How I Knew I Was Depressed

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About Norbert Brown

Norbert Brown is a freelance writer, producer and actor. He writes speeches and large corporate event scripts as well as essays and reviews, and he’s currently developing a solo theater piece called Slide Show. He lives on Cape Cod with his wife Liz, two of their three children (the third is fully cooked and on her own, but visits frequently), a dog and far too many cats.


  1. What an insightful essay— there is so much denial that goes on that sometimes someone pointing out the little things to you can wake you up to your own inner state…

    Your story of layoff and re-adjustment hits home— sometimes you try staying so busy and doing all kinds of activities to keep from going over the edge… But sometimes you can feel those nagging dull headaches and your face feels almost numb to your own touch, like you have a latex mask over your own face….

    For me, the cure was re-connecting with family and friends and constantly working and trying to challenge myself doing new tasks, either at the gym or taking a class…

    Depression has many faces— and comes and goes…

  2. Norbert, thanks for a helpful and insightful essay. I’ve been dealing with male depression ever since I was 5 years old and my father tried to take his own life when he was unable to find work and felt the pressures to support his family. I’ve dealt with depression in my own life and specialize in working with men. Too many men and those who care about us, think of depression with symptoms such as sadness, sleeping too much, loss of interest in life, etc. As you point out, depression can be expressed in multiple ways and are often different for men than for women.

    We still believe that women experience depression at twice the rate of men. But that may be because we have defined depression with symptoms that are more common in women.

    By sharing our stories, as you have, we create a more nuanced and honest look at the reality of depression in our lives. As we go deeper we can also heal and we can reverse the trend of male suicides that occur at rates of 4 to 18 times higher than for women.

  3. oooh, how dare you share so much raw feeling, honesty, and wisdom?

    You’re a dude aren’t you? C’mon! ;^)

    With all the threads about maleness, manliness, and masculinity I think this article sends the perfect message without the hand wringing.

    Agreeing with Jed, men sharing stories and gut wrenching details like this are the source of healing and improving ourselves.

    This really sneaky form of depression is something I’ve not heard other men talk about much.

    You’re a great man for moving forward and choosing to take care of yourself so that others can continuing enjoying your gifts.

    Thank you, Norbert!

  4. Thanks for this, Norbert. It’s so important for men to hear other men talk openly about depression.

  5. Norbert, I know exactly what you’re talking about in this article. It’s what we used to call a “nervous breakdown”. This happened to me five years ago after open-heart surgery and going back to work too soon (in Burma). It took moving back to the States and readjusting to life to slowly get back to a sense of normality. I won’t say, “Get well soon!” because that’s too much. Take your time.

  6. Male or female, depression sucks. What is most difficult is the negative feedback loop that many get trapped in–you feel depressed, your cognitive abilities suffer, you make bad decisions (or none at all), bad things happen, you feel depressed, and so on. Thank you for this story.

  7. I don’t know what to do.
    I have tried so hard to be tough and I guess I too have now been diagnosed with depression.
    I am second guessing everything.
    I hardly believe it could be this way.
    I just started a medication today.
    I don’t feel good about it.
    I just feel I have over reacted.
    This sucks.

    • Norbert Brown says:

      Ashleigh, it’s important for you to realize that getting the help you need is a sign of strength, not weakness. It’s hard to understand depression as an illness when you’re in the middle of it, but that’s what it is. You wouldn’t beat yourself up for having the flu – don’t beat yourself up over being depressed. And most importantly, you don’t have to feel like this forever. Take care of yourself.

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