That time I went crazy…

I know I’ve posted twice this week already and it’s only Wednesday, but I read a post about a good cause and wanted to contribute to the cause myself.

I know many of you are familiar with Movember. It’s the movement that has brought you mustachioed men everywhere you look.

But why are they growing their ridiculous porn staches, you ask?

Well, here’s why, as explained by the most excellent host of this Movember awareness event, Becca over at 25tofly.com.

As an official global charity, Movember’s vision is to have an everlasting impact on the face of men’s health. During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of millions of moustaches on men’s faces around the world. Through the power of the Mo, vital funds and awareness are raised to combat prostate and testicular cancer and mental health challenges.

Please go visit Becca at 25TOFLY.com for more information on how we all can help!

My own mustache growing ability sucks, and I’m okay with that, but I can offer my own story/opinion about men’s health and hope my readers pass it on. It’s the least I can do.

I like to think I’m a pretty manly man. I do my own thing for the most part, but I know when my own needs have to take a back seat to the needs of my loved ones as well.

As I type this, it’s Tuesday night and I’ve been drinking in my armchair with the dogs unnecessarily. The Blues hockey game was on some obscure channel that I couldn’t find and they eventually lost anyway at some point.

I ran out of my beloved Bud Light Lime and switched to a more flavorful/colorful beer that my wife may or may  not be pissed to learn tomorrow is no longer available in the garage fridge. Hey, it’s for a good cause, baby!

Drinkin' with the dogs...

Drinkin’ with the dogs…

Is drinking what makes me a man?

No, of course not. I might have thought that a long time ago, but there are a lot of lady alcoholics to prove that point mistaken.

I’m a man because I have a penis and that’s about it. But to soothe stereotypes, I’ll throw out more reasons I like to think I’m a man.

I can drink a lot of beer before I have to pee, yes. Like a freaky amount.

I am a police officer. I carry a gun to work and sometimes when I’m off duty I carry it around then too. I walk care free down any street or dark alley I want to. I like to pee outside, even in my own backyard. I’ve had to fight men at work in situations where losing isn’t an option for me.

I coach my boy’s soccer and T-ball and like steaks and wings and pick-up trucks. I have three kids with a beautiful wife. See?

Hi, I've wife!

Hi, I’m the wife!

That’s manly stuff, right?

No.

It doesn’t matter what sort of man you are, because testicular and prostate cancer as well as mental health issues don’t care what sort of man you are.

Tall or short, gay or straight, you need to get checked out.

My own life includes grandfathers who both died too early because cancer doesn’t care that you were once drafted by the St. Louis Browns like one of my grandpas, or was a firefighter and inducted into the St. Louis Soccer Hall of Fame like my other grandpa. Colon and lung cancer cut their lives short.

I try to take care of myself a little bit, but was never expecting that the demon that might infect my body would infect my brain.

I’ve always been pretty sharp mentally. I got good grades and got along with people everywhere I went. Making friends was easy for me.

I became a police officer in 1998 and enjoyed several care free years as a patrol officer.

I bought a house and a dog and asked the woman I loved to marry me.

She said yes.

We were newlyweds for 10 months when Ace was born, so yeah, we didn’t get a lot of time together as a married couple.

We've been together a long time, daddy.

We’ve been together a long time, daddy.

Yeah, she’s my first place prize for sure.

Ace was born in July of 2003 and I started law school in August of 2003. I was a semi-newlywed, a brand new dad and a new law school student when the powers that be at work decided that I could work in a new job for a demanding boss that nobody else wanted to work for, but hey, Don can do it because he can get along with anybody.

All this was coming. Ace was coming in July and my new job would start sometime after that. I knew when law school was going to start as well. My brain had nothing but time to think about all these things and it was starting to lose focus.

One of my own loved ones had begun to take anti-anxiety pills all of a sudden about the same time that I was having trouble even sitting through a dinner in a restaurant with my wife. We would be in a booth and I would suddenly begin to think I was having a goddam panic attack. I’d have to leave and go out to the car for some fresh air. It happened in malls and restaurants and any other place where there were other members of the public. I joked about it being a result of my being in bad shape physically. I was gaining a little bit of weight, but not enough that I was convinced that I was only physically less than par. A part of me knew that I wasn’t right in the head.

Finally, one day, I was riding as a bike cop in the heat and was overtaken by nothing in particular.

I raced to our neighborhood substation and couldn’t even make it inside before I had to tear off my bullet resistant vest and shirt because I was feeling smothered. I was freaking the fuck out for no good reason.

I thought I was having a heart attack or something worse, whatever that could be, when an older officer/friend of mine pulled up. Officers with 29 years on the force in St. Louis have seen enough that their faces rarely indicate that they are upset, but his face told me that he didn’t like what he saw.

I was finally settled down and feeling better, but he told me that I was going to the hospital and that was that. He said I looked too pale, sick, something. Whatever it was, he didn’t like it and he made me go to Barnes Hospital.

Barnes kept me for five fucking days.

I had a baby on the way, so for the sake of my young bride, I let the cardiologist run all the tests he wanted, even the ridiculous vaso vasal thing he wanted to rule out.

The whole time there I kept telling him that I was sick in the head.

“Doc, listen to me. I have a baby coming. I’m starting a new job and law school and I have a new house and wife…I’m just stretched too thin.”

The doc wasn’t convinced, and I didn’t want to believe that was the case either, honestly.

No man wants to think he can’t handle his business, but for a little bit of time, I couldn’t I guess.

The tests were all heart related and they all came back negative. Since I thought I was having a heart attack, I was relieved enough upon leaving that all my symptoms just disappeared.

On follow up visits, the cardiologist finally came to grips with the fact that my heart was fine and that I was actually having a minor mental breakdown.

He prescribed me what I called crazy pills and I took them for a month or two until my baby girl was born and all was better. We got into a routine and my life was good again.

I really think that everything I had going on in my life just got to be too much and my brain said, “enough, Don, enough.” Once Ace was born and we knew what we were doing and that she was okay, all was good.

Hey, I’m a fucking man and I had a spell with mental illness that I needed some help with.

I’m better now.

I’m still a fucking man after the fact, and it’s all good with me.

You need help too? Get it.

Fucking get it. You can still be a man and get help for your problems.

Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

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51 Responses to That time I went crazy…

  1. rachelocal says:

    Anxiety and panic attacks are no joke. Thanks for sharing, Don!

    (Now go buy your wife more beer.)

  2. that’s right. a real man deals with his problem. we’re all just human, right? men, women, we have to watch our health and our heads and get help when need to.. brave, honest post. glad your brain is back to the good side of crazy. 🙂

  3. brave and honest post. a real man takes care of his health and his head, and knows when he needs help. so glad you’re back on the good side of crazy. 🙂

  4. Christina says:

    From someone who has had their own battles, thanks for sharing yours. And actually you’re more of a man for facing it, dealing with it, and then sharing it.

  5. It takes a real man to admit vulnerability. And even more, it takes a real man to ask for help. Good for you.

    Now get your manly ass to the store and buy your wife more beer.

  6. aliciabenton says:

    Wow – you’re WAY out of your league there, buddy. The wife’s gorgeous.

    And I’m glad to see that you’re well now and being your regular pain-in-the-ass self!

  7. Great post, Don. Way to put yourself out there to help others. I love seeing the picture of your wife. She IS beautiful. And it’s cool to see the person that puts up with you.

  8. barbtaub says:

    Don, you just keep expanding my definitions of what it means to be a man. To know that you need help, ask for it, and ACCEPT it… makes you rare and special. To share that with the world? Makes you beautiful.

    [Except for the part about drinking your wife’s beer. Fix that.]

    • Glad to hear you say that, Barb, because I wavered after I posted it. It’s nobody business, but if I deleted it, then I’m just perpetuating the idea that this is something that I need to be ashamed of. I’m not, so it stays and hopefully, somebody else might have some similar symptoms and get themselves help for their noggin and move on with thier life. I was lucky enough to have some great doctors to make sure it wasn’t something else first.

  9. Katie says:

    Good for you for sharing your story. There’s nothing un-manly about taking a breather and seeking some help, whether you realize you need it or not.

    • We probably all need a breather from time to time. I don’t know why there’s so much stigma surrounding what I guess is a mental illness, but there is. The fact that I wanted to delete this post 100 times after posting it attests to that. Thanks, Katie. I ALMOST called you Kate again!!

  10. Go Jules Go says:

    Weirdddd we just commented at the same time. Anyway, I think it’s awesome that you’re ‘man enough’ to share this – I think a LOT of people can relate (you know I can)! …Got any leftover crazy pills?

    • So yeah, Jules, I totally thought of you when I decided to go ahead and share my little bit of crazy. You were my muse I guess! Lol. If two awesome people like us can be crazy, then crazy might just be the next cool!

      Sorry, no pills though. I fed them all to the dog.

  11. When you get all sensitive and rational like this it makes it difficult for me to post wise cracks in the comments.
    P.S.: You married way out of your league.
    P.P.S.: But so did I.
    P.P.P.S.: High five!

    • Sorry buddy, but crack wise anytime you want.

      We rock! I assume that when people see me with her they think that I’m hung like a horse or successful financially. I am neither, but if feels good to let them think that. High five!

  12. Doesn’t matter whether your a man man, a lady man, a lady lady or a lady man, your brain is still the most powerful thing you own and it can go a little crazy sometimes. I know that as well as the next dude/dudette. We’re all just humans. 🙂

  13. ksujulie says:

    This happened to one of my bro-in-laws, before his baby was born. I think this could relate to a lot of men (or women).
    You have a beautiful family!!!

  14. Daile says:

    Firstly – Mrs Ofalltrades is a goddamn hottie!! Buy more beer and maybe some flowers for putting up with you for so long. Or a medal or something.
    Secondly – you are awesome for sharing your story. I think only a real man can admit to mental health issues.
    Lastly – good job spreading the word and encouraging manly men to get help.

  15. modeejae says:

    I’m a single mom and in a couple days it will be 6 months ago that I lost my mom. I hate being told “You’re so strong” all the time. I’m SO not strong! In reality, I just do what I have to do because if I don’t do it, nobody else will! I recently went to the doctor because anxiety attacks suck, a really freaking lot! And I’m on day 3 of not smoking after about 25 years! Are you freaking kidding me??? Thanks for posting your story Don. And if you haven’t already done so, get your wife that beer!

    • Her beer has been replenished! There’s something to be said for putting up a good front for a little while, but it can’t be for weeks or months I don’t think or we’ll break down. Thank you for the comment and I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. That’s always hard, no matter the circumstances.

  16. mistyslaws says:

    Being a man means owning your shit and not being afraid share the hard stuff, even if you think it will make you look weak or crazy.

    Oh, and never ever drinking your wife’s beer! Oops, guess you aren’t a man afterall. (Oh, and we ALSO have a garage fridge . . . I swear you’re my husband sometimes. Although I’m not as cute as your wife, so guess not).

  17. PREACH! I’m glad that all was good in the ‘hood with you but there is nothing wrong with getting help. Ever. It makes you manlier. Your wife is beautiful. Did she get pissed you drank her fancy beer?!

  18. Angela Ryan says:

    Absolutely. Of course you’re still a fucking man, and yep, if folks need help, they should go fucking get it. Right on.

    • They should!! There’s so much stigma attached to it unnecessarily. That’s the hardest part for me, admitting that your brain bit off more than it could chew. I’m over that shit now though. If I ever feel that way again, I’ll go right back to the doc and tell him I’m nuts again. I was worried for a while that I had a more serious physical problem, so that was actually making my mental stress worse too!! Lol. It’s all good though. Thank you, Angela!

  19. Well said, Don! You were smart to catch it early and deal with that shit. Good job posting about it, too – it takes a real man to ask for help when you need it, but a lot of guys haven’t got the message yet.

    • No they haven’t, or they don’t want to hear it/believe it. The stigma is embarrassing to a lot of men, and I’m no exception. If it hadn’t been for all the great comments here, I’d have long since deleted this post. It stays though.

  20. mollytopia says:

    Such an important message. Especially coming from you because you’re so extra fucking cool! I’m really happy you posted this – you may never know the number of dudes you helped today. Way to go Don. I’m glad you got some help and glad you’re back to good – hooray!

  21. rondita says:

    What an awesome post! Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign that you respect yourself and want to feel better. 🙂 I wish you and your family all the best in the future.

  22. Pingback: I Yelled at My Kids and Won an Award this Week - Can I Get Another Bottle of Whine

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