This isn’t the first time I’ve posted this. In fact, I shared this post probably a little over a year ago when I was going through a rough time. I think most creative people struggle a bit with depression. And before anyone starts trying to define the difference between being depressed and depression, trust me, I know the difference very well. I hear more and more about friends of mine struggling with this, so I thought I would take this old post I wrote for FB and put it here on my website. I’m not embarrassed to say I fight off depression quite often. This isn’t a cry for help. It’s me putting my thoughts to virtual paper, hoping maybe it’ll help someone else realize they are not alone. Most of us just don’t advertise our issues. We keep them bottled up inside and in doing that don’t give ourselves the chance to have someone say, “It’ll be okay. Just hang in there a little longer.” Read this post and you’ll understand a little better. It’s a long one, so bear with me.
Hey guys, this is probably one of the most important posts I’ll ever put on Facebook. It’s a long one so hopefully it’ll even post here. I hope no one is going to stop following me or think me a downer because of its serious tone but if I don’t say this, who will?
I goof around a lot and I try to have a positive attitude every day. You all know that most of my posts revolve around sex and passion and just having a wildly great time. Today I’m going to talk about something a little different and I hope you don’t mind. This is a spin on an article I wrote a long time ago, back before I got into erotica.
The truth is, I’ve seen several of my friends struggle through very difficult situations and I think a certain matter should be discussed. I’m going to be honest today. I try to always be, but today I’m going to talk about something I wouldn’t usually mention. DEPRESSION. I’ve capitalized the word because I’m realizing this subject that I would’ve paid very little attention to in the past, is a silent killer, much more brutal than any violent villain I can create in my mind and put down on paper in my latest novel. Depression is such a ferocious beast that it often comes in the night and takes seemingly happy people, with no warning to family or friends.
Last week, I had a really bad day. Did I really? No, not compared to the day many of you may have had. No family member of mine died. No pet was lost. I didn’t file bankruptcy or get fired from a job. In truth, nothing significant happened to me. Yet, the crushing feeling I felt in my chest and the sense of foreboding that came over me was overwhelming. What was the cause of this? I’m not sure I know. But I think it started with Robin Williams. My kids were watching Aladdin and for a second I forgot that he was dead. I was laughing along with the kids and was thinking how ridiculously funny the guy was.
Before you laugh, or start nodding your head in agreement, let me say that I’m not some super fan of the man. He made me laugh and I enjoyed his films. I get the feeling that he was a special guy and that he may have actually been one of the few genuinely pleasant megastars whether on-screen or off. But I’m not going to start claiming that he changed my life or that the world will be a different place without him. Why? Because the world will keep on going either way. But, his story and his passing are both very sad.
So if I had no personal connection with Robin Williams, why would I claim that he may have been the jump-start of my depression? Again, I’m not sure. I guess I was just thinking, if someone who seemed so happy on film and who lived in such a beautiful house and should have plenty of cash on hand (I did read that he was close to filing bankruptcy), could feel so down that he’d hang himself, no wonder an average Joe like me would feel bad sometimes.
I smile a lot. I laugh a lot. I joke a lot. I love my family so much it hurts sometimes. My writing is typically upbeat. However, underneath all that, deep down inside, I’m realizing I suffer from depression. It’s not there all the time. I wake up and have good days quite often, but then sometimes, out of the blue, I suddenly feel like I can’t breathe. Life seems like an unfair struggle.
The last time it hit me hard, I reached out to one of my younger brothers. We live far apart and have recently started talking more often than we had been the past several years, so I asked him, “Do you ever get depressed?”
He started telling me about the struggles he’s been through lately, battling this horrible threat, and I couldn’t believe we’d never had this discussion before. I asked him if he thought our youngest brother, who always seems happy (and very hyper), was having issues with this and he told me that he’s spoken with him about it in the past. Apparently, both of my brothers have had issues with depression at some point.
Why have we never spoken about this?
That got me thinking. We’re definitely not the only people dealing with this sudden debilitating disease that creeps up out of nowhere. Watching the news and seeing the reports on Robin Williams’ death, made me realize that millions of people are seeing doctors, taking meds, or even spending time in clinics for this very issue. So why does it still feel like such a secret? I’d usually be embarrassed to go online, especially in the social media groups, to say that I’m having a rough day. Most people would I think. Yet, people will post photos of themselves sitting on a toilet. That’s a serious problem, people.
Robin Williams hung himself. This is a man who had millions, maybe billions of fans. If he walked down the street, I’m sure he’d get mobbed by people who love him. He had so many people laughing AT him. When you watch Mrs. Doubtfire, you laugh, right? How about when you see his stand up comedy? Or when you hear his voice while watching Aladdin with your kids. He was a hilarious guy. Yet, this man with so many fans and people laughing at/with him, must have felt like he had very few real friends.
I can identify with that. As a writer, I spend so much of my time telling tales to entertain. I have a lot of readers but I have very few real friends. I’m not saying I don’t have the people I went to school with to write and say, “Hey what’s up, man? How’s your daughter?” I have that.
I have those friends I consider brothers from back in the day, school friends and military buddies. We all do. I have a wife and four kids. I have parents and brothers and cousins. I have a few drinkin’ buddies I rarely go out with. But none of these people I’d call to say, “Dude, I need a shoulder to cry on today.”
Okay, I shouldn’t say none of these people. I talk to my wife about this stuff all the time. She’s my rock. She’s gone through depression herself and has come back strong. She does her best to help me when I’m not myself. The problem though is when I’m truly down in the dumps, I sometimes drag her down with me. And when I pick her up from work, and she hops in the car all bubbly and excited to tell me about great things that happened during her day, I feel miserable spewing all of my mind garbage on her. She doesn’t deserve that.
So here I am again. Feeling a little bit lonely. Writing this, I can’t help but chuckle a little as I imagine everyone reading this, especially the people who’ve never encountered this demon, scoffing and saying, “Grow the hell up you pansy. Cowboy up.”
I was one of those people a few years ago. I’ve been through a lot in my life, had a really rough upbringing, and I’ve become an expert at suppressing bad memories and pushing away negative thoughts. In the past, if something bothered me, I’d just forget about it. Somehow, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become less capable of closing the closet door on these skeletons. And new bones that are difficult to contend with often peek out and say, “Hey you. I’ll bury you, punk.”
I think the term I just used might be the only word that accurately describes depression for what it truly is. A DEMON. Depression is a demon. After experiencing it myself, I can only imagine that it crawled out of the pit of hell and functions only to tear apart and deconstruct all that a person had spent his life building and believing.
Honestly, until you feel that weight, the breathlessness, the sinking feeling, the helplessness, the lack of proper words to put it into context, the immeasurable defeat you feel when encountering this demon, you have no idea how impossible it seems to deal with. And the worst thing about this demon? Oftentimes you feel guilty for feeling this way, like your situation is nowhere near as bad as other people’s’, yet you can’t help it. The wave hits you anyway.
I’m not a crier. I can’t. The tears just won’t come out. The last time depression hit me, I wanted to cry. I wished I could just let loose and bawl like a baby the way I would’ve when I was a kid. I wished I could just pour it all out into my pillow. But I haven’t cried in a long time. I can’t for some reason. And that makes it worse. My wife’s advice was to hit my knees and pray. Not to lie in bed or sit behind the wheel of my car or sulk into my mashed potatoes while saying silent whispers in my head, but to physically get on my knees against my bed and pray.
I did. And it helped. It always does.
It may not solve the problem and it may not immediately relieve all the pressure, but it definitely pokes a whole in the wall and lets it slowly start to leak out. I think just putting my thoughts into words and speaking them to the Lord reminds me that someone is listening. And it also helps to remind me that everything happens for a reason and that God will never put me in a situation I cannot handle.
For any non-religious people, I don’t like to push my beliefs on anyone, but holy shit, to not believe in a higher power, in a possible escape or savior, must really put the cherry on top of this crap cake. Why would someone willingly allow themselves to believe there’s no one or no loving father keeping them out of harm’s way? I can’t even imagine how much more difficult slaying this demon would be without the fiery sword that helps me so much.
Let’s get away from the religious talk for a little while. I wrote this post not to complain and make people feel sorry for me. In fact, I’m having a good day so far. I also didn’t write this to try to convert anyone to Christianity.
I wrote this post because if nothing else, Robin William’s death helped me to realize so many people suffer from this, whether rich or poor, sick or healthy, busy or bored, father or son, wife or husband. We may not speak about it out of fear of losing that manly reputation we’ve built or that strong single mother image we’ve survived on, but it’s real. You feel it. I feel it. You’re not alone.
I remember thinking about suicide as a coward’s way out. I remember shaking my head and wondering how someone could be so selfish. I think, now, after feeling a little bit of this depression myself, I at least understand where someone’s mind is when they wrap a noose around their neck. To someone who feels seriously alone, it must feel like an escape. It must feel like an end to the soul-snatching demon. Would I ever commit suicide? Never.
You may be sick or may be broke or may have lost a loved one or may have just realized you’ve lost custody of your children. You may feel that you’re truly at the end. But when you take your own life, that’s the only time you are truly at an end. There’s no coming back from that. And even though you feel alone, I promise you that you’ve touched someone. Someone will suffer when you’re gone, which means you may then become that crushing feeling that haunts someone else.
I had a friend in high school. His name was Robert. I’ll never claim that we were best friends. We were on the same football team and hung out sometimes, mostly during football-related gatherings. He helped me push my car one time when it broke down in the rain.
Robert was a very skinny guy. He wasn’t necessarily a natural athlete. But this guy worked harder than anyone I’ve ever met. When football practice was finished and we were all exhausted going back to the field house to take off our helmets and pads, Robert would be out at the track, running laps in full gear. Still, he stood on the sideline at every game. He would cheer on the team excitedly, rarely being allowed to step onto the field.
I quit the team one time after having some issues with one of the coaches. Robert saw me in the hallway at school, stopped me, and all I remember from the conversation was Robert saying to me, “If you quit now, you’ll be a quitter all your life.”
I rejoined the team the next day. At the time I probably wouldn’t have admitted that Robert had such an influence on that decision, but come on. He absolutely did.
Robert died that year. He was practicing for a triathlon and was hit by a car while riding his bike. At his funeral, I met his parents for the first time. His mom hugged me and said she was so happy to meet me. She said that Robert always looked up to me. Wow, when I started writing this, I didn’t realize how much it would bother me. I’m telling you the story about Robert for two reasons. The first is his quote to me that day, “If you quit now, you’ll be a quitter for the rest of your life.” I know if Robert were here, he’d fight through this ridiculous demon and keep going. There’s no way he’d quit.
Second, I bet if you asked Robert 17 years ago if he thought he’d have an impact on someone’s life…if you asked him if he were to die right then, who would remember him nearly 20 years later, I doubt he’d say me.
He was probably like everyone else who believes if they’re gone no one will care. But to this day I think about Robert. Not every day. It would be ridiculous to say that Robert is the angel on my shoulder or that I wear a bracelet that reads WWRD. But I swear to you, at very random times, I think about the guy. He was special. You’re special to someone too. I promise you that. You may not even know it.
It could be the person whose groceries you bag at the supermarket and you always say hello to. It could be the person you teach in a classroom, who wouldn’t understand the difference between “its” and “it’s” without your guidance. It could be a cousin who is going through relationship struggles and thinks of your lasting marriage as a model for what he or she would like to build. Someone out there thinks about you, maybe not all day long, but at least from time to time.
Hell, I think about a lot of you just from the random, funny posts you post on Facebook. Some of them crack me up and brighten my day.
I challenge you, everyone out there dealing with this demon called depression, to give it a little more time. You will get through this. And worst case scenario, instead of giving up, do something drastic. Maybe you’re miserable living in Ft. Pierce, Florida, dealing with financial struggles. You feel like you have no one. Save up a few paychecks and bail. Go to a cheaper town someplace and rent a room from someone while you discover a new way of life.
If your job is truly making you miserable. To the point where you’re considering taking your own life, do something crazy. Quit. YOU’RE THINKING OF KILLING YOURSELF. That’s crazier than any other decision you might make. I’m not saying leave town or quit your job without a plan. But if you’re seriously sitting on the couch, watching Youtube videos on how to tie a correct noose, maybe you should consider something else a little wacky rather than the ultimate in insanity.
Take an unplanned vacation, leave your desk job to help carry metal beams on a construction site, get a dog, write a book or start a blog (both can be free and very therapeutic), leave your luxury apartment and rent a freakin’ trailer. Do whatever you have to do to live another day. And for fuck’s sake. Put down the noose!
That’s all I have to say for today. Thanks so much for reading.
Chris (C.C.) Genovese
P.S. that was long and it was written over a year ago, but it still holds true today. Everything in it fits with what’s going on in many of our lives right now. So keep holding on. The last time I posted this I got a lot of comments, people sharing their stories. Please know that each and every story you post means the world to me. I can’t reply to them all because there are just too many stories like mine and I just can’t keep up with them, but someone else might read your story and benefit from them, so please share (and don’t be mad at me if I don’t reply to each comment, either here or on FB).