I remember it like it was yesterday, I walked into the pharmacy, and yes, I actually thought about wearing one of those fake mustache glasses combo things just so no one would recognize me. I was so afraid of people finding out that I was picking up a prescription for antidepressants.
I paid for my new super pills, the pills that I thought were going to save the day and make all my pain and suffering all go away. They didn’t by the way, they actually made things much worse, but that’s another story for another day.
The antidepressant I was prescribed was called Paxil. I have never been a big fan of taking medication or pills so I had no idea what to expect. I was promised that it would help, and it was the right thing to do, so I was all for it.
As I walked home from the pharmacy, I remember thinking that I was saved and this pain and suffering would soon be over. How naive was I?
This is actually the problem with most people, myself included back then. People think a pill or some type of quick fix is going to save them. It can help, but looking back it wasn’t the answer I was looking for.
As I walked home with my new pills, I felt such a giant sense of relief. I was so excited for my symptoms to go away and to go back to being “normal”. I thought to myself that in a matter of weeks this will all be over.
The first thing I would do every morning as soon as I opened my eyes, and was aware that I was awake, is I would check in with myself and see if the “depression” had gone away. Unfortunately it never had, there it was, right where I left it.
I took my pill first thing in the morning, every morning. I was deathly scared of missing a dose or a day, because one day missed would mean one more day I would have to deal with this never ending pain.
I was never so consistent with anything in my life.
I didn’t know much about depression or anxiety and how it worked. So I held onto a lot of hope that maybe it wasn’t as bad as the doctor and online forums claimed it would be. I thought that I was stronger and that I could fight this off faster than others.
Knowing what I know now, trying to be strong and fight against all these feelings was one of the worst things I could do. The more I fought my anxiety and depression the worse it got.
Only when I truly decided to let go and tell myself; this is what it is, did it the pain start to subside.This was one of my many strategies and techniques I learned over time.
I would tell myself over and over; this is how I feel today, and yes this isn’t how I want to feel for the rest of my life or even for the next 10 seconds for that matter. But it is what it is.
I remember talking to my mom on skype one day. In the midst of all my tears I could hear how hard this was for her. Being a father now myself, I couldn’t even imagine the impact this must have had on her. Her son was thousands of miles away, struggling to hang on, and there was nothing she could do.
But during this call she gave me some advice I’ll never forget and still cherish to this day.
She said; “Matty, I’ll tell you what, I’ve been there and I know how hard this is, the only advice I can give you is to just keep going. When things seem impossible, just take one foot and put in front of the other and just keep going.”
I love my mom with all of my heart, but she is by no means a motivational speaker, but this advice she gave me that day meant everything to me.
From then on, no matter what I was going through, be it my legs feeling so weak I thought I would pass out during warm ups, or my heart beating so loud during the coaches pregame speech, I thought it would explode.
Or my anxiety being so bad that having a panic attack mid game wasn’t out of the question, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and kept going.
You can read every book, meditate for hours a day, eat as healthy as you’d like, but if you can’t get yourself up and keep yourself moving during the darkest of times, you won’t have a chance. You have to find a reason to keep going. This can be the hardest part for someone who is dealing with depression.
When I was going through these hard times, my main focus everyday was just to get through it, to just fucking survive… All I wanted to do was to get home and get back to my bed.
Every day that I made it back to my bed was a good day in my books. I survived. I can sleep. I can recover and tomorrow might be the day this all goes away.
It is hard to imagine how I felt back then, but there were sooooooo many days that I didn’t think I was going to make it back to my bed. So many days I didn’t think I would survive.
Going to sleep was easily the best part of my day, it gave me a chance to escape and not be in pain even if was just for a short period of time. And that, to anyone who has ever dealt with depression, is a feeling you just can’t describe.
“You never know what tomorrow brings” is a powerful saying and one that I held on to as tightly as I could.
Because you know what, one day, after years of work and years of struggle tomorrow did bring a brighter day for me.
And tomorrow can bring a brighter day for anyone out there who is struggling, but you have to keep going, you have to keep fighting and you have to believe that you can get through this, regardless of what anyone says, including yourself.