I am encouraged to see of someone SEEING their issues and SEEKING help!
Please pray for this young man and his family as he deals with the beast of depression.
Many of you know that I have battled severe depression since my childhood. I have been open and honest about this subject in hopes that it might help some of you who are dealing with the same issues. Clinical depression is a lifelong battle. There isn’t a one size fits all solution to depression. It isn’t as simple as taking this pill or that pill. It isn’t as simple as changing your diet. It is a complex issue that thousands of doctors around the world are constantly studying. It isn’t something to be embarrassed about. It is actually quite common and most families have been impacted by the disease.
Sadly, over the last few years, some of my favorite music and comedy artists have lost their battles with depression. Many times the battle was lost because of drug or medication overdoses. Many fought the disease for decades. People, that we thought had everything they could ever want in life, were still not able to control their depression. Depression can, after all, be a progressive disease with many side effects.
Depression is like an invisible hand in our lives. It is not made up of tears from our eyes, but rather tears from our hearts. One can’t see the hurt, pain, and agony that besieges those around them who suffer from this disease. Only the person who has to live with their own mind can understand the depths of darkness that this invisible hand can lead one into. It is much like falling into a smothering well – a well with no tangible walls or visible light. And, it is a painful madness when trying to explain to someone else that simply saying “it will pass” is not a remedy or cure for depression.
Depression not only robs you of today, but it also robs you of yesterday and tomorrow. If not treated, it not only robs you of who you are, but also robs you of who you could become. It will steal the notes off of your sheet of music and the paint off of your paintbrush. It robs your family and friends of joy, as well.
Depression is normally caused by chemical imbalances. It can be made worse by traumatic events in life. It can be and often is genetic.
In 2003 and 2004 I suffered from chronic secondary insomnia. It occurred suddenly. I ended up in the emergency room because I could not sleep. If you have ever experienced true insomnia then you will understand how scary it can be. Your body can be fatigued, your mind loses the ability to think properly, and yet you can’t sleep. I was prescribed a regiment of sleeping pills. I have taken those pills ever since.
Taking those sleeping pills was never an issue for me. It was, at the time, the correct course of action. I took them before bed and I quickly fell asleep. As you know, if you or one of your family members suffers from clinical depression, addiction and depression go hand in hand. Many people, including myself at one time, attempt to medicate themselves to escape depression. This is why many people lose their battle against depression. They don’t seek the proper help – perhaps because they don’t know help is available. Perhaps because they don’t have medical insurance that will cover the costs of treatment. Or perhaps because they are afraid to admit they have a problem.
Recently, over the past few weeks, the sleeping pills became an issue for me. I realized that I not only needed them to sleep, but that my body had decided I needed them period. I knew, from previous experiences in my life, that this was a red flag and potentially life threatening concern.
I do not intend to lose my battle against depression. I care too much about myself and my family to let that happen. I have lost too many friends over the years because of depression. As many of you know, sleep is a crucial ingredient of a healthy mind, body, and spirit. I know when to ask for help, and this is one of those times. I’m a meteorologist not a doctor.
On Thursday, September 25th, I will fly to California to a treatment center that is going to help develop a comprehensive plan to deal with the insomnia. The next goal is to remove the sleeping pills – permanently – from my nightly routine.
Another goal will be to develop better coping skills to handle the stress associated with severe weather events. It has become increasingly difficult for me to deal with the post storm environment. Let me explain. There is a buildup of adrenalin before severe weather events…sometimes days In advance. You forecast it. You wait for it. You track it. There is then a sudden crash of emotions immediately after the event is over. This is a well-known mental health issue in the weather community (and also among first responders in general). It has not been easy to watch the destruction, over the last decade, caused by weather events in our region. If you have followed my weather postings then you have probably read some of my writings about this subject matter. Don’t get me wrong, I am immensely passionate about forecasting these events and interacting with many of you. In my younger years severe weather was exciting. Now, however, severe weather just puts a sick feeling in my stomach. I know that I am not the only meteorologist who feels this way. When you look at the weather charts and know that someone will likely lose their life or their home – well, that is difficult to deal with. On a professional and personal level. So, this is one issue that I am hoping to deal with while in California.
And finally, of course, I will learn more about how my body and mind react to depression. Hopefully this program will help me better understand why I have certain emotions, why I respond to situations in a certain manner, and how to make sure I am taking proper care of myself so that I can continue to do what I love the most. Forecast weather.
This program will help fill my quiver with a few more arrows. The more weapons one has to battle depression and stress the better their odds of survival. Eleanor Roosevelt said “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.”
This is the best gift I could give to myself and to those around me…including my partners in the field of meteorology.
I will be gone for thirty days. This will not be an easy step. But, it will be a necessary step. My goal in life is to live. My goal in life is not simply happiness. Happiness is a bi-product of living a life that fills your heart with fullness. That is the life I have and want to continue to have. And, if I have to be away for a few weeks to maintain a healthy mind and body, then that seems like a small price to pay.
If you are patient and if you stick with me then I will return, hopefully renewed, to my regular life responsibilities (Including my favorite passion in life, weather forecasting) by the end of October or beginning of November. By then, you will be thinking about the holiday season, warmer coats, and yes, we will grab the binoculars and start watching for potential winter weather events.
Starting on Saturday, my friend – Jason Darnall, is going to keep the weather page updated and current. Jason knows me very well. He knows my forecast philosophy. He knows that the goal is to never scare you, but rather to prepare you for weather events. We have enough weather drama without forecasters adding to it. If there are significant weather concerns, then Jason will post those on my weather page. He plans on updating at least once a day. He will also post storm tracking tools (if needed).
Remember, fall typically brings severe weather to our region. Last year we had severe weather outbreaks in both October and November. As we prepare for the changing of the leaves, the holidays, and family activities let’s keep that in the back of our mind. Weather can change dramatically from one day to the next. Especially true during the fall, winter, and spring.
I hope that everyone has a great October and I look forward to returning in a few short weeks.