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San Diego Writer Shares Her Experience With Depression

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November 4, 2015 1:08 p.m.

San Diego Writer Shares Her Experience With Depression


Barbarella Fokos, columnist, San Diego Reader

Daphyne Watson, executive director, Mental Health of America of San Diego County

Related Story: San Diego Writer Shares Her Experience With Depression


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

This is KPBS Midday Edition I am Maureen Cavanaugh. We see images of depression all the time on TV these days. Sad looking people, were sad looking at omissions mope around until they get uphill and it makes them so better. It is a miracle that depression can be treated with prescription drugs, but we be very much mistaken if we thought that was the extent of how depression affects lives. It can stop life as we know it, I sometimes stop life except -- itself. Recently a well-known San Diego columnist decided to describe what it's like for her to live with depression. Barbarella Fokos has dedicated her Diary of a Diva column to honor her friend was overcome by a suicidal depression.
Innkeeper happy the.
-- Happy to be here to
Last month, your friend died by suicide, why did that event open up your ability to talk about your own depression.
I didn't know Kurt very well, that he was known for being very open about his own depression and struggles. For being an advocate, for suicide prevention. He really wanted to reduce the stigma that is associated with depression,
It is a difficult subject for you, losing Kurt was very difficult. He talked a great deal about the problems that transgender youth go through, and then hearing that he a died by suicide was really quite astounding.
It was a shock to all of us caught no doubt. We all struggle with the fact that it happens to too many. He was a wonderful advocate for the needs of those individuals, we would talk often about how we can make a difference. How can change things, how we can give voice to the challenges. Of this illness it truly is an illness that many struggle with.
I do not think that I've actually identified you, this is Daphyne Watson, executive director of mental health of San Diego County.
Sorry about that, I had to get it out.
It is difficult to talk about. Just to address really quickly, now that I've collected myself, here is someone who is such an advocate, even that person with all the resources can have a difficult time as the struggle. I wanted to be open about my own issues, my own struggles, with depression. Because that was what he wanted,
How big a role has depression played in your life.
I would say major. It doesn't stop me from doing things, it is often something that people would not even know about. I say this sometimes, I was joking to David this morning, is sometimes from my smile like a pro my lipstick. I painted on and I go outside and nobody would know. As someone who's been very private, and some people even keep it from their spouses.
You even kept it from your immediate family.
I was talking to my sister congee asked me how is doing, this is the first time, post Kurt into his life, I said I was really struggling and struggling with depression in crime the last few days. She said well, you would never know.
Here's my sister who I talked to every day. I would never know, maybe you look tired, maybe seemed busy or stress by had no idea, was cathartic to mention it because she said you can talk to me. The matter how small,
Think there is still of lot of confusion about the difference between being sad, and feeling what we would colloquially called feeling depressed and the illness of depression. Recurring depression, you say it is not necessarily about having something sadder bad happened you.
My husband David has said, what is wrong. I say I do not know, I have no reason for feeling this way, and that can be very frustrating. I did be having a great -- could be having a great day I could win an award still select nothing matters.
In a very profound way you opened up in your column, you tell us about two different days. One day you wake up, and you are not depressed. One day you wake up and you are depressed. Can you describe for us the physicality of that, how that feels for you caught the two different days.
It really is like having a cold I guess. You can't help it. Your sniffling and coughing and you have absolutely no control over it. That just occurred to me now. When you are feeling one way, what I wake up feeling depressed, it is a cloud over your head like the old cliché. Everything is muted and numb. And the opposite is waking up in is a brand-new day, this morning's great I feel great. You cannot imagine feeling the other way at all.
You talk about about -- actually how your heart rate decreases when you have those depressive thoughts in your mind races. Some of like a different physiology overtakes you.
It is very chemical-based, I understand loosely. Anxiety and depression are completely linked together, it usually starts with an anxiety, give energy to do anything, it is anxiety driven. It is like having a different body.
Have you ever been treated in any way for depression.
Not depression specifically. I've been treated for anxiety, and I was put on an antidepressant, but I held onto the anxiety part as being normal. Is a was, is on an antidepressant for two years,
You are quite open, sometimes outrageous in your diary of a diva column why did this subject remain taboo. So even your sister didn't know about it.
It just seems like something that is a failing. You are supposed to be happy. If you are not happy then you're not trying hard enough. You're not counting your blessings, and all of these things going around Facebook, like opus on the positive, which is great and I help, but when you are unable to do that, for whatever reason, it is embarrassing. And so, they focus on the things he can poke fun of neuroses, these are things that are okay to use as a badge of honor, but to say that I'm depressed, tear up your no fun to be around.
Does all of this sounds very familiar to you?
It sounds so familiar to me, because all the images that we see in here from people from the circumstances -- same circumstances, when you struggle with a mental illness, it is not is the process where one day you do one thing, I'm happy that this conversation is not talking about pills but about the real-life experiences. So that we can teach individuals that yes, you are going to go through a lot of physical and emotional issues and the you have to work for them. There is hope, there's recovery, will have to work at it when data time, and there are services out there in you cannot do it by yourself any need help.
In a lot of your columns, you talk a husband David. In this one you talk about how we try to help you during your depression. Has he told you what your depression is like for him?
He has and we have discussed it on more than one occasion complicating is very helpful, it is so good to talk about it. Are discussions are usually that this is not helping. Early on he would say things like listing of the reasons why things were good, or sometimes even get angry and say come on, snap out of it. And I would say, inker makes me feel worse. I'm already mad at myself, and now it frustrates him because he cannot do anything about it, he wants to fix it. It hurts him to see me upset, but he's learned that he does these to be there with me, and that is a something that has to resolve itself sometimes. He shows in this most recent episode, he was just there. He had me when I needed it, he put his hand on me he did not try to push me, he said things are going to be okay. And I love that. That was a Woelfel.
You said something interesting, he said I've already mad at myself. You are mad at yourself when you are depressed.
Of you hate yourself. Why can I just feel normal. -- Can't I just feel normal. How can I be so frustrated by this, to suggest that I get angry at myself.
When you posted to Facebook last month about Kurt step in your own experience with depression. You would about some heartfelt reactions.
Could you share some of the was a touch too.
Yes, what is especially because they know so many are listening right now, is overwhelming to have people message me directly in town, to share their own experiences and to know that it was not alone. Silica was connecting the people would say things like your post resonated with me, thank you so much. From another writer said I used to wake up in a depressive fit, are you here I would ask, because my depression had formed. I with feel a momentary pause and then I would plummet. And they do not tell their families, some pics of they would even to their husband. And the mother, I'm a father , and professional makers going great, and I struggle. The thing over once the most of all is that they said you can talk to me, they were not just telling me their problems they were opening themselves up. You can talk to me can't reach out let's have wine and talk it over. I have all of these ears and shoulders. Also the community appear.
Is that help during depression.
Hugely. Accredit his message but they were happy tears. Not just about -- I cried during each message, but they were happy tears.
That Daphyne Watson, San Diego County was where Kurt worked. Even with his last tragic act Kurt might be helping some people. To see how serious their depression can be pretty
I know that that's what he would want. If such an intricate part of working with those who have mental health issues. He had a strong focus for those with mental illness, especially the transgender youth, who have recently died. The stigma, the individual feels the stigma and that pulls them back from getting the help that they need. They need to be surrounded by community of supporters, and that they can get treatment. Sometimes the road to treatment is not clear, any need to continue to try and take it the treatment that works for you. We should never turn our backs on that person or leave them alone,
What sort of resources are available.
There a lot of resources in the county. Treatment care, outreach groups, programs that really work in bringing in individuals, to support one another. The way to find them, there's a listing of all the services online, also the crisis line from the community, the other resource directory that we can provide to you, so if we do not want to suffer in silence. That is part of the illness, it draws people away from you. The more isolated that they are, the worst the condition becomes. We need to break that cycle,
So Barbarella Fokos, what has going public in talking about this and letting everyone know about this what has been done for you.
It is let me know that I'm far from alone. When you talk about it, it helps. It is okay to ask for help, I'm directly asked -- I indirectly helped -- asked, and to realize that that is very encouraging in life. You do withdrawal kind I do not answer -- I do not answer the phone, I do not talk to people, is the one about entertaining and smiling and telling jokes, I need to know the people want to be there anyway.
I want to thank you for a very personal conversation, appreciated first of all. Daphyne Watson, thank you. Barbarella Fokos latest Diary of a Diva , she's also the author of a memoir called Terry the diva and lipstick.
-- Diary of a diva behind the lipstick.
Join us again tomorrow for discussions on midday edition on KPBS Midday Edition. I am Maureen Cavanaugh and thank you for listening.