Anatomy of a Mental Health Relapse
Wednesday, October 1 2014 Mike Ehrmantrout
This week my life closely resembles one of those old country and western songs. You know the ones. Basically everything that could go wrong has, and even the dog doesn’t want to get close to me.
I’m sitting alone in my four bedroom home, contemplating the condition of my life and wondering just where this is taking me.
I’m very fortunate that I have people in my life, specifically my wife and kids, who truly love me. They love me enough to tell me I need help and they want me to get it. Until I do, they’ve decided that for their own well being, they think living apart from me is the best thing for them right now.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Can Wreak Havoc on a Family
What a weird predicament. On the one hand, I support my family 100% in their desire to be in a more healthy environment. I’m actually glad they have chosen this for themselves because I love them and want what’s best for them. On the other hand, I also feel angry and abandoned. Even though they haven’t abandoned me, sitting alone in our home certainly makes me feel like I’m being abandoned.
I don’t blame them. Living with a person who has posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression can be an unpleasant place to be. The anger is always present, and is more aptly described as rage.
According to the National Center for PTSD (NCPTSD), family relationships often suffer when PTSD is part of the relationship. This is because of PTSD symptoms that hinder the intimacy needed in healthy relationships. “The survivor's symptoms can make a loved one feel like he or she is living in a war zone or in constant threat of danger,” reads an NCPTSD fact sheet. Sometimes I explode. I don’t mean to. The PTSD symptoms seem involuntary, though I know I always have a choice.
I've Been "Getting Help" for a Long Time
They say I need to “get help.” I argue I’ve been “getting help” for years now. I’ve had hundreds of appointments with mental health professionals. I’ve consumed enough medication to single-handedly keep pharmaceutical companies wallowing in profits for years to come. I’ve had stays in the hospital, one stay for 16 weeks.
I’ve taken numerous classes, including an anger management course. I’ve read hundreds of books on mental health in an effort to understand this insidious pain I carry.
You’d think that with all that treatment experience, I’d be healthy. Wrong. I don’t know why but I’m in a crisis situation, and I’m holding on by my fingernails.
I have options. I can just give up completely and quit all treatment. It doesn’t seem to be working very well anyway. Or I can get back up and start fighting again. If past behavior is predictive of future behavior, I will continue to fight.
But this time is different. This time I almost don’t care either way. I’m sure that’s the depression talking.
I’m in a mental illness relapse. Again. My infirmities have become raw and the wound is open again. The same wound that made my family leave.
I’m going to get better for myself and for my family.