Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A Personal History of Depression and Anxiety

Some people have knee problems and have surgery to repair or replace with a prosthetic.

Some people have diabetes that requires constant care and monitoring.

Some people have mental illness that is just that -- an illness in the brain and emotional functions. It can be treated more like diabetes than knee problems, with constant care and monitoring. And one can live a fully successful and even happy (mostly) life.

Rather than recreating the whole exposé again, I will cut and paste some Facebook posts from the last couple of days. I deleted the names and links to comments from many good friends so those show up without an icon in front. My comments appear with my name and current FB pic (for Puerto Rico):

Dear Friends and Family:
I used to have guns. Do you know why I don't anymore? Because I suffer from a mental illness called depression*. My suicidal ideation was to drive up on the Skyline Drive, park, get out of the car so no mess, and blow my brains out.
I gave my guns to a relative that I trust more than any other to see that those guns are never used purposely or accidentally to take a life.
There are many in my family I can't trust with those guns. There are some in my family I can't trust at all because they treat me with vindictiveness and hatred for having beliefs different than theirs.
I am sick of guns and mental illness and the failure of those who should care and support me to see and hear my needs. The NRA is an evil and corrupt organization and has bought up politicians to sell more guns that result in more escalating deaths.
There is no unlimited right to bear arms in the US Constitution outside a well-regulated militia. A well-regulated militia would identify and treat those who are a danger to themselves and others in the bearing of arms.
*and anxiety, duh.
Grant L. Vaughn By the way, I'm getting the full range of mental health treatment, medication, therapy, etc. because I HAVE GOVERNMENT HEALTH INSURANCE!

Grant L. Vaughn I'm alive because of it.

I did not know that you hat Mental health my friend

Grant L. Vaughn Thanks. It's good now. I'm getting good treatment and support.


but its okay I accept you for who you are

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Dear Bishop Grant L. Vaughn. Never forget all the people that You personally helped, me included. You are a wonderful husband, father and friend. Just look at your daughters, look at all your kids they are All great. I thank you for being my Bishop. Please remember that God is at your side as is your Wife, L, - Please remember your Santa Fe, New Mexico Friends. We all love you.  

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Grant L. Vaughn

We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress,…

Grant L. Vaughn And I highly recommend:

The Behavioral Health Clinic offers outpatient services for…

Grant L. Vaughn the UofU is a state institution that should treat all comers. But of course it's always easier if you have insurance.

I too have experienced deep depression. I’ve seen a loved one barricade themselves in a lock garage with firearms threatening suicide. I’ve never had feelings of shooting my self, but I know the pain and hurt that accompanies feelings of despair, so I can absolutely appreciate your perspective and experiences.

Thanks for having the courage to share this, Grant. I've had times in my life when I've gotten counseling and medications for depression. Nowadays anxiety seems to be my major bugaboo. Anyway, all that aside, you're right about guns, the second amendmeent, and mental health. I don't understand the impulse to kill as many people as possible because of inner turmoil, but there's a lot I don't understand. The difference between me and my political representatives is that I admit it.

I appreciate your honesty. I am guessing this latest tragedy is related to mental health. My depression and/or anxiety tend to make me want to hibernate. It is so complex that we can’t even begin to understand what others feel.
I agree fully
Grant L. Vaughn And by the way, I am not currently suicidal. The farthest I ever got was ideation a few times in my life. No physical planning. No actual attempts.

Grant, you're even braver than I realized.

Long distance brotherly embrace.

Thank you for sharing folks don't understand about depression and i wish they would read up on it.

Appreciate your courage

Thy friends do stand by thee.

Sorry if I disturbed anyone today. Really. But I feel a heck of a lot better.
its all good my friend


Grant L. Vaughn 'brigado!
Whenever someone speaks up like you did, you help make it okay for somebody else to ask for help. Somewhere down the line, you will probably save somebody's life.

Your opinion is always appreciated even if there are things that I may disagree. Thank you for expressing what you feel in a civil way and sharing your experiences. I very much enjoy hearing your opinion and learning more from someone who has much more experience and understanding than I do.

It was very brave, and empowering. Kudos

It is true that facing and naming your deepest fears and secrets releases their power over you. It is a cathartic and liberating experience. I am greatly relieved and appreciate all the love and support. Once again, I didn't mean to disturb anyone yesterday and I regret any hurts unintentionally inflicted. It just came out like bursting a boil as a result of the latest national insanity (i.e., Vegas shooting, among so many other contenders).

It should come as no surprise to any careful reader of this blog that I have had issues with depression. And I admit my revelation yesterday had some of the dramatic to it. After posting on Facebook, I thought, "Oh, no! I'll have to call my parents before anyone else tells them about this." As they don't do Facebook.

I called, and it was a very productive discussion in some odd ways.

Then I realized it was "staff meeting day" at work, and I thought. "Oh, well."

We are a good, collegial bunch and share a lot about our outside activities with travel, family, etc. So when it came to my turn, I just announced the basics and thanked my boss who already knew and has been very accommodating along with another friend in the office I had asked to be a monitor in case something went wrong with me at work (nothing ever has). It was only slightly awkward.

Afterwards, a few came up and offered their kind thoughts. My boss, catching me in the hallway, thanked me and said that what I said was really good for the office as it helps draw us together as a supportive group. That was interesting.

So just a little more personal history background.

I've always been a thoughtful, sometimes moody person. But I had distinct episodes of depression I can enumerate in my life.

March to September 1973, the summer I turned 16. I faced some difficult teenage challenges in school, social contacts, etc. My Mom knew I was depressed and spent some time with me providing some good support. I knew I was depressed but had no concept of being "clinically depressed" and later, I've wondered if I should have had treatment or professional care at that point. Treatments then were not as good as now and in balance, I have no regrets or complaints about how this all turned out.

July 1977 to October 1979. OK, there was a solid two years plus. I had very difficult second half of my LDS Mission in Brazil after a very positive first half (even with being trapped in the LTM for the first 5 months!) I may blog later on some of the mission issues. It was clearly clinical depression. My Mission President was loving and supportive without addressing it as depression which I'm not sure he would have had any context for. I came home to typical anxieties, stresses, and worries of college life and some challenges in my family relationships. I went to some counseling at school for a few sessions. I was jump-started out of depression when I fell in love and married.

My wife is a wonderful person and while the first year of marriage had its typical challenges and stresses of life and learning to live together, it actually went quite well as we learned how much we were a good match complimenting and balancing each other in strengths and weaknesses. It's been a good marriage and continues to be so 37 years running.

1989-1991. I had some difficult challenges at work and sought some counseling including group therapy. I stopped going when I began to empathize and offer assistance to others in my group sessions. That wasn't really my professional place. And I was fine making my own life-decisions together with my spouse on my career options for the future. I took some good ones relocating to a different state.

2000-2005. This was triggered by release from being an LDS bishop, relocating to a new city, taking on some difficult work challenges, and some extended family conflicts. Then, 9/11 didn't help much along with the wrong war, at the wrong time, in the wrong place, for the wrong reasons. And yeah, political events began to really wear on me as they have since. I had a good family practice doctor who diagnosed depression and offered prescription medicine, but I did not take it preferring to challenge him on my ability to create my own endorphins undertaking a strenuous exercise program including the completion of four marathons.

Then I crashed.

In 2005, I had a devastating experience in the workplace having been accused of violating civil rights of others on the basis of gender, race, national origin, etc. with some overtones of religious discrimination. The political management of my office (under W. Bush), decided to clear the decks and move my boss and me out of that office or be fired. I had enough wits about me (barely) to negotiate for a reassignment to Salt Lake City where my first grandchild had just been born. That proved to be a wonderful blessing born out of my personal devastation.

I made it through the move and got my family set up the best I could. My wife was very supportive. Then February of 2006, I had what can only be described as a mental breakdown. It was only a day or so of oblivion and bed, and my wife was instrumental in getting me to professional help.

Then I was engaged for several years in positive recovery. I began prescription medication. I had good mental health counselors. I did a 12-step program. And I had a good, supportive LDS Bishop.

Over the next few years, I worked my way off of medication a couple of times but had an additional couple of less severe crashes. These were triggered by conflicts with extended family, work stresses and strains, and a deteriorating political climate in the US of A. I had a good Psychiatrist, MD, PhD., one of the best in the state, who gave me the stats on "relapse." That is, roughly, if you have mental/emotional illness and go off meds, there's a 50% chance you will need them again. The second time it jumps to about 75% then the third time it's about 95%.

So, at my age, nearing my retirement goals, I think I'll probably stay on my low dosages with ongoing professional monitoring and counseling as necessary to work out my life issues and stay healthy. As I do, there is nothing I can't do in life.

My life is good. My home is happy. My children, now all grown and out of the house, are all successful and above average (we sort of lived a Lake Wobegon lifestyle). My work is tolerable at least until retirement is affordable. I've filled my spare hours with volunteer service in my religious life serving in the Temple and at the Family History Library. I am still studying Welsh at my Alma Mater in Provo, Utah. I am writing a family history book and continue on my blog. I have six wonderful grandchildren WAY above average, and we are expecting two more next March! Yes, my life is good.

On reflection, I probably should have had some professional help in the early 2000s. It might have better helped me navigate the perfect storm that came upon me in my former office. There was no way out of that mess except for maybe the way I was forced out. And that was like being squeezed out of the back of a buffalo. Still, it did me good in the long run.

There's no need to cheer me up or walk on egg shells around me. I'm just like a regular guy with a knee replacement or diabetes.

So, if anyone out there in blog-land ever needs a little help, do not fail to seek competent professionals. No essential oils, please!


  1. I love you, Dad. I never knew that you struggled so much and it really helps me to understand some thoughts and things I've gone through in my life so far. I'm grateful that you shared this with everyone and you are an amazing example of strength and resilience to me, my wife, and your future grandchild. We love you! ��

    1. Thank you. I don't know why it's so hard to tell the truth about difficult things. It's so much better than living under fear and denial.


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