Of Courage Undaunted

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Ohg Rea Tone is all or nothing. He is educated and opinionated, more clever than smart, sarcastic and forthright. He writes intuitively - often disregarding rules of composition. Comment on his posts - he will likely respond with characteristic humor or genuine empathy. He is the real-deal.

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Of Courage Undaunted

Mental illness strikes at the soul of man. The insanity degenerates with the ‘righteous’ who are quick to pull the sin card. Meriwether Lewis, that great American icon of exploration, suffered a mental illness that we know of today as depression.

This writer has the misfortune of a personal understanding of mental illness. My case is mild, not requiring medication, but requiring diligent mental disciplines. The human organism is complex – linking the intangible systems of intellect, emotion, and spirit, with the tangible physical self.  Each of these systems is complex, together they create staggering complexities.

Thomas Jefferson wrote of Lewis,

Of courage undaunted, possessing a firmness and perseverance of purpose which nothing but impossibilities could divert from it’s direction, careful as a father of those committed to his charge, yet steady in the maintenance of order and discipline… honest, disinterested, liberal, of sound understanding and a fidelity to truth so scrupulous that whatever he should report would be as certain as if seen by ourselves…

All of this was true, and Lewis suffered from depression.  We know this because of his journals.  Lewis was very faithful to his ancient form of a blog.  He wrote of new plant and animal species, of Native American culture, and gathered star coordinates that would be used to draw maps of the west. His journals chronicle one of the most amazing and fruitful adventures of man, rivaling the exploits of Marco Polo and Vasco De Gama.

But there are gaps in his journal entries. Months might go by without an entry.  The months without entry were times of debilitating depression.  Meriwether Lewis committed suicide in 1813. The study of Lewis is the study of ‘courage undaunted’ – but challenged every day by mental illness.

The complex world in which we live is unforgiving.  People who suffer moderate mental illness, and we believe there are many, must take positive action every day.  The Grizzly bears of Lewis’s adventure in life are fast and insidious.  Daily discipline is required to moderate the challenge of life.  Proper diet and regular exercise are central to maintaining total health.   What might be a simple diversion to some is a major hurdle to those who flirt with illnesses such as depression.  A simple flu bug, diverting attention from proper daily health regimens, can derail a life.  The physical distraction of illness subverts normal mental disciplines.

The best action to keep from slipping into despair is trusting others.  Trusting enough to verbalize thoughts.  The process of articulating mental processes helps to identify and moderate thoughts.  Writing in a journal is useful – even an on-line journal.  The role of others is simply to love and understand, to listen, to be accepting.  Mental illness creates a sense of loneliness and despair – connecting with others breaks the downward cycle.

Today, with courage undaunted, I am going for a walk.

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There Are 2 Responses So Far. »

  1. I really appreciate your post. While I’ve had periods of depression in my life they were always due to circumstances. In 1999 I met Paxil, who my doctor suggested was safe and would help me deal with problems in my family. I will go into the ugly six years I was on it. I will say that I on it I became manic and ruined myself financially. For the last two and a half years I have suffered debilitating withdrawal from the drug physically and mentally. For the first time in my life I know what was like to be suicidal, suffer extreme anxiety, deep depression, agoraphobia and severe concentration and memory problems. In sum, I read a lot about depression now because I’ve been enduring this for a long time now non-stop. Each day is a struggle to survive in spite of therapy and my online support group, PaxilProgress, which is responsible for me still being alive today, as I had no idea what was happening to me when the nightmare started. There are thousands of us there who know understand the deepest depression thanks to the drugs we were sold on for any number of ridiculous reasons. We’re all trying to find ourselves again, find out who we are and try to discover our lives. Many of us are creative souls whose creativity was destroyed by these drugs — this is the biggest cut of all for most of us. I really want to thank you for your post as it affected me deeply and I feel a little less alone.

  2. Thank you for sharing your story – we believe you have identified an important element in recovery – the feeling of not being alone.

    Your courage is also undaunted.

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