Summer of 2019, I vividly remember my husband saying goodbye to our girls one morning. Our girls, as in, our two Golden Retrievers. This wasn’t his normal ‘I’m going to the store and I will be right back’ goodbye. This was different in many ways.
Having lived with his depression for so long, we have had numerous discussions about him taking his own life. He always promised me he wouldn’t, but anyone that has been in this type of situation before, knows that clinically depressed individuals can change their mind on a daily basis about anything.
After he said goodbye to the girls, he quickly gave me a kiss and headed to the door. I didn’t get the sweet goodbye that I normally receive. “Where are you going“, I sternly asked him. “Out for a drive”, he replied. “You are not doing something stupid, are you?” “It will be fine”.
Out for a drive has always been his way of wanting to go for a ride in the West desert and not return.
Most loved ones would do anything to stop someone from leaving the house in this state of mind, but I didn’t. Once the door closed, I froze for a moment but then immediately ran to see if our guns had been touched and if he had taken our emergency beacon device.
Knowing how much my husband has been in pain and living in such a dark place for so long, I knew all I could do was to continue to support him. As heartless and cruel as that sounds, it is quite the opposite. Our agreement, well my request, is that he is not allowed to take his own life in our home and he is to send me GPS coordinates via the emergency beacon device so I can have closure.
The reasons to my requests were because, a really good friend of my husband shot his own mother who lived next door, then went home, laid in bed, and shot himself, all the while, his wife laying next to him in bed and his children in their own rooms. I could never imagine the trauma that would leave behind. And he would be in an area without cell coverage, hence the beacon.
After he left and everything was still in place at home, all I could do was wait with waterfall tears rolling down my face. Part of me wanted to call the police, our parents, or my friends, but I just sat there. He eventually sent me a text saying how worthless he is and that he couldn’t carry out his own plans because he didn’t take the beacon (or anything else) with him. He didn’t know how he wanted to go, but he did know he was just tired and wanted to end the pain.
After a couple hours, he came home and we held each other and cried. We don’t know how to fix his depression, his anger, his regrets, but we will keep trying together as that was not his day to go.
Fast forward to January 20, 2022. My husband sends me a text in the morning.
“I don’t know what to do. Well, I do but…. God and this state hate me. That’s fine. I have enough hate stored up for everything and everyone. Sorry to drag you along. I really thought it would be better (moving to where we live now). It’s been the worst mistake I have ever made. The pills aren’t helping, the schooling isn’t helping, my experience isn’t helping, my personality isn’t helping. I’m done.”
This sadly turned into the day I had my second scare of my husband saying goodbye. Technically, he didn’t say anything.
I was upstairs in my office working and I heard him grab his keys and then the front door closed. I quickly checked our security camera and sure enough, he was heading to his vehicle. An important note, we NEVER leave the house without saying goodbye.
I ran down the stairs, out the front door, and towards him. We live in a townhome complex and his vehicle was parked in the street, not in our designated parking spots. I quietly called his name so not to interrupt our neighbors. He fully knew I was there and calling for him, but he ignored me and continued on. Once I caught up to him, I asked him where he was going. Straight-faced he told me he was just going to his Jeep and for me to go back inside because it was really cold outside and I didn’t have a jacket or shoes on. I asked him the same question again and he gave me the same answer. I knew he was lying to me but I turned around and headed back for our house. Once I got to our door, I turned around and saw him drive away.
I wasn’t going to go through this a second time so I hopped into my car and drove the neighborhood to find him. How hard could it be to locate a yellow Jeep?? Hard enough because I never saw him.
Once I got back to our house, I went back into my office, sat down, and sent him a text. I heard his phone ding and it came from our bedroom. He didn’t take his phone with him. I made my rounds again and the guns were untouched and the beacon was still in place. I sent him another text saying, “I know you don’t have your phone with you but I hate that you do this to me.”. Yes, I was angry at him. Yes, I know he is the one suffering but I am allowed to have a moment of selfishness.
Once again, I sat and waited, but this time I didn’t cry. I just watched our security camera waiting to see who would show up.
Quietly, my husband walked through the door. I didn’t go running down the stairs to hug him or yell at him. I stayed in the office. Not much was spoken between us that day.
That evening he sent me a few texts.
“I wanted to lay down in the river today. Just lay down and sleep. Damn trail walkers.”
“I hate just about everything in this life. I have no reason to live outside of you four. I would gladly walk in front of a train if you and the animals were not here. But you are here. And because of that I struggle daily with the desire to carry on in the face of the fact that tomorrow will never be better.
I don’t have friends. I am not good at friending. I don’t miss not having friends, most days. The people I do know don’t provide me with the things I need in order to make it worthy to work at a friendship.
I am a difficult person. My experiences are vast. My thoughts rarely stop. I am emotionless and uncaring. What I can’t be is happy. I don’t know why.”
Suicide, depression, anhedonia, anger, whatever term used to describe it, my definition is, it all sucks. Day in. Day out. The struggles are real and they are not going away.
Everyone can view a ‘term’ or terminology differently. I want to try to analyze my own terms, or definitions, of things that are experienced in this life.
Many years ago, I remember my husband sitting on the couch and he started to cry. My husband doesn’t cry, not even at funerals, so I knew something was wrong.
As we sat there for hours together, talking about what he was going through, it was evident that he needed help. Help that I could not provide. We decided to get in the car and drive him to the local hospital. However, prior to getting out of our vehicle while in the hospital parking lot, my husband was having doubts about being confined to a room (he is very claustrophobic) and not being able to leave on his own accord. Instead, we called the veterans suicide hotline to see if there was someone he could talk to or make an appointment with. Things didn’t go as well as planned with that phone call, and by now, my husband has decided to not admit himself to the hospital. He did, however, agree to contact the local psychiatry facility first thing on Monday morning.
In hindsight, I wish I would have made him go to the hospital, but I respected his decision. He did contact the psychiatrist and ended up seeing a counselor for a short period of time. My husband is the brightest man I know. Unfortunately, he used this in the wrong way. He knew how to talk himself out of ‘needing counseling’. He knew how to trick his counselor into thinking he was ‘healed’.
I don’t recall at what point he was prescribed medication, but he was ultimately diagnosed and treated for Major Depression Disorder, also known as Clinical Disorder.
“Great, things will start to turn for the better now that he is on medications” …at least that is what I hoped and believed to be true. It wasn’t.
Here we are in our marriage 25 years later, about 20 years into his depression, and we are still worse than ever. Let me clarify, our marriage is and has always been fantastic. We rarely fight. We always communicate. We are each other’s best friend. But the demons are here and don’t ever seem to go away.
‘Depression’ in our home is viewed as so many things. I call his depression ‘the demons’ because they never go away. They drive him to the edge. They have taken all his hopes, dreams, and desires and filled them with regret, disappointment, and anger. The most recent description he has given me is that he no longer has a purpose to wake up in the mornings.
Just this year, we learned the word Anhedonia. Wow, does this describe my husband to a T. Anhedonia is the lack of interest in activities that he once use to enjoy and the inability to receive any pleasure from that activity. For instance, we loved camping, kayaking, and backpacking. Those are now viewed as chores, rather than enjoyable activities. Unfortunately, the only thing on that list that he will consider is camping. And even when we go camping, it is not enjoyable for him. He cannot relax. He worries about everything. He sees it as too much work. And the just continues.
After researching Anhedonia, he told me that one of the ways to help with the situation is for me to pick an activity and make him do it. He is unable to decide what he wants to do each day since there is no pleasure in it for him. He has requested that I help by telling him that we are going for a walk or hike. The goal of this is so that once he is out performing whatever activity is chosen, that as time goes by, he will either realize he no longer has enjoyment for this activity or that he will slowly rebuild his desire to try it again. Only after multiple attempts, will he realize if he can find newfound pleasure.
Suicide. Most of us know that suicide is when an individual attempts to take their own life. Twice now, I have had to go through the emotion of not knowing if the next person at my door is going to be my husband returning home or the local police needing me to identify a body.
To be continued…
– describe what Depression, Anhedonia, Suicide, LossOfHope, Anger, and Love have been like for 25 years
– next steps in my own self-help; including, what I need, what I want, what my desires and dreams are, things that make me happy
I imagine that this blog will be boring or useless for most individuals; however, I am going to try to utilize this as a way of understanding my life or at least provide myself with some self-help.
In order to understand my life as it is today, I believe there should be a little backstory.
I was born in 1976 and was raised in the southwest region of the United States. I grew up with my parents and two older brothers. I had a basic childhood. I went to an elementary school that was around the corner from home so I would walk there with the youngest of my two brothers. I was an easy going kid in school. I wasn’t popular. I wasn’t a nerd. I was just the run-of-a-mill child. I had a handful of friends so I wasn’t alone during school. In fifth grade, I met my best friend, whom is still a huge part of my life. After school, I would hang out with friends, play games, ride my bike, and go swimming. Once it came time for Junior High, I rode a bus to school with the same friends I had since the start of elementary. And this routine continued on into High School. I played volleyball from 7th grade through 11th grade. Outside of that, I was never talented enough for anything else; no other sports, singing, playing instruments, etc.
After graduation, I was working at a chiropractic office and going to college for my Associates degree. During this time, I met my husband who was stationed at a local Air Force base. On my 21st birthday, we got engaged and three months later we married. The week we got married was the week I graduated community college. I had been accepted into a university for Electro Mechanical Engineering; but instead, I chose to get married and move to the northeastern region of the US. The day after our wedding, we packed up and got on the road. I cried for five days straight as we continued to get further and further away from what I always knew as home.
For 19 years, we lived in the same northeastern County. I had a job with the Federal Government. My husband worked his way to the top of a manufacturing company. We learned we could not have children, but we did raise our great-nephew for the first six years of his life. And we had various animals to fulfill my desire to have something to cuddle. When we first moved, my husband used his GI Bill to finish a Bachelor’s degree. Many years later, I decided to start a bucket list item which was to go back to college and get a Bachelor’s degree…something I chose to put off in order to get married.
After those 19 years, we were ready to start a New Adventure. It was a bold decision, but we quit our well-paid jobs, sold our home and 90% of our belongings, bought a truck, and bought a fifth wheel. We didn’t know where we were going, other than, back to the Western region of the US. So we hit the road.
For almost two months, we had nowhere to be, noone to see, no obligations or responsibilities of any kind. We had two dogs and two rabbits with us at the time. It was super relaxing and seeing Mother Nature was so breathtaking. Everything we thought we needed to recharge for our next chapter…