DSMA Chat. A follow up.

So May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Last week’s DSMA chat picked up on that with a discussion about diabetes and depression. If you missed it, you should definitely go back and check it out. I’ve been ruminating on it for a while (okay, a week), and…

I can tell you that some of the things described in the chat were things that I’ve experienced. Especially in the past year.

And it scared the shit out of me.

I don’t know what really constitutes the official meaning of depression. I can only describe what I was feeling, and how I dealt with it.

At some point last year, I started to feel like I had gotten as far as I could in life… that there were no more mountains to climb, personal, career-wise, anything… even though I was still ready to climb them.

That’s a dangerous thing. Because as soon as you start thinking that you’ve accomplished everything you can accomplish, that you’re as far as you’re going to go… when someone questions anything you do, it feels like they’re trying to take away whatever you have left. And if whatever you think you have left isn’t that great (in your eyes), it really feels unfair.

That’s ridiculous, of course. But I didn’t understand that then, and it made me angry. Not commit a felony angry, just not a nice guy to be around. And after I’d act like that for a while, I’d snap back the other way and feel like the most horrible person ever because I felt like that in the first place. I mean, I felt just awful about it.

That scenario played out in my life every few days for about 4 months.

So what did I do?

First, I sat down with The Great Spousal Unit, and she was great. It’s amazing… when you get unconditional support, you don’t feel so lost anymore. Then she told me something very profound. She knew that in many ways, I had grown up a lot like my father. Similar careers, similar approaches to priorities, money, living, etc. And she had heard me speak before about how, when I was in my teens and early twenties, he would have occasional flashes of rage. This would have been when he was around my age now, maybe a little older. So at some point in the conversation, she paused and looked at me and said:

“You know… you don’t have to be just like your father”.

And I thought about it… he must have experienced many of the same feelings I had. Frustrations at work, bringing home the bacon, paying the bills, trying to find a way to reach some goals that you had set years earlier, and watching them slip away. Maybe forever. At some point, the pressure must have been tremendous. Add in a few rebellious kids (the three oldest of us became teenagers within four years of each other), and you can see it a little clearer. I’m not condoning the rage. But I’m starting to see where it came from.

Well, that was a real breakthrough for me. Then I had to move on to step two: Do something, anything different. One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that when I feel bogged down, I need to change my routine, change my focus. So I enrolled in an Improv class at a local theater here. I have no Improv or acting aspirations, I just think it sounds like fun. Fun is what I need. My class starts in a month. And on my birthday in April, I started this blog. I never thought of it as cathartic. But I would be lying if I said it wasn’t.

Third, I went back to exercise more often. I like working out, but I also like it when I have a goal to meet. This year, it’s my 150 mile weekend bike ride (in two weeks!). I’m not sure how that will turn out, but again, it’s something for me to focus on succeeding at. And it won’t be my last physical fitness goal this year.

Finally, at some point, I’ll need to go back and discuss everything with Maureen again. It’ll be an exercise where we’ll measure how far we’ve (read: I’ve) become, and we’ll see what else I need to be aware of or working on.

Hey, I don’t have all of the answers. But I know I’m in a better place today. And I also know that just like diabetes, I need to keep working at it, keep adjusting, and keep remembering that what’s in the past is a learning experience; but it’s not necessarily a road map for the future.

And the future is what counts most.

Here’s hoping your future is as bright as a sunny summer day. If it doesn’t feel that way, don’t be afraid to reach out, ask for help and possibly seek advice from a professional. If you’ve been feeling depressed or angry, don’t forget that you don’t have to be just like your past. Your future is yet to be written. And that’s a good thing.








A Disclaimer
I have no medical training. If you consider anything written here as medical, legal, financial, or any other kind of advice, you’re out of your mind. Please speak to a learned professional before making any changes that might affect your health. Any of the original content found on this site is my property and should not be reproduced, copied, or otherwise used without the author’s expressed written consent.

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  • By Dog Days of Summer. « Happy-Medium.net on July 17, 2012 at 6:22 am

    […] favorites. I can’t tell you how much I stepped outside of my comfort zone in this class. When I wrote earlier about depression and whatever it was I was feeling at the end of last year/beginning of this year, this part was step two in my process of feeling […]


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