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LETTER: Man battling depression, anxiety encourages others to seek help

Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor

My name is Jeff Holmes and I've been suffering from depression and anxiety attacks since 1997. That year I experienced a stroke that was brought on by a complete blockage of my right carotid artery. I could have died that day, but miracles do happen.

Early in 1998, I started to experience weird feelings, feelings I have never had before. Everything was disoriented and my mind was going haywire. I began having cold sweats for no reason. My pulse rate would suddenly increase. I would just about jump out of my skin when suddenly alarmed, even by the phone ringing. I didn't want to go anywhere or stay too long. I just wanted to be by myself all the time, hiding from society.

In the span of a few weeks, I went from a fully functioning person to a sobbing man who didn't know what the hell was going on. Of course, I kept this all to myself.

I knew I had to do something right away, so off to my family doctor I went and was prescribed anti-depressants. He knew my complete history and we talked. It helped tremendously.

After that, things started to come about. But I still wasn't the same. Listen, my brain was my job. I was a math and science teacher and didn't want to lose it. I must have written a book full of notes and formulae to see if I have forgotten anything – and I mean anything.

Eventually, after a few months, I returned to school. Imagine, dealing with depression and the stress. I can't recall how many times I would alter my plans, avoid workshops, or attend meetings because I was overwhelmed with anxiety.

I apologize now to anyone for making up excuses to hide my feelings – feelings of inadequacy. This message is to everyone in my professional and personal life.

I'm not looking for sympathy or attention. What I am looking for is recognition that depression is a serious illness afflicting our society and more has to be done about it. My story is just one of many that has to be told to provide inspiration and hope to those dealing with depression. You are not alone.

Living with depression is tough but you are tougher than it. Today, with a better understanding of depression, people do not have to suffer like they did years ago. With advanced medication to counteract the imbalance of brain chemicals, you can turn your life back around.

In closing, I just have three quick pieces of advice: 1. seek professional help; 2. talk about your situation to someone; don't keep it all bottled up inside; and 3. stay active; even doing mundane chores will keep you from dwelling too long on things.

I'm doing well now, retired and living in Shearstown.

Jeff Holmes

Shearstown

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