The Cost and Blessings of Depression: Freedom Part III

People diagnosed with depression are roughly three times more likely than the general population to commit violent crimes such as robbery, sexual offenses and assault.

The story continues of one such man who went to jail for committing crimes while seriously depressed and paranoid. His marriage of 33 years was essentially over. His wife announced she was going to leave him after seven months of an attempted reconciliation. He continues his story in his own words.

She had caused me to be homeless three times and I was unwilling to do the same to her. I did not believe it was the Christian thing to do, consequently she moved into the basement bedroom. We shared meals together, but little else. Every night for six weeks (except for two nights) I asked if I may speak with her. She consented every time. I said the same thing each evening, “Let’s stop this madness and go to a marriage counselor.” She walked away without saying a word with but two exceptions. On those two occasions she said she would. I responded, “I have one condition – our marriage must come first.” Both times she immediately walked away. Although she did not want to live with me or have anything to do with me, she wanted us to stay married. I told her, “I’m tired of living a lie,” and filed for divorce in April.

Something else happened after she decided to leave. Either she or our daughter started calling me “sick” or “crazy” nearly every day. It was said in such a tone that caused me to fear what they might do to me if given an opportunity. I thought my life was in danger. It was unlikely that they were plotting anything against me, but that is the way paranoia works; it does not depend on rational truth to exist. There were two doors leading into my bedroom. I used an adjustable cargo strap to secure the one permanently, put a chair under the doorknob of the other every night, and slept with a walking stick beside me. It remained my routine for two months.

By April my depression was so severe I could no longer work. My supervisor told me to take some time off and not come back until I was stable. I used up all my accrued sick and vacation time, and then went on FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act). At the beginning of May my wife, daughter, and grandchildren went on a cruise. While they were gone my wife and I received a “Status Quo” order. In the state in which we resided that meant our assets were frozen and neither of us could do anything without the permission of the other.

When she returned from the cruise I gave her a copy of the order. That very evening she went out and spent a significant amount of money. When she returned and I saw what she had done we argued. She was very agitated, gnashing her teeth, shoving her finger into my face, and not allowing me to finish my sentences. Staying calm and keeping my voice to a conversational tone, I told her jokingly, “If you put that finger in my face again, I’m going to bite it off.” This set her off even more. After a year’s worth of ever deepening depression, four months of being told I was “sick” and “crazy,” and two months of strong paranoia, I told her I had enough and to get out. She refused. I called the police and retreated to the back yard. An officer escorted her out of the house.

But, there was going to be no peaceful end to this drama. That evening she and our daughter started Facebook rumors that I was having an affair. It was an absurd accusation, but it spread like wildfire through her family and friends. That next day, as the rumors spread, my daughter and I were in conversation about getting her mother’s things. She insisted that I leave the house while I insisted that I stay. I was afraid if they were allowed access to our home without me everything would disappear, including the things I had inherited from my parents and grandparents. Perhaps it was not a rational fear, but it was what I believed. The day passed with us still at an impasse.

That evening my superintendent of churches called to set up a meeting for the next morning. I knew instinctively that I was going to be removed from my pastorate. The next morning it took every ounce of energy I had to make it to the 9:00AM appointment. The superintendent told me that because my wife had taken our conflict public on Facebook that I could no longer stay at my church. I was heart-sick and told him of the previous day’s events. He told me that my estranged wife tried to come see him, but he refused. He was very supportive and when I asked if I could stay until the end of the fiscal year, he agreed. Her threat, “I will destroy you!” was being fully implemented.

When I returned home I found the front door wide open. There were no cars or people around and I knew I had locked it before I left for my appointment. Cautiously, I walked into the house and heard movement in the back. With stealth and a healthy dose of trepidation I investigated. I found my estranged wife and our daughter rifling through things and loading up our daughter’s SUV, which she had parked in the back where it could not be seen. It was yet another violation of the “status quo” order and of what the officer had told my estranged wife two days prior.

The three of us walked into the kitchen. There I told my estranged wife that if she would give me a quiet divorce I would not sue her and her family for defamation of character. (A lawyer told me I had a good case.) I do not remember what was said next, but she and our daughter started in on me. I raised my voice at them and they responded by shoving a video camera in my face. They also started taunting me and laughing at me. I retreated to my bedroom and called the police.

(Watch for the end of the story next week.)