The Healing Library > Articles > Dealing With Depression
Dealing With Depression
I don't remember exactly how it all unfolded. I think it was the winter of 2003/2004. I was pretty involved in the coming election so I was trying to be nice and volunteered several times to watch our youngest son so my wife could take our oldest boy skiing. A couple of times they were with the OM and his daughter but I trusted her.
The pulling away started. It was probably that spring that I literally felt her soul pulling away from mine. This is the surest evidence I have ever felt that marriage, indeed, binds two people's souls together. She started talking to old friends she hadn't talked to in a while that just happened to be divorced and at least one that cheated on her H. I also remember her defending a woman we used to know who had cheated rampantly on her husband. Things got progressively worse and I eventually got the "I love you but I'm not in love with you" speech. This must be available on Google somewhere based of all the SIers that get this.
But I digress. This might have been the hardest part, feeling that it is very likely that your S is cheating on you but not being able to prove it, most likely dealing with gaslighting.
It was around then that my health started to suffer. It wasn't total at first and I don't remember the order that things happened. It probably started with not being able to sleep through the night. Waking up around 3 or 4 and not being able to get back to sleep. The anxiety was brutal. You knew something was going on but couldn't stop it. The PA instance I found out about was on June 9, 2004, 6 days after our anniversary. I don't remember when D Day was but it wasn't long after. I remember the 9th because that was the date on the hotel receipt. I arranged for both us to get IC and MC.
I need to preface this paragraph by mentioning that I am a big athletic guy that is in good shape. I was 36 when this happened. I skied, jogged, mountain biked and played hockey. None of that means anything. It wasn't long thereafter that the depression and anxiety totally conquered me. I was ruined. I dropped probably 20 pounds and I'm not chunky. Pants were falling off and everything. Probably the surest sign was the complete incapacitation. I could barely move to do anything. At work I would do whatever I could and on any down time I laid on a couch in the office. At home I struggled to get through chores and then would lie right down. I would cry all the time. I would occasionally throw up. I had no interest in anything, not beer, not TV, not exercise, not movies, not sex, not porn. Nothing. My whole body ached from the core.
I tried to describe it to people as feeling like you were simultaneously being crushed while every cell in your body was trying to get away from every other cell. There was a strange stinging/tingling sensation that was particularly irksome. All you can think about is how bad you feel because it is so all encompassing. This is not just being sad.
I finally went to the doctor and he told me I was depressed. I got put on Lexapro for depression, Risperdal for anxiety, Ambien for sleep and Ativan for panic attacks. They take several weeks to get into your system but once they do you can start living again. You feel odd. You will know that something is wrong but at least you can function. If after several weeks you do not feel any better you should absolutely go back to the doctor because some people do not benefit from every medication. Also, and this is important, once you start feeling a little better DO NOT STOP TAKING YOUR MEDS. Now you might be saying, "who would be dumb enough to do such a thing? Certainly not me." Yes, you. I have a Bachelors of Science and am generally a pretty smart guy. I thought I felt good enough to get off of one of the meds so I started backing off the Lexapro when that was the thing making me feel half decent. Why? Because no one likes taking anti-depressants. Even the best anti-depressants have side effects and then there's the stigma you might feel. I know I felt it.
Stay on your medication unless you run it by your doctor first and then make sure you see him regularly. So I figured this out and stayed on my meds. I was getting by. In January of 2005 I took my family skiing in Vermont and we didn't have a great time. Also, it didn't improve things like I had hoped it would and my depression overwhelmed the meds. I was back to square one. I was prescribed Wellbutrin on top of everything else. It improved things but it made me angry and I found myself clenching my teeth, which gave me headaches. I went back to the psychiatrist and told him this. He took me off the Wellbutrin and put me on Effexor XR. This worked well enough to get me feeling half-decent again. At this point it's probably a good idea to reiterate that anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds have side effects.
Usually they aren't terrible but I did gain back all the weight I lost and then gained a little more. I also had trouble reaching orgasm sometimes, especially when I drank alcohol. Note, you should not drink alcohol while on these meds but beer is one of the few things in life I love so I kept enjoying it. It was one of the few things I had to give me a little joy. Some people have other problems including erectile dysfunction. This wasn't me (thank God) but it may be you. Research any meds and be aware for signs of these side effects. You may have to deal with them for a while.
As I mentioned, after D Day I arranged for both of us to get IC and MC. I'll try to be brief about this. IC is important because you will need someone to talk to that you can spill your guts to. You may think that you will be able to do this with family and friends but you will most likely be mistaken. One of the largest disappointments you will likely ever face is how the people in your life will deal with your current situation. Part of that will be the fact that you will want to be cared for like the sick child you are right now. You may lose good friends...best friends in all of this. They will only want to hear your story so much. It is almost a foregone conclusion that your WS will not want to hear how you feel as it makes them feel more guilty.
Family members are generally more supportive than friends but even they will occasionally say things like "go get some exercise" or "can't you just get over it?". The sad fact of the matter is that only people who have felt real depression know what you are going through. Your IC will be good for this. Tell them everything you are thinking, even how you want to die, even how you may want to kill. All of this is natural right now. My XWS went to a few IC sessions and then decided she didn't need them. Lord knows she wasn't depressed (I'm rolling my eyes).
MC is important and absolutely essential if you want to try and reconcile. Honestly, don't even try and R without it. That said, it can be painful, very, very painful. Your WS will be telling your counselor all the things she doesn't like about you. She may tell them all the reasons she liked the OP more than you. She may confess to things in MC that she didn't tell you. She may talk about divorce and you may not be ready to hear it.
I poured my heart out in MC and routinely had it ground up and shoved down my throat. I cried all the time, sometimes hysterically. I'm just trying to prepare you.
To make a long story...well, still pretty long, my ex and I didn't reconcile. I eventually couldn't take trying anymore with someone who wouldn't return my love. Maybe if I had read some of the things on SI back then things would be different but I didn't. We got separated September of 2005 and I moved out a month later. This added more pain to the mix. Do not get off your ADs at this time. You need help. I was finally able to get off the anti-depressants this past fall (2006). I don't feel normal but I can eat, sleep and function. When you are finally ready to get off of your ADs work with your doctor and look online for help.
Getting off of ADs can be a hellish experience. I found myself breaking open the Effexor pills so that I could take half of the little balls inside so as to continue weaning myself off of them. I still did it and I'm proud of myself for "coming out the other side". I still feel sad and angry sometimes but that is normal and not something I need meds for...maybe beer though. You can do this and your friends at SI are here to help you.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention suicidal thoughts during this article although there is already an article on this at SI. Let me put it to you this way, if you are suffering from depression you have 1 job from now until whenever and that job is to keep living. You will not go day to day. You will go breath to breath. Every breath you take is one more towards getting through this and it will keep you going. During this time you might ask God to strike you down. You might wish for a horrible illness like the cancer that a family friend suffers from.
You would not be human if you did not do these things during this time of crisis. Take another breath. You have to live for you, for your family and definitely for your children whom you would scar for life with suicide. You may not realize it now but there will come a time when you can enjoy yourself again, when you can laugh without crying, when you can appreciate a sunset.
There may even be a time in the not to distant future when you will be on a tropical beach with a member of the opposite sex you love, maybe someone you relate to better than you ever did your ex. All you have to do is not kill yourself and get there. If you feel the uncontrollable desire to hurt yourself go to someone you love's house or call them. Call someone. Call a hotline. Every minute you take to talk about it is another minute for this feeling to leave. Just live. You can make it through this and we will help you.
~ Markus ur Alias