Friday, May 25, 2012

Scott Jackson - My Battle With Depression

This Sunday I will be participating in the walk/run for defeating depression. With that in mind I have asked Scott Jackson to share his story of his battle with depression. I hope that this helps someone.

This is a guest post by Scott Jackson.

Scott Jackson
The question is - how does a Christian get depressed? You know you're going to heaven in the end. Jesus loves you. Your church loves you. Your family loves you. Your dog loves you. What's your problem?

Well, I've read a lot about it. Depression could be spiritual or physical. Mine was both. I believe Satan wants to take out ministry leaders so attacking me would be a certainty. But doctors told me that I have had 30 years of staying up late and pushing my body clock to the point where my brain doesn't know when to sleep. We all have an internal clock that says "it's time for bed" but I would ignore it and wait for my second wind and work into the night. Well, my body finally said "stop I've had enough" and I suffered my many emotional crashes, seemingly triggered for no reason. I didn't feel tired.

I'm no doctor but as I understand it, chemicals in your brain are released and they give you energy to work, think, focus and so on. For me, the chemicals were not releasing properly causing confusion and a lot of pouting.

Hmmm. You listen to the radio. You hear a smiley, happy DJ. But there are times when we don't really feel perky and we have to act. Off the air I would begin weeping and moaning, and then stop long enough to introduce a song and then return to the moment of despair.

One day, in one of those moments of moaning and wailing, everyone in the station could hear me through the walls. Steve Jones came in the studio and stood there for five minutes, probably deciding whether I was stable enough to do the show. I remember it well. I didn't look at him. I paced the room, cried and introduced the next song, with the listeners not knowing the situation. Steve left, seemingly satisfied that things were not beyond control. Until the next day.

In the middle of my show at 11am I crashed. I couldn't focus on the show. Concentration was lost. Hopelessness set in. I left.

Then came the wave of "I don't care".

I don't care.

About anything.

Depressed people care about nothing and have no reason to get out of bed in the morning. I'd tell my wife - "I don't care. There's nothing to get out of bed for. Nobody will miss me at work. Who cares". I spent time with a psychologist who was very helpful to get me past the situation - most of the time.

My family doctor had me experiment with three different anti-depressants until he found the right combination for me. Yes, I tried Prozac. It wasn't the best in my case. My wife was very patient through all of this. Two nights in a row, while I had insomnia from the anti-depressants , I took a mittful of sleeping pills.

On anti-depressants I counted 13 side-effects. Some visible, some not. Amnesia is the annoying one. Not remember what I told people and repeating myself.

There's lack of focus. That's the worst and being unable to compose a memo to my staff, or work on a detailed project. Couldn't do it.

Hair loss - which nobody wants, especially guys.

Nightmares. Really weird.

Another side effect was stage fright, which prevented me from going on the radio. I was just afraid that I couldn't speak coherently, so I stayed away. I stayed off the air for four months.

Anxiety and panic. Not looking forward to upcoming situations, both personal, family and work-related. I started saying to Janice "cancel that!". It was a canceling rampage of lunch dates and fun nights for weeks.

Thoughts of suicide. I thought the point of an anti-depressant was to avoid those thoughts, but sometimes you have them anyway.

One day, working at home on my laptop I went through an hour of sweat, in the middle of winter. I thought, "this is really weird. I'm not a sweaty person. One of the side effects.

Anhedonia - the inability to find any pleasure from daily life.

Akathisia - the inability to sit still. Legs jiggle endlessly.

Muscle twitches, which you can see through my shirt.

Even on anti-depressants I would have two crashes a week. Usually what triggers depression is when someone cancels my plans at the last minute.

So, not focusing, forgetting stuff and turning my disposition on a seconds notice makes for an unstable boy.

My Christian friends, and believe me I have very few true friends, say hurtful things like, "oh you need to read your Bible more". Can't. Can't focus. "You need to got to church more". Don't want to because everyone asks me "how are you doing" and I don't feel like telling anyone, so skipping church is the way out. Or they tell you, "you need to sing worship songs to God". Can't. Can't focus. Extreme ADD. Can't do it.

After promising to "be in my corner" during these months, my best friend deserted me in my greatest time of sorrow. Other friends were "unavailable" and screened my calls. Other friends who cared enough to listen actually tuned me out while still smiling and nodding. Nobody listened. Nobody really cares about other people. Everyone is too busy with their own busy lives.

I met with a psychiatrist for medical help, The Barrie Healing Rooms for spiritual help and a psychologist every two weeks, who was wonderful.

In March I announced to the LIFE staff what was going on. Obviously something was up - I was never at work more than an hour a day.

Generally, people fear what they don't know. There's the "C" word (cancer) we don't like to say. And there's the "depression" word that suggests someone is c-c-crazy.

I have decided to try "a day of rest" each week. It worked for Jesus so I thought I'd try it. I was inspired by the book "Velvet Elvis" in which Pastor Rob Bell turns off his cell phone, computer, texting, email - everything. No contact. No work on his day of rest. I like that.

And I have vowed to God, that when this is over, I will use it as my testimony to help anyone else who loves God, but won't get out of bed.

If you want to help a depressed person, help move them physically from the room they are in. Go outside, turn on the TV, talk about an upcoming event - anything to take their mind off the moment. If they tell you to buzz off, try again. Depressed people want to be pulled out of the moment but won't admit it. 

Scott Jackson is the president of Trust Communications and laid the groundwork for the launching of LIFE 100.3, which launched in 1999. He is also an author and produced More Radio magazine. 

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