My health

On the 14th day, I’m grateful for my health.

That sounds cliché, but it’s true. I have been incredibly fortunate.

My wife has been hospitalized overnight more than a dozen times in the last 12 years, the longest for 10 days when she received a heart transplant. I am intimately familiar with the American healthcare system, but fortunately, only as a spectator and not a participant.

I’ve had one broken bone my entire life. Since 18 months of age and I survived all that drama (See day 10 for more on that), I have not been admitted to a hospital. I pretty much haven’t had anything wrong with me more serious than a sinus infection in decades.

I got into prediabetes and prehypertension ranges when I was at my heaviest, but those problems went away when I lost weight.

I get migraines when the weather gets damp and heavy. MSG gives me severe headaches. (Yes, I know it’s the MSG, and yes I know about that study you want to link to that says it’s all in my head, but I assure you I do.) The hinge joint in my hips gets really stiff when I sit for too long, and when I wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, my feet are super stiff.

But really? I feel great.

What about your depression?

I live with clinical depression, and will until I die. It’s just part of who I am, like being right handed is part of who I am, or having pale blue eyes. I’ve struggled with depression my whole life. I have dealt with suicidal ideation my whole life. The perfect storm of suicidal ideation and depression almost killed me twice – the most recent was in 2018, which led to my decision to go back on mental health meds for a time.

The thing is, if I didn’t talk about it, you wouldn’t know it. I can pass most of the time as neurotypical. That is part of the hell of the form of the disease I have – you would never know. Which is why it’s important that I talk about it.

In a lot of circles – including many spiritual circles – mental health is disregarded or looked down upon at best, and blamed on spiritual issues or “sin” at worst.

Here is the thing: If you have depression, you are just sick, and sometimes sick people need medication to get better. Sometimes medication just gets us back to where we can take care of ourselves (like antibiotics) and sometimes it is required the rest of our lives in order for us to stay alive (like insulin).

I try really hard to be open and transparent about my mental health stuff, even though I am fully aware that things I have alluded to in this post (such as past suicidal ideation) could be used (illegally, but still) against me in future hiring decisions.

But every time I write something like this, people reach out to me and tell me they aren’t OK either, and they had no one to tell.

There is no shame in getting help if you need it. There is no shame in saying you are not OK. There is no shame in being depressed. And the more we are honest about the ways we struggle, the less shame there is, period.

As an aside: I’m not including my ADHD as an “illness”, because I don’t see it as an illness. (again, see Day 10).