I’m supposed to write a blog post every week. Hannah, my Marketing Director, tells me so. And as I type those words, I have to ask myself, “When the hell did I get a Marketing Director?”

And then, I remember… oh, yeah. 7th Sea.

However, for the last five days, I’ve been in a deep depression. Like, struggle to get out of bed kinda depression. As in, my brain chemistry is so bad, when I stumbled across the Try Anything video from Zootopia, I started to cry. I didn’t even hit “play.” I just started to cry.

Okay. Time to visit the doctor for my meds.

I’ve suffered from clinical depression all my life. When I was a teenager, my life was awful. I had moved to Georgia with my family and was terrorized by bullies who knew how to make every day a living hell. I was small, geeky and from a state above the Mason Dixon line. That made me the perfect candidate for bullying. At school, none of the teachers were on my side. The kids all lied and covered for the bullies. The teachers, too. I tried suicide twice. Not cries for help, but legit suicide attempts. I had to be taken to the hospital. It wasn’t a good place to be.

Put on top of that a condition in my head that makes even the sunniest day look bleak. I didn’t need a reason to try suicide, I needed to find reasons not to. Every day was a struggle to find reasons not to just jump off a bridge. When I got a driver’s license, I was terrified. Now, I could just be driving down the road and my dark mood could take over. “Fuck it,” I’d say and twist the wheel into oncoming traffic.

Medications in the mid-80’s were awful. I was heavily medicated and while I no longer had thoughts of killing myself—most of the time—I felt slow and stupid. Without medication, I could read a Stephen King novel in an afternoon. On medication, I couldn’t read two pages without falling asleep. My school work suffered. A life-long A student, I was getting C’s and D’s. I couldn’t study. But at least I wasn’t trying to find ways to stay alive.

After a while, I stopped taking the medication. I couldn’t deal with it. I’d spent my life figuring out ways to keep myself alive, but I couldn’t live with the person I’d become while medicated. A therapist introduced me to cognitive therapy, changing the way I was thinking. I studied Buddhist meditation and discovered zen. And I played drums. A whole helluva lot of playing drums. My depression manifests as self-destruction. Hitting my drums as hard and fast as I could was a great substitute. It drove my parents insane, but it kept me alive.

All this week, I was supposed to turn in a blog post to Hannah. I kept putting it off, putting it off, putting it off. I was working on the Jaragua chapter for Pirate Nations and it was all I could do to just focus on that. And I was getting out of bed later and later…

So, it’s time to go back on medication for a while. This happens a few times a year. The medications are so much better now than they used to be. I don’t feel fatigued or like my head is full of cotton. I can focus and maintain my concentration. And I don’t feel like getting in my car, driving out to the freeway, and twisting the wheel into traffic.

For those of you who also suffer from depression but are afraid of medication, I understand. My experiences with antidepressants when I was younger kept me from trying the new ones. Let me assure you, human beings have made great progress in pharmacology over the last twenty years. And if you need them, you should get them. They help me. No matter what Tom Cruise might say.

Depression is an illness. Just like having a cold, just like measles, just like getting the flu. It’s a chemical imbalance. That’s all it is. You aren’t a bad person. You aren’t weak. Just like sickle cell anemia. Just like cancer. Nobody’s ashamed when they catch the flu. Nobody’s ashamed when they get a cold. It’s the same goddamn thing.

A Candid Post About Depression

11 thoughts on “A Candid Post About Depression

  • Fuckin a, man. As someone in the same shitty depressed-ass boat, I appreciate the candor. My pills keep me alive, frankly, and it’d be nice not to feel judged by society at large because I take them. My boss once told me to “man up and dral with it”, and it made me realize just how clueless most folks are. Anyway, keep it up, man! We’re all cheering for ya, with big hearty pirate ‘arrrrrs’ 😉

  • Tom Cruise is a dick, and plus, who gives a shit what anyone from Hollyweird says? You know you and you are the decision maker for what happens to you, John. I gotta tell ya, the world is a helluva lot better and more “piratey” with you in it.
    Hang in there and do you. Nobody does it better! If all else fails, a barrel gut, huge Crab Clan Bushi is always there to tetsubo the frack outta whatever gets in front of you.

    Take care, bro

    Danny

  • Thanks for sharing something so personal John. I can sympathize, with your feelings – I think its time for me to refill my brain pills too and I’ve been putting it off. You marketing directory is right keep up the awesome blogs.

  • John you are a hero. You really have made the world a bit brighter for being in it. You’ve touched a lot of people, myself included. My 6 year old niece loves the “Mr Monster game” (the one you invented for children where character creation is a series of pictures. You told me about it at a con and I didn’t know what else to call it) You have a real talent for reaching out and touching people right in the feelings and we love you for it John.

  • This is very powerful and honest post. It takes a lot of courage to write that. I admire that. You are a very important person to me, I love you for your work and personal beliefs. I wish you all the best and cheer for you to get better.
    Regards from Poland, we love you here!

  • John—

    I too suffer from depression. I am lucky in that mine is light. I have never been suicidal, but I do get mentally paralyzed and lose interest in anything but petting my cats. When I lose interest in gaming I know i am heading down the black path.

    It’s hard to know what to say. Lots of people have said things to me that show they are ignorant of the experience of depression. When someone says something like “You just have to snap out of it,” I usually tell them to thank God that they have no idea what hey are talking about.

    So I just want to wish you a good recovery, and soon. I can appreciate that the meds help, but they make it harder to do your work. I sell snacks on a train cafe car, so I can work on antidepressants, but my creative functions are inhibited. I cannot imagine taking larger doses of more powerful meds; like I said, I have lighter depression and take correspondingly less medication.

    So, I want to wish you not only a good recovery and soon from the depression, but also a quick but safe return to full creative function.

    I just want to share one thing with you. Sometimes when I am down and cannot whip up enthusiasm for anything, a re-reading of Play Dirty raises my spirits and makes me enthusiastic about gaming, and thus life, again.

    Stay safe, get well, and thanks for being another voice about what it’s like…

    Paul C. Pinkosh

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