by Mr. M.
Lyrics from a Clash tune might seem out of place in a journal like GunNews, but if you have experienced depression, suicidal thoughts, or other mental health breakdowns please continue reading a little longer.
19.86% of adults in America experience mental illness of one form or another, or roughly 50 million people. About a quarter of those folks experience severe mental illness. It’s not a lot of fun, I’ll tell you.
So what’s that mean? It means if you suffer from mental illness you’re not alone.
However in the Land of Lincoln, seeking out treatment for anything except mild depression carries the risk of the loss of your FOID card and your carry license. That’s a big deal for those of us who rely on our firearms to defend ourselves and our families from the threat of the ever-growing criminal element.
I can also confirm first-hand that getting them back (as I’ve done more than once) has become more and more frustrating, expensive and time-consuming. Today, I’ve been told that the appeals process is clogged with thousands of applicants for each staffer handling them at ISP headquarters.
Some folks like me have experienced debilitating depression in a cyclical pattern. At times I’ve needed the help of professionals and I’ve experienced “treatment” at all different levels. With that knowledge, I’ll share some strategies to help readers navigate the minefield of mental health treatment. And I’ll cut to the core of the decision-making process that many of us eventually face.
Hence, “Should I stay (at home) or should I go (seek treatment)?”
First, make a plan. For those with a spouse, an honest discussion of a “best plan” may or may not be all-inclusive.
Should you seek out help of a good friend (who can keep his/her mouth shut)? YES! Talking with one or more friends who understand what you’re dealing with or going through can help a lot.
Should you see your family doctor? YES! They can help you understand the best way to treat your illness.
Should you see a psychiatrist for a consultation? WHY NOT? They are specifically trained relative to the best use of medications to treat your particular mental illness / depression. Your primary care physician can help with a referral.
Should you see a therapist? YES. I’ve done this with mixed results but it may be worth a try, especially as they have better availability than psychiatrists. Bear in mind that a therapist can’t prescribe medication.
Seeing your doctor, a psychiatrist or a therapist on an out-patient basis will probably not trigger a loss of your FOID card with one exception: as “mandated reporters,” they are mandated to report when they see someone as a “clear and present danger” to themselves (self-harm) or others.
Those reports will get you branded with the “mentally ill” label and your FOID revoked. In today’s world, that means you can pretty much kiss your guns goodbye for years, thousands of dollars in expenses and a whole new helping of frustration.
Should you call a suicide hotline? DEPENDS. Most of these will come with a FOID revocation as the people taking the calls are mandated reporters. You might try the VA’s crisis line (988, then press ‘1’) as they may not be state mandated reporters as federal employees.
Should you go to the hospital? NO, not unless you feel you are an immediate danger to yourself or others. You will lose your FOID card on this one. Even worse, in my experience I wasn’t impressed by the treatment. I only felt better after I returned home. Then the ISP revocation letter came two days later.
Serious, chronic depression issues…
If your depression or other mental health issue is negatively affecting your quality of life then it is not the time to drag your feet. Particularly if it’s chronic as opposed to intermittent or acute. Seek help and implement your plan.
It took me 25 years to seek out medication before I finally did it. I now wish I’d acted sooner. Don’t let the possibility of seeing you doctor (and/or a psychiatrist) feel like a compromise. You are facing a condition that’s treatable. The sooner you act, the sooner you will recover.
At the same time, if you’re in a very dark place where you’re seriously contemplating giving up and checking out, reach out to a friend.
If you’re ready to take your life to stop the pain, seek help. Talk to a friend until you can talk with your doctor or a therapist. Reach out and make that call. At the same time if you have a friend who is in crisis mode and they have guns, ask if you can hold onto those guns for a few days or weeks until they’re better.
In most cases, suicide is a permanent solution to a very temporary problem. There are treatments for depression. If it’s negatively impacting your life, talk with your doctor.