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Thread: Depression

  1. #1

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    Depression

    I hope it's ok that this is a separate thread that I'm starting, but I don't want to clutter pages that are for remembering Andrew Koenig with anything not wholly related to him and his life. His passing prompted me to write this, but it's something that will apply to plenty of people.

    The gist is this: I have dealt with suicidal, unipolar depression and continue to take medication daily to treat it. On two separate occasions over the past seven years, I've had two episodes that were severe and during which I thought almost exclusively of suicide. I did not eat much and lost weight during these episodes. I couldn't sleep at all, didn't even think about sex, and had constant diarrhea. My mind played one thought over and over, which was "Kill yourself." It was also accompanied by a constant, thrumming pain that I felt through my whole body. I describe the physical symptoms because it helps to understand that real depression isn't just a "mood." These two episodes were the most difficult experiences of my life, by a wide margin, and I did not know if I would make it through them. To illustrate how horrible it was, being in jail in a wheelchair with four broken limbs after the car accident that prompted me to get sober eight years ago was much, much easier and less painful. That isn't an exxageration and I hope it helps people understand clinical depression better. I'm saying that I would rather be in jail in a wheelchair with a body that doesn't work than experience a severe episode of depression.

    To clarify the timeline, I got sober eight years ago and my first episode of depression was seven years ago. I had been in talk-therapy with a psychologist for months and was getting used to life without booze. It's my understanding that it's not terribly rare for someone in early sobriety to get depressed. I started to exhibit the symptoms I described above and had no idea what was happening. My psychologist urged me to see a psychiatrist, as did my family, among whom alcoholism and depression are old pals, so to speak. Everyone wanted me to go on medication, except me. I felt that it would be "weak" to do so and that I could soldier through and get a handle on it. But everything got worse and it was terrifying. Most of my thoughts were telling me to kill myself and I began fantasizing constantly about suicide. The images of my head being blown apart by a shotgun blast or me swimming out into the ocean until I got tired and drowned played over and over in my head. My whole body hurt, all the time.
    Fortunately, a tiny part of me recognized my thought process as "crazy." I knew that if anyone other than me was describing these symptoms I would lovingly handcuff them and take them to the hospital and help the shit out of them, whether they liked it or not. So I tried very hard to step out of myself and look at the situation with a modicum of objectivity and "imagine" that I was someone who deserved help.
    Quite literally I thought, "I don't think anyone else would shoot me with a shotgun, so maybe, temporarily, I'll postpone that and try this Lexapro that everyone who knows me is recommending."
    It worked. It wasn't magical, but it addressed some chemical issues in my brain that allowed me, gradually, to feel better and actually experience my life. I ate again, slept again, got boners when I encounted attractive women, and made normal number twos when I went to the bathroom. I didn't and don't feel euphoric all the time or anything. I still get angry, sad, and afraid sometimes. But I also get happy, excited, and horny too. I experience the full range of human emotions, rather than just one horrible one.
    Just under eighteen months ago, after a couple of years of both my marriage and my decision to pursue comedy full-time, I experimented with a lower dose of medication and had another episode. It was as bad or worse as the first one, but thankfully I had some idea of how to deal with it. This episode drove home the knowledge that, like alchoholism, depression demands respect and attention. Whether it's a "good" thing or a "bad" thing, I cannot pretend to know, but it exists and it can kill you dead.
    My psychiatrist adjusted my dose and I got feeling better over time. If you know me personally, all this information may surprise you, as I think I generally have a pretty sunny demeanor. For most of my life, I've been a happy, optimistic guy. But for whatever reason, I've had depression of a serious, life-threatening nature rear its head a couple of times.

    The sole reason I've written this is so that someone who is depressed or knows someone who is depressed might see it. While great strides have been made in mental health over the years, certain stigmas still exist. I strongly resisted medication at first. But after having been through depression and having had the wonderful good fortune to help a couple of people who've been through it, I will say that as hard as it is, IT CAN BE SURVIVED. And after the stabilization process, which can be and often is fucking terrifying, a HAPPY PRODUCTIVE LIFE is possible and statistically likely. Get help. Don't think. Get help.


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  2. #2

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    Re: Depression

    I don't have a lot to add, but going to a therapist and taking my medication (also Lexapro) has saved my life. I'm not where I want to be in life, but where I am is a million times better than where I would be if I hadn't acknowledged my issues and done something about it.

    Depression is not a weakness within you or an inability to cope. It's a chemical imbalance, and it needs to be treated. If you think you might have it, talk to someone about it. If a family member, friend or spouse thinks you might have it, consider what they're saying. You may or may not, but it'll be best if you talk to your doctor about it. Do not be ashamed of it, and do not think you can just ignore it. Please, try and do something about it. There are so many resources and people who want to help you.



  3. #3
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    Re: Depression

    I used to think of the end of Fight Club on a loop... shooting myself through the mouth... smoke pouring out... I finally decided to get meds and it went away.

    The good thing is that the stigma has faded a lot... the bad thing is that a lot of people still live like that for years without getting to experience how much better things can be without much effort at all.

    I agree with Rob's thing though... when you're in that state, you really don't even care about yourself enough to do anything...

    Also, it's really brave of you to be so honest Rob.
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  4. #4
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    Re: Depression

    I'm on zoloft, and have previously been on Paxil. I see a therapist every two weeks. I spent my entire adolescence self-harming and constantly fixating on suicide and didn't do anything about it because, to quote my father, I was being a "melodramatic teenager." Being on medicine has made all the difference in the world and I continually encourage my friends to seek help if they feel they need it. I go to school where psyciatric care is free, yet some friends still refuse to get it because of the stigma. I hope that as time passes, that stigma will go away and more people can find solace from the disease.
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  5. #5
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    Re: Depression

    One thing I would like to add is that anyone CAN get help. I know it seems scary but just pick up the phone and call a therapist. They will help you or get you help. If you are broke most work on a sliding scale. They are usually aware that most people calling them really need help and they won't just hang up on you.

    Medication is very cheap. I'm on Citaloprom and it is 10 for 6 months. It does not make me feel like a zombie. I was afraid that taking a pill would wipe away who I was. Instead it has allowed me to me for the first time that I can remember.

    Three years ago I started getting psychosamitic health issues. I finally called a therapist. He charges me on a sliding scale. It was the best thing I ever did in my life.

    Here is a link to a website with a therapist search on it. If you even think you need one go and try it out. If you don't need one you will know pretty quickly. Worst case scenario you wasted a couple hours.


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  6. #6
    ASR
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    Re: Depression

    I finally conquered my depression a couple years ago. Until then I had kept a lot of my life story private but I eventually learned to open myself up completely and stop keeping the pain inside. Nowadays I'm completely honest with myself and others.

    My depression plagued nearly my entire childhood and lasted from around fifth grade to my senior year of high school. Throughout the majority of that time, I did not have a single true friend. I scared off the people who did try to befriend me because of the way I acted towards them. It was a vicious cycle where the longer I went without making any real friends, the less chance I ever had of getting one.

    My parents, frantic and frustrated, brought me to see several different therapists throughout the years. I believe the count ended at around 10 different psychologists and psychiatrists, all of whom gave up on me at one point or another. I was diagnosed with every three-letter mental issue in the book, from ADD to OCD. They said I was bipolar and oppositional, everything you could think of. As a result, I was put on an ever-increasing catalogue of medication, the doses always rising. I'm one of the cases where medication did not work at all for me - I maintain that it made things worse. All the different medication I was on battled with each other, fighting and wrecking my body and mind. I got sick from it a lot. The worst part for me - what hurt me the most - was that whenever things started to get better... whenever I was happier, or stopped getting in trouble at school, or was able to socialize and talk with other kids my age... the medicine got the credit. "The medicine must be working!" I never got the credit. It was never ME overcoming my problems, it was always the medicine. And when things went wrong, I got blamed... then it WAS my fault. It was my fault that I got suspended, but it was because of the medicine that I got an A on that test.

    All of this time, I had to deal with the shadows inside my own head. I constantly craved attention and always acted out in front of my peers in misguided attempts to be accepted by them. I was the weird kid who sat alone at lunch, some days making strange noises aloud or repeatedly slamming his fist into his forehead. Weird shit like that. Who could blame the other kids for making fun of me? Another vicious circle. I acted weird because I had no friends, and I had no friends because I acted weird.

    I got a lot more chances than most people in my situation got: I was sent to a military boarding school for my freshmen year of high school, where I was able to start fresh. My parents were fed up with me, rightfully at their wit's end. They simply didn't know how to deal with a child who hated himself so much. But the fresh start, that's what's important. Predictably, though, I messed it up. In no time at all, I turned everyone against me: my peers, the adults above me, my teachers. This is where my depression hit the hardest. I contemplated suicide every day, fantasizing about ways I could kill myself, trying to calculate the best way to do it that would get back at everybody for ruining my life. That's how I thought back then. Sometimes the only thing that kept me from actually killing myself was the fact that I wouldn't be able to see everyone's reaction when it was over.

    I vividly remember setting up a makeshift noose out of my uniform's belt. I stood on a chair in my room, belt wrapped around my neck, with my door wide open. I waited for people to walk by so they could see what I was doing. I wanted the attention more than anything else. I wanted to die not only because I hated myself, but because I wanted to get back at everyone else. I wanted them to feel bad for neglecting me. I thought the world was so unfair.

    The problems escalated until I was eventually expelled from the military school. My dad picked me up and brought me home. He and my mother discussed what the next step was. they were furious. They didn't know what they, as parents, could have done so wrong to have a child this destroyed in his head. My mother told me she wished I was a miscarriage. She didn't mean it - she loves me so much, it was just frustration speaking - but the words were scarred into my brain. After the longest week of my life (I spent most of it in my bed staring at the cieling in pure terror at the nothingness that lay ahead in my future), my parents told me they were sending me to another military school. This one was in Wisconsin.

    I didn't last there very long at all. The kids hated me and I hated them. They beat me up while I was sleeping and nobody ever did anything about it. I hated myself more than ever. After a long string of events that I'd rather not get into right now, I ended up getting expelled from this school as well. Since it was in Wisconsin, states away from my home, they were sending me back on a plane escorted by two staff members to make sure I got there safely. At the airport, I was stricken by the pure terror of having to go home and face my parents... and I made a run for it. Airport security grabbed me and hauled me off in a police car to an out-patient mental institution.

    I stayed there for a week and I practically fell apart. It was all teens there, just like me... but they weren't just like me. I watched them. They had serious problems, worse than mine. They had parents who had abused them, neglected them, abandoned them... I had parents who loved me and wanted nothing more than for me to be safe and happy. The biggest obstacle blocking me from being happy was myself. Watching these other ruined kids, thrown to the wayside and devoid of hope... it was an enormous wake-up call. I could salvage my life if I tried hard enough, because I had people who truly cared about me back home.

    I returned to public school and continued to battle with my depression. Eventually I decided to stop taking my medication in an effort to win this fight independently. I needed that - I needed to stop taking my medication - but for most people this is not the case. In fact I really shouldn't have stopped. It certainly made things rockier for a long while as my body and mind tried their best to right themselves.

    As time went on, the suspensions stopped coming and the weird cries for attention stopped happening. Small periods of time popped up where I found myself actually happy with life, satisfied. I slowly made friends. I gathered my sanity and shoehorned myself into the normalcy of a working society. The suicidal thoughts stopped coming, and pretty soon I was amazed that I had ever thought death was the right option. There was so much to live for.

    Now... I'm happy. I haven't had any serious bouts of depression in over two years, though on occasion I've felt the feelings seeping in. I still don't take any medication, and it's a wonder I managed to overcome my depression without it but I am ever-thankful that I was able to. I don't think I could have ever done it if the medication had still been around to take credit... but remember that for some people the medication is the one thing that really helps. I have more close and caring friends now than I could have ever asked for, and I truly love them all even if I don't flat-out tell them so.

    I missed out on my childhood but I'm all the better for it. I have an appreciation for life that isn't easily earned.

    If I could travel back in time and tell my younger self how happy I would be one day, I think younger-me might fall to his knees and break down in a waterfall of rubbery tears, hugging me so tightly that I'd be gasping for air.


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  7. #7
    crlygrl's Avatar
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    Re: Depression

    Thank you all for sharing your stories... I love this board...
    many tine tanies



  8. #8
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    Re: Depression

    i didn't want to post this but if it helps someone out there then i feel like i really should say it. i lost my dad to suicide, brought on in part by bipolar disorder, in 2001. he was 45 and i was 16. even after being hospitalized twice to deal with the aftereffects of grief, trauma, depression, all that whiny crap etc., i still refused to take my own medication consistently or be under a doctor's care for about 8 years. a lot of it was ridiculously awful, and there were days and weeks where i couldn't get out of bed or leave the house. a lot of days, the only talking i could do was to my friends on AST. last year i decided i had finally had enough, or i got enough of a kick in the ass from my friends/family to take care of myself, or i got tired of feeling like a hypocrite - maybe all 3 - anyway, i've been back under a doctor's care since november. i feel like i kind of robbed myself of almost 10 years of my life for not really any good reason.

    i'm saying this because i also had the realization in january that if i only live to be as old as my dad, then that means i have less than 20 years to kick ass and be awesome. one of the things about suicide is it will absolutely mess up your friends and family for a long time. but the other thing is it will also remind your friends and family in the most horrible way possible that they also have a limited time on this planet, and they need to make the most of it, especially because their loved one can't make the most of it anymore. in a way it was almost like some sort of sick gift. i don't know how to explain it without sounding like some sort of macabre motherfucker. if there's two things you learn when someone close to you commits suicide, it's that EVERYONE that person was close to is affected, and that a lot more people will be hurt by it than the person ever could have realized.

    basically, everything rob said in his thing, you should really take to heart. depression can be dealt with. you're not going to feel like this forever. also, writing all this down made me kind of want to puke, but whatever. i hope it helps someone. target has $4 generic prozac, and most pharmacies will price-match your prescriptions for cheaper places if you don't have insurance. being broke/poor is not a good excuse for ignoring your own health. if you can't do it for you, do it for your friends, or your parents, or your stupid gay puppies who are stupid* or anyone else.

    *this is directed at a specific individual who might be a walking gay pride parade, and is only intended to fulfill the comedy portion of this thread and not be a sweeping statement on his puppies' sexual orientations. but yeah they're homos. specifically todd.
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  9. #9

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    Re: Depression

    I've just started going to therapy to deal with my overall gloominess. it's not big deal getting help. And nobody will think less of you, on the contrary.

    If you're a comedian and think that it will dull your "edge" or some other ridiculous thing, realize that good material comes from work and discipline and if you spend more time writing and trying out bits than staring at the wall thinking crazy thoughts, you'll definitely be funnier.



  10. #10
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    Re: Depression

    Quote Originally Posted by JuanCarlos View Post
    If you're a comedian and think that it will dull your "edge" or some other ridiculous thing, realize that good material comes from work and discipline and if you spend more time writing and trying out bits than staring at the wall thinking crazy thoughts, you'll definitely be funnier.
    Nothing has helped me more with my depression/obsessive compulsive than hearing Maria Bamford, Steve Agee, and other comics talk openly about their own mental problems. The best comics have dealt with mental pain and have enough of a sense of humor about it to acknowledge it.
    Eyes are the losers in the skies.



  11. #11
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    Re: Depression

    I have a mentally ill family member that has no safety net, and Andrew's situation has made me realize that something has to be done. Unfortunately, the only people who care about her are here in the United States, while the ones in China couldn't care less, and actually steal money we give her. She also refuses to seek help, and I mean really really refuses, so we've never been sure what to do. I'm going to talk to my parents tonight and really see if we can make some sort of plan.
    Last edited by Berliner; February 26, 2010 at 5:18 PM.



  12. #12
    BFH
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    Re: Depression

    I went to counseling for a couple of years, the cost of which was determined based on income, as Americas Team described above. My last session was over four years ago, but I still benefit from the work done, using the same strategies to deal with my issues at the time to now handle whatever other conflicts or difficulties that may come my way. Everyone's circumstances and sets of problems are different, as evident by the variety of stories that the brave people in this thread shared before my post. Everyone has a different path to stability, but the important thing is to seek help. It's the best decision you can make.



  13. #13
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    Re: Depression

    I have a cousin who's been on all sorts of meds, in therapy, etc. The doctors actually told him that he doesn't have chemical depression. He just recently got a job for the first time in 10+ years. He's highly intelligent, great to hang out with, always at family dinners, etc. He just has no social life, and up until now, no motivation to go get a job. He goes from therapist to therapist, and doesn't like any of them so he doesn't stick with it.

    I don't talk to him that much about anything serious, and my other cousin says he never talks about suicide or anything like that, but you can't help but worry. I try to put it out of my mind sometimes which makes me feel so guilty.

    Recently his very old (18 years) cat died. He died after throwing up for three days before he died, and because no veterinarians can tell us why the cat died, my cousin is blaming himself. Literally thinks he killed the cat. He hasn't been in touch with my other cousin very much lately, and my aunt gets so frustrated when she talks to him because he can be really mean to her and vs versa. She calls, he won't call her back, or he does and they fight.

    It's hard. He says that everything good in his life goes out and nothing comes in, but he won't stick with help. My family has spent so much time trying to help him no one knows what to do anymore. His father has some sort of mental illness as well. Almost a personality disorder or something related to compulsions.

    I don't know. Just wanted to write that. I just worry sometimes. It's like he's stuck in a loop...

    Also, our friend Waltr died at 25 from suicide one week after our wedding. It was horrible. He was one of the most loved artists in Baltimore and a very good friend of my husband's. It was really hard not to be angry at him when I saw all the sadness... I know it's not his fault. I know it's what he wanted. But it still hurt so much to see what he left behind...
    many tine tanies



  14. #14
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    Re: Depression

    People have to realize that (like AT said) meds do not make you a zombie or take away your personality. It's the disease that does that. Some people don't want to take meds for this reason.



  15. #15
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    Re: Depression

    Feeling Good is a helpful book for these matters.



  16. #16
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    Re: Depression

    I didn't feel cool with having my story on the board.
    Last edited by CaptainBreakfast; February 27, 2010 at 4:06 PM.



  17. #17
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    Re: Depression

    You guys are so nice, it restores my faith in humanity... which was already kind of restored.
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  18. #18
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    Re: Depression

    //
    Last edited by suavepebble; April 2, 2010 at 3:02 AM.



  19. #19
    smartbunny's Avatar
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    Re: Depression

    That's great news about your gf; thank goodness she's not sick. And kudos to her for examining herself or getting examined.



  20. #20
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    Re: Depression


    I am a very sick young man because of mental and physical abuse by my parents and everyone I hold close. I suffer from extreme depression, Bi-Polar, Schizophrenia and Frequent Paranoia. I have tried to kill myself four times. I am very sad, very angry, I donít take meds, I donít see a therapist. Thereís a Part of me a BIG part that says you can beat it on my own.

    But the sad truth is I am 21 and have been in my apartment for five years because I am scared of the real world finishing its job by finally destroying me.
    Every time Siggers posts all that goes through my mind is "Chosen One"



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