As many of you know I have battled depression for over twenty years. I have written about it. I have made speeches on it. I have even gone on TV and radio. Can you imagine someone sticking a mike in front of me to talk about something I am passionate about? We have all survived.
I am in great company. Mike Wallace. Dick Cavett. Winston Churchill. Abraham Lincoln. Catherine Zeta Jones. Olivia Newton John, J.K. Rowling. Buzz Aldrin. Harrison Ford. Princess Diana. Billy Joel. Feel better?
If you haven’t had it, it is extremely difficult to imagine. It’s a feeling that sneaks up on you and takes hold. It’s a darkness. It is a freefalling. It is a hole that you can’t see your way out of.
I was extremely fortunate. As bad as I felt, I knew I needed help. I met with a cognitive therapist. You don’t tear apart your past but figure out where the hell you are right now. You realize your erroneous thinking and correct it. You don’t wallow in self pity. You work harder than you ever have before.
Depression is caused by one of four things. 1.)A particular situation or event like the death of a loved one or loss of a job. 2.)Your environment which may consist of abuse or untenable situations. 3.)A chemical imbalance. 4.)Lastly is heredity.
Depression’s main symptom is a lack of self esteem. It manifests itself in many ways. You may overachieve. Perfectionism is right up there. You can never be lovable. You may procrastinate because you are so afraid of failing. You may not want to participate. You brag. You lie. You live in a fantasy world of sorts. Whatever happens, it is someone else’s fault.
You try to escape reality, because reality sucks. You drink. You do drugs. You overeat. You are promiscuous. You look for a place or a moment where you can feel good about your self. You try anything you can to look self important from yelling at a waiter to pronouncing, “Do you know who I am? It doesn’t work. And all the time you sink lower and lower.
Roughly 35 million Americans are afflicted with depression. It is called the common cold of mental health. Sadly only 15-20% of those people seek help. We could help 90% of them. Why? That crazy thing called self esteem again. I don’t want to be called weird. I don’t want to be labeled crazy. (At least not all the time.)
As I said, I have been beyond fortunate. I have a wife who really doesn’t understand it but accepts me for it. She’s there to gently chide me if I get out of whack. It has happened but not often. I know how to get it right. My kids and friends have shown me no ill. It is part of who I am.
The reason why I have spoken out in the past and I am now, is to let a lot of you out there know that it is okay. You are simply not alone. You know if I had cancer, you would reach out and say how can I help? If I had diabetes you would say make sure you take your insulin. This shouldn’t be any different. I hope if you have heard this before, you realize it is a never ending battle I wage to have this disease gain some sort of acceptance.
There is this thing called stigma. If I am a husband, a dad, a senior VP, a club member, how can I ever own up to this blot on my persona? If I am a mom, a teen or just a friend, I can never let anyone know my dark secret. My self esteem you know.
Think about our world today. We are bombarded non stop with who you should be. Internet, TV, Twitter and Facebook set up unrealistic images of the world as a fantasy that can‘t come true. I truly fear that in years to come we will see an epidemic of depression, especially among our young people.
Now for the good part. I am an absolute believer in the resilience of man….and of course woman. In all my years of talking and dealing with depression I have never seen a hopeless case. Have there been tragedies? Of course. There are obstacles. But they mainly deal within the individual and their willingness to accept the situation and move forward.
I hope you don’t mind the soapbox here. I wrote this to open discussion if needed. With me, a loved one, a doc. Anyone. If nothing more just be aware of depression and those around you. Life is good and you deserve your share of it.
Ted the Great
Deaths by Murder. 14,000…How much do we spend on preventing it?
Deaths by car accidents. 34,000…How much do we spend on safety?
Deaths by suicide. 35,000… 500,000 attempts. We don’t spend much at all.