Posted on: August 18, 2008 6:11 am

I Hid The Guns

I hid the guns. It wouldn’t have been the first time I’ve had done that, but this time, they’re not coming out from the spot where I’ve hidden them. That was three months ago. Of course, there have been a few times since then that he asked me to allow him to give up, and of course, I never give my permission, but try to keep giving him hope.

Fifteen years ago, I never thought I would be in this position. Fifteen years ago, I was consoling the husband of a friend who was found hanging from a ceiling fixture. Fifteen years ago, I was consoling a friend whose boyfriend blew his brains out on her doorstep. Yes, fifteen years ago, I lost two friends to suicide. I knew they were down, but never suspected the depth of, what I discovered on those days, their depression. Of course, I didn’t live with them, that’s the thing. I only got to see their “public” side. The persona of happiness that they showed, or faked, when they were in public.

So when I met and married my husband, I thought that I would never be put into that situation. After all, he was strong, he was passionate, he stuck by his convictions. There would be no way that a person like him would ever succumb to this, right? He is one never to back down from a fight, and was always fighting for what was right.

It wasn’t too long ago, five years maybe, that I started seeing the signs. For the most part, he pulled himself out of them, able to look towards the next day. Then one day, I found him, sitting in the bedroom, in the dark. He was playing Pink Floyd, over and over, as he sat on the floor. One of the guns, sitting on the nightstand, out of it’s holster. It was the day the doctor told him to consider his days of being what he was over. I took the gun and put it away. We got him the surgery, and for awhile, it was okay…at least I thought it was.

He healed, but as he did, the money in the savings began dwindling. Eventually, he was contacted for a job. Doing bomb clearance in Iraq. Despite the danger, I didn’t try to beg him not to go. I knew he had to go there to prove he was still the man he was, for himself. What I didn’t realize was the “death wish” he had when he went over there. However, when it came down to it, all he could think of was getting back to me, to us.

It was fine for awhile. There was money in savings again, so the times weren’t so bad. But as he was watching the money go down and no responses to his resumes, it started going downhill again. He tried to hide it from me, tried not to make me worried. All he wanted to do was provide for me, for us, in a job he can be proud of. Then he started believing that twenty years of experience down the drain.

Then came the morning I woke up, he took his pills, not just one or two. They were his morphine pills. That should have killed him, but that didn’t. After that, we sought help. Of course, they put him on meds. The Effexor’s helped a bit, only because they suppressed the emotions. Unfortunately, they suppressed all emotions. He often complained he couldn’t “feel” anything. And even though he couldn’t “feel”, he still thought of suicide from time to time. Then there were the headaches. Very painful headaches. There’s a hole in the bedroom wall where he was banging his head against it, during one of those episodes.

Eventually we got his meds switched out. The Lexapro’s are a little better, at least no headaches. He still can’t “feel”, he complains that he walks in a fog while he’s on them. It effects other things too. Of course, this becomes a vicious cycle in itself.

There are triggers. Most times he’s able to pull himself out of the moods when they start, then there are times he can’t. I try to remain upbeat and positive. Thankfully, he doesn’t remember the times when the darkness completely sets in, because then, he doesn’t see me crying because there’s nothing I can do except hold him and whisper words of encouragement.

It’s not easy living with someone with chronic depression. In fact, a lot of marriages fail because of it. Too many times I’ve had to reassure him that I wouldn’t be better off with someone else. Too many times I’ve had to remind him that if he weren’t around, I’d get a dog. I’ve often wonder, does he look at me and only see regrets. For now he promised that he wouldn’t kill himself because he knows that I would be devastated. Yet, will he remember that promise when the darkness pushes through again.

Most days are fine for the most part, yet, there’s always the knowledge that there will be a dark day, and there will be demons to battle.

Last night I fell asleep on the couch. I woke up to find my husband shaking his butt over me, dancing. It’s the simple things that make him happy and having one of his blogs moved to the front page of the site made him very happy. So we’ll have another good day, but there’s always the knowledge that there will come another.

I write this, not to solicit sympathy but to perhaps provide information.

According to the National Institute for Mental Health, it is estimated that at any given period 12 percent of women and 7 percent of men in the United States suffer from some form of depression. My husband is one of six million men who has been diagnosed.

For everyone that has been diagnosed with chronic depression, there are loved ones who affected by it also. Depression doesn’t just affect the individual but also their loved ones. If you, or someone you know, lives with someone who suffers depression, my advice is to learn everything that you can on depression, it’s symptoms and the best ways to help the one suffering from depression get help.

Source: Men and Depression, National Institute for Mental Health
Posted on: March 5, 2008 8:29 pm

My Favorite Yoga Positions...

otherwise titled ... Stressed out? You're not alone

In a CBS 60 Minute interview with Steve Kroft, with Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady, that originally aired November 6th, 2005 and was updated for December 23, 2007, Brady admitted he hated to lose and took it out on backgammon boards. 

One of your teammates said, "If you walk into a room, and you see backgammon chips scattered all over the floor and the table overturned, they know that you've been there, and probably lost," Kroft tells Brady.

"Yeah. Probably. I'm a pretty good winner. I'm a terrible loser. And I rub it in pretty good when I win. But as soon as I lose, those backgammon sets, I broke more backgammon sets," Brady says. "I've dropped elbows on 'em. I don't know. It's like I wish I had a punching bag nearby sometimes."

Needless to say, when Tom Brady loses, he tends to get a bit stressed out.  I'm pretty sure that's not the only time Brady experiences stress.  In fact, we all experience stress at one time or another.  Some of it good and productive, others bad and destructive.  According to the American Institute of Stress, there's no one agreed upon definition of stress, due to the subjectiveness of what an individual would consider stress.  What may be stressful for one person, may be pleasant for another.  However, the Mayo Clinic, refers to stress as the bodies response to a perceived physical or psychological threats. 

Although short term stress, may be beneficial and allow us to be productive, long term stress can be harmful and potentially deadly.  Often termed as bad stress, we could see the effects of it in our immune system, digestive system, cardiovascular system and nervous system, as well as others.  Long term stress can lead to "obesity, insomnia, digestive problems, heart disease, depression, memory impairment, physical illnesses and other complications" (1) to include heart attack, stroke and possible cancer (2).

Not everyone experiences or responds to stress in the same way.  Nor are the levels of "stress" the same.  Where some may experience short term, others may experience longer, more chronic stress.  Symptoms of stress may include but are not limited to (3):

  •  Frequent headaches, jaw clenching or pain
  • Neck ache, backpain, muscle spasms
  • Frequent colds, infections, herpes sores
  • Increase anger, frustration,  hostility
  • Depression, frequent or wild mood swings
  • Insomnia, nightmares,  disturbing dreams
  • Constant tiredness, weakness, fatigue

As stated before, short term stress can be healthy and productive.  However, long term stress should not be ignored, and additional help may be necessary to help manage the stress and counteract it's negative effects on the body.  Sometimes counseling or learning stress management techniques to reduce stress are effective in helping to balance and offset the body's reaction to stress.  Stress reducers like aerobic exercise, yoga, meditation, aromatherapy, breathing techniques, and even laughter can alleviate alot of stress that builds up (4).

I know first hand how stress can disrupt a life.  Given that I'm a competitive, career driven person who tends to take on too much at work.  Add the every day factors of paying bills, managing a budget, raising a child. Now compound on that the fact that I'm providing emotional support for a spouse who's receiving counseling for chronic depression and that adds a whole new set of stress factors on me, I'm surprised that my blood pressure is within normal ranges, that I haven't had a heart attack or a stroke as of yet. 

I've had to learn over the past years, months and weeks how to manage my stress.  To identify breaking points and incorporating methods to help reduce the build up.  Some of the things that I've found that have helped me reduce the stress are my daily Tae Bo workouts, meditation and yoga combined, candles, keeping a journal and lots of laughter.  Often times I use what I call diversion therapy (moving focus from the negative and focusing on something positive)  when it seems more then I can handle (aka escapism).  Some of the diversions that I use is blogging, gardening or craftwork.  Also a nice relaxing bath and lovemaking helps reduce the level of stress also.  Oh and there's always chocolate.

If you're finding that you're under, what seems an increasing amount of stress and seem to be catching colds more often then night, you may want to examine the amount of stress in your life and think about ways that you can offset or reduce it.  For your sake, the sake of your health and the sake and sanity of your family.




(1)Stress: Unhealthy Response to the Pressures of Life, Mayo Clinic, September 12, 2006.

(2) Stress System Malfunction Could Lead to Serious , Life Threatening Disease, National Institute of Health (NIH), press release, dated September 9, 2002.

(3) Effects of Stress, American Institute of Stress

(4) Stress Reduction, Stress Relievers, American Institute of Stress

Additional Resource:

Stress, Medline Plus

Category: General
Posted on: February 7, 2008 6:29 am

In all seriousness, feeling down?

Right now, thousands of Patriots fans are still probably feeling a little low over Sundays loss to the New York Giants in Superbowl XLII.  I can only imagine the pain and disappointment among the players and the team as a whole.  Most, at the end of the day, found support with their wives, girlfriends and family, to help ease the, if just a little, the sadness that they were feeling.  No, I'm not going to make a vicious dig on the Patriots and/or their fans in this blog, follow me, but beware, this may be lengthy.

I've often commented on the NFL board that I blog elsewhere.  Issues that I blog about, politics, veterans issues, women's issues, I don't and you will never see me bring those issues here.  However, there is another issue that I blog on, and this one I will talk openly here about it. 

In 2003, former Pittsburgh Steeler and Hall of Fame Quarterback, Terry Bradshaw, opened himself up to the public by admitting that he suffers from clinical depression, and had since he was a teenager.  Since then, he's been making appearances and talking openly, urging others to seek the help that he had put off getting for so long(1). 

Bradshaws not alone.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 10.9 million Americans aged 18 and older are affected by dysthymia (2), otherwise known as chronic depression.  Symptoms of chronic depression may include:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Loss of interest or the ability to enjoy oneself
  • Excessive feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Loss of energy or fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating, thinking or making decisions
  • Changes in appetite
  • Observable mental and physical sluggishness
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

According to Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), symptoms of depression in males manifest themselves differently then it does in women.  “Rather than becoming sad, men may be irritable or tremendously fatigued. There’s a sense of being dead inside, of worthlessness, hopelessness, helplessness. Men lose their vitality, their life force.” Physical symptoms such as headaches, pain and insomnia are common, as are attempts to “self-medicate” with alcohol or drugs.(3).

Reality is that we all feel sad from time to time.  A death in the family member or friend, the loss of our team in the big game.  It's when that sadness last longer then two weeks that we may need to think about looking outside ourselves for help.  That's a hard thing to do, admitting that we have a weakness, a mental weakness, especially in men.  Because of the masculinity issue, men are less likely to seek out help then women.  Depressed men are two to four times more likely to take their own lives than depressed women. The relentless agony of depression may make suicide seem the only way out. (3).

I'm sure you're getting an idea of where I am going on this.  The love of my life counts as one of those 10.9 million people who suffer from chronic depression.  The depression was brought about when a back injury took away his ability to continue to be a police officer or a bomb technician.  Hitting wall after wall in being told he wasn't qualified or certified for other work and a failed business.  I watched him spiral into a dark place that I don't wish on anyone.  It was when he hit rock bottom, and saw no other choice then death as the only option that he finally agreed to get help. Through it all, I supported him, prayed for him, held him.  With the help that he's receiving, he's having more good days then bad ones.  They still occur though.  Most of the bad days aren't as bad as they were, and we're able to work through those days together.

If you have been experiencing feelings of sadness or feelings of depression for more then two weeks, please, think about talking to someone about them.  If you have a loved one that you may think is suffering from depression, continue to support them but encourage them to get help.  As the commercial says, depression effects everyone around you.  I know this to be too true.

Source 1 "Football Hero Terry Bradshaw Talks Out About Panic and Depression" - http://panicdisorder.about.com/b/20

Source 2: WebMD Chronic Depression - http://www.webmd.com/depression/gui

Source 3: "Too Tough To Seek Help" , Parade Magazine, June 2004 - http://www.parade.com/articles/edit

Category: General
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com