The best I can describe depression is it feels like your soul has died, and you are just skin, water, and bones bouncing around the world but making no significant contribution to it.
The people around you will say you just have "the blues," and "what do you have to be depressed about, anyway?"
I have been sad for as long as I can remember, even when I was happy. I exist on what I call a "baseline" sadness. I rarely move above this level, but I can declare a depressive state when I fall below it. When this happens, we say "the switch has been flipped." The weirdest part? I can feel a physical shift inside my body when this happens. I have no idea if that sensation has any basis in science, but I know it is real, as is a change in my basic human scent only I can detect.
When I fall into this hellish malaise, a filter falls over the world and I can no longer see the good or the purpose in anything. Everything is temporary, right? So what's the point? Suicidal thoughts become intentions, which become compulsions, which become plans, and before you know it, you're sketching out your self-inflicted demise as if you were drawing a dinosaur munching on your grocery list.
My depression is considered "treatment resistant." Over the course of four years we tried multiple doctors, and countless combinations of thirty-five medications.
I pride myself on physical health and fitness, but these meds did a number on my body: a net gain of over sixty pounds, half of which I have shed.
There is something inside of me, a hidden, hardened monster of will, who always gets back off the mat, no matter how many times I've been hit, stomped on, kicked, and left for dead. It has saved my life countless times, and it has always re-introduced itself at my darkest hour.
Between this will and the love, encouragement, understanding, and support of Amanda; Shakespeare and Siena; my best human friends; standup comedy; Pagi, Grace, and TMS, and my twelve-year constant Dr. Jessica Jenkins, I was able to dig my way to the light, where I remain for the moment.
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This is when you begin to mourn someone/something while they are still alive and present in your life, as a way to possibly lessen the impact of their anticipated loss. I fell into this with our beloved cat Siena. This sweet little girl already had enough health issues for three cats, but in 2017, new maladies joined the party, and the prognosis was not favorable. I made a promise to myself, to Amanda, to Shakespeare, and to Siena herself: I would devote my full time and attention to that little girl's health, and I would not let her leave us anytime soon. This reinvestment led to the most gratifying time of my life, one which saw the mutual bond of dependence between human and cat exceed any I had ever imagined. She relied on me for the stressful administration of her numerous medications, and I relied on her to just exist and always be within holding distance. Along with this came the deep, primal anxiety of her one day leaving this Earth. And though I lived every single day in grief-tainted fear, it was never a burden or a distraction from the additional three years I somehow got with her.
And when she did pass on to become the omnipresent guiding light of my life, the grief was complicated and extreme.
But at least it was no longer locked in a state of anticipation. The waiting can drive you mad.
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OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER
OCD is a way for people to execute some level of control in a life where they feel they have so little of it. Mine has evolved from touching my stuffed Snoopy doll on the nose ten times before going to bed; to appointing feelings and backstories to inanimate objects - plastic bags, strings, etc - and then worrying about their safety and feelings; scrubbing my face until it bled, out of a fear of germ contamination; to checking light-switches, power cords, etc so many times that I was often late for important events or missed them altogether. Now, my most visible OCD behavior is falling into a daydream-like state and counting on my fingers every syllable to every word in my immediately audible vicinity.
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This ailment is its own OCD subcategory. I went though a stretch in August of 2018, where I became so obsessed with memories and random thoughts, that every time one would pop into my head, I had to write it down, for fear of losing it. Think for a moment how many times some idea, memory, or thought pops into your head: thousands, right? They were pouring into my head like a faucet turned on high, and I was writing them down: all of them. I did not sleep or eat properly, I was a gittery, nervous wreck anytime I had to leave the house, which took social contact an absolutely out of the question.
This nightmare did not end until my medicinal practitoner waved her magic wand and prescribed the right medications to weave into that headspace.
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My name is Jason Fylan-Mares, and I am...you know the rest: the ultimate cliche prenouncement of personal angst and a constant flirtation with the personal self-destruct button.
I have an addictive personality, which means anything I take on - good or bad - it becomes the pinpoint of an all-consuming razor-sharp focus. In my four years of drinking, every attempt at climbing atop the wagon was met with a face-first fall and the striking of every wheel on the way down.
I check-marked all the cliches: bar fights, drunk driving, arrests, fits of rage, destruction of property, and worst of all: hurting and humiliating those closest to me.
Around the same time my drinking hit its stride, a college student the same age as me got drunk at a party and slammed into the back of a family stopped at a red light, killing two members.
Have you ever had an epiphany? A moment of almost supernatural clarity about a certain issue? As I woke up one blazing summer morning in the back of my car after tying on a brutal one, it hit me: in the immediate future I would either die in a drunk-driving accident, or worse, kill someone else. I stopped that day, twenty-one years ago.
I still fall into cloud of alcoholic want from time-to time. Under the right circumstances you might find me in the booze aisle, hypnotized by the aesthetic beauty of the bottles, which sends off the alarm that the first line of defense has been breached.
I never say "I will never drink again." I say "I won't drink today." As of this writing, I have said it approximately 7727 times
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