May 02, 2013

midlife crisis, depression, and brain injuries

The last year and a half I've been burnt with triathlons. I'm no longer obsessed. No longer driven beyond all reason. Now that I look back at all the time spent cycling, running, swimming, racing, and the tens of thousands of dollars I spent on traveling, hotels, equipment, and race entries I realize triathlon was my midlife crisis. In some ways my family and I got off easy compared to other men. My family is still together, thriving actually. There's been no infidelities. Even at the peak of my obsession my wife and kids were still my #1 priority. But in other ways I feel like I'm in a worse place than the other men who had the same life altering temporary retardation. It appears to me like the men who go through a mid life crisis come out of it having learned a lot about themselves. I didn't seem to have gained the same emotional maturity. I feel lost. Depressed. When I look in the mirror I don't recognize myself. When I look in the mirror this is who I expect to see:

The muscular weight lifter,

or the skinny endurance athlete,

Below is who I actually see. This is what I look like now. Fat, bald, unhappy with myself. I mean seriously, how can my lovely wife enjoy being with someone who looks like this? I'm disgusting!

In the last couple weeks I've come to realize that my depressed state has nothing to do with me losing interest in triathlon. This depression has been here since I got ran over by a vehicle while cycling back in Sept 2011. I suffered a traumatic brain injury. Once or twice a month I still get depressed for a week or two. During that time the only thing I find that can make me feel half way normal is eating. I cant find the energy to workout or to be sociable. After a week or two I feel normal again but the depression always comes back. I still lose things and get lost. Conversation and connecting with people is hard for me now. It's like there's a flow that everyone can see and follows while communicating, I cant find it, much less follow it. I'm awkward to be around. I say things that don't fit what everyone else is talking about. Consequently I don't associate with others as much as I used to. When I do I've learned to try and keep my mouth shut to avoid the all too common awkward moments that seem to happen every time I open my mouth. Consequently I'm lonely. I'm still frequently depressed. I often times cant remember how to do things I used to be able to, such as my job; which is scary because I work in a prison and peoples lives are in my hands.

Things have improved since the accident. The first 9 months after the accident I didn't want to be around anyone EVER! Not even my wife and kids. Now I want to be around them, I'm just a social buffoon. I was easily angered, constantly depressed, all I could think about was suicide.Although I'm not that bad now I still don't feel like myself. Will I ever go back to the person I was before? I miss that person. So does my friends and family. I have an appointment with my primary doctor on May 8th. I've brought these problems up to him before and he's dismissed them saying, "it takes time for the brain to recover", or, "you might not ever get those things back." I've done some research and have found that there is help for people who suffer from brain injuries. I'm not leaving my doctors office until he refers me to a specialist who can help me, because I'm finally willing to admit that I need help.


Anonymous said...

Yes, there is an up from this down. I've watched this happen to a lot of people we know and I understand what you're going through. If you're not happy with what your doctor tells you, I encourage you to request a referral to a neurologist. I love you and I want the healthiest you you can be.

Mark Martinez said...

Cody, Brother, I would've never known. I hope you do get some help. If you ever need anything please call me day or night. You're stronger than you think and you can do more than you know. I hope you get the help you need. Mark

CautiouslyAudacious said...

Sounds like you are on the right track don't leave if you haven't had all your questions answered or find another doctor but get the help you need. It's not hopeless sometimes it just takes a little more work to seek out the answer you need. I have a close family member that has struggled with a similar situation and it took him a few years but he has made it and is happy! I hope you will find that happiness again too!

Mona Malec said...

My dear Cody...I am so proud of you for posting this....for saying this out loud, publicly. I know it isn't easy.

I agree with lots of others....FIND NEW DOCTORS....

Keep fighting...cause we will keep fighting for you too.

audra said...

Hey Cody-
I'm so sorry you have being going through such a tough time. Just so you know, this friend (meaning me) is here for you. Hang in there!

LBTEPA said...

Hi Cody - long time lurker, first time commenter here. That is absolutely shocking that your concerns should be so easily discarded. There is help - so much can be done to help you recover! Definitely get another dr or a referral to a neurologist or a neuropsychologist - don't give up! There are also support groups around and heaps of info for you and your family. Best wishes to you