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God Said Ask For Help

God Said Ask For Help

by Ben Dillenback

I know what it’s like not wanting to get out of bed. 

Four months ago I was in a similar place and had been for some time. The best way to convey it is this—I was like a functioning alcoholic, just minus the alcohol. I was a functioning, numb, depressed mess.

My wife and I were fighting a lot. We are far from the perfect couple; but the arguments were rapidly increasing in number and seemed to go in circles. 

Let me be clear: My wife was more than patient through all this, and only wanted to get to the root of what was going on with me. She is an amazing woman. 

Finally one day, in the middle of an argument, she asked calmly, “Do you care about us anymore? Because the way you’re acting, it doesn’t feel like you care.” 

Truth be told, in that moment, I was having a really hard time caring about much of anything. 

But I know I wanted to care. 

Over the next week or two I started to take notes on myself. All the things that were roadblocks for me, any time I felt a certain way about something, I wrote it down. 

I then made an appointment with a psychologist. I used a doctor-on-demand app. They had a 52 minute option and a 25 minute option. I selected the 25 minute option. I figured if the doctor was horrible, it was only 25 minutes and I could try someone else. What did I have to lose? 

(Besides my marriage, kids, job, friends, family, money…)

I had the appointment on a Friday morning at 11AM. I met with a very nice woman out of Wisconsin with a local accent. I simply went down the list of the things that were hitting me the hardest. About eight minutes into our meeting, she firmly stated, “It sounds like you have ADD. Everything you are sharing points to that.” 

The more we talked the more it seemed to make sense.

When I was in elementary school, I was diagnosed as dyslexic and possibly having ADD. But back then, unless you were bouncing off the walls with certain ADHD, you rarely got the attention you needed. I also did pretty well at school; it was structured enough for me to do well. 

Surprised but not completely shocked by the psychiatrist’s assessment, I asked about the next steps. She recommended I make an appointment with my primary care physician and explore medication. I did exactly that and after confirming notes and referrals with my psychiatrist, my doctor recommended a once-a-day, very low dose prescription.

Medication scares me. I had never been on medication like this before. I don’t even drink—not because I am a super Christian, but because alcohol truly messes with me mentally. One beer and I feel the effects for three or four days. So a medication that affects my mental state was daunting to me. 

Naturally, I was nervous.

That was a Friday. I took my first dose on Saturday and tried not to get my hopes up or expect anything. Also, I did not plan anything in case it made me crazy out of my gourd. Seriously—it scared me.

By 3 or 4PM that day, my wife said, “I can’t believe the difference between the person I was living with yesterday and the person I’m living with today.” 

It worked.

With ADD, simple tasks can be challenging and mentally exhausting. For me, by 1PM, I was spent. Compound that every day for years and years. I came to expect the same thing of each day: 

Not finishing what I started.
Feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted.
Always mentally “removed” from my family.

For me, that translated into numbness and looked an awful lot like depression. 

Mental health is a weird thing. My perception was skewed, too. I wondered why I felt misunderstood all the time. 

ALL THE TIME.

I heard once the average time it takes for someone to reach out and seek help for mental issues is 11 years. This might be a good time to ask yourself: 

What year are you on?
What year is your loved one on?

Since my diagnosis I have followed up with the same psychologist. I also check in with my primary care doctor every three months. Also, this is something I will need to manage for the rest of my life. The good news is that I am no longer in the “negative” when it comes to my mental state. Now, even if I miss a dose, I may feel a little scatterbrained, but I no longer feel like I’m digging myself out of a crater. 

Mental health is health. 

For me it ended up being pretty simple for now. For someone else, it may be more complex. We are fearfully and wonderfully made; we are also complicated and messy.

Looking back at the last few years I can see God was not asking me to lean on Him more, pray more, read my Bible more. Those are all good things. We should keep doing those things. 

What I believe God was saying to me was this:

ASK FOR HELP.

Not asking for help comes down to pride. If not for the COVID-19 pandemic, my pride might have gotten the best of me. For me, the forced closeness and time with my family was the best thing that could have happened to me. It pushed my wife to ask a hard, honest question. She had the courage to call me out. 

Looking back over the last few months, I can’t believe what I put my wife through. Honestly, the last few years should have been better than they were.

My wife knew she couldn’t make me get help. She never pushed me to talk to someone. She would, however, skillfully ask me to think about talking to someone when the moment was right and when I was having a good day. 

In the last few months, since seeking help, we have hardly argued. When we do disagree, it is resolved much more quickly. I’m still a bit scatterbrained, but looking at a to-do list is no longer daunting. 

In all honesty I should have sought help four or five years ago. My wife and I were not seeking to separate; but fast forward three to five more years and it very easily could have been a different story.

To be honest, if not for my wife’s infinite patience and support, it would have been a different story.

I share this because there is a very good chance you or someone you know may be struggling. I share my experience because keeping it to myself doesn’t help anyone.

I share my experience because mental health issues are still not talked about enough—especially amongst men.  

I share my experience so that you catch a glimpse of what getting help might look like; what steps it might take. 

And I pray that my experience might give you the confidence and understanding to ask for help.

Categories: Relationships  Self  


Written by

Ben Dillenback

Born in Virginia, though I’ve lived in the northeast, southeast, and southwest U.S. Now owning the “dad joke” season of my life. Can’t sing so I make it possible for those who can to be heard.

Published September 2, 2020


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