The Pandemic Exacerbated What Was Always Inside Me!
The pandemic wreaked havoc on all facets of daily life and took no prisoners. I don’t care who you are, how healthy the people around you were, or where you are located; the pandemic negatively affected you. Such was and still is the case with me. I realized in the last few months, one of my worst fears was coming true. The depression existent in my parents and sibling was also existent in me. I always knew I had this depression within me, but I was always on the go and always keeping it at bay. At least, that is what I told myself!
Happiness always seemed to elude me. A profound sadness was always existent and clawing at me from inside. I would develop a list of those things which made me happy. I worked in sales, and making the sale was always a short burst of happiness. There would be events like concerts, hanging with friends, and pleasant vacations. For as long as I can remember, I had a problem living in the moment. I would be experiencing something exciting or positive today, but my mind often wandered to tomorrow. I never seemed quite satisfied with what was happening currently, and I constantly worried about the future. As seemed to be the case with many people, the pandemic amplified these feelings.
I sought out small bursts of happiness. Overeating, or sugar binging, became an issue, but I always kept my weight within acceptable levels. I had learned from past mistakes how to control my weight. Gambling is where I dug myself into some trouble, and I still struggle with it to this day. Long-term losses often offset the short-term gains. Michigan became an online gambling hotbed in January of 2021, and I never looked back. I experienced the high of winning minor jackpots from the comfort of my home. I justified my losses with the promise of winning it all back on a straight slot pull. The sad thing is, I know the winning is an infrequent occurrence. The internal negotiation within my head often drowns out the logical person in me. I was always looking for the “big” win, but what Jackpot is “big” enough?
A few months ago, It was time to seek out help. My bank account had taken a beating, and the offset wins were few and far between. My wife had begun to notice, and at her prodding, it was time to seek professional help. I was always one for therapy and entirely in support of those who sought out a therapist. I always knew it would be helpful, but I needed a push to get myself to the finish line. This was that push I needed. I was adamant; if I were going to see a therapist, it would have to be an in-person session. A majority of the available therapists were still seeing people virtually. This was certainly an option I would not entertain.
After filling out the necessary paperwork, which involved a list of feelings experienced, I was put into the hopper for a later callback. Thoughts of suicide were treated as more of a priority, but only just a little. I don’t experience thoughts of suicide, but I worry about those persons that do. The wait time to see someone was several weeks. If you had little thoughts of suicide, did you receive less priority? The lengthy delay highlighted what I spoke of earlier. The pandemic has affected everyone in some way. That being said, therapists are in very high demand as they race to help and alleviate all of our problems.
I eventually was matched up to a therapist and can happily say I have seen her several times over the last few months. I want to emphasize this is no quick fix. I was very upfront with my therapist from the start. My goal was not to pull the wool over her eyes and stonewall any advice she may have. I did not want to waste either of our time together. I genuinely want to make some inroads with dealing with this “depression” I have. I was looking to find a balance with my life and become a lot less “dark.” I find each session is a little more freeing, and I share just a little bit more. If I have one regret, it took me a little too long to seek out professional help. If I have one complaint, my therapist talks a little too much, and it can be a competition at times.
What have I learned in the last few months? I need to be busy. I need to channel myself into various tasks other than gambling. I am most happy when I feel like I have accomplished something. My kids often use the word “satisfying” when seeing something or doing something they find comforting. I think this after completing a project at home, playing a hockey game, taking a long walk to close out my exercise rings, and various other things. I can learn what my triggers are and what the next steps will be to alleviate some of the anxiety I feel every day. I am hoping time will reveal more.