Hello, I Suffer From Depression
That’s probably not much of a revelation from me. I don’t try to hide it. I’ve never been ashamed of it. I have plenty of other things to hide and feel ashamed about.
I’ve been on and off of medication now for over 15 years. I consider that to be a lucky thing for me. For so many people anti-depressants are way of life. While they are necessary, they also suck. There’s a numbing effect to them that makes me feel fake and distant from the world. Like the real me is trapped inside of a drugged haze.
But boy it beats the feelings of being depressed and not taking them. While the ideal is that I can maintain my proper levels without the use of drugs, I know that for me it’s virtually impossible for me to spend the rest of my natural life that way. Thus I’m always on the lookout for signs that it’s time to go back on. My family does the same. The last time someone decided to talk with me about taking medicine again was, let’s see, carry the one, oh….yesterday.
OK, this is getting depressing.
Anyway, depression is the hot topic of the day, and like any hot topic that means I spend many hours reading what I consider to be terrible takes. You think you know what I’m talking about when I say terrible takes, but you don’t. Fair warning, there’s a spectacular chance that if you have weighed in, I’m talking about you.
Depression is a personal disease that impacts everyone differently. It’s not all about being sad and crying – though some people have told me that’s what it is for them. Some depression makes a hell of a lot of sense. Some doesn’t. Some people really do have to get a better attitude about life. Some people really are drama queens. Others, well, they are giving honest cries for help in their own way. They are trapped inside of their own brain knowing something is wrong, but unable to fix it. They can feel themselves falling farther and farther from normal (Normal is the goal. Not happy. Normal. The ability to feel emotions in a normal way. I don’t crave being happy. I crave just being who I know I am, and get scared I’ll never be again). Please don’t tell me you can tell who is “really” depressed and who isn’t based on a tweet.
I was totally fine this morning, on my hour long commute, and then suddenly I decided that I was going to write about this. Without warning I was awash in tears. Sobbing. Uncontrollably. The entire way to work. Try not to feel embarrassed at a red light when you’re howling out like someone has just shot your dog in front of you while “Last Christmas” the Taylor Swift version blares from your car. It was bad. I’ve had some bad times lately. Like most things, I think I know myself. I think I’m aware. I think I have a grasp of what I can handle. Then I decide to write a blog post and all Hell breaks loose.
Me, being me, it didn’t stop me from getting breakfast.
“Can I take your order?” *SOOOOOOOOOB OHHHHH GOOOD OOOOOH GOOOOD NOO. I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY CAN I *SOOOOB* CAN I GET SOME CHIK-N-MINIS?
“Oh honey, oh! It’s ok! Yes of course you can! Can I get you anything else? Is there anything else you want?”
*sniffle* Sniffle* Can I …Can I get even more chik-n-minis? *sniffle*
“Oh yes of course! Anything! Whatever you need!
I dunno, maybe depression has its perks.
For me, I have a pretty obvious sign when I’m suffering. I stop talking to those that I care about. I can tweet! Yeah, I can tweet to a bunch of strangers that I don’t know, and don’t know me! But I can’t call my grandma. I can’t hang out with friends. I disappear, I slink away. I can see my mom calling, and I can see the button to pick up the phone and say hello, and I cannot make myself push that button. I can’t do it. There may be no other person I want to talk to ever, but I cannot physically bring myself to do it.
This upsets a lot of people in my life, obviously, which doesn’t help much, obviously. The idea that I can’t reach out, that I can’t press that button is absurd. They don’t understand it, and I understand why. I mean, I don’t understand it. I can press a damn button. I can say hello. I can talk to the most important people in my life. But I also can’t. And it weighs on me. And every day that goes by it weighs on me more. Which sends me farther and farther from being able to press the button.
It’s gotten my mom to call and leave me several worried messages over the years, usually about how she hasn’t heard from me and that worries her, etc. Then, because I’m not depressed at the moment, I’ll call her back and explain to her that I’ve actually sent her several texts that she’s ignoring because she forgets how to use her cell phone.
For her career she is a programmer for a cell phone company.
But that’s moms. Every single bit of it. Mine discovered my depression in college. I had no idea I was upset. I was just in my haze. Gone. Hiding from the world. She insisted I go to the doctor. She took me. I was put on meds right away. I didn’t fight it at all. I think it’s something I’d have normally fought, but because I was depressed I just said ok to everything. I wasn’t thinking I’d get any better, I just didn’t care so I was just doing as I was told.
And that’s when I really learned about brain chemicals, and I think this part is important:
Depression can come in many forms. You can say it after a sports loss, and that’s fine. I don’t find it flippant. You are depressed, even if you’re over it by morning. Death in the family? Divorce? Definitely leads to depression. Sometimes these can be overcome without medication. Sometimes they can’t be. But it’s that chemical depression that I don’t think people understand enough.
I’m not going to pretend to be an expert here, and I know nothing about medicine here but I’m going to try to explain in layperson’s terms my opinion/experience with what’s going on:
Everyone knows your serotonin levels go down and up. David Freese hits a series saving triple? Happy chemicals! Mike Matheny signs a contract extension, Major serotonin leak!!!
The events in your life can bring it up and down. Your own outlook and personality can bring it up and down. You can be happier, not necessarily happy, just by a change in your outlook.
Unless your serotonin production is just screwed up. Sometimes it’s an unworked muscle, and the medicine helps you start producing again, start knowing what normal is again, and you can slowly take yourself off and recover.
And sometimes it’s a dead muscle, and without the medication forcing it, you’ll simply not produce the serotonin needed to be normal, no matter what happens.
A month into my taking of meds, I got a rash on my head. It was a weekend. We called the doctor’s 24 hour line and he was on vacation. The substitute doctor, not understanding that I’ve been on these things for a month, was scared the rash was related, and told me to stop taking the drugs. He didn’t wean me off. He told me to stop.
2 weeks later my parents showed up at my house. I remember being in bed wondering what they were doing there. Confused.
It turns out the sudden drop of medicine gave me a feeling of depression like I have never experienced before. I cratered. I didn’t leave bed. I assume I ate. I assume I went to the bathroom. My dog was alive, so I must have done something about that too, but I remember nothing but staying in bed all hours of the night and staring. I was in my own coma. I have no stories to tell, no shocking revelations, because I remembered and retained almost nothing. My phone – I had weeks of missed calls. Can’t hit the button. But I don’t even remember trying. The phone just rang and I just stayed in bed staring. Class? I can ALMOST promise you I didn’t go to class those weeks, but honestly, maybe I went once or twice? I have no clue.
The one thing I can tell you is that you could have dropped Dexter Fowler’s entire contract into my lap, and it wouldn’t have even slightly altered my mood. No amount of pizza or pixie dust could have changed me. The chemicals were gone. I cared about nothing.
2 weeks later, back on medicine, I remember recounting to my parents what it was like. That conversation is still what I draw back on because the actual time spent in bed is almost completely lost to me. I told them about how I didn’t even know it was happening. I didn’t feel the slide. I didn’t know anything was even wrong. I would have sat in bed forever. I was the frog in the slowly boiling water.
It was an important lesson to me in the power of the brain, and the power of health. It’s just so difficult to overcome this stuff, because the thing you’re overcoming is yourself. It’s your own brain, and it’s the demons in your head, and they are NOT on your side. I fail at life every single day, and the number one reason I fail is because I simply can’t defeat my own brain from dragging me straight back down. And that’s when I’m healthy. Don’t mess with this shit. It will beat you every single time. To win you need all the help you can get. You need to overwhelm it. And you need to pray that it’s enough. And when you’re healthy, you need to actively say healthy. Because the sad, and the scary part is, it’s never actually truly gone. You’re always one uncontrollable thing away from being back in chaos. From starting all over. The darkness lurks. It waits and it lurks and it will always have another chance. You’ve got to be ready. You can do it. I believe it. I truly do. I’ve been there. You can win, and you can win, and you can win again. But it’s hard, and it’s nasty, and it’s a lifetime of fighting. And it’s worth it. Because life is amazing and we get one shot to feel it.
And it seems so easy to outsiders. It seems so easy that you just have to push a button. They don’t know. They don’t know that every sadness, every anxiety, every fear, every dark thought is pushing back at your finger, making it impossible for you to fight alone.
And those that think it’s easy, don’t yell at them. Don’t scream at them on twitter. Don’t form an angry mob. You’re not helping either. When someone says you can’t be depressed with Dexter Fowler’s life, don’t you realize what they are really saying? Don’t you see it? They are looking at their own life. Their own fears. Their own disappointments and failures. They are looking to the answers of their own personal problems through their own personal lens.
We all have out biases. We all have our blind spots. We all have our experiences or lack of them. And it’s a fantastic time to remind ourselves and to remind others what we’ve got. My life is wonderful. It’s amazing. There are people out there that would offer me no sympathy because they can’t see how I could get depressed. That’s ok. They have their own problems. They have their own insecurities. They have their own anxieties. The answer isn’t to answer their secret cries for help with an online outrage mob. It’s to talk to them. It’s to hope the best for them. It’s to not be another negative on a person suffering. They are suffering. We are suffering. We can’t beat this stuff alone, but we all can do better, together.
P.S. You’re going to think me a hypocrite. I get online. I make jokes, sometimes they seem mean. Sometimes they are mean. Well you’re right. I’m a hypocrite. I write the Cardinal Sin, that mocks people, and I just hope they know that it’s all a joke. For me, humor is a power. If I can make jokes – if I can laugh – then I can have power over any situation. That’s my cope. That’s how I work. When I write the Cardinal Sin I hope so badly whomever I’m mocking doesn’t read it. 99% of it is just a joke, the intentions aren’t to hurt anyone – ever. It’s just an effort to keep us laughing through the pain. That goes for my tweets as well, to players or to people. If I write something that hurts you, talk with me about it. There’s a near 100% chance I didn’t intend that to happen. I don’t want to hurt anyone.
And yeah, I attack trolls and Cubs fans (but I repeat myself), it’s true. I’m not perfect and it’s not going to stop. I’m a hypocrite. Check my DMs. I’ve been called worse. But I want the best for everyone. I want the best for you. Let me know if I can help.
It’s funny, after writing all of this, I feel incredibly inspired to beat how I’m feeling. I feel incredibly inspired to hit that stupid button and call my mom. Talk for 5 minutes. Get a hold of this thing. And I also know, with zero doubt in my mind, that there is 100% no chance I’m actually going to be able to do it.