I do not wish mental illness upon my worst enemy (Okay, maybe a little bit). If you have not experienced a significant mental health episode, be thankful, and please do not take it for granted. It seriously takes a toll on one’s overall functioning.
Going back to last week’s post, I am right in the middle of a nasty depressive episode. Luckily, it stabilized, but it stagnated. Not better. Not worse. Just stuck. I spent the better part of the week sleeping 10+ hours every night, which is unheard. That was after spending nearly 3-4 hours each night staring at the ceiling and doing a tango in my sheets. The smallest incidents drove me into a spiral of guilt and worthlessness regardless of evidence against it. Intermittent panic coupled itself with tremors and nausea.
I made it through the week somehow. When Saturday rolled around, my anxiety ramped up. Two triggers reared their ugly heads – my dad and strip clubs. I need to watch how I phrase things moving forward, but, no, not those two things together. That Saturday I planned to meet up with my dad to celebrate his birthday. Later that afternoon was my friend’s bachelor party.
Starting with my dad, he has struggled with alcoholism for the better part of five decades. He nearly died of cirrhosis of the liver just over ten years ago. After being off and on sober since then, he fought a losing battle to alcohol more recently. As a result, I was frightened to see what he looked like at this point or if he would even be sober when I went to see him.
Luckily, when I got there, he seemed sober. However, he looked like shit. His face was sunken in. He hunched over in back pain. He looked bad. It hurt. Nobody wants to see their parents in rough shape like that. It certainly did not help that I was already emotionally vulnerable in the midst of my depressive episode. Seeing my dad like that fueled my feelings of helplessness. I visited him for a little under two hours. I honestly could not handle much more than that.
As for the bachelor party/strip club ordeal, let us just say that yours truly had a bit of a “problem” in the past. Between the money and illicit acts that took place, it turned ugly and fast. I felt so uncomfortable at the thought of walking through the doors into the club. However, I felt stuck between Scylla and Charybdis. I felt like I needed to go or else I would be a killjoy for not going. If I did go though, I could almost guarantee that guilt would ensue.
I spoke to my friend. I approached the conversation with a straightforward attitude since my buddy was not the intimidating, peer pressure type. He totally understood where I was coming from. After seeing my dad, I met up with my friend the rest of the party. We went out to dinner as planned. For some godforsaken reason, I could not shake the anxiety. I still felt weird for not going, and I felt weird if I went. I was damned if I did, damned if I don’t. Sitting at dinner, I literally felt pressure build up behind my eyes sockets.
I was about to fucking cry. In public. In front of grown ass men. Over something that was already worked out!
I held back my tears. I walked with the guys and told them that I was headed back to the hotel to rest a little. They walked to the first club. I laid in a hotel bed trying to calm myself down. It was not working. Whatever had a hold of me would not let go. I thought about how horrible of a friend I was for not spending time with my friend during this special occasion. I thought about my dad’s deteriorating health. I felt like a bad friend, boyfriend, son, and person. I felt like I did not belong or deserve to be there in that bed.
My depression fucked me good and without taking me out to dinner first. I texted my friend saying that “I wasn’t feeling well” and that I planned on driving home. Without hesitation, he thanked me for coming.
After an hour drive home, I felt so relieved to curl up in my bed. There I was isolated from the scary world outside. I could enjoy my pity party at my own leisure. I just laid there sulking without interruption.
That feeling sucked balls. I beat myself up to no end. What kind of counselor am I if I let my own feelings interfere with a good time like a bachelor party? I could not even bring myself together enough to just chill at the hotel without freaking out.
This reminded me of how detrimental mental illness (depression and anxiety in this case) can be. I will say that some people do use it as a crutch or excuse. However, many of those suffering from mental illness truly experience debilitating symptoms. I stuck out that Saturday as long as I could until I literally drove myself crazy. Shaking, I still took the trip to see my dad. With ruminating thoughts and drowning in guilt, I went to the first part of my friend’s bachelor party. I did what I could.
If you or someone you know suffers from mental illness, please understand the effects it can have. It stretches well behind medication and therapy. It follows us everywhere we go and affects every bit of our well-being.
– The Caring Counselor
To check out last week’s post: https://caringcounselor.blog/2020/02/25/i-kinda-get-it/