On January 26th, 2008, my dad was in England celebrating his 54th birthday. At the same time, I was in Phoenix. I was sitting in my SUV and parked in my garage. The engine was running and there was a hose pipe running from the exhaust into the passenger window. I had downed two bottles of wine and was unconscious when the police found me. It would be the first of three suicide attempts over the next five weeks. The last of which involved an overdose of medication that put me in a coma for four days. I had taken what doctors consider two times a fatal overdose. I shouldn’t be here, but somehow I am.
My name is Craig W. Chenery and I live with clinical depression, chronic social anxiety and bipolar disorder. Notice I say I live with depression, I no longer suffer from it. I suffered for 33 years with undiagnosed depression, social anxiety and bipolar disorder. Despite the social stigma attached to these illnesses, I am not ashamed to admit I have them. There is far greater shame denying their existence and trying to live life like nothing is wrong. If I choose to ignore it, everyone else then has to deal with the fallout when I have a swing. Living with these illnesses is mandatory. It’s how I was programmed. I have no choice in that matter. Suffering, on the other hand is optional.
I always try to avoid the big three topics on my blog and other social network sites. Sex, religion and politics are the easiest ways to alienate people. That’s not to say I will avoid controversial subjects. Far from it. As part of an ongoing blog series, I plan to start discussing depression and mental disorders and how creators can not only live with these illnesses, but live full and productive lives.
I am not a doctor. I will not offer medication advice. We all work a little differently and what works for me, may not for you. Medications that would give me nightmares and hallucinations work perfectly well for others. Finding the right mix is a discussion for you and your doctor.
As a society, we don’t like to talk about depression and mental disorders. Sometimes it seems that the only time it is socially acceptable is when a celebrity commits suicide. Then it becomes a buzzword spoken around the water cooler for a few weeks and it’s quickly forgotten. That is to not downplay the loss of a celebrity’s life. The loss of any life due to depression, be it celebrity or otherwise is a terrible thing. But depression affects 8.5% of the adult population totaling almost 18 million. Bipolar disorder affects approximately 5.7 million adult Americans, or about 2.6%. We’re not alone, not by a long shot. In the coming weeks and months, I will be discussing my journey with these illnesses and hopefully generating a dialogue with others.