trileptal_tablets

Something happened back in 2009.

My joyless marriage to Millie was bottoming out. Early in the year, as I was falling into a deep and paralyzing depression, I was hospitalized with pneumonia and, a month later, hospitalized again with complications related to the pneumonia.

By the time summer rolled around, I was doing much better, although things with Millie were complicated by severe difficulties she was confronting with the arrival of a newborn granddaughter a long way from where we lived and the fact that two of her family members were terminally ill.

But something happened inside me that I’ll never figure out.  My bouts with depression, my falling into the black hole of energy-less paralysis, disappeared. As I write this paragraph in December, 2016, I am happy to report that the paralyzing depression I experienced in 2009 — and it was similar to bouts I had experienced over the previous thirty to thirty-five years — was my last incident to date.

It’s been a remarkable development. Every morning I wake up and I’m not greeted by the waterlogged duvet of heaviness that I used to feel during bouts of depression. My temperament has evened out — I almost never have flashes of frustration or, as I’ve come to believe I used to experience, flashes of overwhelming fear.

No one at home, or in my family,  is on eggshells around me any longer because I’m no longer given over to brief fits of panic or instant, teeth gnashing frustration. I never did anyone physical harm when these outbursts occurred, but their unpredictability and suddenness darkened my married life and my family life.

My condition contributed mightily to the joylessness of our marriage.

As more days passed without bouts of depression, and as I was spending less and less time walled off in my bedroom, sleeping or avoiding human contact, I suddenly realized, in the spring of 2012, that I wanted to stop hassling Millie about things, thinks like money, our sexless life, remembering to do things, messing up the house, and other stuff I hassled her about. I didn’t exactly utter this commitment out loud, but made a promise within myself that I was going to trust that things in my life with Millie were going to work out and that hassling Millie never made anything better, but, in fact, poisoned things between us.

I’ve kept this promise. Our life together gets sweeter and sweeter. No haranguing. No riding Millie’s ass. No digs. No bossing Millie around. I’ve all but lost the compulsion I once had to think I could improve our life together by exercising more control over our day to day lives.

Our joyless marriage is no longer joyless. We often sit in welcome, not cold, silence for long periods of time and we just as often sit and tell stories, laugh bout absurd things we’ve observed or read about or experienced, and try to figure out where our lives are headed.

One more thing. Well over a year ago, I needed a refill of the prescription I was taking to treat my mood swings, to treat whatever level of bi-polarity I had been suffering from. My primary care doctor wouldn’t authorize the refill until I paid a psychiatrist a visit.

I made an appointment with a local psychiatric nurse practitioner and told her that I was interested in trying to figure out if possibly I no longer needed the medicine I’d been taking.

We talked. At the end of our conversation, she told me that she was not that impressed with my claims to being even mildly bi-polar and she was in full agreement that it might be time to wean me off the drug.

I lessened my dosage. There were no ill effects. I revisited the N.P. and she agreed it was time to go off the medicine entirely. After a few months of not taking the medicine, I visited her again, and reported, again, no ill effects.

I was done taking this prescription.

I continue to live free of the pressure and torment of depression. I don’t know why or how this happened back in 2009, but this freedom has not only helped me live my days more happily, it has helped reverse much of the misery of my once joyless marriage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Depression Wrecking Ball

September 16, 2009

bipolar

I suffer from clinical depression.

It’s a wrecking ball, especially destructive of marital joy.

If my bouts with depression were confined to being bummed out, or periods of sadness, I doubt they would have had the wrecking ball impact on the joy of our marriage they’ve had.

But that’s not the case.

In its more sinister forms, depression can manifest itself in paranoia, temper tantrums, enraged outbursts, panic attacks and other expressions of groundless fear, anxiety, and anger.

In my case, these outbursts come out of nowhere, are attached to meaningless things, and scare the hell out of my current wife and scared the hell out of my previous ones.

Thirty years ago, I punched a spider web in our car’s windshield because my first wife bit into a cookie as we were taking off to see her in-laws.

I have suddenly, irrationally, without warning raged at my first wife drinking orange juice from a mug instead of a glass; I’ve jumped two feet off the ground in purple anger because my second wife thought I should be making some phone calls about a publication I was editing sooner than later; I turned purple and screamed in the face of a girlfriend because she spoke ill of a former student of mine who’d been subleasing her apartment.

Over ten years ago, I was laid out by the flu and was resting comfortably in bed, getting ready to either listen to the NCAA basketball final on the radio or watch it on television.

Millie came home from a day of work and burst into the bedroom to see how I was and started opening a window in the room.

God, and I mean God, only knows why this set me off.  My teeth clenched, my face reddened, turning toward purple, my body shook, and I yelled at her to stop.  It was my mental illness taking over, battling with panic and rage against the suffocating feeling that I was being controlled, that Millie was trying to run my life, do what I she thought I couldn’t do myself; or deciding I needed windows open..and, in my diseased mind, if I’d wanted them opened, I’d have done it myself (even though I was laid out flat with the flu).

That moment froze Millie’s libido and it’s never thawed.

She’s told me as much.  I so shocked and frightened her with this panicked, angry, irrational, sick outburst that she has never been able to give herself over to having anything like uninhibited sex with me.

And so began, as I see it, our slow descent into joyless marriage.

I’ve worked hard to deal with and treat my depression.  Medication has helped a lot.  Conversational therapy, less so.  I have never worked with a therapist who seemed to work with me as an individual.   The therapists I’ve talked with always see me as part of what “studies show”.  I’ve never believed the therapist was addressing my unique psychological or emotional make up, but addressed me as a part of some trend, or as a series of abstracted symptoms.

Treating the depression has worked and not worked.  The purple-faced outbursts have almost gone away.  If it hadn’t been for a panic attack when my dog went after Millie’s dog a couple of weeks ago, I’d be pretty clean for the last several months, if not the year.

But, it’s not just the outbursts.  Depression wears me out.  I’m often fatigued and nap often.   My fatigue and the time I spend sleeping or lying down, often while working or writing, really bothers Millie and sucked more joy from our marriage.

Both my teeth-clenching, frightening outbursts and my struggles with fatigue have widened the distance between me and Millie.

As long as Millie feels disturbed, distrustful, angry, ripped off, disillusioned, and distanced by how my mental illness affects me, and her, I don’t see how we can have anything but a joyless marriage.