Wednesday, July 29, 2009
As many of my friends know, I have been battling the Depression Best for more than 33 years. It started when I returned from Vietnam (probably while I was in Vietnam).
Friends and relatives all commented how much different I was when I came home than when I left. My thinking was, "Of course I'm different. I've had experiences no one should have to have", but mostly just blew it off. While in Vietnam, I had constructed a mental safety deposit room inside a huge stainless steel vault, and that's where I put those things that I didn't want to deal with.
From that time on, anything that was emotionally painful to me went in one of those safety deposit boxes inside the safe.
Over the years, I would occasionally have upsetting dreams, nightmares if you will, but thought that they were the results of everyday stress and job demands.
At about age 40, I started having trouble sleeping, to the point where I had to see my doc for some help. First we tried over-the-counter help - mainly Benzedrine. Then we started with light doses of prescription med's. Each one helped for a while but then became ineffective.
Next came an inability to hold my emotions in. Taking my wife to women's movies became overwhelming and I'd start to cry. Big boys don't cry (I had heard that throughout my childhood and it was engraved on a wall in my brain. I couldn't NOT CRY, so I started having her go out with the girls to these kinds of movies.
Then it stepped up. I couldn't watch emotional programs on television like "Touched by an Angel". Then sad songs and my depression became very obvious to me. In public, I kept a very good mask on and no one really noticed. It got to the point where after each day at work, I would start crying when I left the work parking lot, and would cry almost all the way home - stopping around the block from my house pulling al the pieces that were falling off back together.
Finally, I started seeing a therapist. I quickly learned what sort of answers got me an "atta boy" and which answers were not conducive to my well being. I was wearing a mask with her, too.
It got to the point that my lies had convinced her that I was doing much better (I wasn't) and she planned to start me on monthly visits. On my last bi-weekly visit, my wife asked to go to see how she could support me better. I did not know that she had called my therapist and told her she (my DW) that she thought I was seriously thinking about suicide - I was.
At our therapy session, I was dissembling like a champ when out of the blue, my therapist leaned over, got into my comfortable space and actually got into my space. She loudly asked if I was contemplating suicide or had thought of harming others.
I almost went catatonic and felt like I was having an out-of-body experience, where I had floated up to the ceiling and was just watching what was going on. I was frozen for some seconds, or minutes before I tried to get a lie out.
As soon as I opened my mouth, I broke, and started crying uncontrollably. I had no control.
My therapist called the local mental health hospital and told them that I was entering voluntarily for a 72 hour observation, but she wanted it to be done STAT.
I didn't need an ambulance and my wife was able to drive me to the "Cuckoo's Nest Resort and Mental Health Spa", where I was checked in. While in the facility, full blown Major Depression kicked in, and the Psychiatrist started me on a low dose anti-depressant. It was like eating Peds. My depression deepened, I didn't want to participate any any of the classes and my p-doc started upping the strength of the med's he prescribed zip, nada.
I started staying in my room and not wanting to bath and the med's got stronger. I was pretty much crying all day and he put me on Effexor, supposedly the atom bomb of anti-depressant medication. Starting at the recommended dose of 37.5 mg had no effect. He went to 75mg two days earlier than was recommended. He went to 150 mg three days before recommendation, then went straight to the max dose.
I was able to step away from that boiling lava pit that I had been looking at and started making a little progress back - at about a one or two degree up bubble. In the meantime, he had prescribed Klonopin for massive anxiety (if anyone was in the room with me I was constantly on guard and couldn't sleep. He then prescribed Trazadone for sleep. The first 200mg had no affect. When he went to 300mg, I was finally able to sleep for 4-5 hours at a time.
My three days turned into 10 weeks, plus 6 weeks of intensive, group out-patient therapy, five days a week.
I started back with my therapist and the first thing whe told me was that I couldn't lie to her anymore if I really wanted to get better. I didn't lie, but sometimes I told the truth to another question, avoiding the question she had asked.
Slowly, slowly I started digging things out that had negatively affected me, starting with my childhood.
I have to go to the docs now, so I'll try to continue this tomorrow.