Ken Smith
8  year  Mo Bro

$0

Target: $500
raised $6,604 since 2013
My motivation
Fundraising for cause areas including:
Prostate cancer

About this time last year, I read a letter from Adam Garone, CEO and Co-Founder of Movember, about Changing The Face of Men's Health. I think of it as: Changing the Mind of Men's Health; and, in a big way. Mental health issues, focusing on the goals of prevention, early intervention and stigma reduction, were finally going to be brought up. I thought it was enough that Movember was addressing prostate and testicular cancers--but, depression and anxiety? No way. Way! I guess I hit the Daily Double on this one. Jackpot! Prostate cancer survivor (but, now with what's called recurrent prostate cancer. Yeah, as if I didn't get enough the first time around, I now have another chance. Thank you, very much).

Mr. Garone closes by saying, "But one thing that helps...is the knowledge that you are not alone." I met Movember three years ago and know I'm not alone. I asked, maybe, if we could talk about this stuff on the Movember website. You know, MoBros and MoSistas sharing, asking, supporting one another in an relaxed way. Stories, mostly. As Ram Dass says, "We are all just walking each other home."

So, here goes. Cancer or depression--which came first? One would think with cancer comes depression, not the other way around. Depression certainly isn't helped with a cancer diagnosis; but, my depression came first. Probably years ago, in fact. Ask those around you, they usually notice before you do--or, are, at least, willing to admit. It builds. It starts out small, then it works on you. Grinds you down slowly. "This can't be happening to me. I'm in control. I'll get over it." You don't. You come to a point where either you admit something is wrong; or, you begin fantasizing about harming yourself.

I'm a "catastrophizer." Yep, that's what he called it. This is someone who is good at making mountains out of molehills. You start out small and it gets bigger and scarier. You get a mild toothache, it becomes (in your mind) an abscess or requires a root canal. Then, you'll need oral surgery and wind up with implants, or worse--wooden false teeth. Or, you are driving your car, visualize a mechanical malfunction, and running into a bridge abutment. Now, you're afraid to get in the car at all. Many of us have mood cycles. I cried every day during the NBC Nightly News. Not because of the world situation, but during the dog and soldier stories, and the "making a difference" segment.

Then, one day you announce that you are crazy--no surprise to those around you. Now what? Real men don't seek therapy--maybe marriage counseling; but, not a shrink. In my case, I went to the Yellow Pages (that shows my age). That indicates desperation. A prayer to be said when you are tired and frustrated. And hurting and nothing else works--"help."

Susan Sontag said "Depression is melancholy, minus its charms." Depression is referred to as the "Black Dog," to many who have it. Sounds about right. At some point, the therapist will suggest drugs. Again, real men don't take drugs, especially mood enhancers. But, now you're desperate, again. Bring them on. Let's hear it for neuropharmacology.

Which leads me to some suggestions, in no particular order:

1. Get help. Start with your regular doctor, then maybe check out a specialist--a neuropharmacologist is good. This is a doctor who knows drugs. Which leads to:

2. Understand antidepressants can only take you so far. And, they are tricky. They level you. They take time to work. And, worst of all, they make you feel normal to the point you say "hey, I'm well"; and you cut your dose down or stop altogether. Bad idea. Work with your prescriber. Also, know you may be on these for the rest of your life; so, find a cheap one that works.

3. Cry; maybe, privately.

4. Know you are not alone--Google support groups, like Movember, who take this stuff seriously. And, anyone who believes you are depressed because you are not trying at life, or, just plain lazy is not your friend. Gillian Flynn's main character, in her book, Sharp Objects (you get it) says, "They always call depression the blues, but I would have been happy to waken to a periwinkle outlook." Amen.

5. It goes without saying--eat right, exercise, meditate, talk to someone. Forgive yourself.

Depression is serious. It's not just a "chemical imbalance." It hurts (you, and those around you). It's nothing to be ashamed of. Clinical depression used to be called a "nervous breakdown." I think I like Black Dog.

How I'm
getting involved
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Team captain Doug Prusoff
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Just a weird coincidence.

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