THESE MEN’S STORIES: Top left – clockwise:
œCan you describe a typical day??
Many days…I just didn’t wanna get out of bed. Honestly the only reason I got out of bed on more
than a few of those days was because the dog had to get walked and my wife had to go to work.
So I walked the dog take her to work come back. Some days I’d get back in bed, some days I’d
just sit on the couch and wonder what I was going to do next not knowing, not knowing at all.
œDo you believe it will ever end??
No, when you’re in the middle of it, you just, you don’t know when it’s gonna end. You sit there
and look at it. You know you wanna get better. You know you wanna be who you were before.
You just don’t know if it’s gonna end where it’s gonna end, how it’s gonna end. You don’t know if
you’re ever gonna be the person that you were before. There were days when I thought I’d never
be myself again…I just thought…this is just the way it’s gonna be and I thought everything was
gonna have to change.
œWas there anything you liked to do??
I pretty much lost interest in just about everything. Every aspect of your life the interest level just
goes. You’re just kinda there.
œIs it hard to accept that you are sick??
It depended who I was speaking to about how much I can admit to how I was feeling. You know
your head is screwed up, that somebody is going to look at you like you™re crazy, that you™re weak
for admitting that you™re having a problem. Especially in the fire service. Fire service, police
service; it™s an entirely macho atmosphere. So it™s just natural that you™ll be looked upon as weak
if you admit that you™re having some kind of problem dealing with something.
œCan you pull out of it on your own??
They think I’m a big, tough fireman. I’m supposed to be able to deal with anything, I’m supposed
to be able to just pick up, carry on, like the old commissioner said, ‘Just be able to suck it up. And
just keep going.’ It’s not that easy. You can’t just do that. If you tried to, it’s just gonna come back
up again and again and again. It may take a while but it’s gonna keep coming back up. I don’t
know if I’d be a firefighter today if I didn’t get help.
œHow do you feel now??
Everything’s back to normal. You know what I experienced was something nobody should
experience. But somehow I’ve been able to find a context for it in my life and it’s there. It’ll always
be there; it’s never gonna go away but I found a way to fit it into my life that I can live with it.
œCan you describe how it started??
It started with my loss of interest in basically everything that I like doing. Martial arts, comic
books, toys, things like that and I just didn’t really feel like doing anything any more. I just
felt…like giving up sometimes, sometimes I didn’t even want to get out of bed.
œWhat did you think was happening to you??
I am thinking there’s got to be something wrong because I’m waking up and I’m going, I feel like
nothing matters. My children, my family, nothing matters.
œCan you describe a typical day??
I’d either stay in bed or jump on the sofa. I wouldn’t want to do anything, much less go out. I
wouldn’t go out at all. I’d stay, stay in bed just worrying, as hopeless as, nothing else. What else
œWhy didn™t you seek help right away??
I was hoping that it would just go away. I would just hope that, hope this would just go back, I’d
go back to how it was, but it didn’t. It just got worse. It’d just get worse and worse and every day
was a struggle, just to do minor things.
œHow does depression affect sleep??
I’d sleep twelve hours and other times not sleep at all. I’d be up, and then it would start. I’d get
up sometimes I’d wake up in the middle of the night and not get back to sleep for a couple of
hours. And that’s what it was, I just, I don’t know, feeling of hopelessness that would just
constantly nag me and I couldn’t get to sleep. I wouldn’t sleep at all.
œHow do the children feel now that you are better??
Well they feel they got Daddy back the way he used to be. I’m doing more things with them and
you know, taking more interest in things and school and, not that I didn’t have it before, but it’s
just a, if I didn’t have interest in myself, how would I have interest in anything else? But then it’s
funny because when I would think about my family, and that would motivate me to, well if I’m not
doing it for myself, I’m doing it for them. And I had to do it for them.
œWhat were the first symptoms of depression??
I just felt terrible and I didn’t know why it was, I didn’t want to face anyone, I didn’t want to talk to
anyone. I didn’t really want to do anything for myself because I felt so, I felt like I was such an
awful person that there was no real reason for me to do anything for myself.
œDescribe how you felt.?
I just didn’t feel any emotions, I just couldn’t feel. my real feeling was just pure numbness, I just
couldn’t feel sad, I couldn’t really feel happy, um, it was almost like I was under water with like my
eyes and my ears all shut off and I was just there.
œHow did depression affect you at school??
I didn’t read a book, I barely went to class. I just couldn’t wake up in time for class. If I had class
at two, I’d sleep till three. So whatever I did, I just didn’t do it.
œHow did the depression affect your sleep??
Sometimes I’d sleep like only three hours a night cause I couldn’t sleep for weeks, but most of the
time the opposite happened where I would sleep ten, twelve, fifteen hours a day even.
œDid being Latino make a difference??
Yeah, I totally think that being a Latino made it harder. Um, my brother, my little brother went
through depression before me, I’m pretty sure and we never even really talked about it because
there’s a silence over things, there’s just things you don’t talk about. And um, when I told my
parents I had depression, I was like look Mom, I’m depressed, you know I can’t deal with things
anymore, I don’t think I can finish school. My mom was like you’re not depressed! Your brother
went through, through a period, you know what? You’re gonna get over. You just got to be
strong, you just gotta finish school and you gotta do this.
œCan you describe how it feels??
A feeling of isolation, a feeling of being cut off from the people around you, of not being able to,
almost of being underwater, sort of emotionally underwater, you know, not being able to make
direct physical contact. You lose interest in physical contact, in sexual relationships, you become
œWhen did you realize something was wrong??
I remember the first time I knew something really was wrong, I was talking with one of my
colleagues in the company in which I worked, a publishing house, and I just burst into tears. And I
had no idea why that had happened.
œCan you describe the pain??
It is as if your inner core is being squeezed in such a way that it hurts, it just hurts, it feels as if
somebody’s been beating you. You feel as if your tissue has been wounded. You just feel
internally, in pain.
œDid you consider suicide??
You are pushed to the point of considering suicide because living becomes very painful. You are
looking for a way out, you’re looking for a way to eliminate this terrible psychic pain.
œWhy did you wait 7 years to get help??
Your tendency is just sort of wait it out, you know, let it get better. You don’t want to go to the
doctor. You don’t want to admit to how bad you’re really feeling. If I had not been lucky enough to
have relief, I might well have killed myself.
œHow is depression different from the blues??
Everybody gets the blues. I call depression the super blues. The ultimate blues because when
you get the blues, you sometimes can figure your way out of the them. Say I have the blues, that
happens to people. But when you have the super blues, you can’t find you’re way back cause
you’ve gotten so far in. It’s like a hole that closes up behind you and you just get lost in your own
mind. You literally get lost.
œWhy didn™t you talk to people about your depression??
Here I am in the Air Force and I’m one of the senior leaders in the enlisted ranks. And that would
be a sign that well maybe I’m not a leader. And then my career’s derailed or maybe I’ll lose my
security clearance. I can’t let anybody know, I’ve got to gut it out, I’ve got to fake my way through
it…You don’t want to be perceived as weak, you finally get to a point where you say, let all that be
damned, you don’t care how you’re perceived, because you are barely breathing, you’re barely
œCan you describe the pain??
Think of, if you cut your arm off or got shot or you broke something or tore up a knee and think
about how excruciating that pain is, that’s mild and can be taken care of with an aspirin compared
to mental anguish.
œWhat did you do to relieve the pain??
I’d drink and I’d just get numb. I’d get numb to try to numb my head, and that would take a lot of
beer, I’m telling you. I mean, we’re talking many, many beers to get to that state where you could
shut your head off, but then you wake up the next day and it’s still there. Because you have to
deal with it, it doesn’t just go away.
œCan you describe the recovery??
It’s just gradual. You don’t even really notice it. You just kind of come back and then you’re back
to normal and then you go, where the hell have I been?
Depression is a real disease that can be successfully treated.
For more information, call 1-866-227-6464,
visit: NIMH , or contact
your health care provider.
It takes courage to ask
for help. Jimmy did.
”Jimmy Brown, Firefighter
National Institutes of Health