My family and I have been dealing with my husband’s depression since 1997, the reason I remember the year so well is because it was the same year his 54 year old Aunt died of cancer in June, and my mother died on August 4. There is no doubt that we were dealing with a great deal of pressure, and sadness was expected, but Wayne did not seem to be able to recover from the sadness. He was also very bitter, and no matter what I said he was not listening, so it did not make him feel better.
We had been married for 9 ½ years at this point, we had three children, and up until this point in time we had never really fought in our marriage. After all these events we began to argue continually, and I could not get through to him. He had very little patience with the three kids, and had an unbelievable response to one of my children loosing the top of his “favorite” pen. He would not stop looking for it or yelling at the kids telling them they needed to respect his things. While I agreed that they should respect other people’s things he was blowing it all out of proportion, it was not an irreplaceable pen, it was just one he purchased off the rack. He finally got so angry he picked up a full pitcher of tea, and threw it across the room against a wall. At this point I grabbed him and pulled him out of the room and into our bedroom.
Finally as the situation began to worsen, I talked with my family physician about the situation, and how it was affecting both me, and the children. He suggested since I had dealt with so many losses, and had personally cared for both his aunt, and my mother, maybe it was affecting me as well. While I agreed it was; I was not sure I needed to go on an antidepressants, as I depended on God to help me in times of trouble. I did, however, take the literature home he was offering me, and after reading it I realized this was describing Wayne, so I had him read the information and he admitted that the material was describing him. So we made an appointment for him to see the physician, and he was placed on Paxil for depression and Clonzepam for anxiety.
The situation got better for a while, but it is a lifelong illness that runs in his family, and the antidepressants have to be taken for the rest of the individual’s life. He would take his medications regularly for a while, and then he would suddenly stop them. When Serotonin inhibitors are stopped suddenly the individual becomes uncontrollably angry at first, then the depression returns, but it is much worse than before, and the individual can have thoughts of suicide. During these periods I had to step in between my daughter and him frequently when they were fighting, she inherited his tendency for depression, and anxiety, but she was also a very assertive individual. Her personality traits were a dangerous mix while her father was going through withdraw, as she would stand, and argue with him; I would have to come between them frequently, not that it became physical, but neither would back down. It finally came to a head when her 25 year old sister and her husband left the area; and she started using drugs, it got to the point where I either allowed her to go and live with her sister or face her possible accidental overdose, or suicide. So I allowed her to go, and it solved her problems, but made her father’s worse.
He continued to get worse until finally he attempted suicide while my 13 year old son and I were on a school trip. I had a feeling he was going to do something to himself that day but I had no way of stopping him, as we had already discussed it with our Minister, and he promised it was just a whim. Well, the whim came to fruition that evening while he was on his way home from work; he asked his father to stop at Wal-Mart as he had a headache. He purchased a bottle of 500 aspirin tablets and when he arrived home he took them all. Aspirin is Salicylic acid and when taken in large amounts it puts the body into acidosis, and causes death due to the acidosis and kidney failure. He took the pills at 4:30pm so when I arrived home at 10:30pm it was too late for me to do anything about it even if he had told me, which he did not. He told me he thought he had picked up a gastrointestinal virus, and was nauseated, he began to vomit about a half hour later, but he still did not tell me what he had done. As he was sick I slept on the couch that night, I heard him going back and forth to the bathroom; but I had no idea what he had done until about 1:30am when he came to me and admitted he had taken an entire bottle of aspirin tablets. He was pale; cool to touch, and sweating profusely.
I immediately called 911 and he was rushed to the hospital, he was so far gone by this time that he ended up needing to be dialyzed the next day to prevent kidney failure, and death. He remained in the Critical care unit for 2 days, the girls came down to see him the day he was admitted to the hospital visited him for about thirty minutes and left, not even sure at this point if he was going to live or not. My 13 year old son remained constantly at my side, and was a great deal of support; although I have to admit he handled it well I would have never chosen to have one of my children go through something like this. Wayne lived of course, and it was a while before he was able to go back to work.
He is much better now although he continues to need antidepressants, the doctor has changed his medication twice, and he is now on Prozac. Over the last few years his father has also attempted suicide, and required treatment. It turns out his grandmother also attempted suicide at one point, and forced her husband to take the pills as well, so there is definitely a familial history of depression. He will never get to the point where he no longer needs antidepressants, and as long as he continues to take them regularly his depression is manageable.