The office I work in is two stories. Five days a week, every week, I climb the stairs to the front door of our suite. For your average Joe, this is not a terribly difficult task. But what happens when you are dealing with one of the deepest depressions you’ve experienced? We’ll get to that in a moment but first…
Oh hi. I’m Kenny for those of you just joining us. This post is going to be a bit raw, at least I anticipate it to be. When I started this article, I was in a pretty decent headspace. Mentally I had taken a few steps up the “Joy” ladder and was above sea level a bit. I felt I was ready to really get this post hammered out with a clear head.
I should have kept going when I had the chance…
Fast forward a day and right now, I feel like I’ve taken a few steps back down and I’m feeling slightly submerged. Honestly, writing this while I’m not in the greatest of moods is probably for the better given the nature of this post. So let’s dig in. For several years (longer than I realize), I have faced depression. The level and severity of this depression ebbs and flows on any given day. One day I can feel borderline invincible and nothing can rip the smile off my face. In my mind, everything will work out just how it’s supposed to. Then there are other days where, as I imagined it, I’ve been blindfolded and dropped in a desert. I remove the blindfold and there is nothing on the horizon surrounding me. And my compass is broken. I know I want to get to safety… I want to get home but I have zero direction on how to do it.
What I’m saying is that my positive attitude is as unpredictable as a Magic 8 ball being shaken furiously, hoping that little white triangle surfaces with “Outlook Good”. Today, while hoping for a good day, the all knowing 8 Ball just displayed “Don’t Count on it”.
I’m not purposely trying to be a Debbie Downer. Honestly, my moods are involuntary. I have taken steps to try and essentially remap my neural pathways to take a different perspective on a day to day basis. Whether it be medication or therapy (or in my case, both), taking the steps to get through each day without wanting to give up is a struggle for a lot of people that deal with depression.
Depression is one of many silent illnesses. For those not familiar with the term, this means (at least to me) that someone you know may be suffering from it but there aren’t any visible indicators. Often times depression is depicted as this dramatic stage play of sadness, complete with boxes of crumpled up tissues, sad movies streaming on Netflix, shades drawn, tear stains streaking down cheeks, phone off the hook and hair disheveled.
The reality of depression is, if you’re reading this post in the vicinity of other people, you very well could be sitting next to someone who is in the deep throes of depression. They may seem perfectly fine. You may even envy them for “keeping it all together” when you’re feeling down some days. You know those people on Facebook that have a perpetual “Cheerleader” smile? How about the people on your friends list that are constantly trying to be positive or be that shoulder for you to unload on when things go wrong… chances are, that person is dealing with a load you have no idea about. And often times, they feel like no one is ready to listen to them.
It is a lonely feeling. Feeling like you are the only one that is going through a mental ordeal that just feels like a constant storm. Thing is, statistically, the numbers are staggering just how many of your fellow humans are struggling. Let’s crunch some numbers:
According to the World Health Organization,
- 300 million people around the world have depression
- 16.2 million adults in the United States—equaling 6.7 percent of all adults in the country—have experienced a major depressive episode in the past year
- 10.3 million U.S. adults experienced an episode that resulted in severe impairment in the past year
- Nearly 50 percent of all people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder
- It’s estimated that 15 percent of the adult population will experience depression at some point in their lifetime.
This is just an overview. This does not account for the massive number of children (even as young as the age 12), women with Postpartum depression, economic based depression, or teenage demographics. The numbers are disheartening but this really reinforces the notion that, while you feel alone in your depression, you’re part of something much larger than most realize.
This is my confession.
I’m tired. Tired of getting up every day and struggling to have the mental fortitude to swing my legs over the edge of the bed and start my day. I’m tired. Tired of not being able to find joy in the small things. Some days, it feels like I’m back in high school and I’ve been distributed all of my books and it’s required that I carry them with me everywhere in my backpack. I think I have just gave everyone flashbacks to that heavy weight digging into your shoulders and feeling like it’s going to break your back. Sure it seems fine at the beginning of the day but by the time it’s done, you’re ready to collapse.
Luckily I am at a place where I’m comfortable talking about it. I’m hoping that speaking up will bring a level of comfort-ability to those that may feel they have to keep it all inside. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not an easy thing to put out on front street. I think it’s human nature to want to appear like you’ve always got it together. That you’re a pillar of strength. But no one can hold everything up on their shoulders 24/7. Mental and physical fatigue set in. With everything our family has gone through (especially in the last 5 years), if I had not sought out help, I’m not sure where I would be currently.
This also explains my current absence from Social Media. I just haven’t had the motivation to be on much. I’ve occasionally popped on to see what’s going on with all of you but other than that, I’m kinda kept to myself. I just haven’t had the energy… Speaking of Energy!
The fact is, no one has it all together all of the time. Allowing yourself to admit that is also a huge step in the right direction. I’ve always prided myself for “keeping a stiff upper lip” and plowing through day by day. But the fact of the matter is, I don’t have to. I know that I have the ability to reach out to people. But for most that deal with depression know that sometimes you don’t have the energy to remember the fact that you can reach out.
The hardest part of this is that some days, no matter what you do, the tiniest thing can set off the worst Rube Goldberg machine in your head. And with that, you find that something as simple as taking the stairs becomes a feat in itself. There are 21 steps from the first floor of my office building to the second floor where my office is. Some mornings, when I come in, I look at those stairs and they might as well be 75 flights. Sometimes I just look at the elevator that’s right next to the stairwell and I shuffle over and press the button because sometimes… you just gotta take the elevator.
The key is understanding and allowing yourself to press that button, be it literal or figurative. Support comes in all forms and in this case, it’s a metal box attached to a pulley system. But what if you need other types of support?
My wife is such a wonderfully supportive person. Same with my kids. I honestly have been blessed with such a caring, supportive family. And to boot, I have a small set of friends that I know I can unload to if I ever needed to. And lastly, my therapist has assisted me with keeping things in perspective.
That being said, I understand that not everyone has a support system there to keep their arms up when they can’t hold them up themselves. Some people wake up feeling like this in an empty house. So for all those that feel completely isolated and need some form of contact, I’m providing a list of phone numbers below for all sorts of resources.
For emotional listening support 24 hours a day call – 1-800-932-4616
Suicide Prevention Hotline – 1-800-273-8255
Suicide Chat Lifeline: – https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/talk-to-someone-now/
And of course, you can always drop me a message.
I have also realized that I need to take the time out to start finding my happy. Finding the things that help me live my best life and I know that one of those things is podcasting/recording again. I have so much I want to do, so much I want to say and it’s high time I start. Ok… This got a bit rambly but I appreciate you taking the time to read. If you’d like to discuss this further, feel free to leave a message in the comments or you can message me direct! Take care all.
and don’t forget to take the elevator sometimes…
I am sure I know what you are feeling and I have always pictured you as a rock! With a family of 4 kids and wife who has health problems, life does seem unfair sometimes as we take care of everyone but always fall short on ourselves. My son has severe depression and I just try and make him realize you can’t change anything that happens. Actually when something does happen, 2 seconds later it is already in the past and I tell him to use his “venting” to find an answer, change the problem or just deal with it one day at a time.
I use to be depressed and I’m sure it runs in my family, but I just want you to know I am usually very good and I am always here if you need to talk. Even tho you are not in Florida, we are only a phone call away. Hugs and love to you, Tash and the kids
I, too, suffer from depression (and anxiety). It took me a LONG time to find medication that helps me to function daily and productively. It is hard to explain to people that I literally had to talk myself out of bed each morning. My brain just doesn’t function like most folks and I need some help to conquer my days. I’m proud of you for reaching out and for making steps to get the help you need.
If you ever want to chat I’m here as I was diagnosed in 1998 and still work through my battles daily. I’m happy to just be an ear. 🙂