Kaua’i, psychiatrist help man with depression heal

It really wasn’t that long ago when John Brown, 43, of Koloa, sat on his couch in New Jersey, loaded shotgun poised with the barrel to his throat.

He was praying to God to send him a sign as to why he shouldn’t end his life, and then the telephone rang.

It was his wife, asking him what he was doing, how he was doing.

That phone call that day likely saved his life, and allowed him to take a doctor’s advice to move to a place nearer the Equator, where his seasonal depressive episodes wouldn’t be as intense.

Brown, who came to Kaua’i in 1998, was diagnosed with manic-depression at age 37, but maintains he suffered with the illness from the age of 13. As the result of comforting treatment he received from Dr. Jon Nakamura of Lihu’e, Brown decided it was his destiny to try to help others who like himself suffer from depression.

“I heard genuine concern in Dr. Jon Nakamura’s voice,” said Brown, who has published the first of what he hopes will be a series of books, “The Gift of Depression.”

Now healthy and happy, Brown decided in part because of Nakamura’s help to try to find ways to help others also suffering from depression.

He hopes to raise enough money through his nonprofit The Fun Foundation to send the first volume of stories from 20 people coping with depression, including himself, to every home on Kaua’i.

The first volume is in Kaua’i bookstores now, and Brown hopes the books will encourage those with undiagnosed depression to seek professional treatment.

A study is also planned, in conjunction with the University of Hawaii, to get firm numbers of people suffering from depression, both diagnosed and undiagnosed, he said.

After being turned down by most publishers with the graphic stories of people like himself battling depression, Brown through the experience learned how to write, edit and publish his own book, and started his nonprofit corporation.

The corporation was founded to educate and assist the public at large on the benefits of treatment for depression.

Every year, over 30,000 people in the United States, and another 30,000 in Japan, commit suicide. That’s one person every 17 minutes in the United States.

Professionals are certain that, with proper diagnosis of and treatment for depression, those numbers would drop dramatically.

The Fun Foundation seeks to de-stigmatize depression as a disease of crazy people, and through the book educate the public and open doors to treatment for those not currently being treated because of fear and misunderstanding.

For more information, please call Brown, 742-2353, or see the Web site, www.findfun.org.

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