My own battle with the meshugenah

I recently finished reading Danny Evans book, Rage Agains the Meshugenah, which talks about his struggles with clinical depression.  I’m a reader of his blog (I know, shocker), Dad Gone Mad, and find him to be a pretty funny guy.  In the book he talks about how he used his humor for a long time to hide his depression to the outside world.  But in his private life, he was severely depressed, unable to get out of bed, find work, or be with his wife and kids.  It is a lonely and difficult battle but one that he tells in a manner that I can relate to.

These days, there are so many commercials on TV for drugs that battle depression.  We hear stories about moms that lose their battle with depression and do terrible things to their children or to themselves.  When we hear stories about people who have issues with depression, it tends to make us uncomfortable.  As Danny points out, we often say things like, “he’s crazy” or “has she lost her mind” as carelessly as we’d say, “can you pass the butter?”  Like it doesn’t really mean anything.  But it does.  Depression is a serious issue, it’s painful and it impacts not only the person experiencing it but those around them.

When I was young and foolish, trying to determine who I was as an adult and what that meant, I got married.  I never should have gotten married in the first place, I knew that going into it, but I was a very different person then and didn’t have the power to stop it.  After a little while, I started to get depressed and a short while later we ended up getting divorced.  The depression didn’t go away with the signing of the papers though, it lingered on for quite a while.  I’ll never forget the Christmas of that year, it was terrible.  And for me to say that, there had to be something really wrong.  Christmas is my absolute favorite time of the year.  I love it.  I practically live for it.  But that year, I didn’t love it.  I spent most of Christmas Eve in bed, hiding in the dark, while 20 people or so had dinner downstairs.  I pretended I didn’t feel well but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t fooling anyone.  I was in such a dark and lonely place, I felt like a failure, I felt so alone.

The following January I started going to therapy.  I was very fortunate to have found a great woman who really helped me dig myself out of the abyss. We worked through my issues and I came out the other side, feeling so much better and much happier.  But it took me a long time to talk about my depression with anyone.  It was like it was something I was ashamed of.  I wasn’t sure how people would react or what they’d think about me.  Of course, in hindsight, it doesn’t matter one bit what they’d think or how they’d react.  And odds are good that either they themselves had experienced depression or were close to someone else who had.

Paul and I were both concerned about how I’d feel after I gave birth to Courtney and whether or not I’d have any postpartum depression.  To my shock, I didn’t have any problems at all but I know I’m very fortunate in that.  PPD is very common among women and is something that women shouldn’t be afraid to talk with their doctors and friends about.  Well, any kind of depression people shouldn’t be afraid to talk about.  It’s ok to be sad, to live in the darkness.  It’s ok to need help.

Danny’s book opened up a lot of memories for me, both good and bad.  I’m glad that I was able to get help and am ok today.  And I thank you, Danny, for opening up a subject that many people are afraid to talk about.

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