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Brook Lundy is a happily married father of twins who started the popular humor website you're currently skimming. Sounds depressing, right?
Brook Lundy is a happily married father of twins who started the popular humor website you're currently skimming. Sounds depressing, right?

Nothing relaxes me more these days than discussing my debilitating mental illness. I'll gladly talk to friends, family, and complete strangers about it because I need the sympathy, the relief, the catharsis, and because I don't want to talk about much else when I'm prone to randomly sobbing. It's occurred to me that many people with these hellish maladies aren't nearly as chatty as I am about them. Celebrities, foundations, and governmental organizations are constantly reminding us these days that millions are still suffering in silence, fearful of being stigmatized and discriminated against.

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As someone still recovering from the worst depressive episode of his life, I've decided to share my most laughably absurd and humiliating incidents. My hope is that people who are privately struggling with mental illness will identify with my stories and get more comfortable sharing some dark, healing shit of their own. My other wish is that those who stigmatize mental illness will realize just how harrowing and uncontrollable it can be, and I will have succeeded at making them feel terrible. For everyone else, I just hope you enjoy my rampant oversharing in honor of those who aren't yet willing to.

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1) Hysterically crying while Led Zeppelin's "Nobody's Fault But Mine" blared from the stereo in my psychiatrist's waiting room.

When I first arrived at the office of my fourth psychiatrist in the last year, it was quickly apparent to me that he was a bit quirky. "The loud rock music," he later explained, "is so people waiting can't hear the people in session." I had no further questions. Finding the right shrink is no simple task, and this weirdo was highly recommended. So I quietly sat and waited for 15 minutes, in the most fragile mental state of my existence, and listened to the punishingly loud early '70s hits of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Bad Company.

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As a lifelong Zeppelin fan, I had pretty mixed feelings when I started to recognize the first few notes of "Nobody's Fault But Mine." It's arguably the best song from their 1976 Presence album — and by far, the worst possible song to hear at full volume when you're averaging 23 panic attacks a day. As Robert Plant blurted out the opening vocal wails, I started to feel a dull sensation of pleasure, something I hadn't been anywhere close to for three months.

But the swarm of black thoughts quickly reclaimed control. "Listen to the chorus," they said. "It's your fault you feel so bad. Plus, this is from Zeppelin's shittiest album." By the time my new doctor opened his office door, I was leaking tears through the fingers covering my face — and was seriously pissed he'd forever ruined such a great song for me.

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2) Attempting to be escorted onto a bus by my mother so I could go uptown to see an energy healer.

There's nothing like having a parent who lives nearby, especially when your anxiety has rendered you unable to enter a motor vehicle without a pep talk. My mother is a gem and always has been. She's an outstanding babysitter to her two-year-old twin grandsons and her occasionally impaired 45-year-old son. We'd just had a nice, relaxing lunch that culminated in me suddenly feeling like I'd consumed 17 cups of very strong coffee, which seemed strange since I don't drink coffee at all.

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I called the latest member of my team of health professionals. "It could be the new medication you're taking," he assured me, "or it could just be the anxiety that the new medication is trying to treat." This was a fairly typical conversation for me over the course of the last few months. "So it's up to me to decide?" I asked.

As my mother looked on with extreme concern, I reminded her of my appointment with an energy healer who had been recommended to me. When you're massively depressed, you become very open to things like seeing an energy healer or pretty much anyone in the universe who can make you feel less awful. I'd already seen this particular woman a few times and had left our sessions feeling enough relief to want to go back.

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My mother and I debated the best way to get me to the Upper West Side of Manhattan during rush hour, assuming an ambulance wasn't an option just yet. My mother took the reins and said she had an app that showed what time buses uptown would be arriving on her corner. "There's one 8 minutes away," she announced. As my mind and body throbbed with terror, my mother proudly declared every movement of the upcoming bus, as if she worked for the MTA. "There's a bus at 63rd street...6 minutes away," I'd hear through my mental fog.

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When the uptown M31 finally pulled up to the corner, I knew I was in trouble. My mom looked at me the way she did when she'd walk me to the school bus in kindergarten — a glance that said, "God, I hope this kid doesn't freak out." She walked me to the intimidating-looking entrance of the perfectly normal bus, and after two steps on board, I turned around and ran off. It was official. I couldn't ride a bus, even with my mommy holding my hand. "Should we try Uber?" she asked.

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It never gets easier.
It never gets easier.
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3) Being guided through a 17-minute crying jag in a bathroom stall at my office while six guys were waiting to crap.

On one particularly wrenching morning at work, I started texting with an old friend who happened to also be going through a challenging time with his depression. "You're not alone," he texted, perhaps not realizing that saying things like that could easily send me into a geyser of tears in front of 15 coworkers. I ran to the bathroom, and let out an audible groan of relief that one of the two bathroom stalls was empty. I shut the door and let the tears fall as quietly as possible, narrating what was happening to my friend over text.

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"I'm a wreck," I said, "Now crying in bathroom at work." I was pretty sure the volume was inaudible to the guy in the stall next to me. Still, I started fake flushing every 30 seconds. "This is going to pass," my friend texted, "there are a lot of people who love you." It was almost as if he wanted me to be a blubbering, undignified mess while sitting on a toilet. These were not my normal crying heaves. It was almost as if I was vomiting up all the dark, shitty thoughts and feelings that held me hostage for months.

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"Your wife loves you. Your kids love you. They know you're gonna get better," he texted. I was about eight minutes in, with no signs of slowing down. I was starting to hear the loud, familiar sighs of impatient men who really needed to go. The guy in the other stall was apparently not in a rush either. So in the middle of this intense outpouring of emotion, I found time to feel guilty that I was preventing men from taking a shit. "This isn't who you are," came the newest text, "You're just really sick right now." And just like that, round two began.

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My body was quivering, and the volume was increasing. Another five minutes passed. Another three guys came in and out of the bathroom, groaning and sighing, now even pulling on the door handle, sending a clear message that crapping and/or crying in a stall for 13 straight minutes wasn't acceptable. "Think about all the people you'll be able to help," my friend texted. My body had nothing left in the tank but it still tried to let out tears — kind of like if your eyes are dry heaving.

A few minutes later, I couldn't take it any longer. No one should have to wait 17 minutes to take a dump. I thanked my friend, made one final fake flush, and slowly opened the door, keeping my head tilted downwards. I left the bathroom looking like I'd just exited a funeral. No one said a word. I briefly contemplated the notion of "crying rooms" for the mentally ill as a mandatory part of the workplace.

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The scene of the cry.
The scene of the cry.

4) Feeling inferior to a 2-year-old.

My lovely, patient, incredibly proficient wife was running around our apartment preparing for our twin toddlers' birthday party that evening while her semi-comatose husband laid in a heap on the bed with Ronen, the chattier of our two boys. Ronen was now in a phase of excitedly wanting to answer any question you threw at him. He could still only say one word at a time but he did it with delight and vigor, as if it were a televised game show. "What color is dada's shirt?" I asked, trying to ignore the fatigue my depression generally caused at this time of day. "Blue!" he shouted. This was pretty much the exact level of conversation I could handle. "What's on your feet?" I asked. "Shoes!" Ronen yelled, proud as ever. "How old are you today?" I asked. "Two!" came the response. It was time to step up my game. "Hey buddy," I said, "What do you want for your birthday?" There was no right answer to this one. He was already getting dozens of gifts from adoring grandparents and other loved ones — everything from mini razor scooters to kiddie laptops to whatever the hell else a two-year-old likes for 30 seconds and then loses interest in. But that's not what was on Ronen's little developing mind. "Happy!" he shouted. My eyes widened. Happy. I hadn't thought about that word in a while. Was a two-year-old boy telling me that all he really wanted, above any toy in the universe, was to experience joy — the simple exhilaration of being alive? Was Ronen some sort of emotional prodigy, telling his sick and suffering father to just snap the hell out of it? I began to weep. There was no way to explain clinical depression to a 2-year-old. I wish he knew I'd give anything to just feel like myself for five minutes, to be able to bond with him and operate on his level of simplicity and ease — to be "happy." Through my tears, I yelled to my wife in the other room to let her know what our brilliant son had just said. "Oh cute," she yelled back, "Yeah, he always says 'happy' when he hears the word 'birthday'."

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A very undepressed child.
A very undepressed child.

A week later, the worst depression of my life started to lift. A few weeks after that, it had mostly vanished. Maybe it was due to the intensive therapy. Maybe my rock-and-roll psychiatrist finally got the meds right. Or maybe inviting friends, family, and innocent bystanders into the process helped lessen the hold my mental illness had on me. No one knows for sure. But I have plenty of theories on it and am happy to expound on them to anyone who will listen.

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