Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Depression in Gay Men

I just read a statistic somewhere that said that one of the top 10 health problems among gay men is depression.

I wonder why?

Could it be because so many of us grow up inside a deep dark closet and the only tools we have developed to cope with this thanks to society and the church are isolations, repression and self-hatred?

For me, it has not been clinical depression. I think it's more situational depression...or what I would call the blues.

Before marriage, I would have periods of self-loathing....and I would want to be by myself. I wanted to hide. I felt so all alone....and unwanted. I just didn't seem to feel like I could ever fit in. Even in a crowd of people...I felt the coldness of being alone.

When I got married....all that went away. I was busy about getting my life in order -- establishing my family -- climbing the corporate ladder. Who had time for the "blues?"

But then, as I reached my 40s and beyond, it suddenly started to reappear. I started erecting walls of isolation...and would feel rather antisocial. I detested being around my wife's family. They all had such wonderful social whirls...and I felt like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. I felt nothing in common with them. Family gatherings were a source of tremendous stress for me.

Then the separation and the divorce happened. Honestly, I felt like I was losing my mind. The period of 2005-2007 are perhaps the closest I have come to a nervous breakdown.

My world simply fell apart.

Not only did I lose my wife -- the one person I was taught to trust beyond measure. The one I could tell my deepest and darkest secrets to -- the one who knew me warts and all -- betrayed me. All my secrets became public knowledge...
I felt naked and alone.

At that time, I also lost the man in my life that I considered to be my soulmate. He was the love of my life...but for reasons still not clear to me....he could not deal with my divorce and he was not prepared to leave his wife. (I never had wanted him to.)

As time has passed, I got up the courage and the strength to pick myself up.....dust myself off.....and then begin again, but this time as a relatively out single gay man.

And here I am...

So I suppose I have earned the right to be blue now and then. It doesn't mean I enjoy it. It doesn't mean that there is something wrong with me.

It means I am human and that I still have a few demons to work with.

Yesterday after lunch the blues hit me -- like a ton of bricks they hit...without warning. I still smart a bit from their arrival...and am working quite hard to extricate myself from the pit.

It's very slow going.

It may sound funny.....but when I have these fits of sadness....I look for the triggers. I want to be able to shore myself up so that I can rise above them.

Yesterday, the main trigger was something totally silly. At lunch, I had time to look at Facebook. I sort of have a love -- hate relationship with the social networking site.

I have now had my account for almost two years. Oddly, in that time I have amassed just under 500 friends. Not too shabby for a man that complained just a few short years ago that I had no friends.

But here I am...with almost 500...people that I really have relationships with...people that I know....people that I care about and they care for me.

So, how did the sadness occur?

Well, I had seen that my ex-brother-in-law (he's the ne that's mom recently died and I moved heave and earth for to attend her funeral last week at Arlington National Cemetery.) had joined Facebook. So, I sent a friend request with a note saying, "I really hope this finds you well. I am so sorry about your mom. Let me know if there is anything I can do."

I submitted the friend request for his review and approval.

Yesterday at lunch I found out that he had ignored it.

TOTALLY

So even though it's silly.....and even though it's just FACEBOOK....it erupted the avalanche of the blues that came cascading upon my life.

This morning, I only added to this by listening to a Wynonna Judd song, "Is It Over Yet?" It came up on the I-pod while driving into work this morning. It's about the break up of a relationship...and everytime I hear it...I go back to the day of Lovey's departure, which I was not present for thankfully, but the song brings back that time period quite effectively.

I was right there again.

Standing in my empty house remembering what had been and wondering what would be.

Alone.

Afraid.

But determined.

To live again.

So here I am at my desk, about to begin a new day. It's hot outside. It's 2010.

Time to move on....and pull myself up off the floor.

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12 Comments:

Blogger Ron Tipton said...

Everyone gets the blues now and then. It is normal. Clinical depression....now that is something else and serious. I don't believe you are experiencing depression but you are having a period of blues because it appears that your ex brother-in-law doesn't want to have anything to do with you. I don't know him and I'm not sure if he just hasn't seen your friend request but if it is true that he rejected your request for Friend on Facebook, well, that's his loss. If that is his decision then you don't want him for a friend anyway.
Rejection is never easy to take. I don't claim any immunity myself. Just yesterday I experienced rejection. I had scheduled a massage with a therapist at work who was offering free massages to all the front desk personnel at the hotel where I work. I've only had one massage in my life and I was looking forward to this one. He calls yesterday about an hour before the appointed time and gives me some convoluted excuse about being sick, and his girlfriend taking him to the hospital, and his girlfriend getting him medicine, and his girlfriend taking him home. See a pattern here? His GIRLFRIEND. I'm out at work and have always been out since 1963. Apparently he mentioned to his GIRLFRIEND that I had an appointment with him. She didn't like it. Massaging the OLD GAY GUY? No way.
Rejection? Sure. Did it make me feel bad? Sure. What did I do? I went to the boardwalk this morning and walked four miles. I sat for awhile watching the waves. Then I came back home and busied myself with my favorite stress relaxing activity, updating my genealogy records on Ancestry.com.
I have never felt self-loathing for myself but I do feel bad when I am rejected for who I am. It never gets easy. But you have to develop ways to deal with it. Your ex brother-in-law apparently doesn't consider you worthy as a FB friend. Again, his problem because you are worthy. I would love to have you for a friend. And I'm sure many others feel the same way. Don't get all tripped up on some person who doesn't appreciate you for who you are. They're not worth it. You are.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Ron Tipton said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Ron Tipton said...

Hey Frank, sorry about the double posting of my comment. I got a message that it was too large then when I tried to correct it, this happened. I'll try to keep my future comments more concise.

9:14 AM  
Anonymous Cleo Pascal said...

This post really made me cry. I can really feel how hard you've been through dealing with that kind of situation. But on the brighter side of it, it just made me glad to know that you are now moving on, trying to resurface everything and living your life as if it's your last.

Well anyways like you, I've gone through a lot of depression recently when my husband and I separated and got divorced. Honestly that time I don't know what to do to overcome this pain that's been ruling over my whole system. Until my friend introduced me to this doctor and he prescribed me some alternative healing medicines that provide holistic health and healing for me not to get depressed again.

11:11 PM  
Anonymous Cleo Pascal said...

This post really made me cry. I can really feel how hard you've been through dealing with that kind of situation. but on the brighter side of it, it just made me glad to know that you are now moving on, trying to resurface everything and living your life as if it's your last.

Well anyways, like you, I've gone through a lot of depression recently when my husband and I separated and got divorced. Honestly that time I don't know what to do to overcome this pain that's been ruling over my whole system. Until my friend introduced me to this doctor and he prescribed me some alternative healing medicines that provide holistic health and healing for me not to get depressed again.

7:36 PM  
Anonymous Cleo Pascal said...

This post really made me cry. I can really feel how hard you've been through dealing with that kind of situation. but on the brighter side of it, it just made me glad to know that you are now moving on, trying to resurface everything and living your life as if it's your last.

Well anyways, like you, I've gone through a lot of depression recently when my husband and I separated and got divorced. Honestly that time I don't know what to do to overcome this pain that's been ruling over my whole system. Until my friend introduced me to this doctor and he prescribed me some alternative healing medicines that provide holistic health and healing for me not to get depressed again.

7:36 PM  
Blogger Cleo said...

This post really made me cry. I can really feel how hard you've been through dealing with that kind of situation. but on the brighter side of it, it just made me glad to know that you are now moving on, trying to resurface everything and living your life as if it's your last.

Well anyways, like you, I've gone through a lot of depression recently when my husband and I separated and got divorced. Honestly that time I don't know what to do to overcome this pain that's been ruling over my whole system. Until my friend introduced me to this doctor and he prescribed me some alternative healing medicines that provide holistic health and healing for me not to get depressed again.

4:40 AM  
Blogger carvell said...

Depression is very common in the LGBT community because of many reasons. There is no diagnosis in the DSM IVR that is labeled "the blues". However, there are adjustment disorders with depression and anxiety attached. There are also many forms of depression including: Major Depression, Dysthymia, Bi-polar Disorder and Depressive Disorder NOS. As I stated earlier the sources of these kinds of depression include genetics and environmental factors. I suspect that depression in gay men can also be influenced by what we go through in coping with the many stresors; too many to list here but take stock in your experiences.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Jerry said...

Okay, Out of the Ashes....you were married for 25 years and discovered you are gay. When did you discover being gay? Perhaps it was the same day you got married? What about her? Both parties lost their youth. Honestly, why the heck didn't you stayed married.... at your age now;who wants you? The gay lifestyle is about body,beauty,youth and aids. Yes, youth still gets aids.Now you understand your depression?

1:41 AM  
Blogger Bill Cohen said...

I'd test out a pharmacological assist with an MD who isn't going to label you clinically depressed.

1:11 PM  
Blogger Nasser Imenpoor said...

everyone please help me, I feel the blues badly and sometimes I try to suicide myself. I`m single now, Is getting married make me better???

6:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Jerry... you're obviously an unsympathetic, judgemental presumptuous idiot. I assume either straight or a homophobe; either way....a clueles person who 'thinks' he know what the gay life style is about and presumptuously stereotype's all gays. Get educated airhead...it's the 21st century! To Nassor....getting married will not solve your blues...been there done that myself. I would first encourage you to be ok with yourself, in your own skin....walk your journey in confidence and surround yourself with people you can trust who allow you to walk it out (not the Jerry's of the world who are stuck in their own small mindedness).....and not just people who tell you what you want to hear either, but...people who care and have a vested interest in you and how you end up. My faith and my friends have helped me tremendously. It's still tough, but....such is life, especially when we are tyring to be true to ourselves; the 'naysayers' will always outnumber those who celebrate others; surround yourself with those who celebrate you...and, celebrate yourself :)

12:45 PM  

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