Depression: 10 days of hell that must see the light

I’ve spent the last 3 hours going back and forth on whether I should write this post.  Therefore, I’m trusting my gut that says to write and to get this shit out.  Maybe I can help someone who is suffering in silence, or maybe I can continue to help myself.  I really hope for either case.

Lately I’ve been feeling extremely vulnerable and careful in what I post or share to the world.  Perhaps it’s a lack of self-confidence, perhaps not.  Even more I’m feeling a bit of shame as to “my story.”  The current narrative in my head of who I am is the “drunk guy who got sober and runs a lot.”  Clearly, based on that assumption, I’m not in the best state of mind right now and I know I’m just making shit up.  I’m working through dispelling those narratives, however given my present state it is not easy.

On Sunday, September 3rd, I woke up on the very wrong side of the bed.  Looking back, I could feel something coming on so it shouldn’t have been a surprise, based on past history, that what I felt that morning was another dark and depressive episode setting in.  By 5:30AM I knew that I was about to crumble.  It was on.  What I didn’t realize was just how long it would last.  Ten days in and I’m in the exact same place as I was when this episode first begun.  Since exiting Sageview Psychiatric Center in 2008 I have not had this long of an episode.

Throughout that Sunday the depression took a vicious hold on my brain and my body.  It was debilitating.  From a physical standpoint I felt like my feet were encased in concrete, unable to move.  Emotionally I went to a place of unrelenting negativity. Luckily I was fortunate to conjure up the energy to get a run in.  The rest of the day was spent in bed, with my phone off, trying to fend off the demons.

Here’s what the rest of the days have been like:

Every single day I’ve woken up not knowing how the hell I was going to make it through the day.  All I’ve been able to think about is when I can go back to bed. The lens that I’ve been looking through fades back and forth from gray to black.  Nothing is bright and my head feels heavy with doubt. My first instinct each day is to stay in bed and believe that I’m not worthy of having a good day.  Reluctantly I’ve been able to solider on, albeit just for a few hours.

The only thing that I’ve really been able to look forward to is getting a run in, as  I know the endorphins will kick in and I’ll get a brief sense of reprieve.  And it has worked until about 30 minutes afterward.  Then I sink back into a hole, one deeper than what I had first felt in the morning.  From here on out the day remains excruciating.  From the hours of noon on I feel awful.  It’s only when I get  a cup of coffee in me that I get a little energy to get some work done and act in a state of normalcy.  In fact, my attention is needed right now as I have a couple of things in the works that need my presence and forward thinking.  Then, once the caffeine wears off, I’m back into my hole in my darkened bedroom.  Luckily season 4 of the Blacklist and season 7 of Walking Dead (a real feel-good story) made their way on to Netflix this past week.

Sleeping has been one of the only other reprieves that helps me to deal with the pain.  Over the last couple of evenings I’ve found myself sound asleep by 6:30PM, not caring about anything other than escaping the burden of feeling depressed.  I know it’s numbing out.  The way I’ve seen it lately is that it’s better to sleep than to turn to a past numbing device, drinking, which, for this episode, has been a non-option.

Unfortunately, isolation has been my friend, away from people, my phone, and my computer.  During these episodes it takes every ounce of energy to pick up the phone or respond to a text.  I physically cannot do it unless I’m caffeinated or riding  the high of endorphins that linger from the day’s run.  That’s one of the profound and unfortunate effects that depression has on me as it relates to other people.  Radio silence. My friends who are aware of the situation do not like hearing this, and I don’t blame them.  For me, it’s hard to explain what I’m feeling to someone who does not suffer from the same disease.  To take the energy to explain it absolutely fries me, I literally collapse after answering questions of why, how, when, etc, mostly because I really don’t have the answers myself.  This part sucks because I know I have countless people behind me that just want to know that I’m alright, safe from whatever purgatory I put myself into.  I do not know how to manage this part and I’m sorry for having put some friends in particular completely in the dark.  This is not my intent.

The friends that I have who suffer the same disease, at the intensity that I do, have been very helpful.  The advice is the same:  have compassion for yourself, let yourself feel the pain as it will pass, if you want to stay in bed than do it, be in a safe place with safe surroundings, and keep reaching out.  Fuck, the last part is the hardest.  I’m sure there are other bits of wisdom in there, I’m just too foggy to remember them right now.

As I look back at the depressive episodes that I’ve experienced since getting sober I notice the consistent trend that I tend to write about them.  One thing that I work on in therapy is discussing my intention in sharing these stories, the hard shit.  Honestly, at first, being as vulnerable as I was, I know that some of the posts I put out there were based on the impending attention that I’d receive, reinforcing the fact that I was a good person.  But today?  I just want people out there to know that depression, even in dudes, is as real a disease as any and there is no shame in having it or talking about it.  People suffer every single day from it and even consider taking their own lives.  I know this because I was there at one point in my life.  It must see the light!

One fear that I have with my depression is that it will only get worse.   Even if I up and move to another town, which I’ve done in the past to escape demons, depression will still be there.  I could run reckless miles to my heart’s content and it will still be there.  That’s  one reason why I have a very specific accountability team of people to help me through this shit, especially from a professional/medical standpoint.  It’s scary to think where I’d be without these people on my side.

My other fear is that I will be judged by others for sharing this.  But, as my friend Julio reminded me:  who cares what other people think of you, you have a story, you should be proud that you are working on living through it.  He’s right.  It’s just so hard for me to realize that sometimes.

Now, two hours later from when I first sat down to write, describing what it’s like to have this disease does in fact help in the process of living through an episode.  I was incorrect in assuming that it wouldn’t.  Now all there is to do is press the dreaded “post” button.  Here goes nothing…

 

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22 thoughts on “Depression: 10 days of hell that must see the light

  1. Angela says:

    You are incredibly brave to hit the post button. You have a gift of articulating how you are feeling in a way that explains it to those who do not experience depression. Sending love, cousin.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pamela Courtney says:

    That is one of the clearest descriptions of depression I have ever read.
    I’m comforted by your words and sad that so many go through this pain.
    Have faith that something especially beautiful will be born from this difficult time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. nancy says:

    Thank you for putting it out there Spencer. Every time we talk about depression it helps the world understand it’s real, it’s debilitating at times, but it’s NOTHING to be ashamed of. Those dark days and places are rough. Know you are loved and people care and will just be there so you can just “be.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Joy Ovitt says:

    Spenc,
    I can relate to EVERYTHING you just wrote. All the way to wanting to end your life. I’ve been there myself.i suffer from depression and anxiety. What a combo that is! With my depression, I was so far into my dark hole I even wrote out all my good bye letters. I thought if I just left everyone in my life, my family and friends wouldn’t have to deal with me anymore.
    I took a bunch of pills and just wanted to go to sleep and never wake up. There wouldn’t be a bloody mess for anyone to clean up, and thought just going to sleep wouldn’t hurt my kids as much.
    My kids were in bed, well supposed to have been. They snuck into each others rooms and they were laughing and giggling. For whatever reason it snapped me out of my wanting to die. I went and made myself throw everything up. I was fucked up from the pills I took and wouldn’t allow myself to fall asleep. My kids were the ones that saved my life. They have no clue to this day.
    I was one of “those” people to say commuting suicide is a cowards way out. Yup, one of them. Until you suffer from depression nobody will ever truly understand. My husband just couldn’t understand how you could feel like that. I wanted him to understand. I left everything and anything out for him to read, but didn’t. It never helped hearing “you just need to snap out of it”. If I was having anxiety attack or a full blown panic attack, I’ve had people tell me to stop stressing and wouldn’t have “herkty jerkty” moments. Ya wish it was that fucking easy. Half the time I didn’t even know why I was having them! That’s the worst part. Especially when you wake up in the middle of the night full blown attack, all sweaty heart racing, mind going a hundred miles a minute. Even more than it normally does. I wish there was a light switch to turn it off.
    With lots of hard work and therapy I’ve got my depression and anxiety under control. I had to learn to walk away from the people who just didn’t want to understand or couldn’t. I’ve had some good out comes and some sad ones. I ended up getting divorced. I had to walk away from some of my family. It’s. it easy but I had to in order to get myself under control and to find me again, so I can be a better mom to my kids. Without them I wouldn’t be here today.

    Reading your story really made me feel like I’m not alone in this world with this disease. Your writing is very empowering, and I hope you continue to do so.
    Love
    Joy
    (Us hilltown kids 😊)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. marcia baker says:

    This is not your fault. You have a chemical inbalance. It needs Meds. Afterall, would you deny yourself medication if you had diabetes. Ask for help.

    Like

    • Thanks Marcia – one of my key members of my accountability team are my therapist and psychiatrist…we have been working diligently over the last few years to make sure I’m covered from a medical perspective. I hope you are doing well!

      Like

  6. Jess says:

    I’m sure this took so much energy to even write. Depression sucks!! Keep sharing your story and don’t feel like you need to explain yourself to anyone. I totally understand how exhausting it is to reach out to people when you’re in that low place. Keep on keeping on Spencer. You’re doing a pretty damn good job so far!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m sorry you’re going through this, Spencer. Coincidentally, I also woke in a pretty deep funk yesterday and wrote out my own thoughts on why some mornings we wake up feeling like or unlike ourselves. The sad part, I realized as I wrote, is that the funks kind of feel more like myself than the also inexplicable cheery awakenings. Sad because I am more used to being a bit funky than cheery – is the funk really ME? Sleep does not bring me solace, there’s too much anxiety tugging at my chest along with the weight. And unfortunately my usual escape, getting outside for a hard workout, was tainted by my mind-funk and resulted in a mid-ride meltdown, tears, screaming, tossing my bike… ugh. Like you expressed, there is so much fear that these mini-episodes will start stringing themselves together again, pulling me back down into the familiar hole that I’ve managed to stand on the edge of for the past several years. Must. Not. Go.There. Big hug to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • thanks for reaching out Susan, you get where I’m coming from as I can relate to a lot of what you shared…is depressed Spence the real me? I fear that so much, this episode only goes to reinforce that negative thinking that I love to do about myself. The sad part is that when I do wake up in a good place I tell myself that I don’t deserve…it’s awful, but it can’t be reality can it? Tough questions all around. I enjoy following you on Strava and seeing the cool shit you’re doing regardless of the melt downs. Again, really nice to hear from you susan!

      Like

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