Sunday, August 21, 2011


This week has been a rough one for your friendly online Tipster.
I’m slowly working my way through a bout of depression triggered by
a virtual avalanche of familial, household, mechanical, medical,
political, and professional woes.  No, don’t stop reading.  I won’t
be talking about any of those current problems today.  We all have
problems and, ultimately, we all have to deal with them as best we

That I suffer from depression is not something I particularly like
to write about, but I make no secret of it either.  I survived two
half-assed attempts at ending my life, have learned how to handle
my depression, and am comfortable sharing that doubtless imperfect
knowledge with my readers, especially those who might also suffer
from depression.

I’m not a medical doctor.  I don’t play one on TV.  And there’s no
truth to the vicious rumor that I own a “Naughty Nurse” costume and
have the fabulous legs for it.  I’m just a guy who’s heading toward
60 years old and am not as stupid today as I might have been when
I was a strapping youngster of 45.

It’s my belief/opinion/whatever that depression is not the same for
any two people.  Some things work for some people and some don’t,
If there’s a commonality beyond the various symptoms of depression,
it’s that frustration that this demon comes back to have another go
at you over and over again.

After my second half-assed suicide attempt, where I was pulled back
from the brink by thoughts of how my kids would grow up if I wasn’t
there to act as a counter to dangerous and downright evil in-laws,
I sought psychiatric help.  For about six months, I talked with an
psychiatrist every other week or so.  I needed this outlet because
I couldn’t talk to any one else about my destructive thoughts and
my greater fears.

I must digress. Those in-laws were only part of the problem.  I was
dealing with being screwed over by those bastards at DC Comics.  I
was having trouble getting work because some of those bastards were
actively slandering me.  I couldn’t even get jobs at movie rentals
stores and fast food restaurants.  I felt like I was a drain on my
family.  I never doubted that depression could kill me, but I did
often wonder how soon. End of digression.

Anti-depressants were prescribed.  Not surprising given that I am
the poster child for pharmaceutical side effects, they didn’t work.
Indeed, they made me feel worse.  They made me sluggish and unable
to write or do much of anything.  After two months, I just stopped
taking them and never regretted that decision.  I’m not suggesting
for a moment that these drugs don’t work for some patients, but I
was not one of them.

Eventually, I learned how to deal with depression by taking control
of my treatment.  I made a list of the warning signs of depression
and checked it regularly to see if I was heading into any dangerous
territory.  I found ways to overcome the debilitating effects of my
depression.  My methods weren’t as convenient or as quick as some
mental on/off switch, but they worked for me.

One of the methods that works for me, corny as it will sound, is to
concentrate on things that give me joy.  It can be a particularly
hilarious insightful commentary on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
or The Colbert Report.  It can be the entertaining coverage of the
filming of The Avengers in Cleveland by comics writer and reporter
Mike Sangiacomo and his colleagues at The Plain Dealer.  To enjoy
Mike’s articles and the other fun pieces, you’ll have to search the
paper’s website, but I think it’s well worth the effort.

It can be watching my son Eddie’s growing interest in comics over
the past year and wondering if I can talk him into writing a guest
blog in the near future.  It can be a kind word from a Grim Ghost
reader.  It can be a column on my second Black Lightning series so
uplifting writer Brian Cronin should have charged me for airfare.
You can read it here.

It can even be something as simple as the relief I felt when my pal
Terry Fairbanks figured out that the problem with one of the Casa
Isabella toilets was an easy fix that would not require the service
of an expensive plumber.  It’s not up there with meeting my Sainted
Wife Barb at your wedding all those decades ago, but it’s a solid
My methods work for ME.  I stress that.  You must be the master of
your depression.  Find what works for you.  Stick with it.  Talk to
people - family members, friends, medical professionals - whenever
you think your depression might be gaining ground.  Take charge of
your depression.  It won’t be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is.

See you tomorrow.

© 2011 Tony Isabella  


  1. I think it's great that you're willing to be open about your depression. Having lots of people in my life that I love who are suffering from depression and bipolar, I know how tough it can be to talk about having depression. I think it's a really brave thing to do, especially because it's inspiring for others suffering from depression to see one of their own finding success in creative fields.

    BTW, totally unrelated, I just read the very first issue of Black Lightning this morning. FANTASTIC! And after reading Brian's write up of the the 90s Black Lightning series yesterday, I'm really excited to dig up issues #1-8.

  2. I have sharp mood swings and depressions for hours. I just had a bout earlier. Hang tough man, it's not you, it's the body chemicals. And may I recommend some books: any book by the late great Richard Carlson of "Don't Sweat" fame. Really helped me miraculously when I'm feeling over the edge.

    Hang in there Tony and I love your work.


  3. I admire your talking about depression, because even in this "enlightened" age, most people won't. It sounds like you took the right path for you. May you continue to find the things that bring you joy in life.

  4. Mate, thanks for sharing. As a depression/anxiety sufferer, I always appreciate hearing about the Black Dog from another point of view and gleaning whatever I can from their approach. Keep on keeping on.

  5. I suffer what is known as "Atypical Rapid Cycling Depression" and I am also a writer (different field). I often feel that creative people have these issues because we see and feel things so vividly. My first med was Paxil and it was like you said - sluggish and zombie like, a Playboy Playmate couldn't have awoken me. Zoloft worked for a time, but it wasn't the answer either. I found my own solution through reading, Welbutrin combined with Epival. In my 9th year of it, I am more upbeat and creative than I'd been in decades AND have written nearly 900 short stories in 3 years.