That seems (?) to be the case. So here’s what’s been going on:
Tim was suicidal.
Driving himself crazy
The day after the horrible, horrible SSA denial he was driving home from his massage and found himself doing almost 100.
He was apparently tempted to drive off into a roadblock. But he couldn’t bring himself to do it. So instead he floored it and dared the universe to have someone to cut in front of him. He had no plans to slow down.
Yes, that alone should’ve been enough for me to call a timeout. But he’s struggled with dark thoughts a lot. So I just put on my let’s-watch-him-very-carefully goggles.
Two days later, he started ranting. I mean, scary ranting.
To be clear, he wasn’t ranting at me, just near me. But a) the vehemence was worrisome and b) as plenty of you know I have a bad history with angry ranting near me.
I somehow kept a (relatively) calm demeanor, but underneath I was freaking the hell out.
I understood that he was angry. And hurting. And felt invalidated. And frankly bewildered that this bureaucratic “Oh yeah? Prove it!” process had started all over again.
But his vitriol was almost palpable.
The flareup had started in earnest at this point, so he talked about going to the courthouse to show “them.” He said he’d strip naked and show that he was truly sick. That it had all started again.
He seemed to be referring alternately to the SSA hearings officer — who wasn’t at the courthouse — and judges — none of whom have been assigned to us, which is apparently a good thing given his state of mind at that point. I pointed out that the hearings officer was at the SSA office, so he then said fine, he’d go there. I said a) no he wouldn’t and b) they’d never let him see her. He’d probably just get arrested.
Then his train of thought switched. At this point, it’s a foregone conclusion (to him) that he’s in for another round of MRSA infections. His skin is currently healing up, but we’re pretty sure it’s going to flare again when the prescription is out because the nurse failed to write a scrip with a taper. And these days MRSA does seem pretty ubiquitous.
So he started talking about going down to the courthouse and just infecting people. I pointed out he wouldn’t get past security (even with is clothes on). He said that was fine. He’d just brush up against as many people as possible and see how they liked their lives being endangered.
I told him that was probably a form of assault, and he’d get arrested. Or he’d get arrested for making threats in a federal building. Or at least for trespassing. So if for no other reason, please don’t do this because I don’t want to pay for a lawyer.
Let the professionals handle it
The only good thing about the conversation is that it happened literally as we were getting ready to see his therapist, Kelly.
She was obviously concerned, and we discussed the possibility of him checking himself into a hospital for a short period. He was against that because he wouldn’t have access to his pain therapies.
Nor was he keen on partial admittance — where you have very in-depth group sessions for 4-6 hours a day but go home at some point in the afternoon. He was still concerned about pain management.
So we increased his therapy sessions to twice a week. And I took some brochures… just in case.
Tim has always struggled with Evil Tim, as he not-so-affectionately termed his nasty inner monologue.
Evil Tim is the part of himself that wants to watch the world burn. At least, that’s the first thing Tim will describe. But really, Evil Tim is mainly the part of himself that tears him down mentally at every turn. The part that whispers that he’s worthless without a job or is a burden to those he loves or… whatever will hurt him the most.
Before you ask, no this isn’t a schizophrenia-esque voice. It’s just all the worst parts of his thoughts and feelings. I call mine either my Greek chorus or mental lowlights reel. Tim went a different route.
It’s something most depressives deal with, I think. He’s just the only one I’ve met who gave it a human name.
I guess giving form to the horribleness — even as a twisted, hobgoblin-y version of himself — makes it easier to distance himself from the… hobgoblin-iness, I suppose. Or the pain just feels so overwhelming that it begins to feel like a full-on, separate nemesis.
Anyway, the day after he tried to get in an accident, he announced that Evil Tim had given himself a name: Mit. Tim spelled backwards, for those of you who (like me) didn’t immediately make that connection.
Some days are better than others. We’re charting his depression in a log along with his other conditions’ symptoms.
So far so bad
Last week was tough. Kelly could only see Tim once. The rest of the week he just got worse.
By the weekend, Mit was very loud. I asked Tim for some help with a title and didn’t use his suggestions. Mit told him that he was so… whatever the adjective was… that his own wife didn’t value his ideas.
We ended up compromising and I adapted part of his title for the one shown in the Pinterest image and used mine for the post title.
Honestly, I don’t know how much it helped. I think the damage was done by that point.
So we’ve agreed I shouldn’t ask for his input for a while. Although that sometimes upsets him too. Because, as Mit’s reasoning goes, I don’t respect his opinion enough to ask for his help.
We’re both very exhausted by all this.
Gotta catch… hell
Sometime after the post title disagreement on Saturday, we had another spat — this time about Pokemon Go. The app has once again brought forth his desire for a cell phone, which we just don’t need.
He’s been showing me stories about how it’s helping a lot of people with depression and social anxiety. Which is all well and good, but I don’t know how many of those folks have overwhelming physical pain.
We’ve had a few false starts in the “It’ll get Tim more active” department. Granted, Pokemon Go (allegedly) has built-in socialization, which might help keep him using it. But again… pain. And I’m not terribly interested in another financial gamble.
Even if we went with Republic Wireless for the low rates, we’d still need to invest in a $100+ phone. He might love it and use the crap out of it and make a bunch of friends. Or he might use it for a month (or less) and then decide it’s not doing enough or have too many bad pain days. Then there’s stress for me, guilt for him and frustration for both of us.
Plus I’m just so goddamn tired of caving to expenses that I don’t think we need to make him happy. It’s probably not as many as it feels like — my own depression is almost certainly flaring — but right now it feels like a crap-ton.*
It was early evening-ish when we had that argument, so Tim just went to bed for the rest of the night. And that’s when I realized I needed to stop. To just remove myself from the equation.
I finally saw that nothing I said or did was making things better/easier for him. Unfortunately, I didn’t know what else to say or do — only that every instinct I had seemed to quickly lead to something negative.
I couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t handle hurting the man I love so much. And I couldn’t handle being snapped at/accused of being insensitive or making things worse when I wasn’t doing anything wrong.**
Also: tired. So so tired.
So I withdrew. I spent the rest of the night watching comedy videos on YouTube. (I heartily recommend Cracked’s YouTube channel. Especially the After Hours and Obsessive Pop Culture Disorder series.) I woke up late on Sunday morning, and went straight to the iPad.
I figured Tim was still pissed off from the night before, but he was genuinely bewildered. So I told him, “I don’t know how to help you. I just know that everything I say and do makes it worse. So we’re just going to wait for the appointment with Kelly tomorrow.”
Being a therapist, she was a good diplomat.
1. She agreed that for right now, we needed to table the cell phone argument.
2. She suggested that Tim tell me what would help rather than the current (more detrimental) method of “When you… then Mit…” It’s easy to lose hope/your mind when all you hear is how your actions or words make your husband’s torment worse.
3. She told us that we should try to alternate days at home and days out. (Still not viable with my current levels.) She told Tim he needs to make a list of a few things we could do for $25 or less. All I can ever think of is either a meal out or a movie.
He just left for his second appointment this week. I’m staying here because he does need some one-on-one time with his own therapist. But I’m encouraged to come with him whenever we think it’s necessary. And so that we can occasionally do a state-of-the-Tim address
I’m slowly feeling better. I’ve eaten real food*** the last two nights. I’m still lying down a lot, but I’m not as desperate for the rest as I was last week.
Things have been a bit less tense since Monday’s appointment, though we’re still not completely on solid ground. Tim looks at me sorrowfully sometimes, unsure what to do to get us back to where we should be. I’m still a bit at a loss myself. But that’s just how depression works. We’ll get there.
What’s most important is that actual suicidal ideation has receded. He’s still tormented. He’s still very sad. But at least he’s not tempted to harm himself. It’s a start.
Meanwhile, he and Kelly will work on finding his own validation — given the SSA’s apparent determination to invalidate his pain and suffering — and on figuring out how to put a muzzle on Mit. That asshole needs to be debarked.
Have you guys ever struggled with suicidal thoughts? Have you ever struggled to help a loved one deal with depression? What are some under-$25 things that aren’t museums, movies or meals?
* That’s on the metric scale, in case you need to convert it to Farenheit or whatever.
** Objectively speaking — I’m sure it was very valid from Mit’s whispering perspective