you are not alone in this fight

you_are_not_alone-NAMI

So last night, I had nothing but nightmares from the instant I fell asleep. I woke up five or six times that I remember, each time unable to remember the dream but clearly able to remember the terror and dread.

I have been so unsettled and upset since I woke up, and I can’t even remember the clear details of the dreams so I can at least try to process them and get on with my life. I’ve had a ton of generalized anxiety all day, so I went to NAMI to do some research and see if there’s something I can do to help myself. It looks like it’s just my brain being a dick (exhaustion from travel, jet lag, and missing my regular medication time because of all the timezones I’ve been in recently will contribute to that) and it’ll get steadily better as the day goes on.

And yet, I feel like this right now:

  • ?: KNOCK KNOCK.
  • Me: Who’s there?
  • ?: ANXIETY.
  • Me: Anxiety who?
  • Anxiety: BECAUSE FUCK YOU THAT’S WHO. LOL.

Gallows humor, y’all.

It’s especially frustrating to know that it’s just a thing I kind of need to wait out (everyone’s anxiety is different, but this is how my particular version of it works), but it’s also incredibly reassuring to know that I just have to wait it out while my brain gets back into normal balance … and now I have a (mostly) guilt-free excuse to watch The Avengers when I should be doing other things. The thing is, I wouldn’t know that it’s going to get better if I hadn’t spent lots of time talking with my doctor and other humans who suffer from depression and anxiety. I wouldn’t know how or why it happens to me without warning if I hadn’t gotten professional help, and I wouldn’t know how to handle it and make sure that I don’t let it completely take over my life.

So because I was visiting NAMI this morning, I wrote about it on my Tumblr. I’m reprinting what I wrote there because it’s important to me that as many people as possible see this: You are not alone in the fight against mental illness.

NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) is an organization that I am proud to support. NAMI helps people with mental illness get the treatment they need so they can get their lives back.

One of their major campaigns is to remind people YOU ARE NOT ALONE in the fight against mental illnesses like Depression. The link above goes to a webpage full of stories (likely trigger warnings, gang) from people who have battled Depression and are currently winning the fight.

Please know this: if you have Depression, you do not have to sufferThere is help available, including talking therapy and safe, effective medications to help balance the chemicals in your brain so you can feel normal again. To borrow a phrase from my friend Jenny Lawson: Since I got treatment for my particular flavour of mental illness, I may have Depression, but Depression doesn’t have me.

Here’s my blog on my personal battle with Depression, if you’d like to get a firsthand account of my experience with mental illness.

Please, if you’re suffering, know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE and you don’t have to suffer. You can get help. Please do.

Published by

Wil

I'm just this guy, you know?

116 thoughts on “you are not alone in this fight”

  1. Let me start with thank you. You do help others when you write what you are going through.

    I have two high-functioning autistic boys. Seamus is 15 and Angus is 11. We all think you are amazing and have even spoken with you at Emerald City Comic Con (you remember that, right?).

    The simplest way to describe what my boys’ “flavor” of autism means is this: they are intellectually & phylosophically gifted, common sense impaired, socially dyslexic, and emotionally epileptic. Besides being autistic, my boys struggle with anxiety, depression, mood disorders, OCD, and prosopagnosia (face blindness). Some of these can be improved with medication and therapy, all of it is stressful and discouraging. We are working our asses off to make sure they live the amazing lives they are capable of without giving up (both boys have expressed serious suicidal feelings).

    But…

    We can’t be Super Parents if we ignore our own issues. I also struggle with anxiety, depression, and (of course) burn-out. My husband is a champ, but he has issues, as well. We have to treat ourselves with respect and get help, too, so that our boys learn what it means to take care of one’s self. Also so that we survive long enough to find our own purpose in life once they move on to fulfill theirs.

    Thanks for being you – you do make a difference. See you at the Con!

  2. Thank you so much for this reminder. I sometimes think that because I’ve had years of therapy and a medication that works that I’m not allowed to feel anxious or depressed anymore, but that’s totally unrealistic.

    I already thought you seemed like a really nice guy, but reading this makes me like you even more. For your honesty, your compassion, and your courage. Thank you.

  3. Thank you for talking about your battle. I am 50 and have fought anxiety for pretty much all of those years. I don’t always win, there have been some really bad times. Ironically thinking about the bad times will bring on more anxiety. I have gone to Dr.’s and tried meds, sadly I react really badly to SSRIs. Now I look at my children and know some of them will have this battle as well. I hate it so much, it hurts and delays life while we struggle to vanquish it. Thanks again for letting us know that we are not alone.

  4. I have been reading your blog for quite a while, Wil, but this was the first time I really had to reply. Thank you so much! I, too, have suffered from depression, and yes, it was THAT BAD. I am so glad that you are encouraging other people to go get help,because it will save lives. And I just want to add, to anyone who reads my comment, these few words. There is no direct relationship between how bad you feel and the likelihood of a good doctor being able to help you. If not today, maybe tomorrow. You can be pretty badly off with your illness and get the right help and be happy again. I was, I did, and I am. And you deserve to be happy again. Really.

  5. I have been dealing with depression and anxiety as long as I can remember. I have also had financial problems off and on during this time. I know how hard it can be to find help. For anyone having financial issues that are holding you back from getting treatment there are usually community resources that let you pay on a sliding scale. Some universities have low cost clinics that are open to the community. You sometimes meet with a student therapist who is being supervised by another therapist. I have paid as little as $5 for a session. I was recently out of work without insurance and there are programs through pharmaceutical companies that will either subsidize your medications or give them to you for free if you are having financial problems. Call the company that makes your medication or go to their website. Ask your local pharmacist if they have or know of any discount programs for people without insurance. I cut my medication costs by 1/3 after asking my pharmacist. I know that when you are depressed is the time when you feel the least like doing the leg work to find help but it is out there.

  6. Thank you for talking about this so openly! I watched a video on Youtube (a part of the 2012 Project for Awesomeness live chat) and because of your honesty and openness and..yes, the googly eyes made all the difference for me, I finally scheduled an appointment to get see the doctor.
    Today is the first day since starting medication that I noticed I didn’t have that heaviness in my chest and I could smile and BE with my kids. So, thanks!

  7. Wil, I have suffered from anxiety and depression, off and on, for many years. I have medication, Xanax, and it helps a lot. But I have found another remedy that helps tremendously. I would recommend this. There is St. Andrew Catholic Church, 311 N. Raymond Ave. in oldtown Pasadena. One day at your leisure (Monday – Saturday) when there are no services at the church, walk into the church and sit down in a back pew. There may be two or three other people in the church praying. Just sit there for ten minutes. Don’t pray, don’t meditate. Just sit there. You will see one candle burning somewhere near the altar. The candle signifies that God is present in the church. Whether you are a believer or a non-believer–doesn’t matter. Just sit there and you will feel your anxieties melt away. Ten minutes, twenty minutes–you will experience an inner peace that you have never felt before. If there is a Catholic Church closer to your home than St. Andrews, that will work as well. I guarantee you will find peace of mind. It works for me.

  8. In my family there is a history of mental illness on both sides – from depression to schizophrenia. One of the greatest frustrations I’ve encountered is when you run into someone who hasn’t had a lot of experience with any of it (or they’re willfully ignorant) and they offer up advice along the lines of “they just need to cheer up” or another favorite, “he just needs a good butt kicking”. I started thinking, “wow, you’re really onto something there, slice. Healthcare professionals, in an effort to justify their existence, have clearly ignored these brilliant yet simple ideas for years. What the world needs are more clowns and more butt kickers! Imagine the long term savings! Fewer people in institutions. Circus revenues, and thug revenues soaring – even clown cosmetics stand to grow – this may even help with unemployment if you’ve got the right disposition and a baseball bat. Needless to say, it’s frustrating to try to explain to someone how it’s physiology – the brain’s chemistry not working quite right and not someone just feeling down/glum or trying to be strange.

    When my husband finally sought help for his own anxiety and depression issues, it was after years of suffering and being completely resistant to the idea of medication. (Similar reasons – the feeling that we are overly medicated – not wishing to be a zombie.) Some months after he started his treatment, he came home and announced that he had had a “great day”. In 14 years, I’d never heard him say that. I told him later, “this is what I’ve always wish for you – that you could have a great day.” And since then he’s had many more.

    “You are not alone. You do not have to suffer.” Thank you for saying that publicly and talking about your own struggles; it really helps so many out there who do feel alone to know that someone cool like you has faced their own mental health issues.

    You’re an incredible guy!

  9. Thank you, Wil. As both a therapist and someone who has an anxiety disorder (and as someone who writes about personal growth and mental health, among other things), I have seen this from both sides of the fences. Anxiety is a powerful opponent, but we have a lot of weapons in our arsenal, and banding together and supporting each other is one of the best of these.

  10. I feel I am alone. I have been in therapy for as long as I can remember and on a veritable pharmacy of mind bending drugs and still I am not truly happy. I know that true happiness should come from within but that is so cliched. I feel I don’t even know who I am anymore without the drugs. But I don’t know if I can stop taking them. Withdrawal would take time I don’t have. I have to keep working and I can’t take as much time off as it would cost to withdraw. At this point I don’t know if I’d be better off with our without. I’m 49 years old and I am alone. I can’t talk about it to my mother because she can’t handle the stress. She can’t understand the difference between sad vs. depressed and I don’t even know what I am. This passed week a friendship ended and it was because of me but I couldn’t see it coming. I thought this person was shutting me out because of something that they felt I had done. It never even occurred to me that she was going through something she wouldn’t mention and come right out and say. Instead I caused drama because of anxiety which spun out of control and now the friendship is over and I have to work with her. I’m 49 years old and I’m no further ahead than when I was 20. I’m 49 and my biggest accomplishment is that I can get up everyday and go to work. And you know what Wil. I’m tired. I’m so, so tired of the struggle. I don’t know if it’s clinical, I don’t know if I’m more depressed than anxious. I know that I’m tired and afraid and I don’t know how to make my life more happy. Because I find it exhausting. I just spend the long weekend mostly sleeping. In the middle of Gay Pride and Canada Day. All I know is that I would embrace death. I would run into its arms and say take me.

    1. Optic Heart, your “biggest accomplishment is to get up every day and go to work.” That’s quite an accomplishment. Keep it up; don’t quit. However, the WORSE thing you can do is to stay in bed all weekend. The rest and sleep will not alleviate the mental fatigue. Force yourself to get out of bed, take a shower, feed the birds, take your dog for a walk. If you don’t have a dog, get one. He will show you unconditional love and will give you someone to care for, someone who needs you to feed him and care for him. He will give you a purpose in life. If you hire someone to cut your grass, decide to do it yourself. Rake your own leaves, paint your kitchen, wash the windows. There are tons of things to do. Get up and do them. But with moderation. Work a little, rest a little, work a little more. Just don’t stay in bed all day. Read my comment above about visiting a church. Just sit there in peace and quiet and say, “Jesus help me, Jesus help me, Jesus help me.” And he will. If you have a Bible, read from it, especially the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I know it is hard for a depressed person to concentrate on reading, but try it, a little at a time. Psalm 22 (23) is very helpful, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. Near restful waters he leads me. He revives my spirit…yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they give me comfort…” Depression is not forever. You will get over it. Patience…patience.

  11. Thank you

    I have been without my head meds for 7 months. It’s be enlightening. I had a good balance with the meds I was on. It will be about 6 months before I have insurance and can get back on track. (I will go look at the website you posted, Wil) I learned ways of more or less coping before meds that I have to use now. They are effective at keeping me from the worst things. So far. I have other health issues that compound the slow sinking into the abyss.

    As part of the “you don’t look sick” clan – it helps to know that I am not alone. We are not alone.

  12. Thank you for posting this Wil. I’m glad you are not afraid to speak about this publicly.

    My fiancee (who shares a birthday with you) has had a longstanding fight with depression. I was able to help her by giving her as much support as possible and letting her know that getting help was not a deficiency or weakness on her part. She sought professional help, received the care and medication that worked for her particular type of depression and anxiety, and now, in her words, feels “like her real self.”

    I grew up in a household with a depressed parent, so it wasn’t hard for me to notice many of the symptoms. But a lot of people out there don’t have someone close to them that’s patient and supportive. Even hearing “You are not alone in this fight” from a relative stranger can mean a lot to someone going through it.

    Have you approached NAMI about being a spokesperson for them? Maybe doing a PSA?

  13. Thank you so much for writing about this. I recently sought help for my depression and have been doing very well for a while. I’ve been in a rough patch for the past few days though. It scared me to be back in this mood, to be in pain again. I worried I would keep spiraling downward, like I have in the past. The difference is, now, I have medication and tools to help me deal with these emotions. It’s nice to hear that others hit these rough patches and work through them, that not all is lost. It’ll be a tough few days, but I’m hoping I can work through mine as well.

  14. I’ve been dealing with my own brand of anxiety + grief + summer or reversed S.A.D. This is really my worst time of year and last month was hard because I came down with a cold with affected my productivity at work. My body wants to flip my days and nights – and you can guess how helpful that is in the workplace. I suddenly looked at the calendar and went “Oh, crap. It’s June. This month and next month are going to suck.”

    Then I thought it over and realized that I was actually handling things pretty well – even better than last year, despite starting a new job and my mother dying. I am still having depressing and anxious thoughts, but I am also noting my successes. That said, I can’t get myself to get seriously back into my creative writing projects or my serious art projects. Finally had to tell myself, “Screw it, it’s summer. Let’s pretend I’m 6 years old and play with some online doll makers. I’ll be a creative adult again by the time September hits.”

    You know, I think I’m going to repost this on my G+ account, with one of the dolls I created this weekend.

  15. Hi Wil.

    Thank you. Can I give you a hug? Well, that would be creepy of me, so never mind that part.

    Have you heard zefrank’s chillout song? You must’ve, you’re on the internet as much as anyone. This song is what gets me through times like this. http://www.zefrank.com/chillout/ He wrote it for you. He wrote it for me. He wrote it for a woman named Laura dealing with anxiety. Maybe it isn’t your style, but maybe someone else on this thread will like it.

    Thank you for writing this. I continue to look up to the choices you have made over time (please keep writing about geek parenting), and hope that I can learn from your mistakes when you write about them too.

    The picture you used with this post reminds me of the organization I feel the most kinship with: To Write Love on Her Arms. They have various goals and topics (TRIGGERS!) of discussion, but the idea of writing support messages where others can see them — on your arms as with TWLOHA and the image in your post — or on the internet, resonates.

    Thank you. Don’t let other people get you down, and do your own battle with your own demons. I hope you roll a crit on those nightmares.

    -Alice

  16. My Husband Suffer from Bi Polar disorder and anxiety. He too does a great job of controlling but i can see those ties where it trys to take over and the inner struggles he has. H e looks up to you not as the celebrity you are but for your computer skills. he is a software developer web developer and all around computer genius (as he is in many things.) i will give this to him so he will know he to is not alone.

  17. Wil, has Anne ever written about being the spouse of a person suffering from anxiety/depression? I lost the love of my life because of my anxiety/depression. We may get another chance but he just doesn’t know how to deal with the issue. My family is at stake. Thank you for being so open about this topic.

  18. Thank you for sharing Wil it’s great that you are turning whats is for some a constant fight and struggle against your own brain which like’s to be a dick sometimes, into something positive and showing people that sometimes a happy smile doesn’t mean that, that someone is not in pain and for those that are in this situation that think meds are bad etc.. I too was like you I thought they were bad and you shouldn’t need them and so battled with my depression, and anxiety until I hit a brick wall which forced me to stop denying that I was depressed and actually accept that I was sick and needed help.
    So the next day made an appointment with my GP, whom prescribed me a SSRI, and gave me a referral to see a psychologist. While on the SSRI I had counseling sessions with the psychologist who armed me with the mental tools, I would need to battle this illness without the medication.
    I started the treatment in 2011 and 18 months later was off the medication and have been ever since. Sometimes you only need the medication to help you through the really bad parts while you are given the tools to help you without them.
    I still battle the depression and anxiety today but it will never win.

  19. I’m so glad you’ve felt supported and helped and learned ways to deal. Unfortunately, every single time I’ve sought professional help, I’ve felt attacked and dismissed by the professionals because of my lifestyle choices, which are not unhealthy, just non-mainstream. Luckily, I have an awesome, understanding husband, so that helps.

    1. That is something that scares me as well, that mental health professionals are all well and good for those whose life choices meet their “approval” but if you are a person that lives outside of that, then you get their disproval and are made to feel that your life is the way it is because of the life you live, because you are non mainstream.

      1. Nashay and Michelle, there are therapists and counselors out there who are also not mainstream. In my circle of friends I can think of several who live in unusual marriages (polyamorous, etc.,) are gay or lesbian, are fans of various fandoms, kinks, or are geeks overall. I fit into the ‘ally of all of these and fitting into one or two” category myself.

        If you find a judgmental therapist about core communities or activities that are a part of your life,, that person needs to be politely “fired” and you need to interview until you find one that is a better fit. Unless your non mainstream activity is something that is causing great pain in your life or the lives of others who are affected, it is probably a source of strength in your life and should be treated that way.

        Hmmm. Maybe there ought to be a guide of therapists for freaks and geeks ™ ;-)

        1. Yeah, eventually it would be nice to find someone who actually listens instead of just judging and assuming. (Although I’d like to go back and ask some of them to explain how the circumstances of my life *today* caused me to suffer severe anxiety in *middle school*.) It’s just discouraging to keep getting the same reaction over and over and over.

          1. There are a few websites out there for things like kink-friendly therapists, and even if you’re not that particular flavor of non-mainstream, a therapist who’s cool with one sort of non-mainstreamness is often okay with other sorts. Googling things like “kink-friendly therapist [your city]” and “poly-friendly therapist [your city]” is a good start.

            I found my most recent therapist by picking up a flier of hers at a pagan convention. She’s pagan/poly/kinky/childfree/etc friendly, and was able to refer me to a psychiatrist who was too. I was lucky — it’s easier to find non-mainstream professionals in my hometown (in the SF Bay Area of CA), but they’re tucked away in some surprising places.

            Good luck. I had to go through three psychiatrists (mine weren’t judgmental, just liars or useless) before finding a good one, and those were miserable experiences. I got really discouraged, and almost gave up. My bf gave me a lot of support, and without him, I probably would have. I can’t imagine hanging in there as long as it sounds like you have.

            I know I’m just some stranger on the internet, but: you are awesome. You deserve a good therapist, and I’m convinced one is out there for you. I’m rooting for you, Michelle.

          2. I did go ahead and put together a ‘how to find a therapist’ post with some resources. If you’r e interested, it’s at my website (click my name).

            I can’t count the number of times people have told me that their last therapist didn’t listen, or told them that ‘who they were’ wasn’t okay, or BS like that. I’d like to defend my profession, but I’ve known too many judgmental therapists to not know it occurs.

            The good news is, I also know awesome, kink friendly, LGBT friendly, pagan, athiest, agnostic friendly, poly friendly, geek friendly, and just basic good therapists who don’t assume their POV is the only valid one.

            I wish you luck finding what you want.

  20. Terribly proud of you for posting that post again, and thank you for continuing to comment about your own fight. Mental illness is still such a stigma, and it helps immensely to read others’ experiences, particularly in normalizing it. I always feel relief when I’m reminded that talented, smart, successful people in the public eye also have mental illnesses, and I imagine many others do too.

    Interesting side note: You’re now the 10th person I know to mention having terrible nightmares last night. I also had bad nightmares. Sending lots of recovery vibes.

  21. Hello Wil, fellow readers.
    I`m a long-time reader, and a big fan of Tabletop, and I wanted to share a couple of things that helped me during a bit of an episode I had during University.
    Suffice it to say, I`m cyclothymic, and had a nervous breakdown that led to night terrors and anxiety attacks on waking. Unpleasant time. I was offered medication, but found the effects of beta-blockers overwhelming; instead, I used meditation and breathing exercises before bed to ensure I went to sleep calm, and, if I was sleeping alone, I`d listen to audiobooks, or BBC Radio 4 ( a wonderful sedative). I found the consistent sound, usually a calm voice telling an interesting story, very helpful.

    I also found that being disciplined about when I went to sleep and got out of bed, regardless of how well or badly I`d slept, or not, helped me get a handle on my circadian rhythm and re-establish some control. I cut my alcohol consumption, my intake of fried carbs and refined sugar, no cigarettes inside the last hour I was awake, and over time I noticed a distinct improvement.
    FWIW, my mental health professional was extraordinarily understanding and helpful, and accepted my life choices which, at the time, included some socially unusual, and some outright illegal, recreations, without comment beyond `Maybe stop taking those, maybe try eating more fruit instead?` She was utterly understanding and professional and an enormous help.
    I don`t know how many, if any, of these steps might help you, Wil, or any other readers suffering in the same way, but they helped me at the time, and they`re still helping me manage my excitable brain chemistry today.
    I hope you slept better last night, and I hope that everyone who reads this blog sees how much support is available all around them. Best wishes everyone, thanks for reading this.

    1. This is all great advice. and I’m glad you found a mental health professional that worked with you the way you liked. I find that I will drift pretty quickly into a depression if I let my sleep get out of whack.

      Today, on the 4th, I have occasion to wish we celebrated our independence with quiet meditation vs. fireworks, and am basically on lock down at home until the boom-boom-be-de-do is done. Knowing this I plan my holiday carefully, and my husband graciously doesn’t ask me to partake of the big boom-y parties he and his family like to throw on the fourth. This year he’s home with me, and we’re re-watching John Adams on HBO Go. A fitting celebration, I think.

      1. Thank you Maureen, I hope you enjoyed John Adams!
        I celebrated the 4th of July by gaining my Canadian Permanent Residency, then going for sushi and a nice bottle of wine (French, it turned out). I find this situational irony deeply, profoundly pleasing. :D

  22. on an unrelated note (but not unrelated to previous posts), I read this blog and follow you on FB, and actually got to meet you once at the credit union (you were incredibly gracious, considering your “real people” anxieties). You’re always telling us (your fans) to “do something” or “make something” and it because of this I would like to inform you that my husband finally HAS: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DPZ04TE/ref=s9_simh_gw_p351_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1C4YKFJJSF03P450SZ0W&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1389517282&pf_rd_i=507846 (I don’t know how to embed the link, if it didn’t automatically)

    so if you could possibly find time to copy-and-paste the above to read a completely-unrelated-to-YOUR-career zombie novelette, and then maybe write an Amazon review, that would absolutely thrill us. If you can’t or won’t (ya know, for reasons), I completely understand. I am not trying to be a dick. We just don’t have a very good handle on the whole self-marketing thing yet (I can market my hubby’s book; if only he would market my VO reel!), so I’m asking you, yes, you, Wil Wheaton, for some help. Even if it’s only “how to self-market” advice! :)

    I hope you get out of your night terrors soon. I’m grateful that my depression episodes do not involve ANXIETY.

    your fan,
    emelle

    p.s. I will also COMPLETELY understand if, for reasons, you decide to block this post from your page. I was trying to send you a private FB message, but that didn’t work. I’m not the best at these internets things.

  23. Thank you for writing so openly and eloquently about mental illness. I’ve recently realized that I’ve been battling anxiety for years and am not just a “worrier” or “paranoid” as people would tell me.

    It is because of your and Jenny Lawson’s openness about mental health that I was finally brave enough to ask for help. I am now proud to say that I’ve been seeing a therapist who is helping me work through my anxiety and compulsions. It’s far from over but I’m still fighting.

    Thank you.

  24. in case you don’t see my comment on Facebook, I’ll repeat here: I’m genuinely sad you had a bad night. I told my 7 year old who suffers from nightmares too. I said that he wasn’t alone and that you suffer from them too (He ADORES YOU) I asked him how that makes him feel. He said “sadder” I explained that it means that even awesome people have nightmares, and that made him feel special. Last night I gave my boy extra cuddles and told him to try not to worry about having a nightmare, instead think about what the next tabletop game we will play. No nightmares last night. Thank you

  25. I saw your post on Tumblr and immediately reblogged it. Knowing that I am not alone has been very reassuring during my own struggles with depression. Knowing many lovely, wonderful, talented people who also happen to suffer from anxiety, depression, PTSD etc is a reminder that mental illness can strike anyone. It’s part of the reason why I volunteer with , community weblog open to all. Our tagline is “We are all connected. We are none of us alone.” In addition to amazing first-person stories every day, we have a wealth of resource pages like this one: . I think a lot of your readers & commenters would fit right in with our Band. (And we’re officially non-profit, so I hope this doesn’t come off as self-promo).

  26. I’ve been struggling with Depression for as long as I can remember. And the anxiety to go along with it gets worse as I get older.
    I’ll be 40 this year. So my birthday present to myself, is to make an appointment with a professional so I can get the help I need to feel normal.
    Happy Birthday to me!

  27. Thanks for posting this. I’m a single Dad with custody of my teenage daughter. She has depression and social anxiety disorder. She has been in the hospital for 2 months now as a result of her illness. It seems that her depression is not responding to the typical medicines. She started ECT today. Even though I know that this is an effective treatment for depression it is a scary step.

    She is a smart and thoughtful girl. Who use to be very happy. I’m hoping that sometime in the near future she will be happy again.

  28. I *LOVE* when you write about your own struggle with medical issues. Your honesty and willingness to share what works for you and what doesn’t is comforting. People can see that even if you have to deal with these types of medical challenges in your life, you can still be an incredibly awesome person and live an awesome life (and from your following post, still share yourself with others). More importantly, anyone who has to deal with family, friends (or entire politcal parties) who are dismissive of such challenges knows that it IS a real thing that DOES affect the human body.

    Being someone who has always asked “Why?” in a way that wants an in-depth answer to the cause, not the symptoms, I’ve been reading about CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) since I had a surgery that labelled me with this disease afterwards and landed me on disability. When PBS aired their special “Cracking Your Genetic Code”, I was very interested to see how damage to our genetic code is a vital part to many of the problems we deal with. Did you know allergies are a genetic response to toxins?

    While I search to know more scientifically, I also want to know what other influences are affecting my physical, mental and emotional rises and falls. I couldn’t sleep the evening of July 2nd. Consequently July 3rd was like walking through a haze of thick, mucky energy and talking to a couple of other friends and family they seemed to feel dragged down as well. I remember a TV show featuring a story about children having bouts of uncontrollable violence. They found when they taught them to deal with these bouts by directly addressing the “energy” that surrounds and affects them (as if that energy was an actual entity) they were able to control these episodes. Keep in mind these examples were when the children were VERY young and setting lifelong patterns. They say children are VERY attuned to the energy around them and on the Earth.

    I know it sounds all New Agey, but I can’t ignore that Theresa Caputo dealt with horrible anxiety all her life until she started talking to and dealing with the “dead” people she communicates with. From a scientific prospective, I embrace the idea that there are multiple time lines (string theory?), that energy takes many different forms and that we couldn’t possibly be alone in the universe. If I believe is all those forms of life, how could I not at least entertain that people who leave their physical bodies for the last time still exist in the form of spirit? Even if some would prefer to think it a leftover energetic residue?

    I’m not suggesting anyone do anything different than what their physicians have prescribed. Everyone is different, everyone knows what works for them, what puts them in emergency situations and how to control and maintain their health the best. You are the ONLY one who truly knows what works for you. However, as someone who has been labelled “depressive” by physical doctors, but not by mental health professionals, is unable to physically take any of the medicines for depression which have been prescribed for me for anxiety, depression, neurological and physical pain I can’t not look deeper to the cause and not just the symptoms. I also take issue that this same drug is being used for not only the “depression,” but many other physical conditions as well.

    Deanna Troi may not have been as fictional a character as people believe. We may be susceptible to all of the emotion around us both near and far. Every time we have a tragedy (like 9-11, the tsunamis, Katrina, Sandy, Boston, Moore, OK, etc.) I’ve been unable to stay awake until the day it happens. Then I am WIDE awake. If the brain scan on Theresa Caputo can show on live TV (Dr. Oz) that something is actually happening in her brain when she communicates with those who have passed on, I have to at least consider that something else contributes to my physical state. What if we are evolving to a state of heightened intuition? As someone who’s mental practitioners don’t seem to agree with her physical practitioner’s estimation of what’s wrong with me, I have to take it all into consideration.

  29. Wil, I just wanted to post this to you, because I have recently been experiencing some depression issues, which, thanks to you and your openness about depression and encouragement to get treatment, I am dealing with in the right way. I came across this blog entry today while searching, and wanted to share it with you.

    This gentleman is a human being I admire who just happens to be an actor, Stephen Fry. He wrote in his blog about how depression affects him. Instead of me trying to explain what he said, you can read it in his own words: http://www.stephenfry.com/2013/06/24/only-the-lonely/

    Because of people like you, Wil, and people like Mr. Fry that are in the public eye, there are people who will seek help because of what you have written, and there are people that will be more inclined to try and understand what a person who suffers from depression has to deal with.

    I guess, basically… Thanks for being such a wonderful example of a human being.

  30. Hey Wil,

    Don’t know if you’ve been linked to this (couldn’t find it via your blog search thingie), but Depression Comix is made by a sufferer of depression and really illustrates (literally) how it works on the mind. It’s helped me to understand my wife’s depression, and mine as well:

    http://www.depressioncomix.com

  31. Mr. Wheaton, thank you for posting this and for continuing to be so open about your battles with depression and anxiety. I face the same issues, and it helps to know that I am not alone and that, in fact, people whose lives seem so much better and more “together” than mine suffer the same as I do. I am very proud to be a fan and I hope that you–and I, and everyone with the same afflictions–feel better very soon. Much respect and admiration from Melissa T. in Kentucky.

  32. Unfortunately, in my opinion, there is still one major battle to fight when it comes to getting help for MY depression….and that is the cost. Insurance is totally laughable, and with a husband out of work, I can in NO WAY afford the hundreds of dollars that a therapist costs. Which really DEPRESSES me….it actually feeds my depression, unfortunately. So I just take each day, and remind myself that I have people who love me, and an awesome dog, and I just keep hoping that one day the dark cloud will fade away because of all of this good stuff….still waiting, but still hoping.

    1. I don’t know where you are, but I do know that many communities have community mental health programs that are funded by grants. Sounds like you have good coping skills, (spending time with the dog, reaching out to people who care). It’s worth making a call. Also, pay attention to diet and sleep schedules, as both can influence depression. And forgive yourself on days when you just can’t. It happens.

      Life has crap all over it, but in between the piles of ‘pudding’ are all kinds of beautiful things… and sometimes the ‘pudding’ even helps that grown. Acknowledge the stuff that sucks, focus on the stuff that doesn’t, and keep trying. It does get better.

  33. Wil, you’re doing a great job in helping other people with the same kind of problems. I really want to say thank you for that.

    (I have good reasons to appreciate that. My Dad had depression and wouldn’t seek help for years because in his generation, it was considered impossible to “admit” having a problem like that. The guy who I still think was the love of my life left me because he felt he couldn’t be in a relationship while battling his depression. And a few years ago, I went through a phase where I got panic attacks at the most impossible moments. They struck without warning, causing more fear I’d end up just giving up everything I liked and staying safely at home. My mother’s had that, too, so I was able to recognize it for what it was. So I didn’t think I was having a heart attack, but the thing that was really driving me nuts was that all my knowledge about what a panic attack is and what causes it didn’t help me to stop it. So – I think you’re very right about the “waiting it out” character of that sort of thing.)

    I wrote in an earlier comment that I’ve always felt I “owe” you the discovery of Wilco some eight years ago because of one of your reviews. It took me seven more years until I discovered all the other awesome stuff Jeff Tweedy’s doing apart from Wilco (for example producing two absolutely mind-blowing Mavis Staples albums, one including the song “You’re Not Alone”, which is where the circle closes with your original post), and a few days ago, I read a really great interview with him in which he’s also talking about panic attacks: http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/July-2013/Summer-Music-Tonight-Jeff-Tweedy-Is-Your-Opening-Act/

    Oh, how I know the being-chased-by-a-bear-feeling. As well as being angry and frustrated about being unable to “think myself out of it”. I’ve always had a hard time accepting any other strategy of solving problems than rational/intellectual approaches, and I simply wouldn’t accept that in this case, it didn’t help a thing. So I just read more books that didn’t help…

    In the meantime, I realized that it gets worse when I try to fight it off. It’s a lot better to think, “Oh, it’s you again, anxiety/panic attack. Well, take a look around, see for yourself that there’s no tiger chasing you, and go back to sleep.” It doesn’t always work, but if I’m lucky, it stops the panic attack before it really starts. And I’m experiencing a lot of anxiety at the moment because of some major changes in my life, so I also get to enjoy these waking-up-and-feeling-frightened or not getting to sleep at all moments.
    I wouldn’t wish my worst enemy this bullshit, but in a way, it helps to know that at least two artists whose work I admire more than I can say have been there, too, and that they’ve not let that keeping them from doing their thing, and doing it great, as well as opening up and sharing their experiences with others.

    I wish you all the best in your struggle with this. I know you’ll make it, and you bet you’re not alone. And, to quote from one of my absolutely favorite Wilco songs: “It’s alright to be frightened.”

    Keep going!


  34. ?: KNOCK KNOCK.
    Me: Who’s there?
    ?: ANXIETY.
    Me: Anxiety who?
    Anxiety: BECAUSE FUCK YOU THAT’S WHO. LOL.

    Having lived with OCD for the past decade+, there are still days when this is really appropriate. Also, thanks for sharing the phrase, “Depression Lies” from Jenny Lawson’s blog. I have a bulletin board of sayings and reminders about mental illness and that’s definitely going on it.

    Thank you for sharing this very personal part of your life with the world and congrats on your continued recovery.

  35. ((hug)) I’m glad things now seem to be turning around. Depression runs in my family, but I usually seem to be normally chemically balanced. About 2 years ago though, I was having horrible anxiety for the first time ever. My little Claire was about 1 year old and I was anxious about everything… a little paranoid for her safety… but mostly just never-ending anxiety. I remember being a jittery anxious wreck at her first birthday party and normally I’m good in that situation. After a few nights of not being able to sleep because my heart pounding was keeping me awake (WTF?) I called my doctor who referred me to a therapist and we could not find a cause. I wasn’t working, there was no change in my life, other than having a 1 year old, no stress… had no idea. I just suffered through it a few more weeks and slowly it went away.
    For anyone reading this… take note…. well, if you are a nursing mom anyway. I was weaning my daughter at the time and the adjusting hormonal response just caused wild anxiety. Once things balanced out I was fine. I had no idea what was going on. Doctors never mentioned it at the time, but months later I figured out what the cause of it was. It may not always be your brain, it may be your hormones. Now that I’ve dipped my toe in it, I have more sympathy for those who deal with this off an on. I’d prefer not to have that kind of anxiety ever again.

  36. Will,

    Allow me to first start off by saying a simple “thank you.” As a parent of a 17 year-old son who suffers from sever depression, among other mental challenges, you are a breath of fresh air. Living with a mental illness(es) in Illinois is tough; advocating is tough and this is, by far, the most gut-wrenching experience of our families’ lives. I would like to personally let everyone know that you are not alone. Additionally, it affects every social class. I have recently created a crowdfunding website for my son, Kody, not only to help him get the services he so desperately needs, but to raise awareness and do my part to bring about change. I have come to the realization that this is a marathon, not a sprint. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” Little by little and one by one, we will get there. Thank you so very much for your support of mental health awareness. I have done my homework; i have researched to the point of exhaustion. Now, I turn to all of the supporters out here who can help me and our family get through this difficult time. Thanks so much for your time and consideration. Love, Stacey P.S. Facebook posts are very much welcomed! I have dedicated my page to mental health awareness – I have even purchased bracelets to give to others (at zero cost to you) in honor and support of my son. They read “Not All Wounds Are Visible.” The website I refer to is below.

    http://www.gofundme.com/2wwl80

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