|A Dad in the Raw.||
I can't remember the last time I had a meal cooked for me. Just an ordinary meal for a bloke, nothing special. And how good would it be if the kitchen was cleaned up as well.
I previously mentioned that my marriage has no sex life.
I found this difficult, really difficult, to handle for some time. Eventually I've come to some sort of acceptance or tolerance of this missing part of life.
I don't like it though. Sometimes I know I kid myself that it doesn't matter; other times it really matters. Like tonight.
Tonight I'd love to be with a woman.
I think my marriage is gone.
I haven't written anything for ages and when I checked this page I'd forgotten about my last post. I've been wanting to write about the state of my marriage if for no other reason than to have a rant, anonymously. It might make good reading for someone but more so, maybe for myself.
In my last post I briefly talked of my wife getting through depression and is a much happier person than when in the grips of darkness. I think that's great for her, but she is not the same. I'm not the same either I guess.
It's not like she is a totally different person, just different. She is probably how she wants to be (whether she knows it or not).
That doesn't do me much good however. We haven't slept in the same room for years, there is no sex life,(again for years), she weighs more than me and if we were single and younger, I would not have been attracted to her in any way other than as a friendly acquaintance.
A healthy sex life, for me, goes hand in hand with a healthy relationship. Our relationship has been battered and altered out of its original shape; the demise of jumping between the sheets was inevitable with or without a weight problem.
If I had the money, I probably would be living elsewhere. Not too far from my kids though, if they chose to be with their mother. They are not little anymore and one left home a couple of years ago.
It's funny, sad, to think how fast the time has gone, and now when things should be getting better, I think they are just getting emptier.
I'm not dead yet, maybe there is more life to come. My wife is about 10 years younger so she has bonus time to find another.
I'll write again very soon, I just need a bit of time without someone looking over my shoulder.
What I've found is that my wife is not the person she used to be. While much of her personality and qualities remain the same; others don't. This is probably due to her sorting out some of the reasons why she fell victim to depression in the first place. She has an awareness of things not good for her, perhaps, even how she really is and was meant to be.
She battled through depression and other tough spots and seems to be fairly satisfied with her lot now.
I'm happy if that's how it is for her; but for me our future is uncertain. I can kid myself but really, the different, or true, version of my wife doesn't really do it for me. I don't know where this is heading.
A balancing act. (a Google image)
Following on from my last post "Are we there yet? Anti Depressants" I'd like to briefly mention an observation of mine when my wife was taking anti-depressants.
It was great to see the transition of my wife from a sad non functioning mother to one that could smile and enjoy herself again. Things were looking up and I began to feel a little optimistic about the near future.
After 4 or 5mths on medication we took a short holiday for a week before I was to return to work ( I had been off on pay using up hard saved entitlements).
On our return drive ( a good days drive) I noticed my wife seemed to be saying things that she had said earlier before the medication began to help.
It was a shot in the dark but I asked her had she stopped taking her medication fully expecting her to say "don't be silly".
To my surprise she said yes, she had stopped taking them because she felt back to her old self. She wanted to know why I asked. I told her. I also asked her to keep them going because I noticed the difference in her. I guess this became obvious (and upsetting) to her because I had actually guessed or wondered.
This didn't make her happy but she said she would and check with her doctor before.
Further down the track she did see her doctor, he advised against stopping too early and to possibly cut down on doses, but certainly not stopping outright. Medically not a good thing to do to the body, emotionally not good either.
It seems that my wife isn't the only one to have done this either. As it turned out, two friends of ours had both been suffering from depression but kept it to themselves. One told us she had started on anti-depressants and felt better, then decided things were fine and stopped. It was during this period I had talked to her and noticed how unwell she sounded. She went back on her medication and found herself balancing out again.
Apparently that's what the meds do. They help correct a chemical imbalance in the brain which is associated with depression. The mind and body has to get it together again and the meds help with the process.
I really do understand that taking medications is something hard to accept and it may be for a lot longer that anticipated. But if these little tablets help make life happier again, stopping them, especially way to soon, just isn't worth it.
Has anyone else experienced the same reluctance and results from stopping anti-depressants?
Funny how those insignificant things all around become of great significance. Tablets for instance; medication for all sorts of things. Little tablets in bottles and boxes, all shapes, sizes and colours.
To me, they became very significant. My wife was diagnosed as suffering post-natal depression and our family GP prescribed anti-depressants. This medication is to help correct a chemical imbalance in the brain which apparently is a condition of depression. It sounds like depression and the brain and the chemical balance are all entwined to me. They all need to be kind of running in sync.
Anyway, tablets to my wife also became significant and a light at the end of the tunnel. She was assured that she would get better and not to lose sight of that fact. It would take time, a variable thing; but she must believe it will happen. It gave her something to think about apart from constantly focussing on herself. That was one thing I really noticed with my wife. Her life revolved around her, she was oblivious to what I was doing, though not intentionaly I felt.
Apart from my wifes' unhappy lot, I had good reasons for hoping these tablets would do the job. Mainly, I was due at work, I had 3 kids to care for and a very unwell, unhappy wife.
A happy pill was not an overnight guarantee though. Advice was hammered home that the sufferer might start to feel a little better in a few days or it could take up to six weeks. We were also told that it is common for some anti-depressant not to suit and that another would be prescribed. This involved a weaning off period from one anti-depressant before the other could be started.
All of this stuff didn't do me much good. I knew my wife was miserable but I had my own selfish reasons for wanting her better in a hurry. Things like money, 3 kids and a life turned upside down. But life had to carry on; like changing a poopy nappy while my wife was crying and miserable. That's how it was.
As the saying goes; it didn't happen overnight, but it did happen. It took a change of tablets and about 8 weeks. By this time, at snail pace, I noticed the improvement in my wife. Small, but an improvement nonetheless.
After 4 months my wife was almost her old self but not quite. Anyway, the signs were good and couldn't come quick enough for me. We started to plan a short holiday.........
A Google image.
After the birth of our third child things went okay I guess. Our newborn made the usual demands and coupled with two other kids (5 and 2yrs), things were pretty busy.
My wife, having spent many weeks in hospital during the pregnancy (bed rest for back problems) seemed okay but pretty worn out. Just for the record, I was off work from when the baby was born and because he was bottle fed ( breastfeeding didn't go according to plan), did most of the feeds and nappies, particularly during the night. I hoped this would help my wife to get some solid sleeps and recover a little more easily.
As a few weeks went by, my wife started to sleep in another room so that she could sleep through if possible. I didn't think a lot of it and if I was tearing out my hair a little, I'd wake her to help out.
About 8 wks passed and I was within a few days of returning to work. My wife had said she found the whole thing really hard; harder than usual, and didn't feel right. I was unsure what she meant, perhaps she was too, but it seemed she felt something out of the ordinary was happening. I knew she'd been tired, teary perhaps, but nothing really standout that couldn't be put down to new baby blues. We both knew of post natal depression but, and despite her maybe having had a touch of this with our first child, weren't seriously worried about it; after all, that really bad stuff happens to others doesn't it?
Two days before going back to work, perhaps the final straw; I found my wife crying in bed in the morning. She didn't want to get up. I was told that she had rung some people because she thought she was depressed. I knew something was wrong but had no idea how wrong it was to become.
Luckily, In Australia, we have pretty good public health care. I finally learned that she had rung the Health Department, in particular a section where she could get advice and assistance in respect of post natal depression. The fact she had the number handy seemed to say that her fears were more known to her than me. I didn't know this at all.
A Google image.
Once this was out in the open life changed from just about that moment on. It was as if she had been hanging on but just couldn't go any further.
Over the next few days my wife mostly stayed in bed, in her PJ's, and cried a lot. We had some visitors from this apparent 'flying squad' of the Health Department who came to talk with and advise my wife and I about this thing called post natal depression, not visible to eye, that had come to visit us without an invitation. Steps were taken, a 'plan' of sorts made and anti-depressants prescribed. How fast do they work? Not fast enough.
I knew my wife was a mess, she stayed in her room, wouldn't or couldn't help. I had a 5 yr old who was insecure about his mum, a 2 yr old who wanted to know why mum was crying all the time, a 9wk old baby who I fed and carried around while people visited to try and help. I couldn't go back to work and I had no idea at all of what the hell was going on.
One of my worst fears has been the lurking of depression in my wife. Is it still there waiting to spring or slowly appear without knowing until it is realised? Does depression ever leave completely? My wife says that she worries it is in the background and that life can throws things at her which might trigger the return of the ugly condition. That's how I view it too, an ongoing issue.
I try to spare some of the crap that our eldest son is dishing out but find that this doesn't always work. For those interested, I'm writing about our son under 'A new kind of darkness'.
I truly hope that she can cope with our future problems, and there will be problems barring a miracle. I don't really want to tackle this new hard stuff on my own; it was mighty tough before.
This spectre of depression, this unspoken threat, this unwelcome companion, has really been on my mind and a couple of weeks ago the scare was out in the open. My wife burst into tears, firstly over our son and then over herself because she is feeling so down over what is happening. She is scared for herself.
My reaction, inappropriate, was anger. I guess that could be translated into fear. It didn't last long, I forced it away, apologised and reassured my wife that I was having trouble getting my head around our sons issues as well. We talked and got it out in the open. She got past this scary bit and we have been plodding away since; taking it one day at a time.
Depression seems to leave a sufferer with a shadow, not always thought of or seen, but there nonetheless. This shadow affects me too. It is something I always watch for when life gets a bit ugly and doesn't go to script.
Just in the last week I've had a few of those little frustrations that add to each other to produce a big frustration. Luckily they were spaced out and I avoided any sizeable dummy spit.
Beginning with a family occasion I attended in another city, my siblings decided for my own good that it would be best if I had a big night with the boys and wrote myself off ie. drunk as a skunk, head down toilet bowl, hangover, headache, nausea and so on. Strangely, despite their obvious caring intentions, I didn't go for it and probably ruffled a few feathers by not complying. I do like a drink by the way. On 3 occasions over two days it happened that I didn't hold back (as I am prone to do) and they were probably glad to see me go. I felt a bit liberated.
A day or two later, back home and back into the usual slave slot, I was getting some ice cream for my youngest; I even put a little in a bowl for myself. As I was pressing the lid back on the ice cream container my finger slipped off the edge and tipped the bowl right next to it. As it happens, this serve was pretty substantial for my younger son and it also sat on the edge of the sink. As the bowl headed to the floor in slow mo' I thought 'FECK I couldn't do that again if I was paid. I looked down at my feet; my head swimming with curses and questions; How did that happen? What a waste. More cleaning up. I'm really tired and want a shower. I want to sit down. Now I've got to clean the bowl and the bloody floor and so on...... I remember bending down to pick up the bowl which of course landed upside down. I put the bowl in the sink and went for the ice cream. It actually handled pretty well I thought as I grabbed it all in one paw. I turned it over and noticed little things like a bit of cheese, cat fur, lettuce, coloured sprinkles, dirt and hair and what ever else lives at your feet at the kitchen sink. The next time I actually looked at this clump of vanilla was with a perverse kind of pleasure as it flew through the air over the back yard. Problem solved I figured as it broke into two big chunks to melt away into the night. I was surprised at the distance it travelled.
The next night I was at this computer, I reached into a desk draw and moved a box of thumb tacks (drawing pins) to get at something else. Well, the lid wasn't on the box properly was it? And this is not a neat draw, full of all sorts of disordered useful things. It probably took me 20 minutes to get the last one back in the box; they seemed to have a nack for staying in or getting in to the most annoying spots. They also drop down just as you go to grab them. I took a short break to count to 10 million or so.
Finally (as far as these few days go anyway) the next morning proved to be one of those sandwich wrapping days that was not going to work for me.
I should have known really. I had woken pretty early and had a lousy sleep as I often do these days. I'd forgotten that these are not the times to wrap the kids sammo's in cling wrap (or plastic wrap, saran wrap etc).
Just a slight miscalculation, heavy breath, puff of wind through the window, too quick a hand movement and that stinken, rotten, mongrel clinging, static strewn plastic sticks to itself and only the patience of a friggin saint would attempt to undo it. With balls of plastic all around the bench and on the floor the sandwiches are finally wrapped and I moved on to the brekkies, fingers crossed.
Still, since my last post, I haven't really decided upon the way to relate some experiences relating to post natal depression and depression (post partum depression depending where you live).
I figure I can relate first hand some of the dark side but have to be careful to not talk as if I know how my wife actually felt. Some times she tried to explain what was happening and so I had a bit of an idea. My own observations clearly showed that she was having a crappy time.
I think I'll write as topics or prompts remind me of various stages of those miserable years. My comments will be from the viewpoint of a husband, father and carer. This may not sit well with those who have, or currently suffer, with post natal depression. I don't want to offend anyone but being on the husband, father, and carer side comes with its own difficulties and mountains to climb. I wasn't the perfect one when it came down to filling these roles, but I tried. I tried and also failed. I didn't like what was happening and I couldn't fix it; I generally like fixing things. This was a case of helping, watching and being patient. I was also completely out of my depth but didn't know it.
And thus, the introduction to two photos. As the one observing and caring, some of the things which can drive you crazy are the simple things. (For the record, my kids were 2 months, 2 years and 5 years of age at the time my wife was overrun by creeping post natal depression).
Mostly, my wife could not or would not, answer the phone. Seeing who was at the front door was definitely out. When she was particularly bad this didn't surprise me but this behaviour/habit continued for many years. At one point I had trouble walking out the back door without clearly making sure of my intentions (ie not leaving her alone).
Sure, the phone and door weren't huge problems for me, but put them together with 3 young kids, a house to run, a wife to watch (4th child really) and the little things can add up over a period of time, a cumulative frustration I could do without. The phone and the door were tough things for my wife when she was down, just too hard, perhaps scary. The phone would ring beside her and she wouldn't pick it up. Facing someone at the door wasn't on at all.
From my perspective, phones, doors and people were obstacles my wife couldn't confront. Therefore, these little extras always went to me and perhaps this started a pattern of living which continued past it's use by date.