One New Orleanian's struggle with depression — and ways to get help


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NOTE - I work for 
Gambit in the advertising department. This is a description of my struggle and some small advice to any of you that are having difficulties with life. This was my personal struggle and is certainly different than many others who have seen dark times. Should you feel compelled to reach out to me after reading this, please do.

With the news of Robin Williams' suicide and the news he had been suffering from severe depression shortly before his death, I felt the need to share my own experience with depression in hope it might help any of you that may be in a bad way.

My difficult times started after Hurricane Katrina and the federal floods in August 2005. I moved almost 10 times in four months. I only saw my then-wife on weekends from September to December 2005. My family in St. Bernard Parish lost everything. My brother had damage to his place. Everything was a wreck physically and so was I — mentally. I had all the signs of a severely depressed person: feelings of worthlessness and guilt every single day, couldn't sleep at all, no interest in things that I once enjoyed, and recurring thoughts of death — particularly my own due to suicide. 

In May 2009, I quit on my marriage. Quit. Gave up. Threw in the towel. I said that's enough and I'm done. I gave her no respect, nor her family, my family or anyone else.

I didn't care about anything other than dying and a few months later we were divorced. I had no idea what I was doing at the time other than pushing everyone away, not discussing my troubles honestly and doing the worst thing for me, which was trying to figure out everything on my own.

Why didn't it get better? Why didn't I seek help? "I'm a guy, I can get through anything because I'm Superman. I'll protect my wife and I'll be fine. It's all bullshit. "These feelings will pass" is how I rationalized it. But my feelings didn't go away because I didn't let them — until I opened up and began talking. Communication with a wonderful therapist, medication, meditation and talking with close friends helped me put a terrible time in my life behind me.

We live in a time where we want everything to happen in an instant. We have iPhones with email and text message capabilities, we can download a song we like and listen to it immediately, but when it comes to being sick — what depression is — we want to treat it like the common cold and let it run its course thinking it'll go away. It doesn't work like that.

Depression is real. It exists deep in your bones. My advice to those who have similar feelings to what I went through — talk to a counselor. Write a note to your friends about what's going on. Send an email to your mom. Type a Facebook instant message to your sister or brother. On some level, just communicate your feelings. It doesn't matter how, just get the feelings out in a manner with which you feel comfortable. The help is there and getting better takes a lot of time. For me it took about six or seven years to finally come to grips with being in the frame of mind of being OK with life.

And when I was finally OK? I met someone very special to me and we're getting married on the beach in October. I'm beyond fired up about that and I love her a ton. I'm thankful that I have her in my life every single day. I'm also thankful for my rough times too because they made me who I am today. Like everyone, I have regrets; however, those regrets made me learn a valuable lesson — every single person on Earth has his or her own bag of hammers. I'm no different.

Through therapy I learned we're all the same. We just want to be loved.

Allowing those that love you to help you during difficult times is perfectly fine. It's not a bad thing at all and the right thing to do. You can't do everything by yourself.

The thing about about asking for help is: You have to ask. You just have to ask.

Some resources:

•  If you or someone you know is in a behavioral health crisis, call the Metropolitan Crisis Response Team at (504) 826-2675. This team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week in Orleans, Plaquemines, and St. Bernard Parishes. For individuals in crisis in Jefferson Parish, call (504) 832-5123.

•  For residents of other Louisiana parishes, help is available in your area. Here's a list of numbers.

• The National Suicide Prevention help line at 800-273-TALK (8255) will connect you to a trained counselor in your area 24 hours a day. 


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