The Beast – Part 1

male_depressionErnest Hemingway couldn’t beat it and it eventually got the better of him. Winston Churchill referred to it as his “black dog”. Abraham Lincoln referred to himself once as “the most miserable man living”. Mark Twain said “Everyone is a moon and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.” Teddy Roosevelt lost his mother and wife on the same day, sending him into a deep depression. Charles Schulz, the creator of Snoopy, was unhappy for the extent of his adult life.

There have been countless people through the centuries who have suffered from an overwhelming sense of sadness, some of whom suffered before any type of analysis was available. Depression is an ugly beast that more people, men AND women, suffer from that would admit. Unfortunately, I’m one of those folks. It has taken me a good long while to really admit it, to be honest. As I would consider myself a chronic self-diagnosis machine (that’s what WebMD is for right?), all signs seem to point that way. There seems to be some sort of stigma among men that to show weakness and admit that we actually get down on ourselves sometimes is unmanly. I’m here to tell you that it’s not necessarily so. I’m publicly stating that I continue to wrestle with this and I hope that maybe talking about it will help some other guy out there to mention it to someone, perhaps before it’s too late.

A few statistics, courtesy of The Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

  • Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older (18% of U.S. population).
  • Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment.
  • Anxiety disorders cost the U.S. more than $42 billion a year, almost one-third of the country’s $148 billion total mental health bill, according to “The Economic Burden of Anxiety Disorders,” a study commissioned by ADAA (The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 60(7), July 1999).

A few more statistics from this report on Everydayhealth.com (attributed to the CDC) tells us that roughly 9 percent of adult Americans suffer from feelings that can lead to depression, and roughly 3 percent are languishing in a deep depression at any given time. As the rest of the world sits, it would appear to affect 5 percent of our entire planet’s population. Another interesting fact, that makes this post all the more time critical for us men, is that although women have higher rates of depression, they will go seek help for their issues while men will self-medicate with mood-altering substances. The drawback to these mood-altering drugs and alcohol “medications”? The fact that they have the chance to turn a man’s head sideways and lead him to believe all sorts of silly ideas, some of which may be acted on.

In my own case, I’m not necessarily a sulking-all-day-long depressive and I hope it doesn’t come across as that to those that know me, but my “beast” comes and goes. If I spend too much time inside my own head, I can get a little too deep for my own good. I spend too much time thinking about things sometimes. Plain and simple. As an aspiring writer, it can be a necessary evil at times. In order to come up with something good to write, you HAVE to spend time inside your head.

I’ll discuss more in detail some of the incidents in my life that have carved me into the person I have become on my next post.

UPDATED TO LINK TO PART TWO HERE —> The Beast Part 2

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