Alive

On this blog I’ve chronicled my bouts with depression and in particular my downward spiral that led to a suicide attempt and a three-day stay in a psychiatric hospital. When I got help–therapy and the right medication–I felt like I had gotten some of my life back. I didn’t walk around feeling sad and heavy all the time.

But I was still tired, still struggling to function. So I drank a lot of caffeinated drinks. For a while Dr. Pepper was having a sweepstakes where a code from the bottle cap might win you a car or some money. I would just throw the caps into a drawer in my office desk. There must be at least 50 bottle caps in there.

In short, I have felt tired most of the time for a very long time. Yes, the seroquel was helping me sleep at night, but I was still tired. And scatterbrained, and easily distracted.

Turns out there was a reason for that. For about five years, my cousin, who is a nurse practioner specializing in psychiatry, has been pestering me to get treatment for ADD. She has it, and so do quite a few people in our extended family (I suspect my father has it, too). She said I have all the classic signs.

A few weeks ago she visited us and spent most of a Sunday at our house. The entire visit, she kept coming back to that subject. So I agreed to go see a psychiatrist to be evaluated. Long story short, she was right. I started on medication last week, and I feel so much better.

The first thing I noticed was that I wasn’t tired (of course, that’s because I’m taking what is essentially an amphetamine), but I didn’t even want the caffeine. I’ve gone from probably two liters of diet coke a day to none, with no withdrawal. I’m convinced that it wasn’t so much addiction but exhaustion that was driving me to drink so much coke.

I also noticed that my thought processes were clearer, maybe a little more linear. But I’ve also learned that I have to concentrate and focus on getting things done; but then the good news is that I actually can focus and concentrate.

Meetings, both at work and at church, have long been ordeals for me. I would sit and squirm, just waiting for the meeting to be over with, and when at work they would open up for questions at the end, I would silently pray that no one have any questions. Last week I sat through a quarterly meeting without zoning out, without squirming and fidgeting. And I even watched a few conference talks without falling asleep.

I feel like I’m alive again for the first time in so long. It’s not like a euphoria but just sort of a relief to know that I don’t have to feel like I did, that I can function like a reasonably normal person.

It’s interesting that some people who know me from various LDS-related web boards have used words such as “deceptive,” “faux-innocent,” and “two-faced” to describe me. I was thinking about that this morning, that my thoughts jump around so much that I’ve tended to write whatever it was I was thinking at the moment, and those thoughts differed wildly. But if nothing else, I have never tried to deceive anyone or hide my feelings; on the contrary, I’m far too open with my feelings, which I think has led people to say those things about me. But it doesn’t matter what others think. I know who I am.

I caught a little of general conference yesterday. I watched Jeffrey Holland’s talk while I was helping my daughter make bread in the kitchen. Elder Holland’s talk made me want to believe more than I have in a very long time. I wouldn’t say I’ve crawled over the Book of Mormon, as it was years before I left the church that I’d made my peace with its not being an actual historical record, but then that’s beside the point. I really did ache for that faith I once had, and I felt keenly the loss of it.

After the talk was over, I went into my bedroom, where my wife had been watching conference. She was weeping, and I put my arms around her and held her and told her how sorry I am for putting her through what I have. She said that she was crying because she hadn’t felt the spirit that strongly in a long time. But she did acknowledge how much it has hurt to see me take the path I have taken.

She said last night that I seem to have gotten my life back, like I’m alive again in a way I haven’t been in a long time. She’s right. I feel like I am finally in a place where I can start putting the pieces of my life back together.

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6 Responses to Alive

  1. Odell Campbell says:

    I’m glad you are taking medication that makes you Coke free. Although I did not hear, read, or listen to Holland’s prepared, rehearsed and apparently desperate talk; in leaving the LDS church, I went right through the Book of Mormon, not around, not over it, and not under it. It is easily dismissed and explained. The LDS church owes its members an apology for what it has put them through, not vice versa.

  2. John, I’m very glad you feel you’ve got your life back! Congrats on your Coke sobriety.

  3. runtu says:

    Odell,

    I know it’s not all my fault, but I do take responsibility for the decisions I’ve made that have hurt my wife.

  4. Jeff says:

    At a visceral level I felt a twinge of guilt while watching the speech. I think it was for not being able to feel the spirit bear witness like has obviously happened for so many people. But I’m the kind of Mormon for whom spiritual witness never really made sense. I also felt just a little guilty for being one of the ones who is basically “pathetic” in Holland’s eyes. It played on my guilt and shame reflex.

    When I hear talks like this one now, however, more and more, I’m able to recognize them for what they are — attempts to manipulate me with logical fallacies like appeal to authority, emotional appeal, and ad hominem attack. I’m much better now at seeing these logical fallacies that used to escape me when it came to church matters. I think I’m making progress.

    About the ADD meds: I used to take them, but had to stop because they caused me to crash. I’m totally unmedicated now and I struggle through seminars and meetings. Watch for the crashes. I don’t know what the solution is.

  5. GBSmith says:

    Everything starts with hope.

  6. C - 1 says:

    Hey John,

    I was checking in and came across this post. I’m curious how things are going with your ADD and the medicinal treatment.

    Hit me up

    Sione

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