September 14, 2011

To Hell and Back

We were standing atop a mountain, at one of the prettiest places in Georgia, when I grabbed my big brother's arm and fell to my knees.

"I can't do it," I cried out, sobbing.

My children and their cousins were close by, but I couldn't help it. I wept uncontrollably. This was it. The worst moment of my life.

But why?

I have a beautiful wife. Three beautiful children. A great job. So what the hell is wrong with me? Why so much darkness and pain—real, physical, gut-wrenching pain?

I didn't care "why" that day. I only knew that it was time to surrender. Time to declare that depression had defeated me that day. Time to admit that the anxiety, the racing, jumbled thoughts that made my life a nightmare were much too much to bear alone.

We sent my children away that day, one week after the doctor instructed me to turn over my meds to my wife for fear that I might hurt myself.

It would get better. It had to. How could it get any worse?

I leaned on the arms of my family, my wife, brother and mother, and gave up. Right then and there I gave up and told them I couldn't do it alone. I was sick of being sick, so sick of it that I didn't care what the strangers looking on thought. Didn't really even care that my children saw me in such a pathetic, miserable state. I had to get help. For them. For me.

Three days later, I entered a partial hospitalization program in Birmingham, Alabama. New drugs coursing through my blood and pumping chemicals into my brain, I found my bottom. I learned that my thoughts control my feelings.

I learned that my family history wasn't my fault. I felt like Beniah of Biblical times... I had slipped into a snowy pit with a lion for the fight of my life. This time, I would not stop until the lion is dead.

I had lost 30 pounds without really trying. Left one career and started another. Nearly lost my wife, or so I thought.

This time, with God's help, will be different. I will stand up and fight, even when I don't feel like getting out of bed.

Thousands of dollars and numerous therapy sessions later, I am still standing, still fighting. I won't give up.

I am a writer by trade, but writing this blog is the hardest thing I have ever done.

My hope and prayer is this little blog will help someone else. Southern men like me can't admit when we are weak, when we can't do it alone. It's time for that to change.