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…