It was 2008 and I was having a hard time controlling the demons that lived inside my mind. I was making brash and destructible decisions, trying to sabotage my life around every corner. It all came to a head with a night long anxiety attack/nervous breakdown followed by a morning of walking around in another mans body. My brain had taken over and I was searching for ways to end my life. I could drive into a tree, or wait for the Amtrak and jump from the trains bridge, or I could just hang myself in the University bathroom that has exposed pipes. Ultimately, I checked myself into a psychiatric ICU, and spent the next 3 days in the unit.
I started taking anti-depressants that day. A wonderful mixture of Lexapro, Buspar and Abilify. Today, Dr's ask me if I was diagnosed with Bi-polar. "No, just major depression." For the next 28 months, I would be constantly working on finding the right mix of mediations, weening myself off of them until eventually I didn't need them anymore. I never wanted to be on them, and my goal from Day 1 was to not need them anymore. I knew I had to do the work. It's more than just meds, it's talking to a professional on a regular basis. Finding someone to talk to is as hard as getting the medication right; I muddled through and eventually made it out the other side.
I spent a fair amount of time detailing some of that journey here on my blog. You can dig back into the archives and see quite a collection of "interesting" posts. Today, a new journey has begun, and once again.. it's the details I want to share. There are many folks in my life who ask, "Why would you want to share this kind of information with the world? Why would you want to be so public about your personal life?" Well... the way I see it is vastly different from their point of view. I know there are countless others out there needlessly suffering from these same issues and yet, they never seek the help they need. I'd like to think that by being honest and sharing this with you all.. you'll see that I am human. In this human experience, we're all on the same time. Maybe I'm looking for support, or a friend. Or maybe I'm looking to be the guy who convinces you it's time to act against your own demons. All of that, in itself, is worth being so open about this. And so.. I continue.
It's been a very rough couple of months. My wife and I welcomed our first child into the world at the end of August. Our apartment ended up not being the place we wanted to raise a child, so we sought buying a house. While my wife cared for our new born, I took on the immense task of buying the home and getting us moved in. I don't know many others who would take on these two life events in such a short period of time. Yet we did. We made it fine, though without the typical stress associated with it all. It was the months to follow that would try to kill me..
By the end of October, my wife's joke of a maternity leave was ending and I needed to assume the role of stay-at-home dad. I'm amazed by how many women are quick to dismiss the challenges that men truly face with this job, or the emotions that come along with it. Luckily, my wife isn't one of those women. She gets it. But that doesn't change how it all ultimately felt. In one hand, I cherish the time I'm having with my son. On the other hand, I'd rather be working and contributing to my families financial coffers.
I managed to work out an agreement with my employer, where I could work from home a few days a week as the opportunity permits. It's the off season anyway. But it didn't take me long to realize that the project I was working on was my replacement packet. "Create a training book that tells our staff how to do what you do, when you're not here." The anxiety of owning a house and not making much money + the anxiety of being a stay at home dad = enough. Add this to the equation and your anxiety levels and levels of depression are bound to increase.
From the end of October through Christmas, I could feel the anxiety increase every day. I could feel my depression worsening. I started to have all of the self destructive traits of a depressed individual. Making brash decisions that are destructive to friendships/relationships, work, etc. Some of you may have caught a glimpse of the post, "Why I'm an Epic Failure." It was only up for about 5 hours, but it was a very real emotional off-load in regards to how I was feeling. How my life is caving in around me. And how I truly felt that after 7 years of College and achieving two degrees.. I've yet to even hold a job with a salary... and thus I was an epic failure.
I lost my job on January 2nd. A co-worker saw my post, and printed it out for my boss to see. I guess being open and honest on your online journal (aka. This website) isn't always a good thing. It's fine really. I'd been asking for advice left and right from colleagues in the industry about what to do. Many suggested I ask to be a partner in the business. I knew that would never fly. Instead, I lost my job and details in regards to how it happened are unimportant.
But from there, the pile just kept getting larger... I lost my job, my unemployment claim has been denied, I'm being cyber-stalked, my wife and I discovered we owe $2,000 in taxes plus $350 to our tax preparer, my car is out of commission in need of a $1,300 repair and the vehicle is only worth $900. Because of my lack to ever really make any money, my wife and I don't even have a nest egg. We live pay check to pay check and pinch every penny we have. I had an interview last week, and I'm so out of my mind, that I showed up at the right time on the wrong day. It was the ultimate kick in the gut.
I've described it like this to my wife.. I feel like a pot of boiling potatoes. You put the potatoes in the pot, put water in and turn the stove on. Soon the water starts to boil. That's how I feel.. everywhere. inside my body and outside. Nothing but energy, constantly moving, like a roiling boil. Now we all now.. that eventually, those potatoes create foam and it flows over the top of the pot. That happened Tuesday night at midnight. I had my first panic attack/mental breakdown in 3 years. I was punching and slapping myself in the face uncontrollably. I fell to the floor in the fetal position and just wept for nearly an hour until I finally calmed down. Eventually, I got to my feet and paced for awhile where intermittent suicidal thoughts would come through. The only thing keeping me alive today.. is my wife and my son.
So I met with my psychologist (whom I've been seeing for about a month now) and a psychiatrist as soon as possible. I'm now on prozac for anxiety and depression and another drug to curb my anxiety as needed to prevent another panic attack. I'll tell you that just getting some help, talking to someone, knowing that I'm acting on getting better... made me feel a little better inside. Though, I know too well that the road ahead of me is long. It'll take 6-8 weeks before we know if the Prozac even works and then, it's a dance of figuring out the right combination.
So.. It's back... and the work begins all over again.