By | May 16, 2016


Though this is not going to come as a newsflash to anyone who knows me, I’ve been suffering from severe depression for a few years now. Of late I’ve been so depressed that at the end of each working day I’ve simply gone home (or to the hotel, when I’m traveling for work), eaten something, and then gotten into bed in a dark room to surf Wikipedia on my tablet. Nothing else. Same thing every day.

I am scheduled to walk in the 2016 Susan G. Komen 3-Day in Seattle this September, and I haven’t even started my fundraising, because I’m so damn depressed. Every week I say “perhaps this weekend I’ll compose a fundraising letter and send it out” and every weekend I do anything but. (If you want to sponsor me, though, you can do so here: http://www.the3day.org/goto/jayfurr — but for what it’s worth, this whole blog post is not intended to get donations by sounding absolutely pathetic.)

Four years ago, I was doing a lot of running. Then life took a few ugly turns, and I lost all my motivation, and since then I haven’t run at all. The last time I even tried to run in a friendly local race I was so far behind everyone else that I wound up dropping out. It was a 10K, which I didn’t have a lot of experience with, and I wasn’t feeling at my best, but regardless, I have to say that the overall weight of depression didn’t make things any easier. And after that debacle of a race, I just basically stopped.

Five years ago, I had gotten my weight down to 180 pounds. On a 6’2″ frame, that actually made me look skinny — for the first time since high school. But then depression hit and now I’m back up at 240. I have suits I bought when I was down at 180-190 that I can’t wear any more, but I can’t face the prospect of buying new, larger ones again because that’d be the final blow — a way of absolutely surrendering to the weight gain. As long as I don’t buy new suits, I can pretend that one day I’ll fit into the Slender Jay suits again.

My father died at the end of March, so now I guess I’m technically an orphan. That didn’t depress me as much as I’d have thought it would’ve, because, frankly, his death meant he didn’t have to suffer for years in a state of relatively severe dementia. If I recall correctly, it was only eight months or so from the time he was admitted to a nursing home (as a result of frequent periods of confusion and disorientation) to the time he passed away. Some people aren’t so lucky and linger for decades.

Still, it does sadden me to think that he’s gone. He and I didn’t see eye to eye, and I can’t recall him actually ever directly praising me for anything, but I respected him and I think he came to respect me and actually felt a little bit bad about how abusive he’d been when I was younger. I wish I’d had more time to get to know that Keith Furr — the one who looked back at a long life and wished he could have been a better father.

Right now, today, I’m in Phoenix, Arizona — in town to do two days of training at a local customer and then to present a session at my company’s national conference. I had a perfectly fine day today, training-wise, but I spent most of the day privately wishing like anything that I could just go back to the hotel and sit in a dark room. I doubt the customers ever realized I was thinking anything of the sort, but behind my cheerful, professional mask was a deep gloom and the thought that it would be nice if some sort of emergency (say, a tornado alarm, or an alien invasion) happened to occur.

Toward the end of the day I happened to mention that, hypothetically, I might be interested in going to see the Arizona Diamondbacks play the Yankees tonight… and for some reason all the folks present seized on the idea and started looking up ticket prices and giving advice on taking the train to the stadium and this and that and the other… and the whole time I was thinking “why did I mention that? I’m way too depressed to go back to the hotel, change into casual clothes, and go out to a game.”

I am taking medicine for my depression: citalopram, buproprion, and trazodone (which I don’t take every night because it’s so heavily sedating that I feel groggy the next morning). I think the medicine helps somewhat — I don’t find myself waking up with panic attacks and so on, for example, but it’s certainly not making it possible for me to have a regular life. I’ve tried other medications as well, and none have made much difference. I imagine that if I started getting a lot of regular exercise, that’d help tremendously, but there’s basically zero chance of my going back to the hotel, changing into exercise clothes, and going down to the fitness center to pound out a few miles on a treadmill.

I don’t know what to do. I feel like I’m just plain drowning.

Drowning II



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2 thoughts on “Drowning

  1. Bill Hileman

    There are a lot of new kinds of treatment for depression lately. Have you done any research on the subject? Having been there myself, I know about the only thing I can say to hopefully help is to say I’m here for you. Fortunately for me, they seem to have stumbled upon the right combination of meds. I still get hit with major waves of depression every now and then. In face, in today’s FB memories, apparently I experienced just such a wave a year ago today. In my case, I know it will pass, and that helps me to ride the waves and hold out, although I realize that probably doesn’t help you much. Friends are a good thing to have at times like this. Hang in there, there’s a lot of us out there for you to lean on.

  2. Sandra Dahl

    Dear Jay, I’m sad to read that you are struggling in so many ways. You are a delightful person and I always enjoy seeing you and having a conversation. I have no first hand experience with family or close friends with mental health challenges and only know what people have shared or I’ve read. For what it might be worth, the people who are interested in you, and care, are out here rooting for you. I’ve heard that exercise is good for lots of conditions. Hopefully you’ll get that one moment of sunshine which will restore a bit of calmness and determination to slog on. Sending healing prayers of strength and determination for you.

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