Depression and Anxiety

Almost 42 years ago in October of 1980 my brother my brother and I were sent for psychological review just after we had arrived at our new school on Canadian Forces base Griesbach. This was done after our teachers had noted our “odd behaviour” when we arrived at the new school.

Our father was also interviewed by the psychiatrist.

This is one of the observations of the psychiatrist “Robert sees his environment as being harsh, threatening and fearful, His world seems unstable and is full of aggressive, frightening events. Major concern and anger is directed toward his grandmother who he sees as authoritarian and oppressive. Robert indicated a strong coalition between he and his father directed toward the removal of his grandmother from the household.”

Further the psychiatrist noted “He indicates a feeling of helplessness and frustration as indicated by his comments , “my nerves are disintegrating, my mind tells me I’m going to kill myself, people are grouchy and mean, I’m best when no one is around me, I’m going to have a nervous breakdown if granny doesn’t leave our home soon”.

When interviewed by the psychiatrist, my father was found to not be surprised by what my brother and I had said. My father acknowledged and confirmed many of the family problems that my brother and I had indicated. Very little commitment was received from my father, so my family’s file was handed over to Canadian Armed forces officer Captain Terry Totzke, the military social worked from Canadian Forces base Edmonton.

When I saw Terry as a child, I only knew him as Terry. I wouldn’t discover until 2011 that Terry was a captain in the Canadian Forces.

When I was involved with Terry, he was very concerned that I had been caught having sex with another boy (P.S., my then 15 year old babysitter). Terry told me that he had the base military police watching me and that if they ever reported to Terry that I kissed or touched another boy that I would be going to the Alberta Hospital for treatment.

Terry had told me that what I had done on CFB Namao indicated that I was a homosexual and that homosexuality was a mental illness.

Looking back on things, I don’t think Terry had ever been concerned with how bonkers things were in the Gill household. Terry must have been absolutely certain that my issues were related to the homosexuality I had exhibited on CFB Namao

This explains why in November of 1981 our teachers at school called in Alberta Social Services to deal with my brother and I. This came as a result of the teachers and principal at Major General Greisbach School becoming frustrated with the inaction of Captain Totzke.

I went for another psychological review. This time I was found to be beyond despair and beyond depression. I was found to be terrified of my father and I was convinced that my father was going to kill me. The psychiatrist conducting the interview wondered if I had ever had a day free from extreme anxiety in my life.

By the spring of 1982 yet another exam had found that I had become sufficiently emotionally disturbed that it was recommended that I be placed into a psychiatric hospital for care.

And in the winter of 1983 just after Alberta Social Services tried to remove me from the home, both my father and Terry promised that I would be institutionalized at the Sick Kids hospital in Toronto.

I was caught between people who legitimately wanted to help me and people who wanted to help the Canadian Armed Forces keep a lid on the 1980 Captain Father Angus McRae child sexual abuse sex scandal that occurred on Canadian Forces Base Namao from October of 1978 until May of 1980.

At this point in time I’ll never know who was calling the shots back then. And at this point I really don’t care. I know that my father was a lowly cog in the wheel, a master corporal that was bound to follow his orders. Captain Terry Totzke would have been superior to my father and my father would have had no option but to obey Captain Totzke’s directives. And in turn Captain Totzke would have been following his orders from somewhere up the chain of command

The Canadian Armed Forces cannot find my records from the time I was involved with Captain Totzke. For comparison I have all of my civilian social service records and all of my hospital records from my childhood. If it wasn’t for my civilian social service records, I would never have known that I had been involved with military social workers on two different Canadian Forces Bases.

What upsets me the most about all of this is that it was known as far back that I was beyond depressed and dealing with severe anxiety.

I’d like to think that I’ve done a decent job of living my life the best I could with the demons of despair, depression, and anxiety living in my head.

Then along came COVID-19.

Where I work, I was put under an extreme amount of stress due to the age of the facility and the neglect of the facility and the need to have the facility cope with the requirements of COVID-19. And this was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

About a month ago, after a couple of emergency consults with my family doctor I ended up with a prescription of escitaloprám otherwise known as Lexapro or Cipralex. I was started off on 5mg as a test run. I was then bumped up to 10mg. I’ve been on 10mg for a few weeks now. We’ll have to play it by ear, but the the length of time that I’ve had untreated depression and anxiety I’ll probably be on this for the rest of my life.

Escitaloprám is an SSRI. An SSRI is a Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor. Basically escitaloprám prevents the neural transmitters in my brain from reabsorbing serotonin. This means that it’s easier for the neural transmitters in my brain to send signals. And somehow this helps with major depression and general anxiety disorders.

What’s it like being on escitaloprám?

Well, I can think clearly for the first time in my life.

I’m not euphoric. I’m not exactly emotionally numb. I don’t have the depression and despair hanging around my neck anymore. But I’m not exactly doing cartwheels down the street either.

For the first time ever in my life I can actually go to bed, sleep through the night, and wake up in the morning before the alarms go off.

I don’t have to take three or four naps through the day.

Dreams. I’m actually having vivid dreams, not horrifying nightmares. The nightmares were typically replays of CFB Namao and CFB Griesbach.

The only thing that I have to watch out for at this point is if my body builds up a tolerance to the SSRIs. Apparently within 2 years, 25% of patients prescribed SSRIs no longer respond to the medications.

And having had a taste of “normal” for the first time in my life, I really don’t want to go back to the way things were.

What caused my depression and anxiety?

The typical belief is that 40% of persons with major depression had it passed to them through their genes. The other 60% received their depression through environmental and other factors.

I’m thinking that some of my depression came down via my father’s genes. He was a severe insomniac. He was also an alcoholic. Research has shown that the same genes that make a person prone to alcoholism will also predispose that person to major depression.

Drinking for me amplified the dark thoughts. I haven’t had a drink since 2011. And even before that I can count the number of times I drank on both hands. Seeing my grandmother drunk and seeing my father drunk and then dealing with the two of them when they were dealing with their hangovers wasn’t pleasant.

Growing up in Richard’s house was anything put peaceful.

Between his drinking, his anger, and his complete indifference.

According to Pat Longmore, when my father was stationed at Canadian Forces Base Shearwater in Nova Scotia, my mother and my brother and I would sometimes take advantage of the “battered wives club” and we’d go stay at friendly safe houses when Richard was dealing with one of his anger outbursts.

My mother left when I was 5. This was a very abrupt departure. When I talked with her in 2013 it seems that she may not have had much say in the matter. It seems that there were very specific rules that applied to civilians living in the PMQs.

When I was 7 in the summer of 1979, my father started dating the woman who would become my stepmother. She was only 13 years older than I was. She was honestly like the older sister I never had and yeah, we could fight like brother and sister at times.

I was sexually abused by both P.S. and Captain Father Angus McRae along with an older male that P.S. took me to see in the men’s sauna at the base pool.

After I was caught being sexually abused by P.S. I was frequently beat up by the older kids on CFB Namao. This led to my family being moved to CFB Greisbach.

At CFB Namao I was put in the care of Captain Terry Totzke, whose primary concern seemed to be giving me “conversion” therapy to cure me of the “homosexuality ” that I had exhibited by being sexually abused on CFB Namao.

When my father was forced to move to Ontario to skip out on my apprehension by Alberta Social Services, he used to unload on me for “fucking with his military career”. A lot of the beatings that I took from him on Canadian Forces Base Downsview were no doubt due to his frustration at losing his career as a CH-147 Chinook Mechanic that he had been specially trained for.

As a kid, school was a complete disaster. Richard only had a grade 8 education. To him school was nothing more than a glorified daycare centre.

The there was the sexual abuse at the hands of Earl Ray Stevens at the Denison Armouries when I was in cadets.

So yeah, I guess you could say that I’ve had a lot of episodes in my life that would account for my major depression and anxiety disorder.

So, we’ll see where escitaloprám can take me. I’m dealing with one of the side effects. And honestly I can handle this one with all of the peace and quiet that escitaloprám has brought to me. When I tell you that the war war in my mind has reached a cease fire, I mean that the war has stopped. And I’m hoping that the escitaloprám will work for years to come because I’m terrified of going back.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s