In Blackest Night – My Depression vs My Family
I’ve thought about writing this so many times. What stops me is the fear of what others will think. I’ve always based my life around perception; namely what others think of me. As time goes by and as my most recent relapse shows no signs of clearing, I find it extremely difficult to focus on what’s important. My priorities change inadvertently and what I think is best is perceived as selfish and cold. This post is the hardest one I’ve ever written because it digs deep. It goes where I have feared to tread and may cast an unflattering light on me that I always shied away from.
My Mum was deeply depressed. Growing up, I never truly got it. But I do now. We share likenesses but, at the same time, we are totally different. She was married twice. My elder sister and brother from her first marriage and me from her second. I am newly married to my wife, whom I have been with for around twelve years and have had three children together. I don’t know how she felt or coped with things prior to my arrival – it’s something I never got the chance to ask and, if she was alive today, I would like to know.
We are a month in to the marriage and the last few weeks have had a significant strain on the relationship. The ‘D’ word has been banded around a little bit. Not from my mouth nor my mind. It’s evident how bad my depression must be for divorce to become a subject so soon after. Especially after twelve years of being together prior. It’s hard to admit this, and harder still that I am trying to look at this objectively. Empathy is something I’ve never really been good at. It’s difficult to admit you are wrong or, moreso, that something is fundamentally wrong with you.
From my point of view, feeling the way I do and how toxic I am, I feel I should keep my distance. If I minimise my exposure to those closest to me, I can’t be harmful…right? I can kinda see it the other way – by keeping my distance it shuns my wife, my kids and anyone else. But in my mind, keeping clear is the lesser of two evils. If I avoid interaction I avoid saying something out of turn or in a manner that is bitter and resentful when I don’t intend for it to be that way. This darkness has taken hold of my physical and linguistic abilities, as I mentioned before, where I snap or say something with a tone that I hadn’t meant to do and only realised it in hindsight. By keeping my distance I am avoiding the back-tracking and apologies over things I have little to no control over.
I know that this behaviour with three kids (8, 4 and 2) can be incredibly counterproductive and damaging to their mental and social growth. But when I have no choice but to be there, in the moment, I find myself losing my temper and uttering curse words that I can’t stop myself from doing. I know kids will be kids and need to play etc. I was just the same. Toys strewn everywhere and noise that would block out the sound of the TV etc. but my darkness makes that noise and the sight of mess unmanageable. It’s like a sensory overload that sends me reeling. I’ve even taken to Google to try and figure out if it’s just depression that I am battling. I keep being told to go to the doctor but how many times should I have to go back and forth with ‘new developments’? It feels like I’m already being a nuisance and a burden on a struggling NHS.
From a logical point of view, I can see how detrimental my behaviour and condition is to me and those around me. From an emotional point of view, I can barely see anything. And when the emotions, in whatever shape they manifest in, take hold…all logic is out the window. Me and the way I am is destroying all that is good. That’s why suicide seemed like the best thing–shit, the only— thing to do. Cut the cancer right out. Yes, it would be hard at first…devastating. But when they’re old enough they’d understand, wouldn’t they? I did it for them because carrying on only prolongs the suffering and torment. The fears of what I may do should I lose all control steer me towards ‘Suicide Junction’. Let’s just turn off here and call it a day.
I’m not afraid of not being good at something. If I’m not good at it I just don’t bother. But no amount of advice or studying can prepare you for parenthood. And it’s not like you can just take them back with the receipt like an over-sized shirt your Aunt tends to buy you every Christmas. That feeling of ‘they deserve better‘ is always there and it becomes such a focal point that it hurts to think about it. Maybe all parents have that feeling because, just like anything, there’s always ways to be better even if you are a master at it. I don’t know. And I don’t think it really matters. I know what I know and I know what I feel and no amount of mulling it over will change it.
The big question that always bothers me is: would they be as fucked up (or more) than I am now if I stick around or would me taking the emergency exit and shuffle loose this mortal coil do that? The not knowing is the problem. But that’s life, right? You never know the outcome of your actions but some actions there’s no coming back from. There’s no taking a mulligan or do-overs.
I thought writing this down would make me feel better. Remove a virtual thorn in my brain but all it’s done is make me feel worse because, as I read it over, I am anxious as to whether I should click the ‘Publish’ button. Once it’s out there it’s out there. Will I regret it? Or should I treat it like jumping off a bridge and just do it because the more time I think about it the more time I have to back out?