. I'm thankful I never 'graduated' to the more hard drugs but I managed to do plenty of damage despite just staying 'content' with alcohol. And I know through counseling my addiction issue(s) were based in me completely ignoring what had happened to me when I was 9 and pretending it didn't happen.

Maybe later in the thread I can expand on the collapse of my parents marriage as well....that was a 'fun' time but it'd be a pretty long post. But I know that period of time really messed with me as well just due to what I witnessed....not even the fact that my parents divorced.


Anyway, thanks for the post and the thread Jason.
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Re: Mental Health and the Stigma attached to it...
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2018, 10:41:03 AM »
I know you said to leave the sympathy at the front door but it's tough not to want to offer that.

Yeah, count me in on that as well.


Offline Phoenix87x

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Re: Mental Health and the Stigma attached to it...
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2018, 11:03:53 AM »
That's some really heavy stuff, and I am sorry to hear that you went through that.

What kind of mental health services were available for him as a war veteran in 1977?

Honestly, I don't think there were any really. At least not that I know of.


Can you help a 4 year old child that has just witnessed a violent death?

I certainly hope so. To what degree, I don't know. A child's mind is like wet cement. Impressions are made upon it and then it sets to stone. Where as the adult mind is harder to break or fracture. I didn't have anyone kill themselves in front of me, but at age 4, I watched severe fighting, with things being thrown, glasses getting broken, violent screaming, rage. Car trips where screaming matchings between my grand parents would lead to my grandmother try to kill herself by trying to jump out of the car going 70 mph down the highway and then severe constant fighting deep into the night between my mother and her boyfriends. A childhood of constant sadness, disappointment and negativity, and it certainly shaped who and what I am today.

What you dealt with trumps all of what I experienced, but I can tell you beyond a doubt that what I witnessed fucked me up. All the way up until 25 I was on the verge of collapse. It was deep despair, apathy and nihilism and I thought it would be like that forever, but going forward, very slowly I started to work through stuff. Talking to people I trusted such as friends and family. (I've never talked to a therapist. Maybe it would helped but I always felt very happy with the support I got from friends and family), pursuing outlets to the frustration (going to the gym, motorcycle riding, snowboarding, playing music, hiking, martial arts and trying new things). Most importantly, I found a male role model that I now look to as a father, even though we don't share the same blood. I was truly lost before he allowed me to be a part of his family. I had no Idea what it meant to be a man, but have made leaps and bounds since then. And I am in a way better place then I've every been, but its still there to a degree and unfortunately probably always will be. And that I don't have an answer for at this point unfortunately. But some progress is better than no progress I guess, and I honestly feel better than I ever have and from 30 forward I felt genuinely and consistently happy for the first time in my life.


If it was 2018 instead of 1977? I'd like to hope that the outcome would have been different,


I would like to think so, but it all depends what the person has available to them as support resources.


 I've worked in a VA hospital and this is just from the perspective of what I saw there, but the care wasn't all that great. Treating mental health takes thorough dedication and its not like treating an infection, where you give some antibiotics and 10 days later its problem solved. Mental health can take months to years to treat and isnt' so cut and dry.

So a person would need a really dedicated therapist. Some are really excellent and some not some not so much, so it really depends.

Now the next point to consider is if the person is even willing to try and get better. Imagine you have kick ass mental health resources, but the person doesn't care or doesn't even want help. Then the problem will persist. Say for instance your dad had really strong and available resources to deal with any issues he was having, would he have wanted to or tried to take advantage of them?


Also, Divorce can break a man, (Regardless of whether he deserved the divorce or not). In your father's case he seemed not to care to much about losing his kids (which is heartbreaking, and its something I experienced with my biological father as well), But other men whom actually cared about their family have ended their life after they lose access to their children. It can be maddening. I've heard the term called being "zero'd out" where a man loses his wife, his home, his children and essentially his entire life and then descends into hopelessness and despair, at which point suicide starts looking like a way out. He feels figuratively dead already, so it ends up becoming literal death. And regardless of how the situation plays out,  the children are the true victims of divorce from what I have experienced


Maybe later in the thread I can expand on the collapse of my parents marriage as well....that was a 'fun' time but it'd be a pretty long post. But I know that period of time really messed with me as well just due to what I witnessed....not even the fact that my parents divorced.


I would definitely appreciate if you talked in more detail on that. What were your thoughts on it at the time, thoughts now, and how you think it ultimately affected you, and could it have been avoided. Could it have been reconciled? Should it have ended? Would you have wanted them to stay together despite the issues or was the divorce for the best? ect.

My parents were never married. He fucked her. Then left and never looked back and then I showed up, so I don't know what its like to see parents go through a divorce, but I can tell you for sure that having an empty broken household hurt like hell. 


Well, I think I'm rambling at this point, but I think this is a good discussion to have. And I hope that being able to share you experience Jason, gave you at least some solace. And if anything I said helped in any way, I would be happy that it did.

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Offline MirrorMask

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Re: Mental Health and the Stigma attached to it...
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2018, 12:23:10 PM »
I'm following this as well. I'll just throw in for now that I know that definitively there is a stigma about mental health, I see it discussed by friends on Facebook and it took me quite a while to realize (or simply I never gave any thought to it, just like you never think about accessibility until you're suddenly in a wheelchair) that depression is not being very sad or very melanchonic, and it's a legitimate illness that needs to be cured just like you cure the other body parts that malfunction.

The brain is an organ like anything else in the body, and if works bad, it needs to be cured just like you cure the liver or the heart. There should definitively be more awareness and information about all the kind of mental illnesses that there can be, and how to better deal with them.
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Re: Mental Health and the Stigma attached to it...
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2018, 12:57:48 PM »
Probably the one thing I'd like to see change in this country/world.   "Mental health" is as important as - and many feel like it's an integral part  of - physical health.   I know for me, I go to a therapist once a week, and find it as necessary as sleep at this point.   

Offline PowerSlave

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Re: Mental Health and the Stigma attached to it...
« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2018, 04:06:54 AM »
To answer some questions that a couple of you guys have brought up...

There was no therapy. My mother's answer was to make sure that we attended church regularly. She was brought up in a very strict Baptist home. To say that her views on politics and religion were/are extremely conservative would be a huge understatement. However, no matter what your views on those type of things are, I think that most people would agree that at their best they can only serve as a supplement to a strong home life. Unfortunately, she began battling some demons of her own. She would never fall down the hole nearly as far as my father did, but there were a few years after his death that she was deeply into the bar scene in our home town. Needless to say, our home life wasn't very good at that point. When I resume my personal story it will pick up at that point.

As far as me believing my father's last words? No, I never really gave them any weight in reality. They did bother my mother, however. Knowing that, I once used them as a weapon in an argument with her when I was a teenager. Kids can sometimes be assholes, and I was professional grade when I wanted to be. Me, my brother and my mother would also call each other John (my father's name) during arguments when we would really want an insult to sting. Dysfunction at it's finest  :lol

Before I go any further with my future posts on the subject, I think that it's very important for me to say that my entire childhood wasn't a shitshow. The bonds that I have with my family were shaped in those years. We were often cruel to one another, but we also learned how to try to support each other in the darkest of times. I owe my discovery and love of music to my mom and brother. That discovery has saved my sanity on several occasions over the last 40+ years, and I wouldn't surrender it for anything. I've got a feeling that many of the people on this forum feel the same way about it that I do.

Phoenix, Gary, Lonestar and anyone else that might be reading this thread that have had traumatic experiences, I know that it's a tough thing to do, but if you're comfortable with talking about your experiences in here, I would say go for it. You all have my attention when it comes to this subject, and many more. I'll try to have my personal story finished out within a week depending on my work obligations.
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Offline jingle.boy

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Re: Mental Health and the Stigma attached to it...
« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2018, 06:13:48 AM »
Following, and I'll offer ... enlightenment?? (as best I can) ... when appropriate.  I've had (what I realized just a couple of years ago) a lifetime of moderate-to-intense battles with depression - I certainly wouldn't call it severe by any means, and wasn't triggered by a traumatic event.  I'm certain I got the luck of the genetic draw, as my father's side of the family is riddled with what are obvious signs of various mental health afflictions (undiagnosed, cuz none from those generations would want to pick at that scab).
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Re: Mental Health and the Stigma attached to it...
« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2018, 07:28:53 AM »
Following, and I'll offer ... enlightenment?? (as best I can) ... when appropriate.  I've had (what I realized just a couple of years ago) a lifetime of moderate-to-intense battles with depression - I certainly wouldn't call it severe by any means, and wasn't triggered by a traumatic event.  I'm certain I got the luck of the genetic draw, as my father's side of the family is riddled with what are obvious signs of various mental health afflictions (undiagnosed, cuz none from those generations would want to pick at that scab).

It's funny to me; as I learn more (if I had it to do all over again, I'd SERIOUSLY consider entering the field of psychology) and I look back on my family, it's both a fascinating and troubling experience.   And while she feels differently now, when I first told my parents I was in therapy, my mom (with whom I'm very close, but she's old school) was almost in tears, because "why would you show all your dirty laundry to a stranger?".   Then that morphed into "did we do a bad job?  Why do you need therapy?  Were we bad parents?"   Now she's good, but it was almost like I had to be therapist for her.  :)

Offline Adami

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Re: Mental Health and the Stigma attached to it...
« Reply #10 on: November 16, 2018, 07:54:15 AM »
Hmmm...

I'm a little weary entering the thread since, well it's a mental health thread, and that's my job, but this seems more about personal stories and support. So I'll keep lurking. But if anyone has any questions about mental health, the field, or psychology, I'll be more than happy to discuss it.
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Offline Phoenix87x

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Re: Mental Health and the Stigma attached to it...
« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2018, 07:55:55 AM »

It's funny to me; as I learn more (if I had it to do all over again, I'd SERIOUSLY consider entering the field of psychology) and I look back on my family, it's both a fascinating and troubling experience.   And while she feels differently now, when I first told my parents I was in therapy, my mom (with whom I'm very close, but she's old school) was almost in tears, because "why would you show all your dirty laundry to a stranger?".   Then that morphed into "did we do a bad job?  Why do you need therapy?  Were we bad parents?"   Now she's good, but it was almost like I had to be therapist for her.  :)

Me too all the way. I wanted to go into psychology sooo bad when I was picking a major. I find it fascinating and it ties so deeply into my own personal experiences and the consequences of those experiences and how to work through those experiences. Every single open elective that I was able to take in college that had something psychology based I did, and have been studying it privately for as long as I can remember.
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Re: Mental Health and the Stigma attached to it...
« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2018, 08:33:28 AM »

It's funny to me; as I learn more (if I had it to do all over again, I'd SERIOUSLY consider entering the field of psychology) and I look back on my family, it's both a fascinating and troubling experience.   And while she feels differently now, when I first told my parents I was in therapy, my mom (with whom I'm very close, but she's old school) was almost in tears, because "why would you show all your dirty laundry to a stranger?".   Then that morphed into "did we do a bad job?  Why do you need therapy?  Were we bad parents?"   Now she's good, but it was almost like I had to be therapist for her.  :)

Me too all the way. I wanted to go into psychology sooo bad when I was picking a major. I find it fascinating and it ties so deeply into my own personal experiences and the consequences of those experiences and how to work through those experiences. Every single open elective that I was able to take in college that had something psychology based I did, and have been studying it privately for as long as I can remember.

Love to hear Adami's thoughts on this, but as I dig in (I subscribe to Psychology Today as light reading, I shit you not) it's amazing to me that while we talk about "individuals" and "you be you!", at the end of the day, the human brain is rife with patterns.  We like to think we're individuals with free will, and we can make or break an infinite number of decisions at a moment's notice, but that's not the case at all.   Our brains are faced with similar stimulants all the time, and while maybe our PERCEPTION is different, the patterns are recognizable.  I look at my stepdaughter, newly married to an abusive asshole, and I watch a Dr. Phil episode with a couple with an abusive husband, and it's so similar it's eerie.  Even the WORDS are the same ("but he loves me", "but you don't see the good side of him", "but he apologizes after", "but he's changed" and/or "but he's trying to change!"); at one point I had to turn off the episode, because it was so hard to watch.   (And it's not just anecdotal; I'm sure at least half of you see someone close to you in what I wrote; maybe it's not physical abuse (it's not with my stepdaughter, but was on Dr. Phil) but maybe it's psychological abuse, either through words, control, cheating, drugs, whatever). 

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Re: Mental Health and the Stigma attached to it...
« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2018, 06:13:47 PM »
I know you said to leave the sympathy at the front door but it's tough not to want to offer that.

Yeah, count me in on that as well.


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Offline lonestar

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Re: Mental Health and the Stigma attached to it...
« Reply #14 on: November 16, 2018, 11:03:00 PM »
It's tragic the things people are capable of, especially when alcohol or drugs are involved. In my 7.5 years in the rooms of AA, I've heard more than my share of truly shocking things, and seen the miracle of people surviving through them, through the addiction and alcoholism, and become good, productive, useful members of society. People whose horrific pasts are now their greatest assets as they move forward to pass it on and help other alcoholics in their own recovery.

I can give an edited version of my story, though you won't be getting the full force share that my sponsor or therapist got. I just finished a 14 hour shift in the kitchen and gotta work hella early tomorrow, so I'll type it out in the coming days.
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