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My Struggle with Mental Health

I’ve struggled for 15 years with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).  It started off being a mild case of each, but over the years they’ve both become severe and limited my ability to function as a human being. I began taking an anti-depressant and found that it didn’t help much, so I tried another and then another.  Anyone who has taken one knows the hopefulness that you start your dosing with- is this the one?  Will I finally get some relief?  The truth is they don’t work for everybody and some people need more than a pill to get better.  

A Better Period

I found that the time in my life when I should have felt the worst (when my wife was going through breast cancer treatment), I managed my depression really well. In hindsight, I recognized that it was my disciplined exercise schedule that helped me, not the anti-depressant.  Without running, I would have been a useless ball of anxious depression, unable to help my wife and kids when they needed me the most.  I kept it up after she beat cancer and I was able to function at a pretty high level at work and at home.

The Inevitable Slump

Feeling better did not last and I slowly slipped downwards over the next few years. I changed meds again, with no luck and finally decided that my depression warranted Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT).  I did 24 procedures and felt better for a short while, but nosedived amidst some family stress and decided it was not for me.  Suicidal thoughts crept in more and more and I added meds to try to fight them off.  Every day was dreadful and I retreated to my bed to sleep it all away.  My anxiety fueled my depression and if I could avoid it by sleeping, I thought it would help.  Desperate for some help, I turned to ketamine infusions a year or so after the ECT.  Ketamine is an anesthetic that produces a mini-trip when given in the dose intended for depressives.  I did feel a bit better after a round of 6 infusions, but I dipped back down again into the darkness and did not pursue further treatment.  Hopeless and dreading each day, I was overwhelmed a few months ago and I did something I promised my wife I would never do: I attempted suicide.  I took 100 pills of my medicine that was intended to calm the restlessness from my anti-suicidal ideation medication.  I thought that would be enough to stop my heart beating and end my life.  I was wrong and I instead suffered terrible tremors, then vision problems as I stumbled through the house to let my family know that they needed to call me an ambulance.  I was whisked to the hospital and given multiple charcoal doses and a few hours later I felt fine.  I was so lucky. That is when my reckoning began.

Where I am Now

I went to a Mental hospital for a week and realized I’d terrified my family and let everybody down by taking those pills.  I also found out that I wasn’t serious enough in my approach to fighting my depression and anxiety.  I needed discipline and nerves of steel if I was going to stick to my new plan- lots of exercise, talk therapy, and endless positivity.  I had a lot to make up for with my family: broken trust takes time to rebuild.  I am working every day on that and truly hope that I can do it.  I am happy to say that nearly 3 months on from my attempt, I am doing well and not having too many bad days.  You can get better, but you have to know it is a day-by-day process with no shortcuts.  Reach out to family, friends, doctors, and therapists when you need help.  I did not and nearly lost everything.

In a crisis? Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text “NAMI” to 741741

By jebrownwriter

Houston, TX-based Writer and Photographer. Proud pet rescuer who spends nearly all his money on them.

6 replies on “My Struggle with Mental Health”

Wow, you are doing very well for someone who struggles with depression. I have attempted suicide once, and it left me paralyzed from the waist down for three days. I couldn’t move my legs or urinate, and I was positive the nurses in the hospital were trying to poison me (paranoia) I slept a lot. It was horrible. I still struggle so much with depression, I find it very difficult to be positive. The steps you are taking are TREMENDOUS! Seriously, I congratulate you. I hope I don’t sound condescending. It’s so hard to run outside, and have a schedule when you’re depressed, all you want to do is sleep. That’s why I’m so impressed with you.

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Thank you so much! You are very kind and I know we all struggle in our own ways, so stay strong. It’s tough to be positive but just try to reward yourself for each small thing you accomplish because, let’s face it, some days just brushing your teeth is a big deal.

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Hi Jeff,
Never knew about the attempted suicide. Always remember your life long friends out there who also care about you. I am glad you are ok not only for yourself but Chris and your children.

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Of course Jeff! While I am sure it is all a struggle, so happy to see you back online and sharing your struggles and challenges with others. My feeling is that if your story helps one person, it will be time well spent. I myself recently lost a buddy to depression and he took his own life. There were zero signs because he was such a positive influence in my life and so many others. Quite the shocker! Don’t forget the good times years ago when we were close buddies….”Get down for low wind resistance” and you biting my shoulder on the back of that moped. Jumping the tracks in the Ranger, and me picking you up for school with your Mom looking out the window asking why I burned around the corner at top speed in reverse to pick you up for school 🙂 It is all coming back to me. I might be in Houston over the holidays. Can we go through the McDonalds drive thru backwards and order 🙂 Not so many peeps will get this but those are silly fun memories. Take care Jeff!

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