I was at science camp all last week with JJ, disconnected from the world. Okay, I’m lying. I had my iPhone and the higher we walked up the trails, the better the cell phone coverage was. I was connected enough. At some point, I logged into Twitter and read a tweet about Junior Seau, one of the best football players I’d ever seen. The tweet was a bit ominous, but I wasn’t really sure what happened so I searched through my feed and saw that short abbreviation that’s all so descriptive; RIP.
After I got over the shock later in the day, I talked to another parent who was chaperoning the trip too and we started to talk about Seau. This parent knew Junior from his days in Southern California. He described him as someone who had it all and then allowed it to go all downhill. I didn’t really know Junior’s story, but immediately thought about concussions and depression and how that may have played a part into Junior committing suicide.
(We are still unsure what happened, but it’s rarely because of one thing. It’s probably a mix of different things that caused him to come to his conclusion.)
A couple of weeks ago, San Francisco Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff left the team for personal reasons, which turned out to be an anxiety problem. He was going through a separation from his wife, one in which he admitted to be mostly to blame for. Both of these situations reminded me about the time I suffered through depression, and for what ever reason, I felt the need to write about it.
Now, this blog has been a place for me to share and probably overshare certain things about myself. I haven’t felt the need to write about and share personal things recently, until now. I’m not exactly sure why, but I think it’s because both of those situations brought back some memories that don’t stir all that often anymore.
Depression ain’t no joke.
I don’t remember my emotions getting the best of me when I was younger, except for maybe some sports anxiety when I was 13 or 14. I’ve generally controlled my emotions through keeping a level head and not making a mountain out of a molehill. But when Carol and I separated, I started to feel a real lack of control. I remember trying to hit the gym a lot because I could take this newly found nervousness and at least do something with the energy. But there were also times where I’d find that my heart rate was abnormally high and I really couldn’t stop my heart from beating so fast. Those were scary times for sure.
That kind of nervousness or anxiety or whatever you’d call it lasted until I moved out of the house and it was replaced by a more depressed feeling which was related to not seeing the kids every second they were awake. I’d never really gone all that much time without being around them until then, except for the quick business trip that I’d book to be less than 48 hours. With kids, I was never alone. It was never silent. But away from them, it was always silent. And the silence was really deafening.
Being that it was a fairly new feeling, I really didn’t know what to do about it. I think I’d stopped going to therapy by then even though it was slightly helpful. I just didn’t like to hear myself talk about me so much. It was very awkward. Though I shared some of what I was feeling in my writing at the time, I didn’t really want people to know that I was having trouble dealing with the situation. I couldn’t allow the kids to feel what I was feeling and tried to suck it up whenever they were there. And really, it wasn’t hard. When they were around, I truly was happy. It was just when they weren’t that I could feel myself falling apart.
I am happy to say that I don’t remember the depression lasting all that long. I’m sure it may just feel like a distant memory and it may have lasted longer than I remember, but I figured out how to manage it and haven’t been in that place for a long time.
Whenever someone has talked about being depressed and I’ve been able to give them a bit of advice, I always start with the first rule. Whenever you feel depressed, you have to sit in your bedroom and listen to REM’s Losing My Religion just like Brenda Walsh did when she and Dylan broke up.
Okay, that’s probably the worst thing to do and I apologize for not being able to find the english version.
Actually, here are the things that worked for me (and I totally get that different things work for different people):
- Stay as busy as possible (including working out) – I found out that when I had nothing to do, the depression would set in quickly. The only thing that I would do was sleep and then wake up and be bummed out because I wasted the day. I figured that if I stayed busy with hobbies, I didn’t really have time to fret. I continued writing on this blog, wrote reviews for Epinions, and even opened up a new blog in 2008 (Fight Game Blog) and asked some friends and a few people I didn’t even know well to help me write it. We just passed post number 2,000 earlier today. I also started to get heavier into my interests. If I was interested, I was interested to the 10th power. It wasn’t just about knowledge, but as close to mastery as possible.
- Take on new challenges – I also took a job with Fanbase (and now Nextdoor) in San Francisco where I commuted (and still do) 170 miles round trip three times a week. If I was going to be away from the kids for the most part anyway, being away and forcing myself to have a very long day was much more productive and better for me than to be sitting home alone eating dinner by myself after work. It also helps working on a service that I believe in.
- Don’t turn away friends and family, embrace them – I had a positive support system and they all helped me out even if they didn’t know they were helping me. When you have an Eddy Zucko and a Young Randall, you really don’t need much else. Fine, there were others too. I went out with my sister, her now husband and cousins a lot, coached my kids with my dad’s help, and was with Jessica who helped me feel necessary. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to talk to every day during that time. Positive feedback is so beneficial and when you yearn and search for positive feedback, you’re probably doing positive things.
- All of those things you put off before, guess what, you have time now – Even though my kids weren’t with me all the time, they were around in photos and videos. I really started to have fun editing home videos and shot as much video of them as possible. And now, we do goofy stuff like this:
- Lastly, better yourself through education – Originally, I took Landmark classes because Carol was taking them and she was getting good things out of them. I went in there to communicate with her better so that we could raise our kids together and came out of it feeling more confident about myself. I also met some fine people there, a few who I continue to talk to today. We all went there for different reasons and bonded over getting through it together. It gave us all a little bit of ammo that we didn’t have before.
Sorry for the long post, but it’s rare that I get the feeling to write so personally like that and it probably won’t happen again any time soon. My next post will probably be of a new video of my kids. And hopefully, someone gets something positive out of this. I used to quote the Hardy Boyz’ “Exist 2 Inspire” and sometimes I can still do that. Hopefully it worked for some here.