“Physician heal thyself” – The Bible Luke 4:23
The phrase above from the Bible alludes to the idea that many people, including doctors help others, but do not focus inward on healing themselves. They ignore what they teach to avoid helping themselves. I cannot do that anymore so here it goes.
This is the hardest post I have written in the 7 years of doing this site. I have shared many of my personal stories. I have shared much of my life as a child and even some as an adult. I have even shared some personal demons. I named this site the “Long-Term Effects of Bullying”. It is mainly about the adult perspective of the damage that bullying does. I have shared many stories of others as well.
This, though is my current story. There is no easy way to even say this as a 45-year-old adult father, husband, and successful worker. But I realize now what I didn’t before. That I have suffered with the disease known as depression for a long time. Maybe as long as from when I was a child soon after the bullying.
Sure the anxiety and panic I have shared in other stories are part of the whole. But I have come to realize that depression has been the big picture. What’s amazing is that many years can go by that I see as great. I have since read about many others who are not so lucky and suffer with either covert or overt clinical depression at early parts of their lives that completely alienate them from the greater world.
In the news we read about so many now that suffer with mental disease and disorders and then commit heinous acts of violence. We call people crazy, we make people feel trapped to secrecy about what is a chemical disease that is only growing in numbers.
I remember watching “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” many times and seeing the brilliant actors as crazy people. Some more crazy than others. But they weren’t crazy, they were suffering. Many years ago we would institutionalize such people. In some cases we still do. My grandmother, who suffered with Manic Depression was one of those people. I never knew her very well, because between her institutional stays she was alienated from us and just not a sharing, warm grandmother.
I don’t know what my trigger of realization was or when it started. If I had to guess, it’s when I got laid off 4 years ago. That started more of a downward spiral of loss of self-confidence for me. But, it’s been there, this depression, lurking in the back of my mind for many years. As a male and a person who covers I was doing my best to hide it. And, I just didn’t know the symptoms.
I blamed my short temper with my family on them.
I blamed my early and infrequent panic attacks and anxiety on the occasional and what I thought typical feelings everyone had.
I blamed my distrust of people and how they felt about me on the way I think.
I blamed my stomach problems that have been ongoing since youth on bad eating or a weak stomach.
I blamed my need to feel liked and wanted on my ego personality.
I blamed my constant worry about just being who I am.
And for many years, I was needed, as my children were young and needed me all the time. That was simply a cover for me to be able to get that love and attention and divert it away from myself.
Then, this year in February, the lurking of depression came to the front. I had no idea what it was, just that it was there. I lost 20 pounds (not a bad thing, but not the right way to do it). I had constant anxiety and panic. I didn’t know why. I ran to my doctor for help. He pointed me in the direction of those that specialize in these things. I now realize why I created this site. It has been lurking and I didn’t fix it…the depression that can commonly come on due to circumstances from life and in many times unresolved youth issues.
I am reading a book and there was a movie called “Prince of Tides” which covers this very clearly on the subject of parental abuse. It really brought it home for me as well. So, even more interesting, as the months have gone by, I chat with people I trust about what I have been going through.
“Me too” many tell me. I’m on this medicine or see this therapist they say to me. Other men that are my friends that I have had no idea. Then my uncle, who has always been one of the funniest guys I know tells me that he has been on antidepressants fighting depression of twenty years. TWENTY YEARS and I never knew! A huge percentage of us go through this at some point in our lives. It most of the time isn’t permanent, but it can be chemical and sometimes must be treated with many therapies such as antidepressants and talk therapy or other methods.
I often wonder if I had received help early in my life, would I be here today. But that’s in the past and if I haven’t learned one thing, at some point I have to let go of the past. That’s not something easy for me, someone who’s emotional memories do not leave them. I don’t have a photographic memory, but an emotional memory. That makes this that much more difficult.
So, I can only suggest the following:
- If you start to lose interest in things you used to love
- If you start to feel tired or unfocused all the time
- If you feel a deep sadness and don’t know why or can’t think of a reason why
- If this feeling goes on for a while or leaves and comes back often
- If you find just getting out of bed is a chore for you and you don’t see anything to look forward to
- If you have thoughts of death and suicide (not always part of this, but for some it is there)
Then, please seek professional help immediately. See your doctor, let people you trust know. Don’t keep this bottled in. Don’t try your own cures, such as alcohol, drugs, and other ways to seek happiness or just coping. This is a disease. This is an injury, the same as if you broke your arm or had the flu. You would treat it professionally. Please do the same here.
You are not alone. You were never alone. I was not alone. But you will feel alone…I felt alone. This is not easy to talk about. The stigma that many of us still feel is painful and hard to cope with. But cope you must. Today, 7 months later, I feel much better. I am almost back to “myself” or what I want to be. But it’s been hard work. It’s been there longer than I care to think and many have had to suffer with me through it as I learned and went through many trials to get here. Don’t quit. It will be hard, I can’t sugar-coat it. It is what it is and your life is too important to have been trapped in what too many of us go through in silent unrecognized pain.
I didn’t want to admit it. Call it pride. Call it male ego. Call it fear. But now that I have, I awakened a part of me that might allow me to be of further help to myself, my family, and maybe others. At least that is the dream I have and the one I started here many years ago. I hope you understand why I wrote this and what you have seen. Is bullying behind adult depression? Studies show that can most definitely be true, depending on how we all cope. I can’t say for sure that it was a catalyst, but I have had a good life, other than those few years. But there are chemical imbalances at play as well. That is why, all I can say is don’t go it alone. Seek help…get help…save yourself first.
Then, and only then, can you truly help others.