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October 25, 2006


Thanks for sharing... (sounds cliché, but nonetheless). Glad to hear help is on the way and, truth be told, we all have our own demons to battle with... and keep in check hopefully just like you.

BTW, them lads sure look happy!

May peace be with you! Your battle is exactly like mine, although mine culminated in a hysterical mental breakdown in my kidney doctor's office. I know what you have been through, and you are always in my prayers, even more so now. I hope your calvary arrives soon. The work that I do for Dulaan and for other charities helps keep me focused and on track (well, that and a little help from Celexa). Thank you for sharing this with us, and thank you for allowing me to help others.

I love the pictures, the smiles and the love you can feel make it all worthwhile.

Adequate words of comfort escape me. Hang on, many, many are thinking good thoughts for you. I'll knit some man sized Dulaan hats for prisoners.

Thanks for sharing a tiny part of the interesting story of your life. i think those who share their hardships publicly bless the rest of us -- as the truth of pain is freeing to all of us. and we all have pain; more often than not unspoken. As for what you're doing, such as visiting forgotten prisons in mongolia and giving out warm clothing, seems like you are up to good; it's inspiring. take good care -- especially until your package arrives.

Thank you. I'm glad putting it all down was able to help you a bit, and I'm sure it will help some of yuor readers, somehow, as well. I know it helped me.


I too went through the horribleness of depression, post-partum in my case, but as I had always been at least mildly depressed, that episode was a doozy. Thank heavens for psychopharmachological miracles. After 16 years on the meds I've never been happier. Life is good.

Your analogy with the diabetic and his/her insulin is a good one. I like to consider the advice, "Just snap out of it" re: depression as akin to telling someone, "Just change your eye color." Can't be done, we were born that way.

Thank you for putting this all out. Mental illness affects so many of us.

Thank you for sharing. From the bottom of my heart. Knowing there are others out there who suffer like you do can help in so many ways when you are sliding down that slippery slope.

And seeing people who are so much worse off than you will ever be, and knowing you in some small way helped them, is a blessing that can't be described.

Just...thank you.

I think it was incredibly brave of you to post this particular entry. I am one of the few that witnessed you at your worst (in Maine) and it was extremely painful to see. Maybe your writing so openly about what the vista looks like from the eye of a person in deep depression will help others to seek help without shame. Thank you, my dear brother.

hi! i don't really have mutch to say. i'll start typing something worth reading when i read something worth typing. hee hee. so, just stopping in to say hi. better than a long distance phone call. wow, am i running out of things to i'm just typing in random words to fill up the little box provided. using the email thing on the side, you now know how to reach me!



Ah, thank you all so much. One potential Paxil withdrawal symptom is easy weepiness, and ya'll done gone and triggered it.

kmkat -- I'm going to remember that eye color comeback. Good one.

Paul, you rascal, keep writing!

i completely understand. while i am not on anti-depressants myself, my youngest child is. and it's been a roller coaster. in fact, his doctor decided we needed to up his medication in mid may, and he had several major episodes that ended up with him being hospitalized. we switched medication as quickly as we could. he's doing well on this medication, and if things continue to go well, he'll be home in a few months (he's in theraputic foster care, and this, his second placement, seems to be working, thank goodness)

and thank you for showing the hat pictures. i didn't see my hats, but that's ok, just knowing that we've warmed these men (prisoners or not), and maybe brought a little peace and happiness to their lives is enough

Bless you, Cuzzin Tom, for the work you do, and I'm going to be sending larger hats too for the guys. Thanks for posting this today, I'm sure it was hard to live thru again.

Well, heck, I have this enormous hat I didn't send because it is too big for even my huge head (going to try felting it this year so maybe it will be a bit smaller) but I think someone there might have fit is and it is just blue and white (good men color)

I think that guy in the sandals will be thrilled with toe socks :D You never know they may become the new in thing there.

I've actually been thinking about talking to my docs about getting back on meds - I'm tired of pretending to be happy - does that make sense to you -- my problem isn't sleeping too much -- it is exactly the opposite - I have insomnia which is ridiculous. My brain is exhausted but it won't shut down for me to sleep - it is kind of like the energizer bunny - it keeps going and going and going. Wish it had some good thoughts on making some money to supplement retirement or something constructive at least.

And thanks for sharing - look at all the people who understand and wrote and imagine how many won't write that you will help by your post - we all go thru things for reasons - even horrible things - maybe you had to go thru that to be able to help someone else by writing about it.

And now that I have rambled out a book to you I will go sit and quietly read some more

I have panic attacks occasionally, but was having them a lot while in Japan and for several months after I came home (I taught English in Japan from March '04 to March '05). I was terribly overworked, wearing lay people's clothes (which for me was symbolic of being a failure as a monk), and was completely cut off from any Dharma community. Odd, being that Japan is ostensibly a Buddhist country. Anyway, I was in major denial about the attacks, during some of which I actually collapsed and passed out, especially when the doctors I started seeing upon return from Japan all basically said to me, "What's a Buddhist monk having panic attacks for? Don't you know how to meditate?" That was painful. I stopped seeing doctors.

It didn't help that I was under-employed in a boring jog and living with my parents again in my mid-thirties. Now that I'm out of mommy and daddy's house and doing something worthwhile (going for an M.A. in Buddhist Studies in CA), I don't have them as much and they're not as intense. I never did go on medication, but I've only had one since coming to school here and it was not so bad. So, perhaps this is a little selfish, but I'm glad to hear I'm not the only monk with mental health issues. I feel like I can admit to being human...something I find lay people, Buddhist or otherwise, don't always allow us to be.

Cheers to you, mate.

With palms together...

Just coming by to grab your addy for a hyperlink in this week's Mandala Messenger (get ready for lots of new visitors) - and WOW. Soooo glad your sis is hooking you up with the meds. Promise to stay on top of them this time, we're counting on you!!

Thanks for the picture, and for the story of your depression. I resisted meds for years because I thought it was wimpy, but I now have a relationship of slobbering gratitude with my prozac. I'm lucky that the first thing I tried worked, and continues to do so without side effects. I'm lucky that I'm sane and happy enough now to work on helping other people.

One of my hats MIGHT be in that picture, but it's hard to tell since brownish-gray hats just aren't as distinctive as hats with daisies.

Konchog, I applaud your courage to deal with depression and come to Mongolia where your work is needed, but help is hard to come by. Please let me know if there is anything I can do.

Melinda -- For some reason your phrase "slobbering gratitude" gave me the laugh of the day.

The rest of you -- in these comments and by email -- are quite the unexpected and lovely support group! All is well except for this one very weird phenomenon. I keep getting this sensation that's's like if you were about to be transported off the Enterprise, right? And the gizmo had just started to disassemble your molecules and then jammed and you snapped back into focus. It's like I go blurry then snap back. Blurrrr...snapback. Like 20 times an hour. Very peculiar, this samsaric projection, no?

Dara -- Thanks for the heads up. I better write something witty and normal or I'll scare everyone away! Got some funny Mooj pix today. Maybe that'll do it.

"It's like I go blurry then snap back. Blurrrr...snapback."

That could be the fruit of the Castaneda Tantra: do you reassemble your perceptions in this world? Do you become a cat?:-)

We usually ignore what it the part of ourselves which is organic. We know where is our body, sure, we identify with it, but until a certain point: we miss that a part of our mental processes, our mood etc., a part greater than we would like to acknowledge, is the result of pure organic activity. Sometimes this biological determinism can be oriented towards healthy states that point towards the non-organic, sometimes we need material help, medications. My experience tells me that, when in trouble, the remembrance of that knowledge (not to identify with the perceptions, basically) helps to reduce the tension, which is something, despite not being enough. Take good care of yourself.

And, anyway, there is this huge no-man's-land between the neuron and our true nature, that murmurs when we don't listen and that is completely silent otherwise, which makes us a bit paranoid or depressed.


Aaaaauw. Here a pride amongst the pridest... Reading you I am struck with similarities in the depressive condition. Because I still go to work, it's too easy to hide to myself the fact that despite all the struggling, my life is a complete misery. Why the heck is it so difficult to get on meds????

Thank you for that honest, helpful post. Take good care and don't forget to show us when you'll put those toe-socks yourself ;-)

You know Konchog it's great when you occaisonally put in some Star Trek reference! It remindes me being hardcore fan back in the school. Late night episodes of Voyager and Enterprise were really something rare to look forwared too on tv.
I never understand diference betveen psychologist and psychiatrist until standard recruitment process for military service. Guys who got suspicious results from written test got to chat with psychgologist. Those were many! During conversation most of us just smooth things over and were declared eligiable, myself included. However guys who could'nt get things strait with nice lady psychologist got sent upstairs for chat with actual psychiatrist. And those were mostly exempt from military service! Lucky bastards...
My point is mental doctors- yes if you want them or need them to help you. But if goverment needs them to screen your mind for it's own purposes then they'r nothing but tools in the hands of devil...
Stay sane Konchog!

Here's hoping your molecules realign properly, every time. A big hug to you, Konchog.

I am working on my gratitudes daily, trying to move gracefully through midlife. Sometimes they unfold so deeply. Little do these men know how grateful I am to them for allowing me the opportunity to knit with great purpose. Thank you for all you do in our world family. Marianne

Cuzzin Tom, a big hug to you. I find that is one of the aspects I love most about my job, too -- the "If you think you've got it bad" aspect. Every day I'm reminded of what I've got to be thankful for.


I nearly plotzed, as you would say, when I read about your sis asking "What'd you do that for?" That's EXACTLY what Alan says when I run out of my stash. Every. Single. Time. And I ususally suggest ever so gently that the time to have a deep, introspective chat about why I'm a such a moron and so incabale of getting my shit together should be when I'm NOT in a trembling, sweating, eyeball-gouging withdrawl- induced rage. Geez.

Me again. One more thing I'd like to share with you. I tried to go off my depression meds this summer and even though it was very subtle outwardly, those who know me and love me most noticed that I had lost my zest. My affect became flat at best. Yes, I'm back on them and your post has given me the strength to know that this is right for me, even though I would prefer to be drug free my entire life. But I'm wondering about the side effects of Prozac. The TRUE side effects, not those posted by the drug company. Any idea? Thanks agin for being who you are and so very honest...Marianne

I don't know quite what to say, so I suppose I'd just better go knit. The more I learn about you.......

Thanks for the topic, I think it's one we can't talk about enough. I went through a similar soul search, only for me it was about whether to treat my son. He was sliding into depression and paranoia, but it wasn't until he hid behind me one day because 'the people in the car driving by were watching him' that I smelled the coffee and figured out that his need for meds was more important than my need to feel like a 'good parent'. As if somehow treating my child's problem was akin to admitting that I had failed. When you look at the work in SPECT brain scanning, and see how people's brains look, on and off meds, you can see how some people really need them the way diabetics need insulin.
Tell Mooj to keep an eye on you while you wait for your pills. Maybe some catnip tea would tide you over!

If it's not 'hug a monk' day it ought to be. Here you are having a bit of a crisis, helping those in other circumstances and still able to bring the funny and a ST reference or two. Go Monkman!

I'm just catching up on the fun things in life, like reading your blog, and the first thing I find is this entry.

I'm a Guy on Meds, too: Lexapro and Wellbutrin. They go together like peanut butter and jelly.

It's not an easy thing to write about and I'm impressed with how clearly you describe the experience - including being asked why you don't just stop taking them and cheer up.

And you know I look up to you - so finding out we have this in common is a shot in the arm for me when I really need it.

Between that, and seeing Dulaan Action Shots, you made my damn day.

Sarita -- I should clarify that my sister didn't ask me why I'd allowed my stash to lapse; the question was rhetorical. She simply responded with the love she always shows by zipping to the PO and sending the goods (I'm lucky, she's a doc). And, my darling, I'm afraid I feel a bit sympathetic with Alan for his POV, if not his timing. I'm copping to doing this once; sounds like you're saying you do it *on a regular basis*. This is tough on those who love you.

Marianne -- I don't know anything about Prozac. But I do know that everyone's different, of course, and won't fit neatly into a Pharma co.'s model.

I would say, in general, that the only good reason to "get off meds" is if the side effects are worse than the disorder. And even then, I'd first try to either adjust a dosage or switch to another, always under the care and observation of a professional.

Very wonderful story!
Your Budhicitta mind is the best doctor that heals you. I also look up to do...

Best wishes ~Sherab

Sheet. Ah, the countless times I stood in line on a weekend, waitin' for the ole' overdue refill... one time the one-time-too-many came and the pharmacist's disapproving sighs merited a "hey, dude, didn't they teach you in Pharmacy school that depression makes you, well, forget sheet?" Then again, maybe that was the sudden rage talking... depression is SUCH a beast - best book I ever read on it was a graphic novel (comic book) written by a teenager - she calls it the wolf and talks about the stuff that makes the wolf stronger and the stuff that makes the wolf smaller, and it was a wonderful thing, to see depression as a non-integral part of me - you know, the whole dang thoughts arising, thoughts subsiding business? I think those B-boys came up with that, didn't they? (Conquering the Beast Within by Cait Irwin)
Wishing your postal goodness a speedy delivery!

Your response to Marianne brings up an interesting point: for those who suffer, don't despair if the first drug you try isn't the right one. It's a fine balancing act of chemistry to get the right solution.

There is a strong lineage of depression and even full blown mental illness in my father's family and I suffered bravely for years before I finally sought treatment. Depression looks different on different people. Mine is very internal. My outward appearance of energy and togetherness is fine, but details of my life start slipping and tasks go unfinished. I lose contact with the joy of living and become internally disengaged from everything and everyone around me. The mental lethargy builds up until suddenly an explosion of pent up emotion knocks me on my ass and I realize that I've been depressed for weeks.

Thank you for sharing your story. May life treat you gently until your dear sis' package arrives. Peace and blessings to you...

Oh man do I know about the first part of today's entry! When I was overseas last year I was without my happy pills (which I also resisted taking for years) for about a month. It was NOT pretty. Hang in there, help is on its way. (I also use the insulin argument with friends in need now.) Thanks for the pics of the prisoners.

Konchog, I agree that it was very brave of you to write this post. Maybe you can find a local dr. that can help you find the AD you need locally so even if you happen to run out again in the future, you won't need to wait for an express delivery.

About 10 years ago I was put on an MAOI, nasty stuff. The side effects were worse than the original symptoms. I didn't realize going cold turkey was dangerous and ended up spending almost a week hospitalized. Not trying to scare anyone, but just a word of warning to anyone on any sort of meds, especially when you travel, make sure you have a backup plan and always talk to your doc if you plan to go off them.

I have seen a photo of His Holiness sporting a sun visor. Somehow, I think he would approve of the cheerful socks for prisoners.

Zendette -- You bring up something I forgot to mention. At a dinner I went to last year, I met a Mongolian psychologist. She said that even the oldest, most common psych meds were completely absent in Mongolia. But, I do have SOS insurance, and like a dummy haven't checked with their and learn.

Thanks for some many things Cuzzin Tom.

I'm going to knit some hats in my friend Erin's memory for F.I.R.E.

Depression played its part in both our lives.

Yeah, generally speaking, mental health issues do not receive much attention in Mongolia. There are institutions for the mentally handicapped (schizophrenia, etc), however the less serious varieties such as depression, OCD, ADHD, bipolar disorders, etc simply do not exist for all practical purposes. No diagnosis, no treatment.

I see two main reasons for that:

a) backwardness, both in terms of public awareness and access to treatment (there are pros and cons to this point: cons - people suffer, often needlessly, pros - no dependence YET on cash-hungry, unsrupulous pharma co's keen to come up with more and more new "conditions" that get stigmatized and require VERY long-term "treatments" of course, as opposed to cures...

b) Mongol culture + environment, which might be less conducive to developing such problems. Due to harsh conditions + overall vulnerability, dependence on one another is recognized and emphasized, as opposed to the ideal of total self-sufficiency pursued in the West. When I went to US as a teenager, at first I simply couldn't understand why and how my roommate was depressed (and what for). Such a thing simply didn't exist where I came from.

Not to say that mental health is not an issue - alcoholism, domestic violence, crime, etc are widespread and require attention.

Thanks for sharing about your meds, Konchog. Didn't know you were on them. For someone who takes them four times a day, a handful at a time, I am eternally grateful for Jetsunma's instruction to do so. I can sort of live a life now. But thank you for having the courage to come out and admit it. Hard for a Buddhist monk to do so.

The guy with the daisy and the big grin ... shows that there's some folks you can't keep down no matter how hard their circumstances are. And I'm glad of it. This post brought me joy, thank you.

You're an inspiration. Thanks for sharing. I won't go so far as to say that I will ask my doc for meds, or get into therapy. But I will think about it.

90,000 pharma reps in the usa,you can't watch the evening news without being bombarded.

What irks me is that the Eli Lilly company's blockbuster Zyprexa has been implicated in causing TEN times greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
They then turn around and sell other blockbuster drugs to treat the same diabetes.
Daniel Haszard

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Mongolia Bird List: "L" = Lifer

  • Amur Falcon -- L
  • Arctic (Hoary) Redpoll -- L
  • Arctic Warbler -- L
  • Asian Brown Flycatcher -- L
  • Asian Dowitcher -- L
  • Asian Short-toed Lark -- L
  • Azure Tit -- L
  • Bank Swallow
  • Bar-headed Goose -- L
  • Barn Swallow
  • Bean Goose -- L
  • Black Grouse -- L
  • Black Stork -- L
  • Black Woodpecker -- L
  • Black-billed Magpie
  • Black-eared Kite -- L
  • Black-headed Gull -- L
  • Black-tailed Godwit -- L
  • Black-winged Stilt
  • Blyth's Pipit -- L
  • Bohemian Waxwing -- L
  • Booted Eagle -- L
  • Brown Shrike -- L
  • Carrion Crow
  • Chinese Penduline Tit -- L
  • Chukar -- L
  • Cinereous Vulture
  • Citrine Wagtail -- L
  • Coal Tit
  • Common Cuckoo
  • Common Goldeneye
  • Common Greenshank -- L
  • Common Kestrel
  • Common Merganser
  • Common Pochard -- L
  • Common Raven
  • Common Redpoll
  • Common Redshank -- L
  • Common Rosefinch -- L
  • Common Sandpiper
  • Common Shelduck -- L
  • Common Snipe -- L
  • Common Starling
  • Common Swift
  • Common Tern
  • Crested Lark -- L
  • Curlew Sandpiper -- L
  • Dark-throated Thrush -- L
  • Daurian Jackdaw -- L
  • Daurian Partridge -- L
  • Daurian Redstart -- L
  • Demoiselle Crane -- L
  • Desert Warbler -- L
  • Desert Wheatear -- L
  • Dusky Thrush -- L
  • Dusky Warbler -- L
  • Eared Grebe
  • Eurasian Bullfinch -- L
  • Eurasian Coot -- L
  • Eurasian Curlew -- L
  • Eurasian Griffon
  • Eurasian Hobby
  • Eurasian Jay
  • Eurasian Nutcracker -- L
  • Eurasian Nuthatch -- L
  • Eurasian Skylark
  • Eurasian Sparrowhawk
  • Eurasian Spoonbill -- L
  • Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker -- L
  • Eurasian Tree Sparrow
  • Eurasian Treecreeper -- L
  • Eurasian Wigeon -- L
  • Eurasian Wryneck -- L
  • Eyebrowed Thrush -- L
  • Falcated Duck -- L
  • Fork-tailed Swift -- L
  • Gadwall
  • Garganey -- L
  • Godlewski's Bunting -- L
  • Goldcrest -- L
  • Golden Eagle
  • Gray Heron
  • Gray Wagtail -- L
  • Great Cormorant
  • Great Crested Grebe
  • Great Gray Shrike -- L
  • Great Spotted Woodpecker
  • Great Tit
  • Greater Short-toed Lark -- L
  • Greater Spotted Eagle -- L
  • Green Sandpiper -- L
  • Green-winged Teal
  • Greenish Warbler -- L
  • Hawfinch -- L
  • Hazel Grouse -- L
  • Hen/Northern Harrier
  • Herring Gull
  • Hill Pigeon -- L
  • Hoopoe
  • Horned Grebe
  • Horned Lark
  • House Sparrow
  • Isabelline Shrike -- L
  • Isabelline Wheatear -- L
  • Kentish (Snowy) Plover -- L
  • Lesser Spotted Woodpecker -- L
  • Lesser Whitethroat -- L
  • Little Bunting -- L
  • Little Owl -- L
  • Little Ringed Plover
  • Long-tailed Rosefinch
  • Long-tailed Tit
  • Long-toed Stint -- L
  • Mallard
  • Marsh Sandpiper
  • Meadow Bunting -- L
  • Mew Gull -- L
  • Mongolian Finch -- L
  • Mongolian Ground-jay -- L
  • Mongolian Lark -- L
  • Northern Lapwing -- L
  • Northern Pintail
  • Northern Shoveler
  • Northern Wheatear
  • Olive-backed Pipit -- L
  • Oriental Plover -- L
  • Oriental Reed Warbler -- L
  • Oriental Turtle Dove
  • Pacific Golden-plover -- L
  • Paddyfield Warbler -- L
  • Pallas' Reed Bunting -- L
  • Pallas's Leaf Warbler -- L
  • Pallas's Sandgrouse -- L
  • Peregrine Falcon
  • Pied Avocet -- L
  • Pied Wheatear -- L
  • Pine Bunting -- L
  • Pine Grosbeak -- L
  • Pintail Snipe -- L
  • Red (Common) Crossbill
  • Red-billed Chough -- L
  • Red-crested Pochard -- L
  • Red-flanked Bluetail -- L
  • Red-necked Grebe
  • Red-throated Flycatcher -- L
  • Richard's Pipit -- L
  • Rock Dove
  • Rock Sparrow -- L
  • Rook -- L
  • Ruddy Shelduck -- L
  • Ruddy Turnstone
  • Ruff -- L
  • Rufous-tailed Robin -- L
  • Saker Falcon -- L
  • Scaly Thrush -- L
  • Sharp-tailed Sandpiper -- L
  • Siberian Accentor -- L
  • Siberian Rubythroat -- L
  • Smew -- L
  • Spotted Flycatcher -- L
  • Spotted Redshank -- L
  • Steppe Eagle -- L
  • Swan Goose -- L
  • Temminck's Stint -- L
  • Thick-billed Warbler -- L
  • Tree Pipit -- L
  • Tufted Duck -- L
  • Twite -- L
  • Upland Buzzard -- L
  • Ural Owl -- L
  • Water Pipit -- L
  • White Wagtail
  • White-cheeked Starling -- L
  • White-naped Crane -- L
  • White-winged (Two-barred) Crossbill -- L
  • White-winged Scoter
  • White-winged Tern -- L
  • Whooper Swan -- L
  • Willow Tit -- L
  • Wood Sandpiper -- L
  • Yellow-billed Grosbeak -- L
  • Yellow-browed (Inornate) Warbler -- L