“depression – my story”, 1 year on.

11 08 2010

it’s not quite a year since i wrote “my story” for Riding4acause.org, but i’m feeling the urge to talk about this black dog thing again.  seems to be topical lately!

last October 09 i “woke up” and realised that the ground of life was rapidly rising to meet my slo-mo free-fall.  the consequences of 5 years of blocking out life in a haze of THC smoke loomed like a tsunami  SFX in Hollywood movie.  thus began a tumultuous process of getting my life back into sobriety, balance, positivity & connection.

i quit dope cold turkey, which was a huge step forward in clearing my head to re-engage with life.  curiously, this was easier than one might have expected, though i can’t really explain why.  i guess i’d been in the pot-hole-of-depression long enough to finally realise that nothing was going to change, until i changed.

i saw a psychologist for several months, turning over several of the rocks in my mental garden to see what scurried out.  i can see now there were significant contributors dating back at least 10-12 years (5-7 years before Dysthymia struck), all of which layered additively, like blankets over my life’s fire.  sometimes it’s helpful to simply become aware that specific factors in your past have had an impact you were previously unaware of, and sometimes you need to dissect things a little more.  that’s where a qualified psychologist can really help.  i may yet go back for more, if and when i feel the need to peel away some more layers of my onion.  the $80/session Medicare rebate certainly helped there, too!

getting back into my physical self has also been critical.  it’s hard to beat the natural high that comes from a mildly exhausting cardio or gym workout at least a few days each week, especially when it’s one of the first things i do in the day, it leaves me feeling good for the rest of the day, and helps with sleep, too.  sure, it’s hard to break old lazy habits and establish momentum, but i just take it one day at a time, and i don’t berate myself if i miss a day’s scheduled exercise.

having several friends who have used or currently use anti-depressants, i carefully weighed up that option for myself.  i believe they can be of tremendous benefit, even necessity, for some people.  but my gut instinct was that my issues were more – for want of a better word – situational & attitudinal than brain-biochemical, and thus far i’m not regretting that decision.  i’m also wary of the “life on ADs is ‘nice’. nice can kinda suck though” factor, as articulated so eloquently by my friend Richo.

and last but not least, there’s the people factor.  one of those ‘blankets’ over my life of the previous 5 years has been a major erosion of my ‘inner circle’ of friends for a bunch of reasons, leaving me feeling isolated and restless.  i don’t make friends easily or quickly, so it’s a slow process, but i’ve pushed myself to connect with new people, and reconnect with some ‘lapsed’ friends.  it makes a hell of a difference.  it’s nice to complain of not having enough hours in the day when the main reason (other than work) is time spent with friends, instead of time spent in the pot-hole-of-depression in front of the tv!

it’s an ongoing process, a work in progress, and some say that’ll always be so (i’m not so sure about that).  but it’s a state of mind so different to where i was only a year ago, it’s starting to feel like a receding memory.  my spiral upwards out of depression and the things that propel it bear a curious symmetry (equal but opposite) to the habits that dragged me down into it years ago.  i couldn’t have done it without the support & understanding of my friends & clients alike, a professional psychologist, and a huge bunch of awesomely inspirational people on Twitter :).

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riding4acause.org – my story

29 11 2009

since i embraced Twitter in the last month or two, it’s helped this process of opening up my world and re-engaging with life, primarily in the form of staying informed on stuff that interests me, but also bringing me into contact with people from various walks of life.

i can’t even remember now how/who/when i first became aware of riding4acause.org and the guys behind it (other than via someone i follow on Twitter re-tweeting), but i was so impressed by what these guys are doing:

a small bunch of straight men, all motorcycle enthusiasts (and fathers, & i’m guessing husbands) and who’ve each had their own struggle with depression, are forming a possy (always wanted to use that word – & i mean it in the John Wayne sense) to go ride across America to raise funds & awareness for male depression in just under a year from now.

isn’t that freakin awesome!??

last week Raz Chorev called on his Twitter followers to submit their stories of depression, to be posted on the site.  for some reason, i felt compelled to submit mine.  i’d never put my story into a single canned message before/yet, so figured this might be a decent opportunity, and also help spread the word.

so for the time being (while mine is the first), here’s my sorry story of depression:

http://www.riding4acause.org/my-story/

if it helps just one guy realise that he’s not alone feeling the way he does, and to get some help & get back on track, i’ll be a happy boy.

& maybe some people might question why i’m being so open about my story, here on my blog, in person amongst my friends, & even on a “stranger’s website”?  aside from the above reason, i also think it imposes some small degree of accountability on myself.  whether that’s good motivation or bad, i’m not sure, but by putting my story out in the open (instead of hiding it from almost everyone for the last 5 years), i feel it gives me even more reason to do whatever i have to do to never find myself back in that dark place.