This is Part 2 of my thoughts on depression. To see the introductory post, check out The Beast – Part 1.
If you’ve come here and you think nobody is listening, click here to skip to the end.
During my Navy time, I spent four years on a missile cruiser. I got to know some of the best guys I ever could know and a lot of that has to do with the fact that when you suffer together and put your lives in each other’s hands, there are bonds made. Being out to sea for months on end with other men, you talk about things. When you’re NOT talking about things with others, there’s plenty of time alone as well. It’s amazing to see God’s creations out there (dolphins jumping, the sunset on the ocean, the sun RISE on the ocean), but as a single man away from friends and family, it can get a bit lonely as well. Although I may have gotten inside my head only slightly in high school, I took long sojourns into my head while out to sea. The time spent floating in the middle of the ocean lends itself to plenty of self-exploration time.
I was extremely frustrated by the lack of quality women I seemed to meet while in the Navy. All I wanted was a nice girl to spend some time with and I just bounced from relationship to relationship with no deep connection to any of them. With the exception of the one girl I nearly killed myself over, I had a difficult time forming any meaningful relationships with women during my time. To be fair to the women, when you’re on a ship whose captain is constantly volunteering for sea duty, it can’t be all that easy to nurture a new relationship either.
One of the other things that stuck with me during my time in the Navy is in the 17 second video clip below that originally aired on television October 26, 1997.
Yes, I’m aware that it’s a comedy clip on The Simpsons but considering the fact that I saw this about the time my ship was in Kosovo and Iraq (circa 1998), it threw me for a loop. As my ship was preparing to launch missiles, all I could think of was the families over there and the fact that someone had posted a letter in one of the common areas on the ship penned by a child living in Kosovo. Written in the most basic English, the gist of the letter was that this child was begging us to not bomb his house. His family, friends, and his pets were all there and he didn’t want us to bomb them. Once again, the self-exploration began. Why was I out there if I was, at my most basic, a pacifist? How could I justify what my ship was doing? As a young man set adrift from family and friends (email was only beginning to make an appearance and it was only every couple of days that we had any contact from the outside world), I was wallowing in my own thoughts and getting carried away by my sentimentality.
Those few words spoken by the fictional comic book nerd spurred me to never sit still and to continually push forward. Up to this point, I’ve done exactly that. Once I got out of the Navy, I went to college. I focused on my coursework and graduated with an overall GPA of 3.87. I don’t say that to toot my own horn, but more to show my focus and drive. I graduated high school with something like a mid-to-high 2 GPA. I didn’t sink any energy (or at least as little as possible) into my high school work. Hindsight is 20/20 right? I wish that I would have spent more energy on my school work, instead of getting barely by.
There are drawbacks to always attempting to move forward, however. In addition to growing up and realizing that you may never actually achieve all you had hoped for, is the fact that there are certain things that are unattainable.
I’ve got to be honest. I’m not at the stage in my career that I thought I would be by now. It’s incredibly frustrating and I’m constantly reminded of how aggravating it can be to have not reached my goal yet. My initial goal, since high school, has been one thing. I’m not in that one thing yet. I’m ALMOST there, I’ve come so close. It still hasn’t happened yet though. I don’t understand why, but I’m relying on God to reveal his plans to me eventually.
Honestly, there are plenty of things to get upset about. Sometimes, good people are taken too early, sometimes THIS happens, sometimes you just don’t understand other people and have a tough time interacting with them. Honestly, sometimes I get the vibe that I just downright annoy people. That bothers me, because I try to make every effort to be genuine in my words and relationships.
It’s not all black clouds, however. There are plenty of things to be happy about. I’m grateful for the simple fact that I do have a job in this jumbled up economy. I’m grateful that I just celebrated a decade of marriage with a beautiful, funny, and loving wife, a loving son, a family who has always been accessible, and some really good friends. I really shouldn’t have any complaints about the folks I surround myself with.
I’ve shared my own experiences with depression in the interests of helping someone out there who may feel alone and that no one may care. Please know that’s not the case. If this is you, there are ALWAYS people out there who are willing to listen to you. There are shoulders to lean on just about everywhere you look. There are suicide hotlines by state, there are multiple sites out there, courtesy of a quick Google search (TakeThisLife and Depression Forums for instance). Maybe even take a look at This post on Art Of Manliness from 2009 regarding male depression. There is help out there and you’re not alone, by any means. If you are at the end of your ability to deal, and none of the above links seem to help, feel free to drop me a line. Email me at crzydjm AT gmail, hit me up on Google Talk (dmiller23462), or send me a message on Twitter @crzydjm.