Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What Depression Is

In the end, your heart is the thing that takes you.

I’m about to put myself out there—like Star Trek out there—because right now I need the one escape that always seems to bring me back. When everything becomes overwhelming and blindingly consequential, you lose track of the ground, and everyone needs his or her own gravity.
Writing is gravity in my world. Family is hope, friends are direction, but finding truth in words is what keeps me on the ground.

So here goes. I hope when you’ve finished reading this, whether friend, family or otherwise, you find some value in my sharing what I cannot overstress my hesitancy in doing so.

After my last trip to an MS specialist, we went over some things that don’t fit neatly into our testing. It’s always important at a doctor that you explain what you are experiencing and how you are dealing with it. This started us down a path on depression.

(If you need background information on my condition and how we got to this point, I would suggest starting at the beginning.)

Depression is the least logical thing I can imagine. It takes over the physical by existing only in the mental. As of the typing of this, in an effort to find the ground again, I am crawling out of my skin. I sent an email to a coworker that said I wanted to kill myself. I’m matter of fact about this, though, in honesty, at the present time it’s true.

Like I said, depression isn’t logical. It’s also not entirely sadness, which is where I think a lot of people can get confused and misdiagnose the severity of depression in different ways. If I were merely sad, even crying for no reason sad (which already happened tonight), I could throw on some magically emotional music like Cinematic Orchestra and get a shitload of writing done. Sadness is useful, even productive.

This is different.

This is drowning.

Actually, let’s run with that metaphor for a moment. Imagine that you’ve been knocked overboard into the deep and vast ocean. You sink for minutes, thrashing against the current, but it keeps pulling you further and further toward the bottom. Given the most basic physical and mental response, at some point any human being will have a moment where they give up and allow the water to take them.
That can be what severe depression feels like. It’s awful. By all logical measures, I should be the happiest person on Earth. I have a great job, working with people I love. I have the most loving family that is probably crashing into every motor vehicle on the highway in an effort to drive over to my house upon reading this. I have great friends, I travel a lot; my life for all intents and purposes is what you could call “privileged.”

Now, the last year hasn’t been the easiest. I’ve been told there is something I am probably also going through that is called “symptom fatigue” where the mental toll can begin to add up on top of whatever mental fabrications you’re already dealing with.

It’s all adding up, and unlike a normal panic attack, it can just keep compounding until there is just nowhere else for it to go. I say all of this, full knowing how cogent and reasonable I sound right now. I thank science above for giving me the faculties to call shenanigans on this Kaiser Soze bullshit my brain is trying to pull on me right now. But there it is, my heart thumping at a thousand miles an hour, weighing on me in the purely physical to try and take me down.

Depression, that’s some next level shit.

So, my gravity for tonight will be to share this. I know in the morning, all will be well, because ALL. IS. TRULY. WELL.

But right now, my body doesn’t believe it.

A lot of people don’t ask for help when things get like this. I almost didn’t. If I hadn’t reached out to a friend tonight (bearing in mind that I still don’t have a phone, so for those of you frantically dialing, you’re going to get a confused thief of a cabbie in Los Angeles), I think we could be having a different conversation.

But logic prevailed and even though I didn’t want him to. I called Chris Faylor (community manager at Gearbox) to come over and just sit with me until I calmed down.

This has helped. Writing this down. How you will react when I share this on the internet, remains to be seen. I hope we can just look at it as another piece of scientific evidence on the elusive mysteries of the human brain—a brain that has seen its share of stresses in between writing pretty words and making silly accents about the catching of various rides.

(Getchu one.)

I hope to see you all back on the ground.

-Mikey Neumann

PS. Chris Faylor is the mega hero because he brought over four McRibs. FOUR. MCRIBS.

PPS. Again, my phone will not be reactivated until tomorrow. Hell, just walk in the front door, you’ll find Chris and myself eating McRibs on the couch. I could use the hug anyway.


  1. My fiancee suffers from depression and anxiety something fierce. It also runs in my family with my brothers and mom. All of this sounds so familiar to what they go through sometimes.

    It sucks when you care about somebody struggling with depression. You can sit and both of you talk logically about how awesome things really are in life, but because of things in the brain and chemical imbalances it won't feel that way to them.

    But it's wonderful that you have such devoted family members, friends, and coworkers. I hope you get through this with their help!

  2. I'm glad you are cognizant enough to be able to turn towards things and people who can help you. I'm equally glad that you are so open with your experiences. There are many things in people's lives I do not understand, and straight up talk like this helps me understand not only what you are experiencing, but it helps me gain an iota of clarity in regards to what others around me are experiencing.

    So, like thanks. For what it's worth, yo.

  3. MS has this nasty habit of causing as many mental/emotional problems as it does physical ones. I've seen this happen before, with my own mother. With MS came this same kind of depression you describe. Seemingly inexorable and unending. I know that there is not one thing I can say to you that could matter more than the words of your family.

    As odd as this may sound, I have a list of 15 people that I consider to be inspirations. Heroes. People like Spielberg, Asimov, Dickens. And you. I put you on that list for a reason. Consistently funny, entertaining, insightful, diagnosed with an illness I've seen firsthand nearly destroy a person I care for very much and continuing on only better than before. If that doesn't make you a hero to a young writer like me, I don't know what does.

    You have support at home. And here, far as bloody hell away from you as possible.

    - Rick Donaldson

  4. I was diagnosed with depression as a child as a result of a sleep disorder, and was most recently diagnosed with bipolar 2. I sympathize completely with you and hope with all my soul that those who love you can understand, and even if they don't, will still help you in any way they can.

    I must disagree with one thing you said, that depression is illogical because it's a mental disorder that affects the physical body. Remember that the brain controls the body's every function. That was an epiphany for me. It didn't make it better, it just made my physical ailments makes more sense, to have a sort of unifying theory of misery.

    Sadly, we are legion, and finding the right treatments, ones that help without all but killing us with side effects, is like fighting a land war in Asia. I'm still searching for that Holy Grail.

    Again, I really, sincerely wish you healing all the time, and hope when your disease(s) won't let you.

    - Kathy Hassinger

  5. I know we aren't besties or anything but if I were a praying man, you would be in them. You're not alone. I live minutes away. I am also a counselor...who plays board games that are entirely too complicated for normal people. Just like before, if you ever need someone to talk to or just hang with, I'm here. You can do this. We all know you can.

  6. +1 Queen of Sword, think of it as a chemical imbalance and accept you will feel down, the same way you can't fight getting old forever; instead pay attention at how you feel when you're fine/yourself, that way you can recall the memory when you're not quite yourself later, it can help putting some distance between your immediate feelings and the bigger picture.

    Other than that, big hug from the other side of the planet :-)

  7. Mikey,

    While I don't know you and you don't know me, I feel like we've been friends a long time after reading these posts. Thank you for providing some insight into what people are going through. While I can't relate to what you're going through, I want to seriously wish you all the best and that you're able to kick this thing right in the jaw.

    Virtual Hug man, stay strong,


  8. Hey Mikey.

    I've been struggling with depression myself, and I'm currently undergoing therapy for it. You don't know me, and I don't know you, but if you ever want to just talk, drop me a line. Twitter (@varewulf), email (varewulf at yahoo dot com), Skype (Varewulf) or whatever. You probably have others you turn to, but should you ever need it, I'll be there.


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  11. I was deeply depressed for two years. I attempted suicide. Yes, i did. It didn't work out. I was about to try again, when somehow my family came to know that i was attempting suicide and stopped me. They took me to a psychiatrist. We talked for weeks. He gave some pills. He said that these pills will help reduce my depression and that slowly after a lot of counselling sessions with him i would be cured. He said that in six months' time i would be able to be cured of this depression.
    Unfortunately the pills also made things worse. Because of my depression i alreayd couldn't sleep during the night. And i kept awake in the night and slept in the morning. The pills made it worse.They made me dizzy in the night and didn't let me sleep have any peace during the night. So i stopped taking the pills. Anyway, the counselling sessions were working , i was feeling better. But it just didnt have a long term effect. I knew that the change had to come from me. In order to get rid of depression, there needed to be a change in the mental state of the mind. I need to be able to make peace with how things were.
    Essentially the psychiatric visits weren't working and i was still planning another suicide attempt. You see !
    Even after all the counselling, the mind is going to be the mind. It's like a monkey, and keeps jumping around, all crazy like.
    The pills and counselling weren't helping change the mindset that had crept into me.
    My family members were religious and i also used to be a religious person. I gave it a shot. What could i lose ? I had nothing to lose.
    Not one thing had helped reduce my depression so far. How bad could it be to try this ? My parents took me on a pilgrimage.
    After i returned from the pilgrimage i started taking interest in the scriptures. I started reading about my religion. I got curious.
    What does my religion have to say about life ? Could there be an answer to the condition of humans in the world in the scriptures?
    Could the scriptures help solve the problems which doctors couldn't solve and my friends or family couldn't help with ?
    I found that the scripture were not silly. They were rational. They made sense. They explained how humans suffer in this world and gave a solution to come out of the suffering. I gave it a shot. I followed the principles lad out in the books. I got a job for a while and practised these principles.
    Over the period of 3-4 months my depression started to reduce and i could be much more happier. Yes, it is the truth. It started to be much easier to live in this world. Just daily living was more bearable. Remember, i took to suicide because i had had enough with life. Why was i depressed ? It's best to leave that for some other time.

    The point i am trying to make is this: I have been able to live much happier and in peace after i started becoming a bit more religious.

    I suggest to everyone who suffers from depression: Try to visit a temple of worship. How bad could it be ? If visting a temple or doing other activities accpeted in your religion, helps you be happy and peaceful, then can it be so bad ?
    All i am saying is give it a decent shot. It basically saved my life and helped me become happy.

  12. I was pulled back from an attempt at suicide by the thought of my loving and caring family. I decided to give my life one more chance and visited a psychiatrist. With the help of the medicine he prescribed me, Seroquel Generic , I have successfully overcome the state of depression and am now living a happy life.

  13. I would like to recommend buy Lexapro to all patients who experience the symptoms of depression. I am using this medicine since 4 months. It has helped me a lot in getting rid of those troubling symptoms. and now i am happy with my family.

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  15. I have a cousin who is depressed and goes to counseling for his problems. It is still really hard for him and what he has gone through. But I am grateful he goes through counseling for help.

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  19. As someone that had a near drowning experience as a kid, I totally agree with your comparison of depression to drowning. It's a pretty spot on description. I've been describing it in a similar way like having fallen down a well with dark slippery walls. Drowning is a more tangible and relatable visual than anything I've heard for those that haven't been through depression themselves to grasp how different it is from just having the blues.

    Also I always enjoy seeing your calls on Desert Bus for Hope, bought some Boarderlands games a few weeks ago to play with my boyfriend and was just now watching Video Games: The Movie and your contribution to it which brought me here on a whim of interest.

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