About a lot of the problems I see around me on a daily basis.
About a lot of the experiences that have shaped me through my childhood.
About a lot of the experiences that have shaped me through my time in the military.
About the loss, I’ve endured.
I didn’t write…
About the last year or so of my life, because it’s been too hard for me to face.
I didn’t write…
About the problems right here at home.
The other day I realized I needed to take stock of my life. For a long time now, I have been spiraling out of control. When situations get stressful, I tend to compartmentalize and avoid those issues rather than taking them head-on. These actions are directly in conflict with how I picture myself: as a strong, and capable human. Today marks the day that all of that changes. Today marks the day where I start fighting back, regaining what was lost, and getting to a comfortable place inside my own head.
This article isn’t about the problems and toxicity around masculinity, but rather it is about mental health on a much larger scale. Looking at it simply through one lens doesn’t allow one to view the entire gravity of the situation.
Depression is a tricky thing. It affects everyone differently and the symptoms vary greatly. I can’t speak for everyone as to the traits and effects they’ve experienced, but a few of mine include:
- Chaos: I thrive in chaos, and when there isn’t any in my life, I create it. That can manifest in multiple ways, but it can be as simple as starting an argument via text, or as significant as getting into an argument in a bar.
- Risk Taking: I am not comfortable in the mundane acts of everyday life. My extreme behavior can sometimes include getting blackout drunk in the middle of the day, causing chaos, or any extreme sport or activity when the opportunity arises.
- Constant Red-Lining: It doesn’t matter what it is I am doing, I become obsessive and over-bearing toward it. Be it arguing politics with a friend, writing articles, exercising, being a dick during board games, or drinking. I am constantly going to the maximum of my ability.
- Alternating Between Periods of Constant Activity and Periods of Not Doing Anything: This behavior can almost become manic depressive in nature. I may be up until 4 in the morning, working and cleaning my house for four days straight, or I might not get off the couch for the same period of time.
- Boredom: This is another aspect that is also two-fold: I have a fear of getting bored because then my mind wanders, so I take on a large number of projects at one time. The inverse is also true. I often get bored with these projects and move rapidly onto something else.
- Relationships: I often develop relationships with unhealthy attributes. Or through the nature of the other traits, cause relationships to become unhealthy.
This isn’t a complete list of some of the symptoms I exhibit, but it can give a general idea of what living with depression can be like.
A Day in the Life
A normal day for me is usually anything but. When one exhibits this multitude of differences in their personality traits, there is very little consistency day to day. It’s possible I could be up with the sun, drinking coffee, making breakfast, and preparing for a long day of productivity, all while feeling like my old self. It’s also possible I’ll have the desire to put whiskey in my coffee and say ‘to hell with’ the day. I never know which it’s going to be.
Alcohol is a depressant. While most people use it for its stimulant effects, depending on the amount drank, it actually has the opposite effect. Alcohol overdose can elevate the effects of depression. All of the previous symptoms I’ve listed can become magnified.
I have found causation for my own prevalency to choose to drink on any given day. In the Army, I was always mission-oriented. There was always a goal I was working toward, whether it was the next deployment, the next raid, or just getting my brothers back home safely, there was always something to strive for. In the civilian world, I have found it tougher to stay on task. Sure, there are weeks and months I am constantly busy and those are the easier times. It’s the lulls that get hard. It’s the lows that cause me to lose my way. And invariably, I turn to alcohol during these times. And I use it heavily. But, just because you have something to do lined up that day, I’ve found it doesn’t necessarily equate to a non-drinking day. It also involves the level of pride and importance you feel in the work that day.
In my experience, alcohol doesn’t make any of the stressful situations in my life better, but it does allow me to avoid them. After I binge drink, I find myself with a severe lack of motivation for the next several days. It becomes hard to focus on the task I was previously working on. It becomes hard to return to a normal work schedule, and most importantly, it becomes hard to remain on mission, which in turn leads to more drinking and more depression. It’s gotten to a point where I don’t know if alcohol is a symptom or the cause, and honestly, it doesn’t matter.
Just like the symptoms varying for those with depression, the solutions also vary. The only way I have found to combat this is to stay on mission, to stay on task, to stay goal-oriented. This means more than just keeping myself busy with work. I have to fight to get myself into a daily routine that is consistent and will work to keep my mind from getting off course. I want to document my journey for the public eye in hopes that I will have documentation to help me learn about my own process, as well as the possibility of assisting anyone else who may be enduring similar struggles. I welcome comments, emails, and connections through this process. Let’s create a system of accountability for ourselves in hopes that we can better our own process. Feel free to reach out to me on social media (found in my bio).
I hope to hear from you soon, and there will be more to come…
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project, please join like-minded individuals in The Good Men Project Premium Community.
We have pioneered the largest worldwide conversation about what it means to be a good man in the 21st century. Your support of our work is inspiring and invaluable.
The Good Men Project is an Amazon.com affiliate. If you shop via THIS LINK, we will get a small commission and you will be supporting our Mission while still getting the quality products you would have purchased, anyway! Thank you for your continued support!