The Depths of Depression
Photographs by Jeanine Pohlhaus, personal diary excerpts by Ernie and Joan Pohlhaus

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.....One of my first photographs was of my father. In fact, he was the person who best understood my weird sense of humour and odd fascinations with what others found mundane. I used to follow my family members around and photograph them even in somewhat inappropriate places like the shower. For me it was grand theatre and usually, they didn't seem to mind.
.....In 1995 when my father became ill, I felt compelled to leave my life in Colorado and return home to Pennsylvania. I hoped to help him and the rest of my family pull together and work through a tough time. I also picked up the ongoing body of documentation of the family where I had left off. As my father's condition worsened, he was diagnosed with manic depressive disorder. This brought a period of crisis reflected in the images on the following pages. What you see here is life both at home and at the hospitals.
.....There were many ironies on the edges of this difficult time. One was that my father had just turned 60, the age at which most men start to think about retiring and enjoying their "golden" years. Another was that although my parents had worked their entire careers in social services and education, they found themselves in the same situation as anyone else trying to navigate the managed health care system.
We questioned, we believed, and we fought doctors, insurance companies, hospitals, and medications. Through the pain, frustration, anger and hope, we also learned.
.....We learned that clinical depression afflicts 18 million Americans yearly, and that it is often misdiagnosed as a "weakness in character". Because it is not taken as seriously as other illnesses, funding for the research into its causes and cures suffers. It receives one tenth the funding allocated for heart disease, although depression is on pace to be the world's second most disabling disease by the year 2020. My father is struggling to recover. The future is uncertain, yet hope persists.
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