Monday, July 1, 2013

The Dark Void of Depression

I can remember it beginning. Just one of those days, like I had before. I wake up tired after a sleepless night. My mind exhausted from thinking, and over-thinking. My body aching to lie in bed and actually sleep. But I can't rest... work beckons. Ugh... work. I go through my usual routine which I have for the past twelve and a half years, dreaming of the things I want in life, yet feel so handcuffed to meet.

I dive to the Portland's part of town. Nothing but junkyards, recycling, and of course the film industry. "It's all smoke and mirrors!", someone told me during my first week. I've come to realize the smoke show never ends. Every time I walk into the building I can feel my life being sucked from me. My old supervisor looks at me with a face the literally tells me to screw myself. Nice way to start the day. Now that I think of it, it's how I've been started my day for years.

Punch clock, coffee, work boots. My usual routine. A few pleasantries, and some witty sarcastic banter, and I retreat into my electronics shop, where my co-worker and I can spend a day, barely talking to each other. Which is one of the few things I've learned to enjoy. He's great guy, but we both enjoy our solitude. Like many people I, "fell into" my job. It's not my passion. It offers no advancement, so there is no reason to have ambition. For years I've wondered why I am still here. So have some others at work. At the company Christmas party the President, CEO, general manager, and my ex-supervisor all asked me the same question, "What are you still doing here?!"

Good question. I've tried to figure it out myself. I didn't even notice the descent into the abyss. The void of stagnant and insidious thoughts that paralyzed me and raped me of my confidence. I never finished high school. I never finished college... twice! What am I going to do? With a child to support, and daily costs skyrocketing, I just can't up and leave, can I? So I sit in my little electronics shop that feels like a self-imposed prison. Many employees mention how lucky I am to work where I am... if they only knew what it feels like to be locked up and forgotten.

I wrote my first book. I finished it a year ago. It took another 8 months to go through the editing process. It was ready last July, it still isn't published. Where am I going to get the money to self publish when I am sometimes left with $100 to last me for 2 weeks? That's another thing. I'm broke all the time. My girlfriend's fed up that I'm broke all the time. Don't get me wrong, it's not like I have nothing, just nothing for the extras... trips, dinners out, dancing. We all know what women think of men like that.

It's not all bad. I did do something significant last year that took many 6 years to accomplish. Something that few men get to do. But during the year, it was hard to even enjoy it, because for every 100 people who throw you support, there are over 20 trying to sabotage you. And indeed, little by little they chip away until you're sitting on top of a mountain you feel is crumbling and going to devour you whole.

By the end, I was so exhausted. Completely spent. Resentful, angry, and lost. I knew what I wanted to do but didn't have the energy. I knew where I needed to be, but couldn't find the way. Every night I came home from my boring day, I would stop and buy cigarettes and a 6 pack of beer. Yes, I started smoking again. First a couple. Now a whole damn pack. Just like the beer. I'd have one or two to relax and take the edge off, then I'd buy a small bottle of vodka to go along with it and quicken the effect. Till I was eventually just buying a bottle of vodka and almost finishing it all in a night. You don't even notice it going. A sip here, a sip there. In fact, no one noticed either. I wouldn't drink around my son or my girlfriend. I could go days without drinking, so I didn't really think I was in trouble, although I knew I had a problem. The drinking stopped my productivity. Stopped me from doing things I needed to do. When I got home at night I didn't want to do anything. But drink.

Day after day. Month after month. Each month I came home and wasted my night away the angrier I got. Each week that passed the deeper I sank. Each month that passed the larger the void of depression became. Until I finally exploded. I've always had an anger problem. And it usually is taken out on the ones I love. It created a wedge in my relationship where my girlfriend couldn't deal with my anger and manipulation any longer. Finally, on the edge of the cliff, I admitted to her what I was hiding inside for so long. I was depressed. Severely depressed.

I called up my workplace assistance program the next evening to speak to a online counselor. By the next Friday I sat in an office taking a depression test. I scored 46. Severe depression was rated at 30. I was in deep. My first session didn't have any epiphanies or anything, but laid some groundwork, and homework. I didn't feel much when I left, but the next day, something odd happened. I slept all the way through the night for the first time in years. And I woke up, feeling not great, but better. Better knowing that I am finally doing something about my depression. It's amazing what taking that first step can do. I wonder why it had taken me so long.

Words can't properly describe the emptiness one feels when they are depressed. The sense of being paralyzed with fear, and the sense of your sinking self worth. Everyone around you may never even notice. Most truthfully won't even care, or at least it feels like it. Like we're all in this alone, and the ones you need to talk to drain you with their problems, their issues, and their needs. While we're screaming for someone to just listen. Just shut up and listen. When you're already drained, it can sap the last ounce of life you have right out of you. But you remain silent because your problems can't be more important than theirs. Besides... they need you. My retreat... the bottle.

Seeking a counselor can helped me gain perspective and insight into why I was feeling the way I was, and how to identify the triggers, that keep me from living the life I want. If you're in doubt, you don't need to speak to your friends if you're embarrassed, just make sure you pick up the phone, or find an online service where you can get the help you need.

When all seems lost, it's time to do something you've never done to have the life you've never had. I know, that's what I've had to do.

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