I'm 48, married, 3 kids, house, and all that. Pretty average and normal guy. All my life I have been incredibly upbeat and happy, creative, motivated, productive, and sometimes to a fault. I was almost always unstoppable when I got started on something.
That all changed when I was about 42 or 43. I'm not sure exactly when or why, but looking back I remember a few red flags. I felt more emotional than usual some days. I was more tired, craved alcohol and started drinking almost daily. I started eating crap all the time. I can't believe that I would drink 2-3 sodas a day – I hate the stuff.
Depression set in, and while sometimes I thought about the whole meaning of life and suicide, usually I just wanted to sit around and do nothing. Watch TV, mindlessly surf the web, play video games. I had a long list of projects and books which all started to gather dust.
I frequently read posts from /r/GetMotivated and bought books to help, hoping to find something, some words, some story, some trick to get me back on track, but I never did. Nothing really clicked.
A few years into this I talked to my sister, who is 5 years older than me, and she said the exact same thing happened to her. She offered no solution, however. I did think it was interesting that we both felt this way, because it pointed to something biological.
Finally, my wife told me to get help because I was getting worse. My job was suffering, and for the first time in my life I was getting bad reviews. I used to be the best member of the team! What happened? I begrudgingly talked to my doctor and we started trying different medications. Maybe I had ADHD? Maybe I had low testosterone? All sorts of “what if's” and a new pill. I don't remember all of the ones I tried, but nothing seemed to work.
The short story is all of this took a toll on me in every way. I've gained 25 pounds over 5 years, I work suffered more and more, and I finally got “laid off” (a nice way of firing me) from my job of 10 years that I could practically do with my eyes closed. Then it took me almost a year to find a new job, and I wiped out our emergency fund plus an investment fund to stay above water.
Then one day my doctor recommended another medication, and what did I have to lose, we switched again.
Well, what do you know? This one actually worked. Within a week I felt like my younger self. I had abundant energy, my mind felt clear and awake, and I could not believe how much stuff I had let go! In just the past month I have tackled over 100 projects, small and large, and completed them. The true measure is the fact that I don't surf the web every day, all day, and all night. I spend 15 minutes before work, and then maybe 15 minutes after work … maybe a little on the weekends, and that's it. My computer is off. It's unbelievable. I can't remember the last time I played a video game. But I am back to my old self, doing things, being productive.
A lot of stuff is just little things, like cleaning off my desk which has been a disaster area for years. Some is big stuff – I cleaned out and organized our garage and parked both cars in there for the first time since we bought the house! I have a small tech company that I run on the side, and within days I signed up a new client – the first one in over 7 years. I also – thankfully – got a new job, and within the first month my managers are saying the same thing I used to hear from old managers – “That's great! Keep plugging away!”.
In just the past week I have started working out. I'm starting slow as to avoid injury, but as of yesterday I am taking two mile-long walks a day, doing push-ups (I did 10 yesterday which is a record for my fatass), pull-ups (a record 2 yesterday!), and am starting to do weight training again in a few days (gotta get a bench and bar set). I miss it SO much, I don't know why I stopped.
I have also started keeping the kitchen clean, and I mean it's spotless. Every time I come in, I clean, do whatever I want and clean again before I leave. My wife used to complain how any time I made anything, it was like a tornado came through. She started to complain again yesterday, out of habit, and came to a realization that made me smile. She said:
Ugh. I really hate it when you … wait, what am I saying? You've been keeping the kitchen so clean, it's amazing, I don't know why I am complaining! Carry on!
It was nice to see that her perception has changed. At first she expressed concern that I was experiencing a manic episode, but after a month she realized that this truly was who I am, who I was, the man she married. She had been trying to protect me, in a way, and was trying to tell me to be careful that this is just temporary, but now she is sitting back and letting me be me again.
That's my story. I am glad I worked with a professional, and while I normally would eschew medications, my doctor proved me wrong. If you are struggling, and have not worked with a professional, maybe it's time you do. I sure wish I had when this first set in. I feel like I would have been five years further along, and in a better way. And a whole lot less fat!
Thanks for taking the time to read this.
Edit: Ow, my inbox. The medication is Mirtazapine – it's generic. Of course, please consult a doctor before taking any medications, as it does has side effects and interactions with other meds.
Edit: I am on 30mg, but weigh close to 200 lbs. Please talk to a professional before trying any medication! Also, I am trying to reply to as many folks as I can, but had a busy day. I got half-way through changing the power steering line on the minivan and the last fitting stripped, so I am going to tackle it tomorrow. If you're suicidal, please call the National Suicide hotline 1-800-273-8255!
Edit: Several people pointed out I failed to discuss my alcoholism. I could go into tremendous detail about that as well, but frankly it's a textbook case. It tainted every aspect of my life, and has left a trail of wreckage as well. I would binge drink upwards of 1/2 bottle of vodka almost every night of the week, if not more, and it crept up over almost 17 years. It was only after I lost my job of 10 years, that I used to be a superstar at, and this whole spiral, did I realize the damage and have taken steps to recover. If you or someone you know is alcoholic, please seek professional assistance.