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My Story #2b

July 10, 2014

I finally can sit down again, which is unusual for me to say as I can rarely get up. But that is for my Journal and not here.

I left where I had felt like a black sheep of my family despite getting along with all my cousins. It is true. I get along with most of my cousins, of which I have 20. That is a good thing.

As a grew older, I felt even more different than those around me. Though I never said anything, I preferred not to be around others, but I loved the games we played and being outdoors like kids do. I even feared much, but the bravery of my cousins spurred me to push down those fears and deal with the unknown of the woods on my grandmother’s land or to climb and jump out of the large oak tree.

When I did want to actually be around people I did have a few friends. A couple of friends I would call close, one of which was only a few hours younger than me. I would spend time on the farm one friend’s family had or out in the country home of another friend’s. In town was another friend, one I got to visit regularly.
On the farm I came to enjoy the animals and the hard work, even if I would not admit it at the time. In the rural areas we could run and play for hours. In town, my friend and I would bike around town, many times to the library, a place that became my sanctuary later in life.

As I grew older, more was expected of me. I realized my father had anger issues before, but as I approached my preteen years I could not always grasp how to do things immediately. I was sometimes slow. Sometimes I would find something to do a task better, but because it was not what the tool was meant for, it would spark periods of yelling. Now I understand that I have a hard time grasping how to do things or concepts especially. When I do learn something, though, it usually sticks like a fly caught in honey, but it takes time for it to get there. Back in my youth I did not realize this, nor did my father and it frustrated both of us. I could learn facts easily, mostly just memorizing sentences in a book that our school systems so like us to do. But actually understanding something can take time.

Another problem started to occur in me that I never told another until much later in life. I started to develop a libido. It seems odd to mention this, but it plays a large problem later. I remember being interested in girls as early as 7. I became interested in nudity by my preteens. I am thankful the internet was not easily accessible just yet, because it caused enough problems later. At the age of twelve, my friend and I got caught looking at pornography (the first time). I thought I was going to be killed. My father was furious. He never hit or touched me, but I feared for my life then. That is all I remember of that experience.

That was also where I started to learn to lie and hide things. That experience did not lesson the desire to look at pornography and it became a large problem. It eventually led to larger issues, though I never acted on any impulses even when manic, to that I am grateful.

But at the age of twelve was when began to hate my father. A mixture of anger from being yelled at and puberty lead to anger issues of my own. Though I buried my anger rather than let it out, this can be just as dangerous. Again, to this day I still carry that anger, unsure of how to let it out. My hatred and rage grew to me becoming a liar. I huge out with the wrong “friends” at and after school. I had my “regular” friends, but also had others that I could hang out with that my parents know nothing about. They were smokers and drug addicts. I saw what it did to them and my paranoia saved me then, even if I did not realize it. I could never bring myself to try, even when at times I wanted to escape the growing depression and anxiety within me. Though I led a double-life, I still held onto my bible beliefs and truly felt love and affection for Jehovah God, though my actions hardly proved it. Between that hard-held love and my own paranoia, I am alive today.

As I grew into my teens, so did my depression. I did not know it at the time and neither did my family. I learned to create masks and walls, so well I could even hid from myself. Paranoia also grew as did the want for isolation. But my fear of being at home overruled my fear of the outside world. This is where my love of books flourished and the library became my sanctuary when my room could not. I would spend hours in not the entire day at the library, just looking at the books, sometimes even organizing what others misplaced. It was quite and away from crowds. I found outward peace, which now I realize has helped me fight the inner battles that I didn’t realize I was even fighting at the time.

I didn’t like lying or being sneaky. It bothered me, but fear always overcame those emotions.

Instead of drugs or alcohol, I turned instead to pornography and video games. Different types of addictions, but addictions none-the-less. Pornography was a form of self-harm, a way to give meaning to the shame and failure I was feeling inside. I did not like it, but the desire yearned for it. I gave in, again, as a way to self-harm, even though I did not consciously do so. It bothered me and constantly fought against my love for Jehovah, knowing that what I was doing would harm me down the road… and it did.

At the age of 16-17 I met my future wife. I had many interests, a couple of “serious” ones as serious can be for a teenager. One girl I even hurt, an action I regret to this day… one of many actions I regret.
For some reason, this girl felt different than the rest. It went beyond lust or passion, though were the primary reasons at the time like most teenage romances. We both strived to put Jehovah’s words first in our courtship and be honorable, and I believe we did rather well.
I strived to end my addiction to pornography and even succeeded. We dated and wed by the time I was 19. Very young we realize now and stupid. We do not regret marrying each other, but both wish we had listened to the wisdom of our elders and had waited. But we didn’t.

I had moved away from my parents as soon as I turned 18 and finished high school. I felt free. But I soon learned that life was not easy. I needed help with money and the only pace to get help was my parents. I realized quickly that my father still felt me could control me, especially now that he was giving me money. (I do not think he meant to, but it is natural for parents to have a hard time letting go and it just happened.)

Even after I was married it continued. I put up with it, shrugged it off as they say without realizing once again I was merely burying the rage instead of releasing it in a healthy way. Eventually, as I had an episode of depression (I was diagnosed at this time but not getting any help for it and it was not accepted by anyone) and needed to get away. My father did not understand this and as he yelled through the phone I hung up. My first and really only act of complete defiance. In the long run, it was also the best reaction I ever had. Though it was still years before we really opened up, it was that action that really made my father think. I don’t know what he thought about or if it was a conscious realization on his part, but after that he was able to realize that I was in pain. Once I understood more about what was going on in my head and able to convey that to him he made genuine strides in trying to be graceful and understanding. Now I can actually feel caring for him and genuinely go to him for help. (My father is not a bad person. He is great with people and probably did not realize the hurt he was causing. I know this now only because of the change he made and because I rarely spoke as I grew up… how can one change if they do not know something is wrong?)

Back to my late teens, to when I was engaged. It was at this time in my life that I was trying to get help. Throughout my teens I researched psychology, but failed to see or even denied that any of the illnesses where about me. When I was eighteen, my future mother-in-law, after getting to know them, mentioned that she saw in me signs of depression. For years I had thought as much, but as I mentioned before, I denied it thinking I was perfectly normal.
It finally sank in when I ended up in the School Councilor’s office because I was having what I thought was just a really bad day. It was depression… major depression and for the first time in my life I admitted not only to myself but to someone else. I ended up at the Mental Health Center talking to a therapist. It was horrible. Not because I didn’t want to talk, but because the therapist I was assigned to was a stereotypical movie shrink and I didn’t know enough then to ask to switch.
I dreaded going because I knew all they would do is pill push and ask questions that had no meaning. I wasn’t able to actually express anything. I went because I wanted to be better for my fiance and then my wife.
I lost insurance and couldn’t go for sometime. Things got worse, both mentally and in my marriage. While we did things together and still felt a connection we rarely talked to each other or opened up. I felt lonely as I suspect my wife did as well.
I turned back to pornography.
This in turn made me even worse. I struggled but eventually found a therapist I was comfortable with. I finally opened a bit. It was the path to a more stable mind. (Not A stable mind… just more stable.)
Through it all my wife stuck with me, which I am very very grateful because I wouldn’t have blamed her one bit if she hadn’t now that I look back. I was horrible and we never talked.

Life got to where we both felt we had no friends, even within our family. I was in and out of the hospital for suicidal ideation and even a few times because I came very close to trying. I opened a little to my wife and we could still tell we cared for each other, but through it all I still barely let anything out. As much of a hell as it was for me, it was for her as well. She worried constantly and I could barely come out of my own mind to speak.

The breakthrough was our first child. We both wanted him and looked forward to him, but I still ended up in the hospital. But I wanted to turn around to get better. Medication either didn’t help at all or would help at first but stop working after only a short time. Therapy only did so much and I relied on my medication to keep me stable even though I felt like an emotional zombie. I didn’t fluctuate much but when I did it was extreme. (I was diagnosed with Bi-Polar II and Major Depressive Disorder at this time.)

During my third Partial Hospitalization Program (you go in for 8 hours a day to group therapy and skill building classes), one of the teachers noticed things I was saying. I was having hallucinations and delusions. He also noticed that my medication didn’t work well if they worked at all. He helped me talk to my psychiatrist and therapist about these. I was given a Schizoaffective Disorder diagnosis and a chance to go on a med holiday (this means you stop all medication for a period of time and then start again anew).

I am still on that med holiday, but for one reason. I realized that without medication I was depressed more often and fluctuated frequently, but I rarely hit those extremes. To this day I have not had one serious suicidal ideation. I still get the thoughts but they are never as serious as they used to be. I am so scared of that darkness I work at my skills that much harder so I never have to go back. (I do not recommend this for anyone else. My body reacts to medication differently than most and I was one that ended up being worse than better. DO NOT think you can do this just because I did. I deal with a lot of very dark things in my head still, so its not necessarily any better. – The darkness of suicidal thoughts may be discussed in the future. Just know this, I am scared of almost EVERYTHING. But being suicidal is THE scariest place I have ever visited. It is a darkness so deep that even thinking about now is giving me a panic attack. No horror movie or story has ever come close to how that darkness feels.)

Back to the story:
I started to realize that without medication I needed something else to help me or I would just end up back where I was.
After a lot of hard work, hurt feelings, and even some fighting I fully opened up to my wife. It was the one greatest action I ever did that had never done. We drew closer, rekindled the love we had for each other to even greater heights then we had ever had. It still burns to this day despite the problems my illnesses can cause… and our own imperfection.
I also realized I needed spiritual help. This is where the love I had for Jehovah God played a huge part. It finally set in the wrong things I was doing and that without faith or listening to the guidance of the Bible I was lost in life.

I reached out to get help in this area while I still received help from my therapist and wife. Through no fault of their own, though, people did not know how to help me. They were nice, but withdrawn. Not afraid, just ignorant as how to help or be kind and gentle.
We finally made a decision, we needed to get away from all we had been around for years and start fresh.
So we moved a state away to where some friends lived. Both he and his wife understood our problem of feeling neglected and without a helping hand.
So we ended up in a new state. All this time my depression firmly set in, but never reached its extreme down it had while I was on the medication. Anxiety and Social fears had also crept into my life. The desire for isolation that had existed since I was a child was beginning to take a firm grasp on me. I struggled everyday. I felt worthless as a husband, father and a human being.
I got some of the help I needed though. The congregation tried to understand greatly what I was dealing with, many had anxiety disorders of their own. Kind and loving words came. When I felt I failed they were there with understanding to pat me on the back even if I felt I did not deserve it. They still do to this day. No one cares I have a problem, they smile genuinely and greet me whenever they see me. They don’t care I wasn’t there for a few weeks because of panic attacks, but only to say they were glad I was there that day and that they wished they could help in some way.
They had found a way to put to words and actions what others had been ignorant to. I realized that those I had been around before wanted to do the same, but no idea how to do it.
There are still others that judge, there will be, whether they know they do such a thing or not. I don’t get out much, so I don’t meet a lot of people, but I don’t let ignorance or even stupidity get to me like it used to… I have enough to deal with in my own head.

I now have a closer relationship with Jehovah God and my wife. I have friends now that can express their concern and care. My parents truly show they care and help in so many ways. I have it really well. But know this, my illnesses are still there. They are a beast within my head. Leviathans that seek to overturn my mind so I fall into the great abyss of despair. They come close sometimes despite the wonderful people I have around me.

This is only part of my story. I tried to get a good picture of it, but it will never do it justice. I have not experienced worst a person can feel, I only know what I feel. Each day is a struggle against those monsters in my head. Each day a struggle to balance. Most days getting out of bed is the greatest accomplishment I have. Some days its not yelling.

I am learning, albeit slowly, that “each day has enough of its own troubles.” (Matthew 6:34, New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures – Revised)

From → My Story

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