My struggle with depression over the last few years has been all-consuming, which is problematic because, as it turns out, depression and all-consuming things don’t go together very well.
It started probably at some point in 2011, though I didn’t recognize it for several months. When I first thought I might be having some problems with depression, was about three months after I returned from Afghanistan. I recall one day driving around on post, probably at lunch time, and I saw one of those ribbon magnets on the back of a car. This is the kind of magnet with all kinds of sayings like fighting breast cancer or bring home troops. This particular magnet said “Army Wife” and I just started to cry. I was driving along and minding my own business and a flood of emotion overwhelmed me. I knew at that moment that things were not right, even if I had suspicions before.
This must have been just around the 90-day mark after returning. I know this because we all had to corral through a group of counselors to ensure we weren’t going crazy (of course we all were) and I remember relaying the story of the magnet to the person I talked to. He agreed I was probably depressed. That was that.
Fast forward another three months. I’d been drinking a lot – not like gallons or cases a night a lot, but a lot for me and had gotten drunk a few times which I hadn’t done in years. Well one of those times happened to be at the wedding of a nephew (on my wife’s side) and I got loud and rude and almost got in a fight (more on this event another time probably). Needless to say I was very embarrassed as was my wife! I had just started seeing a therapist, and it was after this that I started taking antidepressants for the first time.
That was in the summer of 2012. After talking to the psychiatrist for a while and giving him a history of my life to that point, he said what I really needed was to lay on a beach for a year with a beer in my hand. Instead we tried the artificial beach – drugs.
Looking back over the last three years, I’m not sure I’ve felt great since. That is a disappointing truth to hear myself say. Even as I write this I guess I thought that sometimes I’ve felt OK, but now as I think back, I’m not sure there have been prolonged periods of good, strong, optimistic mental health. There was the week I felt good enough to build onto the deck in the back yard, and the month I attempted two bathroom re-models (one down, the other is “in progress” or maybe better said “in a holding pattern”). But these are bursts of good times and really they are busy work and not good, strong, optimistic thinking. When I come home and go downstairs to work on the bathroom, I’m not sure it is optimism or even being proactive, but hiding . . . from life. Something to make me feel like I’m doing something worthwhile.
I spent the year from July 2013 – 2014 in Korea and I when I got home I guess I was in one of these gooder [sic] feeling times and actually stopped taking the anti-depressant I was taking at the time. 90 days later, predictably, I was back at the psychiatrist office in full-out depression again, and only now months later am I gaining a grip on things, barely.
This is all the catalyst which finds me trying to start a blog. Gripped enough to try to organize my thoughts to see if I can find some coherence in my life.
Journey with me . . .