Another casualty.

We had a Fellowship seminar recently on depression. Seminars are off the record, but I think no one will care if I pass along the evolving medical thinking on the big D: This is a brain disorder, a physical illness. It runs in families. There are risk factors. And it can be — it is — devastating.

Now that Spalding Gray’s body has been found, confirming what everybody pretty much knew about his disappearance some weeks ago, maybe we can talk a little more about depression. I think suicide is never the correct answer to that particular problem; I don’t think it’s a justifiable act in almost all cases where it’s attempted. (I make exceptions for the terminally ill on a case-by-case basis, but you know? Life is a terminal disease.) When a person has, as Gray did, young children (sons, 11 and 6, and a stepdaughter with his wife), it becomes something far worse. Although Gray styled himself as a typical NYC neurotic and treated the people around him accordingly, at least he was honest about it, and he gains whatever redemption honesty offers.

A New York magazine cover story shed a little more light on his particulars: The guy was in no small physical pain following a car accident a few years ago, and seemed to be the victim of some bad, or misguided, medical care. No justification, but it makes it a little more understandable.

Gray’s mother was a suicide. Gray’s children are now at risk. And the grim drumroll goes on. Depressingly.

Posted at 5:35 pm in Uncategorized |

One response to “Another casualty.”

  1. Jennifer said on March 8, 2004 at 9:47 pm

    The other tricky things about depression:

    (a) Feels like it’s never going to end and makes life feel like it’s not worth living, hopeless, and joyless,

    (b) Very hard to treat,

    (c) Is treated by playing Cinderdrugs, which take long periods of time to work, have nasty withdrawal effects, and often have side effects that aren’t ones you’d want to keep with you the rest of your life. And even if you find a drug or drug combo that works, one day it may just stop and there you go again.

    Honestly, I can’t blame anyone who’s stuck on that rollercoaster for life for wanting to commit suicide if suicide is the only thing guaranteed to make the agony stop and medical science can’t do enough to make even a dent in some cases. Maybe far in the future effective help will be found, but right now depression is one hell of a burden that may never lift for some people.

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