This I Believe

Bryan - Farmington, Utah
Entered on December 1, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50

The media has a slick way of feeding our ferocious appetites for scandalous rumors of illegal steroid use. Seven Russians and one Spanish cyclist were dismissed from competing in the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics for “doping.” Try doing a Google Image search for the word “steroid” and you’ll see images immediately appear of oversized, overstuffed weight lifters. But I believe in steroid use. And I believe in the power of testosterone.

I could portray my life as being rough having grown-up as an illegitimate only-child in a single parent family, unaware of my father’s identity or whereabouts. But it’s more important that I tell you about my core personality and natural tendencies. In other words, my hardwiring that has been with me since birth that guides the way I see and interact with the world.

My disposition has always been pleasant and outgoing. I see myself as an extrovert, thriving on social interactions and my relationships with others. Despite my challenges or hardships, I have a tendency to trudge through the difficulties with resiliency. Laughter has always been a main ingredient in my life.

Around the time I entered my 30’s, a gradual disconnect from my core personality and associated traits began to occur. An extreme sense of incongruence formed within me. The person that existed inside of my body was gradually being overtaken by feelings of emptiness, loneliness and hopelessness. Eventually, I was enveloped within the confinements of a darkness that completely seized my desires for life. Social encounters became weighty, life had no meaning and I lacked belief or hope for the future. It was frightening to me that at my darkest hour, I had no desire to continue. I wanted more than anything for the overpowering sadness to end.

Because of my pleasant disposition, I was able to mask how I felt inside. I suffered in silence. No one but my wife knew the depth of my misery. In my state of mind I felt like I had gone to hell; I questioned if I would make it back.

Feeling worthless, humiliated and beaten, I eventually sought the help of a medical doctor who put me on an antidepressant. The medication took a slight edge off of my low mood, but failed to come close to bringing me back to my prior state of functioning. After two sessions with a therapist, I concluded that his issues had a greater chance of fueling my depressive state than did my own.

When I was 37, by happenstance, my doctor determined that I had low testosterone. I was diagnosed with a rather dehumanizing-sounding male condition known as hypogonadism. I began a daily regimen of testosterone gel replacement therapy. As the medication began to take effect, I felt like my life had been given back to me and my soul was once again alive.

I find it odd that when speaking of a woman who is taking hormones, we condone it as a good, and sometimes, much needed thing. When we hear of a man taking testosterone there is an immediate negative connotation. I phoned a bookstore recently and asked for the book, The Testosterone Syndrome, by Eugene Shippen. The female employee responded with laughter. “Kind of a funny title isn’t it,” I said. She replied, “It sure is!” I wonder if she would have given the same response had my wife called inquiring about a book called, The Estrogen Syndrome.

I believe in steroid use when it means choosing between darkness and light. I have my life back and, because of this, I believe in the power of testosterone.