A first time for everything

I loved my first therapist.   And I hated her with a passion.

She was actually a really awesome therapist. Her skill is one of the reasons I hated her so much. She would quickly drill down to the core, and would not accept any B.S. or avoidance. Or she tried to keep me honest anyway. Being new into therapy I really wasn’t ready (or so I thought) to be so raw and open, so most of our sessions were a bit of cat and mouse. She would call me out on something, and I would change the subject, come up with a different argument, or just completely shut down. Mostly, I shut down. Especially at first I would sit there more or less mute, while she tried to pull things out of me. It was quite painful, actually. My fear and discomfort of being in therapy at all was bad enough, but I also had no idea of what was going on inside my head and how my mood was affecting me, and I would be paralyzed.

I had an excuse for being there though. And it had nothing to do with any kind of perceived mental illness.

What put me back into treatment was my marriage. It was the end of the marriage to be more specific. I was having a really rough time in the relationship and struggling with the need to get out and the sense of responsibility I had towards the commitment.

The whole story concerning my marriage is way too complex for this line of thinking. But the end of it was definitely a contributing factor to my current state of mind. I had been very depressed for quite a while, and it affected my marriage more and more as I withdrew from my wife, and I allowed myself to blame my mood on being discontented with our relationship. Truthfully it was probably the other way around, but to admit that would mean that I had the problem, not a bad marriage. I started thinking about leaving, and got more and more excited as I considered the prospects. And I mean really excited; almost manic. (Almost?) It was in a moment of total exuberance that I packed up my things and took off.

It was absolutely awesome…for about two weeks.

When I left I rented a small house in my hometown. It was the perfect place for me as I started over. It was a perfect size for a single man and a very unique style with a good location right in the middle of town. My grandparents had just sold their farm, and passed down a lot of their furniture to me so I didn’t have to buy anything.

It was absolutely horrible.

The house was about 75 years old, and had been built by hand as they did at that time. You might call it a Craftsman style, except that the person who built it was obviously no experience or skill in building houses. All the floors were noticeably uneven, none of the doors or windows were square, The trim work was crude and sloppy, and the back porch was practically falling off the house. I didn’t know I was OCD, but the longer I stayed there the more disturbed I became. It was the middle of winter when I moved in, and there was no furnace. The only heat source was a gas stove in the middle of the living room. That meant that the living room was oppressively hot, but the rest of the house was frigid. And I mean it was really cold. We were having an extremely brutal winter that year, and I just couldn’t get the house warm enough with the one small stove. I am very cold natured, and it was miserable.

I started drinking.

My routine developed quickly. I’d come home from work, put together a little something for dinner (or not), then sit in my recliner in the living room with no lights on. I would sit there in the dark with no distraction except my stereo. Almost all my music at the time was moody and dark, matching my environment and feeding into my growing depression.

It was then that I went back into treatment.

I started taking antidepressants. Back then the latest medications were the Tricyclic class, which was better than anything else available, but had a tendency to many side effects. I went from one to the next, never seeming to find one that was both effective and without adverse reactions. But nothing seemed to work, and I sank deeper and deeper into my depression. After months and months, my Psychiatrist suggested Lithium.

Wait, Lithium?

His line of thought for the prescription was that Lithium could be an enhancer to the Tricyclics helping them work better with fewer side effects. And I think that to a degree that’s true. I so wanted to believe that this combination was going to make me feel better I didn’t even think about what he might have really been thinking. Or maybe I just didn’t want to contemplate the possibilities. Again, that would be admitting I had a problem that was much bigger and not just a result of my circumstances

But I think by then it was too late.

My therapist had become more and more concerned about how I was acting. We increased the appointments to twice a week, and from 30 minutes to a full hour.  But the isolation, loneliness and alcohol was taking an enormous toll, and was becoming completely overwhelmed with the depression. The therapist kept encouraging me to check myself into a mental hospital,, but there was no way I would agree to that. I had no idea just how far I’d fallen. I had hit rock bottom, and eventually I gave her no choice.

I was committed.

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