They went on to talk about situational depression, environmental depression, chemical depression – it just went on. By reading this article you would think that the whole world is depressed. Is it possible that it’s contagious but we don’t realise ?
The photo of the original ‘Depressed Man’, first appeared at the time when depression was beginning to be diagnosed more often and as something very real and extremely serious. The link to suicide was made very early as was alcoholism, violence & addiction.
Something about that picture touched me. I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I felt great sorrow for him. I wished I could put my hand on his shoulder & ask is he ok and that if he needed a friend, I could be that friend.
I found myself thinking about him every time I had time to myself, which these days is alot. I seemed to feel how he was feeling. Did I identify with him because that was how I felt? Or still often feel?
I found myself on the verge of tears alot of the time. A song, a movie, a photo… but I also saw the humour when I cried a few times. But a few times I also just cried. I mean really cried. And it sort of felt good.
Finally, one afternoon I was sitting on the beach. No one was around. I thought about how lost I had become. I thought about how lonely I felt and how i was too proud and felt embarrassment to tell anyone. I thought about how I had burnt every bridge there was to burn. And I wondered how I would ever find happiness again.
I sat there and cried a heavy, sobbing deep in the chest type of cry. One I don’t remember having since I was a child. Only this had a heaviness, a raw pain and a sadness that overwhelmed me in absolute grief, of guilt and of regret.
It all brought back painful memories that I thought time had taken . Memories of the day I would find very hard to tell you about in any detail. A memory that I must try to exorcise by telling before it eats me from the inside out.
It was a day where I discovered what it meant to be human. How there can be a perfect storm with which we find ourselves alone. The most dangerous place I could be. Alone… and tired of how hard the struggle was to just be.
A day I was so lost and also the day I was found.
I could hardly breath, I pulled the car over & as I got out my body stopped working. I literally had to drag my own dead weight to the side of the road using my fingers and wrists to drag myself to the side of the road.
The road was busy and loud and I was lucky to not get run over. I pulled myself up the embankment, sweating profusely…. and went to sleep. Sleep !!!
I felt so alone. I couldn’t find a reason to hold onto that made me feel like fighting anymore. Fighting the constant Tiredness, the guilt, the sadness and the regret about a life of consistent bad decisions and disappointment.
I couldn’t tell anyone anything about what had occurred in my life. What had happened to me and then the shit things I did in order to survive but mainly in order to satisfy my addictions and vices. No one cared anyway. I had made sure of that.
To this day I am still my own secret holder. My own vault. The one and only trustee of the whole truth & the mindblowing scale of how much i fucked it all up.
I didn’t see a way out. I was tired. And I’d had enough
I was overwhelmed by everything that had happened and I should of been. By this time, the anxiety had calmed down to leave me with my depression only. I could deal with that.
Sometimes I remember feeling like it was my only friend. It was the only one who I could trust to be there day in, day out.
So on this darkest, saddest and loneliest of days I had my first idea in a long time that I knew would work and bring with it much needed relief.
A final outcome I wouldn’t be ashamed of because many a man has done the same for a lot less.
I didn’t just give up, but suddenly it made perfect sense and I had a clear picture of what i needed to do.
It all came together perfectly and each valid argument I had the day before not to take this action had all but disappeared.
That day I decided to walk out into the surf & then when it got too deep, I would continue swimming out to the horizon, head fown.
I have always been a poor swimmer & this was the beach where I was within a breath of drowning ten years before. I knew if I went out, there was no way I was coming in.
With the combination of being in the worst shape a person could be from laying around for a few years, a long treacherous beach void of people you could hear the rough surf pounding the break. It was angry but it would accommodate without a problem.
It was first time in years I knew that I would at last accomplish something I set out to do, even if it was a one way Street.
I stood between my car and the angry surf break. The guilt of living was so much worse than any perceived guilt about dying. In fact, it really waged a killer debate in my head that the negative easily out pointed the positive.
Especially since the negative, by winning, would finally end as a positive anyway. For everyone.
The kids would get over it quick enough. Not as quick as my wife, but still they would get over it.
Even the supposed bad outcomes would find themselves eventually agreed upon that what happened was best for everyone concerned.
Time stood still and there was no sound. I welcomed the thought of sleeping soon without having to wake up and have the guilt overwhelm me in the first few minutes of the morning. Every morning.
I started to finish my mental check list. I remember thinking I wore really crap undies that day unfortunately.
Finally, I thought of the last thing I said to the few that matter. I thought about my mates who abandoned me when I needed them most. I thought about my wife who did the same.
I questioned the validity of God and wondered about him as I often do.
Finally, I thought of my mum.
As the waves rushed up to my feet at the shoreline, the coldness startled me just as I was thinking about how a supposed loving God would let this happen.
A God that I loved and learnt about in the church of me. I believed even more than most believers…but not in a religious way. I talked to him but I didn’t pray.
It was more in acceptance of how mindblowing the universe was… and whatever that all was. God was just A word for reference.God that was more powerful than we could imagine…but not an intervening one.
The rushing tide and the freezing water smashed into my legs and bounced straight up to my face. It caught me me surprise. It caught me thinking about Ma & Pa.
And in the end it just caught me.
During those years before this, I remember days that turned into a week or more without being able to move. Not being able to get up and shower or get a cup of coffee or kick a ball.
I dreaded the thought of interaction of any kind and the only voices I heard would be as I lay on the lounge facing away from the TV but listening to the crime channel for hour upon hour.
I could sleep for forty hours at a time, missing whole days sometimes and I’m told the occasional full weekend. I don’t remember the length of time because often time wouldn’t exist to me. I didn’t care if it was 3am or 3pm, I mostly wanted to just sleep.
Life was just too hard and too painful to live at this time but sleeping was my armour to it all.
What I mean by hard is that I was always so tired. I’d always had Tiredness issues since high school when I started with glandular fever. This returned a few times until I was later diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue.
My sleep issues would always be a part of my life since that time. But after losing $1m or $2m in trading, overspending & extreme risk taking, I would go on to lose more than everything I had – including my marriage.
My wife slowly drifted away after the depression hit. I would also go through six months of acute anxiety (which I didn’t even believe existed until I had it).
To relieve this anxiety I would self medicate in any way possible. Alcohol mainly, but gambling and drugs would play a major role in my life from then on in.
I would throw back a $500- red wine from the bottle at 4am sometimes. Other times I’d be waiting for the pub to open 9:30am so I could drink some beers as quick as possible just to get some relief from my thoughts. I hated the taste of beer or any alcohol really, so I was often sick an hour afterwards.
Six months of this – maybe it was twelve, was enough to splinter an already distant marriage. While my wife was off saving everyone who put their hand up, for some reason she just couldn’t extend that empathy, understanding or love to me. Or what I had become.
So the drinking stopped, the anxiety faded but the depression stayed. And stayed. When my 2nd child came along, again I went into a darkness that has caused my to basically forget the first 6 or 9 months of his life.
I would lay in this state until it would lift off me and allow me to function enough to pretend I was human at least and with any luck, long enough to find some money to buy some drugs to keep me awake a while… Long enough at least to do the simple things in life and the only thing that was keeping me alive – my kids.
I spent a lot of time laying around with them but physically I wasn’t up to much. It didn’t matter too much because they were so young.
Their mum would take them to the beach while I slept and this was a pattern that continued indefinitely really. I hated the beach after nearly drowning 10 years earlier so I started to make it up in other things. I would spoil them their whole lives as much as I could and still do to this day.
With any luck I’d find something that allowed me to do more than just cuddle them on the lounge. A good amphetamine based whatever could straighten me enough to play ‘normal’ and so that the weight of just carrying myself upright didn’t exhaust me within a such a short amount of time.
I don’t like to talk about it really and thankfully my kids were to young to really remember that well. The years rolled on while my life was on hold and I slowly got better. I replaced old bad habits with new bad habits and life remained pretty shithouse, especially financially, for years to come.
The depression was always close by just as the Tiredness was. I learnt to push through it mostly. And as the clouds lifted and things became clearer, I realised that not just everything I owned was gone. So was everyone I knew or cared about.
Reality was about to make a second coming.
My two best friends and everyone else had given up trying to be friends with someone who had fallen so far and from the outside looking in, refused to get back up. This I realised later is the ongoing price to pay for this sickness and I’ve learnt to face that like everything else.