I am a very fortunate person.

Heart Pains

By no means do I forget that nor do I usually feel comfortable always sharing it.  However, it is important when I tell you my story regarding depression.

I have two parents who have been with each other since the late 70s who brought me up through a consistent ethic of life.  They taught me how to air grievances but also how to forgive and make amends.  Though I like to blame (tongue in cheek) them for screwing up my life, I am very grateful that both treated each other and myself as people and there was absolutely no physical, sexual, or emotional violence.

I grew up in the middle class.  My schooling was top notch public schools.  There were teachers who cared greatly about their students and wanted to see us reach our dreams and potential.  I would not say I had a lot of friends, but I had some strong backing from several acquaintances that stood up for each other.

My education currently includes a bachelor’s degree.  It took me almost six years to graduate, but I somehow made it.  My professors are still my heroes even now, eight years after graduation.

For the past ten years, I have had the pleasure of sharing the journey of life with my wife and the past 7 1/2 with my awesome daughter.  My in-laws are about the best any guy could ask.  Even though I married their youngest daughter, they have shown me love and grace beyond what I could ever imagine.

I have a framework of friends now that I cherish greatly.  My only regret is that time and responsibilities keep us from spending more time together.

The church of which I attend actually practice what they preach: Love without condemnation or judgment.  As I will share next month, I needed this church.  Though they have hundreds in their responsibility, I feel like the staff is tailor-made to our family.  The church has something for my whole family.

My job is not my favorite, but it is solid and helps provide for the family.  I have perhaps the greatest boss, ever, and know that someday I will not have the pleasure of working for him anymore.  I cherish however long I have under his leadership.

I give all of this background because when I explain the depression that I went through quite recently.  My life is in a good place right now, and for the most part, it has been the past eleven months.  Around January 3 of this year, I was hit with a depression I had not experienced in about 9 years.  It is the first depression since Jr. High (approximately 21 years ago) that was not triggered by a life event.  I have had bouts of depression over my life that last anywhere from about 3 days to as long as 3 months.  Usually they coincide with life events like when we miscarried in our first pregnancy, a devastating breakup with a girl I thought was my “soul mate”, the stress regarding difficult decisions as a pastor, etc.  This is only the 2nd time I can remember my depression not coinciding with a life event, the other being in Jr. High.

At first, it was just a moment of emptiness that struck my mind.  I was still coherently thinking, but there was a void of some sort mental soft drumming in my head.  Saturday morning, it got stronger and a sense of despair or hopelessness overcame me.  That evening, stress starting taking over the pangs of my heart.  Joy evaporated.

Sunday, I started feeling mental pain so much that I skipped church and just slept.  My diet became junk food and soft drinks.  I could barely eat a kid’s portion of food.  I made it to work the next couple of days, and keeping busy helped a little bit, but any news that I could perceive being negative became negative and the stress starting making me physically ill.  It even got me sick enough to call into work on a day that it would have been really helpful to be there.  I made it back in the next day, but I was a wreck.

Despite the pain, I made it into some meetings that Saturday night and to church Sunday morning.  However, by Sunday evening, my heart was in so much pain my eyes created tears.  There is only two other pains I have had that even compares with the pain of my depression: gout and kidney stones.  Both of those were physical pain and I was on hydrocodone to relieve that pain.  I am of the understanding that there is medicine for depression, but I was in a lousy place and had no desire to go get medicated.

A week ago today, I started hitting my danger zone of depression.  Like my days in Jr. High, the idea of suicide started creeping back into my mind if for nothing else than to ease the pain.  I honestly believe that if it were not for the prayers of my friends and family, that I would still be in this immense pain.  Fortunately, that Monday has been the last of my depression this go around.

Depression is not an easy thing to deal with.  If you are going through depression, it hurts.  People generally don’t see anything wrong with you and think you are just being lazy or trying to get out of stuff.  The amount of energy it takes to get out of bed is enormous.  To do ordinary things feels similar to being up for 48 hours straight.  Your body feels 20 times heavier and no matter how much sleep you have, your eyes are constantly tired.  Stress keeps rising because you have to work tremendously harder to do normal things and then you are even more tired because you are working harder.  Vicious cycle.

On the other side, it is really hard to tell if others are really experiencing depression or just trying for an easy out.  At my current job, we get a new sick day every month.  There are 2-3 people who use up their sick days as soon as possible.  Every single month.  It is difficult to believe they are really sick when it seems like an excuse to not come in.  And then I get sick for two days at the beginning of the month and feel bad for judging others.

Anyways, I am out of depression now.  Hopefully, it sticks for a long while.  I would even be okay if it took a permanent hiatus.  My goal in this post is to show the devastation that depression can cause for the one going through it.  Thanks for reading and be awesome!

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