My ups and downs with depression
So I’ve decided to have some guest bloggers lately. From having my stories of Mummy and Klaus on Twindaddy‘s blog, I thought it was most fitting that he be my first guest blogger. He’s not the only one. AliceAtWonderland will be joining us too! Did you want to share anything? Just send me an email ( firstname.lastname@example.org), and let me know.
Hello. My name is Twindaddy. Some of you may already know me. Some of you may not. Some of you may wish you did. Most of you will not.
threatened to have the white rabbit stalk me asked me to guest post here, but didn’t really give me much to work with in the way of a topic, so I decided to talk about depression since that’s the theme of her blog. Or it originally was, at least. I thought maybe it might help her in some way to share my story with her. At least, that is my hope. Some of this she already knows, some of it she may not.
I was originally diagnosed with depression when I was 13-years old. My dad had just been transferred to Atlanta, GA and I had been ripped from a town, life, and friends that I loved. That was when I first began to experience the symptoms of depression. I missed my friends. I missed my school. I hated my father for accepting the transfer. I hated my new school and I hated Atlanta. I was moody. I wallowed in solidarity. I cried. Sometimes without knowing why.
My mother also began struggling with depression for the same reasons.
We both began seeing a psychiatrist. We were both prescribed antidepressants. Mine worked wonderfully. My mother’s did not. In fact, they had the opposite affect. They made her manic. In short, she did things. Things that she would not normally do. She ended up getting arrested and placed in a mental hospital. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was not far behind her.
This all happened during my 7th grade year. The things my mother had done were not a secret for two reasons. The first is because she was a substitute teacher at my school and one of the incidents happened there. The other is because it was reported in the local paper.
What this meant for me is that all of my classmates knew about it. I was picked on and bullied because of it. If not for the special care and love of one of the greatest teachers I had ever known, I might have followed my mother into that hospital. Or worse.
Things eventually calmed down. Once my mother had finished all of her legal obligations and had been released by the same psychiatrist who had prescribed the very medicine that damned her, we moved to Ohio. It was a fresh start for me. One where nobody knew what had happened, but another instance where I was ripped away from friends whom I cared for and I went through a similar cycle, but this one not as disastrous as the one that had preceded it.
I went through this cycle several times over the next few years. I would end up going to three different middle schools and four different high schools. This had a traumatic effect on my social life and skills. I eventually withdrew into myself. I built up solid walls around my heart to prevent anyone else from getting in. I was tired of being hurt. I was tired of making friends only to lose them a short time later. I was tired of being torn away from things and people I loved. I was just tired.
I went specifically out of my way to avoid attachments. As master Yoda once said, fear of loss is the path to the dark side. And that is exactly where I ended up. My family eventually moved back to the Cincinnati area when I was 18, just six months after I had graduated from high school. Two years later I became involved with a woman who would turn out to be a blessing and a curse.
The blessing, quite simply, was my twins. Every other facet of that relationship was a curse. We began dating when I was 20. Three weeks into our relationship she asked me to move in. I told her I wasn’t ready to do that, but she then laid a huge guilt trip on me and began crying. She was going to lose her apartment. She couldn’t afford the rent. She was going to have to beg her ex to take her back. I fell for it. I moved in with her.
I knew right away I wanted nothing to do with this woman. I had inherited two ill-behaved children along with her. One of them would end up with a criminal record and spend years in state care. I also didn’t like her. She was completely different from me in every way. We had nothing in common. She didn’t like my sense of humor so I pretty much had to shelve that and be a person I never was intended to be. She made her children my responsibility. I didn’t mind helping, but I didn’t feel like they should be pushed on to me. They had a father and I didn’t want to interfere with their paternal relationship.
Two months later I was done. I told her I didn’t want to see her any more and I wanted to move back home. That night she got drunk and took off telling me she was going to walk to the I-75 overpass and jump off the bridge. I would have given chase, but her children were in the apartment and I couldn’t leave them alone. So I sat there and cried. She eventually came back and I agreed to stay.
We went through this routine a couple of more times before I had the idea to sneak out while she was at work. I had to do it while she wasn’t there because if she knew I’d lose my resolve when she started to cry. Somehow she knew what I was planning. She read it in my demeanor. She could tell by the way I was acting. I really don’t know what gave me away. But she knew.
That night, she swallowed an entire bottle of Benadryl. I was dumbstruck. I couldn’t respond. There are a number of actions I should have taken in retrospect, but at the moment all I could do was sit there and cry. I couldn’t fathom that I meant so much to someone that they would rather die than live without me. I know now that I shouldn’t have let that guilt keep me there, but at that moment all I could do was cave. That was the last time I tried to leave. I gave into everything, and I mean everything, she wanted from that point forward.
I found out we were getting married when she dragged me over to the jewelry department one day and said, “I like that one,” while pointing to a particular bridal set. She was so subtle. So I bought it and proposed no questions asked.
Not long afterward she told me she wanted to have my children. I didn’t put up a fight. I didn’t want to have children with her, but I was afraid to tell her no. So I conceded. We had the twins.
The twins were a huge band-aid over everything that was wrong in my life. I didn’t like my wife, let alone love her, but the twins made me happy. My depressions was largely absent during the first few years of their lives. They required so much time and attention that I didn’t have time to reflect on my shitty life or my shitty marriage to a shitty woman whom I loathed.
To this point, I hadn’t been treated for my depression since I was 15. I hadn’t seen a counselor or a psychiatrist. I was not being treated for it and I honestly didn’t feel like I needed the help. As the twins grew older and required less attention I was left with a wife who wanted to do things with me and rekindle our “relationship.” I wanted nothing to do with it and nothing to do with her. I never had any intention of leaving, though. My parents were divorced when I was 12 and I hoped not to do that to my children, but I eventually reached the point where I didn’t care.
I couple of months before the twins 6th birthday, at the age of 28, I left my wife. I was happy to be rid of her, but I was devastated at the same time. I missed my children. It was killing me not to see them on a daily basis. I cried. A lot. I sought treatment from my family doctor and he put me on antidepressants. I took them for a couple of months, but quit taking them when I began to feel better. I thought I didn’t need them. I eventually began dating my current wife and was happy with her even though I still missed being with my children all the time.
Over the next few years my wife and I would have our ups and downs. A lot of it was due to my depression, but I didn’t realize that at the time. I would snap very easily. I’d lose my temper over the most minute things. Trivial things. Inconsequential things. Things that weren’t worth getting upset about.
My wife is a trooper in that regard. She put up with it a lot longer than I would have. It all came to a head, though, about six months ago. She left me. And rightfully so. One day while wallowing in my grief I began looking at our conversation history on Facebook. It was at that moment that I realized that my wife was right. I treated her like shit. I talked to her like I hated her. My jaw dropped as I scrolled through pages and pages of me just being a dick to her without provocation. I was at a loss. I wasn’t even aware that I was doing this. It genuinely surprised me to find that I had been treating her thusly.
I sought help from a counselor and my family doctor. They both informed me that irritability was now considered a symptom of depression. It all snapped into place for me then. I began taking antidepressants again and since then I, and more importantly my wife, have noticed a vast improvement in my moods and they way I treat her and my children. My mood swings are almost nonexistent now and I’m much happier with the person I am now as opposed to the person I was just six months ago. I’m not perfect by any means, but I’m now a person that I’m proud to be. Not the unhappy, angry, and often belligerent asshole I was not long ago.
I’m sharing this deeply personal story here on Alice’s blog in the hopes that she may see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, even if she may not see it. I know my past is not as harrowing as hers. I have not been through the trauma that she has, but I’ve dealt with the same emotions, the same sense of hopelessness, and some of the same trials. I have not overcome them completely and it’s entirely possible that I never will. But what I have done is make progress. I’m a much happier person. More importantly, I’m a more loveable person. My wife and kids actually enjoy being around me now. I’ve also made a promise to myself that no matter what happens, no matter how good things may get, I’m not going to let my guard down on depression again. I’m going to continue seeking help from my doctor. I’m going to continue talking to counselors. I’m not going to let complacency set in again and risk losing loved ones again while telling myself that depression isn’t the problem.
Depression sucks, but it can be tamed. I hope that soon, Alice, you’ll be here with me. That you’ll be where I am now. That you’ll be able to look back and say, “Yeah, I have depression, but I made it my bitch.”