I checked myself into the Emergency Room yesterday morning. I hadn’t done this since 2008 when I was drunk and suicidal. I just couldn’t withstand the pain anymore and I was desperate for help, by any means possible. I had had it with feeling like complete garbage, physically and mentally.
A few weeks ago I wrote about “10 days of hell that must see the light,” (https://spencernewell1032.wordpress.com/2017/09/13/depression-10-days-of-hell-that-must-see-the-light/) describing the longest depressive episode that I’ve experienced to date. Well, that ten days turned into 4 weeks; the gray, the apathy, and the exhaustion have refused to go away, it still continues to persist today. The overwhelming questions that plague me are: “where is the final bottom?” along with “will I feel like this forever?”
Just a few days ago, on Saturday, I had the best day I’ve had in longer than I can remember. For some reason, I woke up that morning feeling a respite from the stranglehold that depression had on me. I was up in Portland, clowning around with a friend, and everything seemed good to go. I felt “normal,” whatever that means these days. However, during the days run I tweaked my hip. At the time it didn’t feel like a terribly big deal and I largely brushed it off. But, on Sunday, it was a different story. My hip had tightened up over night and I was in pain.
On it’s own, a relatively benign injury, as was the case, is easy to manage. However, due to my elevated emotional instability and depressive state the injury seemed like the end of the world. While on the phone with a friend early Sunday morning I just crumbled. I pleaded with him: “When the hell is this shit going to end, when are these fucking setbacks going to stop! I’m so fucking sick of this!” From that point on the good vibes I had going the previous day all but disappeared. By Sunday afternoon I was back in bed, with the shades drawn, unable to move, wrought with the overwhelming feeling that everything was crumbling down once again.
Monday came, same thing. My hip was beginning to feel better but it’s impact had set off another spell of oppressive frustration and hopelessness, once again, pure apathy. Then, I woke up yesterday (Tuesday) and succumbed to the tension in my head, the anxiety in my chest, and the relentless feelings of helplessness. I needed more help.
My experience in the ER yesterday was not a good experience. For the first time in my life I played direct witness as to how some ER’s handle mental health issues. Without going into the details of the experience, let’s just say I left in worse shape than when I arrived. After being “discharged” I found myself in a fetal position, crying, lying on the cold linoleum of the hospital hallway in blue medical scrubs, pleading for help. And I didn’t get it. All I wanted was to feel better.
After gaining some sort of composure after the ER experience I scrambled to find the help I needed, visiting the the local county mental health office as well as making emergency appointments with my team of psychiatrists and therapists. Luckily I was able to get in, be assessed, and come up with a game plan. I should have just gone to this group of professionals in the first place. I suppose I was in too much agony earlier in the morning to even consider that possibility.
Fortunately I was able to gain some sort of clarity, from a physical standpoint, of what is currently going on. Blood tests, taken at the ER, revealed two things of significance. One – my testosterone levels had fallen well below normal again (earlier this Spring I was dealing with the same thing, however by summer I was able to recover). Two – my thyroid is out of whack. Luckily, these two things can be fixed to a degree with time and patience. The mental parts of the equation will prove to be a little more tricky.
After hours of professional consult and self-reflection I have yet another game plan to address everything that is going on:
1). Take one full month off of heavy structured training (two full weeks off from running). I have not let my body rest (not counting the time off from injuries, which isn’t really “time off”) in well over three years. It’s finally time for me to take a break and let my body heal, fully, on it’s own. If it takes longer than a month? So be it. I don’t want to go through this shit again, especially as I get older. Therefore, Rio Del Lago 100, the race I’ve been training for is off the table. In 2017 I will not complete a single race that I’ve set out for. And that’s OK because there is a much bigger picture at stake here. I’ll take my life over a race, any day.
2). Focus on my creative side which means writing and composing music. My book is still coming along well. In conjunction with that project I am also composing a soundtrack to go along with the book. I used to sing and play the hell out of my guitar. Firing both of those passions back up will be good for the soul.
3). Just fucking chill. If I feel like binge watching Friday Night Lights, for the second time, just do it! God, relaxation and me do not get along well. It turns out that I actually might hate the idea of relaxing. I consume myself with endless expectations, pressures, and stresses, which is helping play into my recent demise. I’m just fucking tired of being tired.
4). Continue to work with my trusted health professionals to dial in what I need from a medical end. This part will be crucial to my recovery.
I’m hopeful that this episode will pass at some point, it has to! Yet, the last month has offered nothing to the contrary. Living day-to-day is not working, it’s more like minute-to-minute.
I don’t wish depression, or any other chronic or perpetual disease, on anyone. For me, it’s been absolute torture and hell. To try and find the silver lining to this experience has been impossible, I’m just not in a frame of mind to even consider the good that may come out of this. Miraculously, and I really don’t even understand this part, I have not had one single craving to drink throughout this entire episode. In and of itself that is a pure fucking miracle. Perhaps that says something.