Cabarrus

He found his purpose fighting depression

You can spend years trying to make sense of a miracle.

Greg Faggart was a sophomore in high school when he was nearly killed in a car accident. For decades, he hoped he was doing the things he was left on earth to do.

He worked in the Concord Fire Department for decades and supported his church and community. But it seems there was more for him to do. And it took 40 years to figure that out.

It took repeated, debilitating bouts with depression. The last one lasted more than a year.

"I was in purgatory for 13 months," Faggart said. "Thirteen months not enjoying anything I used to enjoy, not wanting to bike or run or socialize - not even go outside. The idea of doing something - it feels like it's too much."

He slept 10-11 hours a day, trying to avoid reality, fearing the new day.

"For depressed people," Faggart said, "a minute is an eternity."

Treatment for depression has changed.

When Faggart suffered his first episode, back in the mid-80s, doctors would prescribe medication.

"The more episodes you have, the greater the chance that you'll have another," Faggart said. "Some people might only have one in a lifetime. But if I were to go off my medication, I'd have a 90 percent chance of going into a depression again before I die."

Recently, Faggart went on Facebook to announce that he suffered from depression. Of the hundred or so responses he received, only one person expressed hesitation about his decision to go public.

Most people congratulated him for having the courage to speak out. Because, as Faggart says, "anyone can be depressed. It doesn't discriminate."

Stigmas still attach to those who suffer from depression. Faggart spent months avoiding people because he was afraid he would have to explain why he wasn't the upbeat, positive man they knew - the man who loved biking and running and yoga, the man who liked being with people. His wife, Sherry, kept trying to get him out anyway.

"If there's any kind of medal or award or repayment I could give her, I would do it," Faggart said.

Last May 1, Faggart was in church. He went to the altar and prayed for God's help. It had been more than a year since his last depression had struck. He had tried one medication after another and finally found a treatment his body could tolerate.

After months of exhaustion, of hiding, of enduring one side effect after the other, he longed to escape.

"It started happening right then. By Wednesday of that week, I woke up and got out of bed and wanted to do something," he says.

He had discovered why he was left on this earth four decades ago.

"It's to put a face on depression," he says. "To break the stigma."

Greg Faggart has a message for those who suffer depression: Don't give up.

See your doctor. There is help. And if you want to connect with someone who knows, you can even write him at gwf1954@yahoo.com.

You are not alone.

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