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Life in the slow lane

#depressed #firstworldproblems

I’m in my 40’s, I’m a white male, and I’m depressed. Who gives a shit, right? We all have problems, especially these days. There are very few people that this directly effects. So why write a blog about it? What is so special about my problems that I need to air them out on a webpage? I think part of it is that I’m wondering how many others there are out there who are like me. Sometimes when I see someone absolutely lose their shit about something stupid, like politics or in traffic, I wonder if the guy I’m looking at is dealing with the same types of issues that I am but just doesn’t know how masks work. Or maybe he does but he’s had enough of pretending. I just don’t know, and probably never will. Guys on average don’t spend a lot of time figuring out their feelings. They just…live. 

It’s just not working for me. Every single morning, no matter how I’m feeling, I have to get up and face the world. For myself or for my family, I pull on my mask and push on through the day. Most people are fooled by it. They think I’m a funny guy who gets the job done. They don’t know how afraid I am. They don’t know that often, if I had the choice, I’d be at home under the covers watching the world go by. I wonder if other men feel the way I do? I am part of a group of like minded people on Facebook, but 95% of the women in the group are women. They talk about the things that I’m feeling; about feeling worthless and not wanting to deal with things. So am I as alone as I feel? 

I guess I’ve been spurred to start this blog by two recent events, mostly. First, on Mother’s Day, I was sitting with my family and I started thinking about work. In due course, a suicidal thought passed through my head, and it was so unexpected that it shocked me. How can someone who has come as far as I have even contemplate something so selfish? Yet there it was; “wouldn’t it be easier to be dead?” Ugh, thanks a lot, brain.

The second event was that an acquaintance shared the horrible news today that his daughter killed herself. She was suffering from depression, and he watched her slide down into the abyss, powerless to stop her. It really hit me hard because I feel that the level of pain that must bring is something that I wouldn’t be able to recover from. He saw her getting worse, and he felt like he was doing his best, but for someone in deep, there isn’t enough power in the world to stop someone who has made up their mind to end the pain. Now he has to move on with this giant hole in his life. I can’t even imagine. Yet, those thoughts sometimes jump out at me and catch me unaware. Am I destined to survive this fight? Will it ever end?

Reading back over this post, it seems very self-serving, but why stop now. I hope it does me some good to get this stuff out of my brain. Maybe someone will come across this and empathize. Yet this is just another dark corner of the internet, and I know I’m talking to myself. 

Still going strong

I should be crushed. I have the entire data warehouse of a multi-million dollar business in my clammy little hands. Since all of my vets are on vacation, I am on-call to get the warehouse back up and running should it fail. I should be hiding under my blankets. My stomach should be roiling with butterflies. But it’s not.

I’m cutting through the stress like a fighter jet. I feel it out there, but it’s not getting in. Why? What am I doing different? How is this awesome responsibility not crushing me? I think it’s all because I refuse to dwell on the negative. I’m not letting my doubts and fears run amuck. I’m telling myself it’s all going to be ok. I’m smart and if something goes wrong, I’ll work the problem. I won’t get fired. My kids won’t go hungry. 

It all seems so easy, and obvious, but it’s not. When I’m depressed, nothing rational seems obvious. It’s all hidden behind a shroud. I can’t be myself, and I have to wear a mask all day just to function. Now, I feel like I have a way to pull myself out of the nosedive. It’s pretty cool.

I started a new playlist on Spotify, inspired by Three Little Birds by Bob Marley. I call it “depression slayers”. Just one more arrow for my quiver.

Hanging in there

This week has been pretty good. My boss left this week, I had to run the team down a man. Stress was high, but I lived through it. I even enjoyed myself. Things are really going well. Really the only thing I’m doing differently is telling myself that everything is going to be ok. When I feel myself focusing on bad things, I just take a breath and think that things are well. That’s it, really. It seems to work. Hard to argue with the power of positive thinking!

Safe thinking

I saw my therapist today. He told me that I need to be kind to myself. I put too much weight Of responsibility on myself. I need to find the funny, mirthful guy when I’m feeling negative. Is it really that simple? Can I really just think my way out of this funk? When I stop and think, really think, about the horrible consequences that could befall me, I know that the worst is very unlikely. My brain loves catastrophe, though. It can’t resist thinking about failure and doom. So I have to step in and take charge. Remind myself that good outcomes are more likely. Ive made a name for myself. I have a reputation. I am capable of good things. So I have to just do them, and laugh at my pain. I’ve got to keep trying.

The plan

I’ve talked it over with my wife. The plan is to focus on today and try like hell to not worry about tomorrow as much. This is trying to break a lifetime habit for me. I always, always worry about the future. It’s my go-to move. If I were a video game character, worrying would be mapped to R1. This has to change. I think it’s a huge part of why I get depressed and anxious. I’ve conquered alcoholism. I’ve dealt with my secret adoption past. I quit smoking. I’ve pulled myself up by my bootstraps countless times, and I still insist on focusing on the negative. It has to end sometime, so why not start now?

Will this last? I sure hope so. History is on my side. Also, I have Xanex, and with Xanex, you can conquer the world!

Back to normality… for the moment?

Wife is home! So excited! I felt strength rush back into me as I held her in my arms. We had a great reunion and went to bed happy. Then, I woke up. Started obsessing about work. All of the things that are happening. All of the unknowns of my boss leaving, and upcoming challenges, and projects, and… all sorts of things I can’t control. Panic is threatening to rise up and over-take me.

My plan is to focus on one thing at a time and keep the panic at bay. Do all that I can and deal with situations as they arise. Wear my mask when I have to and come home to my wife before I collapse. Keep my doctor informed of how I feel and just survive this.

I sure hope it works.

How the world turns

Everything can just go along swimmingly and then change on a dime. I’m taking a half-day at work today and a full day off tomorrow. Kids are now on summer vacations and I don’t want to leave the alone. The chance of a big fight is too great, especially with mom out of town and everyone out of sorts. Just before I leave, my boss drops a bombshell. He’s putting in his two weeks. I just moved over to this department in part because we have such a good rapport. Now I’ll be losing that and have no idea who I will be working for. So, the future looks cloudy.

Surprisingly, I didn’t immediately have a panic attack. I just kept telling myself it would be ok, and I could succceed. I know I can, but now I have to figure out if I want to wait around and see what happens, see if I can go back where I came from, or just move on. I had a mini-panic attack just now the bling about all I would be responsible, but I was again able to relax and tell myself it’s going to be ok.

Will I maintain this calm? I have no idea, but I do know that losing it now would not help. At all. So I’m going to try to avoid that if I can.

Stabilizing

Looks like the power of positive thinking wins again. I’m focusing on what I can do well, and banishing the negative thoughts. It has really turned things around for me. My boss and I are planning for the future and making plans. I’ve jumped in with both feet and it feels great. When it doesn’t, there is always the mask to get me through.

Two days more until my wife is home. It’s quite exciting, mainly because it’s been two weeks without magic time. I miss magic time.