As you probably guessed, sometime after posting 'not sick- busy', I actually got sick. (Yeah, I know, I was tempting fate there- if I ever say 'what lovely weather', do NOT plan outdoor activities.).
Robin Williams death has highlighted depression in the media. Finally we are getting the message across that depression is not 'just being sad' and won't 'just do away'. It is a real, and extremely dangerous illness.
One message I keep hearing is that we have to de-stigmatize it, let people come forward and get treatment rather than keeping to themselves. It shouldn't be something people are ashamed of.
So in that light, I finally feel capable of stepping forward and saying that I was not busy. I was very, very sick, and to be honest it came extremely close to killing me.
Depression has been a regular companion since I hit my teenage years. Regardless of how happy and successful I became, without any apparent trigger, the black dog would come skulking into my life. My depression would come in waves; sometimes strong, sometimes mild. I did not notice at first, but each time it came it would last longer, and longer. It was my wife Kate that spotted this. First weeks, then months, then, most recently, it devoured a whole year in one gulp. I simply don't remember much about the last few years at all.
The meager energy I had got me through about one hour a day of work. Sometimes more, sometimes less. I barely remember those years, and made excuses about being busy to cover the fact I simply could not concentrate long enough to sculpt or write. Eventually I started having panic attacks, again, for what seemed like no reason. Things started to take a dark tun. I could no longer drown out or ignore the suicidal thoughts, and came very close to losing the battle. But I had a wonderful wife, Kate, who realized I needed serious help and fast. She pushed and pushed to get me through the long and frustrating line of GPs, therapists and specialists- depression takes away your ability to get through treatment, frustratingly enough, and without her help I would never have made it. Our government pretends that Beyond Blue and Lifeline are effective solutions to the problem, but in my case it just resulted in being handed around back and forth between departments and organisations. Frankly, this treatment would kill a depressed person.
But then, something amazing happened. At the darkest, most hopeless moment, I got a totally new diagnosis. I was not suffering from a metal illness at all. The reason CBT techniques did not help me was that it wasn't my thinking that was the problem. It wasn't my serotonin levels either. Actually I was remarkably sane... all things considered.
It was a hormone deficiency.
One year after this diagnosis, I finally got through the queue to an endocrinologist. He gave me a script, I went home and popped the pill. It was the size of a coffee sweetener.
The next day I felt amazing. Not euphoric, but... wider. Like the world had expanded, and someone had open the blinds. Colors where intense, and for the first time in years I got up, went about my day, and stayed out of bed the whole day. Within the week, my energy levels had returned. My depression like symptoms had released their grip on me, and I suddenly realized just how I must have been severely depressed my whole life and not known it. It was impossible to see that tree for the woods.
But that was just the test. The endocrinologist had been testing to see how I would react, and this incredible result confirmed the diagnosis. He gave me a full script.
That was three months ago, and today, I am depression free. All I have to do is take a handful of hormone pills for the rest of my life, but no antidepressants and no therapy. I am perfectly healthy for the first time in my life! The world looks incredible, and life has finally lifted out of the murk. I cannot express just how different I feel. I feel like myself... what I should always have been. Now I will go into more detail about the condition a bit later and answer any questions about it then, but for now I feel this tale is long enough for a blog. I just wanted to get the message out there that depression is real, and you need to keep fighting. It really is worth it.
So I am back at work now, both at my day job and working on my old projects. I do not want to risk pushing myself too hard, so I will be slowly gearing back up my projects, essentially stress testing this new me to see how much I can carry now. After all, for me this is the first time I have not been depressed. I simply don't know my limits anymore.
I am excited to find that, in my absence, just shy of a hundred emails have accumulated in my Skulldred folder, as well as get well soon messages from those who figured it out. Thank guys. I did.
I plan to start mail outs and answer emails in the coming month.
|Giant Dice scenery, based on the Skulldred cover art. Ready for photography session.|
I scanned over the book where I left it, and it actually was pretty darn close to done. Depression clouds your judgement, and so I can see where I was getting snarled up. The solution I was looking for was actually pretty simple. I am LOVING my new brain!
So though my story took a tragic turn, the future is finally looking rosy for Skulldred!
At last you will have your maths free, any scale, any miniature skirmish game. And this time, it won't be a battle to make it. It will be pure joy.
So one closing note before I skip off back to work. If you suspect you have depression, there is hope. Don't make my mistake and think you can just reason it away or treat yourself. You can't. Please, please ring a help line. Get help. It really can give you a whole new life.