Outing Depression

My friend, Chuck Pearson (@ShorterPearson on Twitter) published a marvelous essay last week on his struggle with depression. I’ve thought for a couple of years about writing about mine but could never get around to it. This has been especially true in the last year since Dad died. The beauty and clarity of what he wrote pushed me through the remaining barriers so I could out my depression and share my story.

In November of 2016 I was in a very dark space. There are/were many external reasons, things that been building to a crescendo pitch for years, but ultimately it was a failure to address the fact I had never admitted my depression, nor had I tried to treat it effectively. There was no excuse for this, other than the depression itself. I understood depression to be an illness, a chemical imbalance. After all, my wife was being treated for it, my oldest, and others around me.

I simply didn’t want to deal with it. I was being self-destructive.

I quit caring about myself.

It wasn’t until a very smart and insightful friend asked, “Tod, why do you hate yourself?”

I was stunned. It stopped me cold. I had no answer. But I did understand what I had just learned. It took me several days to absorb it, to come to terms with it. Two weeks later I made some choices.

I went to my PCP told him I felt depressed as a regular, ongoing thing. “Tod,” he said, “You know it is a chemical imbalance. We can can treat it.” Just like that I had a script for a mild antidepressant, starting low to determine its effectiveness.

Later the same morning, I made two calls. One to a therapist that had been recommended to me, one to a weight-loss clinic. I made radical changes to my diet and lifestyle and went to counseling two days a week for several months. It was intense.

Forty months later, I am in a much better place. I’m still on the antidepressant. After ending counseling and just doing the ongoing work required to be healthy, I have started back to counseling. It’s different this time, not just because I have a new counselor, but I am working on something else. Before I was working on the self-hatred thing, now the focus is simply on happiness.

Is my depression solved? No, its treated. As long as I take my script each day, pay attention to life, check-in on myself regularly, and keep my doctor apprised of how I am doing, it’s managed. I wish I had done this years ago. My depression was not new. Looking back it was clearly a part of my life a long damn time.

Like I said, I wish I had taken these steps a years ago. Age 58 is a little late, but damn well better late than never.

6 thoughts on “Outing Depression

  1. Tod, As a fellow 58 year-old guy, I am telling myself the same thing. It may be later than I wished, but now and going forward is all we have. Your writing was so powerful and meaningful. The question from your friend hit home for you and it was a great question…a loving punch in the gut. Perhaps we were raised to think that compassion is what we give to others, not ourselves. It is great that it goes out to others, but some of us need to extend it inward for once. I am right there with you and so admiring of your ability to take action. Each time we see you, you bring joy to us just by your being you. Glad you are part of my life.

  2. Ahhh Tod, I too have been through depression but saying that means I’m finished with it, doesn’t it? Well, I’m not but I take my script and I manage. I have been through counseling several times but the last therapist I had which was about a year ago, was the best. I essentially grew up without my maternal mother. I never really thought it affected me, but there is no doubt it did as I look back now. I believe it’s important that depression has many faces and understanding it because you are living it is very important. We need to be happy. It’s a necessity of life and if we aren’t we need to figure it out. I don’t ever blame my depression on anyone but suffice it to say, I’m in charge of me. You need to hang tough because that’s very important. Laughing is also important…..always remember that!

    • Brenda, Thank you for your comment today. It made me go back and read Tod’s beautiful and moving comments. Both your words and his were much needed today. I am hoping that if I can get to the point of being content (not in a passive way) and more frequently appreciative, it will be good. Happiness is elusive for some of us, but moments of joy may be possible…and humor is always good. I imagine that the use of humor is how many of us deal with our demons. Like the t-shirt says, “Sometimes I wrestle with my demons…sometimes we just cuddle.” Sending thanks and gratitude to you and Tod both.

  3. Pingback: Happiness and Joy | random data from a tumored head

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