Thoughts of Madness and Beyond

Lying there hopeless. Gut wrenching anxiety. Thoughts, screaming through my head. Visions. Panicked movement. Tears. Noises. Thrashing. Fiery terrors. Flashes. EXPLOSIONS. Silence. Relief. Stillness. Light. Peace. Emptiness. Alone. Deserted. Gone. Eternal. Forever. Dark.

The moment it happened, everything shattered. Months worth of planning, ideation, dreaming. Scheming. A fool proof plan. Over so fast. Never returning. The end, with new terrors beginning.

My thoughts, My plans, My life altering scheme to end my problems and in my thought pattern, to give my family a better life. One without me. Without co-existing with a Bi-Polar Disordered father, husband and man.

Days in bed, turned into weeks in seclusion. Week-ends spent in and out of a sleep filled daze as my family lived their lives as best as they could. As my children grew older without me, as my wife held the family together. As I lay dieing inside. The bed and couch became my friends. Falling deeper into depression brought on more desperate needs to escape. Satan had his powerful grip around my soul, his breath was filling my lungs and his voice was filling my head with beliefs of peace and tranquility.

This is how I spent a better part of several hellish years. My wife would force me to take my medication and she would force me to put a game face on and socialize with family and friends. I’ll admit sometimes it did help. Sometimes it would pull me out of my mood only to return to my Hell after we got home. I would sleep so much that I was the talk at family functions. I went from about 175 pounds to over 250 pounds because of lack of exercise and of course it seemed that every medication that is supposed to make me feel better, caused weight gain which depressed me even more. Adding to that all the negative comments and snickers about my size and belly. A vicious never ending circle. Then there are the the thrill seeking moments when I’m in a Hypo Mania stage. I spend money like it grows on trees which of course only sends me into a deeper depression when the bills come in. I get flirtatious and hyper sexual…not very becoming of any Christian man and not a situation any loving wife should have to deal with. I get arrogant and live from the top of the world. I’m lucky nobody has knocked me down a peg or two over the years. Am I proud? In a word, No but I know its the illness and not the real me. An excuse? No.

I’ve cursed God for this. I rejected him and I guess if I’m being honest, I still do to a certain degree.

I owe a lot to my psychiatrist, he got me through a lot. He diligently worked with several medications until he found just that right mix. That cocktail that would even the moods out. The one that brought down those mania phases. It worked, but there was a problem. The mania disappeared but the depression stayed and got worse. We tried several add on medications but nothing was working. I could almost sense the frustration in him. During one visit he asked me if I would consider ECT or Electroshock Therapy. From what I recall him saying it was a twice a week treatment where you went into the hospital and an anesthesiologist would put you under and seizures are electrically induced to try and get you out of the depression. Side effects MAY include memory loss, muscle soreness and any ill effects associated with general anesthesia. It was also recommended that I take the entire treatment time which was about 8 weeks off work. We didn’t really like the sounds of ECT and I just couldn’t get the thought of Frankenstein out of my head.

There was another option. A placebo clinical study was being performed at the time with a procedure called repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or rTMS for short. I was asked if I would like to take part in it. Being that it was a placebo study there was no guarantee that I would receive an actual treatment but I was assured that if I went through the study and it was deemed a sham they would put me through again for the real deal. So what is rTMS? It is a procedure in which a magnetic pad is placed on a certain part of your skull so when it’s activated a magnetic field is focused onto a specific area of the cortex ( surface ) of the brain in which they believe to be affected by depression. This magnetic field is activated several times ( maybe about 80 times) during each interval and each treatment session is about 20 intervals. In doing these it stimulates electrical activity in the neurons or (brain cells). RTMS is not a permanent cure for depression and other mood disorders and it may not work for all.

Side effects? Well besides for a possible headache or possible soreness in the face and jaw from clenching while receiving the treatment there aren’t many. We were told there is a risk of being put into a seizure but stats show that’s less than 1%

But the biggest fear was the fact that I had to come off my anti depressants…not good. But to give a true indication of the effectiveness of rTMS I couldn’t be on them.

So…we agreed, signed the paperwork and the study began. I first had to have a ECG? Or was it a EKG? I can’t remember…lots of wires…

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Then I had to go through a memory test and a dexterity test and about a thousand questions…or so it seemed.

Not knowing what to expect I nervously went in for my first treatment. Before they can begin your treatment they must first find out what your threshold is. This is done by placing a probe between your thumb and index finger on your right hand and they pace the magnetic pad on your head. Then they start activating the magnetic field. One at a time. Each time more powerful than the last, until your right hand twitches. It was humorous looking back at it now because my hands are always shaking do to the medications I’m on so they couldn’t tell if it was shaky hand or a threshold twitch. They finally got it but they were frustrated and so was I.

So I began my first round of 10 sessions, 20 treatments each time. Loud like a Jackhammer!!!

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Then I did more questionnaires and I believe a memory test and they showed that I had improved but marginally so they offered another 10 treatments. So I started another round of 10 sessions. This time much better improvements were achieved and then we realized I haven’t had any suicidal thoughts and I was off my anti depressants as well. It worked!!

I did the memory and dexterity tests and both of those results showed an improvement.

As I stated earlier rTMS is not a permanent cure but it did pull me out of that deep pit of depression and that cyclone of never ending suicidal thoughts. I still go every few weeks for compassionate maintenance treatments but I hardly ever think of suicide anymore. Thank you to all the great doctors who have helped me. You know who you are.

Its not all rosey and good though. Yes the rTMS has helped exponentially but I still have my issues.

I still live with the obesity from the medications and lack of exercise, my hands shake something fierce at times ( I was sent to a Neurologist and Parkinson’s was ruled out. It’s her belief that it’s my mood stabilizer causing the tremors. She has put through a recommendation that my mood stabilizer be changed…another scary thought…) I lack concentration and decision making skills, something my wife has had to bare the load of and I become emotional for no reasons. Something that most people view as a weakness or view me as a bit of a softie.

I don’t wish this upon anyone but I do often wish that people would understand. You see, when there is no visible disability you are often discarded as faking it or exaggerating. Heck I’ve had a Lead Pastor at a Church tell me that I just need to trust in the Lord and stop all my medication. Trust in the Lord and allow the Pastor to work with me and all things will be cured. He is right, all things would have been cured. I would have put my well thought out plan of Suicide by Cop in place and I would be dead…and I guess…cured…

So why am I telling you this you ask? To make you feel sorry for me? To toot my horn? No…Not at all. I was once told a statistic and that is :30% of my people commit Suicide. WE ARE Bi-Polar and THEY chose not to talk about it.

Well I choose to talk. And talk…to whomever will listen.

Suicide has had its ugly grip on me for years. Mental health is real and its VERY much apart of today’s society. Since January of this year ( 2012) I’ve known of 7 teenagers…count them…7, within a 100 KM radius from me that have committed suicide and 2 that I know of who have attempted suicide. How many more are there out there that go under the radar. That go quietly. Something has to be done. It’s rampant. The hospitals are full, the support services are over whelmed and the government is dropping services left right and center. WE NEED HELP!!! And we need it now.

Earlier I mentioned that I’m a Christian man. I mentioned that I cursed God for the illness. Why me? I would ask. Why did you give me a Mental Illness?

Well I found out why, during the late winter months of this year.

Research shows that kids of depressed parents are also at a high risk for becoming depressed. Well our eldest daughter entered into that statistic.

In February of this year she came to us and told us she had been cutting herself and had feelings of suicide. Obviously afraid, we admitted her into a hospital where she began treatment for depression. I stated earlier that I know of 7 teenage suicides and 2 attempts, well one of the attempts WAS my daughter…twice. She is recovering now and doing much much better. Its been a slow journey with both ups and downs and dealing with a system that sometimes isn’t perfect, but we are slowly moving forward. She has had friends die. This is not right. It’s not fair. Teenage children are making a conscious decision to do the final, permanent act and end their pain, what ever that pain be. Bullying, abuse, sexual lifestyle…what ever. It’s beyond sad. Kids should not have to be a witness to this.

I believe that social media in part has contributed to it. When I was a teenager in school, if you got pissed off with someone…you fought after school and the issue was resolved. Period. You went home after wards and you had a break from 4:00pm until school the next morning. Then on weekends you once again had a break. From Friday after school until Monday morning.

Nowadays the kids are bombarded…Texting, Facebook, Tumbler, Myspace, Xanga, Twitter and the list goes on I’m sure, I’m just to old to keep in the loop. There is NO break from it all…it’s 24/7 365. STRESS…Constant STRESS.

So all this being said I believe God gave me this mental illness so I would be equipped and have a little knowledge to understand my daughter. To understand those demons that attack her and I hope that she could have the trust in me, giving her a solid shoulder to rest her head on, knowing that I to, understand the battle, not her issues as a growing young woman but the battle of depression,  as I live it too.

I love you, daughter of mine, we all do.  Your strong,  your determined and your going to fight this and WIN. If you ever feel that grip again then come to me. Together we will slay the beast.

To ANYONE out there, reading this and realizing your in the same situation PLEASE call your local crisis line, the police or your doctor. There is Hope. There IS a light at the end of that dark tunnel. You can work through the sometimes long hard battle but you can win. You may never escape the illness just as I have to live with BiPolar for the rest of my life but it can be managed. Please don’t give up. Make that call.

God Speed.

Stay strong and God Bless.

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