I have been struggling for a while. It seems like some days are very dark. Snappy and snarky comebacks are my friend regardless of the context of the conversation. So I approached my doctor about it. I talked to her about:
- Insomnia – the lack of ability to sleep.
- Loneliness. – feeling alone, yet needing to be alone and preferring the isolation that comes with being a disabled stay-at-home dad even though I spend a lot of time advocating for others and supporting families.
- Anxiety. – I don’t know how to describe the overwhelming panic, the racing heart, the rapid thoughts and their impact on life.
- Fear. – of my son. and that he might attack me with a shovel again.
- Memory issues. – forgetting things, remembering things that didn’t happen… conversation issues.
So I am not crazy. Not in the traditional sense. I underwent a battery of tests with a psychologist and then was referred to a psychiatrist.
Turns out, I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Depression and Severe Anxiety.
So I am working to deal with it. It’s not easy admitting to yourself that you have mental health issues. And, it is even harder to talk about it to other people. So, I took a page from the book I share with others… “there is no reason to feel shame for having mental health issues.”
The best thing I ever did was talk to my wife. She was with me for the conversation with my doctor, the initial consult with the psychologist and has been incredibly supportive. I am not sure that I could work thru this without her in my corner. When I am being difficult or an “ass” she calls me on it. If I am being inappropriate, she calls me on it. I am truly thankful for having her in my life. And my children. For giving me strength.
Part of dealing with the mental health is medication, I am also seeing a chiropractor to manage the aches and pains that come from having Lupus, neuropathy, fibromyalgia, and headaches. Other things, I am watching what I eat and drink. It’s been incredibly helpful. It’s important to note, I am not perfect, and I am not seeking perfection. I am just looking to feel the best I can.
One of the biggest markers that I was having issues wasn’t the sleeplessness, the need to be alone, the panic… it was the unexplained weight loss. Early this year, I drop 60 pounds in 5 months for no medical reason that we could find. Since seeking treatment, my weight has stabilized, and I am still watching what I eat. In addition, I have started walking more, at least as much as my body allows.
It helps that David has been home since January, and we have had no violent episodes. Hopefully we can continue this success. After the last time he attacked me with a shovel, and then last year when he assaulted his mom, I am so very thankful that this year has gone so well. Pray that it continues.
There is no excuse for my past behaviors, people have been hurt because of me, and for that I apologize. I can’t undo those things. I can say that I am working to be a better man, a better father, and a better husband.
I don’t know what the future will bring. I know it looks better, and I feel better than I have in a long time. People ask me for advice about it. The only thing I can say is: if you feel off, if you feel like darkness is closing in on you, and you have no where to turn, if you feel anxious most of the time and in situations where you never felt anxious before, please, talk to someone. Talk to your doctor, a friend, your spouse. Any one. You don’t have to go through this alone without support. I am still dealing with insomnia, but it is getting better. The depression, anxiety and PTSD are being treated medicinally and with therapy.