The True Nature Of My Being

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The signs I’ve slid into a depression should be obvious to me by now. After almost two decades I should at least have a check list by my door, or beside my bed.

Dressing in black for days on end is generally a dead giveaway, especially if it’s always the same shirt, socks, underwear and pants.

I’ve been sleeping for twelve hours at a shot, then never feeling fully awake for the next twelve. Over the past two weeks I’ve been outside for more than fifteen minutes in a day maybe four times… I’ve been outside every day, but only a quick walk to the store for supplies, then home again.

I’ve stopped eating. I’ve been drinking a lot of water, milk and diet pop, and only eating once a day. Mostly cereal. I just haven’t been able to put together and execute a plan that would get me to a grocery store.

Twice I’ve caught myself sleep walking and scooping peanut butter out of a year-old large jug from the back of my cupboard. It’s surprising how long that stuff lasts.

I’ve been going two days, sometimes three, without showering. Which, compared with the bad old days, isn’t bad, but I’ve been a shower-per-day guy for months now.

Time has almost lost it’s meaning, until a few seconds ago I thought it was still the first week of October. Things that occurred last week feel like they just happened yesterday, and whatever happened yesterday is either a faded memory or a complete blank.

I also have zero motivation.

Which might explain why it has taken four days (so far) to write this post.

It’s not hard to find reasons to be depressed, so I am a little surprised at myself for not recognizing the signs earlier.

Some of the symptoms were masked by random events, however. Like my fridge broke down last Friday (Oct. 1), and I went a week without eating a lot. So, my not eating became a symptom of the broken fridge, not the depression.

Not being able to find a replacement fridge, or call a repair person, was just me putting things off, and not me being too depressed to think through the “how do I fix this” puzzle.

My girlfriend is back to work full time, so I’ve been looking after our son while she does her 5am to 2pm shift at the store. So I’ve been blaming my exhaustion on my sleep periods are messed up, not because of the depression.

And dressing in black is just my most comfortable state of being. And, no, it’s not to express my inner-self to the outside world, it’s so I can make myself invisible to myself. But I don’t generally use the exact same clothes over and over again while, at the same time, going days without properly washing myself.

The main reason I’m depressed is because, instead of continuing on in some semblance of a conversation over my refusal to allow my abusive grandmother near my ten-month old child, my mother has decided to completely ignore the issue. I’ve been receiving emails from her that make it seem as though nothing happened, that any meetings we’ve had on the issue never took place.

I think this tactic has been more insulting to me, and more infuriating than the hour long ‘meeting’ we had where she and her husband yelled at me for an hour. At least during that hour I knew everything coming out of their mouths was bullshit, there’s a deep sense of moral victory in watching them contradict each other in every other statement.

But to be ignored, to be invited over to their home for pie and coffee, as though my mother never told me “I have concerns for your child’s safety while he’s in your apartment”, and my step-father hadn’t stupidly said “there are people in this family who won’t come over if they know you’ll be here”.

Why would I want to be around these people?

I was actually doing just fine, regardless of the events over the past eight months. My abusive grandmother verbally assaulted my girlfriend, myself and our baby, I told her to “go fuck yourself” and felt liberated for having said it. I also told her I’d never let her be around my baby again.

My mother said she’d back me up, and everything was great. Then my mother reneged on our agreement, and we had our confrontation. And I could kind of feel myself slowing down. Like I was moving from one baseline to a lower one, but it was the kind of shift you don’t notice if you’re not looking for it.

It’s like walking on a rail on a train track and you come to an area where it merges with another line. If you’re not paying attention you end up on the way to Toronto when you thought you were heading to Montreal.

First my grandmother attacks me, then my mother betrays my trust, then lashes out at me for disturbing the family dynamic.

At that point I still felt like I was walking on the same rail I was on before any of this started.

But then, the longer I thought about what my parents told me using their ‘big girl and boy outside voices’, the more I realized I had switched rails.

My mother told me she had concerns for my son’s safety, but she was lying. My step-father told me there were people in our family who didn’t like me, so why not tell me that before? Why not give me a chance to make things right? Why hide it from me?

They both told me repeatedly during our session together that I shouldn’t be so upset at my grandmother — who told me repeatedly during our session together, that we should have had my son aborted — because she had been saying much worse ever since we announced the pregnancy.

So… why couldn’t anybody tell me what she had been saying, before she said it all to me? This is what has been grinding me down into a deeper depression. Why would my family keep the ravings of my psychotic grandmother — who abused my mother for decades — a secret?

When my grandmother decided it was time to unleash her river of bullshit on me directly, why would no one warn me? Everyone knew what was going to happen when my grandmother asked to meet with me, but instead of taking me aside and warning me, they allowed her to have her surprise.

And then, three days later when I told my mother what had happened, she sat there and cried as if it was the first time she had heard what her mother had said to me… when, in fact, she had known for almost eight months.

I don’t know if it’s those thoughts, those questions, that are directly responsible for my depression. I actually get pretty… enraged is a good word, when I think about the lies. We ran into my parents at a restaurant a few days ago, and I couldn’t get the ‘anger look’ out of my eyes.

I think the depression is coming more from my not finding what I thought was there, after breaking up with my family. I thought I still had friends, that I still had options. But the length of my recovery has left me with very few of either.

Someone I was very close to has a very successful business near my village. Five years ago he made me a job offer I had to refuse. So a few weeks ago I made an offer to him, nothing major, only to receive a fairly cold response.

I knew it would happen. I’ve known for months whatever friendships I had eight, six and four years ago had evaporated.

The thing about surviving manic depression long enough to get through recovery, and I’ve written about this before, is there’s still that mountain of shit you let build up because when you were untreated you had none of the skills to deal with any of it.

But after months of being betrayed by my parents, and my grandmother — all of which is pretty fucking depressing as well, don’t get me wrong — I think I had started to expect there to be something remaining… but I had forgotten.

My girlfriend, our son, her four-year old and I had our first Thanksgiving dinner together yesterday. And we’ll have Christmas together. I still have a family, and it means more to me than friends who aren’t here, and family who can’t bring themselves to apologize, and I’m not taking it for granted…

.

...thanks.

.

About Gabriel...

...diagnosed with manic depression in 1989, for the next 14-years I lived without treatment or a recovery plan. I've been homeless, one time I graduated college, I've won awards for reporting on Internet privacy issues, and a weekly humour column. In 2002 I finally hit bottom and found help. I have an 8-year old son, and a 4-year old son... I’m usually about six feet tall, and I'm pretty sure I screwed up my book deal. I mostly blog at saltedlithium.com....
This entry was posted in Bipolar, Bipolar Disease, Bipolar Disorder, Clinical Depression, crazy people with no pants, CSG, Depression, Granny, Health, Living With Depression, Living With Manic Depression, Manic Depression, Mental Health, Poverty and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The True Nature Of My Being

  1. Good Morning to you,

    That was a hard post to read, so I’ll just leave some thoughts…I think the way you are feeling is pretty normal after all that has happened over the last few months. I think you are doing remarkably well coping with it all, I really do. Most couldn’t, most I think would ‘walk away’ from a family that did nothing but drag you down, criticize you and take out their random frustrations at life on you.

    One thing you said, right near the end made me smile…these are the words that will give you the strength to move forward after this bad chapter in your life , enable you to start again with a fresh zest for life and a new outlook…these precious words says it all…

    Quote: “My girlfriend, our son, her four-year old and I had our first Thanksgiving dinner together yesterday. And we’ll have Christmas together. I still have a family, and it means more to me than friends who aren’t here, and family who can’t bring themselves to apologize, and I’m not taking it for granted…

    Friends in anyone’s life are always transient. Try to remember that. They move on as we move on, the reason isn’t always anything to do with you. Friendships are like love affairs or marriages – without nurture and care and input from all parties, they die. As we all go through life our friends and the people who walk beside us change. Sometimes that is sad for us, other times its a blessing.

    Dressing in black is smart, neat and nice…

    I hope things look better for you soon ~

  2. Bromac says:

    Oh Gabe, I’m so sorry you’ve gotten to this point. But now that you’ve realized where you are, what next? Have you had an appt with the psych recently? One coming up? If not, can you make an emergency one. I’m sure you have a set of SOP for this. What now?

    I’m glad you have the gf and kids around. Now that you’ve realized where you are, you have to start moving forward.

  3. I am holding you in my heart.

  4. Gabriel... says:

    Three other things that should be on my checklist:

    1. generally uncommunicative, like not responding to comments within a polite time frame. I’ve been talking to myself (mostly in my head) then, later on, assuming I’ve already talked to the person… and then, when I do use my voice box, being surprised when they haven’t got a clue what I’m talking about;

    2. for two weeks I totally forgot to change the contents of my cat’s litter box. I think I remembered every night, but kept telling myself I’d do it tomorrow. Then, of course, I’d forget all over again. She’s much happier now.

    3. noise hurts more.

    Hi Bromac… I think “realized” is an excellent way to put it. I actually had two appointments with my psychiatrist in the past two weeks. The next one, unfortunately, isn’t until the 22nd. We’ve had some great conversations about what’s going on between myself and my parents.

    I think spending so much time with my son — like 5-6 hours a day, which is becoming the norm — has helped me the most through this time.

    Hello suburbanwifey, good morning to you as well, and thanks for commenting here… twice now.

    It’s the normalcy of my reaction to the events over the past few months that’s actually where I’m getting comfort. Bad, stressful things happen and people get depressed — this is still a new connection for me to make. The hard part is working through those events to find some peace, because the depression acts as a block to every forward step.

    But the silver lining here is that I’m able to recognize the depression, and not just accept it as my natural state. The response I’m having to these naturally-caused depressions, unlike the ones thrown at me randomly by the manic depression, is like remembering I don’t have to drown because I’ve been wearing a life jacket the whole time.

    And, if I had my way, the life jacket would be black.

    Hi Clare… thanks, seeing your name here means a lot to me.

    Thanks to all three of you for your comments.

  5. markps2 says:

    In the past when I commented here, I felt a few times your dislike of my comment.
    So it makes me pause and wonder what to write. What do you want to read? I try to joke if I can.
    I can only write of what I know, so comment only on things I have some knowledge of.
    Losing your fridge is terrible. I feel for you. It is something I worry about myself with my old fridge.
    My mom pushed my anger button in the summer, and I just let it fester.
    I got the courage-compassion to confront her about it, and she claims she didn`t know she was making me angry with her endless questions.
    I take the higher ground and forgive the incident. but don`t forget. If she starts with the endless questions, I will (attempt to) politely end the conversation, instead of continuing it.
    You deserve a good life, and you have to fight for it. You wrote you made plans but did not follow through. You have to break this flaw. Myself I use a egg timer. I set it for five minutes. If the project is not started or completed keep resetting it to five minutes to keep me focused on the job.

  6. markps2 says:

    RE: killing bugs. I used to kill bugs as a child until I was told to imagine what its like for the bug. Empathy for an insects life might have to be taught.

  7. Wendy says:

    Sometimes it’s painful just to breathe when there is so much family trauma. And then when that’s combined with a mood disorder all the carefully constructed walls can come tumbling down. It’s one thing to say you know what depression feels/looks like and another herculean task to stop it, even with consciousness. I know I have to be so careful around my family members who are supposedly there to “understand, support, etc…” and love me. It’s no wonder you’re just hanging in there, which I hope you can give yourself a lot of credit for. All these small changes are huge movements to our psyche. Now, what can you do to nurture and have compassion for yourself? Sending you blessings.

  8. Gabriel... says:

    Thank you Wendy, I’ll take all the blessings I can get. But the thing is, understanding these depressions have reasons makes things easier not harder. The fact they were masked made things harder because I was blaming them on stuff like a broken fridge, not what was going on with my family.

    Because I was holding smaller stuff to be the cause, I thought the depressions might be out of perspective. But they aren’t. My brain is responding exactly the way it should, which is still kind of new for me.

    What’s happening with my family, specifically my relationship with my mother, is definitely causing some deepish-depression in me, but it has also been liberating at the same time, it has even felt.. uplifting, I guess, because I know I’m doing the right thing for my son and my little family.

    I’m keeping my son and my girlfriend away from the abuse my grandmother is capable of giving out, and not even my mother’s inability to see past her abuser and visit with me and her grandson can make me change my mind. This is a pretty decent counter to the depression.

    If I had doubts, of any size, of what I’m doing I believe I’d be crippled up because of the depression. Maybe I did in the beginning, but now I really have none. And, like I wrote on an earlier post, the longer I go without my parents in my life, the more normal it feels. Which also seems weird at first blush.

    Issues with my parents will have to be worked out later on — especially my mother’s bizarre claim that the state of my apartment poses a threat to my son. But until then I don’t see myself being crippled by anything that’s going on… if anything, if my baseline average per day mood chart eight months ago would had been a 6 out of 10, I think right now I’m sitting on a comfortable 4.75… not great, but nothing remotely dangerous.

  9. Gabriel... says:

    Hi Mark, you are always — always — welcome to comment here. About two years ago I posted something you felt was a little (lot) controversial, and posted the same comment (basically) three or four times. That kind of (really) got on my nerves. But I think we’ve both gotten beyond that.

    I used to do the same thing with my family, let them make comments that proved their ignorance, and did nothing to correct them… then, a month later, they’d say the same stupid thing and I’d get pissed off all over again. Eventually I had to ask “whose fault is it?”.

    My mother used to do the same thing, and I was insulted each time she asked the same basic questions. I finally had to explain to her why what she was doing was insulting to me, we actually stopped talking for a few months after that.

    Taking the opportunity to point out to your mother that her words were hurting you took a lot of strength and courage — it always does with the people closest to us. Congratulations on doing that.

    I agree with you about empathy being something that has to be taught… maybe something we have to recognize.

    Thanks for the comments Mark.

  10. Francie says:

    I came across your blog by accident, it showed up under a search of manic depressive grandmothers…and I have by no means read all of your posts but I have read some and I feel such empathy for you. My heart truly does go out to you and I hope for your son the life you didn’t have…every parent wants that for their child and every grandparent and great grandparent should too.

    I was diagnosed as manic depressive too. But I am living my life without medication and for the most part I have “normal days”. I was adopted. Nobody in the family accepted me. My father died when I was 20. I married a someone who physically and emotionally abused me. I got out of that marriage when he left me, he didn’t think I’d file for divorce but I did and the most amazing thing happened. I was told I could never have kids, but I reconnected with someone from my past and I became pregnant. Then I was told I would very likely lose the child in the first trimester but I didn’t. I have a beautiful and amazing son who I love more than my own life and I want for him to have all the love I never had.

    His paternal grandmother is bi polar and it seems the medication she is on doesn’t work as well as it used to. She is not allowed unsupervised time with the grandchild, and she has not been directly abusive to me because I am not around her much but she says things behind my back…and she has not said or done anything abusive to my son (yet). But believe me, I am more than prepared to sever ties if she ever crosses the line with him. She and his grandfather also believe that they should be free to “show him off” to whomever they wish…my boyfriend’s family has never accepted him either…so why should I wish for my son to be paraded around in front of people who won’t love him or accept him?

    I think you should surround yourself with people who support you and your decisions and those who can’t need to not be a part of your life for a while because you’re no good to your kids when you’re being put into tumultuous mental states due to the words and actions of others. I may be wrong and I don’t know everything there is to know about you but I don’t wish manic depression on anyone, and during my bad days all I need is love and support, nothing else.

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