We Can’t Treat Depression Medically: External Remedies for Depression and Addiction DO NOT Exist
We are regularly told to turn ourselves over to medical and recovery experts who can save us. They couldn’t help Heather Armstrong after 20 years.
Armstrong, who ushered in an age of confessional writing online by women, inspiring millions of readers and creators, committed suicide in April.
(All information provided by New York Times)
After her first child was born in 2003 Armstrong was overcome by postpartum depression that none of the combinations of medications prescribed by her psychiatrist helped.
Stabilized on new medication, in 2010 Armstrong wrote a best-selling book about her breakdown, “It Sucked and Then I Cried,” had another baby, and got divorced.
She descended into deeper depression in 2015. She was diagnosed with drug resistant depression and in 2017 enrolled in a small early drug trial that used propofol, an anesthetic and sedative, to suppress nearly all brain activity. She underwent the procedure 10 times in the course of a month. To Armstrong it felt like a series of deaths, and then, miraculous rebirths.
She wrote about the experience in her second book, “The Valedictorian of Being Dead: The True Story of Dying Ten Times to Live.” But by the time it came out in 2019, the darkness had returned. She wanted to reach more people, and she drowned her anger in “drinking and drinking and drinking,” her partner Peter Ashdown said.
A year into the pandemic, he gave her an ultimatum to stop drinking, and she stayed sober for nearly two years. But recently, he said, she had returned to alcohol. (Armstrong had defected from the Mormon Church.)
Her final post, on April 6, described the pain of early sobriety: “22 years of agony I had numbed with alcohol had come alive and transformed itself into an almost alien life form,” she wrote. “I often felt like I was being electrocuted for hours at a time.”
The article on which this post is based in the Times, by Lisa Belkin, ends with: “If you are having thoughts of suicide, call or text 988 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources.”
We might wonder whether Armstrong, who had been treated for depression for decades, couldn’t access this information. Unfortunately, there is no reliable external source for remedying depression. If there was, American medicine would have packaged and sold it.
The US, which spends by far the most per capita on medical treatment among wealthy nations, also leads these nations with by far the most suicides.
What we have to work with is the ability to summon our personal and community resources to help ourselves, others, and society. This is our goal at the Life Process Program.