Let's Talk Peritoneal Dialysis!

Hey, I'm Jason. I'm a chronically-ill-super-freedom-loving-medical-self-journalist.

Depression’s Precipice

So here’s the thing about managing chronic disease … it ain’t easy. It’s not. You’d think a guy with a degree in writing and enough medical experience to last several lifetimes would be able to keep up with a simple blog. I mean, they do all the work for you on these sites; all you have to do is sit down and compose.

And yet, here we are – practically strangers now – years later. Now where do I start? There’s been so much to report. Many stories to share with others. Countless lessons. I’ve decided that, against my nature, I will save some of the information for later posts. Let’s start where we left off: an idyllic Southern California day in September, sun shining, earth quaking, and a guy at the top of his game …

That’s where all that ended. There’s no easy way to say this, my eyes are watering at the admission before all of you: I fell apart. Now, in the middle of a nervous breakdown, you don’t really think, “geez, I’m having an actual nervous breakdown.” But I was.

I had begun peritoneal dialysis (much more to come on this … trust me) feeling like my health was often times a tenuous thing, it was never something that I had a good grip upon. I was fathering two daughters, was job hunting and negotiating, all the while working 50+ hours a week at a job I didn’t like at a craft that I never really, truly identified with. And then mom came to visit.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my mom as much as any son. Mom and I would agree, the visit was a bit stressful. Freaking stressful. I was desperately wanting to show mom how great life was out here. “My, what a great life I have out here,” I kept telling myself.

The precipice that is the moment before understanding you’re severely depressed is steeper than you’d imagine. I stood at it’s furthest edge, my toes scraping along the edge – as though that were a safe place to be. The weekend my mother came to visit, I fell.

It wasn’t my mother’s fault. It was mine. Well, let me rephrase that… it wasn’t anybody’s fault, but I was to blame for standing out there on the edge for so long.

Poor chronic physical health is very hard to live with, extremely hard to manage. But, Depression? Depression, she is a mean, nasty, covert disease. You know that black symbiote thing that takes over Spiderman and makes him act unlike himself? It’s like that, but without any of the cool spider stuff.

Depression is summarily dismissed by most of our nation as a “mood.” But I am here to tell you, she takes over everything. Like any illness Depression has symptoms. I quote the following from WedMD.com:

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, symptoms of depression may include the following:

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • Thoughts of suicide

You’ll have to excuse my language, but those symptoms are painfully fucking real. And, yes, I had them all (as I do, I generally exhibit all the bad symptoms of any disease I acquire). There are those who would tell me, “get over it.” I shamefully admit, before I knew better, I had uttered those words about others. What a schmuck. Depression is a disease. It’s a disease that we ignore, dismiss and deny.

Fortunately, there are answers and treatments. I have been getting treatment and searching for answers since the day I last wrote in this blog. Am I cured? Definitely not. Am I finally happier? You bet your ass.

So, for those keeping score: I am now disabled; cannot work; have End Stage Renal Disease; have Clinical Depression; do my own dialysis at home; suffer from Cluster Headaches; help run a household and fight with the government and my private insurer for the money I have already earned.

So, there must certainly be something to write about somewhere in there! I am changing the nature of this blog. I want a kidney, yes. But wanting a kidney doesn’t help anybody. I would prefer to help. I will be writing about Peritoneal Dialysis, the savior of my life. I’ll be writing about my Depression, the, uh – well, I’ll be writing about it anyway. I’ll write about the way people who are disabled are screwed to wall financially. Maybe I’ll even write about how last week, UCLA’s ER department tried to kill me – twice. It’s a tough life, living with disease. But the living, oh, the living! 

New look, new content. I’m happier already.

14 comments on “Depression’s Precipice

  1. Pingback: Losing (and Winning) | Let's Talk Peritoneal Dialysis!

  2. Alexandra Tompkins
    August 12, 2014

    Thank you for the honest words that chronicle the “experience of depression.” I can feel its fog sometimes right around a corner. I use medicines and psychotherapy to exist in this world.

  3. barbarapotter
    August 11, 2014

    Thanks for writing this Jason. It is the worst a damn black hole that you can’t kick the shit out of even if you tried. I wish more people understood this illness. Love to you.

  4. http://flavors.me/
    November 18, 2013

    Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I have
    really loved browsing your blog posts. After all I’ll be
    subscribing on your rss feed and I’m hoping you write again very soon!

  5. Jen Evers
    October 4, 2013

    I’ve tried to sort out your blog, jumping from 2009, to 2010, to present day. You’re on peritoneal dialysis now, after having been on hemo? Am I understanding that correctly? I’ve just visited the hospital today, to set up an appointment for a peritoneal catheter surgery. Will peri dialysis steal the good days and the normalcy and urine production I still have? I’m overwhelmed and thinking that if I feel “ok” now, why would I ruin that by putting the catheter in now? I’m at about 13%. I’m tired.. years and years of being tired.. but tired and normal feel pretty good considering what might be in store for me. I’m scared. Any advice would be helpful.
    Thanks a lot,

  6. Eli
    June 29, 2013

    I actually did not know that until about 6 years into wkinrog with plenty of people on dialysis. I don’t know if it took that long to find someone without any residual function or if I just didn’t know but I do know it was a rather startling fact.

  7. DevonTexas
    April 4, 2013

    It’s ironic to say I “like” this post but it’s the only button available. I don’t “like” this post because its too real. I totally understand what you went through. I’m finding that many ESRD patients go through a phase of depression as we deal with the huge, overwhelming fact we have a disease that constantly has us at the edge of the precipice of death. I’m glad you were able to pull yourself back. I share that moment. It’s not easy. Please visit my blog and read my posting about dealing with Dialysis and Depression. There are more than one. Again, thanks for sharing your experience.

    • jasonhamlin
      April 6, 2013

      Hey DevonTexas. I’m a follower now. Thanks for your kind words. We shall lean on each other, no? A community of dialysis bloggers can’t hurt. I’m now trying to find doctors who will read our stuff.

  8. Natalie
    March 22, 2013

    J – Glad to see you’re back at it!! So many folks will benefit from understanding all that you have been and are going through. Thank you for sharing, looking forward to many more posts in the near future.

    • jasonhamlin
      April 6, 2013


  9. Anonymous
    March 21, 2013

    Thanks for writing this. Depression is a fucker!

    • jasonhamlin
      April 6, 2013

      Truer words never spoken. Tell it like it is, language is our gift.

  10. Tracy
    March 21, 2013

    Love you, Jaser.

    • Anonymous
      March 21, 2013

      You are beyond brave to share these feelings. I am so grateful that you are and I’m deeply moved by your eloquence and clarity.

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This entry was posted on March 21, 2013 by in Depression, Dialysis, Kidney Failure, UCLA.
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