#InternationalMenDay

Depressed man sitting in the tunnel

(Image from :https://personalexcellence.co/blog/depressed-progress/)

#InternationalMenDay

Premise

More than two years ago I wrote a blog post about mental illness here. I was not at my best during that period, to say the least, and I felt like, writing about the simple thing that I found could help people. I started having anxiety crisis and panic attacks for the first time in my life and I didn’t really understood why.

I wrote in that article that it was important to do something before it was too late. I didn’t and I fell in that big black hole that so many men end up in.

So, this blog post will diverge to what I usually write about because it’s not really related to the gaming industry but can be, to some extent.

International Men Day looks like by definition that it’s about men but it’s not exactly. International Men Day about mental illness, depression, suicide and other nasty things that men, sadly, seems to be really good at in our society.

Sadly though, it’s not really popular. I mean, I was not aware that it was a thing before today. There was no special Google logo. The twitter hashtag was not on the trends page either. There is a lot of work to be done for sure. It’s still so hard for men to talk about their emotion. Most of the time, we are being told to “man up”, that men don’t cry, that men are strong, that “real men this” and “real men that”. Men need to be able to fix a car,  carry everything that weight more than five kilos, go get the car when it’s raining, open doors, provide, etc, etc.

I felt like talking about my story. I haven’t really talked about it publicly and International Men Day is there to help men talk about their problem. Brace yourself, serious wall of text incoming.

My Story

Like I said above, two years ago, I started having anxiety crisis. I was not aware it was that really. I had dizziness and vertigo randomly at work and only at work. I wondered if it was my nutrition or anything with my body. I was doing a lot of sports. Playing Spikeball twice a week and bouldering two or three time a week so I knew it was not really because of lack of physical activities.

Never I thought it would be related to stress or that I was having mental illness.

Men are stronger than that.

One night. I woke up with a pretty big pain if my left arm. It was hurting a lot for no apparent reason. I stood up to go get some ice in my freezer. I remember walking to the kitchen and then after that I remember that when I opened my eyes I was laying on the floor. I didn’t what happened. I took the ice and when back to my bed. Then, I started to wonder if I had a stroke.

Left arm pain? Falling unconscious? Vertigo?

The morning after, I went to work. Told my boss about what happened and he told me to go the fuck to the hospital. I’m a men. I don’t like hospital and talk about my problems so I was just like “Heh, it’s ok”. After some talk with him, I called my doctor. She told me, in a professional way, to go the fuck to the hospital.

So I went.

I explained my problem at the front desk. It took 2 minutes and I was laying down in a bed plugged in at like 10 different spots. They ran a ton of tests and everything. I stayed at the hospital for almost 9 hours.

The result? NOTHING. Everything was perfectly fine. Literally no, problem, at, all.

Great.

Went back to work the day after and kept on with my life. Still, I had vertigo and dizziness from time to time. One day, I was at my desk and at some point, I looked at the ceiling and it started moving really badly. So I left work and when home to lay down. I knew something bad was going on but I didn’t really knew what so I booked an appointment with my private doctor to see what was going on.

Blood pressure, ear checks and whatnot, all the things. Everything was all good again!

She told me it was strongly related to stress. I didn’t wanted to believe it. How could me, a strong minded man, be stressed to the point of falling unconscious?

I also found out that I was having a lot of memory loss. Forgetting really important thing at work. I was having a pretty hard time with my deadlines and the quality of my work. My obvious reaction was to work harder, taking the burden on myself and keep in going, over and over.

The saying goes like this right, “Depression is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign that you were strong for too long.”

Heh.

Then one day I was at work, it was one week before shipping the game. I was talking with a coworker on Slack and I realized that I fucked up something I had to do like, 2 months earlier. Something I totally forgot. The feeling I got at that specific moment was just unbearable. The amount of stress my brain decided to inject through my whole body was so big I never felt that way before. I sat there, looking at my screen for probably 25 minutes, doing nothing. Then, I stood up, when to a meeting room and called my doctor because I knew something was wrong. We booked an appointment 1 hour later then I went to my boss and said to him I didn’t felt well and was going to see my doc.

I didn’t knew what to tell her (my doctor) but after like, five minutes, she said, “Ok, you’re off work for at least three weeks.”

I then got probably 100 different mixed emotions at the same time and the only thing I said was, “I just want to cry right now.” I really wanted to cry, for real, but still, completely broken, I didn’t.

Men don’t cry in front of people.

She gave me some sort of little form to fill with bullet point. Rating different situations from 0 to 3 I think or something like that. My score was 22. She then told me that above something like 13 you’re in depression/burnout and above 20 it’s really severe. The only thing that was not a 3 was a question about suicidal thoughts, luckily for me.

She then game me anti-depressant and we booked bi-weekly appointment to check up how I was doing.

I went back to work after and game a paper to my boss telling him that I would be off work for illness for an unknown amount of time.

I never came back.

My doc strongly suggested me to consult a psychologist. It took me a month to call one and see what I could do.

I didn’t wanted too. I felt ashamed. I’m was a strong minded man. I could fix my problem myself without the help of anyone. I never asked for help in my life to anyone. That how I am. I hate asking for help. I always see it as a failure. Well, I felt like this.

Seeing a professional really helped me. It’s still so taboo to consult but it was so god damn useful. I learned so much about myself and how brain works and reacts to a lot of different things emotion-wise.

This was my story.

Conclusion

It’s been over a year now and I am kind of back to be a proper unbroken person but when you went into depression once, it leaves a mark forever. That’s how it is. I restarted having self confidence at work not so long ago. I speak more about my emotions and I even ask for helps sometimes. I still have a long way to go on that matter but baby steps are better than nothing at all.

I wrote it in my last post, cited above and I will say it again for those of you who went all the way down here reading.

DON’T. WAIT. UNTIL. IT’S. TOO. LATE.

Seriously. You’re not alone. There are a ton of people who wants to help and that were in your exact position before.

On that note, there is now a brand new group about gamer men helping other gamer men here called Men’s Mental Health Gamer (MMHG). It’s new and small but I hope it’ll grow to a big helping community.

Seek help if you need it brothers. Really. It’s important.

I’m also here to help. Poke me at anytime.

So then, what is your story?


 

Leave a comment if you have any opinions on this or have any questions!
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One thought on “#InternationalMenDay

  1. My story starts at an early age. During elementary school I’ve been severely bullied, kids didn’t even call me by name, to them I was “the Jew”. Didn’t have any friends, so when I went to highschool I missed a lot of social skills that you learn by having friends etc. So I really felt lonely. Luckily I was able to learn fast and I made some friends, but still I felt differently.

    Teenager

    During tests I was really struggling and they’ve put me on counseling for performance anxiety, but nothing worked. I got really stressed and started to doubt myself a lot, maybe I wasn’t smart enough or learning good enough. So I started to stress myself out, never talked about it to anyone cause I wanted to solve it myself. I had gotten so far into the black hole at some point that I couldn’t take it anymore and wanted to end everything. One day I found myself standing beside railroad tracks.

    But at the last minute, just in time, my best friend called. (Until this day she still doesn’t know I was standing there, she called for something totally different) we’re still best friends until this day on. I never told my parents about what I wanted to do, I just kept it in and struggled myself through high school on willpower.

    Early twenties till early thirties

    Went on my first internship. But the company was not a good one and they expected way too much, that, on top of all the other things I kept inside for years let me to a burnout. I stopped the study for half a year. Nothing could be said or I started to cry, all I wanted to do was cry… It took me about 6 months to get myself together and in that time I was getting hypnotherapy. It helped me a lot but it changed me too. I couldn’t seem to find the real me anymore. I started to be very aggressive to everyone, I was unrecognizable. After months I found a balance.

    Although everything went ok again, I still felt different than others. It was years later that my mother showed me a newspaper article about HSP. I think this is you, she said. There was a link to a test as well. I did the test and got the full highscore. So I figured I had to deep dive into that. I found a psychologist who was specialized in high sensitivity and after weeks of hesitation I made an appointment.

    She had to pull extremely hard to get me talking, but she succeeded after a couple of sessions. She learned me some exercises which should help me block a lot of stimuli. If you’re highly sensitive it means your brain and nervous system are processing certain things differently. Your nervous system is 20% more sensitive than normal. So things like light, sound, smell, taste, touch, feelings etc come to you 20% stronger than average and it drains all your energy.

    When I knew that, a lot of things fell into place. I wasn’t the one with performance anxiety, I picked up the nervousness of 30 kids in the classroom. I often miss a complete scene in a movie. If there are scenes where a lot is happening at the same time at a high speed with a lot of sounds and music, my brain doesn’t register it, it just skips it. If we went to a festival or days like Kingsday, why did I need 2 days to get my energy back again even though I haven’t been drinking? Because I wasn’t able to block the stimuli enough so I was getting it all +20%.

    Well no wonder I was tired and drained all the time.

    So at first I though it meant I couldn’t do all that stuff anymore, but the psychologist told me if I’d master the exercises, It worked the other way around. I would be able to do more. So I spend years with trial and error to master the exercises, which I do now for 95% of the time. Told my friends about it, and lost a few of them by doing so.

    I also thought the trait was a negative thing, but by mastering it I came to the conclusion it’s a difficult trait to have but also an extreme beautiful one. And that’s where my focus is nowadays. I can see and hear above average. I easily sense things with others, without them telling me. I feel more intense, that’s a tricky one though cause well happiness or love is awesome to feel more intense, but anger or sadness that’s difficult to feel more intense. I’m hardly really angry, but sad I can be and I have to be very alert on not bringing myself completely down with that.

    I’ve learned so much over the years and I’ve embraced my trait completely. I know what I need and what not. That doesn’t mean the previous things couldn’t happen again. In 2013 I was on the edge of my second burnout, but I managed to keep myself out of the black hole. But again I didn’t talk about it and I focused too much on sports and barely at, so it manifested physically and I got a neck hernia. 1,5 years I walked around like Quasimodo, almost couldn’t do anything with my whole left side anymore.

    Recent

    Recently, since September, I started to work on myself again. Between July and September I lost 3 people within a couple of weeks and it made me really think about life. I’m not even half way through my life, I could completely turn things around by finishing off the last pieces that remind me of the past. Cause the one thing that reminds me every day, is my body, I became an emotional eater over the years. Cause food was in most cases the only thing that could comfort me because I was, or later on, felt so lonely. Psychically I’m 100% in a different spot already, having a positive mindset, being able to talk about everything, finding balance, relax more, reduce stress to the minimum, etc.

    The last insecurity, accepting that I can be here and that I’m a lovable person, will come after the body change as well, I’m convinced!

    So this is my story.

    Like

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