For as long as I can remember, I have battled with bouts of depression.
Approximately 20% of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime and I am of the demographic who has done so in silence up until this point.
It's a taxing, debilitating disease. Morning after morning you throw your feet over the side of their bed where they land softly on the cold flooring beneath them. Though the sun has yet to wrangle itself from the clutches of its winter doldrums, you can still make out the reflection of your eyes in the armoire mirror adjacent to you. The first jolt that goes through your body is one of rage as those piercing, judgemental eyes meet bare flesh. Though only semi-concious, you are already aware that you hate yourself. But then a wave of empathy crashes your senses as you pity the fact that you were able to wake up at all.
Then you reach a stage of acceptance with yourself. Your body aches, your mind aches, but you know that you have to trudge onward. Exhausted, you realize that for the next eight hours, you're tasked with the knowledge that you have to convince everyone else around you that you're "fine".
"Fine". I hate that word. If I could personify it, I would duct tape its limbs, roll it up in a carpet and throw it off a bridge. Fine is a word that is used to describe exactly what you are not. That vanilla, flakey, laissez-faire adjective that keeps your enquirers at bay. It's safe and sequestered. The kind of term that gives people just enough for chit-chat but doesn't raise any red flags as to the state of your psyche.
The worst part of depression isn't the fact you're self-loathsome or the taxing chemical warfare being imposed on your mind. It's the loneliness you live with that is excruciatingly unbearable. And for me, the way to cope with loneliness is through alcoholism.
By all accounts, my wife knows that I drink more than an average human being should. What she doesn't know, however, is that I'm severely depressed or how routinely I sprawl my worthless corpse around our condo and drink myself to numbness when she's working the night shift. It's on those days that life is much easier to endure. Knowing that once you get home home -- though you're stuck with a serotonin imbalance in your brain -- you can reach a state of mind in which living isn't so difficult. And so you continue your sufferance in silence.
Ah, silence. The greatest enabler of them all. It's not that it was my intention to wade through the daily emotional highs and lows on my lonesome, but rather to whom can I turn? Who can I trust? Who will understand me? Will they pity me? Worse yet, will they judge me? What if they neglect me? What if instead of support they tell me that I just need to suck it up? That I need to snap out of it? That I'm crying for attention? That I'm being a bitch? That I'm… the list keeps going.
These are the thoughts that run through my neurotic mind every night. While the beast inside me sleeps, the real me tries to find ways to answer these questions while also planning out ways to make it through the day ahead. As much as I would love to find a way to help myself, the stigma associated with admitting I have a mental disease borders on crippling.
To say that I've never had thoughts of suicide would be a lie. Having said that, I could never, ever leave my family, friends and especially my wife with the sizeable burden that taking my own life would bring. No longer will I drink hard alcohols such as rye, scotch or rum unless in the presence of those I trust. This is a difficult task when you're alone and the sirens that exist your liquor cabinet sing sweet to your name with the intent of sweeping your metaphorical boat out to sea before dashing it to bits on the reef. But you find ways to push forward and persevere.
I'm apprehensive to introducing a regiment of Zoloft to my daily diet, but I also fear seeing a psychologist who's pad and paper will document my deepest and darkest secrets.
"You see Dr., I'm afraid of success because of the burden it will place on me moving forward." Scribble, scribble, scribble.
"I'm afraid that I can never live up to the expectations I put on myself or that others place on me." Scribble, scribble, scribble.
"I'm afraid people I don't even know resent me. I'm afraid there are people that hate me as much as I hate myself." Scribble, scribble, scribble.
"I'm afraid my wife will leave me because I'm human garbage." Scribble, scribble, scribble.
Whether I want to acknowledge it or not, there is a razor thin line that separates me from Rick Rypien. It was at the tender age of twenty-seven that Rick, by all accounts a normal guy who was seemingly "fine" tragically took his own life in the summer of 2011. My heart aches for him and those he's left behind because I know the pain he walked with. I know of the burdens this disease brings. I lament the desperation and loneliness that is part of the daily routine. The only line of separation between us is a choice made by an unsound mind.
Tomorrow marks the fourth edition of Bell Let's Talk Day which is an initiative to raise funds an awareness of mental illness in Canada. I strongly urge readers of this blog to give not only to this initiative but also to Project 11 which was created by the Winnipeg Jets in Rick Rypien's memory. It should also be noted we will donate $1.00 for each #whatdidchevydotoday shirt we sell to Project 11. We make no profit on the sale of these shirts.
As for me, I am using this blog entry as the first step in my treatment of this disease. How I proceed from here has yet to be decided, but I know that this is no longer something I can handle all on my own. For all those who like me suffer(ed) in silence, know that you will always have a friend and a confidant in me, should you wish to pursue it.
Despite what you may think, you are never alone.
Now, let's get to the Love Hate.
Three things I love this week
Turning the corner: They're winning the games they should win. They're winning the games they shouldn't win. The Winnipeg Jets are officially streaking. But not only are they winning, but they're playing a brand of hockey that fans can honestly find excitement in watching. Our GDT's are off the charts with activity and we love what the changing of the guard has done for this community. And hey, the Jets' are back in the playoff picture. Plan your parades accordingly.
Live and in person: Tuesday will be an exciting one as my wife and I will be attending our first game together since seeing the San Jose Sharks in the Jets' inaugural season. Here's hoping that the results against the Nashville Predators -- in a very important divisional battle -- will be better than the 2-0 loss we witnessed in our last visit. And it will be nice that my wife can actually enjoy the game rather than stressing about an important exam right around the corner.
Canadian content: As much as I love our new digs in Conference III or the "Central Division" as it's more commonly known, it will be nice to watch these Jets as they square off with the Vancouver Canucks and Montreal Canadiens later this week. Games against other Canadian teams always seem to bring our a fiery edge in our fan base, so here's hoping things are no different this week.
Three things I hate this week
Nothing. The Jets are en fuego. You're loving life, I'm starting to find a new found appreciation for it. So let's keep this ride going. Be good to each other.