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Chris Graham: Today is Day 1 for me in terms of dealing with depression

Chris Graham

chris graham footballDepression is part of my DNA. My father was treated for it; my mother, to my knowledge, was never diagnosed with depression, but it was clearly there in her.

It’s there in me, too; I’m just now acknowledging it to myself, literally today.

It only occurs to me, again, literally today, that everything I do in life is about keeping myself from facing the uncomfortable truth.

Growing up with parents dealing with their own issues, the first conscious defense mechanism I developed was to never let myself get too high or too low, to try to stay in the middle of the two extremes.

Which has worked, I guess, to the degree that it can.

I’m now coming to grips with the coinciding unconscious defense mechanism that developed in me: how I go out of my way to keep myself perpetually busy, so that the mind doesn’t have time to dwell.

That one, I’ll concede, worked great when I was, for example, in school, and could throw myself into studying and writing papers, and striving to get good grades, and then for the bulk of my writing career – for years as we launched AFP, I worked morning, noon and night seven days a week.

Thing is, if you work morning, noon and night seven days a week, you’re eventually going to reach a level of success that makes it so that you don’t have to work morning, noon and night seven days a week anymore.

That’s my situation now.

I’m consciously trying to take it easier, because that’s what you’re supposed to do when you get what you’ve worked hard for years to try to achieve, right?

Free time, I’m finding, is the enemy of the depressed mind.

I used to turn to food as my comfort in those moments, to the point that my weight ballooned to either side of 300 pounds at one point, before I went on an extreme diet and exercise fit that helped me lose more than 100 pounds and led to me running marathons.

(Another coping mechanism there: running on roads and trails by myself for hours at a time, listening to loud, pulsing music through my headphones, to keep my mind from wandering.)

Now the issue is alcohol, which I use as a nighttime crutch to relax, lighten my mood, let myself laugh and enjoy, and then get a decent night’s sleep.

I’m fortunate that my depression doesn’t come with low levels of energy, issues with being able to work or be engaged with family and close friends, thoughts of suicide or self-harm.

Overeating and overdrinking are still big issues – depression could end up killing me via diabetes or heart or liver disease if I can’t get things in check.

The way to do that, it’s clear to me now, is to attack the source of the problem – depression.

I’ve been public about my approach to trying to get a lifelong issue with anxiety under control, and I’m happy to say that, more than two years into that battle, I think I’m good there.

Today is Day 1 for me in terms of dealing with depression.

The first step, it seems to me, is acknowledging it.

The second step, and this one is hard for me, is admitting that what I’ve been doing the past 51 years to try to keep depression in check isn’t working, that I need help.

That’s where I am right now.

It’s actually a good place to be.


Chris Graham on depression

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].