This day has come and gone a few times now since I was diagnosed with ADHD and depression. Yet, I did not share my story or voice my opinions when the event arrived. I think I’ve posted on Facebook, sent a tweet or two, but I have not gone into my journey. The simple man’s journey through depression, and it’s link to my ADHD. I may not be Clara Hughes, or Michael Landsburg, but I do share in the fact I have gone down the troubled road of depression.
In an article I wrote last year I had stated that my ADHD had created moments of depression and anxiety that I did not want to delve. However, it is time to bring to light some of the hardships of my journey through depression. Why now? To be honest, I have people who I know listen now. But also, this is part of the journey. I’ve come to a place in my healing that I can share what depression was for me.
Growing up I was extremely active and very hyper, and yet not diagnosed with ADHD I’ll note. However, in my teen years I started to experience massive mood swings and a gnawing feeling that something was wrong. I didn’t want to hang with friends, I didn’t care about school, I started to fall into what I can only describe as a pit of sadness. I didn’t know what was wrong, but I also never explored it as I knew that I had to “suck it up” it’s not ok for a man to be sad, “get a grip”. Looking back I was bullied a lot in school. My self-esteem was low, even though I had so much going for me. I did not even connect or think about depression, even with thoughts of suicide entering my head over and over.
Heading into my adult years I found some solace in University. I found friends that I could connect better with, I enjoyed school a lot more as I was challenged, and I found that people were more accepting of the person I knew I was. But, I was still always frustrated, tired, and sad. I could tell something was wrong, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Worse yet, I couldn’t talk about it. To this day I have people who were close to me that I drove away with my fears, anxieties, and sadness; my depression. There were so many days, where I would lie crying silently in my bed in University because I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving my room for class. I lost marks, lost confidence in cooperative education employers, because I couldn’t face my depression or choose to acknowledge it. I was a man, I wasn’t supposed to feel like this. I had so many things going for me, I shouldn’t feel this way.
As life continued into my early career in finance I started to finally see the issue, but I never fully dug into my problems. I looked into medication, I looked into how to fix depression, but I never talked about it. I never explored my soul to find my true self, to figure out how to love myself. At this time it was sort of ok to take depression meds, men never talk about there feelings, but pills are ok. In the age of the little blue pill, of course it’s ok for men to just take meds to solve a problem. But, that was a band-aid fix. And over time band-aids wear away.
I spun out of control before my ADHD diagnoses. I made terrible life choices, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t work, I couldn’t function in society. I was a mess. It was at that point I even started to research the best way to take my own life. Even at that point, the lowest of the abyss, my girlfriend, now wife, made the decision to stick by my side. Without her, I don’t think I’d be here today to tell my story. It was because of her commitment to me I decided to seek answers. I decided I don’t care if I’m a man or not, I need to talk. I need to share my pain so I can figure out how to deal with it. In that time I was diagnosed with ADHD, which determined some of the causes to my depression, but also I finally took the first step on the path towards understanding, accepting, and working with my depression.
Moving forward I lost many jobs, because of ADHD and depression, most I quit because I felt worthless and was not contributing, some I was let go because my employers did not understand depression. I was asked point blank one day, after I had come back from a few days off where I stated it was for depression, “What is depression? Like I don’t get it, how can you feel that way? How can you not be happy with a job like this?”. I shared with them part of how I felt. I felt lost, trapped, unable to move and breath. I felt that no matter what I did I felt useless and alone. None of this was true of course, but it was how I felt. The response “That doesn’t make sense, I still don’t get it…”. Here is my take, if you haven’t been down that road you won’t get it. It’s like the beauty of Paris, you can’t describe it unless you’ve been there. What needs to happen is instead of saying “I don’t get it” we need to start saying, “That seems hard and I’m here to help if you need it”. We need to start showing our support for those that fall down, because without support it’s so hard, sometimes impossible, to get back up. We lose so many good people each year to depression. This is our time to start talking and telling people that it’s ok to talk. It’s ok to come to us with their problems, fears, and sadness. We want to listen. We want you to tell us your story. I want you to tell your story. I want you to get to this point where you feel like your story matters and needs to be heard. No you may not be famous, have 10k+ twitter followers and show up on national news, but you do matter.
If you’re a man that has sat in silence because “it’s not manly to cry”, it’s your time to talk. It’s time to shun that stereotype. If you’re a woman who’s been told “you’re too emotional” it’s your time to talk. If you’re a person who’s been told “why are you sad, you have everything” it’s your time to talk. It’s time to talk world! Anyone with depression, or who knows someone with depression, speak now and don’t ever hold your peace. Speak as if your life, or the life of your loved ones, counts upon it, because it probably does. Let us raise our voices and break the stigma of mental illness. Those who have fought this battle or are fighting this battle, you are stronger for it. You are not sub-human, but super-human, because you have made the choice to live and made the choice that your story matters. So please, today let’s talk.