A Pretty Serious Post

I stopped making resolutions years ago simply because I never followed through with them. The last several years have progressively gotten worse for me, mostly due to my own actions and inactions.

The latest shooting in CT has brought to the forefront something that I’ve dealt with for years, mental health. More appropriately the stigma associated with mental health. The idea that someone is weak because they deal with depression, PTSD or any other mental health issue. I want that stigma gone so and sitting on the sidelines for most of my life hasn’t helped so if I want the game to change then I need to have some skin in it.

I want to put a warning here for those dealing with depression or any other mental related issues that what follows could be triggering..I also want to stress that what follows might be difficult for some to read.

For as long as I can remember I’ve dealt with depression and as of 6 months ago it was diagnosed as clinical depression, but I’ve exhibited symptoms for a really long time. Going back through my life I’ve had the symptoms of clinical depression as far back as 1995. I’d see the symptoms listed and I could check off every single one, then I’d close the browser window and go even deeper into depression.

I bet you’re asking yourself “why didn’t he just go to the doctor?!?!” well, I was in such a dark place that I felt like nothing anyone could do could help me. When depression takes hold it’s so difficult to even get out of bed in the morning much less say to a total stranger “hey, I need help with what goes on inside my head.” I put on a front for everyone. I spent my days acting totally normal and would be so exhausted by the effort of an entire week that I usually couldn’t get out of bed on the weekends. This turned into weeks, months and years of barely existing. I want to say that it sucked but depression, for me, is like a comfortable blanket..It’s a known feeling (or non-feeling) where I felt at home. I hate being depressed but love it at the same time…Fucked up, right?

6 months ago I was reaching a point of no return, so to speak. The thoughts of being better off … no longer in this world … were becoming stronger and stronger..To the point that I had a .45 caliber Smith and Wesson handgun on the coffee table with one round sitting beside it. I felt rundown, defeated, worthless and tired. I hadn’t slept a full night for almost 2 months leading up to that moment..One of the many bouts of insomnia that I’ve dealt with all my life. Looking at my Smith and Wesson sitting on the table I knew that I wasn’t at the point where I could take my own life but it was rapidly approaching. I don’t have a “hard” life..I have a good job, a house, 2 knucklehead cats and a group of friends that care about me but I still felt the weight of the world on my shoulders and the guilt that I described in another post was eating me alive. Those reasons played a large part in my not asking for help. Seeing that I’m fairly successful I feared that a doctor would say “Things could always be worse.” I’ve heard that so many times from so many people and I find it absolutely infuriating and condescending. I will never, ever say that to someone because that can trigger a person who was just looking at a .45 caliber handgun on the coffee table to actually put it to their head and pull the trigger. I saw my doctor and put up the “wall of happy”. I told him that I might be experiencing some of the symptoms of depression..He started asking me questions about it and that wall came crashing down and I broke down and laid it all out. He made sure that I wasn’t a danger to myself or others and then he gave me a 3 month supply of an anti-depressant called Sertraline which is the generic of Zoloft. He also gave me a list of therapists that I could talk to.

That first appointment was 5 months ago. I’ve been back twice to discuss how the meds are doing and they certainly seem to be helping. I’m not 100% and I have other issues that I’m not ready to discuss that I need to work through but I feel like the depression is “patient 0” and that once I have that under control I can move on to tackling the other issues. One thing I told my doctor during the first appointment is that I don’t want to be on medication for the rest of my life. I absolutely hate taking a pill every day but I do it because it does help but my goal is to get this thing under control and then come off the meds to see if I can cope without them. He suggested working out which I know for a fact does help. If you look in the archives of this blog you’ll see posts documenting workouts I did. I felt really good for about a 4 month period but then something happened to trigger my depression and it took over my life again.

I’m still struggling with incorporating working out in my daily life. Like the commercials say, depression does hurt. When I’m depressed my body simply doesn’t want to function. But that’s gotten better with the meds and I’m looking at ways to get healthy. I don’t feel like doing a standard gym routine would help me. I’ve been there, done that and I did lose weight and I did feel better but it started to turn into a grind and I stopped. Now I’m focusing on goals to work towards. For example, in May of 2013 I will be doing a GoRuck Challenge with plans to do a GoRuck Selection at some point after the Challenge in 2013. I’ve found that having a goal with a tangible reward at the end makes it easier for me to train. I’m also trying the Crossfit approach instead of the standard gym route. I’m still very new at it and I’ve only had 1 class so far but it group based and it’s always changing.

Another way that I’m dealing with the depression is writing about it. The guilt post I linked earlier was my first public attempt. I turned the comments off because I felt like I could just “fire and forget” the post. That worked to degree but comments will be left on for this post and I’ll make the decision per post if comments will be on or not. My only request to those that feel compelled to leave a comment is, don’t be a dick. Disagree with me if you want but don’t be a dick.

So, this and continuing to post about something that I’ve kept to myself for so long is my little way of trying to combat the stigma of mental health in this country. I hope that in the future there is a system in place that makes people want to seek it out well before they get to such a bad place.

10 thoughts on “A Pretty Serious Post”

  1. I am *incredibly* proud of you… for sharing this and for taking steps to take care of yourself. I wish more people would be able/willing to take steps like this, but more that they would be open to sharing their experience.

    You got this. 🙂

    1. Thanks Kate…This was the hardest post I’ve ever written..It’s been started, stopped and deleted several times but I knew that I would get some sort of relief posting it and I did. I hope that I can remember that in the future when I make a post and hesitate clicking publish..

  2. Just always remember that no matter what, this space is YOURS and if writing about things help (and I can attest that it does… at least for me) then do that. Even if someone is a dick… it’s not their space and they’re not the ones working through something intense. Be proud of yourself!

  3. Keep it up dude. You have no idea how much I respect your openness about your vulnerabilities. We are all human, and broken one way or another. Owning up to it, and reaching out for help is what makes us better.

  4. Jake,
    I’m so very, very, proud of you for this post but more for looking depression in the face and saying f… you, you are not going to rule my life any more. Zoloft is a good anti-depressant. I have battled with depression all my life, but didn’t really know what it was, didn’t realize that was what was wrong with me. Hell of a nurse I am right? After the fire, the walls caved in on me and I finally put a name on the symptoms I’d had for so long. I just wanted you to know you are not alone. And I again am extremely proud of you. Always here to talk.
    Love you sweety!!!!

    1. thank you Donna…that means a lot..as a former medic i understand how bad medical folks are at being patients…i’m really happy you’re able to face it head on as well 🙂

  5. Jake,

    I’ve followed your blog on and off for a while. Your openness and introspection is amazing.

    I started crossfit in July 2011 and it’s changed my life. I really enjoy working out with the group, I’ve recently started slacking a bit but I really want to step up again. The biggest thing I struggle with is incorporating it into my schedule but the set class times make me schedule my day around it. I just have to tell myself that unless it’s a true emergency I’m leaving at 5pm and I can always get back online after the gym. I’ve heard the GoRucks are fun but I’ve been afraid of signing up for any competitions. If you ever want to check out another gym let me know, it’s a great bunch of people and they’d love to have you drop in http://oakcitycrossfit.com/

    There’s also #crossfit on our IRC servers, it’s mostly dead but sometimes it’s a good way to hear what others are up to. There’s a few others I know who do crossfit but aren’t in there, we could probably rally everyone to join.

    1. Hey Scott! I didn’t know you did crossfit..I’m really looking forward to getting into it. I’m taking my essentials classes in January and I’ll see how things shake out after that..I had a blast with the initial workout and it reminded me a lot of the workouts I did in basic training. Group training motivates me a lot more than going to the gym on my own..Once I get the movements down (and not feel totally self concious about doing the movements :-D) I’ll probably check out some other gyms. I’ve heard that’s a great selling point since you get different coaches and coaching styles..

      If you decide you want to do a GoRuck challenge just let me know..It’s not until late May so there’s plenty of time to train up 🙂

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