I had admitted to having thoughts of suicidal ideation with growing frequency and intensifying vividity. The fantasies had existed for most of my life. As a creative person with exceptional visual imaginative capabilities, these fantasies become elaborate masterpieces in the macabre. Stephen King could take lessons from the twisted scenes I had played out for myself. Some were needlessly elaborate and brutal to a near cartoonish degree. I cannot speculate as to why they get this way except that I actually like these thoughts sometimes. Then the realism of them sinks in, they graduate to the planning stage. This is where I get worried. I claim that I didn’t know I was depressed, perhaps I didn’t perhaps I was oblivious or maybe I was in denial. The strange thing about being a young, proud, virile, competitive alpha male type is that you refuse to admit to any kind of weakness. Don’t get me wrong, I am not the jockish former high school football star who still plays hockey with his buddies on weekends. I am not a knuckle-dragging mouth-breather. But I do like to stay fit and exercise my mind. I am six feet tall and I do weigh two hundred pounds, I am in good physical condition. But I am no meathead. Still, as a male you feel pressured to tow the line. To bear the brunt and weather the storm. I feel infinitely stupid for having done this now. Had I been honest with myself, had I paid better attention to my family history and my lousy behaviours I might have gotten help much sooner.
I had been having these incredibly unhealthy thoughts my whole life little by little and over time they were increasing. Instead of a sad, gloomy corner in my mind they had erected a playhouse and begun putting on full scale productions, featuring yours truly as the victim. As I mentioned in my last post there was always a seasonal component to this. Winter had always been my favourite time of the year. I can’t stand heat and my home city is gloriously beautiful in it’s historic majesty under a layer of wind tossed snow. Yet, despite my personal affection for the aesthetic and comforting charm of winter, it turns me. Like a werewolf under a full moon, winter gradually makes me a wretched, groaning, limping, shambling creature made of loathing and self-pity. By March, I think about killing myself on a half-hourly basis. I have become accustomed to this. From what I have been told, it isn’t normal to just accept this as the way things are and carry on with it. In fact, with dysphoric hypomania, it can be downright dangerous. Adversely when spring hits, especially in recent years, I feel like I have super powers. I feel (to carry on the werewolf theme) like Teen Wolf, like I could run full speed for miles and catch rabbits with my bare hands. I feel like women are just waiting to throw themselves on me (sometimes they are and that isn’t actually a good thing). In short, testosterone and adrenaline. Lots of those. Now spring has become my favourite season.
So we arrive at my breaking point. Fortunately my company has a VERY extensive health package and they were able to set me up with doctors, counsellors and medication. At first this seemed great, but it was a rush job. I can do a whole post on how terrible my initial mental health counsellor was. I gave her every indication of my current diagnosis. Depression, hypomanic episodes with dysphoria (which at the time I didn’t have words for, I merely described them), grandiosity, sleeping on average four and half hours a night (for YEARS), racing and multi-thoughts (not only do thoughts come rapidly but you have several threads going simultaneously), distractibility (I would interrupt myself while reading to start gaming, or watch a movie, then back again), spending hundreds of dollars, doing recreational drugs and engaging in risky/meaningless sexual encounters. At one point I had read an article on narcissistic personality disorder and many of the things in the symptoms rang bells as I read down the list. Next session I had asked her about it to which she replied “Is that the diagnosis that you would like?” I have to fucking tell you this. If you work in mental health and you have someone who is depressed and objectively sees a correlation between their symptoms and NPD, you are dealing with BPII, straight up. If you don’t know this already, or you do absolutely NOTHING to get to the bottom of it get out of the industry. Go flip burgers. This is by no means a complete list of things that we spoke of. I say “we” but seriously, this woman was phoning it in. I spoke with my attending physician and requested a referral to someone competent.
In the meantime I had been prescribed Zoloft. It is an antidepressant. The BPII experienced readers here at this point are thinking “OH FUCK!” With good reason. Things got worse. Much worse. I was married during this period. So, while going through some serious emotional and psychological turmoil on medication that generally aggravates my condition I still managed to have one of the happiest days of my life. But as the zoloft was making a home in my system things got worrisome. I live a three hour drive from where my wife lives, yeah… Support network. Ouch. Not living together is another challenge and there are times when I am convinced that my relationship is actually really bad for me. Ultimately being lonely and alone while depressed and dysphoric is obviously worse. During these drives (on a very windy near mountainous highway) I would find myself comfortably doing really sketchy things. I would be behind a guy who was already doing respectably more than the speed limit, but decide that this wasn’t satisfactory, I would look ahead and see a car about three hundred yards out. Then I would pass. By the time I got back into my lane I could see the white of the oncoming drivers knuckles and tension in his jaw muscles. And I really didn’t give a shit. Blind corners, I would gamble. Crest? Fuck it. I had completely stopped showing any concern for my well-being. Though… I wasn’t miserable. Which was new. I wasn’t actively hating my existence. This comes with an addendum, a fairly horrible one.
Anhedonia. You learn a fair few words when you are losing your mind. While I wasn’t depressed I also wasn’t happy. Sure, in tiny little bits I could receive happy signals to my brain. I got married, it was a happy occasion but fleeting. I slowly stopped doing things and my habits changed. I drank more. Way more. I began spending money like the market was about to crash. I used recreational drugs and engaged in activities that I considered morally reprehensible or beneath me and felt no guilt. I still don’t, perhaps due in part to the way this information was stored in my mind. There were some dark times. I was a hemorrhaging beast crashing frantically through the bush with a hunting party in close pursuit. I was frantic, erratic. I was desperate to have a sensation, anything. I had gone emotionally numb, I was incapable of sustaining any feelings and this gave me a sense of concern. Not a feeling, but a logical, well-reasoned cause for concern. I stopped the meds. After a long night of driving with next to no sleep and the waning effects of a recreational drug in my system I called my wife on the phone crying, finally a feeling. A big feeling. I had a sad. A really, really big sad. I spoke through wracking sobs for the next three quarters of an hour. I was having a serious burnout, doing seventy MPH in the rain. While this might sound horrible it was actually deeply comforting to me. Just knowing that I could be sad. That I was able to feel remorse, loss, sympathy and regret. That it could overwhelm me and wash over me in a gigantic comforting wave of despair. Zoloft was not for me, but we had not come to my diagnosis yet, it was assumed that I was unipolar. Just depressed. I had a new therapist at this time and despite telling him all about this he focused primarily on some menial details of my erratic behaviours. He was labouring under the misapprehension that I was unipolar and needed guidance. In reality what I needed was a new diagnosis, new meds and a new therapist.
Off meds. The time between medications is an awkward coming home period. I will continue from this point in an upcoming post. I hope that reading this is useful for someone, writing sure has been for me.