Bye Bye Blues

By Lloyd Graff

About two months ago I finally accepted that I was in a prolonged funk. I was not profoundly depressed. I could laugh and have fun. I wasn’t hopelessly bogged down, but I was mentally and physically sluggish. Television was my primary recreation. I looked forward to weekends, yet I barely got out of the house. Exercise was a chore. Many mornings I dreaded leaving for work. My interest in intimacy was a memory. I often woke up at 3:00 a.m. wallowing in a soup of futility. I relied on my wife Risa more than I wanted to just get through.

I described my feelings, probably too often, and she frequently asked me “if I wanted to see somebody,” a euphemism for getting help from a therapist.

Risa and I took a vacation in June to Palo Alto, California, where my daughter Sarah lives with her husband Scott and three children. At the time, Scott was struggling with his own miseries at work. Risa and Sarah left for a retreat weekend during our stay, leaving Scott and I home to watch the kids. We talked about our dissatisfaction about the status quo over a wonderful Saturday meal of California fruit, cheese, hummus and carrots. Scott asked me if there was anything I felt like doing and I told him I really wanted to sing.

Courtesy of Mother Nature Network

Scott, the computer professional from Google, set up a program to play just about any song in the world and display the lyrics in print big enough for even me to read. And he and I sang and sang. It was a beautiful mood elevator and gave me a glimpse of the way I used to feel much of the time.

Around the same time, I reluctantly started taking a small dose of an antidepressant called Cymbalta, made by Eli Lilly. I also started scrubbing my underarms everyday with testosterone, which my body was producing only in minuscule amounts after treatment for prostate cancer in 2008.

In a confluence of misery, smart medicine, and my own reality check, I finally was in a place to shift out of funkdom.

After my heart attack and prostate cancer diagnosis eight years ago I had lived in a state of sad gratitude – grateful to be alive, but chronically short of fun and fearful of the next health debacle.

I’m writing this piece today because I know I am not alone in experiencing these kinds of feelings. It is also the 8th anniversary of what we now call the “Heart Miracle,” a blocked left anterior descending artery, which kills 98% of the people who have it, that I survived.

On August 29, 2016, I am in a happy place. I rarely feel that awful sense of futility that soaked me in sadness almost every morning. I have a bounce in my step and I think I am capable of actually making smart business decisions. I think there is a good chance I’m going to live for a while. Before, I often wondered if I’d get through the week.

Perhaps you find this article surprising because I’ve been able to “bring it” consistently in this blog. I’ve found that with my writing I have the ability to tap into the happier more intuitive parts of my unconscious to blog with energy and insight, even when I was living most of the time in the Blah.

I know I am not alone in my feelings. Inertia and stuckness is a suffocating enemy that I know well. For many of us those imposters deposit their viruses in our bodies. We may have indolent serotonin, stunted sex hormones, or a wacky thyroid. Our internal juices have a mind of their own. A good therapist or internist can be a godsend when life just stinks.

Things actually can get better. These days I’m actually believing it.

Question: What do you do to get rid of the blues?

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11 thoughts on “Bye Bye Blues

  1. AvatarDavid

    Wow, Lloyd! I’ve always been impressed by the way you are able to speak so bluntly in your blog about things that are going on in your life. I always look forward to opening your latest Swarfblog e-mail because of your ability to express your feelings and articulate your observations with candor and in a thought-provoking way. This commentary is particularly compelling as I am now in my early sixties, generally in good health, but beginning to experience the physical changes that are unmistakably associated with the aging process. Up to this point I haven’t had to deal with a serious bout of the Blues but when I’m in a rut I find that playing the Blues (I’m a guitarist) or any other genre of music helps me to get back on track. Thanks again for sharing your most personal life experiences with us.

     
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  2. AvatarMarvin

    Well written and well said. Bravo Sir! Bravo. Having a similar series of events with the heart and other organs, I too was in the funk and maybe I still am but for the most part life is getting better. I think all the past events just hit me with a dose reality and of my own mortality. Then there is that something that pulled me out of my quicksand of defeat and that was my new fiance’ Susan. So practical and so full of life, she actually found being with me fun! Imagine that …. Life, ain’t it grand!

     
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  3. AvatarEd Brooks

    Lloyd,

    Thanks for sharing this. It takes courage for someone to be this open on such a personal level, especially in a machining blog. I commend you on your willingness to address your “issues” and I hope that others learn something from your experiences.

     
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  4. AvatarMindy

    Lloyd,

    Thank you for your (as always) brutal honesty. Many of us have been brought up to think that this topic is taboo, which only gives it MORE power over us. I, too, have suffered from severe depression and still have my days. My family history and “wacky thyroid” probably don’t help, either. I kill my blues on a regular basis with line dancing (living in North Carolina makes that part easy). No matter what kind of funk I’m in, a little dancing, laughing, and sweating with my friends always lightens my mood.

    Sounds like music is a common theme for several of us. Hmmm….we might be onto something…

    Mindy

     
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  5. AvatarBruskie

    Another great blog Lloyd. Thanks, once again, for your candid sharing.

    Work stress, health fears and just the thought of more years or our lives behind us than ahead of us does do a number on our mental attitude and depression. I use regular vigorous exercise and long motorcycle rides with friends to cope with my depression. I also have to constantly remind myself how lucky I am to have a great wife, family and privileged life in the good ole USA! Vacations are by far the best way for me to adjust from a depressed state of mind back into a state of gratitude. Lately I’ve found myself counting down the (not too many) years to retirement and feeling pretty good about the plans my wife and i have made. My life is good but i don’t always remember that.

     
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  6. AvatarGeno

    Hey Lloyd,

    You have described these feelings so well that you definitely should keep with the Testosterone treatment because you feminine side is coming out. I could not put my feelings so correctly into words. I am 64 and working towards retirement. I am afraid that once I retire and take some time off from the business that I have been running for 42 years that I will want back in the door. However I am in that same funk. I probably should check out the Testosterone. I can really relate to my main entertainment being the TV. I am hoping I can retire and not spend my life in front of it. A couple of things help me considerably. One is I have been coaching children in soccer for 30 years now. Being with them has kept me active and allowed me to slip away from that funk that can keep me down. The other thing is just my envolvement with my church and my faith.

     

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