Chicago Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks, Depression and Me: The Comeback Begins

Back in September, I wrote about my struggle with depression and how hockey – and specifically the Blackhawks – played a role in knowing there was something wrong. That was at the beginning of the season, and I didn’t know at that time how things would be. I was hopeful, maybe a little too hopeful.

My last recap of 2016 was in early November. It was at that time that I had finally reached out to my doctor and tried to tell her how I was feeling. Her response was to put me on a high dose of Zoloft – one of the earliest antidepressants – and dismissively call my condition “reactive depression.” Thanks to the high dosage, I was almost non-functional, because it made me incredibly lethargic. I also couldn’t concentrate very well, which meant that I would take notes for games, but I never wrote the recaps.

This went on for two months. Thankfully, that doctor retired, and I saw a new one. She was more sympathetic and gave me the classic depression screening. Her diagnosis: Major Depressive Disorder. She also switched me to a low dose of Lexapro, which immediately made me more alert than before.

Then I noticed something. That old enthusiasm for the Blackhawks, the feelings that had been squashed by my brain for over two years, started to come back. I was actually cheering after goals, cringing at tricky goalie saves and commenting out loud during plays. The feelings were short-lived, but it had been a long time since I’d done that.

Soon after that, I took what I call a major baby step. I was due to cover the last Blackhawks game at Joe Louis Arena, the game they lost to the Red Wings. I did the usual: took notes, set up a document to transfer them, thought of a title. And then it happened, starting with that first paragraph and going on for about 400 words. I actually wrote a recap. I published it.

It had been four months between recaps.

It was a little thing to most, but I felt like I’d cleared a huge hurdle. I wrote a second one before my brain said “Now we take a break.” That break has lasted a few weeks, but here we are, gearing up for playoffs. I can’t promise anything, but I’ll try to have at least one recap up for you. Oh, and perhaps I’ll do a Blackhawks Convention review this summer. With any luck, Chicago will have more to celebrate.

Where am I now? Feeling 100 percent better than I did at the beginning of the season. I’m going to counseling now, which is in its early stages. With that, the medication and the support of my friends, I see the sparks of improvement. Thanks to the Blackhawks, I’ll continue to gauge my progress. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to thank them in person for just being there in my life, but for now, cheering them on is enough.

I’m going to close with the last two paragraphs from my first article on my struggle, because it’s as relevant as ever:

According to the CDC, “more than 1 out of 20 Americans 12 years of age and older reported current depression (moderate or severe depressive symptoms in the past 2 weeks) in 2009-2012.” Yet for those of us battling depression, the stigma can be stifling. The first step to breaking that stigma is to know that you’re not alone. Reach out to friends, family, clergy, or anyone you can trust.

Always remember that the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at 1‑800‑273‑TALK (8255). There is also a live online chat if you prefer to use that instead.

(Photo credit: Sarah Avampato)

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