Mike Wallace died on Sunday. He is being remembered around the world as a great journalist, someone who could ask the really tough questions and wouldn’t pull any punches.
Something else he should be remembered for, though, is how he dealt with his own depression. His first encounter with the demon followed the typically accepted treatment of the day – the doctor urged him not to identify it as depression and said he would get over it in time, falling back on the “pull yourself up by your boot straps” treatment
But Mike didn’t get better. He moved downward into depression and finally saw no way out but suicide. Again, the attempt to end his life was hushed and instead the public was told that he was in the hospital and being treated for exhaustion.
Ah, the missed opportunities that were there to educate the public on depression being an illness, that it can happen to anyone, that it is not a weakness for a man to have depression, and people can and do get better.
Mike Wallace didn’t hesitate to talk about his depression. His advice was to get a good psychiatrist and the right medication. Yes, do that but also don’t be afraid to talk about the very real illness of depression. It will help everyone – the depressed one, the family, the friends – see it as the illness that it is and then perhaps everyone will offer some loving care to all who suffer from its effects.