While dark times have flooded different parts of my life, there is something insidious about depression … especially for a man.
When my nights turned into days and days into nights, then I knew something was not totally right. Having been around family members with emotional and mental illness for a number of years (albeit not recognizing it for what it is/was), never in a million years would I have believed this condition would fall on me.
I couldn’t shake this stuff. Depression, for me, was not like a cold where taking Tylenol or alternative health remedies would totally fix me. No, this was San Francisco Bay-style fog rolling through my soul all the time. If not at a conscious level, then it for damned sure was at an unconscious level.
This was definitely a new personal low. Climbing out of the black abyss would take some time. Just how much, though?
Back in 2004, my dad died and I dealt with what I perceived as normal grief and sadness. If we had not reconnected seven-plus years earlier, had lots of open-hearted conversations, healed old wounds and loved at a depth far beyond from my adolescence … man, I probably wouldn’t have been as affected. Yet I moved forward in life, leaving Houston, going to Kerrville, Texas, for a job which lasted all of three months, then onward to Killeen, Texas for another job, living in Temple, Texas and then Austin for a stretch. Eventually, in 2006, I headed on down to Laredo, Texas, along the U.S.-Mexico border. It was the first time for me to live in a border community and, admittedly, it was a new experience.
There was a lot of good stuff going on in my life. A new opportunity to be a leader for a community newspaper, work with really great people (man, they are and were great men and women still today), and keep on my own healing journey which started in earnest five or six years earlier.
All that being said, what I was presenting outwardly was a lie. I felt, well, nothing inside me. This listless type of living just crept through my entire being, head to toe. It was not a matter of “change my thoughts, change my life.” God, I wish it was that easy. It was not.
I did not have my crap together.
I lived life, went through the motions of working and talking to people, but inside this unexplainable darkness filled me. Nothing tasted or looked good. Well, nothing healthy for sure. Fast food, a dark bedroom, lots of adult porn and self-gratification, and very little interaction with non-work-related people was my private life.
Believe me, it sucked.
People might want to see male depression as a weakness, something where the old “suck-it-up” mindset would work. If that’s the case, then I would be called weak, soft and morally bad.
This inner struggle of trying to keep everything together, only not being able to do it on the inside, is a real bitch.
Darkness, like a cloak of fear, shame, guilt and sadness rolled into one, was all I could see inwardly. Yeah, I knew about working on myself through being involved in healing communities. I knew about the power of reaching out to others and sharing what’s going on with me from a respectable standpoint. Many times in my past, I’ve “emotionally vomited” on men and women alike. Sadly, when looking back on this period of my life, I probably did it unintentionally.
Therapy and medication helped. It did get so bad, though, that my work life was affected. Focusing on key duties for a daily newspaper became too much for me to handle. I had to step away, leave, and go take care of myself. Taking care of me and my life was a radical concept, one which I had learned about just a few years earlier.
It was always, in my sheltered, private world, about taking care of others and their needs. My needs? Screw them. Having a girlfriend and a healthy sex life? Forget it. Move away from the dysfunctional family? Child, please. All of that emotional energy, unhealthy as it was, might send the most powerful man into a spiral of unfathomable depths.
Male depression is no laughing matter.
Does this little trip through one man’s own maniacal madness of male depression have a pleasant ending? Lessons have been learned. I’ve moved through those emotional triggers which stirred my depressed state. They do tend to appear here and there a little bit … real subtle assholes they are for sure. Yet they don’t have the chokehold on me as in years past.
Other highly-touted mystics, authors, and writers have written powerful testimonials to the reality of one’s dark night of the soul.
My reality today is shedding light on male depression comes from a place of strength and a willingness to openly admit that, yeah, I’ve had a lot of stuff to move through. Most importantly, I open my heart and say to you, if you are dealing with depression and are a man or woman, these four words.
You are not alone.