I want to touch the sensitive topic of depression and give an insight into my own experiences with it. With this first part I want to tell my own story and show how a supposedly strong and resilient person is slowly falling into the sickness of depression.
You are currently reading the english version, find the german version Here
When you have a firm grip of life, everything you set out to do works, you’re successful in sports and have a number of dear friends, you will never come in touch with depression – Right?!
Something along those lines was my opinion on depression. As a medical student with a special interest in psychology and psychiatry I’m not lacking knowledge or respect for that disease. That’s what depression is by the way – a Disease. But just not me! But just not me?!
The year of 2017 seemed to be a good one. I played my first year of GFL-Football (German Football League) for the Dresden Monarchs, I was completing the last academical semester of med school, only a few months away from state examination, and had a tightly knit group of friends, who have always been there for me.
But soon came the day that changed everything. A loss of the likes I never had to live through before. One of my closest friends (Thomas Gallus) collapsed at the Leipzig Lions practice – sudden heart failure.
As I was getting that first call I could hardly oversee the whole situation, it was all going pretty fast. “Gallus collapsed at practice today and is being transported to the hospital. Chris, could you please contact his family? None of us has their phone numbers.”
After I had contacted his brothers and mother the second call was coming in – the situation seemed to be way more serious than first anticipated. It turned out he didn’t only collapse but suffered through a sudden heart failure. The paramedics were attempting cardiopulmonary resuscitation for 40 minutes without success before they decided to transport under ongoing CPR to the heart disease specialized hospital.
This new piece of information hits me like a slap to the face. I’m sitting on my balcony having a BBQ with friends. Immediately numbers and statistics of CPR flood my brain. “40 minutes of unsuccessful CPR?! Doesn’t the survival rate drop immensely after 5 minutes already?! Or was it 10?” My thoughts are spiraling in circles, not coming to a rest – what the f*** is happening here?!
The night ends at the hospital. We spend seemingly endless hours awaiting the face that comes through the door to hopefully signalize that everything’s alright. In the end that relief is never granted – Gallus is put into an artificial coma and from here on out it’s hopes only.
Just two days after I’m being called by his brother Michael. Thomas has passed. I’m hanging up the phone – and then nothing…
It’s a Thursday, a practice day and there is a game on Saturday. It is one of the first practices this season that I’m not attending. I barely play on Saturday.
Depression is creeping in
Early on I’m trying to deal with the pain by screaming it out into the world. Facebook, Instagram – In dialogue I can’t put into words what haunts me, which is pretty uncharacteristic of me, who usually speaks freely about emotion. I don’t sleep in my bed anymore, if I’m sleeping at all. I spend whole days on the sofa, as if I’m punishing myself. At night I can’t get to sleep so I’m sleeping late into the afternoons – If it wasn’t for the Dresden Monarchs and the commuting with the “Leipzig Squad” I might’ve broken entirely.
Punishing myself? – On the search for the “what and why” a young person has to be ripped out of life, I doubt anyone will ever find a satisfying answer. The human brain is one unimaginably powerful machine, and if given enough room to wander, will come upon unbelievable things. These could be wonderful, or horribly dreadful – especially within the dark spaces of a depressed mind. “Thomas would’ve never been an american football player if it wasn’t for me. I put in a tremendous effort back in 2015 to convince him in coming from Dresden to Leipzig to play football. During the first year he commuted by train and slept on my sofa. He was instantly in love with that sport. Barely two years later he moves to Leipzig and I’m making the transition into the highest league to the Dresden Monarchs. I had brought him to Leipzig and then left him behind.”
Life is just moving on, as if nothing had happend. Nothing has changed and yet there is this gaping black hole in place of my soul. It can’t be closed or filled. It’s a part of me every single day now, my world is revolving around it, it overshadows every spark of joy only moments later.
I feel like nobody’s understanding me, contact to friends is breaking off steadily. I’m telling lies and excuses, rather staying home than meeting friends or going out.
The funeral service in september is becoming the most painful day of my life. It is overwhelming, simply too much for me.
The football season is nearing its last few games and med school state examination is inching closer. Eventually I’m not taking part in the playoffs and am not taking my final exam. I’m leaving Germany for 3 months on the search for something that I have no idea on where or how to find it. (Looking back I don’t think I even knew what I was looking for). But I knew – it’s not here anymore, not with my friends, not in Germany.
Today I know I was just running away from everything. I was lacking the energy and will to face my ordinary life. The life that seemed to be okay with everything falling apart.
Help, if you can…
It might sound selfish because of the way I did behave back then, but I could have definitely used more help from outside. A lot of people within my immediate surroundings will probably state that they didn’t even notice – and that’s what makes it so hard – hard to help but even more to let yourself be helped.
If you know anyone who is facing a tough time, talk to him or her and state the obvious. They will be thankful in the end.
To be continued…
Medical Student future Psychiatrist, Semiprofessional American Football Player and Surfer.
Did you know, that if you improved 1% every day for a year, you would end up 37 times better than you have been, when you started. I truly believe we can all be a better version or ourselves tomorrow than we have been today and getting there together is more efficient and a lot more fun.