Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Depression Post.

I've been taking medication to battle clinical depression for 25 years now.  I've written that sentence first mostly to get it out of the way, but also because it's taken me 25 years to write it. Talk about procrastination.  The problem with suffering from depression (well, one of them anyway) is that it's often the condition itself that prevents one from talking about the condition. (The first rule of Depression Club is: Don't talk about depression.) It is, at times, like walking around with a giant anvil over your head, ready to pound you into submission at any random moment, ready to take you down 20 pegs until you're just a sniveling puddle of goo utterly convinced of your own inherent worthlessness. It is, in short, a handicap. A debilitating one, and a real one.

The other, maybe bigger problem is that depression is still, if no longer a taboo subject, one that is largely misunderstood,  and still somewhat embarrassing to admit.  And it's why there are so many cases in which you don't find out that someone "suffers from depression" sometimes ever, or sometimes not until after they're gone.  But I'm kind of tired, at age 50, of not talking about it, not even once, so I figure there's no better time than now, on the 4th of July, to talk about it. Consider it my Independence Day from my own shame around it.

So here's the main thing to know: I am not sad. Really.  I don't need anyone to send me teddy bears or hugs, though of course both would be awesome and I wouldn't return them. Cash, too, would be great, preferably in small, unmarked bills.  I have a great life: A great family, a great job, great friends.  If this isn't entirely the life I envisioned for myself as a boy (I'd always wanted to be an English gravedigger), it is one that I feel pretty good about and won't complain about.  Suffering from depression doesn't translate to the more casual use of "I'm depressed!" in the way you might say after, say, you've just eaten two Snicker bars in a row, or after discovering that Bristol Palin has her own reality TV show.  It's not like that.  Most of the time, most days, I'm just like everyone else: Plugging along,  trying to avoid thoughts of my own mortality, and trying to squeeze the maximum amount out of fun and pleasure into days annoyingly riddled with real-world responsibility.

What it does do, though, especially on days when, for whatever reason, the meds aren't working well, or (worse) I either forget to take them or (way worse) convince myself I "don't need them anymore," is remove the floor from underneath my feet.  Not literally, of course, because that would be rather disturbing and surreal and make me a walking public health hazard.  But figuratively, it puts me off balance, quite often in a way I don't fully feel or see or understand until it's already kicked in in a bad way.  Those few who are close to me who have known about my depression usually see it before I do. "You haven't taken your meds, have you?"  they'll say--because the things I'm saying and my worldview and my energy level become different, different in ways I have no control over or no awareness around in the early stages.

The biggest bummer around it all, for me, is that even when I am being good, the pills don't eliminate it entirely. It's not an on/off switch.  Shit seeps through.  And the toll of this has affected every aspect of my life for decades.  I have days where I can't write anything, decide anything,  or really be much of an effective human being at all because of it.  It's screwed up my ability to be a good friend, to focus, to be productive. It's kept me, at times, in a fog of self-doubt and self-hate, of low energy, of recrimination and regret over things not accomplished or things never even attempted.  It's kept me in a perpetual state of wishing I could do things over again, of feeling like "I've failed" no matter what I accomplish or how many total strangers come up to me and say they like what I've done.  I register it, I appreciate it (more than I can express), but it never fully overcomes my own internal dialog, so much of which is just a loud, mean, clattering cloud of noise that a few little pills do their best to dispel day after day. (And not just pills, either, I should say. They're not magic. They are supplemented by a steady, weekly decades-long stream of therapy, to talk the stuff out and get it out of my head.)

I should be clear about one thing. None of this is being written today to either elicit pity or to excuse myself from any choices or actions I've made in life.  It's all on me. Always.  It's like when people try to excuse their behavior because "they were drunk"--when of course part of them is always conscious.  Any stupid or irresponsible thing I'm doing, or avoiding, is done with at least a chunk of awareness that I am doing (or not doing) that thing. The problem is that, even while seeing it, I can't grasp it by the horns and cut it out.  This is the key issue.  I see it, I'm aware of it, and yet I can't do anything about it.  What the medication does,  when it's really working,  is just eliminate that aspect of it. It puts the floor back under my feet.  It makes me have what I imagine to be the strength and resolve of "normal" people.  I can act and respond and simply tell myself to keep going. To just write that email or call that person or finish that article rather than just sit in the chair for an hour and tell myself what a shitty, worthless person I am.

It's exhausting.  I get tired of being me. It's so much noise all the time. I think about what I might have accomplished, or what my life might have been, if I didn't have to deal with this.  But one thing I'm trying to come to grips with at age 50 - because if not now, when, dude? - is that fighting it is just a fool's game, and maybe a little bit of a cruel thing to do to myself.  I mean, I'm never going to stop being hard on myself, ever, and I think a lot of that - depression aside - is good for a person. I want to constantly challenge myself and be better. So I'm not asking for a free ride for myself.  What I think I am asking for is the ability to forgive myself for "only" being the person I am today, for "only" having the level of success (whatever that is) that I have - rather than some mythical, theoretical success I imagine some Alternative Jeff from Earth 2 to have.  I guess, in a way, I'm asking myself not to "be depressed" over having depression.  I'm stuck with it, and so my decision now is to accept and acknowledge it, rather than fight it and hide it and beat myself up about it, which is a guaranteed loser of a strategy.

Anyway, I hope I didn't depress you with this blog post. Though if I did, I might have a couple pills to recommend. Just kidding.  It doesn't work that way.  What I think I mainly want to say, and my bigger reason for writing this, is that if you are younger than me, or, heck, even older than me (if that's possible), and any of this sounds familiar or resonates,  know that you are not alone, that it is probably more common than you think, and that there are solutions. There are ways to regulate it and control it.  You too can go on to have a family, a home and a degree of success you might not think possible within the turmoil of your own noisy brain, as long as you're not afraid to acknowledge the problem and do something about it. I encourage you, strongly, to not give up, and not be afraid to seek help if you think you need it. Odds are you do, and odds are there are people, both personal and professional, ready right there to help you, if only you'll reach out.  That itself is probably the hardest step you'll ever take.  But it will be the most important one, too.

Okay. That's enough New Agey self-revelation and self-help for one 4th of July, don't you think? I have a couple teeny little pills to swallow, and then after that I'm going to go out and have a kickass holiday with my friends and family.   Here's hoping you have a great day - and life - too.

Remember that you deserve it.

--Jeff


92 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow! You are the last person I would think was depressed. That's a compliment.

Anonymous said...

Great post Jeff.

Anonymous said...

It takes balls to make this information public. Even though you don't know who the hell I am, I'm proud of you. It's inspiring.

Anonymous said...

On a low right now, this hits close to home. More awareness is never a bad thing, good for you Jeff in saying this. Though I know it doesn't mean much you have always portrayed yourself in such a way I never would have guessed this. It doesn't change anything, you're still a fantastic individual that just also suffers from depression. You have brought a lot of laughter over the years into my life, and I'm sure done the same for many others.

Anonymous said...

Haven't even finished this post but I wanted to comment, I have followed you since CGW, and you are the last person I would have thought to have depression. Thank you for being so open, my g/f has been battling depression for years and it feels good to have people out there talk about it. It's easy to feel sometimes your are your own depression Island. Lots of love Jeff and thank you

Unknown said...

Thanks Jeff, this helps humanize depression and will surely inspire at least a few people to get help. Do you get sexual side effects with the meds? It's an awful problem with SSRIs and makes them very difficult to stay on long-term, a fact I've struggled with for years. It's such a cruel twist to otherwise effective meds.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this, Jeff. Seriously. It's nice for people to know that they're not alone.

Anonymous said...

As someone who struggles with depression on a daily basis, reading this post was like a ray of light in the darkness. Thank you so much for writing it.

Adam Wood said...

Congratulations on finding the strength to share this Jeff, and I hope it's helpful not just for others who may read it but also for you. There's someone in my life with a similar condition and, as I'm sure you know, it's often the case that those of us (thankfully) not afflicted find it difficult to understand why someone with clinical depression acts or thinks like they do sometimes. Which is all to say that dialogue around this can only be good. I applaud you for your openness and I hope you find all that fun & beauty that you seek each day. Each of us can only keep seeking it.

Rmack said...

Thank you, Jeff. I've been in the same boat for years and the way you described is amazingly accurate. I have trouble writing about it myself, not because I'm afraid of what people will think of me, but because a part of me is scared I'll not be able to do it justice, so to speak. It's a very hard ailment to describe. Regardless, your work has brought me many laughs and I'm happy for you right now.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I wish I could even muster the courage to tell my family, let alone the whole world.

For me it's the cycles that make it a living hell, never knowing for sure if tomorrow is going to be a good or bad day.

Gert Griessel said...

Wow. This popped up in my Reader while I was ruminating on the role this condition might be playing in some of my present difficulties. Great timing! :)

Yeah, this resonates. Thanks, Jeff. Love your work.

Anonymous said...

Thank you.

Ed said...

Thanks for the post. That third to the last paragraph is encouraging.

Anonymous said...

I told my parents for the first time about my depression only last week. It's so strange that you wrote exactly what I was feeling but then I guess it's not that strange at all. Cheers for writing this, I have a feeling I'm going to refer to it a lot

Keith said...

You just did a very brave, good, and unselfish thing there. No wonder I've been following you for so long. Thanks.

NintendoLegend said...

Keep kicking ass, Jeff. This was written with a fantastic mix of sincerity, skill, and insight. I appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, you are a legend.

Anonymous said...

That explains why you gave Crysis an 8.5! Hehe jk. Dude I'm in the belief that we all go through depression one way or another. What counts is what you decide to do regardless of that chip on your shoulder. You made a family and have left a mark in your chosen profession. We should all be so lucky (I hope I can achieve half the things you have). Trudge on my friend.

Anonymous said...

That explains why you gave Crysis an 8.5! Hehe jk. Dude I'm in the belief that we all go through depression one way or another. What counts is what you decide to do regardless of that chip on your shoulder. You made a family and have left a mark in your chosen profession. We should all be so lucky (I hope I can achieve half the things you have). Trudge on my friend.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for posting this. I know the daily struggle it is and know the feeling of "I could have accomplished so much more without it."

And it illustrates what depression does. You have done writing, podcasting, game design, internet personality, Xanthor book challenge... Didn't you write a play? You can be extremely accomplished but its tough to feel good about oneself.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I thought that was just normal every day humdrum working life. Perhaps that's why I struggle to find the energy to do stuff :/

Steven said...

Thank you Jeff for giving my experience a clear voice.

I have become resigned to the fact that I have to manage my mental health daily, like others have to manage their physical health. But I agree--Having to be on guard about it, ever vigilant (not just for my sake, but importantly for all my loved ones) is a bit of a bummer. Still, reading your pellucid thoughts on the matter makes me happy, gives me a place to go to for a reminder of how it is and how to keep a good perspective on our mutual affliction!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jeff.

BSchroth said...

Interesting stuff. Good to see someone having courage while dealing with a tough issue.
I've had family who dealt with depression when I was younger, but always looked at it from an ignorant point of view. I used to think it was just them feeling sorry for themselves.
It's always good to gain more knowledge about issues that can affect oneself and their family and friends. This was enlightening. Thanks Mr.Green.

Anonymous said...

An impactful read. If you'd care to respond/update with some practical advice/info about those first steps to take, it would be much appreciated.

Shawn said...

I saw you at PAX East this year Jeff, and thought about coming up to you and just thanking you for all the enjoyment you've brought me over the years. And then I thought about it, hesitated, and decided "Nah, Jeff's too awesome to need one more pat on the back". I regret that now.
I'l make a point of actually saying something next year, but just know there are a TON of us out there who think you're great, and take much inspiration from your blog, from your work and from your example as a human being.

Anonymous said...

People don’t understand what depression means. It’s not about being sad. It’s a crippling disability, and when it comes over you it takes over your whole mind. It can take you out of reality for days and weeks and months. I’m also angry at how this condition affected my whole life, professionally and personally, and how much it took away from me. Thanks for the post, I hope it helps people understand that depression is a medical condition.
It’s kind of sad, that this subject made me write my first comment, I’m allways glad to read your Blogposts. Thanks, And sorry for the bad English, I’m not a native speaker.

Anonymous said...

Wow... I am everything you described and was always confused about. It's starting to make a little more sense to me now. Thank You.

Anonymous said...

Very nice post Jeff. I bet you feel like a million bucks after getting this out.

Chris C. said...

Really interesting post, Jeff. You're open discussion of these personal aspects of depression will provide others an opportunity of understanding those in their own lives dealing with depression.

On a related note, not sure if you've already listened to this, but Rachel Maddow's recent interview on NPR's Fresh Air includes a discussion of her own depression since childhood. Really interesting to hear her talk about coping with her depression given her weighty responsibilities as the host of a cable news show.

Chris C. said...

Forgot the link to the Rachel Maddow NPR interview...

http://www.npr.org/2012/03/27/148611615/rachel-maddow-the-fresh-air-interview

Also, please forgive my incorrect use of "You're" instead of "Your" in my previous comment. :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this.

Anonymous said...

As a 21 year old with depression this was a good thing to read thank you.

Sme11 said...

A lot of that sounded familiar, but I don't think it's overbearing enough for me to ever think I have depression. A few of my friends have talked about depression and I think it's really hard to relate to. My sister has poked fun (I don't fully know if she was being serious or not) at me, saying I was a Nihilist. I don't feel like it's a big problem in my life, but I hope it doesn't get to that point. From a low ranking public school, I'm heading to a pretty difficult college this fall. I bet I'll be able to handle it, I don't have a life plan or anything, I've got a major picked out, I just trust things will work themselves out. I haven't played video games in a while due to my realization of their lack of productivity, so I've been trying to keep myself busy with my friends so I'm not just doing nothing all day, letting my mind wander. I've started writing, not about anything in particular, but I usually try to get my thoughts out (kinda like what I'm doing in this post. Likewise, I don't want any pity or anything). I guess if there's something I want to know, it would be to understand depression and be able to help my friends out. Or at least some things to tell them. I'm sure there are tons of resources online that I haven't checked out yet. Understanding depression would be a nice issue to fix.

Unknown said...

I wouldn't consider myself a depressed person, but I suspect that it is far more common that people would admit. I don't think that there is a person on the planet who hasn't needlessly replayed some decades old "tapes"."I should have stood up to that person in high school" "How could I have said that aloud?" "Jesus Christ I can be an asshole." "Why can't I stay focused on the important stuff."

I think you're in pretty good company...

Anonymous said...

My Mom was told that she needed a bunch of medication to feel better and it killed her. The doctors did not talk to eachother and right before she died she was on 48 different medications for different things including being depressed.
I appreciate your post. You would have to be a strong person in order to write something like this. The doctors gave excuse after excuse as to why she was not getting any better. You give none and that is a sign of great strength. My Mom believed all of them. Don't. All they want is the money. I understand that being depressed is a real condition I just do not think that doctors know the brain as well as they all think they do. Keep doing what you love. Wake up each day and remind yourself of what a great life you have. Continue to be you because that is fantastic!

Anonymous said...

Jeff,

Been working on getting my meds dialed in. I think I'm close to the right dose. Thanks for the great post. I always enjoy your writing and crack me up with your twitter posts.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jeff for sharing.

Xero I Am said...

I'm glad you wrote this amazing post Jeff. With this public admission, you are and will always be a much braver man than I.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely what I needed to read. I hope I'm where you're at in twenty-five years.

Jeff Green said...

Thanks for all your thoughtful comments, all. The remark I've seen both here and on Twitter about being "the last person they'd think was depressed" is part of the reason I posted. Because I know I emit a "happy" persona, which, you know, is real. :) That was why I posted. To demonstrate that depression is not about being "happy" or "sad" but can actually be a clinical condition or state that is sort of deeper than an emotional state. I can be totally happy and still have depression. If you can get your head around that.

On the one question about sexual side effects of anti-depressants: They can be known to decrease libido, yes. Depends on the drug and the person. I tried one that did that, and needless to say, switched as soon as I figured it out. :)

Anonymous said...

This attitude of "we all go through depression in one way or another" really demeans those like Jeff who have serious depression. It's not the same as feeling depressed or discouraged sometimes, it's a real illness.

Anonymous said...

You rock, Jeff! Keep on fighting the good fight!


"Cash, too, would be great, preferably in small, unmarked bills."

Nice try, Jeffe Green.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jeff.

american said...

inspiration to middle class white people.

Meg Summers said...

Hi Jeff!

Your post was so inspiring. Your courage makes me want to say this.

I'm a video game Producer in Brisbane Australia, I'm Female and I'm 26. I have been taking antidepressants for 11 years now.

It's hard to get past the stigma sometimes. So thank you for sharing!

CallMeSarge said...

This blog post actually jolted me in my seet. It made me think. Thanks Jeff.

ADF said...

Mr. Green,

I have been reading words you have written (here at this blog and at GFW and EGM) and listening to things you have said (podcasts)for a long time. You have been a fixture. I say this because I am new to you, but in the ways you have chosen to express yourself over the internet and in print, you are not new to me. I appreciate your voice. I have found wisdom in the things you say.

I too spend a lot of time in my own head. The constant shuffling and pacing and reshuffling I do in that space can sometimes incapacitate what I feel is my better (or at least more assertive) judgement. I wonder whether my life is what it could be, and I miss what I think are opportunities because of self-doubt and the endless cycling of options and frames of reference that I cannot help but subject myself to. I wonder sometimes how others can possibly be as confident as they seem. I wonder if the options, the possibilities, have just not occurred to some, or if, unlike me, they have managed to find the harmony in all the dissonance. I have days without hope, and fewer and fewer days that leave me inspired.

Anyway, I want you to know that I think you are courageous. The subject of your post is to me the most personal thing there is. I convince myself regularly that the depression can't be what I think it is, and I'm just not doing enough, not applying myself appropriately. You've convinced me to look at it differently. Thank you. I'm going to keep on reading.

sincerely,

Alex Fleck

Anonymous said...

Jeff, thank you so much for being open about all this.

I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and depression very recently, and am now in the process of coming to grips with it all. Knowing that someone with mental health issues can still be as successful and awesome as you fills me with hope.

Anonymous said...

I love you Jeff, thanks for this.

Macababe said...

It is also different for people who have experienced only one depressive episode. My mother is one of these. She still finds it incredibly difficult to understand my experiences with chronic depression. Maybe everyone does have some sort of depressive episode in their life, but it is very different to have to struggle with it every year, month, day of your life. Thank you Jeff for writing this, and giving such a good explanation of what it is like.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this! This actually does sound VERY familiar (like, in parts, spot on) to what I've been going through for a few years now (I'm 28 ... yes, a baby in comparison :P).

Again, thank you for sharing this with the world. It already brought some clarity for me and actually did make me feel "not alone" (without having to watch Lisa Marie Presley and MJ hang out half naked in some kind of wondrous temple).

*virtualteddybearsuperhug!* :D

Hot dogs said...

I think I know how you feel much of what you said has been happening to me as I get closer to my 30th birthday it seems to get worse every year and started about back in 2008. Before then I felt fantastic and did not let too much bother me most of the time.

I still felt fresh out of high school even though I had been out for years I felt good where I was at somewhat though I did miss everybody I hanged out with in high school and grade school. I have been in collage what feels like a long time to me I go part time to it I take around 1 or 2 classes at a time so I can put out my best work and focus on it more and It has been a long time longer than the normal collage years. Oh and I changed my mind a few time I took stuff that I did not even really need did not help.

I final decided I wanted to do 3d modeling/3d graphics/3d studio max/maya in polygons for games since I have been fascinated with them since I was 10 and virtual fighter and start fox hit the scene in 1993 and toy story 2 years after that. I started out in programming and decided it was to stressful to do for years so I decided to do this even though I was never that great of an artist but for some reason I get how to make crap out of polygons I do not know why I just make sense to me. So I went for it even though I had to do all this “traditional art and drawing to get a degree and have any hope of a game company looking at me. I enjoy it when I am not in panic that I will fail and never get a job and my dream of working on a good game everybody loves be shot to hell.




So Then I started to feel like crap and a total failure hell I still feel that way I feel like the entire world expect me to reach all my life’s accomplishments by the time I am out of my twenties and I have not reached any of the or my own place of where I want to be

I should be married and dating according to the world around me even though I Do not want to be married or dating right now or maybe even ever I got other stuff I want to do now I don’t really care, I dumped my first girlfriend for a reason I did not care for life that way. I rather just fuckign hang out with people and have fun, I don’t want her there 24 hours a day its fucking smothering.

Yet the entire fucking world thinks I have to live up to some crap perfect 20 to 30 years of age male image of what they call a “normal life”…. Oh and to complicate that farther for me I think I may in fact be bisexual and I have no Idea what the fuck is going on with me right now in that department. I guess I am loser since I don’t have any that is what I am hearing.

Oh and I should be driving I guess and have a license even though I don’t own a car and cant afford insurance then what is the point of me taking time out to do that when I have nothing to drive anyway?

Hot dogs said...

2. I get crap from the world around living at home even I am trying my fucking best to get a job I like and make fucking money. Yes there is even a fucking movie that gives me crap about it called ironically “Jeff lives at home” that I will never see. I like having my parents around with me everyday, hell my fucking sister don’t even live that far away it’s I like being close Hell in fact they fucking said they would rather have me stay than move out.

Crap telling me how I should be as a “adult American male” by a certain age is everywhere I fucking look now of days on the news on movies/ stupid internet articles comments.


So yeah the kicker was last year was my 10 year high school reunion that I did not go to because I did not want to explain what I was doing and hear how everybody else I new Is successful and living up to this perfect American Male image (Oh and I made the mistake of looking up some people knew online who have done way more than me and one dude is in the fucking army and did way more crap than I ever will)


and this year somebody I knew gradated high school a few weeks the same High school I did 11 years ago… some of the same teachers still there the same fucking red carpet and chairs same place, same school song. That did that I ended up feel totally worthless. I feel like the entire world is Rushing me and pushing me to be somewhere and I am not doing it or doing it fucking fast enough.

That night I ended up on the floor locked in a bathroom crying for a few hours and feeling like the worlds biggest loser and hoping something will kill me (I am too scared of pain to do it my self) since I am also fucking scared to death I wont make in the game business world or anywhere else and I have not been the same since. I felt mildly bad everyday starting 2008 but now I feel horrible pretty much every single day And the only thing I can do about it is try to keep my self occupied like I have been for years by watching TV/playing games/surfing the internet/positing comments on the internet/ working on 3d models/whatever. To keep my mind off it though I wish I had some pills but If I said to anybody in my family or anything how much I feel like ass or tip them off I will ruin that perfect image they expect me to have.

Hot dogs said...

Oh and of course turning 30 is making me feel old as fuck ontop of that........

God 1992 was 20 fucking years ago and I was having fun with my damn 486 PC and my super nintendo and my genesis with a fucking copy sonic 2 and then I remember I a fucking 30 now and Have to move into the fucking adult world....

though they have been fucking telling me that since I was in my 20ish something ages but you could fucking get away with it in your early 20s now I cant.

God I wish I could go back to when everything was fucking simple and I was more fucking happy. I fell like i have wasted my entire 20s way and got nothing to show for it and I will be old soon.

Oh and I hear people looking to give people jobs hate old 30 year oldish peoples just out of collage that is called old so I will never get highered anywhere in this econmyu ;
f5

GFW Fan said...

Hello, my name if James. I also have bouts with depression, and I've always found talking with someone about it to be very helpful. You have provided me (Some goon you haven't and probably never will meet) with hours and hours of fun times through your podcasts, articles, etc. I understand that even though I have such positive feelings toward you and the GFW crew, it doesn't change the feelings of worthlessness one struggles with. But at least you've brought joy to (likely) lots and lots of people. Imagine all of us in a room hanging out :)

I'm not sure what your feelings are religiously, but regardless of your religious upbringing, I have found taking a serious study of world religions helpful in coming to terms with the eventual outcome of death. I was born with a heart defect, and my life span will likely not be very long unless some very risky surgery succeeds. As an American I was born into a Christian family, but how do I know that it's correct? If I were born in Israel I would be raised Jewish or Muslim. Japan? Buddhist or Shinto.

I'm not saying you need to go on a "spiritual journey" or anything like that (Although I did spend some time in Asia and the Middle East to investigate religious stuff), a simple study of different world religions made it a lot easier to come to terms with my [likely] short amount of time left. And if they're all wrong, at least the unknown answer doesn't sit there like a big retarded elephant.

I don't know, it was helpful for me.

Rimik said...

Great write up Jeff, this does help as I was on the medication bus for depression. I departed the bus and have therapy now, I fight the noise and try to soldier on. You have shed a new light and I would like to say, Thank you.

Jeff said...

I've been reading your columns and listening since I was about 11 years old. I'm 26 now, and I can identify with what you just wrote; more than ever anything before.

It's been a week now since I've started taking medication, and I've been unsure whether it was the right thing to do (I haven't talked to a psychiatrist, only my doctor for a moment).

I'm just glad that I saw this. I've never read or heard from anyone with such similar problems. It's reassuring that I'm doing the right thing, and that it's not just me.

I hope your holiday was well. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

As someone who has followed your writing for years I can truly say you are a hero. Best of luck in your battle. I admire your courage.

Larry Eisner said...

Wow. Amazing. I concur totally, and feel the same way often. I was diagnosed with depression in the late 90s (I'm 34 now) while in college and it prevented me (along with some bad choices that were motivated by the depression and agreed upon by myself who allowed the depression to beat me into submission) from finishing college. I now know I can't go back. I may get a degree at some point but also know I probably won't. But that's okay. I have an AMAZING wife and three beautiful, if not difficult children, and while I'm currently unemployed, I'm doing it while helping out family (I'm currently Mr. Mom, which the Michael Keaton comedy of the same nomenclature is spot-on in many instances, honestly...although I do hope to never frequent a male strip club) Point is (and yes, I didn't end that last sentence grammatically correct...sue me!) that I am indeed happy with my life. I don't take medication anymore as the medication I was one before helped me mostly to see the wave coming before it hit. It didn't do much to change the wave's effect on me, so I stopped taking it. But I've learned to live with the waves crashing, because most days I can see them coming and adjust before they drown me. Most days, at least... :) But I'm a blessed man. And I'm doubly blessed by reading your well written post. (You should write professionally, man! HAR, HAR!) Thanks for sharing, Jeff. You rock!

Nightwish said...

Hot dogs:

I can relate a lot to what you said.
You should definitely get help, there's some hotlines you can call there in the states, you should look it up. Or post on reddit.com/r/suicidewatch, they can help you. I really hope you can find some peace.

Jeff:

Apart from repeating what everyone else said, it's kind of depressing that someone as accomplished as you can't get over it.
But I've come to accept that this is part of me and it's never going to leave, and it at least helps me understand a bit better how the mind works.
You kind of helped me see that I'm stuck in a rut and haven't been trying enough to get over it. Maybe I need anti depressants again, because I'm feeling a huge crash coming my way and that my relationship is falling apart because I'm being complacent.
You're an amazing person, I should resubscribe to your blog again. Funny how I got here again thanks to a series of links that started with 3ma.

Andrew Dixon said...

I feel much the same way Jeff. I do everything in my power to avoid taking drugs.

Avoid the processed food, eat plenty of fat, especially saturated fat. Check for heavy metal toxicity and parasite infections.

Self love is tough for many of us, especially if your hormones are out of whack.

Emotional Freedom Technique and The Sedona Method. Very valuable tools.

by Aurok said...

One thing that gives me strength as a christian is that the only thing separating this place from heaven is the way we treat eachother. One thing that gives strength as an atheist is that no worldly event can inject or drain chemicals from my brain: so long as I am eating right, exercising, and taking the right medication for me, I have - in principle - total control over my emotions. One thing that gives me strength as a gamer is that developing my emotional range, being sensitive to everything I see and experience, makes it easier to connect with more people more deeply, and makes me more alive for it.

I've battled depression for 16 of my 28 years, and I've learned that all the things that cripple me affect everyone else as well, and I can draw strength from seeing them carrying it, and they will in turn draw strength from me. Sharing your experience is an incredible act of love, Jeff, and one I thank you for deeply.

It completely blows my mind that all the times you made me laugh hysterically on a podcast, even as I was in the grip of depression, you were fighting the same way. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Avoid Reading Mockingjay, the last book of the Hunger Games series, the freaking book made me feel very depressed and hopeless for days...

Sam Kalman said...

Thanks for opening up and sharing this, Jeff. I agree with so many of the commenters; you are a very inspiring person. I think sometimes the most creative, genuine people are also the most self-critical. I know that if you keep at it, you'll come to a place beyond depression. You deserve to be freed from that burden.

It's an honor to be your friend. Next time you're in Seattle, let's meditate in the park in the warm air.

Javier said...

I've been depressed for as long as I can remember. I'm twenty-one now and still don't know what to do with my life and don't enjoy doing anything productive unless I'm high or drunk. I will say thanks to you, though. One thing besides meds, exercise, and meditation that has always helped me when I am particularly depressed is distracting myself. You always helped with that, Jeff. Between your columns, blog posts, and podcasts you must have saved me at least a couple hundred hours of misery.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic post, Jeff.

Sorry to hear about your long battle with depression, but think you're doing a great thing to talk about it openly.

The more people openly talk about it; hopefully the less people will feel this completely unfair and unnecessary stigma and will get the help and support they need.

I hope your brave words help lighten the load for others struggling alone.

Longtime fan of your posts and podcasts, and wish you had time to produce more. (I know, only so much genius to go around :)).

Keep on truckin'

- Calbry

Nicholas DeLillo Jr said...

I wish you knew how much this post meant to me. Thanks Jeff.

Anonymous said...

This post also meant a lot to me, Jeff! If a great guy like you can do everything he's accomplished with depression, maybe I can make something of myself too.

Anonymous said...

The back page of CGW was the place I always went to feel better about things. It was as if you knew how shitty I felt, and what exactly would make it go away, even if just for a moment.

I don't think you could've done that for me - and many others - if you didn't have this condition.

I admire that you've chosen to wear it proudly now.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jeff, hope you can answer my question. In the fourth paragraph you talk about how not taking the meds changes you. What kind of things have you said, how was your worldview, your energy level affected, when not on meds? Always negatively?
Thank you, Richard

Anonymous said...

Thank you Jeff. After reading your comment I saw the same pattern in myself. I didn't even realize it but the last couple of years I've been paralyzed. Unable to do much of anything, but seeing how a awesome person like yourself has the same problems, I've decided I'm going to get help. Thank you so much for sharing.

Jeff Green said...

Richard,
When not taking the meds, it's a bit like I described in the post: "not having a floor under my feet." In other words, everything just seems much harder than it should, things seem impossible. I get a defeatist attitude. Which then leads me to beat myself up for being defeatist. It turns into a vicious circle that ultimately leaves me paralyzed. The meds just kind of short circuit all of that and let me just push through without that garbage bogging me down. Hope that helps...

--Jeff

What To Do When said...

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Zoloft lawsuit said...

It takes a lot of courage and dignity to admit that what you're undergoing is already clinical depression and more so making it public.

Kudos to you for being strong and brave enough to face reality.

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african woman said...

This is one of the great post I've ever read. It really inspires me while reading. I will surely share this one to my friend who tends to get depressed easily specially to her love life.

Nelson said...

Well said, Jeff. I'm right there with you. I have a great life, a great job, and yet I still considered driving to Montana one random Tuesday morning to escape it all. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Depression warps everything.

Ryan said...

Wow - your story really resonated with me. I don't have depression myself, but I've lived with a family member that has clinical depression for my entire life - in her case it's so bad that she tried to commit suicide twice. I've seen just how devastating depression can be on someone's psyche. I've been there when the person that brought me into this world is bawling for hours because she believes nobody loves her, she's a worthless piece of shit, and we would be better off without her. I've been the target of her fury over the most minor things and I've comforted her when she's feeling so profoundly hopeless that she won't leave her room for days at a time.

But despite everything I've had to deal with, including an anxiety disorder likely caused in part by her actions, she's an absolute inspiration to me. Because she doesn't let herself be defined by her disorder. Because she gets up in the morning and smiles through her pain. Because despite the debilitating feelings I know are bouncing around in her head she has a full social life. Because she finds it in her heart to love me, and my sister, and my father, and my dogs, and her mother, and her father, despite the fact that she can't fucking love herself.

I think it's bullshit that mental illness is swept under the rug in today's society. After all, there are more people with depression in the united states than identify themselves as gay. One in four Americans suffers from at least one mental illness. And you never hear about those people. And that's a load of crap.

I guess I'm telling you all this to tell you the same thing you told us in your blog post: you're not alone, and you're not worthless. The fact that you were able to tell the internet is frankly amazing because it's just not something people do. So reading through your story reminded me why I'm studying to become a psychologist - to help people trapped by the very thing that should free them, their own mind. Thank you for your courage, Jeff, and I know my saying so won't make a difference when you're in that depressive state, but I'll say it anyways: you have worth.

Anonymous said...

I suffered for years at a time, and I took medication for the better part of six months. I am taking Ashwagandha and it alleviates that pain, along with therapy etc.

I gave into therapy and asking my family for help after a trip to Costa Rica, and having my depression reach a head, due to the constant activity, work, and fun. While wanting to end your life and demeaning yourself in front of a mirror, wanting to bash your head in. It was a fun time.

I listened to your stuff all the time four years ago. This helps quite a bit. Thank you. You can be a happy go lucky guy and be depressed. It happens!

I don't know how long this Indian ginseng will work, maybe it's been more of a placebo lately. But I am glad that it's something people go through and try work through their sadness, find a root of a problem logically. But it doesn't work like that. It takes a lot of little things and a way to break out of yourself. I used to hate myself, because I would say it every day while trying to survive through college. Endless amounts of comparisons with others in my mind, living at home when everyone leaves, feeling like you are trapped. How you view your situation can help stop this, even if the situation doesn't change.

Now in seven months, I will be moving on with my life elsewhere. The pain, tactics, and improved self-image is something I can bring with too.

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Anonymous said...

Thank you, Jeff. You helped me realize some shit.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this Jeff.

Can't say it made me feel better, but it has shined a dim light through the fog of despair for me trudge towards.

Thanks

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Anonymous said...

I'm about your age and have the same problem - well, with some exciting other physical health problems tossed into the mix. But it was so nice to read someone write about the part where you have to learn to live with it, that it's not going away. The "oops, forgot to take your meds" - there's a bit of "maybe this time when I forget to take them I'll find out I don't need them anymore." For me anyway. Learning to accept that it's not the end of the world to be like this is still something I'm struggling with, and I've been diagnosed and treated almost two decades now.

A lot of nice people can sympathize with you but at the same time be clueless to what all of this feels like. Which makes it really a relief to hear someone who has the problem say/write this sort of thing. Thanks for that. It helps.

The_Zack_Cantrell said...

Thank you.

The_Zack_Cantrell said...

Earlier this week I made the decision to start seeking treatment. I'm scared and embarrassed and it's the hardest thing I've ever done. As the week progressed I've talked myself in and out of it at least of hundred times. This gave me the strength to finally just go through with it. My first appointment in Friday. So again, thank you.

Anonymous said...

This has just shown up on my RSS feed for some reason, I must have missed it the first time.

But anyway, thank you for posting this Jeff. I have been battling depression for some time myself and realized a few years into it that this will be a life long thing I have to deal with. Unfortunately the doctors don't tell you that, you discover it on one your downs after you stop taking the meds and think things will be alright. That is until something happens and you just cant get out of the lull by yourself again.

Reading this gives me hope that I can have a "normal" life, I just have to keep fighting. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Jeff, thanks very much for this post. I have fond memories of the podcasts you used to be on, to the point where some of them are intrinsically attached to moments in games I was playing as I listened to the episodes.

I happened upon this post as I was going through a period of transition in my own life, and what you wrote here helped. Thanks for sharing. There's still a stigma attached to depression (and mental illness in general), and the more that we recognize people in our own lives are affected by these conditions, the more we can accept that depression isn't a terminal condition.

Thanks again.