Ever had a morning filled with good intentions and glorious plans for achievement? Only to arrive at the evening discovering that you not only didn’t accomplish anything but may have actually taken a step or two backward during the course of the day?
Yeah, I’ve had several months in a row like that.
Once upon a time, Misdirected was written every day of the week.
Then, it devolved to a couple times a week, as other projects ramped up.
Eventually, I moved it to a once a week publication schedule, determined to not let it slide any further back.
But nowadays, I am lucky to get out one post a month.
So, what happened?
The Things We Do Not Talk About
First, let me qualify: It isn’t that I don’t have anything to say. It is more a case of not wanting to say it.
Which is unusual, for me, as you all well know. I can talk about epilepsy until I am blue in the face. I am willing to expose the dark underbelly (see what I did there?) of obesity. I’ve taken the Misdirected audience day-by-day through the good, bad, and ugly of bariatric surgery.
But the elephant in the room is that which I don’t talk about – the one subject that makes me intensely uncomfortable. I’ve tried to talk about it, heaven knows. My “Drafts” folder here is filled to the brim with halfway done to totally completed articles that never saw the light of day. A few even made it all the way to the final step before publication – the “Lor Review.” She would read them, shake her head a bit, and ask if I really wanted to publish that post.
See, the subject I am talking about is Depression.
Oh, THIS Again
In my opinion, the major problem with understanding Depression comes from its name. “Depression.” It sounds very straightforward – just a case of the blues, or “Feelz bad, man.”
I wish the folks that had named depression had called it something more descriptive. Maybe if they had named the diagnosis “I Hate Myself And I Want To Die And I Can’t Even Get Out of Bed Why The Hell Won’t You Just Leave Me Alone” it would have a bit more impact on those trying to understand it from the outside.
The frustrating thing is, there are so many of us suffering from this illness. Yet it still gets blown off. People say we are lazy, that we are feeling sorry for ourselves, that we need to just get over it.
Pretty similar to the way outsiders look at a diagnosis of chronic obesity, now that I am looking at the words in print. Interesting, that.
But, the fact of the matter is, I don’t have an explanation for my condition. For someone who has had life hand me pre-squeezed lemons, I’ve done pretty well. I’ve lived longer than I was expected to. I’ve accomplished personal and professional goals. I have loving meaningful relationships with my family and my spouse.
And, at the end of the day, I still feel worthless.
Self-Worth: What Aisle Is That On?
Still don’t get it? Don’t feel bad, many people don’t. Let me give you an example, for those who might not understand the mechanics of depression.
Last night we went to the 5 year anniversary for DaVita Bariatrics, the practice that performed the sleeve operations for both Lor and I. Being surrounded by success stories was nice. While we all chatted and praised each other’s progress, before and after photos of certain patients were projected on the wall. Lor’s looked amazing. Looking at mine, though, I literally could not see the “after” photo. All I could focus on was the “before” shot. There I sat, looking dejected and exhausted at my Mother-in-Laws at Christmas 2015. I weighed 300 pounds and in the picture, I look like I am pushing 400.
Standing there, surrounded by success stories, I couldn’t take my eyes off of what was supposedly the “old” me.
Yup, I thought, there I am. That is who I am.
Dropping the Bomb
And I am one of the lucky few who actually has a family who understands the condition. They’ve been down this road before with me. In fact, my family will be horrified when they read this. “Why didn’t you tell us?”
Well, guys, mainly because I am sick of being a burden. As anyone who has had to rely on an entire infrastructure of people just to make it from day to day will tell you, it gets old asking for help. Especially when you are convinced that those who are your support structure are secretly exhausted with your constant demands. This is why so many suffering from depression eventually commit suicide. It isn’t because they are out to do permanent emotional damage to their families and loved ones. It is because those of us suffering from the condition are convinced that the lives of those around them will be improved by our absence.
Now, nobody panic. I am not suffering from suicidal ideation currently. But, as someone who has walked those roads, I can tell you exactly what the thought process is. Those of us who suffer from depression don’t talk about it because we are embarrassed. We are ashamed. And we are exhausted from dealing with this condition that never seems to get better.
So, we assume that those who love us must also be embarrassed by us. That they must be secretly ashamed of us. That they have to be exhausted from caring for us.
So, we keep our mouths shut. And when everyone asks how we are doing, we say “Fine.”
Then we change the subject.
The Enemy In Action
Allow me to describe how depression affects your thinking.
While we were in California last week, jeremycschofield.com went down. There was an issue between my hosting provider and the company I used to originally register the domain name. (Who knew?) So, when we got home, I discovered that my website had not been functional for almost a week.
Initially, I scrambled to get everything back up and running. But, once repairs were carried out, I was suddenly done with the process. It just all seemed so overwhelming and exhausting.
I should’ve put out an email to my followers explaining what happened. I didn’t.
Even a post on Twitter and Facebook would have been a good idea. But, I didn’t do either.
Why not? Because I was unable to convince myself that anyone cared enough to hear about it. This despite the fact that my very own statistics showed that I had several hundred people a day visiting Misdirected. I literally could not make the evidence in front of my eyes overcome the feeling of worthlessness inside my head.
The conclusions that a person suffering from depression arrives at make no logical sense. But this disconnect exists everywhere around me. When I speak to Lor I can’t figure out why she is married to me. Looking around my house, I am positive that “someone” is going to take it away from me. I stare at my Personal Training Certificate on the wall and have no idea how I ever managed to earn it.
I can even hold a copy of Inheritance in my hand, and still feel as though someone else must’ve written it. In fact, my personal copy now sits on a shelf above my head, buried under spiral notebooks filled with other things. I don’t want to have to look at it anymore.
It took Wil Wheaton’s blog post from a few days ago to motivate me to tackle this head-on. If someone as successful as he is can still be wrestling with these invisible demons, and brave enough to admit it, then the least I can do is tell the truth as well. I not only owe it to my loved ones, but I owe it to anyone else going through this. It needs to be said: if you are suffering from depression, you are not alone. You are not the only one on the face of the planet feeling the way you do.
So, before any of my readers starts worrying, let me just say that I am ok. Well, not exactly ok. I am SAFE is a better word. Lor, bless her heart, is staying on top of me. This ain’t her first rodeo. Which comes back to making me feel like crap for putting her through this, but, yeah. At some point, I have to accept that those around me put up with me out of love and not because they are all masochists.
But it has become apparent that I am going to have to go back into some kind of therapy/treatment. Back, you say? Yeah, I struggled with depression, self-loathing and suicidal thoughts for years after developing epilepsy. Only the love and support of my family and a very talented counselor got me through it.
So, if this ain’t my first go-round, why haven’t I just gotten some help, you might ask. That’s the tricky thing about depression. I just keep waiting to wake up and feel ok again. After all, I had just started to turn the corner. Things were looking up – 2017 was an awesome year for me.
So, why would anyone believe me when I say I’ve relapsed? Never mind that I obviously have. Surely a professional is just going to pat me on the back and tell me “Chin up” or something…right?
TL;DR (Because Why Would You?)
Normally, I will finish a blog post in an hour – two at most. I started this one at 6 AM this morning.
It is now 6:27 PM.
So, let me just summarize: Yes, there is something currently wrong with me. I am aware of the problem and am screwing up my nerve to talk to someone about potential treatment options.
The logical part of me says this is all due to chemical imbalances in my brain and I have nothing to be ashamed of.
The rest of me wants to apologize to all of you for not being who I think I should be for you.
If you have a loved one who is suffering from depression, please be gentle and patient with them. And encourage them to get some help.
If you are the one suffering along with me – talk to your friends and loved ones. Talk to your doctor. And start taking care of yourself. The way you feel is not your fault, and you are not alone in the world.
Talk to you all again soon.
But Probably Not On A Daily Basis,