To the editor: California Secretary of State Debra Bowen is to be applauded, not questioned, for candidly discussing her long-term battle with depression. ("Secretary of state's disclosure of depression draws support, concern," Sept. 6)
As a college educator for 25 years who likewise suffered from repeated bouts of clinical depression, I have empathy for what Bowen must endure. I also know that her job performance is not likely to be affected. Indeed, my career helped keep me grounded and even provided a welcome respite from the disease.
Why mental illness continues to be stigmatized reflects an outdated paradigm of the "rugged individualist." As a result of this stubborn myth, mental illness is seen as a character flaw rather than a chronic condition.
And guess what? Medications and therapies have proved tremendously effective in stabilizing and even curing depression.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg knows this, and he too is to be lauded for his support of Bowen. Other people in positions of power or responsibility should voice their support as well.
Kathy Landis, Laguna Woods
To the editor: Kudos to Bowen for sharing her fight with depression with the public. She opens the doors of compassion, support as well as education to all who face the stigma of an uninformed society.
Hopefully, with more articles like this and more public education, we can open our hearts and minds and help folks with depression face their challenges with encouragement and success.
Marilou Lieman, Rancho Palos Verdes
To the editor: It is unbelievable that secretary of state candidate Pete Peterson would be so insensitive as to question whether Bowen could do her job without being "physically present" some of the time during her battle with depression.
Would Peterson have said such a thing if he wasn't running for that office himself?
As a Sacramento television reporter in the 1990s, I covered Bowen on many occasions. She was and probably still is one of the brightest people in the capital. I never saw or heard of her being anything but professional and fully engaged in her work.
Kudos to Bowen and to Steinberg for their brave candor.
Tom Marshall, San Clemente