Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Depression-you have to work on cutting it free.

Shelle Edit: PapaK is one of my daily reads. Love his writing because somedays he's witty and makes me laugh out loud and sometimes he's really serious and makes me use my brain, and I'm not always against that. He's also ambitious--which goes against everything I believe, he vowed to type 30 posts in 30 days... and get this, he's STUCK to it so far!!! I KNOW!!! Crazy right? Plus he featured me and this blog on his blog and linked up so I'm endeared to him forever! Another reason why you should love to hate him... his wife, GORGEOUS, his little girl, beautiful. Just sayin...you should check his blog out and follow him. You will thank me later.

Topic: My spouse or I deal with depression. How it effects the relationship. What we do. How we cope or not.

I used to see people who suffered from depression as weak. Sure it made sense to be depressed if a loved one died, you were a victim of some horrific crime or any other varying degree of the hideousness that can happen on this planet. But what really got me were those individuals who had everything… and were still depressed.

I really couldn’t identify with it. I really couldn’t understand. I could never suffer from depression… because my life was perfect!!

Then I became a father.

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not at all saying that becoming a parent isn’t the most wonderful, life-changing, spectacular moment of your entire life!! But from the moment I looked into the eyes of Daddy’s Little Girl (DLG) a trigger went off and from that day forward I struggle on a daily basis with varying degrees of stress, anxiety and guilt... which all lead to depression.

Now… I’m blessed with an incredibly sexy wife and a gorgeous (nearly) two-year old daughter.

Money isn’t tight… but we don’t use it to blow our noses into either. We’re all in perfect health. DLG isn’t a “rowdy hellion” by any means. We have lots of friends. I’m able to pursue the hobbies that I enjoy.

So… by my “pre-depression” calculations I shouldn’t be depressed! I should be thanking my God for all the blessings he has bestowed upon me!

And I do.

But I am horribly imperfect and fall victim to the struggles in my mind all too often.

I remember rocking a six-month old DLG to sleep one evening and I couldn’t shake the horrible feeling that she was going to die. The more I tried to push the thought out of my head the stronger it pushed back. I eventually wound up in a pile of tears in the rocking chair before my wife came in and took over.

I would go to work knowing fully that DLG absolutely was not in the baby seat behind me. But after a couple hours at work… this fear would creep into my head that maybe I left her back there and I just didn’t remember! This would require a trip out to my car just to ease my mind.

As time passed on my obsessions and thoughts became more invasive and vastly more horrific. I truly began to think there was something wrong with me.

“Am I going crazy?” I’d think to myself.

I never knew depression to the point where I wanting to end my life… but there was times where I wished I’d rather have been dead than to go through the mental torment I put myself through.

During this whole time, my wife stood there and held me in my most desperate times of need. It was a truly weakening moment that brings tears to my eyes this day to know that she knew I was going through all of it and there wasn’t really anything she could do.

“You’re here with us… but your mind is somewhere else.” She’d always say.

I felt as though I were the only person in the world going through what I was going through.

I eventually swallowed enough of my pride to admit that I couldn’t work this out on my own and sought out a professional therapist who I could talk to. This was only after I had hit rock bottom, after I’d wake up in the morning counting down the hours until I could go to sleep again and after I couldn’t look at DLG without my heart jumping into my throat in fear she was going to be taken from me.
My tears were in short supply after leaving the therapists office.

The fix was not as immediate as I wanted it to be… but it got fixed.

We talked about my childhood, about my life, about my marriage, about my spirituality and about anything relevant to me at that moment. Without getting too far into the folds of my gray-matter… the therapist and I slowly chipped away at the wall I had built up. I tore down every “tough guy” wall I’d built and reduced it to a sniveling pile of rubble.

The evenings after my appointments would involve me sitting with my wife and telling her what I was comfortable in telling her. She’d sit and stare intently and tell me how proud she was of me for conquering my issues… and my deepest fears.

After several months of hour-long conversations, homework and doctor appointed reading, my therapist asked that I bring in my wife for a session. I was finally able to see the fruits of everything I’d been working toward: to become myself again.

“I’m just so happy he found you,” my wife told the therapist as tears streamed down her face, “I’ve got my husband back… and I thank you.”

I was interested in volunteering for this writing assignment because when I was going through my depression… I felt alone. I felt there wasn’t anyone I could talk to and I felt like my situation was the only one like it in the world!

I’m here to tell you that’s not the case because EVEN I have been on the wrong end of a depressive state of mind.

I’m also here to tell you that you’re not “weak” for admitting to yourself that you might have a problem you have to work out. I can tell you that you’ll ultimately become stronger for working through your issues rather than wallowing in them.

My stress, anxiety, obsessive tendencies and depression have all greatly decreased as a result of my wife standing by my side through the whole ordeal. When I was being reduced to nothing more than a limp rag as a result of my depressive thoughts she held me and just listened, held me, kissed me and told me how much she loved me.

Depression can be extremely scary and I wouldn’t have been able to tell you that until I went through it. The best thing you can do if your spouse is depressed is hold them tight, offer up your ears to listen and tell them how much they mean to you. It’s amazing how far a little bit of love can go.
I can’t say that I’m glad I go through my bouts with depression but I can look back on them and see what I’ve gained from the experience.

The love for my wife evolved into much more than just physical attraction… I realized in those moments she really did love and care for me! I’m not saying that I hadn’t noticed it before but it was “hard core” evident now. She wasn’t going to abandon me in my most difficult time of need.
I hug my daughter much tighter now, without those twinges of doubt that made those moments so unbearable… and there’s nothing greater.

Bottom line: if you or your spouse has ANY of the vast and varying degrees of depression… you’ll first have to admit to yourself what you suffer from and then work on fixing yourself. Depression doesn’t just go away on its own… you have to work on cutting it free.


















PapaK- HandstoWar

19 comments:

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

Depression is a tricky thing. I can't relate as much to yours, but I know people that could. I, however, had a bit of the postpartum depression after my first child. It was like my anxiety of being responsible for that little childs life 24/7 was making me crazy!

I couldn't sleep.

I couldn't eat (which was a red flag--because I always eat)

I didn't want to talk with anyone.

I was constantly crying

All big opposites of how I regularly was.

I went the longest time going with out sleep just because I was sure he was going to die and I'd be snoozing away. I double checked things and triple checked them.

It was madness!

It was exhaustion mostly but it was depression also because I felt trapped... it hit me that my life was not my own, I was no longer Shelle I was this baby's mother and I am ashamed to say I wasn't happy about that--at least during that period of time.

But then--it slowly got easier and the depression or exhaustion or whatever it was, slowly got less and less intense.

My was very slight. But it was there.

I'm so happy that you recognized that you needed help and that your wife was there to support you 100%. It's hard when the one you love the most changes on you... it's easy to give up on them.

So kudos!

I loved reading this... thank you so much for writing it.

Seriously everyone needs to go and read you!!!

handstowar said...

Thanks Shelle.

I'm def a ton more appreciative of people with depression issues after what I've been through.

Thanks for the opportunity to write on this blog.

Nan said...

I am very happy you are addressing your depression issues, I do notice you don't mention the use of antidepressants. In my early years I thought the same way as you in your "B.C." [before children] way of thinking. I had a few short lived bouts of depression but always felt I should be able to just shake it off.

I was able to the first few times with talk therapy, not with a paid councilor but with friends and family. THEN... I found out the difference between 'situational depression' and 'clinical depression' by living through the nightmare of it.

I have had 3 episodes of the clinical depression, and am now on a low dose of antidepressants to keep that serotonin on a level to avoid further clinical depression episodes. I still get situational depression and that is what we all tend to think is the "normal" kind of depression, like when there is a death etc...

I have been told, once you have 3 episodes of clinical depression you are best to stay on medication and avoid any further episodes and I agree, each episode was worse, to the point of the last episode I got in the car and was thinking how can I kill myself with out hurting anyone else. It was a flash thought and so against who I REALLY am and I KNEW something was really wrong.

Now that you know the signs and what works for you, you can be so much more aware of it creeping back and address it quickly, if talk therapy continues to be a successful way of managing your depression... great, but if you can't live you life with out overwhelming issues and episodes, you may consider drug therapy. I was reluctant to try it myself, feeling I was "weak" but now I know, it is a tool for me to be ME!
This is the first time I have publicly admitted to my own depression issues, in a way I have felt I needed to keep it to myself because people will think I am "weak" but I feel stronger then most of those who refuse treatment or admit they are suffering because of the stigma that goes with it.

DCHY said...

I had my bouts of depression, but since I started blogging freely and without reservations, I found friends who understood what was going on within me.

I never experienced the depth like you did when both my girls were born, but I had a hard time shaking off the "violent" traumas they endured. The bowling ball incident. The hard landing on head from the bed. So forth.

I could REALLY see where you were coming from. Sometimes I wondered if I was going senile or was paranoid. That was a great post you wrote. Really.

615sWife said...

They year my son was born some major life changing events happened.

1. Hubby best friend was killed ( he was an el reno police officer)

2.My best friends mother died ( 3 months after hubby bf died)

Oh and did i mention that the man and women were my best friends husband and mother. So I was trying to be there for her as much a possible.

4. Had my son... everything great, Right?

5. Wrong ended up in ICU the day i got to bring him home.

6.Hubby got hired on as a El reno Police officer.

7. Hubby had to leave for 12 weeks for CLEET, so i was a single mother to a 3 month old.

8. Ended going back to work for devil lady ( I had decided not to go back to work)

9. reconnected with my mother

10. oh and we moved!

So needless to say I thought I was drowning but I didnt know it was depression until the day I was yelling at my 3 month old for not taking a nap and I smack his leg and i cried and cried because I thought I was a child abuser, I finelly opened up to my best friend and it seem to really help but I look back and I wish had gotten some help. I have so much guilt but I now it is something that I am going to have to deal with in time...

Tit for Tat said...

As one commenter has stated there are different types of depression. It is important to realize that we do have some responsibility by our lifestyle choices(Diet, exercise, relaxation techniques). Though clinical depression requires medicinal intervention not all types of depression are beyond our personal control. Having a trained professional help you diagnose the difference is vital. It is also very impowering. As a health care provider I deal with the differences all the time.

handstowar said...

Nan - I too was rabidly against the thought of taking any medicine before going through my issues. I'm not now though. I have been helped along (and still am) by the use of some... but they are more like a pool floaty: they keep you "afloat" but don't solve the underlying problem. That is cured by tackling whatever issue you're having head-on and eliminating it from the inside out.

While talking with friends and family is good... I cannot stress the value of a GOOD (keyword: good), well educated, recommended doctor. They can really help you come up with a game plan of stopping your depression. Instead of floating in the pool... they'll help you get out of it completely.

DCHY - Thanks for the kind words. I think that every parent that cares goes through some sort of period where they feel as you've felt... it just means your a good parent!

615sWife - As cliche as it sounds, being a parent is the HARDEST job to do WELL. We all make mistakes and we all fall short of where we feel we should be. Depression is a scary place to be and I think that your experience only helped you know in the future what to look for. If it happens again, don't be afraid to talk about it.

Tit For Tat - I agree with you 100%. I will tell you thought that the result of me going to seek professional help was only after months of kicking and screaming and having to admit to myself that something was wrong. I was (still am) a very prideful person and for me to have to swallow my pride like that was somewhen humiliating. On the flip side... I certainly don't think that medication should be the first place to go when someone is depressed... it needs to be carefully analyzed to make sure theres something more there.

Tiaras said...

I do not have depression, but my brother does . . . deep depression . . . it is so sad to watch . . . I try to help him as best as I can . . . he struggles greatly everyday . . . unfortunately, his wife couldn't handle his depression and divorced him . . . obviously this spiraled him even further. After two years(since the divorce) he is finally starting to come around a bit to the little brother that I once knew. Time is what he needs and loads of love!

I'm happy for you that you were able to work through this!

heelsnstocking said...

depression is such a personal thing and we all cope so differently. My friends sometimeshink I have thick skin and nothing bother me, its just i dont show the cracks on the surface. I tend to try and always move forward. Ive had some pretty major things to deal with include rape, abuse, cancer twice and both parents nearly dying. Mother trying to commit suicide and having to sit and hold her wrists together while she struggle and told me I should die... all things I know I shuld deal with but I chose to move forward and wear a smile... one day it might all catch up, some days it feels to near so I run away ... but i cope.. I smile

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

I'm going to say mine was definitely situational and though I haven't felt that way since, I never want to feel that way again. It was scary. I was out of control, and it felt like an outer body experience. I KNEW I was acting crazy, but I couldn't seem to be able to get a hold of it!

Wow! And thank you for those commenting.
I always cringe when I hear someone say things about depression drugs and not believing in them, I've seen how it helps a loves one "normal"--

I definitely agree with Tit for Tat about us having to take care of our bodies as helping in some forms of depression.

Hey tat--maybe you should write a monthly post of healthy technique's to make our minds and bodies harmonize together! If we work on us, not in a selfish way, but really take care of our bodies-which in turn helps our minds, our relationships are proven to be better.

Awesome! Keep up the conversations!

I like what PapaK said in regards to the drugs and how it keeps you a float but you have to work on the underlying issues also.

Tit for Tat said...

Shelle

Thanks for the offer. Would you be up for a monthly post from my wife and I on health and wellness from different angles?

Here's my email

Tatsden@rogers.com

H.K. said...

Great post! I think its great that you shared about your depression especially from a male point of view. I know men go through it, but they don't like to share about it because they think it's not "manly".

For years I've dealt with depression and have gone through therapy to go through it. The last several months I have gone through situational depression- various events that have piled on together leaving me overwhelmed.

However, I have an incredible spouse who is very supportive and who has helped get through my depressions.

Anjeny said...

I think it's neat that you've described what most newly moms experience when having their first baby. We tend to think about all the things that might have happen to the baby and if we will be able to protect and care for that precious little human being.

I admire you for admitting something like this where I'm sure most dads wouldn't admit to even if they are going through depression worrying the new addition to the family that is going to be in their care. And I think it does take a great man to admitting to something like this and that you were able to seek outside help. Thank you so much for the courage to post this awesome post.

Just Jules said...

Oh I know depression. Yes I do. I know long periods of nothingness as well as a day here or there - or a weak of walking in circles of doom.

I wish I would have known in college I was suffering from what I am now guessing would have been clinical depression, instead I suffered alone and eventually quit school and moved to CO. It worked- but I never did finish school.

I was fine until we lost one of our identical twin daughters. About 8 months after (after all the hype dies down) I fell into a pretty bad place.

I still find myself dealing with these types of feelings off and on. Now my depression is easily fixed - I need to get out of the house, get away. Here is the problem.... it is not that easy to do so. I feel trapped at times, and it sucks.

Depression can hit anyone anytime and with any amount of severity. It is not something you just get over- you wouldn't tell someone to just get over cancer. It is real, but it is hard to understand if you have never walked in the shoes....

thank you for an awesome post.

Alex said...

It was a very good post. And your daughter IS gorgeous and your wife IS quite beautiful :)

I'm sorry you had to suffer from depression. No one deserves to feel those things or any other symptoms of depression.

I was diagnosed with depression ten years ago. I suffered Post Partum Depression after both of my children (on top of the other depression is just no fun at all) and I was recently diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder.

The ONLY THING I disagreed with in your post is the very last sentence; "Depression doesn’t just go away on its own… you have to work on cutting it free."

I believe, for me and my depression, that it's something that will always be there. The depression will forever be part of my life, something that I have to watch for each day. I have succeeded for almost a year to keep it at bay, to keep it grounded. But it's still there. I can feel it waiting to rear it's ugly head.

I believe that there are some people who, with help, can remove it completely from their lives. I think that's wonderful. But I also believe that there are some people (myself included) that have to take it day by day, no all the signs and prepare themselves to seek help immediately should they feel the signs coming on. It's a life long battle but with the right help, you can keep it away from years.

Keith Wilcox said...

I have never dealt with depression and I hope I never have to. I know several people who still struggle with it though, and I'm surprised at how well they hide it. In fact, if they hadn't told me they were taking such and such medication or that they're battling depression, I never would have guessed. I think it's one of those things people tend to hide. Thus, like you say, clearly talking about it with someone is essential. Thanks for the post, man!

Danielle said...

I love this post. I don't suffer from any depression however I have big anxiety over some of the things you mentioned in the post. I have been known to go back to my car to see if my daughter was there even though I know for sure she is not. I too only found myself this way after I had my daughter.
Very interesting post and comments!

handstowar said...

Just wanted to thank everyone for their kind words and participation in my post. I hope that everyone that has suffered from some form of depression can find their way out of it and anyone that knows someone who suffers from it please love them endlessly.

Come visit me at Hands To War if you get a chance!

James (SeattleDad) said...

Great post Chris. So glad you found help and worked those issues out.

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