Saturday, January 4, 2020

Life With Depression (Part I)

It began sometime in 1969. I must have been 14 years old. My earliest memory that something was amiss was at one of my first boy/girl parties. During the course of that afternoon my best friend since kindergarten had paired up with a girl from our class. They weren't making out in front of everyone but they were very close, with her sitting in his lap and talking quietly. I can't say whether it was jealousy that I felt but I remember thinking to myself "why can't that be me?" I wanted to be more than a best friend. I was having my first feeling of real attraction toward someone. But it was seemingly same-sex attraction. I knew even at that age that there was no way in heaven or hell that I could express this to my friend. Puberty was kicking in and over the next few years I found that I was experiencing this same attraction, not to girls, but to other boys. At this same time I was becoming increasingly convinced that I should have been born a girl. It's difficult to put into words but with this attraction toward boys I didn't wish to be close to a boy as a boy myself. I had the strongest of feelings that waht I wanted more than anything was to be close to a boy with myself being a girl. It was thoroughly confusing and I had no idea what to do about it. I could not bring myself to talk to anyone about it. I knew of no one else that felt this way. I do remember eventually wishing with all my heart, and praying to God, that somehow I could change from a boy to a girl overnight. Of course, that never happened. Having these feelings, unable to act on them, and feeling myself to be a lone freak I was deathly afraid of having someone learn of this secret. As I got older I became frustrated and angry with this life, and by the time I graduated from high school I had subconsciously given up any hope of ever being normal. I realize now that in those few years following high school I experienced my first real bout of Depression.

I don't recall ever consciously considering suicide during that time. However, I had total hate for life and existed very much on the edge. My life consisted of consuming alcohol and drugs on a daily basis, and I truly had no fear regarding anything that might happen to me. A few incidents occurred during that time that, if things had gone a different way I would have ceased to exist. One time I was driving to work down the main drag toward downtown Marion. A high school kid came barreling out of a side street, blasting directly into the side of my car. The driver's side. My car was totalled but surprisingly I only suffered a few cuts on my face where my head had slammed into the steering wheel. Another time, late at night, I was alone in my car, drunk and high, following behind some friends on a gravel road. We came to a T-intersection. But instead of turning right or left, the only real choices, I went straight, into a ditch almost as deep as the height of my car. This time my car was only slightly dented on the front end and again I only suffered a few cuts & scrapes. Perhaps the worst time I consumed about 25 grams of psilocybin mushrooms followed by a whole fifth of scotch. Before I passed out I could only lay on my back watching the ceiling & walls moving and swirling in different designs and colors. I was increasingly becoming an ever worse and imminent train-wreck.

Sue came into my life when I was around 24 years old. By that time I had totally given up on myself. I felt that I would never, ever establish any kind of relationship with a guy. I certainly wasn't seeking friendship with a girl, but Sue was different. For whatever reason I felt drawn to her and eventually we started talking. As I got to know her I found her to be so very honest and true. I wasn't so much attracted to her in a physical sense but became increasingly attracted to her whole being. Her mind, spirit and soul. She had values and goals above those held by the majority of humanity. At that time I was a long-haired, hippie-type, drug-using nobody and I could not imagine what she saw in me. Beyond belief she says it was something similar to how I came to view her. We became closer. We fell in love. We married.

Sharing my life with Sue was more than I could have ever dreamed for. She truly cared about and loved me, and I for her. I settled into the life of a husband and a man, and it was okay. I buried those feelings of gender incongruity for a very long time. Except for the feeling that I was still a bit different. I always had this sense that I was never quite as good with handling life as other guys. I never felt as if I truly fit in anywhere but with Sue. In any case we shared life. We went into debt but together found ways to get the bills paid. We had a beautiful daughter. Sue talked me into completing college and I was able to find better jobs.

One day though, during the holiday season of 2005 or 2006, I believe I hit another period of Depression. Thinking about it I can think of no reason for it. But I stayed home from work claiming to be sick. That sick day became about ten straight days of staying home and doing nothing. Absolutely nothing. I had no desire or energy to do anything. Eventually I returned to work, not because I really felt better but because I was running low on paid time off. I don't know what caused this, and I don't really remember coming out of it, but for a couple of years after that I seemed to be okay again.

Then in the latter half of 2008 I started drinking. Without realizing what was going on I was falling into another Depression. This time I believe it began due to a few compounding factors. In May 2008, unexpectedly Sue's brother Al passed away. He was always a somewhat healthy young-ish guy and then one day he was just gone. Then a few weeks later, in June, the worst flood ever hit our city. The water covered an unbelievable amount throughout the city within 10 to 15 blocks of the river all the way through, as well as an enormous amount of the countryside. The water rose within a few days but took weeks to recede. The house that Sue's Mother and sister lived in was covered more than halfway up the living room in floodwater, as were hundreds of other homes in town. Sue's Mom and sister split time between staying at our house and another of Sue's brothers house, then getting a FEMA trailer. But during that time Sue's Mom fell and subsequently spent most of the rest of her time in a wheelchair. The devastation and loss apparently affected me more than I realized and by the end of 2008 I had started drinking regularly. That drinking gradually increased during 2009 reaching a point where I was drinking daily and going through a liter of hard liquor every few days. I kept this drinking secret from Sue, only doing so after she went to bed every day.

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