Disability Story – Depression

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The hardest part about this, is accepting that there is something wrong.The second hardest thing is doing something about it. I had no clue I was depressed when it happened. Living my life, completing my day to day tasks, working, achieving, from the outside no one would know. Looking like I was successful is a far cry from the constant battle I fight with myself. It’s exhausting. Even today, no one would know. I am now 36 years old, and have lived with what is called “functional depression” for the last 6 years, let me tell you though, there is nothing functional about depression.

For myself, I am able to go to work, perform, lead, make decisions and from an outside appearance, everything is pretty put together. However, when I get off my routine of exercise, diet, volunteering, things that help keep me regulated my mind wanders, I get anxious, irritable, and extremely exhausted. The exhaustion gets to the point where it then impacts my concentration, and when I can’t concentrate I start to get upset with myself, I start saying things internally like “Get this done, no breaks, people rely on you” or “you need to do this better” or “that was a dumb decision” or “Why did you say that?” and then that’s when the spin happens.

What’s the “spin?” It’s like the movie Groundhog Day, where Bill Murray finds himself in this constant loop of repeating the same day over and over again, except for me, it’s the same self-defeating conversation and negativity I have with the reflection in the mirror. I spin into a place, where I forget to practice kindness and gratitude on myself, I forget to take care of myself, and eventfully I get to the point where I just need to sleep…. the fight exhausts me, and it’s at this point, where I felt ashamed. It’s like wanting to have control over something that you think you should have control over, but it consumes you to the point where control is lost. When I get spun, it’s the most isolating feeling in the world.

Let’s throw a stereotype in here as well, “Men don’t like talking about their feelings” LOL …well for me, I fit the mold. Nothing is more excruciating than talking about myself, let alone my feelings. My personality to the outside world, portrays a very extroverted person, however there is nothing I dislike more than being the centre of attention. Talking about myself is hard and understanding how I feel even more difficult. So, thus begins the spin of my own personal Groundhog Day, does that seem functional? Maybe not, but it certainly has become “normal” for me.

So, with my new normal, I have taken steps, a lot of steps. The first is learning to talk about my feelings. I have seen a cognitive behaviour therapist on and off for a few years. This has given me some tools that have given me some power back. Journaling is a powerful way to understand what you are. Writing something down without the fear of prejudice or as if someone is looking over your shoulder is not only a sobering experience, but its raw, I mean you literally strip your thoughts to the core. Learning to write as if no one is watching is like trying to dance as if no one is watching…super uncomfortable, Super awkward…. but when you write something honest, it truly is empowering…that control you seek when you feel you have lost it…somehow, feels like…” I got this”

This is the second time I have openly spoken about my fight. Advocating for acceptance, inclusion and understanding in all areas of life, from any background, race, religion or sexual preference, is important to me. It’s however, been hard to openly share my own disability, but each day I get a little better at it, I truly believe it’s important to share.

Depression is crippling, and I think for myself, for so long being ashamed of not being “normal” led to being isolated and compartmentalized in my thinking…there is “work Matt” you need to be like this / then “alone at home Matt” …you can rest, be sad, be anxious, the show is over till tomorrow. In all honesty, there is only one Matt, and only one you……we are very diverse and at times complicated versions of who we are (or perhaps more accurately, who we think we are or who we want to be), but that’s the constant fight – perception vs reality. When was this decision made that a simplification of emotion we as human beings feel get put into a box called ‘normal’?

Seems boring…who wants to live in a box anyway.

Today has been a good day

Funny word “normal” …

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