How Low Can You Go?

I lifted and moved my right foot that was anointed with Italian leather black shoes from the rectangular gas pedal where it had been perched in a leftward direction until it reached its intended destination which was the square-shaped brake pedal so as to slow my car down in order to safely navigate the steep curve that led to my driveway. Once there I inched my way up to the point where the driveway ended and the cobblestone walkway began. Though somewhat hesitatingly I turned off the ignition to stop the motor. At that moment I began to bask in the silence I had desperately craved. It suddenly came to surface in a prominent spot in my mind that the quiet I had been longing for was not of the short-term variety. In short, I had become convinced that I wanted to die and for my death to come quickly upon me.

Possibly what I was feeling was just the normal blah feeling many of us get from time to time. No, this was not that! I had been buried in self-denial for far too long now. It was time to face the undeniable truth that I was buried in a deep-rooted depression. All the symptoms I was experiencing (sadness, frequently feeling tired, everything annoyed me, pain that had no origin, feeling hopeless, loss of pleasure in activities I once enjoyed along with a plethora of other symptoms)were concrete evidence I had joined an exclusive club of 25 million other Americans who suffer from depression. There was a bombardment of thoughts racing through my mind that ranged from wanting to get the help I knew I needed or to take that fatal last step of terminating my own life.

If in fact, I decided self-termination was the only realistic route to go a method had to chosen to initiate the process. Thereupon a mental blunt instrument hit me in the head that brought me to realize that I was not capable of carrying out a “plan” of self-destruction in any form, nor was I actually desirous of death. When you feel the depths of despair your capability of rational decision ceases to be. In a moment of clarity, I surmised I would continue taking care of myself with no deviations from my medicinal rituals.

The scenario that I just unfolded before you is neither uncommon nor unusual. The complications set in whereupon others get wind of your condition and begin to mock you or pass judgment on you. Be it benign ignorance, prejudice, fear of what they don’t understand or what have you. When someone who is in a very vulnerable state of mind with only the slightest grip of their emotions situations such as I have just described can push that person to go to the extreme they had subsequently decided not to go but have now put that “option” back in full view of themselves as they observe each movement they make along with every facial expression they see reflecting back at them in the mirror as if they are waiting for a sign or an unconsciously sent signal. Perhaps even their own voice imploring them to “do it now!” Could you handle the emotional anguish you will feel knowing you preyed upon the frailties of another human being to the point they took their own life?

More sensible minded people would recognize something is amiss when a once seemingly stable person begins to hysterically cry in front of you for no apparent reason. The noticeable lack of a smile on that person’s face is an unmistakable clue that a downtrodden feeling has claimed a hold of that person.  Scrumptious meals with aromas that would entice the fussiest eaters to taste this delectable dish lay there with nary a smidgen moved on the plate.  A far away look accompanied by long blank stares signify help is needed almost instantaneously. That help is either a call to a Suicide Prevention Line or 911 if the person is completely oblivious to any stimuli. To wait and see what will mean only a delay in help arriving. Each moment is more critical than the one that proceeded it. This is by far the most important call you may ever have to make or think about having to make it or not. Making that call as difficult as it is and as hurtful as it may seem is one of the most unselfish, caring, and kind things to do.

OVER 50% of all people who die by suicide suffer from major depression. More Americans suffer from depression than coronary heart disease, cancer, and HIV/AIDS. Depression is among the most treatable of psychiatric illnesses. Between 80 percent and 90 percent of people with depression respond positively to treatment, and almost all patients gain some relief from their symptoms. But first, depression has to be recognized. Psychiatrists are trained not only to treat depression, they can spot the warning signs of the onset of the disease before it spirals out of control. The difficult part in halting the progression of the disease is the fact most people who are dealing with depression will in their feeling of hopelessness suffer in silence. A significant amount of those who are afflicted with this disease will shutter themselves indoors so as to avoid any social contact.

Despite what many people think depression IS a “real” illness! Anyone suffering from depression will tell you, it is not imaginary or “all in your head.” It is a serious mental disorder that is a direct result of changes in brain chemistry. Any number of different factors either alone or in combination with other variables such as diabetes, changes in hormone levels, stress, grief, or difficult life circumstances can precipitate the onset of this debilitating disease. is estimated that 21% of women and 12% of men in the U.S will experience an episode of depression at some point in their lifetime.

Let me now offer up my confession which is to say that I am a part of that 12% of males in the United States who experience “episodes” of depression. Almost every aspect of my daily life (except for the writing process) is compromised by this disease. As a sufferer of seizures which is a conduit to depression as are Type I & II diabetes little in my life is routine anymore. Leaving the house which was something I used to do without a thought to it now results in battles that are fought inside of my head as to if I can go out, want to go out since another leg this disease adds is something called anxiety or more commonly known as panic attacks. These attacks can occur irrespective to where I am or what I am doing. Before you know it you are engulfed in paralyzing fear. I may feel that I have to get away as I am not feeling safe where I am at the moment even though I am indeed safe as I am in my little corner of the world better known as my apartment. There is no one thing that can provoke an attack as they just come on. I ask not for your sympathy but I do request you not shy away from me as depression/anxiety are not contagious. Do not think of me as being crazy as I am not! I pose no threat to society. If at all humanly possible (it is more than possible) refrain from passing judgment on me or throwing snide comments in my direction. Depression just so you know IS NOT OF ONE’S OWN FAULT except for those who threw themselves into the mercy of drugs, alcohol or other addictive substances. Compulsive gamblers are often individuals whose compulsive behavior is a telltale sign of underlying depression.

Below are answers to some commonly asked questions on the subject of depression/anxiety: What are the treatment options for depression/anxiety disorder? There are no shortages of anti-depressive medications that are commonly prescribed. Each has its own laundry list of side effects that can be fatal but rarely are. Medications do a wonderful job of masking your symptoms making you feel more comfortable but they do not attack the problem. Enlisting the services of a competent Psycho Therapist will (often times this person is a Psychiatric Social Worker) lead you down the path to self-discovery where the causes of your depression are worked on. You have to bond and trust this person. In most clinical settings you will see your Psychiatrist once a month or so to see how you are doing with your medications. Your “therapist” will see you on a weekly basis.

When you mention anxiety what does that mean? Anxiety is the reaction to situations perceived as stressful or dangerous. Please click on the link I am going to provide you with for you to obtain an unobstructed view of the information to answer your questions about Part II of the “dynamic duo” of depression/anxiety.

What can you do to help yourself relieve your symptoms? Go out! As hard as it is you must get out so you can interact with people. Instant messaging, text messaging and alike give you additional connections but they should never replace human contact. Exercise (I am not one to exercise except for walking) will help your brain. Not only does exercise boost serotonin, endorphins, and other feel-good brain chemicals, it triggers the growth of new brain cells and connections, just like antidepressants do. It may be wise to limit your exposure to worldly daily news events as they can heighten your feeling of anxiety while feeding your depression to boot.

Do whatever it is you feel you can do to reintroduce your facial muscles to that activity heretofore known as smiling. Familiar songs make me happy which prompts me to sing along. Singing is great therapy. So are hugs, kisses, holding hands and just being together with a special person in your life. Falling in love, living with someone you love is overpowering anti-depressants. Four-legged furry creatures (dogs are just as wonderful to have as live-in companions) are great to have around as they will love you without pre-conditions. Your imperfections are of no concern to them. Treat them the right way, take care of their very basic needs and you will find yourself living with a pet who believe it or not understands your moods. If they sense you are down they will try their darndest to perk you up.

Is depression curable? Depending on the circumstances that led to the onset of depression it is entirely possible just as with other diseases if you follow all aspects of your treatment (including lifestyle changes if indicated) your depression can be “cured.” The therapeutic route you chose will also impact the ultimate goal which is to live depression free. As anybody who has suffered or struggled with depression living a life that is as “normal” as anybody else who is alive and well and walking around on this planet is what you set your sights on without losing focus on reaching that monumental moment in your life when your soul has been given a “GET OUT OF JAIL FREE” card signifying you are now again at one with yourself.

As for me I have in a sense “come out of the closet.” The challenges that lay ahead during the foreseeable future are many. Solutions may not be in plentiful supply. Anyday could potentially be the day I find out I am going to be a father-in-law with a grandchild to love, hold, and cherish shortly thereafter. In the midst of the dark hours, I know will still grab ahold of me I cling to my reverence for life. To experience the remainder of my life in peace with the world, at peace with myself, at peace with my heavenly father (G-d) who wants what is best for me is the lifeboat upon which I will float atop of the ways on a crystal blue sea.

Like any door my life’s days open and shut. My life is still in the palm of my hand even as they tremble and shake every now and then. There is still hopefully plenty of time left to give more love, to get more love, to give hope and strength to others. There is still hopefully plenty of time left to marvel at the splendor of a rainbow. There is still hopefully plenty of time left to see a droplet of rainwater on a bed of green growing grass whose blades are pointed skyward in unison.

One day not so in the distant past I awoke from slumber to discover practically everything about me had changed except for my name. That past is my current reality. Take these words I have given you in the here and now and try to imagine the feelings that go with these feelings. I wish you strength as you go forward on your own journey through life. Now I must go!


Joel Elveson
Joel Elveson
INDEPENDENT Executive Recruiting By Joel is an "up and coming" Executive Search Firm formed and headed up by Joel Elveson whose visionary ideas, leadership & creativity have brought to life a more "user-friendly" approach to recruiting. His clients and candidates form powerful strategic partnerships that we use to help you. Joel’s Firm offers Permanent, Temporary (case by case), & Temporary To Permanent staffing solutions for all of your Human Capital Requirements. Contract IT/Consultants are available if needed. Above and beyond they are experts (by way of their personal industry work experience) with mortgage, mortgage banking, middle-market banking, accounting, along with many others under the vast financial spectrum of disciplines. Their business goes beyond candidate recruiting as they also train, mentor and develop your internal recruiting staff with an eye towards helping you reduce the cost of hiring. They will also work in areas such as compensation, effective onboarding processes and alike. In other words, their business is to help your business by becoming an extension of you by filling in gaps that cause delay or waste. The recruiting methods employed by Joel’s team are time tested that results in a high rate of successful placements. Joel was trained in the art of recruiting by some of the top staffing industry executives in addition to the best recruiter trainers who to this day drive me to exceed the lofty goals he has set forth.

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  1. Joel, thank you for your article. I am just now getting around to reading all the “Weekend” articles posted. Depression I believe does not have to be clinical, it can be emotional and in the years I worked on the streets dealing with different personalities I learned very quickly the difference. Sometimes we as good souls deal with so much that depression is something that just creeps in. Thank you.

    • Lynn,
      Thank for your understanding of this crippling disease known as depression. It is people like you that take away the shame some of us feel or are made to feel as a result of this condition. It was very kind of you to send along your comments. All my very best wishes to you.