BATTLING DEPRESSION: FEELING EMPTY

by - August 29, 2018


When I decided to write about my struggles with depression, one caveat I had was I had to be honest. I couldn't sugar coat anything. If I wanted to potentially offer support for anyone else going through what I was, I had to lay everything out warts and all.  Not that I have a large readership (yet!) but my writings are read by family and friends whom I haven't spoken to about my struggle. So even though I put words out into the wide open web, there's the chance the words could lead to real life conversations I may not be ready for just yet.

With that said, I feel the need to give an insight into my world over the last month. Since recognizing I had the symptoms of depression four months ago, I have been seeing a therapist and working on cognitive therapy skills to keep the depression in check.  There have been two-three times where I started to slip into a "funk" and quickly recognized the triggering effect enabling me to prevent any major depressive episode. Then August came.

For the past three weeks, I have suffered through an organic depression episode (Don't think that's the technical medical term). I don't know what has caused it so I can't figure out how to battle it. What makes it worse is my tendency to overthink. This is especially devastating when I'm alone. The simplest of thoughts can quickly escalate to situations where I've convinced myself I was the second shooter on the grassy knoll.

After talking with my therapist and thinking about it, I experienced a similar phase about two and a half years ago. At that time, I was unemployed and trying to get out of the uncertain freelance world of reality television and looking for something permanent. Since I had a lot of free time, I decided to try and get into better shape. I was walking 5-10 miles a day, eating less fast food and had gotten into DDP Yoga. Everything was going great for about three months.

Towards the end of March, the "Quest of All 31 NHL Arenas" had it's final excursion for the 2015-2016 season with a trek through Ottawa, Montreal and upstate New York ending in Buffalo. Once that week was complete, I went to Texas for five days to meet up with friends for Geek Week 2016 (aka Wrestlemania 32).  Once I returned to Los Angeles, all the desire and energy I had before leaving was gone. Since I wasn't thinking about depression at the time, I chalked it up to being concerned about finding a job before my bank account hit zero.  In hindsight, a two week cross country trip probably wasn't the best idea at the time. Eventually I landed my current job (with about three weeks to spare before having to move back home) and everything was back to "normal."

There have been stretches of mild depressive states since then but nothing like what I'm currently experiencing.  As I wrote about a couple weeks ago, I've started to have more anxiety. I was in a meeting this week with a roomful of people who I know and deal with daily. I didn't have to lead the meeting or speak in any manner. Just had to sit and try to stay awake.  I could feel my heart beating as I sat there. No reason for the anxiety.

The biggest issue with my depression is the feeling of worthlessness. I've often joked that my body hates me but I'm starting to believe my mind may actually be out to get me.  Thankfully at this point and time, I can still recognize thoughts as being false and try to change the mindset to a more realistic, positive nature. The negative does take it's toll though. It's mentally exhausting trying to stay positive.

Exhaustion is currently my biggest issue. For the past month, unless I have something to do at a specific time, I don't do anything. For example, this was my plan for this past Saturday.

8am: Record guest appearance on My 1-2-3 Cents podcast. After podcast recording, clean apartment, edit Wonder Why: Joan Osborne episode, write blogs for next week, meet friend for dinner at 5.

Here is what I actually did on Saturday.

7:00: Wake up/prep notes for podcast.
7:10-8:00: watched TV
8-9:20: Podcast recording
9:30-11: nap
11-12:30: cook lunch, eat, do dishes.
12:30-3:45 lay on couch, nap, think of everything I said I was going to do
3:45: Remind myself I have to leave at 4 so need to get ready
4-7:45: Dinner and conversation.
8-10: Watch On Golden Pond.
10:15: In bed.

I'm running a half-marathon in eight weeks. I have not ran in the past month because I have to drag myself out of bed in the morning in time to go to work.  Normally I would be awake by 5am and ready to run. Now, it's not even worth setting an alarm because I know I won't get up.

I don't know what people think when they hear someone say they suffer from depression. I can tell you it's a bit of a misnomer. Instead of feeling sadness or actually depressed, I feel empty.  There is no emotion, not feeling, I'm just there. One of the best quotes I've read about depression is, "I don't want to die but I've lost the will to live."  There's a truth to that. I'm not suicidal or want to harm myself. I just don't want to do anything.

Don't really know how to wrap this up. Hopefully this gave you a little bit of insight into my world of depression. If you can take anything away from it, I believe things will get better. This is just a rough patch. I should mention, after talking with my therapist last week, I was prescribed Zoloft to try and get me back to "normal." Unfortunately it takes 4-6 weeks normally to notice any results. I'm sure if it works, that you'll notice a change in tone in my writing.

If you have any questions, comments or need someone to talk to, you can find me on Twitter @chadsmart.

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