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Ivan, 37

Ivan, 37

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Ivan, 37

You would never know I have depression. It doesn’t have a ‘look’. Sometimes, the day I ‘look’ the least depressed, I’m suffering the hardest. I’m good at leading a ‘normal’ life, trying to fit in. Hiding behind fake laughs and smiles.

Why do I hide it? Pride I guess. Men are not allowed to be depressed. Admitting I have depression means I’m not a good husband or father, because I should be able to do it all, right? That’s what I think.

Music is my life. It’s who I am. That’s why I teach it, I guess. I have a small wooden flute my grandparents gave me when I was about 10 and I still play it when I’m feeling down. It’s a comfort thing, improvising from one note to the next.

There are no words to express how I feel when I’m low. My mind gets completely swamped. Thoughts and memories flow from the darkest corners of my mind. I really have to fight myself to keep me from drowning in blackness.

When this happens, I become unbearable. I have total loss of control of my emotions. I get agitated and irritable with these irrational outbursts my wife and kids don’t understand. Even the slightest thing sets me off. It’s exhausting.

But other times I go from angry, depressed to defiant… I have these bursts of energy to distract myself. Buzzing around the classroom, feigning excitement when someone hits the right note. Hoping to pull myself back from the edge.

One of the most frustrating aspects of my depression is its unpredictability. It can be cruel and unforgiving. Talking about it has never helped. And it will never go away but, with the right treatment, it is manageable.

It has taken 15 years of living with major depressive disorder to finally become more satisfied with myself, and my work. It’s been a long and difficult road, but it’s been well worth the effort. And I have survived. I’m surviving.

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