Depression is not something you just get over. Since being diagnosed with severe chronic depression almost 20 year ago, I have heard every possible good natured “cure” imaginable. “You can just get over it.” It’s just feelings.” “Have you prayed about it”. “Other people have it worse than you do.” “Be a man.” “Read your Bible more.” The list does go on and some of them even work for a short period of time, but not for long.
First the disclaimer; I am not writing this for me. I am not looking for attention of any kind. It seems in my experience that people who don’t deal with severe depression really have no idea what their friends or family may be going through. As self serving as some may think this is, my hope is, that anyone who reads this helps others with a gentler heart and a patient spirit.
Right now my own form of depression is light. So I am going to explain to you in my own way what the worst feels like. Imagine that all of your friends died in a car accident and your house burnt down the same day with all of your family in it, then times that feeling by ten and you will have an idea.
Severe depression incapacitates you. I literally, at 370 pounds, get myself into the fetal position and stay there for hours. You lay there and you hope that something will happen that someone remembers you’re alive. That someone cares that you’re alive. That somehow you will find hope, but it doesn’t come.
And it hits out of the blue from nothingness. I can be at one end of an aisle in a store and more or less ok, and by the time I reach the other end it’s like lightning has struck. I have to fight to keep myself together. I have to get out as soon as possible.
Some of you may be asking “what about medications?” There are a lot of medications out there, and most of the time a qualified doctor has to mix and mingle them and experiment with them until they find the right combination that helps you. It is hit or miss. I have been experimented on for almost 20 years and the right combination has not been found. What I do know is that if I stop them things will get a lot worse.
There really is no science to anti-depressant medications. Yes someone cooks them up in a lab and they are supposed to work. You may have heard that anti-depressants raise the serotonin levels in your body. The problem is that this is more theory than fact. There is no test to check serotonin levels and therefore no way to know, for sure, what is happening. No one taking anti-depressants get any blood work for them, this is why it is a hit or miss game. Unfortunately in this game instead of being the player you are more like the ball,
Briefly let’s discuss side effects I can only speak on some of these from a male point of view. Some side effects such as drowsiness or an inability to concentrate can be overcome with practice, but there are others. For men the inability to ejaculate is a side effect of one medication, erectile dysfunction is a side effect from another. The worst one is after you take the pill for a while your penis retracts into your skin and you can’t pull it out. It also slows your urine down to a trickle making you wet yourself at least once a day. These are known side effects of different medications I won’t name them as I do not want a law suit.
Medications are good if the right combination is found and the side effects are minimal. The problem is the amount of time it takes. I had one psychiatrist, after treating me for a year, and nothing working, tell me I had better get used to what I was as there was no more he could do. I fired him, and now am being experimented on by someone else.
Those of you reading this that do not deal with depression but have loved ones that do, what can you do? Call them regularly, visit regularly. Don’t tell them to call you. When depression is really bad you have no good feelings about yourself. You believe you are a burden on the world and you won’t ask for help. You believe you don’t deserve it. You believe you are not worth it.
When I am on my way down, I can ask for help, when I hit bottom I can’t.
Now this is not to say to feel sorry for the person. Let them know you love them but do all you can to make them move. Get them out of the house and stay on them about getting out of the house. One friend of mine continues to do all he can to push me forward. This friend has had to teach me how to interact with others. He has helped show me my worth, and he said four words to me that have helped me more than anything else. He didn’t say I love you, to be honest, I don’t really trust those words. He said, “Mike, I’m your biggest fan.” He then told me to go into the other room and start talking to people. I don’t know that he even remembers the incident, but it changed me.
Rosalind Russell, one of the great ladies of the stage and screen said once that acting was “like standing up on a table, naked, with a room full of people and turning around very slowly,” Writing this today had put me up on that table and I have never moved more slowly in my life. Be careful where you aim the tomatoes.