Beating the Beast

 

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I first saw a counselor in March of 2002 to deal with what I thought were minor issues about coping with stress. He told me at the time that I was showing serious signs of Major Depression, but that he wanted me to see a psychiatrist to be formally diagnosed. He also expressed concerns that I wasn't going to get better unless I changed my home environment...

I had been married for almost seven years at that point, living in my in-laws' home (because that was what my wife wanted), with two sons. I was reasonably successful at work, though I was hardly in an ambitious position.  My job performance had dropped off, my memory was gone, and I found myself constantly stressed.

I finally stopped seeing this counselor after only a couple months, because he wanted to meet with my wife, and she refused. I grew tired of making excuses for her.

I also figured that I could handle things without help.

In June of 2003, my regular doctor diagnosed me with Major Depression and Anxiety Disorder, and expressed concerns that I was being emotionally abused at home. He prescribed my first antidepressant, Lexapro. I took this as a huge blow to my ego. I was raised with a very self-sufficient mentality, and I found needing medication to get through the day ... frankly, ... depressing.

Being diagnosed didn't make things easier. The emotional abuse increased, I was expected to think it normal that I was called "nutso" and treated like a dangerous person. "Head case," "mental patient," "nutcase" were normal labels for me for this time.

Through this, I become more and more isolated from everyone. I didn't want to admit to some people that I was in this state, and didn't want to admit the pressures of my dying marriage. By the fall of 2003, I was deep in the throes of Depression. I was taking klonopin, lexapro, buspar, and wellbutrin; but still had bouts of suicidal thinking, and I entered the dark and grim world of self-injury in November.

I spent seven weeks out of work around the end of 2003, returning mid-January. I remained unable to concentrate, and spent most of the first half of 2004 curled up on the couch waiting for each day to end so that the next could begin and get itself over with. I looked forward to nothing, I had no hope for anything.

Through all of this, there were precious few things that kept me together ... and, frankly, alive. I am blessed with a few tight friends in real life who have stuck by me through everything, and I have made friends in two online support groups. While I was skeptical at first of how much people who don't know me could help ... They have been invaluable. More supportive, in fact, than my blood relatives have been.

There were times, though, when the only reason I didn't cut a wrist was knowing that my sons would lose their father that way.

Even if I didn't consider myself much of a father, my sons deserve to have a father ... And I wasn't going to let myself deprive them of that.

As of this writing, I am out of that house. My wife has filed for divorce, and much of the pressure has lifted, though I still face the fear of having to explain to a court what it means to be in the bowels of self-hatred.  Knowing, as I have learned, that I have no cause to hate myself, that I am the victim of an abusive family, has only helped a little bit. The wounds remain, and will take longer to heal.

Perhaps the most important thing that I've learned is that I don't have to keep up the "strong" image around everyone ... And that is something that I learned first online. It's important to be honest with this illness. You can't hide from it.

 
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Revised: 04/02/05.

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