The Longing to Leave – 1

As I read through the web for conversations, questions, ideas about depression, I am struck by how many people who write to forums and blogs are desperately asking for help not for their own depression but for that of their spouses, partners, loved ones. So often, they report bewilderment. They feel stunned to find anger and rejection in place of love. How can it be that the person I have known so well is suddenly different, alien, hostile and wants to break out of the relationship that is so precious?

What is this longing to leave that so many depressed people feel? I have no simple answer to that, but I can describe my own tortured experience with an almost irresistible drive to break out and start a new life.

I spent many years feeling deeply unsettled and unhappy in ways I could not understand. Flaring up in anger at my wife and three great young boys became a common occurrence. I’d carry around resentments about being held back and unsatisfied with my life, fantasizing about other places, other women, other lives I could and should be leading. My usual mode was to bottle up my deepest feelings, making it all the more likely that when they surfaced it would be in weird and destructive ways. I’d seethe with barely suppressed anger, lash out in rage and, of course, deny angrily that anything was wrong when confronted by my wife.

I was often on the verge of bolting, but there were two threads of awareness I could hold onto that restrained me invisibly. One was the inner sense that until I faced and dealt with whatever was boiling around inside me I would only transplant that misery to a new place, a new life, a new lover. However exciting I might imagine it would be to walk into that new world, I knew in my heart that it would only be a matter of time before the same problems re-emerged.

The other was a question I kept asking myself – What is it that I am leaving for? What was this great future and life that I would be stepping into? Could I even see it clearly? More often than not, the fantasy portrayed a level of excitement I was missing.

Some buried part of me knew that a life based on getting high – on non-stop brain-blowing excitement – wasn’t a life at all. Maybe it wasn’t alcohol or drugs that lured me, but it was surely the promise of intense and thrilling experience, the perpetual opening scene of an adventure film without the need to wait for the complicated plot to unravel. There was no real alternative woman out there waiting for me, only a series of fantasies with easy gratification, never the hard part of dealing with a complicated human being in a sustained relationship. And inwardly I knew that after the initial burst of energy wore off, I would still face the fears, depression and paralysis of will that had plagued me for so long.

That bit of consciousness kept me from breaking everything up and leaving the wonderful family that I’m blessed with.

So just imagine what my wife was going through. She had to face the rejection of my anger at the deepest levels. At the worst of it, she had to hear me telling her she wasn’t enough for me, that I needed more than she could give. And the tension and pain between us, the frequent rage that I felt, spilled into the lives of my children in ways that slowly and painfully were to emerge over time. That is the hardest part of talking about this now, to grasp how my closest loved ones disappeared from awareness into the haze of my own self-hatred, my own feeling of emptiness that I was desperately trying to fill. I had no idea how my behavior spread in its impact, like widening circles in water, to touch so many around me.

I’ll continue with this theme and try to get at what can be done or said to someone possessed of a longing to leave.

82 Responses to “The Longing to Leave – 1”

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  1. Kay says:

    I also recently went through a horrible break up with my mate of 22 years. He has been depressed on and off throughout our relationship, constantly in search of something exciting and new and never taking responsibility for his actions and words. I did not recognize it as depression until this last bout when I did some research on symptoms and he had 11 of the 12.

    He left me for another woman and a new Christian life. We are Jewish by birth. He got involved with this Church, became Born Again and then proceeded to tell me that he was a happy wonderful person everywhere and with everyone except for me. It seemed like overnight he became a cold, angry man picking fights over stupid things and finding fault with everything I did or said. Secretly, he was working with the woman to plan his leaving. She leased him a new car and he moved in with her a few days later.

    I think she believed that I was a terrible person and a non-believer and that she could truly save him. I am sure he will be manically happy for awhile and then, if Jesus and praying don’t help, he will be back in his dark place again. I wish them well and am now dealing with my own depression. Glad to know there are others out there who understand.

  2. Katie says:

    Thank you so much I can finally understand my husbands multiple affairs and drug use. He told me he would go to see these women and feel very excited but after he felt like crap and his mood would remain low until the next time then the vicious cycle would continue. Of course I think it’s my fault but deep down I know it isn’t . This is new to us very raw and new :( I have hope we can make it I have loved this man for 23 years! Wish us luck !

  3. naty says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience about depression, I finally found a site that really answer my questions, my fiance has major depression, we were together for 3 years he asked me to marry him on february but he started feeling depress again and canceled the wedding a month before of the big day, this happened the last April 25, two months ago, my heart is broken, I feel like dying inside, I left him because I can’t put up with this, I love him with all my heart but his depression is killing me slowly. he takes medication and sees the psychiatrist, nothing has worked, he’s been like this for the last 7 years, I have lost all my hope.

    • Lili says:

      Hi Naty

      That is horrible, im sorry to hear this repetitive hurt you have gone through. Depression is really an illness that not only break the suferer but also the closest person to him/her.

      7 years is a long time! Have he ever talked to his doctor about changing his medications? Sometimes it takes trialing of different families of meds to see which one would actually work, the same goes for therapists, sometimes a person simply dont “click” with the healthcare professional so finding the right psychiatrist sometimes could also help. It is terrible that nothing have worked for this long.

      Have you spoken with him since you left? how is he responding to the breakup? As horrible as this may be, but sometimes leaving is the only way to wake a person up, give them the real kick that they need to actually do something to change the way they have been living. But dont give up hope Naty, ask him to attend couple therapy maybe even, see if he would agree to go with you and improve. If it does not work out then you have made the right decision to leave and move on. After all it is your own well being you must put first.

      <3

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