[sigh] You Mean I Have To Pour My Own Drinks Too

First of all, thanks to all of you for your kind comments, emails and calls over my post yesterday. I'll be fine provided I take the necessary steps to get through it. Luckily, I know what those steps are. Had it been four years ago that would've been another story (or blog post, or whatever). One day maybe I'll have enough courage to share the specifics of those events, but for right now, what I posted yesterday is more than enough.

I probably wouldn't have even admitted to my depression so openly had it not been for my wife who convinced me I should do so. When you read her writing you will see she is much better at expressing her honest feelings than I am. A large part of this is just plain talent, but there's another part of it that has to do with the fact she is a woman. My statement isn't meant to gender stereotype, as I am only pointing out the differences in how men and women process and deal with emotions. In this case, depression.

Ask me a few years ago about depression and I would have associated it with chicks and the mentally unstable (I was such a smart boy back them). Over the past few years, however, I've realized that is not the case as depression in men has gained a great deal of attention. Most of that attention is in part, due to the discovery that the manifestation of depressive symptoms in men and women differs to a large degree. What was once thought to be just normal guy behavior turns out to actually be male depression. I found this out the hard way, and almost too late.

Back then, I was dealing with a failing marriage and the stress of corporate politics in my job as a homebuilding executive. Things were tough, but I never considered myself depressed. Eventually, however, life came to a head as my wife and I split, and I was demoted at work for some chickenshit reason. I had been to counseling, shoveled drugs down my pie-hole and read a few books, but I was going no where. I needed something to hold on to. I needed a happy thought.

My happy thought became my boys. Somewhere in the course of things it occurred to me that I couldn't just check out and live in my own world because of my circumstances. Where would that leave my kids? Lost and confused. As soon as grabbed onto something outside of myself I was willing to ignore my male ego and accept the fact that I was suffering from depression. Once I got past admitting it I could start working on getting better.

Turns out I have a chemical imbalance in my brain and with the right drugs, education and lifestyle changes I found that I could deal with the tough circumstances in my life much more effectively. I also learned it was hereditary, which resulted in some of my family getting help, and could be helpful down the road if my children start to display the same signs and symptoms.

In regards to my current condition, in some respects it's my own fault. I've been doing a poor job of maintaining the lifestyle habits in my diet, exercise and sleep patterns needed to manage my depression. Okay, that and I ran out of my medication. This sounds stupid on my part, but understand there is something of a catch 22 involved. Once you get to that "healthy place," it's real easy to start thinking you can deal with things on your own.

This is the trap I fell into, and it didn't take but a week before the next thing I know I'm blaming dust bunnies under the couch on poor old Teddy Roosevelt. Yesterday, I'm flat on my back overwhelmed by a dirty apartment and lamenting the fact I can't find a steady job or attend my son's birthday (my boys live away from me until I can find a way to move close to them), but in the back of my mind, I understood what was going on. I couldn't do much, but I at least stayed away from self-medicating myself with large quantities of vodka, or caffeine.

Today, I forced myself out of bed, and tried to work out. The machines in the gym were broke but I still got a 20 minutes of cardio in. Once I got done, I fixed a high-protein breakfast, read a few of my favorite blogs and then put on some nice clothes even though I was working from home. Just in those few things, I started to feel well enough to work on writing a guest post about how Superman makes me a better father.

I mention that post because one of my points is that Superman has a weakness (kryptonite) and it's something he has to acknowledge and deal with in order to be an effective hero. Depression is my kryptonite, and it is for many other men out there too. That is the other reason I decided to share this part of myself with you. To make it OK for others to admit and deal with it. Right now, things are not easy for me, but I can assure you that understanding how depression manifests itself differently in men than in women, holding on to my happy thought, and acknowledging it's existence, I will get me back on track soon.

In the mean time, you'll have to suffer through my dark humor on the Lunchbox for a little while.

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