What was I thinking? How could I really have gotten to this point of despair?

 

 My wife decided that if I “lived” and survived my very serious injuries, we would tell everybody including my father, our cousins, neighbors, co-workers and friends, that I had fallen down the steps. 

Our children were ages 9, 12, 14 and 16. The oldest children, Robin and Katelyn, were brought to the hospital trauma unit, after I jumped, because my injuries were life-threatening. Ryan and Kristen were at their grandparent’s house and we did not tell them the truth about what had happened until much later. 

We buried what had happened, because I said that it was an “aberration” and I didn’t ever want to talk about it. It was too painful to recall. It was from 1999 until I read about Jordan in 2008,  that I pretended that it never happened.  

After reading the article about Jordan, I came miraculously “out of my cocoon of shame” and told Trish that I wanted to speak out about men and depression. My message to them was “IF IT HAPPENED TO ME, IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU!” 

Part of my story: 

My wife woke up and saw me standing above her, next to the 

bed. I was dressed, but not in work clothes. 

“Trish, there’s something wrong with me. . . . I tried to kill myself. 

I was driving around. I was going to drown.” 

Trish got me to lie down; she covered me with a blanket. Then, 

she called my office and left a message for my boss, telling her that 

I would not be in for the rest of the week—that things were seriously 

wrong. She got Katelyn, age14, Kristen, age 12, and Ryan, 

age 9 off to school, then called my doctor. Robin, age 16, was already 

on the school bus. 

“This is Patricia Gallagher,” she said. “I’m John Gallagher’s 

wife. He’s been in to see you a few times. Doctor, he needs to go 

somewhere to have a rest.” She continued: “He’s been driving 

around for an hour this morning. I didn’t even know he was out of 

the house. Doctor, something is wrong. Where can I take him?” 

On the doctor’s recommendation, Trish made arrangements to 

take me to a hospital where there was a psychiatric unit. It was a 

beautiful day but, as usual, my mood was totally flat. 

“John, do you want to go to Denny’s and have breakfast?” 

“I don’t care,” I replied. 

“Do you want to take a ride?” 

“I don’t care.” 

The I don’t cares were my only response. 

As we drove on, I said plainly—almost matter-of-factly—“I’m 

going to die.” 

“No, John, you’re just stressed,” Trish insisted. “You need a vacation.” 

She strained to speak calmly. 

As we pulled into the Emergency parking lot, I blurted out: 

“Take me to the ER. I’m going to die. I took carbon monoxide.” 

I confessed that, when I went out driving around, at approximately 

6 a.m., I had pulled the car over and breathed the exhaust 

from the back of my car. 

She asked how long. I said, “I guess about nine or ten minutes.” 

I didn’t want to say anything more than that. I knew she would just 

try to placate me and tell me everything was going to be okay. For 

me, I didn’t think that things would ever be okay again. So we 

went into the hospital, hoping upon hope that we would somehow 

find relief. 

As a man in this world of ours, I am expected to hold a job, 

make enough money to pay my bills, provide for my four children, 

and be there for my wife. But sometimes, in the hustle and bustle 

of daily life, all the tasks and responsibilities cascade into overwhelming 

stress. That’s what happened to me nine years ago. 

On the outside, everything looked great. I had an MBA, a job as 

a financial analyst, and a wife and four children. But, on the inside, 

everything had begun to fall apart. My company was cutting back, 

and I feared being laid off and rendered incapable of providing for 

my family. I also feared telling my father and my father-in-law 

about the possibility of losing my job. 

I had a perfectly good job in the Advertising Administration 

department of a major pharmaceutical company. But, even before 

the announcement of future lay-offs, I didn’t think that was 

good enough. Recently, I’d started thinking that I should become 

a pharmaceutical sales representative. The people in that 

department seemed to be the “beautiful people” in the company 

and, I figured that, if I made it into that elite group, I’d have 

success. 

Come to think of it, I had always felt that I wasn’t good enough. 

I would get good jobs with Fortune 500 companies, but, once on 

the job, I’d start to think that I wasn’t up to par. I would try to follow 

the adage, “Fake it ‘til you make it,” but doing so was very 

stressful for me. I also tried to go with the saying, “Don’t let them 

see you sweat,” but, since I was always worried about being fired, 

I wasn’t very good at that either. 

Following popular wisdom didn’t do me much good. 

Life began to overwhelm me. What I didn’t know then is that 

my high degree of worry and anxiety, coupled with the sense of not 

being good enough, were classic signs of depression. 

  

  

  

  

  

 

 

 

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