Up until a couple of months ago, I had no idea what depression was like! Now I believe I have a new appreciation of what it is to be in deep despair with absolutely no hope.
The combination of my two prostate cancer therapies: 25 heavy doses of radiation and 2 of 7 (over 28 months) Hormone Therapy treatments (chemical castration) literally took the life out of me. I was at the point up to early this week that I felt totally worthless as a man and over the past couple of weeks I have been seriously contemplating suicide!!
I was desperate and signed up for counselling (after 2 sessions I still felt worthless). I also went to a prostate cancer support group. One thing the speaker said was “You can’t time life”- thinking of your brother-in-law. He also said “Cancer is a gift, use it as a gift”.
So, while there, I signed up for a pilot project [Men’s Transition Program from the Men’s Depression & Suicide Network] funded by MOVEMBER – a men’s health foundation. Last Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, I spent 24 hours, over 3 days, with 4 fellow prostate cancer survivors and 3 very professional counsellors. We told our sto-ries, we wrote our stories. We shared our cancer and life experiences. But most of all for me I was able to actually tell someone I was depressed and suicidal.
Long story short, I realized I was grieving my MANHOOD. I have lost what is very precious for a man! I cried – did I ever cry. Now I am at peace (sure I miss my testosterone), but I know I am still a man, not defined by my sexual ability. I am a husband, a father, a grandfather, a friend, a hockey player… I am valuable. I have apologized to my wife and son, telling them about my dark thoughts and have made a covenant to them that I will not hurt myself and that if I go dark I will share with them right away.
I have realized that suicide has such collateral damage in the family that it is unbelievable! It is like pulling the pin on two grenades, one in your hand and the other you toss into the family gath-ered behind you. That is not the legacy I want to leave!! It is unbelievable for me – last Saturday I would have said let’s go play with grenades- we have nothing to lose- one week later I feel like 1000lbs has been taken off my back.
So remember – you are a dad, a husband, a son, a friend, and a great hockey player. Let’s keep in touch and encourage one another to stay away from the dark side!!