Beautiful thought and words from Chris @Surviving the Specter
Going thru the archives of Surviving the Spector I can alway find a gem like this post, M
If you could see me you probably wouldn’t be able to tell what surviving means.
Unless you had it.
Continue reading “What Does Surviving the Specter Look Like?”
Contextual background: Catharsis of Ur wakes to find himself in a room recovering from the attack of the Wahrlog, Specter. He was rescued by angelic sentries after trying to take his life in order to avoid the attack from Specter.
Suggested music track: Hunger, Amaranthe
When Catharsis opened his eyes, he felt the dull stinging of burnt flesh on his face. He could smell it through the medicated jelly, covered by stained strips of papyrus bandages and mud.
In the candlelight, he slowly peered around the room, searching for Specter in the darkness. Expecting to see its hollow black eyes peering from the corner. Or to see the gleam of its incisors reflected in the muted light, lips pulled back over them.
Cautiously he searched the rest of the strange room and noticed that he was lying on a stone table of some sort, cushioned by a thick reed mat. Not much was visible to his hurting eyes, but on the opposite wall there was a window buttressed by two white sheers flowing softly from the warm desert heat, letting in the remaining rays of the setting sun.
Catharsis didn’t know what was happening or where he was, but he faintly remembered the angelic figures that saved him after his hut was lit ablaze by a surreal firestorm…likely where his burns had come from.
Trying to stand, he felt a soft hand on his shoulder.
“Rest my son,” a voice whispered, “you are on hallowed ground and safe, I assure you, from any danger.” The weakness overtook Catharsis and he collapsed on the mat.
“There are probably so many, many questions you have. But you must know first that you are safe.”
The voice continued and the figure came to stand beside Catharsis as he spoke. “I am Enlil. The high priest of this temple. This is a sanctuary and place of healing.
“It seems you faced the Wahrlog of the Darkness, Specter. And were it not for the sentries that saved your life, you would not be here in our very presence.” Enlil motioned to the dark doorway and when Catharsis’ eyes adjusted, could see the faint outline of two stone statues that resembled the figures who had saved him, and defeated the Wahrlog.
“Whe-where am I,” Catharsis whispered, trying to swallow past the thick pain in his throat.
“You are safe inside the Great Ziggurat.”
Catharsis blanked for a moment then looked up, “Yes, I’ve heard of this place from others before. It is a sanctuary for those who have suffered with affliction.”
“Yes, that is correct, my child,” Enlil softly agreed, bowing his head.
As Catharsis’ eyes adjusted more to the room’s darkness he could see Enlil more clearly. The high priest’s head was smooth and he wore a simple white tunic that covered his hands, which were loosely folded in front of him. The tunic flowed down and covered his feet and was secured around his waist with a single purple sash. A necklace with a pendant hung from his neck and there was a strange marking on his forehead.
“This Specter, why does it haunt me so?”
“You have been marked since birth. He has marked you. Specter has marked you with an invisible illness that, though not visibly seen, has plagued man ever since the new beginning. He has marked you with affliction.”
Enlil continued, “Yours is the affliction of darkness. There are others, but this is yours. Each affliction is commanded by a Wahrlog. The Wahrlog that commands your affliction is…Specter.”
“Then what is to become of me?” hesitated Catharsis.
“You shall remain here until your health has recovered. You will be taught about your affliction so that over time, you may control and survive with it. So that it will not control you.
“You will be tended to by mediciners, who will prescribe certain elixirs for your consumption. Over time, these substances will help to quell the effects of Specter. They will lessen the darkness with which you live…with which you endure.
“Now it is time to rest, my son. Tomorrow you will meet the others and begin your road to healing.”
As Catharsis’ eyes became heavy and the last rays of the sun extinguished their light, Enlil bowed and slowly exited.
This post officially begins a new category on the right side of my wall – Life. It is an area I want to open up in more to my readers. It’s not that exciting, but I’m hoping you enjoy the ride. Thank you for both your followership and your comments. I am honored to have you join me.
This past weekend I was in a bit of a pickle. On the way to my girlfriend’s house I felt my power steering go out. As I battled the steering wheel around the last two corners to her house all I could think of with this car was, “What now?!”. And I knew it wouldn’t be as simple as the power steering fluid leaking.
When I pulled to a stop in front of her house I popped the hood and braced myself before looking inside.
Okay, no parts missing. Not any big ones anyways. And nothing sprayed me in the face as if one of the many-tentacled hoses might have done if they had been compromised.
Then I started pulling on things and prodding like my ex-wife used to do when I told her something hurt. That’s when I noticed the serpentine belt – that really long one that goes around all the pulleys on the engine and basically makes a lot of parts work – was slack. I pulled on it and the whole thing came off!
When I was able to look closer, I noticed the tensioner pulley was busted and that was the reason for the belt coming off (see image below). I think the bearing froze and the whole thing just burned itself to a melted mess.
When it was finally decided what the issue was, my girlfriend went across the street to her neighbor, Daryl, and asked if he would be able to help me.
He didn’t know me.
And I didn’t know him.
He said he would help and that he would be outside in a few minutes.
A little over an hour later, and after making a couple trips to Advance Auto Parts, the Blue Beast was back in working order and safely drivable.
I thanked Daryl sincerely for his time and for helping me on such a cold and windy day and handed him $50.00 as a thank you.
I didn’t have $50.00 to give away.
I also didn’t have a couple hundred dollars to give to a mechanic either. I wish I would have because Daryl really helped me out.
I knew I would have to coax him to take the money.
But I’m glad he did.
Thank you for helping me, Daryl.
I learned some things from you that day.
And it wasn’t all about cars.
Here is a mountain range I drew for fantasy map practice. You can tell that I was experimenting with different techniques if you look closely at different sections. Still not certain I’ve decided on a certain style or perfected my technique but it’s a start I can certainly build on.
If you’re interested in learning how to draw mountains for a fantasy map, check out Nate’s tutorial(s) here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FEmwJrwcss
Good luck and have fun!
Below is my nearly finished world map for my short stories.
i built a little wall around
a broken little heart I found
that’d fallen out upon the ground
to save it from the hurt
i patched the hurt and kissed the pain
i hugged away the guilt and shame
i helped to make it beat again
the once l’il broken heart
I took a trip I haven’t taken in a while.
It was three hours, from Virginia to North Carolina.
To see my dad.
It meant the world to him and he was grateful and happy.
Regardless of the short distance between us, we haven’t spent much time visiting with each other. The last time I saw him was two years ago in the hospital after my suicide attempt.
I think this weekend I learned what it means, not to be a dad.
But to be a son.
Trigger Warning: This poem is about self harm. Please do not read it if this is a trigger.
Cut this line upon my skin
So I can feel what a pain I’ve been
Burn this flame upon my flesh
So I can control this life a mess
Drill this hole into my thigh
To take away the numb, make me feel alive
Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord nobody weeps
I came across the video below about artist Shawn Coss who decided to draw one mental health illness each day for the month of October. I contacted Shawn and asked him for permission to post some of his work on my blog and he was kind enough to agree.
Also, check out this excellent article about Shawn on The Mighty here – https://themighty.com/2016/10/shawn-coss-creates-creepy-drawings-of-mental-illnesses-for-inktober/
You can order prints of Shawn’s artwork at the link here – https://any-means-necessary-clothing.myshopify.com/collections/inktober-illness-2016/products/inktober-illnesses-11×17-print
Be sure to support him by liking his Facebook page and checking out his YouTube videos.
Laying on the couch.
Skeletal arm around me.
Sucks my soul away.
This morning, as I was drinking a cup of coffee, a day after my 43rd birthday, I felt a convulsive scattering across the roof of my mouth.
I choked. And spit.
I looked down and saw the bug lying upside down in the light brown liquid, its legs kicking profusely.
I stared at it.
I knew what it was. And I knew where it came from.
The bugs had been with me for as long as I could remember. They are part of my life. I don’t like it, they just are.
At first I was afraid of them. Disgusted. I could feel them crawling over the surface of my hippocampus and through the channels of my amygdala.
I used to scratch my forehead incessantly because I could feel something crawling under my skin, beneath my skull. Like something had burrowed into my nasal passages at night and worked its way into my prefrontal cortex. And laid its eggs. That’s what my brother always told me. We all heard those stories as kids, right?
I didn’t know what it was, or if it was even normal. I was a pre-teen going through a lot of weird changes. A lot of things didn’t make sense at the time.
I remember my first experience with the bugs. I was in middle school at a friend’s birthday party. Introverted, standing away from the crowd. I didn’t know why, and I know it sounds selfish, but I just didn’t feel like being there. The thought of being around groups of people was daunting to me. I forced myself to go, knowing I wasn’t going to have any fun. I just wanted to be at home, locked away in the safety of my bedroom where no one could bother…no, harm me.
So while I was at this party, I felt the itching again. More intense this time. I was worried someone would see me scratching and scrunching my nose, point it out to others, and people would ridicule me. I tried to hide it. I don’t know why I didn’t go to the bathroom before it happened, I just stood there. To my complete disgust, the bug fell from my nose onto my sleeve. I gasped and swatted at it but it just dropped and scurried away into the corner.
I don’t think anyone noticed because no one said anything and people were even coming up to me to talk.
That’s when I knew I was different than a lot of other kids at school.
That was when I knew I had something.
I couldn’t sleep at night. I could feel the bugs scurrying over the macaroni-like canals of my brain as I tossed and turned. I was exhausted during the day but couldn’t sleep for beans at night.
I later learned about something called cortisol, and that it made a part of my brain larger and more active. This is what caused my disturbances – what made it impossible to sleep.
I think the bugs make cortisol in their bodies and then inject it into my brain like venom. It’s what makes me feel and act the way I do.
“It’s just a phase”, my dad said. “Probably from you starting middle school this year.”
“You’ll get better, honey”, my mom comforted.
They just didn’t know.
I didn’t know.
Eventually I came to accept that the bugs were there to stay. I somehow got used to the itching. What choice did I have?
My parents sent me to therapy with my ludicrous and unexplainable rantings of “brain bugs”. The doctor was gentle and understanding while I explained through tears and hanging my head in shame .
“They’re always there”, I sobbed.
“I know”, he whispered. “We’re going to help you.”
I didn’t really understand what the medicine he gave me did, or what it was called. It had letters though-I think an “s” or two, an “r”, and an “i”, or something like that. I was desperate. I couldn’t live like this anymore. Especially when no one believed me.
I took the pills every day like he told me. After a few weeks, the itching began to subside. It was still there, just not as intense. Muted. I learned how to keep the bugs more-or-less contained, though they were always there . At least the medicine helped prevent them from falling out of my ears or nose. I could still feel them moving back and forth inside my skull but I was numb at the same time. I think the medicine made me feel that way – zombie-ish.
I remember that several months after I began therapy, I noticed a girl standing by herself in the cafeteria. She was pretty so I didn’t understand why she was by herself. Probably just waiting on some friends I guessed.
Her eyes darted around the room, almost like she was nervous or didn’t want to be there.
And then I saw her scratch her forehead and wrinkle her nose a few times.
When I walked over to her, she sheepishly looked at me with the one eye that wasn’t hidden behind her beautiful brown hair.
“I’ve got ’em, too”, I told her, casting my gaze down to the ground.
A tear glistened down her cheek.
“Come on”, I nodded.
She smiled. Her eyebrow lifted.
And we turned and got into line to buy our food
“You did the best you could with what you had at the given time.
That’s all any of us can do.”
Queensryche – Best I Can [Lyrics]
Don’t worry, dear he’ll never find the gun
A child alone in daddy’s room
The gun was hidden here
No one home to catch me when I fall
A young man now in a private chair
I’ve seen the world through a bitter stare
But my dream is still alive
I’m going to be the best I can
I want to be a busy man
I want to see a change in the future
I’m gonna make the best of what I have
I want to write for a magazine
I’m gonna be the best they’ve ever seen
I know I’ll win if I give it all I can
I won’t let go
Gotta make the grade, no I won’t let go
To be the best man, the best man that I can
Back street hoop star you’ve got it good
You were the wonder of the crumbling neighborhood
Now taking bids on the next six digit plan
Showed me that my will survived
The tragedy that came into my life
Giving me hope and the new start that I have
And I won’t let go
Gotta make the grae no, I won’t let go
To be the best man, the best man that I can
Step by step I dream the plan
From my chair to walking man
This constant dream is on my mind
Chase the light I see ahead
Luminate the path I tread
I live to be the best I can
Now I’m moving forward and I’m never looking back
Straight ahead, focused on the big attack
On a roll and I’m never slowing down
I won’t be torn between
The man in the chair and the man that’s in my dream
I’m going to melt the two men into one
And I won’t let go
Gotta make the grade I set no, I won’t let it go
To be the best man,
The best man that I can
The best man that I can
The best man that I can
My girlfriend and I of three years broke up a couple weeks ago. And it’s been the hardest thing to do to remain steadfast. I didn’t want to part ways but I did because I couldn’t endure her anxiety that came at the most unexpected of times – out of the blue; out of left field. Like a brick to the back of my head. It pushed me away. It made me not want to engage. And it made me stonewall.
Maybe it was her anxiety. Maybe they were trust issue outbursts. But they always seemed like personal attacks. I always felt so small and subhuman when she was “done with me”.
I tried and I tried to continue the relationship, but it was harder and harder each time. I didn’t want the relationship to end because somehow, I found what I wanted in a partner…for the most part. Each time the outbursts happened I felt myself pushed farther away, becoming more distant. I always felt insulted and indignant. I felt subhuman, tiny, and shamed.
I know she suffered from multiple forms of abuse in her past relationships and so I always thought it was my fault. My depression. My Specter. I always accounted for her anxiety and PTSD. But looking back, I felt I didn’t do anything wrong. The shituations all felt like I was being personally attacked. I know there are always two sides to any story, but there are some times when reality “is what it is”.
I remember one time when my university sent me a text alert that school was closed because of inclement weather. Then the standard followup prerecorded phone call came to let me know the same. We were watching a movie and I picked up to listen to the message and look at the text. I remember being accosted because I didn’t show her my phone. I don’t know if that was anxiety but I felt violated and like my trust in her plummeted.
Yes, I am sad. I also feel bad that I wasn’t courageous enough to continue to be strong for her if in fact these outbursts were part of her anxiety. She was a good woman. She was what I wanted in a partner…for the most part. I just couldn’t do it when my own Specter was digging his nails into my back at the same time and with the valley I’ve been in for the past year. I need to work on myself…bad.
I’m lonely even with my family, friends, and my daughter.
What to do.
My soul has left and with it,
The Albums and the Tags.
The memories put in boxes,
And thrown out in the trash.
paint chips fall onto the ground.
A weathered waste, at the end of town.
I pack up and I leave.
So I took the plunge and published a Facebook page, “Surviving the Specter”. I want to reach more people so they know they are not alone in their struggles…that there are others out there going through the same things.
My WP blogs will be pushed out through this page as well as at my Twitter handle – #sts91414. I figured my handle would be easy to remember since it’s the first letter of each of the words in my blog’s title, as well as the date I attempted suicide.
I plan on publishing the story of the night I took my life next month, September, which is Suicide Awareness Month in the U.S. If you haven’t read it may you could stop by and give it a read and leave some thoughts.
Thank you friends, for your support through words, comments, calls, and email subscriptions, and Follows. I appreciate it more than you know.
I love you, my friend.
I wanted to make sure you were safe and doing alright.
For survivors of mental illness, they say journaling is a way to help you heal.
Here’s my effort at catharsis…
My girlfriend of nearly three years, and I, just parted ways. We’ve broken up several times before, and each time have gotten back together. This time is permanent though <<insert audience laughter here>> because of how things have progressed. Here are my thoughts through the process:
- Remember why the breakup happened in the first place. There was a breaking point for me. A straw. A tipping point that once reached, ensured that things were not going to continue from that point on. It was a recurring theme that (I felt) I didn’t deserve to endure, and I couldn’t endure in the future and for the rest of the relationship. Remembering this tipping point became my first anchor point.
- Make a list of anchor points. This was the first thing I did. I made a list. I know that there are going to be days when I’m sad and want the relationship back. I also realize that that is not a healthy choice, so to help me remain resolute, I wrote a list of things that would keep steadfast. Especially on the weekend. Out of respect to her I won’t list them here, but these are largely negative things that have pushed me away over time. When you’re sad your mind wanders back to the good times you both had, or all the things you miss about that person. Keeping a list of anchor points helps me keep things in perspective. Don’t fume over the bad things and don’t forget the good things, just be real with yourself.
- Disconnect from their social media world. I find that when I have a break with someone, I need to cut ALL ties. Cold turkey. I don’t want them coming up in my news feed. I don’t want to see that they’ve liked my posts. I don’t want to see their Pins or comments come up on my wall. It makes me anxious and makes my adrenaline race. It makes me start to miss those things I mentioned above. There are also apps that block their texts from coming in, and you can delete their numbers from your Contacts list, but I haven’t done that. I’m the type of person that can’t “just be friends”. To me, that’s a crock of she-ite. Maybe we can in the future, but not at this time. It’s too painful. It’s too real. And it’s too raw to be your friend. It’s too tempting to want to go back to something that is so raw and familiar. To resist the temptation, I don’t put myself in the situation in the first place, and have done what I could to avoid it.
- Get out. I’m an introvert and like my alone time. This can become unhealthy since I also live with major depression. I have to be careful that alone time doesn’t turn into isolation. I know that I need to step out of my comfort zone and start doing things, especially on the weekends when I don’t have my daughter. Those are the worst. Make plans – in fact make a Plan B in case Plan A falls through. All too many times I’ve found myself sitting at home crying with the lights off and the shades dropped because I didn’t have a backup plan. It just turns into a deep dark pit from there. One of the things I am going to try to do is join a gym down the street and get back into shape. Being out of shape has brought me down mentally and exercising again and losing some weight will be good for both my mental and physical health. Another great way to get out is to join a Meetup singles group, though I’m not sure if this applies to readers outside the US.
- Go on a date when you’re ready. Get to know other people. Spread your wings. You don’t have to jump right into another relationship (in fact you shouldn’t) but there’s nothing wrong with getting back out there and getting to know people, and building relationships. Go on dating sights and meet people. At this point it’s about survival and staying busy, not finding your soul mate.
I’m not going to go into much detail here, again, out of respect.
- We both live with mental illness. Maybe a relationship where both partners survive with mental illnesses can work out. On the other hand, maybe it’s not a wise choice in the first place. I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that we both have demons we live with. I also know that we both needed LOTS of patience and empathy to date each other – we didn’t necessarily have those two things all the time. WE can’t rely on others to fix quell those demons, we have to do that on our own. The other person isn’t going to fix us. We have to be able to manage who we are within the relationship.
- Trust issues. You shouldn’t have to suffer for someone’s (trust) issues from a prior relationship. If that person feels the need to go through your texts and social media IMs and you haven’t done something deserving of that (let’s be honest here), then there are trust issues that need to be resolved outside of the relationship. To project that onto someone else is emotional abuse and unfair.
- Others. In hind sight, there are many signs that you can probably now see that should have been red flags: multiple marriages, anger issues, physical and emotional and verbal abuse…the list could go on for each of us. It’s important in our closure that we notice these things (and write them down if necessary) and try our best to avoid them in our future.
Do you have any suggestions on how best to move on, or red flags that you’ve experienced in your relationships? Would you be willing to share them with the rest of us?
Unfortunately, I can empathize with you, my friend.
For my depression controls me, too.
It is not a passing state of mind, nor a feeling.
It is something we survive through every day.
Sometimes, on certain days, it’s not as intense.
But it is always there.
A lot of people may never guess because I try to hide it.
I hide it by staying to myself.
And by pretending like I am concentrating and hard at work.
I am introverted…
…because I don’t want to pull other people down with me.
If my friends didn’t invite me to do things with them…
…I would constantly isolate.
A lot of the times I say “no” anyways because I am “busy”.
I know I am not alone, but a lot of the time it feels that way.
It ruins my intimate relationships.
It makes me run away from those who love me.
This depression sucks the happy out of me.
Even on sunny, beautiful days, all I can see is gray.
I sleep – a lot. Because depression numbs me.
I get frustrated with myself all the time because of how things are.
I don’t want it to be this way, but it just is.
The whole issue with this depression thing – it has sucked all life out of me like some soul harvester.
This past year has been one of the most relentless struggles I’ve had to endure. It gets worse each day I aimlessly trudge through my daily dosage of hours like a walker. And I don’t see an end in sight.
I feel like I stare at an hourglass in front of me. Glossy-eyed and lost faced, watching each grain of sand tumble through the bottleneck , building up the mountain in the chamber below that represents time passed.
The sand falls in slow motion.
Maybe you can relate?
I don’t see the sunshine. I’ve had this gray film over my life. It is a sunny, bright, 82º outside my Norfolk, VA apartment. I can’t see it. I don’t feel the warmth in my soul. I keep all the blinds shut. It’s not the kind of depression where you can simply open the blinds and the gray is gone. That doesn’t work. Our friends will suggest it…to open the shades and let the sunshine in. But those who don’t live with it can’t ever understand that just doesn’t work. It’s a fog of war. It stays.It permeates the skin and sinks down to the core. It’s a wave that has to be ridden.
I’ve been riding the crashing part of the barrel for months.
I have no drive. It’s really hard to continue when you feel so hopelessly apathetic. I get so sick of looking at the hourglass and longing for sleep. If I feel inspired to do something I change to something else before I finish what I started. So many things left unfinished. I wander back and forth in my apartment sometimes feeling that I’m going crazy. Most people that don’t live with this affliction would quickly suggest to exercise. All the other articles and advice out there scream that, but how can you bring yourself to that if you can’t even walk across the street to the beach on such an ideal day?
I’m numb and I don’t feel happiness. I don’t feel the happiness that other people feel when it’s sunny out. I should. I want to feel it. I want to feel “normal”. I want the chemicals in my body to react like that. I don’t want to be numb anymore. Catatonic. Zombie-ish. I’m trying to blog it out because journaling is supposed to be the best form of therapy for depression. It hardly is for me. It’s not cathartic. I’ve had an impossible time dragging myself to type this post and hardly feel any form of relief or healing from doing so. Getting a buzz from drinking (exactly the opposite of what I need to be doing, I know) used to give me a tinge of happiness. Now, that doesn’t even work. I’ve lost all interest in all things: writing, drinking, walking on the beach, reading, drawing, sex, photography, being a dad, friendships. I’ve thought a lot about dying. Not being suicidal, but just as a quiet way to end the mind numbing hourglass watching.
I fail at relationship. I isolate. I drive people away. I drive myself away from people. I isolate myself from those who love and care about me. It makes me drive those away who love me.
I’ve lost a foothold in my faith. I used to find peace when I read the Word and prayed early in the morning. That has been sucked away too. I don’t have the same happiness that I see on other believers’ faces, like when I used to go to church. I want that simple happiness of just waking up and being happy. I know they have their own problems, and sometimes that smile is just plastered on, but I just want to feel the Spirit move me to happiness.
* * *
How does your depression make you feel?
Maybe all this strikes a cord. If it does, please remember: you certainly are not alone.
Some time ago I posted about beginning to write short fantasy stories dealing with depression and made a fantasy map of the world I was envisioning. If you’ve been following along, you’ve read about the hero, Catharsis and my regular followers probably know that this is me and his early dealings are based on my suicide attempt.
Here is what the world map of Jiyan (“Life”) has evolved to so far. It’s still a work in progress!
Here is the original map I started with…
And I redrew it here…
This region is located in the southwest corner of the world map at the top (with all the pencil notations), just so you can see how it will all fit in.
I’ve had a hard time coming up with more ideas for the stories, or turning those stories into chapters, and it would REALLY help me to hear comments and suggestions on what I can do to improve them if you go back to read the Short Stories category.
Thank you friends, I’m excited to hear your suggestions!
Limp. Swaying from the rafter that supported his mud and straw-thatched roof.
He could hear the cord stretch and groan from his weight as his eyes became heavy.
Back and forth.
His eyes began to close as the cord tightened and choked off his life wind. Choking his hope. His will to live. His resilience.
He hadn’t the will to raise his arms and save himself. He could have he supposed. But he refused. He felt a calming peace blanketing him as his life energy fell through the soles of his feet, leaving his body forever.
Finally he would be free of this torment.
Finally he would have peace.
Peace from this Wahrlog of the Darkness.
The Darkness. A darkness so consuming, so debilitating, that each day was a struggle. A struggle to rise each morning. A struggle to tend to his fields. A struggle to continue life. A life coated with apathy.
He had hid it well from his fellow villagers. Masked it behind his toiling in the fields. Masked it behind his inward solitude. Disguised it with the will to be alone. To remain undiscovered and unbranded with the Stigma.
He knew others who had been discovered. Who had been branded on their forehead with the seal of their affliction – their illness. He remembered seeing the searing iron hissing as it sunk into their flesh. Leaving a soft cloud of smoke as it pushed deeper into them.
And their screams.
They were forever labeled in society by those they knew. Those they loved. Those they had children with. Their families. Their neighbors.
Some, like himself, afflicted with the darkness – the deep, dark, debilitating depression he knew since he was a child.
Others, afflicted with the fear – remnants of some past traumatic stressing life event that had ripped their soul in half, and forced them to relive their past horrors. Manifest in the forms of flashbacks and tortured by the night harpies of terror. He could hear their screams at night.
In the darkness.
Others, afflicted with the rage – elevated, hyper levels of anxiousness brought on by some outside trigger. Issuing in a brain pandemonium of paranoia and irritability. Lashing out at those whom they held closest as they wandered through their personal fog of war.
Through his closing vision, Catharsis could faintly make out the Specter emerging from the darkness. Moving closer. Stretching his pale white claws from his cloak, his talons scratching the walls of Catharsis’ mud home. Digging into the hardened clay and leaving deep cuts as chunks of adobe were ripped away. In and out of his slumber, Catharsis thought how they resembled his fields that he had just returned from. Their perfect rows whose cast shadows aligned harmoniously in the setting sun.
This was his last thought of peacefulness as Catharsis’ eyes closed.
And Specter’s grip closed around his throat.
* * *
At the instant the beast secured his grip to claim his prize, a magnificent burst of white light flooded the room.
Specter shrieked like a hung pig being bled dry and lurched back from the blazon firestorm that enshrouded the hanging body.
Two forms took their place next to the body of Catharsis. On either side, like stark angelic sentries sent to protect him from the Wahrlog. They raised their hands and in a fluid motion brought them down, lances appearing and striking the mud floor.
Specter hissed and the sentries lowered their weapons, tips pointed at its open throat.
A sentry stepped forward a crouched in the dirt, bracing itself with its weapon. Slowly and deliberately it scratched a line across the floor, fire following in a steady trail.
It retracted and regained its position.
“Though shall not pass” the two sentries whispered.
Specter lurched through the flame and in one swift movement was impaled on their spears. Instantaneously, Specter disintegrated into the light, taking with him his shadows and his darkness.
* * *
As one sentry held fast the body of Catharsis, the other swiftly swung its lance at the noose, cutting him free.
Lowering him to the ground the sentries whispered, “you are safe child.”
“To the world you may be one person.
“But to one person you may be the world.”
I remember when I’ve been in the throws of my Specter, and consumed with such hopelessness and misery I believed no one else endured. That depression demon who is currently being held at bay in his cage of Lexapro and Abilify, but can attack at random times with a sucker punch to the kidney, leaving me without the breath for life. It’s at those times that one person can change your life. They are there. You just have to find them, reach out to them, and hold onto them. They will be there. You mean the world to them.
If you’re wearing the other pair of shoes and know of someone who needs to be reached out to. Use this post as an excuse to do so. You may save someone’s life.
Hello and Happy Memorial Day. One thing I love aside from taking pictures at the beach, is taking pictures of train tracks. They entrance and mystify me somehow. I wanted to share them with you. Please feel free to use them and kindly link back to this blog so I can see how you incorporated them into your work.
Enjoy and thank you all for your support and readership!
A couple months ago I published a blog post called “Brok3n & Betray3d”. It was about how my girlfriend told me she cheated on me and how that affected my emotional state over the next few days.
It is not there anymore because I took it down.
I believe it was published “wrongly”. Or at least before I knew the whole story.
I am here today to ask for a chance to rectify that event.
* * *
After the situation had passed and things were cleared up, we got back together for a short while only to fall apart again. Not because she told me she cheated on me. Just because that is how life goes.
After we talked about the situation, she informed me of the details that I wish I had known prior to my posting what I did, and reacting the way I did. I wish I had handled things more calmly. More maturely.
We were apart for the day. I had my daughter for the weekend and she had gone to our local St. Patrick’s Day parade. During that time, she had gone to the bar where the parade ended. Her ex-boyfriend was there and he kissed her. She didn’t return the advance and ended up pushing him away and told him to stop. Another girl who was there kissed her and she did the same thing.
I believe her.
She said she felt like she cheated on me because she was out without me.
I believe her.
As a result of my actions, she was shunned by those closest to us, both offline and in real life. For this I am dreadfully sorry. I cannot imagine being in her place.
Though we are not together today, I would appreciate it you would remember what she was to me by reading the series of poems I wrote about her PTSD and anxiety, as well as the short story I wrote in her honor, Love and the Maiden.
Thank you friends.
Before Catharsis passed through his Breaking Point against the Wahrlog of Darkness, there were many days his mind would wander.
One thing he thought about was love.
He wondered…wondered if he was ever capable of it.
He thought he was. Or rather, many paths in his life supported that he was capable of what he thought was an elusive emotion:
Ages ago he had been married. Wasn’t this love?
He had helped bare a daughter into the world. Surely this was an act of love.
He often stopped along the rocky roadside to help strangers whose carts had succumbed to wear. Or those who had been bogged down in the tumultuous weather and storms. This had to be love.
Or when he could, he offered what he had to his neighbors or friends in need. Without doubt, this was love.
It seemed he could go on and on with these proofs and until the settling sun descended over the city wall, and the moon ascended with its blanket of darkness, enshrouding Ǚr and the surrounding countryside. Tucking it in.
He could summon endless proof of love.
But he could find no proof in feeling it. The Darkness muted it.
Often times those three words felt empty. He wanted to feel them. But for some reason he couldn’t feel them.
He could only act them out.
Perhaps that was enough in itself.
Perhaps love was not a feeling.
Perhaps it was a choice.
* * *
Many years after the loss of his marriage to the Darkness, he had experienced intimate Relationship with a woman who suffered with Affliction as he did. It was the first time in a long time he held this communal bond with another.
Someone who understood his life with clarity.
It was upon this last thought on which his mind wandered…
Her struggle was not with the same beast as his – this Wahrlog of Darkness.
No, hers was with other beasts; these Wahrlogs of Affliction who exacted their punishments as Rage and Fear.
Yet she, she seemed so oddly capable of love and tenderness. Regardless of the terrors and harpies she battled every night. So inclined to it with all her humanness and personal torments. Greater than Catharsis himself had ever dealt with. So much greater than he was capable of.
It came so naturally to her.
She tended to him and more importantly, understood him. She validated his misgivings and second thoughts.
When they both were strong, they were both strong. But when they were weak, they were oh so weak. So weak that no force could bring them back after they had been ripped asunder. She always seemed to bring them back though.
It seemed over the years that he had lost love. Lost it to the damned Darkness.
Lost it to apathy.
Lost it to lethargy.
Lost it to reclusiveness.
Lost it to the punishment of the relentless Specter – that Wahrlog of Darkness that scratched the walls of his soul with its sinister talons. Torturing him from the dark recesses of his mind.
When he pushed back to fight for what he wanted, It dug its claws deeper through the flesh of his back. Injecting the venom of lethargy and apathy until it dripped into his soul. Sedating him from the surrounding world. Wrapping its free arm around his neck in a stranglehold. Choking off his breath. Choking off his will to pursue what he had wanted.
And then Catharsis would succumb to the Darkness yet again.
Until he made himself alone.
It made Catharsis do things he didn’t want to do. It made him hurt those that were closest to him. It made him callous. It incited him with irate intolerance. Sometimes causing him to lash out in a sleep-deprived state. Venomous forked tongue. That’s what the Darkness did to his soul.
And so it was that at just the time he believed he was beginning to live a normal life. A life consistent with his fellow citizens in the village. It was about that time that it all fell apart.
It was an unfortunate fact of his life.
Sometimes love does not win.
I was prejudiced.
I didn’t think that an office of 400+ onsite/offsite employees would support this.
I didn’t think a firm of 10,000+ employees worldwide would support this.
No, endorse this. Embrace this with such open arms.
This month of #mentalhealthawareness.
A good friend of mine (who I’m talking into guest blogging in the near future) organized the activities that make up this month’s Mental Health Awareness Campaign at our firm’s local office.
When she first started out, her goal was to raise $400 by having folks donate money towards the senior leader they wanted to “get pied” for charity. The leader with the most votes/money towards their name will get pied, while the leader with the least “votes” will get to do the “pie-ing”.
She surpassed that goal and employees have donated a little more than $600.00. She had to set a higher goal of $1000.00.
I work at a really wonderful firm.
I am fortunate.
I am blessed.
And I am thankful.
Last Friday, the 13th, I wrote about exploring the area of TMS – Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation – as a therapy (wish I could type “solution” there) for my depression…my mind that won’t light up.
This past Tuesday I had my consultation and while I am a candidate for the treatment (sirrrrrPRISE, SIIIIIIIRprise) my first important piece of information is that the therapy isn’t covered by my insurance. In fact, the regional manager told me, my insurance was the only one that didn’t cover it. He went on to explain that my insurance currently has a lawsuit against them for not covering the program.
Out of pocket the program will cost $7800.00. Ain’t nobody got pockets that deep, yo! But even then, I would totally go on a payment plan, it’s just these other payment plans I’m on are going to prevent that.
The good news is that there is still a chance my insurance may change its mind when the policy is reviewed at the end of this month.
I’ll keep praying.
If you’re brain won’t light up and you are interested in more information. I’ve included some links here. You can also peruse “TMS” on YouTube.
Links for further reading:
TMS Neurohealth Centers
The Mayo Clinic
Neurostar TMS Therapy
Across the plain of Ǚr, far away from the citadel itself, there stood a shining tower of polished limestone. It was a colossal structure. Towering over the fields below. Dominating the landscape to the horizon, over which the plain’s namesake kingdom lay.
It mirrored the sun’s reflection as a fine gem in the crown of the king. Or a polished plate of glass in the courtyard at midday. It pulsed radiance and even from afar off, emitted a brilliance that was known across the plain.
Its alabaster skin was a testament to its beauty. Each stone finely blended and buffed with the other so that all chinked together like a single dragon’s scale.
It was embedded with many different shades of blue polished gems and minerals that blinked at every angle. Not so much as to overtake the gleaming snowy surface. But merely to accent.
Channels of soft, dark azurite ran starkly down its vertical edges, bordered by thin lines of fixed sapphire.
Thick lazulite crystals adorned its horizontal precipices, giving off a faintly cloudy deep green aura, comparable to the ocean’s depths as seen from the gull’s eye overhead. A halo atop the chalk white faces of the tower.
Many knew of its exquisiteness through story or song only, for none in numbers were allowed too close, nevertheless entrance. Only able to cast eyes on it from afar.
Despite all its beauty and grandeur, it became more intimidating in its features, as any outsider drew closer. One would rather call it a citadel than a tower, for it was well fortified and garrisoned many citizens. The same citizens who had built it over the years, enduring the cold winds, stiletto rains, and molten sun.
Though still opulent to the eyes, one could observe battlements and parapets atop the four megalithic walls. Flanking the spire that shot into the sky like a spike into the heavens. Or a compass point by which the rest of the land would calibrate its remaining three directional points.
A selfish, self-centeredness.
An arrogant and haughty feat of engineering designed to show all who gazed upon it the bigotry and seclusion of its citizenry.
A pinnacle of privilege.
The meters-thick walls of the gatehouse itself menaced any who approached its entrance. Appearing as a harbinger and to vex outsiders, warding them away from the inhabitants. Visitors were not taken kindly to.
Several less imposing, yet formidable keeps, buttressed the corners of the tower’s walls. Upon closer observation, the finer subtleties of the tower came into view – murder holes, curtain walls, and arrowslits. Accoutrements of defense and to prevent impregnation.
Of the songs sung and tales told of the tower’s beginnings, many knew. They had been passed down through the ages by bards, minstrels, and poets. Alongside firey pits and dusty roads.
* * *
Long after the world had been destroyed by Deluge.
And Fire had scorched the forests into plains.
Ages after Wormwood sheared the mountains to the earth.
And Plague had destroyed the animals and Famine had decimated humanity.
Many eons after the earth had been purified and reborn.
Just after man had begun to repopulate the earth.
The tower’s beginnings coincided with The Great Departing. A time of schism marked by a splitting of the earliest members of the new humanity. Though not a splitting in the true sense.
Rather a leaving.
A departure of those from their young familial units.
Those who had a misplaced reality, replaced with a self-righteous bigotry. A skewed, inarguable view of observable facts. A non-acceptance of the world around them. Complete with all its imperfections.
They were the tower’s builders.
They built its four walls. Those gleaning partitions that separated them from the rest of humanity.
Self-righteousness facing the north.
Ignorance facing the south.
Bigotry facing the east.
And intolerance facing the west.
They insulated and protected themselves from their loved ones. Their soul mates. Their compatriots. Their mentors. And their confidants.
They betrayed them. And they established their new life secluded from any pollution from the outside world.
A holier-than-thou life of solitude.
In their ivory tower.
Several years ago, my pastor showed a segment of this powerful movie for one of his sermons on Relationship. I finally was able to sit down with my 10-year old daughter and watch it.
Here are my five takeaways and how they apply to my life.
- Affliction is above no one. It can touch anyone at any time in their lives. We are not subhuman because we are afflicted with mental illness, or physical manifestations. We are survivors. We fight a struggle others can only read about or imagine. You may be a poor farmer, a blue-collar factory worker, a white-collar executive, or a member of royalty. Affliction does not discriminate against wealth, skin color, or socioeconomic status. It may not be a result of their choices. And if we don’t suffer from Affliction, this should teach the rest of us empathy.
- Your affliction may not control you. You may be the one controlling it. It may be the manifestation of a deeper struggle. You may actually be giving it control because it puts comfort to something that is so discomforting to acknowledge, live with, or speak about.
- Family may not be your support network. Your family may in fact, be the source of your affliction. I have friends where family happens to be their harshest judge or most vehement opposition – largely the cause of their trauma and particular circumstance. We would hope that family would be our staunchest champions, but sadly in some cases, they are the source of our trauma, often caused at a younger age or a recent schism.
- A father’s relationship is pivotal. Single dad to an innocent, beautiful girl. My actions are pivotal to her development. This is a bearing built into my moral compass. Do I fall short so often? I sure do. I am perfectly imperfect. Remembering how much I affect her development is always the bell in the fog that ropes me back to the harbor. Hopefully before I exact anything that damages her sails, free will, self-esteem, and mental health.
- Your strongest champion may not have letters after their name. Their door may not have Ph.D inscribed on it. They may not be published. Or knighted. Or of the same social class. They may not be anyone noteworthy in your life. But they took their time to help you, or to understand you. We call them friends.
What are your thoughts? Have you seen the movie? Is there anything you would like to add on this topic? I’d love to dialogue about it with you in the Comments section.
(or, My Decision to Explore TMS)
It’s simple really.
Why my brain doesn’t light up.
From the information I’ve read and the images I’ve seen, the depressed brain doesn’t do much “lighting”. And I’ve suffered with it since middle school.
I realized something wasn’t right and was making me extremely “sad” when I had a razor blade on my desk, alongside a note to my parents. A note saying that I was sorry for being such a failure.
My dad came in.
He probably saved my life.
I don’t know if he ever told my mom, but mom, he’s a hero.
Years later at 42 years old, 40 lbs overweight, and all the life sucked out of me, I’m giving treatment another chance.
Not in the form of body-bloating prescriptions though. I seem to be immune to them anyways. Or maybe that’s because they’re working?
You know. We sometimes quit when they’re working. We feel we’re alright. We feel like we’re cured. But it’s the meds kids. Don’t you dare stop them cold turkey like I once did.
No, this is different.
I’ve made the decision to go to a neurology center to have a consultation on Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Therapy. If you haven’t read about it, it seems like a bright light at the end of my dark tunnel.
And I’m excited. Are you kidding?!?! A chance to get my life back?? Sounds good by me.
The only slight concern I have is about short term memory loss but that’s about it.
This is all probably just a laughing carrot being dangled in front of my face.
But a carrot nonetheless.
I’ll keep you informed of how this new path goes.
Do you have experiences with TMS? I’d sure love to get your thoughts on this.
Hi folks, Chris here from Surviving the Specter on behalf of the rest of us at SURVIVORS BLOG HERE. Rob Goldstein over at Art by Rob Goldstein (https://robertmgoldstein.com/) nominated SURVIVORS BLOG HERE for the Liebster Award. I volunteered to help respond and in my business, have taken waaaaaayyyyyyyyyyy longer than I should give Rob a huge hug and thank you for nominating us for this honor.
Below are his questions with my answers (other contributors please feel free to add your answers or nominations) followed by the people I have nominated for this honor.
Have you found a theme to your blog? Is there a topic that you return to almost subconsciously?
Yes, there is. It is mental illness. I write about severe depression as personified by Specter.
What is the one thing you’ve learned about yourself as a blogger?
I can write in a way that is meaningful and inspires others to do the same.
What is your favorite way to learn?
I enjoy reading about the material that I’m learning about.
What is the one decision that you’ve made in your life that you will never regret?
My decision to end my marriage.
If you could live in the past, which period would you choose?
Ancient Rome. Definitely ancient Rome. And I would be a centurion.
What is your favorite music?
I like heavier stuff – heavy metal, hard rock, as well as those songs with powerful lyrics that speak to me. Definitely heavier music. When I was growing up, I used to cry a lot when I listened to music on the radio. Usually the sadder sounding stuff. I hated that. So I switched genres. Not that it’s helped me with my depression. Smh.
If you had to change careers, what career would you choose?
I would chose to be a soldier of Rome. Of course I mean the ancient Roman soldier, not a modern soldier. That makes me sound like I want to resurrect Mussolini’s empire. Which I don’t. Let’s just skip this one.
Who is your favorite philosopher?
Working on this. Haven’t touched philosophy in a while.
What is your favorite poem?
My favorite poem is stuck as the first post on my blog. It is “Outwitted” by Edwin Markham. You should check it out.
What is your favorite myth from Greek Mythology?
Name one guilty pleasure.
Doritos and cream cheese. Ahh yes, my Netflix comfort food of choice. Don’t judge. Try it!
Nominee blog sites:
Please affix the following seal to your blog!
- Caterpillar to Butterfly | Recovering Codependent ~ Growth & Healing Through Healthy Boundaries
- Confessions | Bringing to Light that which is Hidden
- Dear Hope | When It’s All We Have Left
- Hi, I’m Dan | From hell to well – living with and recovering from addiction and mental illness
- Me Vs. Depression | A chronicle of my struggle with mental illness
- MINDS LIKE OURS | Presenting Hope & Love for Those Struggling with Mental Illness; Borderline Personality Disorder, Depression, and Suicide
- SassaFrass, The Feisty ~ My Journey Towards Healing
- Take A Ride On My Mood Swing | Where Bipolar Lives Even If Wished Dead
- The Wednesdays Off | Peeping above the parapet every so often by blogging and baking
- Turning The Page on Suicide | Writing my way through depression and loss.
Being mentally ill with depression means that people may not always get me. I’ve come to accept that.
I’ve also come to accept that it’s okay.
A lot of the times I don’t even get myself.
I guess “understand” would be a more accurate word.
It’s like trying to explain to somebody what May means to me, except it comes out sounding like this post’s title looks.
They may never understand what it feels like. And I’m happy that they never will. I would wish this on no one.
There’s so many things I’ve never understood about myself for years, and have only begun to within the past 5-10 years of my life.
A list of un-understandables in my life has been:
I don’t understand why I feel sluggish all the time.
I don’t understand why laughing feels so forced.
I don’t understand why I want to be alone all the time.
I don’t understand why I don’t want to do things.
I don’t understand why I am always so tired.
I don’t understand why I see grey when it’s brightly sunny outside.
I don’t understand why at 42, I can still sleep until 1:30 on a Saturday afternoon.
I don’t understand why I set my alarm for 5:00 am and hit it until 6:00.
I don’t understand why I think of suicide.
I don’t understand why I pray to God to take me home in my sleep.
Over the years I have come to understand why though.
A severe, deep-seated depression.
NOTE: This image is the original idea of Cass and her site at the above link. Check it out and give it a Like!
So for me, the new significance of May is about raising awareness of mental health. And in my case, severe depression and suicide. It’s about taking a chance, stepping out on a scary ledge, and talking about my mental condition to others.
Lessons Learned: Some Things I’ve Learned from My Depression
I would hope that you would take these things and hold them in your heart. Don’t forget them. Remind yourself of them. And learn from your mental condition.
A list of understandables in my life is:
- I have a condition, not an illness. I am not sub-human. I am not sick. I am an extraordinarily strong person because I survive through things other people can’t imagine having to deal with. I live my life a little differently than others because I live with affliction.
- I am perfectly imperfect, and that’s perfectly okay. I’ve learned to forgive myself and accept myself. I have a hard time believing the phrase, “I don’t let my mental condition define who I am.” I know what people mean, but I think in the end, depression has set some life parameters that I have to (or choose to) live by. If I don’t abide by those…rules, I start to hear Specter’s rusty cage hinges creak and I feel him scratching on the walls of my soul.
- What I feel is valid. I am not crazy. I may be a little broken. You may be a little bruised. But don’t you dare let anyone tell you you’re crazy. Don’t you dare let them make you feel that way. You. Are. Not. Crazy. Real talk.
- Only I will take care of myself. I must take my meds. Daily. I must eat healthy. I must exercise. Meh. I’m working on the last two. Have
- Strive to be empathetic and kind. You know why. You have struggles other people don’t know about. So do others. I remember a time my Lexapro had run out and I couldn’t afford a refill. I had been off it for about four days and I could feel the dizziness set in from withdrawals. Then the bottom fell out. Specter’s claws were dug so deep into my shoulders I could feel them carving at the bones. Someone put their hand on my shoulder and sat with me. I was in tears. I was choking my words out in a dark chair in a dim corner. He made a call to get me my medicine. That’s why.
- Be a servant when you can. Help others when they’re down. People have helped me when I’ve not deserved it. Free of charge. Pay it forward.
- Exude grace. Strive to give others the benefit of the doubt.
- Have grace on yourself. Learn to accept grace yourself. Be gentle on yourself. We beat ourselves up so much each day. Allow yourself forgiveness. See #2.
- People do understand – surround yourself with those people. There may not be too many. But you know what? That’s just about the right number anyways. Find your devout warrior supporters and cling to them. Share yourself with them. Open yourself up to them. It is empowering. It is healing.
- My God loves me. Me and God. Ahh, yes. For such a lifetime I’ve bashed myself for not measuring up. Engorging bucket fulls of self criticism, guilt, and shame for never feeling like I measured up. Never earning my dad’s approval, or my Father’s. All. Those. Years. And I got it wrong. His scars are enough to cover my soul. His Grace is the way to my healing. His forgiveness is the magnetic north to my moral compass. SOso many times I fail. Flat on my face. He’s always there to pick me up and hug me with a gentle, warm smile.
Now…Let’s take back our lives and make this our new fight song! This one’s for you Niki.
Time after time as we march side by side
Through the valleys of evil and the torturing souls,
Night after night, for the glory we fight,
In the kingdom of madness and the tales from the old
Death by our hands, for the higher command,
As the darkness surrounds us hear the cries as they fall
Fire burning steel and the tyrants will kneel
Hearts burning stronger with the power of the sword
Set sail for the glory,
Pray for the master of war (pray for the master of war)
Sunlight will fall by the wastelands,
Endless rise for the heroes before
Sword in his hand,
Titans of justice, fearless we stand
Strong in command
Blessed by the union, freedom of man
Reckoning day, for the demons we slay,
With the force of a dragon we will conquer them all!
Chaos still reigns devastation and flames
For the ultimate glory when the legacy calls
Through the hellfire
Blazing for the darkness beyond (blazing for the darkness beyond)
Nightmare return of the thousands
Giving rise to the heroes once more
Sword in his hand,
Titans of justice, fearless we stand
Strong in command
Blessed by the union, freedom of man
In the eyes of broken dreams,
Outside of the wasted and torn,
A land of tears still remains
Soldiers of destiny calling,
And the fallen will rise up again,
Conquer the forces of evil and fight to the end
Sword in his hand,
Titans of justice, fearless we stand
Strong in command,
Saviour of nations, freedom of man
Sword in his hand,
One final stand
Strong in command,
Blessed by the union, freedom of man
Blessed by the union of man
Camera lens of happiness, to take away the grey
Cuz sunshine’s there, I see it, it’s just a million miles away.
Camera lens of hopefulness, to take away despair
The never ending fog of war, the loss of will to care.
Camera lens of energy, to take away the apathy
The never ending lethargy, the sits inside of me.
Camera lens of healing, to take away the pain
Cuz sunshine’s there, I know it, even through the rain
TRIGGER WARNING: This post mentions various forms of self harm. Please, my friend, do not read this if they are triggers for you.
My brother cuts…
…he also burns…
He has been living with me for a couple months now. He has no where else to go. He, his wife, and his family are going through the darkest valley they will probably ever go through.
There were things that were done that cannot be undone. Continue reading “Keeping My Brother”
Many of you know I survive through clinical depression. And though I am 42 (as of this writing) I’ve struggled with this Specter since middle school. Many of you know all too well, the impact it has had on my life and those around me.
I feel pushed by the Lord everyday, to be as open as I can about it – feeling alone is the worst feeling in the world.
I don’t want anyone to feel like that. No one should.
I feel pushed to face the darkness, and encourage those who deal with the same demons. To talk about my experiences with those who have lost loved ones to this affliction, and may be themselves, pressing on through the awful quagmire of hopelessness.
So about this map…Having blogged for almost two years, I am thinking of creating a series of short stories about several heroes and their struggles with mental illness.
I wanted to share the beginning of their world with you.
I wrote a short story on stonewalling in relationships, which inspired me to begin to branch out with my writing.
Hello there. Welcome to this little gathering place. I’m glad you found your way here and I hope that you are able to take something away when you leave.
This post is not a typical one of mine. It’s not common to the past few that I’ve recently added. In fact it’s about as atypical as the ones I’ve recently written.
I’ve been in a bad way for about the past year. I’ll call these months the Dark Age. I don’t know if I’m coming out of them just yet, but I am blogging again. And that in itself is a huge step.
I’ve been apathetic.
I’ve been suicidal.
I’ve been drinking.
I’ve been living it up Netflix style every night with a party for one. Shades drawn. Door locked. A catatonic lump amassed on the tan leather couch that has become my safe spot. I don’t know if I’ve been particularly withdrawn because I’m a heavy introvert, but I have felt awkward and inept in social settings – yeah I don’t really dig those. I’m a big red X, Delete button kinda guy on those MS Outlook happy hour invitations I get once a month. Yeah buddy, cut my knees off and call me shorty – that’s me.
My posts have been increasingly dark and graphic. I’m like that anyways because that’s how my depression manifests itself. Actually, it’s not that they’ve become dark and graphic. It’s just that that’s ALL they are nowadays.
I used to do Saturday night funnies because they used to make me laugh.
I used to laugh.
I used to create these little phrases of hope in PowerPoint and post them. I used to write poetry regularly because I had it in my soul. I haven’t had those intuitions in a hot minute.
40+ pounds lighter and several years ago, I used to get up at 4:30/5:00 to exercise. Now I don’t even care to walk across the street to the beach for a stroll. It’s all I can do to come home, get changed, and plop myself on the couch where I mutate for the rest of the night.
Eating popcorn and Fringe binging.
I don’t have energy for a relationship, but have been in one for the past two years.
[I tried so hard to reach for the stars]
I feel like a failure and that I let people down every day just by being alive. That’s how depression does.
[But I failed you all]
I haven’t even played Rockband until just recently. Forced myself to.
Yeah lately, I haven’t had hope.
I’ve not been hopeful for my life.
I’ve not had “hope through Depression” like the subtitle to my site says.
It hasn’t all been suckwad
Ironically though, I have been productive in small areas of my life. Don’t know how THAT’S worked out, but it has. I earned a merit raise at my job during December’s rounds of performance reviews. I’ve been taking graduate courses for almost the past year…trying to complete a certificate in my job field. I have a beautiful daughter who I spend as much time with as her mother allows me to. But I swear, most days it’s the most I can do to drag myself out of bed after hitting Snooze for 90 minutes, wiping the sleepy dirt from my eyes, and getting in the shower then heading to work.
Soooo anywho, that’s been my life for the past, longest time.
Sass’ – the catalyst
A fellow blogger, a friend, commented recently that:
I think even we, with our own Specters, forget how overpowering they can be and that we don’t want to glorify when it happens. We just want to be honest about it. And in that honesty comes bravery, even if you don’t feel it.
I sent her a quick thank you for the impact that her statement had on me over the past 24 hours, particularly when she said, “we don’t want to glorify when it happens”.
That got me thinking about the title of my blog-
surviving the specter
Hope through Depression from a survivor of suicide. “Specter” is the personification of my depression.
It got me thinking about rethinking that phrase, particularly that little word, “hope”.
What’s in a name?
I haven’t had hope.
I haven’t portrayed hope.
I haven’t sought hope.
So I think it best that I modify the name of this little gathering place.
surviving the specter
HopeSurviving through Depression from a survivor of suicide. “Specter” is the personification of my depression.
Lyrics courtesy of DragonForce, The Day.
Driven to the hinterlands
driven to the gray
by the chemical reaction
of the chemicals I take
to balance the effects
of the chemicals I make
Just a quick poem that came to mind tonight.
To my friends who will call because they’re worried, I am fine. I promise. Mom, Chelise, Mistaken…I really am.
…Just a little bout with Specter.
But he ain’t gonna win.
I know other people needed to hear this so they know they are not alone.
Thank you for sharing.
Sometimes I miss my daughter
Sometimes I miss her bad
Sometimes I hate the loneliness
I wish I never had
Sometimes I like to be alone
Sometimes I wish I weren’t
Sometimes I wish someone would hold me
And take away the hurt
Sometimes I’m fine and focused
Sometimes I rarely am
Sometimes I shut the windows
And cry as loud I can
Sometimes I’m grey, the Specter
Sometimes I can’t bear the ill
Sometimes I think I’ll make it
Sometimes I doubt I will
This is a repost of a four part poem I wrote on Specter, the personification of my depression. With it I hope that others suffering from the torment of depression and thoughts of suicide know they are not alone. Remember this is Suicide Prevention/Awareness month. Let’s help breathe hope to those who may be in a valley.
Thank you to my readers and followers for all your support. You are special to me.
Specter, Pt. 1
Michael please save me,
deliver my soul.
Specter is slashing,
and tearing a hole.
It bites and It gnashes,
and tears open my wounds.
I don’t have the will,
it’ll be over soon…
Specter, Pt. 2
…And as I looked up,
my defender looked down.
Descended and thrust,
crushed Specter to the ground
His lance tip pointed,
at the devil’s crown.
Specter’s incisors and daggers
extended and grown…
Specter, Pt. 3
…Specter shrieked like a pig bled, hanging on slaughter.
Its lips ripped back over its chipped fangs,
the skin grew taughter.
He ripped and he tore,
at my back and my flesh.
He knew that his time
was limited at best.
Because the archangel had come,
and bore down on his evil.
As I rode the waves up and down,
in this life, so surreal.
Specter, Pt. 4
The Final Chapter
…And Michael roared,
at Specter under his heel,
“Thou shall not harm, leave,
you are cast out.
“From this place you torment,
I will cut you down.”
Sword raised in death thrust
The Protector bore down.
And severed the devil’s head
Throwing it to the ground.
PLEASE share this with others who need to hear it. Thank you, friends.