RE: Mental illness: the other side

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From:Jeff and Wanda Gray <jefwan@InfoAve.Net>
To:Bryan Llewellyn <>, Histonet <>
Content-Type:text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1

Thank you Bryan,
I had been debating speaking up on this subject, as I, too am a chronic
clinical depressive.  I was not abused as a child, but have required
constant medication for depression since the birth of second child.  She was
born with Spina Bifida, and that coupled with several other events in my
personal life at the same time added up to depression.  I sought treatment,
which involved both therapy and Prozac.  These treatments helped
considerably, but I have been unable to get off the medication, despite
excellent therapy.
I, too, consider myself a good tech, a good mom, and am generally happy as
long as I continue with my medication.  I would consider legal action were
my employment affected by revealing my mental problem.  (My bosses have been
informed of my condition, and it was not an issue)
Mental illness is just that, an illness.  Employers must consider the safety
of their employees, but depression or any other treatable illness should be
grounds for immediate dismissal of any candidate for any position.
At a previous employer, it was possible to tell employees that treatment at
a mental hospital or treatment on an outpatient basis was a requirement for
continued employment under certain circumstances. Perhaps had such a
condition been available to the hospital in this situation, this horrible
tragedy could have been avoided.  My heart and prayers go out to all
affected, but please do not judge all of us with mental illnesses by the
actions of those who refuse help.
Again, thank you Bryan for your eloquence on this subject.
Wanda Shotsberger (also not ashamed to admit to depression)

-----Original Message-----
From: Bryan Llewellyn []
Sent: Sunday, July 09, 2000 3:14 PM
To: Histonet
Subject: Mental illness: the other side

> Lastly, if we screen out all of the mentally ill from jobs, what
> are we to do with them? They have rights, and one of them is the right
> to pursue happiness by being gainfully employed.

I too thought long and hard about whether I should reply to the postings on
this subject.  I finally decided that I should because I can bring an aspect
to the discussion that has not yet been made.  Please excuse what may appear
to be bragging, but I am going to speak very frankly because I have found
some off the comments made on this subject quite demeaning and insulting.  I
do not apologise for saying this.  I think it needs to be said.

I am a long time chronic depressive.  I have been depressed on and off
(mostly on) for about 50 years (I am 57), and have been a passive suicide
since I was about eight.  The source of my emotional problems is abuse as a
child; physical, sexual and emotional.  Did you ever wonder where abused
children went when they grew up?  We hide among you.

Depression is considered to be a mental illness.  I am therefore one of
those people you are all wondering whether you should fire because you are
concerned I might attack you.

I do my job, and rather well, I always thought.  I am the supervisor of a
small histology lab, and have been the supervisor of a very large histology
lab years ago in Winnipeg.  I qualified at the highest possible levels
available at the time (1969 and 1979) in two countries (Britain and Canada).
I authored and administered for several years three separate correspondence
courses for the Canadian professional Society in advanced histological
techniques.  I have written a few papers on histological subjects (amyloid
staining, H&E substitutes).  I set up the StainsFile web page, and have done
all the work for it with the exception of one article.  I venture to suggest
that I have received considerable respect for my technical abilities over
the years from coworkers and pathologists, some of whom have been quite

I am politically active and have been asked on more than one occasion to run
for office provincially.  I have been declared an honorary woman because of
my strong committment to gender equity.  I feel just as strongly about
racial equality and gay and lesbian issues.  I venture to suggest that I
have made a noticeable contribution to society.

I have been married to Linda for 37 years.  She has borne the brunt of my
depression for all that time.  We have three children, all of whom are well
educated (Jason a city planner, Stevyn a pharmacist, and David a Ph.D.
student in organo-metallic chemistry at McGill unioversity).  None of them
have inherited my depression.  All of them love and respect me and will miss
me when I die.

Mentall illness is no more a single entity than any other branch of human
activity.  Both smallpox and the common cold are viral diseases, but why
would anyone in their right mind think that a person with a cold is as
dangerous as a person with smallpox.  Please get a perspective.  Mental
illness ranges from the inocuous to the dangerous.  Most people alive (that
means you) have some kind of a neurosis, and all neuroses are a form of
mental illness.  From very personal experience, I can tell you that those
who suffer most from mentall illnesses are the people with it and those who
love them.  An example is the poor progress of the StainsFile web site, on
which I have been unable to work for a year.

I am most certainly not ashamed of my mental state.  In fact, I am quite
proud of the fact that I have been strong willed enough to rise above my
handicap.  I think I have made a contribution to society.  I have never hit
anyone.  I have never killed anyone.  I treat others with respect.  Why
should I be discriminated against because someone else has a hangup (a
neurosis) about emotional disorders?  Why should I be fired when it is your
problem?  Would you fire me if I had one arm?  Would you refuse to work with
me if I stuttered?  Would you send me to the back of the bus if I were
black?  Please tell me how discriminating against me because of my
depression is any different from those things.

Remember, we are all innocent until proven guilty.  Please do not fire me
until I have done something worth being fired for.  As for not hiring
someone because in a ten minute interview, an interviewer with no
psychiatric training decides the candidate is nuts, please, get a life!

I would request that people think before they post comments that are
demeaning to those like me.

Bryan Llewellyn
Depressive, and absolutely NOT ashamed of it.

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