Q&A: Jane Clayson Johnson talks about depression — her own, and what she learned by writing 'a record of resilience and survival'

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  • Daedalus, Stephen ARVADA, CO
    Jan. 15, 2019 11:14 a.m.

    Worth mentioning:

    IF a reader who is drawn to this article/comments is feeling suicidal, please -- please -- call 911 or get a ride immediately to the ER. They are prepared and able to provide the help you need and deserve.

    Please know that you have the strength to get through this and you are not always going to feel as bad as you may feeling now.

    You are not alone in your pain and efforts to get better. Please stick around -- the world needs and wants you.

    (speaking from 30+ years of chronic depression, successfully managed/treated for most but not all of that time)

  • NeilT Harrisville, UT
    Jan. 13, 2019 10:46 a.m.

    Depression can manifest differently in men and women. With me it is anger, irritability and anxiety. Winter makes my depression much worse. Nothing lifts my spirits more than a clear sunny day. I do believe altitude, diet and lack of physical activity activity can contribute to depression. People often ask what are you depressed about. There is no one answer to that question. Depression is not about a life event as it is about a chemical imbalance.

  • Kirkham2002 , 00
    Jan. 12, 2019 7:27 p.m.

    I have found no matter how difficult it may be to acknowledge the truth it always sets you free! Truth will deepen your humanity and the spirit pours into the soul. Depression was a part of my grandfather... acknowledging his nervous breakdown gave me courage to shore up my mental wellness young.

  • Oh Really? Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 12, 2019 5:58 p.m.

    Good for you for addressing this, Jane. The article is insightful. I'm sure the book is, too.

  • "Hakuna Matata" Vernal, UT
    Jan. 11, 2019 11:03 p.m.

    This Q&A makes me think of Robin Williams. One who was always happy go lucky and seems very hyper and one that I always thought had a lot of energy and was always staying busy and yet succumbed to suicide.

    I'm sure we were all raised to always have the will to be self-sustained and be able to take care of our problems and be able to face life's challenges. We build that wall of machoness around us and the end result of that is self-shyness away from seeking professional help. Seeking help from clinically trained professionals if the need is detrimental to your health and well-being is not a sign of weakness.

  • NeifyT Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 11, 2019 11:58 a.m.

    @JRL in AZ,

    You ask a very important question. The answer I have found in studying mental illness; is that it depends.

    Clinical depression is a term given for a generic set of symptoms (called criteria); the cause of which can be many things. Some of those causes can be "cured" some only "treated indefinitely" some even go away on their own. Sometimes treatment is successful enough that the "diagnosis" of depression is no longer appropriate; even though the sufferer still has some symptoms or must still daily manage the illness--like a diabetic with insulin shots does.

    Also, it should be noted that and what the layman calls "depression" is actually several different diagnoses found in the DSM. One of which is Dysthymia (aka Chronic Depression, or Persistent Depressive Disorder) which lasts for years and years; but another one only needs 2 weeks of symptoms for a diagnosis which is why some people use the term "suffers bouts of depression" meaning their depression is rather for shorter periods of time, but they get depressed and then get better off and on over the span of their life.

  • andyjaggy American Fork, UT
    Jan. 11, 2019 10:25 a.m.

    Thank you so much for opening up and sharing your experience with everyone. Conversations like this are the only way things will ever change. The stigma has been slowly fading but it's still very much there. I have heard many comments in my ward that confirm to me that we still have a lot of work to do. Comments that only drive people further away and isolate them, it's the exact opposite of what they need when they are struggling. If you don't or haven't known someone who has dealt with clinical depression or suicide then I can almost guarantee you will at some point.

  • JRL in AZ Tucson, AZ
    Jan. 11, 2019 10:20 a.m.

    I find it interesting that the article says that she has overcome her clinical depression. Is that possible? Mine is a constant presence. There is no overcoming it - just dealing with it, everyday, non-stop, until I die. The best I can do is medicate it, exercise, do counseling, etc., but it never goes away. It is always there, waiting to come surging back the moment I let my guard down. It can be tiring. But life is too grand and too beautiful, even with the darkness at the edges, to give up the fight.

  • NeifyT Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 11, 2019 10:13 a.m.

    Exactly how was my comment off topic or disruptive. The topic is the stigma of mental illness as per the article

    "It doesn’t matter if the stigma of depression is self-induced or culturally imposed. Either way, it’s unhealthy and unhelpful."

    I was pointing out that while the author felt the stigma was more self-induced with those she interviewed. My perspective is that the stigma is culturally imposed; by the very fact that mental illness is treated criminally in so many ways, and was pointing out as many ways as I could in the 1200 character limit.

    Sorry if you feel that pointing out the truth that our culture imposes the stigma by way of calling mental illness criminal in nature as being "disruptive." It just means that the Deseret News staff likes to perpetuate the stigma as well. What is the point of having such articles on mental illness if you won't allow the truth to be said!

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 11, 2019 10:18 a.m.

    I've had many and currently have several family members and friends who are battling various forms of mental illness, almost always accompanied with clinical depression. I know of eight who committed suicide.

    At the depths of the "Great Recession" I'd lost almost 3/4ths of my net worth and was at a low point in a long struggle with a chronically painful and debilitating injury, all while failing in my year-long effort to find work after an 8-year period of what I'd hoped was an early retirement. I began to experience suicidal ideations. I even started formulating detailed plans on how I should do it to have the least negative impact on my loved ones. It came as a shocking surprise as I'd never had any such thoughts before.

    After 3-4 months of spiraling negativity I suddenly became aware that I had to alter my train of thought if I was to live. I began to focus on people who I knew had survived far worse trials than I'd ever had. From their example, I gained strength and a resolve to fight on.

    It's been a long slog back and I'm very grateful to have survived. Now, I'd like to be an example of survival to help others in a similar pit of despair.

    You **can** make it!

  • DAS333 ,
    Jan. 11, 2019 9:26 a.m.

    Many solid studies connect gut health with depression. Work on the gut and you will feel better--promise.

  • Åpenhet Farmington, UT
    Jan. 11, 2019 7:42 a.m.

    Thank you. It helps to know so many others are trying to understand and support.

  • FanOfTheSith Vernal, UT
    Jan. 11, 2019 5:14 a.m.

    "If you are clinically depressed, you are not going to fix it with work and decipline."

    Excellent point.