Saturday, January 13, 2007

Depressed Spouse: Introduction (Part 1)

Depressed Spouse Series

Introduction (Part 1)

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I had become severely depressed just before our wedding. I'm not referring to a depression where I was merely sad but near the end of it, i was literally crippled, often sitting in a chair staring at a wall or blank computer screen and frequently withdrawing to the bedroom and laying down when I would become sad.

I did not wait for my marriage to fall apart to reach out for help. This alone demonstrates that my illness and my desire to get help was not manufactured to blame Tara for the breakup. In fact I was asking for help BEFORE Tara and I were having serious marital problems. I had asked my doctor on several occasions to refer me to someone for my depression (and Tara was well aware of this because I was telling her about it). Unfortunately, we were not able to find anyone in the network.

During the final weeks of my marriage, Tara decided she was going to leave me. Trying to dull the pain and wanting to rest, I took 2 sleeping pills. Approximately an hour later, I had a reaction where my blood pressure sky rocketed and was dangerously high. This is something that happens to me a couple times per year typically and usually lands me in the emergency room. Tara mistook my disorientation for an overdose on sleeping pills and a suicide attempt and called an ambulance. When the ambulance arrived, the top number for my blood pressure was well over 200 and I don't remember what the bottom number was.

Because I was so out of it at the hospital and unable to explain what was going on, they took Tara's explanation that I overdosed on sleeping pills and held me because they believed I might be suicidal. Later as my episode wore off, I told Tara again that I wanted to get help for my depression and asked her not to end the marriage and asked her to stand by me while I sought help for my severe depression. Tara made a commitment that day to stand by me and allow me to seek help and to give our marriage a chance while I worked through my depression.

Tara stayed by my side for much of the hospital stay. She would hold my hand and fall asleep sitting there next to me and I looked at her and cried and ran my fingers through her hair for hours at a time. Before she left the first night, Tara cried because she had to leave and pointed out that it was the first time since we had been married that we wouldn't be together overnight. At that point, I had finally once again felt loved and in fact more loved than I had ever felt before. It gave me hope.

When I was evaluated by the psychiatrist, he did not believe I was suicidal but did diagnose me as Moderate Depression. He released me from the hospital. Tara maintains to this day that it was a suicide attempt but the medical evidence simply does not support that claim. The symptoms of overdose of Ambien include sedation and suppressed cardiac function. My heart was racing at very dangerous levels (high, not low). They did drug and alcohol screens and tested me for other chemicals in my body and everything came up negative. In fact, the hospital did not treat me whatsoever when I arrived, they merely held me there.

When I left the hospital, I was referred to the John Tyler Moore Mental Health Center for follow up treatment for my depression. I called and setup an appointment for the soonest they could see me. Unfortunately, while I was waiting for my appointment, my depression continued. Just over a week later, Tara said that nothing had changed and demanded that I leave (even though I had made the appointment and was waiting for it to happen).

In a line of comments to an earlier post, there were some suggestions made that it was unreasonable of me to ask Tara to stand by me while I battle depression. It was suggested that depression is a selfish sickness. It was suggested that it was unreasonable for me to want to lean on Tara for support during my sickness.

I understand that my depression was probably very difficult on Tara. If it were negatively affecting her, I really wish that she had told me. I was so worried about Tara being unhappy and trying to be a good husband that I would have pressed for a faster solution to my problems or tried to get her some sort of support or help or something. Knowing it was bothering her would have been a huge motivator to me when little else did. But I simply did not know. Tara had stopped talking to me pretty much two months earlier. She talked with her ex husband on the phone daily for half an hour or more at a time but I couldn't even get her to sit on the sofa with me and watch a movie. I think this change in her attitude towards me and knowing that my marriage was falling apart was really pushing my depression to the severity that it had reached.

And if this were truly the reason Tara wanted me to leave, there were other possible solutions rather than ending the marriage. She could have insisted that I get inpatient treatment (though the psychiatrist didn't feel that was necessary). She could have told me that she couldn't handle the stress and that she needed a break from it but that she would give me a chance to get help and we would work on our marriage once my depression were treated.

At first I rejected the explanations made by those comments. My friend said she knew Tara and she knew Tara could never do something so selfish and self-centered as to dump her husband because he was suffering from depression. I have since discovered the identities behind some of the anonymous and named commenters here in that and a few other threads. I was shocked by what I discovered. Given who wrote those posts, I now believe that they do accurately represent Tara's reasons for dumping me. This is also consistent with comments that Tara made in those final weeks and as she was dumping me.

And so I started reading some articles and sites on depression to discover the following:

  1. Is depression actually an illness or sickness and is it selfish?

  2. Was it unreasonable for me to ask Tara to commit to giving me a chance to seek help for my depression?

  3. Was it unreasonable for me to lean on Tara while I was depressed?

  4. Can depression be treated and how successful and how difficult is that treatment?

In the next post in this series, we'll discuss depression itself, its symptoms and treatments that are available for it.

Depressed Spouse: About Depression (Part 2)


Jamie said...

I bet that was really hard on Tara. I do agree however that there were better answers than just dumping you. Get some help. Maybe she'll take you back when you are better.

Anthony said...

I seriously doubt that Tara would ever even give consideration to taking me back and to be honest even though I miss her a lot, I don't think I would want to go back. But I do wish I could call her up every once in a while just to see how she is doing and how her children are doing. I wish we could find peace in our divorce and I wish our kids didn't have to suffer for her anger at me.

Anthony said...

Thanks Nick.

I'm fairly certain this isn't bi-polar (and the doctor hasn't gone down that track) because this is something I've only recently been suffering with.

I started taking medicine after my appointment and it is helping (see the two weeks of positive posts), but I've sort of slumped back into a depressed state (though not as bad). I won't see the doctor again until February, but I have a feeling he'll increase the meds then.

I don't like Tara's decision, but I can live with it. What I have a problem with was her decision to shut me out of her children's lives and to dump my children. I could understand if I had been abusive to her or violent, but I was not nor did I even threaten it.

I fear at this point her motives were far more selfish (she merely didn't want to deal with me) than anything and her motives in hurting the children appear to be a bit vindictive and certainly hateful. No matter what she's done to me, our innocent children don't deserve the way she is treating them.

I think enough time has passed for her to get past her hostilities towards me and stop taking it out on our children. I'm trying my best not to judge, but man the fruit sure tastes spoiled.

I struggle each day to find forgiveness for that and just when I think I've managed to achieve it, the next morning my children wake up in pain again and I have to start that struggle over again. My biggest struggle is trying not to be so angry and bitter that she is deliberately and purposefully hurting my children this way.

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog and read part 2. Then I read part 1. This is such a sad story. I can't believe anyone would put out their wife or husband for being depressed. It sounds like a selfish and shallow person that would do that.

Anthony said...

I have removed comments from 2 users who included profiles because someone locally (most likely my wife or her friends or family) have engaged in a concerted effort to visit the blogs of those who offer comments here and to attack and harass those people.