Tag Archives: Depression

A couple of things

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Sorry if the pic bothers anyone. It’s just a relief to see so many more in such a short time. If you’d rather not see it, just comment and I can remove it.

For a long time I’ve called this 30-something guy’s journal – mostly about bipolar II. In less than a month I’ll no longer be in my 30’s and I don’t write mainly about Bipolar II anymore, so I need to come up with a new name for this little space on the net’.

On another note, my wife and I have been trying to conceive based on her fertility tests and we’ve been doing pretty regular checks to see if I have any sperm with the microscope. Tonight was the first night I didn’t need to hunt to see sperm, but they were all dead. I’ve read up on it, and this apparently isn’t unusual. If I were to guess, in the 11 minutes I looked at the slide, I saw well over 200 sperm, which is a huge improvement from a week ago when 20-40 minutes of searching showed only a few. For proper lab testing we need a centrifuge and an incubator. Neither of those items are cost prohibitive. I’ll talk with my wife and see if she’s willing to wait long enough to just decide to go the IVF route to make the extra lab equipment worth the investment. It’d get used after this.

If someone did a tag search and found this blog about having a vasectomy reversal, please feel free to contact me to talk about the process. I did have one of the top surgeons in the country perform mine, even after 18 years of the original vasectomy. I can tall you about recovery times, pain, other things to expect and at least what the cost was for us (it was not covered under insurance and required general anesthesia). I know when I was researching online most of everything I found was very clinical in nature, but didn’t get into the actual reality of the procedure and recovery.

So, this is real. This is going to happen. Even if I can’t produce naturally, the surgeon that performed the reversal said as far as production and quality of sperm I may as well be in my 20’s. Extracting it would be less than pleasant, but nothing I’m not willing to endure to move the process forward. This is really happening, and likely within the next year, barring any complications. I’m equally excited about it and terrified at the same time. The terrified part is mostly the reasonable things people that are going to have a first child have. To summarize; I just don’t want to fuck up too much and to be a good father. The other part that scares me though is the crippling depression that I go so very often. I’m high-functioning when I’m depressed and to help with focus I have Adderall which has been a godsend. Out of the group of 20 of my position in the country, only two other perform consistently at my level with errors being extremely rare and missing deadlines being unheard of.

I’ve been researching online again to see if I can find a therapist that we kind of hit it off as far as being a good fit for working together that can allow me Skype sessions when I’m traveling. Our health insurance will cover it, but there’s a specific code that needs to be used and I need to see the therapist in person every so often as well. It’s the suicidal ideation and urge that I need help with. It’s a constant. I’m used to it. I’m in no danger, but it’s a constant thing running through my mind. I feel guilty about it. How shitty would it be to everyone around me if I were to check out early? How shitty would it be for me now that I’m living a life that I never thought possible? Why won’t this constant nagging desire..no..need, go away?

I go through the mental gymnastics centering around that and starting a family. I can live with the depression. It’s tolerable with medications. I’ve no doubt I could endure well into old age. But would having a depressive parent be selfish, even if I’m good at compartmentalizing it? I don;t know.. It’s late and I put in 70 hours this week. There are things I should work on this weekend, but I think I’m going to go do some photography with an old friend. If time allows for work I’ll do it, but I need downtime. I’ve earned it.

Today I saw the news that Stevie Ryan, 33 committed suicide two days after her grandfather died. Apparently in a podcast following her grandfather’s death she made mention that she hoped that his passing wouldn’t pull her into a deeper depression.

I admit that I have no idea who Stevie Ryan is. From what I can tell she was someone who was initially popular on YouTube, then ended up hosting a show on VH1. The only reason we’re hearing about it is because she’s someone of relative fame.

Here’s the part that bothers me aside from the obvious. Prior to committing suicide she made casual reference to her depression and implied that the passing of her grandfather could potentially make her depression worse. I’ve been on the edge of taking my own life and on a couple of rare occasions made casual passing reference to it to someone I was close with. Luckily, the second time, when I was actually planning on going through with things and preparations had been made, loose ends tied up, etc., the friend took notice and called me out on it. We talked and I went inpatient the next day at McLean Hospital just outside of Boston. She had a public forum, though. She made mention of this on a podcast prior to going through with it.

Even if the podcast hadn’t been released prior to her taking her own life, did anyone else involved in the podcast reach out to her and press the issue? Look, I get it.. When you’re down the last thing you want is someone pestering you about being down. Frankly, it takes balls to say that you’re depressed in today’s world, especially in a public forum. There’s so much stigma and ignorance surrounding mental health that it’s frankly disgusting. Either way… What I’m getting at is that she dropped a hint; a warning almost that she was already in a low place and would likely go lower.

I don’t know if she had planned this or if it were a rash decision. I’ve seen studies talking about people committing suicide somewhat spontaneously/without prior planning, and the other group that plans meticulously. Not to knock those who work on such studies, but they don’t exactly have the chance to ask the ones that succeed.

My point is this… If someone is willing to talk about it, talk to them about it. Or don’t; just talk to them about anything. Sometimes just some human contact and interest in what they think or have to say may be helpful. It’s something.. If their mind is made up and they aren’t hesitating, there’s pretty much nothing you can do, but if you have a chance to show them some humanity and dignity, please, please do.

If you want to skip a rant, now is a good time to stop reading this post…

Did Stevie Ryan mean anything to me personally? No. I didn’t know her and won’t be so presumptuous as to read up on her and pretend I know anything about her or who she was. What I do know is suffering, and what suffering alone in a room full of people is like. Clearly being someone in the spotlight and having people around doesn’t make you any less susceptible to the isolation so frequently accompanies depression. I bet she smiled and laughed just as well as the rest of us that suffer from this affliction. It just sucks that the only time that depression and suicide are brought to light is when someone famous commits suicide. The world lost their shit when Robin Williams committed suicide. After a few weeks, that passed and we were on to whatever the next media craze was. If memory serves me, it had to do with a Kardashian; because..priorities? I’ll never understand that one.. Regardless, there are millions upon millions who struggle every day with this. At some point, those that don’t suffer from it need to wake up and realize it’s not weakness, it’s not a character flaw and it doesn’t make someone suffering any less worthy. Maybe they could even try to have some fucking empathy. For anyone saying it’s taking the “easy way out” or they dare to call them a coward, I defy them to put themselves in a situation that could very well end their life and see if they have the stones to actually go through with it. I’d bet damn good money that they’d piss themselves. I only say this because it’s the type of ignorant shit I’ve heard from my own family in reference to others, from countless strangers and co-workers of all socioeconomic and educational backgrounds. The last thing anyone needs is commentary from a knuckle-dragging mouth-breather when they are really down to begin with.

I honestly don’t know what the solution is.. In the most connected world we have, we’re also the most isolated we’ve ever been. All I can say is this; look out for each other. If you have a hunch someone is in a state of real suffering, listen to them, and respect where they are coming from. Sometimes it’s not about solving the problem or offering solutions, but it’s more about bearing witness. It’s about joining someone, even if for a little while, in their own personal hell.

The wold will go on whether you move with it or stay put

The last few years have been a roller-coaster. Things have settled quite a bit in some aspects of my life, whereas in other areas things have happened that I never, ever anticipated. At this moment though, I feel like I’ve run out of gas. I’ve been tired and short-tempered lately. This last weekend it finally hit me hard. Aside from feeling tired,  I couldn’t get much sleep between nasty headaches and really painful heartburn that I’ve had for a few weeks. I’m getting an endoscopy next week, or sooner if need be. Right now I’m on a diet of water, saltine crackers and Zofran as that’s about all I can tolerate. I managed to get through my flight this morning for work without vomiting, so that’s something.

Some things I didn’t expect over the last 3 years:

  • Getting a job that pays well
  • Getting a house (first house)
  • Deciding that I want children
  • Getting my vasectomy reversed
  • Getting another dog
  • Making it to 40 in spite of depression (almost; less than a month away)
  • Liver and kidney problems getting better, then worse, then better, then worse, rinse and repeat

Those are all but one, good things. On the flip side there’s the depression part. Sadly, that would fall on the list of things I did expect. Monday of next week I see the psychiatrist and I need to decide if this will be the usual three month check-in for refills, or if I tell her that in spite of being chocked full of psychoactive medications that I’m still having days where I seriously weigh the pros and cons of pushing forward. Pushing forward.. That’s about as watered down of a euphemism as I can come up with. I still manage to get out of bed each day, am present and functioning relatively well at work, and hopefully, being a good husband.

So, do I dare say anything, or not? If I were giving advice to a friend, I’d say without hesitation to tell their psychiatrist/doctor that they are still feeling pretty awful. On one hand I don’t want to feel like this more often than not, and on the other I just don’t want to go through the trial and error process of medications. Again. That leads me back to where I weigh pros and cons. I go through these mental gymnastics, but the only option is to push forward. I can either let it crush me or live my life in spite of it.

(I honestly wonder how long I can keep this duality thing up)

A long overdue update

This will contain what may be considered NSFW as it relates to my vasectomy reversal procedure performed not two months ago.

Continue reading A long overdue update

Duality

I am and have been living two lives for a long time. They are seemingly incompatible.

Life number one is that of a middle-aged successful professional who’s happily married, has a house, two cars, two dogs and a cat. I have friends, albeit at a distance. I’m becoming closer to one that’s local – someone I didn’t expect to become a close friend with, but she’s a good influence on my life and is a good objective third party. I don’t have to put on the act for her. I can be myself. I don’t have any interest in her other than a platonic friendship, and the same goes for her. I don’t consider myself to be close to anyone at work, but given the amount of travel, that’s not entirely surprising. Most of my interaction with colleagues is via email and brief telephone calls. I’m outwardly friendly, happy, and have an honest can-do attitude. I’m customer focused and work internally to ensure that clients are taken care of while still maintaining the financial goals of the company that employs me. I’m well-known within the company, well-respected and well-trusted as a problem solver an innovator. My wife and I have decided to have a child or adopt, depending on what’s medically possible 18 years past vasectomy. There’s a good chance we’ll be able to have a biological child where I’m the father via sperm extraction. I’m excited at this prospect, though I’m getting about a 15-20 year late start to the process.

Life number two is that of a married man who struggles to get through each day because of severe and unrelenting depression. Not a waking minute goes by that I don’t think of finding the nearest sharp object and going for my carotid arteries. I’m heavily medicated with psychotropic medications and go between insomnia and hypersomnia. Most days I get through the workday and am exhausted by the end of it. I go to my hotel room, or go home and go to bed shortly thereafter. Most of my existence is in my own head as I don’t trouble others with my internal struggles. Logically, ending my life has passed from being an illogical idea to a  logical conclusion to a life spent fighting and losing that fight.This life is one of exhaustion. This life is one wanting a way out with causing as little damage to those closest to me.

So.. Where does that leave me? I’m living both lives. As I write this, I hope for some terminal illness – that’d be easiest for all involved. But, I’m also planning on having a child. I know I can endure the depression and all that goes with it for at least the next 20 years. Well indefinitely, really. I’ve been on the other side of suicide. I loved her so much; the one that committed suicide, I mean. I know what that pain is. I know what that aftermath is. I know the endless days and nights of asking why. I can’t possibly do that to someone else, so this is a life sentence.. A life sentence of suffering. That’s not fair to me. Exiting early, that’s a life sentence for my wife, our future child and the few that care about me. So, regardless, I stay. I live that second life in the shadows. In silence aside from here. What am I to do? I don’t know.. Endure, I guess. That’s my only real choice, isn’t it?

 

The harsh realities of having a job with a lot of travel

This isn’t a long whining post. This is just a description of what it’s really like for a lot of people like myself in a similar position of traveling at 50% of their job and being regional support within their home area, which really means anything within about 200 miles each way is “local.”

My work week (this is two extra days than I’d normally travel):

Sunday – 5 hour commute to hotel from home.
Monday – 13 hour day.
Tuesday – ~13 hour day, depending on traffic.
Wednesday – ~16 hour day, longer if there’s traffic and/or road construction.
Thursday – 8 hour day.
Friday – ~14 hour day.
Saturday – ? (play catchup)

For those that don’t want to do the math, that’s a 69 hour week. That averages out to be a little over $25/hour. I’m salary, so anything over 40 hours is forfeit. I’ll let someone do the math on that if they really want to know what I make a year.

This is indicative of a ravel week where I’m gone 5 days and cover two cities, in this case, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. I travel at minimum every other week with 3-5 overnight stays. In the summer, I drive. The airlines are too unreliable. The week before last my flight kept getting further and further delayed that I’d have to stay over in the connecting city and not get to my destination until noon the next day. I had to be there at a client site at 8:30am. I can’t miss an appointment, and I can’t be that late. I had them bank the tickets (good up to three years, but it’s a $200 change fee per ticket), then drove my own damn car because getting a rental would have been even more time, wouldn’t have been pre-arranged so I’d not get the corporate rate (1/3 the cost of renting a car regularly) and arrived at 1:30am. Great start to the week, right?

This is the reality of business travel for a job. In my position, I’m booked out several weeks in advance. There’s no flexibility in that. A customer can’t wait until I’m free again in 6 weeks. I work when I’m sick. I load up on decongestants, mucinex and afrin and get through the day. That’s just the schedule and logistics.

The other part of having a traveling job? Loneliness. Crushing, horrible loneliness. I used to think that a job like this would be cool with the travel. I get to see different cities, can go sight-seeing, try local restaurants, etc. The reality of it is that the travel alone takes a lot out of you. My job is very mentally challenging, and therefor very draining each day. When I finish, I don’t even want to sit at a decent restaurant for dinner. I just want to get back to my room and lay down. So, I’ll grab some Wendy’s or Chipotle, go to the room, reply to the ~20 emails that actually need my response from throughout the day, figure out how the hell I’m going to mix in time for conference calls at customer sites. The secret to that? Buy the client lunch, usually a few large pizzas or Jimmy Johns. Whatever – I may or may not get to eat. Usually not – while they eat, I sit on a conference call. I’ll make the notes and recommendations that night. Who wants to be social after that?

My traveling socialization is with the hotel bartenders at the hotels I frequent. We’re all on a first name basis. I know the names of their spouses, kids, who’s having health problems in their family, their life events, etc. I don’t always have to pay for drinks, so that’s a plus. I have to be careful to not drown my loneliness in alcohol, though. I’ve been doing that at home when I’m actually home. I go through about 1 – 1 1/2 bottles of liquor a week. Mostly vodka mixed with kahlua and bailey’s; heavy on the vodka. You know the normal short drinking glasses? A drink for me of late is one of those filled to the top with no ice. I’m guessing that’s not mixing well with the whole liver and kidney disease thing.

Weeks that I’m home? Usually 8-12 hour days, depending on how far the clients are from me. That’s just so I can sleep in my own bed at night. I don’t mind weeks at home. The time in the car is made bearable with Pandora and audiobooks. I get to see my wife a little, too. She works every other weekend, so I get to see her for about 1/2 hour when she gets home before she goes to sleep to be somewhat rested for her next shift.

The loneliness isn’t helping with the depression. My depression is almost entirely chemical and fairly well-controlled with a heavy cocktail of psychotropic medications. I’ve read about studies though that confirm that people that travel as much as I do for work do feel isolated and depressed. They don’t offer many good suggestions on how to cope with it, either. One of the top suggestions is to go to the hotel bar and talk with other business travelers. Good one, Harvard researcher – mix loneliness and depression with alcohol. Anyway.. That’s my reality of traveling for a job. My experience is far from unique. It’s not just within my company, either. Others that I’ve sucked up my introversion and spoken to that I’ve seen at the hotels at nearly the same frequency as myself express the same thing. If I were single I’d likely have questionable encounters with people just to have a warm body next to me. It’d not a sex thing, it’d just to have some human contact.

So, before you take that high-paying travel job, consider what it’s really like and ask yourself if it’s worth the money. On the plus side, you get to live all that travel time on someone else’s dime. Nice hotels, good dinner per diems if you choose to actually eat somewhere, nice locations (usually), and you don’t put miles on your own car. I tallied up last year’s travel to see what could possibly be considered extra income for living expenses for half the month. It was a staggering $26,000. That’s how much cycled through my credit cards that I use for travel.

Is it worth it? I don’t know. The economy is still too weak for me to consider anything else. If I took a support role for a 40 hour week that would require relocating to either Chicago, New Jersey or Long Island. We bought a house. We don’t want to move. We’re planning on having a child, which because of my vasectomy 18 years ago will require rather invasive surgery to get sperm. Since it’s elective surgery, insurance won’t cover it. That with the IFV it will be about $12-15k. My wife will stop working after the child is born for at least 4-5 years. That’s a $67k/year loss in income. And I’ll get to see my child in passing. I wonder how she’ll deal with the isolation of being a stay at home mom that so many female friends in similar positions describe.

Is it worth it? I’m writing this at midnight because I can’t sleep. I have to get up at 5 this morning to be to a client on time.  I guess I should attempt to sleep again.

Tonight.. I’m just not feeling it. Doctor’s appointments today went well and I got a referral to a surgeon for my jaw. I’ve lost 10lb in the last 3 weeks. I’ve just not been hungry. I’ve also been incredibly tired of late. Here it is approaching 6:00 and I’m already in bed getting ready to call it a night. I’m down tonight. I’m feeling sad and lonely, though I’ve no reason to feel either. I’ll give this overall tired malaise thing another week or two, then call my doctor. The depression.. I don’t know what to do about that. I need some human touch, but am not sure how to explain that, much less have the nerve to ask. Ugh. Blah. May tomorrow be a better day.