As far as depression and managing depression goes, I’m far from being a noob. I’ve been waging this war since my late teens. I know exactly when and where it started. It sprang forth from trauma and it’s never really left my side since then.. It’s like a second shadow.
Aside from very early on in my war with depression, I’ve never really been suicidal and taking my own life, especially now that I’m a father, just simply isn’t even close to being on the table. Having said that, I completely understand how so many people find themselves at that precipice, especially without people who understand and support them.
For me, depression manifests in several ways:
1) Scattered thoughts, making it hard to concentrate and often apparent in my writing or lack there of.
2) Sleep disturbances
4) Always tired
5) Weight gain
6) Loss of interest in things I usually like
7) Overwhelming feelings of sadness that don’t easily go away
8) Lack of energy
9) Loss of motivation (this does not equate to laziness)
10) Significant anxiety
These are just some of the symptoms that I deal with on a daily basis.. Maybe you can relate to some or none of them at all. Everyone’s different but for me, it’s quite debilitating and requires everything I have, to simply make it through the day sometimes.
Depression is an evil bastard and can impact every single area of my life.
It takes an enormous amount of effort to limit the impact this has on my kids. In most ways, I don’t think they notice anything because frankly, being a single parent to 3 kids with Autism is exhausting on its own. Exhaustion is probably my biggest challenge and everything in my life is exhausting.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell where the human reaction to life ends and depression begins. There’s clearly some overlap but it’s tough to pick apart.
I will go through periods of time where I’m doing really well. I’ve gone years without needing medication and coping with life quite well on my own.
Sometimes however, things happen in my life that can trigger a new battle in my war with depression. My wife leaving in October of 2014, after 15 years together, is the catalyst that triggered this latest battle.
Watching my kids go through what they’re going through and grieving this type of profound loss myself, just sorta pushed me over the edge a bit. It created the perfect environment for depression to re-emerge and thrive.
I can’t believe I’m admitting this but since this latest trigger, I’ve felt like a failure, worthless, unlovable, stupid and even ashamed of who I am because who I am wasn’t enough. Who I am wasn’t enough to keep my kids from having their lives turned upside down.
All these feelings end up being sorta like an all you can eat buffet for depression, leaving me to foot the bill.
I was a psych major in college and so I have a very good understanding of the mechanics of depression. I can even identify situations where depression is influencing my thoughts, feelings and actions. I can tell myself over and over again that things only seem this bad because I’m seeing them through the eyes of depression. I can cognitively know that depression is heavily influencing my thoughts and the way I see the world but it doesn’t make the thoughts feel any less real or make them hurt any less.
It really is a terrible circumstance to find oneself in.
There aren’t really many people in my life who have the first clue as to how difficult all this is for me. It’s not their fault because depression is not something easily understood, unless you’ve experienced it.
The reality of my life right now is such that I’m experiencing a major depression, raising 3 kids with special needs on my own, going through a divorce, grieving what feels like the loss of my wife and attempting to keep my head above water, all while trying to keep my kids from even feeling like there’s something wrong with Daddy. It’s not easy and frankly, it’s pretty goddamn amazing that I’m doing as well as I am.
Depression hasn’t beaten me but it has beaten the shit out of me at times. It’s one of those you’d be surprised what you can live through kinda things.
Medication and talking to someone helps. Everything about this blog and the work I do to help others, helps me tremendously. Having my kids in my life, every single day is all that keeps me going sometimes. They’re my reason for living and the strength I need to fight back when depression has his boot on my throat.
The tricky thing about depression is that you can’t just will yourself out of it. You don’t just wake up one morning and say, I’m not going to be depressed today. It doesn’t work like that.
The world seems to think that people with depression are weak, feeble, damaged, lazy or unmotivated. They think that we just need to snap out of it or my personal favorite, think happy thoughts. The truth is that people with depression battle demons every single day that the rest of the world clearly can’t even begin to understand and they often do it in silence because that same world judges people like us so harshly.
People with depression need support and understanding.
I want so badly to accomplish more in a day than what I manage to but I just don’t have the energy or it’s too overwhelming. There’s nothing about me that’s lazy. Lazy implies not caring and that couldn’t be further from the truth.
My medications have helped but not nearly as much I need them to. Talking to someone and exercising help me as well. Writing is extremely therapeutic for me and helps me to process my life at somewhat of a distance and with some objectivity.
What works for me may not work for you but what I do know for certain is that suffering in silence doesn’t work out well for anyone, at least in the long run.
Please try not to be ashamed of being depressed because you have nothing to be ashamed about. Please open up to someone you trust and get help. Talk to your doctor about medication that can help correct the chemical imbalance at the root of your depression.
Don’t be afraid to share your story.
If I can help you with that in any way, please reach out and let me know. I’d be happy to publish yours if you would like to share it with the world.