My mission on Dadding Depressed is to be a “match for men in the dark.” Regardless of political views, I believe every man is susceptible to mental health issues, and no two stories are the same. I’m extremely grateful to Casey Cavalier for sharing this post with me. His political views do not necessarily reflect those of DD. No matter who you voted for, I hope you can aside your biases and appreciate Casey’s transparency. This is a story about a man. Let’s unite with a voice that speaks against the dark of mental illness. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Casey Cavalier.
For the most part, nobody noticed. There were no inquiries or accusations. Time just passed. It slipped by and took me with it.
2017 was my worst year ever.
Where did the time go?
In 2016 I was able to declare that my depression and anxiety were in check. I pondered a victory lap and ramped off my medication. Twenty-eight years of depression had dwindled into an imperceptible speck on the radar of my life. It was a great relief. I cherished time with my husband and our young son, we traveled, and all was well.
Then 2017 arrived. In January, I was still in denial over the 2016 presidential election. Many of us were being called “snowflakes” for being appalled at the outcome.
If I was a “snowflake”, so be it. Call me anything you’d like, but the election pulled the rug from beneath me. Unfortunately, it also brought the return of my depression and anxiety. I was unable to function.
I circled the wagons. As a stay-at-home dad, I focused my limited energy on raising my son and my marriage. I was physically fatigued and napped often. Friendships and social engagements suffered as I became stingy with my time.
My writing suffered. I could not articulate a thing. My fatherhood blog sat idle. How could I write about being a good parent when I thought I was doing so poorly?
I tried to be present as much as possible when my son was home from school. I tried to sound upbeat and positive. But, I suspect he knew Papa was not feeling well. He would often kiss my forehead if I said I had a headache. “Is it better now, Papa?” he would ask. “Yes”, I’d say, regardless of the situation. “Yes, it’s much better now.” If only it were that easy.
My worldview was melting. I had always been interested in politics and the media’s coverage of it. I was a news junkie and kept abreast of current events. Now, I had to stop watching the news. For a time I even stopped participating in social media. I took the Facebook app off my phone and refused to be drawn in by presidential politics. But, there was no avoiding it.
I returned to my doctor early in 2017 and tried to correct course. I was put back on antidepressants and felt a tinge of defeat. If only I were more physically active; if only I were a vegetarian; if only I were a spiritual master – then I would be free of medication and live a joyous, normal life. I was none of these things. I was depressed.
The new medication never kicked in. It never worked. I spiraled into 2017 deeper and deeper into depression. My husband asked, in various ways, “When will this end?”
It wasn’t until the end of the year that I insisted on returning to an anti-depressant that had worked successfully in the past. It isn’t one of the latest, greatest pills that you see in television commercials, but it’s one that works for me. As the year ended, I felt a lift. Thank God.
Going forward, I am going to spend my days studying spirituality, increasing my level of self-acceptance, moving my ass and getting more physically fit, and trying to be the best husband and father I can be.
People often suggest I write my way through the depression, that I write about the depression. This, they say, will drain its power. But, I am unable to write when I feel debilitated. I’m unable to do much of anything.
This was the first time I’ve spent a full year in a fog of depression. It’s always been a cyclical thing. Though I’ve seen dark days, I’ve usually been able to jolt myself out of it, or simply wait for it to subside.
Last year wasn’t always emotionally painful. Instead, I’d say it was time wasted. I’m not going to beat myself up about it. I have better expectations for the coming year.
I vow to leave 2017 in the past, where it belongs.
Casey Cavalier is a gay, married, dad living in North Texas. He writes about his energetic, 5-year-old son and fatherhood in general at PapaSaysSo.com.