Thursday, May 12, 2016

Out of the Woods

     "Too alarming, now, to talk about,"
- Foo Fighters, "My Hero"

      It is, you know. Depression and all of its god-awfulness is still, in 2016, something that we do not speak of in polite society. It's something that my husband has to fight silently, because it's so horrifying to him that it's essentially robbed him of his speech. And this is a guy who's easily as well-read as I am, a huge bookworm. It's still a diagnosis that gets you ostracized from the cool kids' lunch table, a diagnosis that's more difficult for my husband to swallow than any of the thousands of pills he's taken in his lifetime. It's a riddle that we have not been able to even come close to solving, and we're both bloody from the brick wall we've been slamming our heads against. 

      How does that imagery strike you? A vast wall that stretches on endlessly, no break in the bricks, no toeholds that can be used to scale it, just a cold, cold expanse that leaves you feeling hopeless and trapped. I imagine that's what it's like in my husband's mind, and I can't understand how he's still able to function, day after day. I've talked to him about this endlessly, mostly attempts to understand, even a little, what it's like for him, so that I can figure out a game plan (because my family loves nothing more than a good game plan) for helping him. That, though, was equal parts naivety, arrogance, and blind faith. 

     This is so far beyond either of us, such deep water to be lost in. We've tried everything we can think of, everything the doctors have recommended. He's been to at least six different psychologists/therapists, including one intrepid soul who informed my husband that his Marfan's could be cured with the right diet, one that was heavy with leafy greens. A) My husband's on warfarin, a blood thinner, and has been for the past 15 years. Leafy greens are heavy on vitamin K, which counteracts blood thinners, and are generally something that he avoids so as not to mess with his INR levels, and B) IT'S GENETIC, YOU MORON, YOU CAN'T "CURE" SOMEONE'S GENETIC STRUCTURE. 

     He's been prescribed several different psych meds, including one that interacted badly with his daily cocktail of painkillers, blood thinners, and beta-blockers, and resulted in him suffering his first TIA (transient ischemic attack, or a mini-stroke; at least, that's the explanation the doctors gave us for what happened.) Through trial and error, we seem to have hit on the right medicine for the time being, though I'm afraid it's either losing it's efficacy, or things are getting worse; possibly a combination of the two. 

     He's been hospitalized for it, which was a nightmare that I haven't been able to bring myself to write about, four years later, and one that, it turns out, he suffered needlessly, because when the staff psych came to visit him for the first time, he realized almost immediately that there was no need for my husband to be there. He's tried support groups with no luck, because no one seems to want to talk about the nitty-gritty, and those are the issues that he's desperate to discuss. Hell, I've even reached out to a national organization to see if they could suggest a counseling organization that had experience helping those with chronic illnesses, and they came up empty-handed as well. How do you find your way out of the maze when everything's a dead end?

     I'm not giving up, though, I can't. I know my husband's exhausted, both from what's going on in his head, and from the daily struggle to keep going, keep presenting an appearance to the world at large that he's not suffering. I can only imagine that it's twice as draining for him as it would otherwise be, because he's also trying to convince his body that it's not coming apart from the inside, that it's not in pain every second of every day, and that it can keep moving. If he can keep going, then I sure as hell can.

     The current plan is to try couples' counseling, not because our marriage is in trouble, (like I've said before, after everything that's happened in our five-year marriage, we're as close to bulletproof as any couple could be) but because I'm hoping that if we attack this together, we'll make some progress. I'm his partner in all things, and damned if I'll let him wander around in the dark by himself. We haven't tried this approach before because he's easily the most stubborn person I know besides myself, and he wasn't comfortable with me being there. It's an intensely vulnerable thing, seeking help for your head, and it's also a personal thing. So, I didn't push the issue.

     Now, though, he's so tired that I don't think it matters anymore. I don't want him to feel that broken-down, that he just doesn't care what I hear, but maybe this is an instance of something that has to hit rock bottom before we can get anywhere. We've both been in free-fall, to some degree, him falling faster and more blindly than me, for awhile, and maybe we have to stop falling and gain our footing before we can start climbing that damn wall