Podcast Transcript: Not So Common Life Intimacy and Mental Health Part Two
How does a relationship suffer when a person has a mental health problem, particularly a chronic issue?
Chronic could be depression, or it could be a psychotic break like a manic episode or the recovery from that. That is what my wife and I lived through. I had a manic episode and the recovery process for that, for me at least, took years.
During those years, my interest level in just about everything nose dived off the chart. The biggest, most powerful hit was the intimacy my wife and I enjoyed in our relationship. There wasn’t any anymore.
I believe, looking back on it now, there was a very definite imbalance in my brain. Of course, that makes sense, because with mental health issues imbalances in the brain are the root cause. This is one reason some medications can be successful.
But lurking beneath, and I do mean lurking beneath, because I honestly felt like I lived in a perpetual state of being in a thick fog, was this vacuous and very ominous presence of antipathy towards any emotional feeling at all. It literally felt as if I was a drab grey being lost in a drab grey fog. I couldn’t be seen or felt. This world was a very bleak place for me.
And I’ve said it before, with mental health issues you can feel like you’re in a box or under a microscope. The world stops, and you become your illness. This is very true when you end up actively dealing with a mental health issue when it is chronic, your world stops because that’s all you see.
When my wife and I lost intimacy, and we lost it for nearly a decade. There was literally no sex for the better part of ten years. And it wasn’t just psychological, the physical was just as real. I could not get a good erection. I even tried Viagra, didn’t do a damn thing. Seriously limp noodle kind of thing.
I guess that’s the easiest way to look at it, especially from a man’s point of view. I felt I had been neutered. That is part of the problem with some of the medications you get, loss of libido. This was very true for me.
Wet sponge comes to mind, that typifies my whole life feeling. A cold, damp, dirty grey sponge. That’s what I was in my mind.
Total lack of drive and confidence.
I was part of a testosterone study during this period. I’ll say that for a while that improved my condition, being on the testosterone, but it did very little for my sex drive.
The biggest issue is life goes on while you’re dealing with this. My wife went to work, I had a series of crappy jobs thinking that this was the best I could do with my life anymore.
My confidence had been crushed.
I can’t escape the idea of the feelings I had related to the emptiness. I could put so many words to it and I think it would still fail to describe, but think about an empty flower vase, made of glass, it’s clear. You know it’s there but there isn’t anything in it. It sits on the shelf, collecting dust. It isn’t until you put the flowers in the vase that you realize what the vase is. The vase is nothing unless it’s holding a beautiful bouquet. I was the vase, the flowers were my life, my intimacy, my marriage. The power that this held over me was tremendous.
Now, I guess I could say there was depression, and there was, it was very deep and dark, maybe a driver to this. But accenting it all was the overall feeling of simply NOTHING. No feeling one way or the other.
It was a very organic presence. But I could also say it had a synthetic feel to it. Prior to this I had been a very affectionate person. Very sexual in my approach to my marriage and my wife. It was a very good relationship we had in that respect.
The affect was elsewhere too, there was no intimate connection with my own feelings of worth. My ability to function in so many capacities was compromised. My work life, my life in my home duties. We lived in a shithole of a house that I needed to fix, I had absolutely no desire to do any of it. So, my wife and I, my family, lived in a substandard environment. It was all related to my intimacy.
Ultimately, I think it was an intimacy with myself that was missing. That may sound weird, but it’s the best way I can put it. I lost my feelings towards my own being, I simply was a grey, empty vase of the man I had been.
The drugs may have been over prescribed, but I can’t totally vilify them because I am still on a course of one of the medications. But it’s a much lower dose. I also take a mood elevator daily which helps. I take Risperdal and Wellbutrin. Some Zoloft too.
But these are recent developments. The biggest development, and one I love to make a point of here, is there is no one thing I can point to that has brought me back to life. It’s the whole picture. Diet, healthy living, weight control, just wellness.
It’s all about wellness. In fact, I once had a site specifically about wellness. Part of my struggles getting this message out.
So, the good news is you can pull through any thing, but it takes support, love, and caring. And it’s not easy. It’s simple, as I like to say, but it’s not easy.
It was a powerful thing that had a grip on me, and it took some powerful living to get over it. I did, and today I can tell you that even though my wife and I have aged over ten years since those days, our intimacy has returned. I don’t need Viagra, and I bet if I took it today I’d be like a fence post, maybe I’ll talk to my doctor… lol.