The Silent Killer Part 2: Other Side of the Coin Syndrome

 (A quick note before reading.  This blog was written over a month ago, but I had been debating posting due to the personal nature of the message.  The Wife convinced me to share this story.  Even though we are still struggling from time to time, I am happy to say we are working to make things better.)

Every person’s bout with depression is different from anyone else’s.  And, even an individual who suffers from multiple bouts of depression will have it come on for a completely separate reason from their last bout.  I tell you, depression is a sticky wicket people.

On a side note, can I just tell you how long I have been trying to work in the phrase “sticky wicket” into a blog?  Not to mention use it in an appropriate manner, lol.

I can speak to this because that is how it has always been for me.  This has probably been one of the biggest hurdles I have faced over the years when I could feel I was in a bout of depression.  The reason why I was feeling depressed one time was different from other times, and what helped me recover on prior occasions had absolutely no effect on another time.  Most times it was so frustrating it drove me to not want to even try anymore; thus the topic of my last entry.

In my last entry about this topic I talked about my desire to be as open and honest as I can in these blogs, because while I “go to” therapy, this blog does more for my peace of mind than any session ever can.  But, as I have discovered as of late (thanks to some serious self-reflection) I think I need to start being a bit more honest with myself too…no matter how hard it might be.

There are very few things I have ever really “wanted” in life.  Of course I, like most people, say that I want a great paying job, win the lottery, to drive an awesome car, have a nice house, etc. etc.  But those things are all materialistic, and I am the furthest thing from materialistic you can find.  What I always wanted was so much more, and nearer and dearer to my heart.

I wanted to be a husband and a dad.  And not just any old husband or dad, I wanted to be “THE” husband and dad.  I always dreamed of having the kind of marriage people were overly jealous of, and kids that looked to me for everything because to them there was no more awesome person than their dad.  In short, I wanted everything I never knew growing up…and maybe a little more.

While it took her some time (a whole lot of time actually), I knew I was going to marry the Wife as soon as I met her.  I knew it in my heart.  As our relationship grew over the years I acted as if we were already married.  Every decision I made, or emotion I invested was done in the manner that a husband would do for his lovely wife (or so I assumed).   Looking back now I had absolutely no idea the world of hurt I was setting myself up for had we not worked out.  Thank goodness that never happened, lol.

I made no secret about my actions either; even to the point of letting the Wife know.  Plenty of times within disagreements or even normal conversation the Wife called me out by saying, “Do you think that you love me more that I love you?”  I don’t know, maybe I did.  Maybe it’s because I know 100% what my motivations are; my priorities, but I can’t always say that for others.  The Wife and I have been together for 6 years (married for almost 3) and I can honestly say that everything I do, I do it with “us” in mind.  I spend little to no time thinking about myself, but to be honest, I rarely ever have in life anyway.  That is, until recently.

While engaged, the Wife and I made some serious life decisions (namely moving to the East Coast).  While moving was an emotional adjustment in itself, some of the reasons why we moved (mostly to get away from my Mother) were far more taxing emotionally.  I’ve discussed in prior blogs how I did not deal with my emotions properly on all things related to moving.  I sort of locked them away and just put my head down and kept moving.

After the Wife and I got married, and there was nothing to consume all my time and emotions, many of the old un-dealt with emotions came bubbling to the top.  On top of all that I was having a very rough time at my job at the time, and all this negativity quickly started to spiral out of control and sent me right into a bout of depression like I had not dealt with in a very long time.  Luckily the Wife helped me through that time; though she has admitted that it was very hard on her and drove her to the brink emotionally.

Hearing my Wife; my partner; my world, tell me that my issues were pushing her over the edge emotionally was horrible to hear.  I could not believe I was hurting the one person in my life that I consistently needed for emotional stability.  My greatest fear; my issues pushing my Wife away from me, was coming true, or at least in my head that was the case.  Much of my fear was fed by the Wife’s emotional response to when I would talk to her about my depression or depression in general.  She was like a lot of people in this world and was more of the mind of, “What’s the problem.  People need to just stop being sad and shake it off.”  Needless to say she wasn’t the most sensitive of people to talk to about this topic.

To her credit, the Wife has come around on this topic; for many reasons.  One, she has respected me enough to listen to my stories of depression, and seen how hurt I was when she would treat the topic so cavalier, and for another reason, she has had her own personal experience with depression lately and has now seen what it does to people; and unfortunately we both learned what happens when two people under the same roof are suffering and looking to each other for help.  Here’s a quick answer….nothing good, that’s what.

During the Wife’s pregnancy things were pretty good….for about 8 months.  From the time the Wife told me she was pregnant I was so excited.  Another dream was coming true; I was going to be a dad.  And, while I still maintain that no matter had the baby been a boy or a girl I would have been just as excited, and loved them equally, I must admit that I was just a little bit extra excited when we found out the Nugget was a boy.  My first shot at parenting was going to be with a son.  I was so excited to be the husband/dad I was waiting 34 years to be.  Everything was going perfectly.  But you know that whole saying about “all good things,” right?

At about the 7 month mark we were just entering the holidays, and the Wife and I had some very heavy things happen to us during this that would have lasting effects.  In October the Wife lost her Grandmother whom she loved dearly.  With work/travel/funeral arrangements/the baby and everything else in life, I don’t think the Wife got to grieve properly for losing a major figure in her life.  The Wife’s Grandmother was/is easily one of her favorite people.  So much of who the Wife is, is derived from her Grandmother’s love and teachings. Needless to say, this made celebrating Thanksgiving a bit tough.

Unfortunately Christmas wasn’t a whole lot better.  While the feelings of grief were still present, we had added drama with family, and the kicker, the Wife and I found out a couple we know who was expecting at the same time were (just a month ahead, and convinced they were having a girl) had a baby boy….and you guessed it, named him the same name we were going to go with.

Now, while that last part “should not be,” and at the end of the day is not a big deal, it was just the straw.  You know, the one that broke the camel’s back, but in this case the Wife is the camel.  Was that ok say?  Somehow I don’t think the Wife is going to like being compared to a camel…..oh well, it’s my blog.

All this crap put a funk over what had been a fairly positive pregnancy (even with the Wife not happy over never being able to sleep).  The last month before the Nug showed up, the Wife and I have both recognized there this deep void between us, and it was growing more and more every day.   I have come to realize we were both suffering from effects of what I will call the “Other Side of the Coin Syndrome.”

The Wife was clearly slipping into a phase of depression, although she could not recognize it because she had never experienced it before, and I was clearly having a hard time being a supportive partner because I am usually the one needing the support.   Things only got worse after the Nug arrived.  While the first week or so was pretty cool because this beautiful baby had arrived, we could only hold off “the wave” (if you will) for so long.

As I have pointed out in prior blogs, the Nug has not been the easiest kid to be around.  Because of reflux, and other issues, the Nug was very fussy the first 3 months, but the first 2 months were the worst.  This made everything harder.  He didn’t sleep very well, nor did he eat well, which caused an enormous amount of stress on the Wife.  To this day I am not sure how the Wife did not jump off the roof of our complex as her every day was filled with fussiness and crying from our son; however it did take its toll in other ways.

I tried to be as supportive as possible, honestly I did.  For the first 6 weeks I was the husband/father I had always wanted to be.  But you see, this person I created in my head; this image of a perfect husband/dad did not suffer from the issues I suffer from.  Around the 6 week mark all the stress from seeing the Wife struggle so much; all the stress from coming home from a long day of work to a depressed Wife and an upset baby; all the stress of being down on myself for not being able to fix this situation started to usher those dark clouds of depression I had become so familiar with, and at that point (as the Wife has filled me in on) I started to pull away.

All the energy spent being empathetic and sympathetic towards the Wife, now started to become frustration and resentment.  I started to resent the fact that the Wife was asking for help and understanding when I had asked for the same thing for so many years.  I started to say things that I had heard others say (sometimes even the Wife prior to changing her views) when the Wife would be reaching out for help; things like, “Stop being so sad” and “Why can’t you just be happy?” and “Why are you so negative?”

Though I am super-open myself, I still respect the Wife’s privacy, but unless you’re an absolute moron, I’m pretty sure you can put 2 and 2 together and figure out what the Wife was going through…and she still is.

So, to bring this back around to my original statement in the beginning about being more honest with myself…while I have always wanted to be this awesome husband/dad my whole life, I have failed…at least as of late.

If I was even half of the husband I think I am I would have been more supportive during the Wife’s time of struggle.  Instead of being selfish and resentful and saying “what about me,” I would have taken what I have learned from my time spent in bouts of depression to help the Wife, not hurt her.

I know this blog sounds downright horrible and depressing (and some days have been), I must however stress that there have been a lot of good days; it’s just when the bad days happen, they’re really bad, and that’s something we have to fix.  The last 5 months have truly been the hardest time in our relationship, and my life, but I still love my Wife as much, if not more than I did the day I met her, and I am 100% confident we will get through this and be better on the other side.

We have both spent so much time saying we need to get back to who we used to be, but I think that is the wrong course of actions.  Instead, I think we need to embrace what has happened over these past 5 months; learn from our mistakes, recognize what we did right (because we have done a lot right too), and use these lessons to grow and become stronger people, individually and together.

One last bit of openness and honesty as I hold back the tears and finish this off….I am sorry Wife, for so many things.  I am sorry I am so flawed.  I am sorry for my depression issues.  I am sorry I wasn’t fully the husband, partner, or friend you needed during this time.  I am ashamed of my actions.  But while I know you will not join in on holding this against me (one the things I love about you) I promise all that stops now.  From this point on you and the Nug are going to get that husband/dad, because you both deserve it.

Thank you for sticking with me through all this.  You are now, and forever will be the best thing that ever happened to me.  I love you…you are mi media naranja!


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  1. #1 by Heather on July 16, 2012 - 11:03 am

    Because of you, I ran without music this morning because I wanted to ponder my reply. You will have to excuse me if it sounds a bit like a Bugs Bunny cartoon. It sounded so much better in my head. And then I came home and sat down to write it and was interrupted 4 gazillion times by a 5 year old with an over active imagination who is currently exploding boxes of cereal all over the kitchen.

    I think you were right about being wrong about wanting to get back to where you were. But you were wrong about being right about where you wanted to go. Rabbit season! No, Duck Season!

    Let me explain.

    You can’t and don’t really want to go back to where you were. Where you were was a couple. You were just 2 adults. While that was great, it was small. Now, now you are a family. THAT is huge! You can’t ever undo that. Nor should you want to, of course. But you won’t ever look at each other the same. You won’t ever have the quiet afternoon together, until the kids go away to college of course. Heck, she doesn’t even look at her body the same way. (It takes a few years to get past that).

    You’ll have to forgive me if I am dead wrong, having not actually been in the military, but I hope my TV and movie references serve me correctly.

    You my friend, unwittingly, have entered the military. This is boot camp. And you guessed it, Baby B is your drill instructor. I mean, who else would wake you up at 2 am screaming and yelling nonsense asking you to do crazy things like singing and rocking for no perfectly good reason? Think about it. Why are you in the military you ask? I shall tell you. Just because you, or someone you are married to birthed a baby, that does not make you a “Mom” or a “Dad”. Certainly it makes you that child’s biological parent. But it does not make you a Mom or a Dad. (It sounds like you may know people like this). Mom and Dad must be built. And, near as I can figure, to be built, you must first be broken down and then re-created. Very much like boot camp. You will come out on the other side stronger, tougher and jumping to attention every time your drill sergeant even raises his eyebrow. And, several years from now, you will look back with fondness at pictures from this time. A few dark thoughts of this troubling time will creep in and you will push them aside, very much choosing only to remember the happy smiles and fun times you do have.

    I will be honest with you, you aren’t done yet. It does ease up a bit at 6 months, but you still have some time to go. I’m pretty sure I was certifiably insane for a good 9 months. Just as I was staring to come out of it, I got pregnant again. (Sounds really crazy, but I’d recommend that. Gets all of the crazy out of the way all at once.) I remember plotting how to do in my spouse, how to run away from home, how to get to the fire station and drop off the baby in the middle of the night. I never understood why the military uses water boarding. Just give everyone a colicky infant. I would have admitted to BEING George W. Bush and Sarah Palin if you just let me get 3 hours of sleep. It was bad.

    I have not experienced depression. My mother’s mother suffered from it. My mother suffers from it although she does not admit it. I am sure it is a demon coming for me in the future. I can not imagine trying to struggle with it and all that being a new parent hands you.

    I’ve said it before and I will say it again. Little B is a lucky lucky kid to have you both as parents. Not because you are doing a good or a bad job, but because you are TRYING. As you will come to find out, the very very best any parent can ever do is TRY. And B needs to see that too. He needs to see that his parents aren’t perfect. That they struggle. That they learn and grow too. Because you are human. And so is he.

    Hang tight, hang in there and continue to hang on to each other. You will NOT be what you once were. You never will be again. And that is not a bad thing.

    • #2 by Mike Cruse on July 16, 2012 - 7:09 pm

      First, let me apologize for making you run without any kind of distraction. I hate running….period, let alone doing it without music or something to distract from my erratic breathing/wheezing/panting etc, lol.

      Second, thank you for the awesome words of wisdom, as well as the kind words about us.

      Your analogy about the military/drill SGT. is spot on my friend. I know, because I was in the military.

      On the depression front, it is a scarey beast. It is something I have struggled with my entire life. It just pains me to watch my loving Wife go through it as well. I am so proud of her though because she is taking steps to get better, and that’s all I can ask for.

  2. #3 by cransell on July 16, 2012 - 1:16 pm

    I remember being pregnant and everything changing so drastically. I was so tired all the time. I’m a night owl (or was) and suddenly I was going to bed at 9. I felt crappy and that made me grumpy and irritable, and I’m usually so positive. I just kept thinking, I can’t wait for life to go back to normal. And then I realized it would never go back to “normal” as I knew it then. We would have a kid and we would have to find a new normal. Which was at once freeing and depressing.

    It’s so hard. Just when you feel you’ve gotten your sea legs, everything changes again. You are both doing a great job. I read Bringing up Bebe last month (I can’t remember if I had read it by the 4th, so my apologies if I’m repeating myself), and women in France say “There is no perfect parent.” (as opposed to the American, “I am a bad mother”). This is my new mantra – There is no perfect parent. (and likewise, there is no perfect partner). I just keep trying to do my best and when I screw up, well, I just need to forgive myself and move on. Easier said than done sometimes, for sure.

    • #4 by Mike Cruse on July 16, 2012 - 7:10 pm

      This is perfect mantra! I will def pass that onto the Wife.

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