Ricardo Martinez has a favorite quote from Mark Twain: “The two most important days in your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why.”
Ricardo loves to fly fish, so he knew he had a serious problem when even his favorite hobby didn’t inspire him to get out of bed.
“There is no feeling worse that I have ever felt than waking up and not wanting to wake up,” said the longtime Kaiser Permanente member. “I wasn’t sure what my entire purpose in life was or what I was doing on the face of this earth.”
Ricardo told his primary care physician how he was feeling. The doctor told him he might be going through an episode of depression and arranged for Ricardo to see a Kaiser Permanente psychiatrist and a mental health therapist. Working together, the team recommended a treatment plan, including lifestyle changes, talk therapy and antidepressants.
At first, Ricardo resisted. “There is a stigma (about mental health problems), particularly in the Latino culture,” he said. “But then my doctor explained that your brain is like any other part of your body. If you have a broken hand, you get a cast and take medication. If your brain is not functioning as it should be, you need to take medication.”
Ricardo’s therapist also taught him coping skills, such as breathing exercises. After four years of coordinated care from his physician, psychiatrist and therapist, Ricardo was able to stop taking antidepressants and now relies on his healthier lifestyle and coping techniques. He no longer dreads waking up and has been able to fully re-engage in life with his wife and three children.
“I think I’ve had a lot of those days where I know why I was born.” Ricardo said. “Life is good. Life is really good.”