Wellness – Far more than Physical

The major reasons that I decided to create this blog was to motivate and help people. The response that I have gotten from people has been incredible. I knew when I made the decision to share the story of my journey that I would be forced to share things about myself that would not be comfortable for me to share. This is one of those topics. As the title Wellness – Far more than Physical implies this post is about inner wellness. Wellness of the heart and of the mind… Emotional Wellness.

Now, before you read the rest of this post, I need you to understand a couple of things:

  • I feel better this week than I did the last which was better than the week before that. Much, much better.
  • This isn’t easy. Wellness isn’t easy and writing about it isn’t either. Both are worth it for a hundred different reasons!

As most people do not know about me, I am someone coping with clinical depression. I had always thought that I had some “demons that I needed to chase”, but being an ego-filled, prideful man, I just kept suppressing them. I wouldn’t really give into the fact that I needed to do something about it. That was until December of 2011. As a part of my journey to wellness and after some serious soul-searching, I decided then that I had to take action and deal with this. Much like my story about the physical wellness journey that I am on, it took me a while to get to the point of dealing with this.

Around Thanksgiving of last year, I started to research depression and in an article I read by Elizabeth Benton on Livestrong.com, she talks about the following four ways to cope with depression in men:

  1. Identify the Problem
  2. Consider Medication and Psychotherapy
  3. Enlist support from friends and family and don’t isolate yourself.
  4. Get Moving – Exercise to get the mood-boosting norepinephrine and epinephrine juices flowing.

Elizabeth doesn’t really talk about these 4 things as steps, but I read them as such. With that said, I felt that I was trying to cope with my depression backward.

As I started to exercise, I began to feel much better during and after my workouts or runs. This happened to me almost immediately. The issue is that I have a busy life with responsibilities like a career, kids, etc. I can’t spend every waking moment exercising, although some days I wish I could!

I started to talk to a couple of carefully selected close friends about what I was feeling. I was extraordinarily careful about who I talked to because one of my issues is fear of judgement (this blog post is working me over, actually). I got some honest feedback that helped me significantly. The thing that I noticed was that most of the time, I talked about my depression like it was a recent event. Something that happened to me all of a sudden or even in the last 5 years.

It wasn’t until I reached out to someone who has known me for about half of my life and shared how I was feeling. Their reaction was interesting. They shared some thoughts, but one was incredibly profound. They told me that they thought I have been suppressing these feelings my entire adult life. They shared a few examples with me that I had not thought of or had forgotten. After a few days, I knew I needed to do something about it.

I came home from a trip and made an appointment to see my doctor the next day. That was December 16, 2011. The appointment was a lengthy one. I answered questions that weren’t comfortable to answer. I was honest with my answers. That’s probably the most important thing about this process. …being honest with myself. I left that day having gotten help and that alone felt great. The doctor sent me to the pharmacy, but I knew that all that pill was going to do was fix whatever the chemical imbalances that were going on. It wasn’t going to “fix” me. It would only balance me out and make me feel better, which is precisely what it has done. I also left that day with a name and a phone number for a therapist. Before I put the keys in the ignition, I made that appointment for the following week. I was all-in. I had to be. I had been “half-assing” this for a long time. Too long and it was doing me no good.

I purposely won’t post about what I am taking for this because I am not a doctor and there are lots of options for medications based upon many different factors. I don’t want anyone to read this and just go ask their doctor for “some of that”. I don’t think it works well that way. What I do strongly recommend is to go and talk to a doctor. Be prepared to answer a bunch of questions and to be open and honest with your responses. If you don’t get a bunch of questions, I’d go see someone else. You don’t want to just be given a bottle of pills after a two-minute conversation. That’s not care, that’s pushing pills.

I also don’t want to discuss too much about my therapy, but I will share two things.

  1. I was very skeptical about this. I was uncomfortable. I am still uncomfortable, but I am committed. You have to be. This is one of those things you just have to do. It’s a part of getting better.
  2. My first “take-home” assignment was about shame. It was unexpected and not something that I had thought a lot about. It was a really eye-opening experience for me. I asked the therapist if I could have a blank copy to share. I’ve posted it so that you can download it if you’d like. The exercise the therapist asked me to complete was to read through it and highlight the things that I related to and to make any notes about those things that I wanted to discuss. I also scribbled some questions about some of the things that I had read on the margins of the page. The therapist urged me to understand shame because it is a root issue for a lot of people.

Like I said, I am getting better a bit at a time. This post is even therapy for me. As cliché as it may sound, if one person reads this and it helps, then it’s been worth the time to write and post it. As usual, if you have any questions or want to get in touch with me, click the contact me link or you can find me on twitter @bigdave4 or you can catch me on facebook.

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