Please join our celebration of Ellie Thompson from Essentially Ellie, who has joined as a Contributor. I’ve been talking with Ellie for a few months and was overjoyed when she accepted to join the group.
Who is Survivors Blog Here?
We support men and women Survivors from every walk of life. Struggles with Trauma, Violence, Mental Illness, Child Abuse, Chronic Illness, and more. We’re here for you.
Providing support as you work towards healing, taking steps forward, and moving beyond the pain and struggle. We’re a collaborative of like-minded writers and photographers with a mission: to offer a creative, honest, and safe place to gather. We offer support from a team of Survivors with diverse backgrounds, and we believe everyone has a story to tell.
We are all delighted Ellie has joined Survivors Blog Here, she’s open about her struggles, life, and poetry. She made her first post several days ago so check it out.
My Journey It’s been a long time since I’ve written about my Mental Health and since it’s Mental Health Awareness Month I can’t think of a better time. Photo by Thiago Matos on Pexels.com I’ve been stable for about three years and it was a long journey during that depressive period. After being stable for […]
YOU’RE INVITED!Join us for our 8th annual Revels and Revelations, a night of celebration and inspiration.Mental health conditions during the pandemic are disproportionately affecting young adults. Research shows that the prevalence of anxiety disorders has tripled since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our students need support now more than ever. We hope you can join us! For more information on […]
Dear BC2M Community, Although school looks a bit different this year, we’d like to give a warm welcome back to our BC2M students and their communities. And to the parents and family members who are working through remote learning with your children, we honor you.We have committed ourselves across the country to be a pillar of stability, […]
It’s been 28 years since you killed yourself. Too many Birthday, Christmas, and Thanksgivings. Wishing I could say I missed you but that would not be true. I do have some great snippets, little memories from my early childhood. Other memories, more unstable memories from my teens when I lived with you. Driving down the […]
Interestingly I’ve taken Ketamine for Pain Management but not for my Bipolar Disorder. When I spoke with my doctor about years ago he said that the percentage of people with my level of depression experiencing high results was low. The key to remember is everyone is different. The treatment is nothing like Electro Convulsive Therapy. […]
Dissociative Identity Disorder is a childhood-onset trauma symptom induced by an overwhelming confrontation with human evil before the brain can create a functional mind. When my psychiatrist diagnosed DID in 2009, I was already too symptomatic to work. I had no interest in social media, but I compulsively staged virtual photoshoots in Second Life and […]
Did you know the Dopamine royal family doesn’t stop at the queen? That’s right, there are two princes and one princess of dopamine as well. My kids are young, 8, 6 and 6 months. I knew early on I would have to talk to them about my bipolar disorder. It wasn’t until my oldest was […]
I believe an update is warranted since I’ve made all these life changes…
It honestly feels like I have taken felix felicis, aka liquid luck (for all you non-Potterheads out there). It feels like every single move and decision and thought I make is the right one preparing me for the future I so wish to have. It’s incredible.
I haven’t felt this type of motivation in years. Solely because I had no idea what the hell I was doing or what the hell I wanted. Now, though, each day is it’s own step toward a greater goal. I am first and foremost bettering myself as a human. I’m changing the way I think and how things make me feel. I’m changing how I react to things and the way I talk about things.
Another change has happened within the last few weeks… I post a positive message (image) to my Instagram account every day! It’s typically a message that I will take with me through my day and I hope that seeing it helps others during their day. Check it out here!
I was having a really rough day just over a month ago and I asked my best friend for some help. She had a bunch of positive affirmations and I needed some. She also told me about a meditation app. That meditation app has been my daily helper ever since I downloaded it!
The app is called Simple Habit. There are 5/10/15 minute meditations available with a ton of topics! I do it everyday before I leave the house. It clears out all my anxiety and any depression I may be feeling. It’s got options for if you’re having a rough day or starting something new or just going to start your day, etc.
Within the first few days, I noticed a change within my self and mind. From the teachings I’d meditated along with, I could just let my thoughts be instead of letting them get inside me and fester. I felt stronger just breathing and being at peace. I had much more appreciation for myself and my life.
I had a day all to myself recently where I could just relax and do absolutely nothing. I thought it would be a great day, but somehow I still ended up feeling anger or sadness. Before I went to sleep, I really thought about this and asked myself “what was it that got into your day to make you feel so upset? You were at home all day! There shouldn’t have been anything to upset you.” I realized that the only times I felt anger or sadness were from when I had opened my Facebook app.
So I deleted it.
Now, I just deleted the app so I still have a Facebook, but I don’t have the easy access to it like I did before. I haven’t fully deleted it because of all the photos as well as the fact that that’s how I can reach my page (to promote my blog). I haven’t been on it in about 3 weeks and it has been so nice!
I have been trying to change my way of thinking for the better the past few months and everyday, I still kept getting dragged into the same old thought patterns. It always stemmed from going on that app and seeing so much hate and anger and sadness and complaining. It was too much. If I couldn’t control their narratives, then it was time to control my own.
I didn’t have to go on it. I didn’t have to read their posts. I didn’t have to be upset from, well, bullshit anymore. I could free myself from it. I have that ability.
After some recent painful nights, I thought up the idea to create a series where I can release some of the things that continue to haunt me. I am trying to change myself, trying to be more positive, and change my way of thinking for the better. This is my way of cleansing myself and making way for beautiful change.
Let’s begin with one of the toughest ones.
I was in a relationship with someone for close to 4 years and he told me “I love you” out loud twice. There were times where I’d ask him to say it and he’d mumble it, but I rarely asked because it made me feel so pathetic even having to ask. The first time he said it on his own was when I tried to break up with him the first time (a month before actually ending it) and then the second time was right before I walked out the door for good.
His reasoning for not being able to say it was that his ex had “fucked with his mind for over a year”. At first, I understood that, but after we moved in together (after a year) and then more years stacked on to us being together, it felt more and more ridiculous and got more and more painful for me. I hate telling people about this whole thing because I still feel like an idiot. Who would put up with that?
I said it almost every day. Sometimes, I’d try to see how long I could go without saying it and I’d only last about 2 days. Why did I try not to say it? Because saying “I love you” to someone and NEVER getting an “I love you” back is so. fucking. painful. After a while, I felt embarrassed at myself each time I would say it.
Oh and we’re not talking about an agreed upon thing here. It’s not something that was ever okay with me and it was brought up many times. Some people have an understanding or whatever and that’s fine, but it’s not fine when it’s not agreed upon by both people.
I apologize for going away, but I really needed time to myself. I’ve been going through a lot the last few months, mostly depression, and it’s been difficult to find motivation. When it came to writing here, all my thoughts were depressed and I didn’t want the path of my blog to steer towards only depressed posts.
Now, I’m in a transition where I don’t want to dwell on the past, but I also want to release some of the painful things that have happened in my life. Maybe that’ll help as a sort of cleanse. I’ll release them here in writing and maybe others with similar experiences will see they’re not alone and that one day, they can move on from them, as well.
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.
I can barely understand my own thoughts yet alone try staying on track “does anyone hear me”As i Write and try articulate my issues wish i could say anxiety has abated ,but it’s like life’s trying to tear my walls down stripe me bear .could i rebuild this me up? or will she die young!
Today iv hovered around my thoughts and as much as Hannes has made sense im on edge how long sanity will prevail god only knows! There’s much happening to me other than mental illness stalking me, Tuesday we fly to Napier and I’m petrified i don’t fly well and my boy and myself will do this alone though his great-then Wednesday i have a job interview I’m in no zone to pick work up but fuck i have no option “this seems to be a part too” Then Thursday my boy has his interview for trade school ,which his not certain of either.Oh and then bigger we actually have no place yet either to move into and we two weeks away from moving ,the mover never returns my call though hubby has spoken to him..Today the agent rang doing a reference check and never have we had an issue renting though its only twice we’ve rented but since then hubby was made redundant and we lapsed on two accounts which we paying off now, but this has come up grr I’m left wondering will we get a rental and were will we live ?In the midst of all of this i have resentment to my husband for being made redundant and now relocating ..i know this is selfish but i just cant i need someone to save me from myself !
I’m trying hard to self-sooth my body has a mind of its own and its fragile mind the two just don’t gel with fragility!!
Yesterday morning my sister received her results and they positive for cancer in the breast, she petrified and we were both filled with sadness as we spoke the possibilities through. ..today she sees oncology and Friday they operate. ..
It’s hard to hear that a loved one is battling it tore me apart, as we spoke of my mom’s journey with breast cancer to and last night she had her 3rd operation on her femur and hip replacement too our brothers tell us mom’s one eye is swollen shut ?not sure yet why …
Last night I kept busy I slept little and then communicated back and forth to south Africa with my brother’s around mom’s progress my mental illness feels agrivates by this change at present my sister isn’t telling any family other than me maybe next week she says I worry but hear to her concerns mom’s not well and dad’s away. ..
The feeling she been through enough in life why more I do not know but god sure had lots thrown at him last night from me:'(
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
In lieu of September being Suicide Prevention/Awareness Month, I am reposting some of my older posts that deal with my depression, my suicide attempt, and verses/quotations of hope and strength. Please feel free to pass these on to others who feel alone – it is one of the worst feelings in the world to go through this by yourself. Thank you for visiting and sharing your thoughts, my friend.
When I first began thinking of writing about clinical depression, I stopped thinking. I put it to rest. Why would I consider doing what I was considering? What would I do in the face of my family and friends when they found out? I felt so shameful. So inadequate. So inferior. And I felt so alone. Especially as a male. Men aren’t supposed to talk about our feelings. We’re not supposed to cry. Not show weakness. Not show emotion.
This…thing I had, made me do all those things. And it wouldn’t leave. It just lingered there for years. It reared its ugly head more than I could handle. I saw its sinister teeth glistening in the shadows. Its chipped, stiletto nails sliding around the corner and scratching on the walls of my soul.
Later, through years of counseling and medicine, doctors help me put a name to this thing and they called it depression. I’ve come to call it, Specter.
A big step to my living with depression and being haunted by Specter was the realization of what I was going through was real. It was not imagined. I was not a freak or different because I was going through it. I was normal. The Lord just dealt me a hand that was different from other folks in my life. That’s a-whole-‘nother talk which I imagine I’ll address in the future. The biggest help to me was decoding the codex. Once I discovered the following four items, I could live with my depression. Yours may be different my friend. You may have less. You may have more. There’s no standard here. And that’s perfectly fine.
Here are four truths I’ve learned from my years of living with depression:
With this month being Suicide Prevention/Awareness Month, I am reblogging my posts and poetry that deal specifically with suicide, as well as those things that often result in suicide such as (but NOT limited to) depression, bullying, etc.
This is a poem I wrote after I read a blogger’s post about wanting to die. Please share it with someone you are thinking of that is dealing with this RIGHT NOW.
In closing, and for those who are where I was a year ago, right now…You. Are. Not. Alone. The feelings will eventually subside. They may revisit like Specter does, but you will know how to deal with them next time.
Right now as I’m writing this I have these feelings pulsing through my veins. I won’t act on these BECAUSE I know they will subside and I have the Lord’s strength on my side. It’s just been a rough week…
My account is overdrawn (I get paid once a month)
I started a graduate certificate and my tuition reimbursement hasn’t cleared – I am facing late fines and possible expulsion from the program
I am worried about having enough gas in my car for the rest of the month and it’s only the 8th
I was unable to buy groceries this month
My girlfriend and I ended our relationship
I was rear-ended last week in a triple car accident on the interstate
I just felt like sitting down and crying today. I feel worthless and at age 42, like I don’t have anything to show except for a daughter that just started 5th grade today.
A “depressive mixed states” often precedes a suicide attempt.
A major study of 2,811 people suffering from depression has identified three behaviours that predict a suicide attempt.
The study compared depressed people who had attempted suicide with depressed people who had not.
The researchers found there were certain patterns of behaviour which increased the risk of a suicide attempt by 50%.
Risky behaviour: this could be reckless sexual behaviour, dangerous driving or some other form of risky behaviour.
Agitation: walking around the room, adjusting clothing, wringing one’s hands etc..
Impulsivity: suddenly doing things without thinking about the consequences or planning.
Dr. Dina Popovic, one of the study’s authors, said:
“We found that “depressive mixed states” often preceded suicide attempts.
A depressive mixed state is where a patient is depressed, but also has symptoms of “excitation,” or mania.
We found this significantly more in patients who had previously attempted suicide, than those who had not.
In fact 40% of all the depressed patients who attempted suicide had a “mixed episode” rather than just depression.
All the patients who suffer from mixed depression are at much higher risk of suicide.
We also found that the standard DSM criteria identified 12% of patients at showing mixed states, whereas our methods showed 40% of at-risk patients.
This means that the standard methods are missing a lot of patients at risk of suicide.”
Dr. Popovic continued:
“In our opinion, assessing these symptoms in every depressed patient we see is extremely important, and has immense therapeutical implications.
Most of these symptoms will not be spontaneously referred by the patient, the clinician needs to inquire directly, and many clinicians may not be aware of the importance of looking at these symptoms before deciding to treat depressed patients.
This is an important message for all clinicians, from the GPs who see depressed patients and may not pay enough attention to these symptoms, which are not always reported spontaneously by the patients, through to secondary and tertiary level clinicians.
In highly specialized tertiary centres, clinicians working with bipolar patients are usually more aware of this, but that practice needs to extent to all levels.
The strength of this study is that it’s not a clinical trial, with ideal patients — it’s a big study, from the real world.”
The research was presented at the 28th ECNP Congress in Amsterdam (Popovic et al., 2015).
And for about 12 years, playing drums has been a significant part of my life.
I played throughout middle and high school and went on to play drums in the Marine Band for several years. My parents paid so that I could attend private lessons (thank you momma and dad) while in high school.
In lieu of living in apartment, I’ve had to come to settle with playing drums in a video game to whet my percussive appetite.
When I sat down to play “Critical Acclaim” by Avenged Sevenfold the other day, I just sucked. Trying to look for a teachable moment, I came up with these five things that I can relate to my life on a daily basis.
Sometimes my drums are “off” when I play.
Really. They are.
They don’t play when I hit them, or more accurately, they have a lag.
Sometimes my SMART TV or some quirky electronic bug seems to decide on an incorrect default for my drums. This can result in a delay between when I hit the pad and when the sound is heard.
This results in “missed” notes.
This results in my score going down.
Which results in me failing out of a song.
Through a process of troubleshooting, I usually find that I need to recalibrate my drums to my TV. This little factor has a HUGE impact on how well I perform for the stadium of overzealous fans crammed into my beach bungalow’s living room.
In life, I sometimes get off track. My actions don’t align with my beliefs. Sometimes my words can come out all jacked up, potentially ruining someone’s day. My temper flares. My mood swings. My irritability soars. I get overstimulated and need to take a step back.
It’s at times like this that I need to take time to get my recalibration on, baby.
I need to realign my thoughts, actions, and words with my core beliefs.
I need to reorient my moral compass and get my rudder straight.
Sometimes we all get off track.
Better get yo’self back on track.
Better get yo’self some recalibration.
I wish I could play all the songs on Expert and get five stars. The fans deserve it.
Unfortunately, I have a long ways to go.
Fortunately, Rockband has a practice mode.
After I humbled myself the other day to Critical Acclaim, I switched over to Practice Mode and played the song a few times at different speeds. I had to break sections down that were killing me. I had to divide and conquer.
Now I can play the song on Expert.
After playing it about 20 times in the past two days, I finally achieved five stars on “Hard”.
Just to be sure it wasn’t a fluke, I played it again to be positive I could get five stars on the same difficulty level.
Practice paid off.
When I took private lessons, I didn’t like to practice. In fact, a lot of the time I would practice the 30 minutes prior to my lesson, or even in the car on the way to my lesson!
Outside of Rockband, I can at times, suck at communicating with my girlfriend. – I fail “our song”. If you ask her, she knows the hours where I have a metabolic dip that happens to be exacerbated by my sleep apea – times where I’m about as worthless at communicating as a hibernating grizzly.
Being an introvert also puts me at a level where I feel socially inept when it comes to talking to others.
I’m also a “stonewaller” – I reach a point in our arguments where I just withdraw and don’t respond or even talk at all. My exasperation and patience has jumped out the window.
I’ve been holding myself accountable to make these practice areas in our relationship. Meaning, when I’m in a good mood, I’ll try to initiate conversations more. Or when I’m irritable, trying to push myself to say, “listen babe, I want to talk about this, but am just too tired. Can we hit this again in a couple hours or at another time?”
A lot of the time I’m not able to do it and so I have to start all over from the beginning of our song.
We all have things in our life that we have to practice at whether we are already good at what we do, or pushing to be better at something.
There’s things at which we all fail.
Better get yo’self better atcho song.
Better get yo’self some practice time.
3. Overdoing It
When you’re playing Rockband, you have to play what is on screen, NOT what you think the song sounds like.
You need to play what you see, not what you think.
You may have the drum chart to Your Betrayal, or Diary of Jane memorized, but that ain’t what’s on screen if you’re playing on Easy.
A lot of times I’ll throw in a bass drum kick with a cymbal smash because that’s how I learned to play drums and that’s the way the song sounds. But that’s not was the screen is showing.
Sometimes in my relationships, I assume things. I think about something too hard. I incorrectly interpret the tone of a text or read into something that was never intended to mean how I took it.
I need to step back and take things slower. I need to relax a little and take things a little more lightly. I need to be slower in my responses and give them time to cook so I don’t hasten out a response of anger and resentment.
We all have an area in which we overdo it.
Better get yo’self to chill out.
Better get yo’self to slow down and simplify.
4. Baby Steps
Compared to a teenager, it took me an insane amount of time to get to the level in that song that I did. I had to start on Medium then work myself up to Hard. Then I had to work myself up from three starts to five stars.
I didn’t just sit down and play and BAM! I’m at my goal. I had to take things level by level. I had to use baby steps.
We all want things too quickly don’t we?
We all have a sense of video game satisfaction and entitlement where we may want to get to the end sooner rather than later. Where we try to find an easy way around. Where we want to punch in a cheat code instead of unlocking the puzzles in the game.
We all want to skip the trials and journeys.
Better give yo’self some time to git to that goal.
Better get yo’self to take it one step at a time.
5. Time Signature
Probably THE MOST challenging thing for me when playing Rockband is that there is no time signature.
Time signatures to the musician are what signs and lines on the road are for the driver. They tell you how much each thing is worth on the sheet of music. Without it, it’s…well, it’s Rockband.
Rockband has a minimal amount of guidance and sometimes I have to guess at where the notes are to be played. I understand why this is, it just makes things harder for the musician in me.
My life is like that. I have several guides that I need in my life to keep me between the lines on the road of life –
♦ The Bible – this is kind of my oil in the engine and user guide. When I do devotions in the morning and take time to read my Bible, Jesus Calling, and In Touch, I’m filled with peace and hope for the day. Life still happens, but when I have a driver cut in front of me, or given a situation in which I have the opportunity to exercise patience and kindness rather than the opposite, I’m able to come back to what I’ve read earlier that day at my kitchen table. The Bible is my anchor point, magnetic north, and grounding point. It’s also the lines, the speed limit and other signs that keep me grounded and directed in life, helping me stay on the road while I travel.
♦ My friends and family – These are my sounding boards as well as how I receive feedback to my “performance”. If I have ideas that aren’t so great or am about to make a bad decision, these people help me see that. They may give me alternatives or sound advice. They may advise against what I am about to do or support me with reasons why they think I should make a certain decision. They let me know if I’ve earned a 1-star performance or a 5-star performance and what I need to do to move up to the top 5% on the leaderboard.
♦ My conscience/the Holy Spirit – Sometimes I want to respond to my ex-wife’s email and texts with anger and vengeance. Sometimes I get irritable with my girlfriend. I always have a choice on how I respond. When I respond negatively, I get a little pinging in my brain telling me that’s not how I should be doing things – that’s the Holy Spirit. You may call it your conscience but whatever it is, we each get that little morale alarm advising against what we’re about to do, or a little victory bell of confirmation letting us know that we did the right thing.
I screw it up a lot, but I can’t blame it on not having a “time signature”.
We all have a time signature that gives us structure to our lives.
Better find out what drives yo’ life.
Better get yo’self familiar with yo’ time signature.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post, friend. What are your thoughts? I’d love to talk with you in the Comments section.
If you looked me right in the eye Would see the pain deep inside?
Would you take the time to
Tell me what I need to hear
Tell me that I’m not forgotten
Show me there’s a God
Who can be more than all I’ve ever wanted
‘Cause right now I need a little hope
I need to know that I’m not alone
Maybe God is calling you tonight
To tell me something
That might save my life
TRIGGER WARNING:This post is a transparent account of my life with clinical depression and suicide. If this is a trigger for you, please do not read it at this time.
Hi. My name is Chris and I’ve survived with severe depression for about 30 years.
Last year I hanged myself.
I was diagnosed years ago with clinical depression several years ago.
Not the kind that makes you feel sad after your girlfriend breaks up with you, or explains why you feel under the weather when the weather is under.
No, this is much blacker than that.
Those of you who live in my world know exactly what I’m talking about. Those that don’t, please be thankful that you may have a hard time understanding.
This is the kind of depression that silently wraps you in a paralytic blanket on the couch and condemns you to mindlessly become consumed in a Red Box movie marathon. The kind of depression that comes by and kicks you in the nuts and embeds itself on your shoulders, breaking you down to a kitchen floor fetal position, as you cry hysterically for no apparent reason.
The type that digs its claws into your back like a demon, dragging you down into that black abyss and leaving you hopeless with no hope for escape. The kind that sucks away any spirit you had and leaves behind a catatonic shell entombed inside an invisible sarcophagus…and lowers a grey filter over your life.
Breaking Benjamin is spot on when they sing,
There is nothing left inside, but I am wide awake.
The depression that when you look outside on a sunny, bright, clear day, all you see is grey – a Connecticut winter, a London Fog, an arctic wasteland.
And it’s frightening all rolled into one.
That’s my depression. I’ve come to call it the fog of war. That’s our depression.
Thankfully, today I am doing better…surviving through my depression.
Recovering if you will. Maybe recovered. But the condition is always there like a specter, crouched down in the distant corner of my soul, waiting for me to let my guard down.
Lurking just out of the light, in the shadows with its hollow eyes, bearing its fangs and waiting for the chance for me to skip my medicine so it can slash at me…waiting for me to be alone with no protection.
Through counseling, I later discovered my depression was hybrid with an anxiety disorder and adult ADHD. Here are some things I found out about myself the other day from a recent doctor visit:
♦ has anxiety disorder (rule out panic disorder)
♦ has depressive disorder (rule out bipolar disorder)
♦ has adult ADHD
♦ has mood disorder (rule out bipolar disorder)
I was given medicine to cover all the bases but never really felt “at peace”. I’ve been on every anti-depression medicine in the doctor’s locker. Years later (since I left teaching and am working towards divorce) the anxiety has faded into the background and become nonexistent. The ADHD on the other hand is still there but…HEY, SQUIRREL! I believe this positive rebirth is largely the result of the medicine that I’ve been taking.
My Suicide Attempt
On the other hand, the interim was my crucible. Sunday, September 14th of 2014 was my watershed. I remember the day perfectly. It was a warmer, sunny day in Norfolk, VA. Perfect for me to be outside, working on art for my business.
So I rounded up my tools, plugged in my ear buds, and cranked up my tunes. My upstairs neighbor was outside also, grilling dinner for his family on his cooker, which is just out of the left side of the picture below. I talked and laughed with him for a bit then went back to listening to Bullet for My Valentine, Breaking Benjamin, Five Finger Death Punch and the like.
I was perfectly happy despite my playlist. I made the peace sign below that day. I was in the zone. Life was perfect and I was filled with joy and accomplishment.
Hours later as the day started winding down, I began to pack everything up and take it inside. I was tired and worn out but still on top of the world. I tinkered around with my projects inside, painting and drilling until a reasonable time when my neighbors would be going to bed. I try to be as considerate as I can with this.
About 8:30 I called my daughter to tell her good night and that I love her.
Ring. Ring. Ring.
I called her on her second cell phone number.
This is when it started.
This is my trigger.
The beast’s lips peeled back over its incisors as it waited in the corner.
I called her mother’s phone.
No answer. Resentment grew in me. The demon’s chipped, stiletto fingernails reached for me out of the darkness. Resentment quickly gave way to anger. Red. Anger.
The demon slashed.
If it stopped at resentment I would have been “alright”. Not the option a person who is born again should chose. But I went down the road of resentment nonetheless.
I plugged my phone’s playlist into my surround sound and I let the Five Finger Death Punch rip! After a short time, probably 20 minutes after that the anger turned to depression. FFDP’s “Coming Down” was playing and I put it on repeat and cranked it.
“It’s caving in around me, what I thought was solid ground,
I tried to look the other way, but I couldn’t turn around.
It’s ok for you to hate me, for all the things I’ve done,
I’ve made a few mistakes, but I’m not the only one.”
Tonight I didn’t go to the fridge to grab the wine like I usually did.
I went to the 80 proof rum that sat on top. I filled a cup up about 3/4 of the way and then topped the rest off with diet Coke.
I started to drink.
I was walking aimlessly back and forth from my apartment kitchen to my bedroom. Back and forth. Waiting for the elixir to kick in. It did. And the bottom dropped out. I started to cry. I cried vehemently…violently. I don’t know what it’s called at that point, but crying isn’t it.
“Step away from the ledge, I’m coming down.
I could never be, what you want me to.
You pulled me under, to save yourself (save yourself). You will never see, what’s inside of me. I pull you under, just to save myself.”
Forcing myself to focus through my pain, anguish, and tears, I sat down at the corner desk in my bedroom and started to write. About 30 minutes and four pages later I finished my “living will”.
It’s funny they call it that, because it’s at that very moment I decided I didn’t have thewilltolive.
I made sure all my bases were covered for those who would find me and have to deal with the repercussions. I wrote the password to my computer files down for my neighbor and gave ownership of ALL my belongings to her and my mom. The first thing I detailed is that I didn’t want my estranged wife within 50 yards of me at any time from this point forward.
I was very specific.
I gave ownership of everything associated with my art business to the President of our local art association. She’s a dear lady and she would know what to do with all I had. I wanted to make the hassle of the after effects of deciding where my belongings would go, “easier” on them.
I didn’t care about the emotional impact.
I didn’t care about being selfish. You don’t when you’re in it. It didn’t even cross my mind. I was so far gone. Then I texted three friends whom I now call my angels.
“Was there ever any question, on how much I could take? You kept feeding me your bul*****, hoping I would break. Is there anybody out there, is there anyone who cares? Is there anybody listening, who will hear my final prayers?”
The first text was to my upstairs neighbor. She’s my non-blood sister and has grown to be my confidant and trusted friend: “Do you have any sleeping pills?” Her response was “no”.
I texted the lady who is currently my girlfriend and asked the same. “No I don’t. Are you alright?”
The last person I texted was my dear friend who I knew had them. She’s my prayer warrior and a devout, selfless person of faith “Yes, I do. Why?”
My quick response was, “I want to die tonight.”
“Step away from the ledge, I’m coming down.
I could never be, what you want me to.
You pulled me under, to save yourself (save yourself). You will never see, what’s inside of me. I pull you under, just to save myself.”
Between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m. I walked to my closet door and took out a belt. I looped the buckled end then looped the holed end around the door handle. I secured that end with about five zip ties so it could handle the weight of a 205 lb., 41 year old male. I sat down on the floor and cinched it around my neck. Just slack enough so that when I passed out and fell forward it would take my life through suffocation.
When I had finished sizing and positioning the noose, I released myself and got my bottle of sleeping pills.
“It’s caving in around me (caving in), it’s tearing me apart (tearing me). It’s all coming down around me (coming down). Does anyone care at all? I will never be, what you want me to. You pull me under, I pull you under.”
I sat down with my second drink, re-attached myself, and opened the bottle of pills. I wasn’t scared of what I was doing.
I was scared that it wouldn’t work.
[phone ringing and goes to voice mail] I had committed and had no sense of judgment left in me.
[phone ringing again and going to voice mail] I took three pills and threw them back in my throat, forcing them down with my liquid courage. I laughed at myself and thought, “You have to be joking. You’re trying to die, not go to sleep.”
[phone ringing and going to voice mail a third time] I dumped the rest of the pills on the floor and took one handful.
Gulp. I grabbed another handful.
Gulp. This was easy.
I grabbed a third handful. Gulp. I chased them with the last of the rum and Coke.
And waited. I remember things got blurry and my eyes got heavy.
“I could never be, what you want me to You pulled me under, to save yourself (save yourself) You will never see, what’s inside of me I pull you under, just to save myself”
Two days later I came to awareness in a hospital bed. I didn’t have restraints on, they took those off the day before, I learned. I had on eight point leather restraints because I was so violent. Two on each limb.
I spent the next week in the hospital, stabilizing. While in the hospital I couldn’t believe I was surrounded by so much love and support. It’s all still sinking in several months later. I am thankful for all those people in my life. I love them all. And I am indebted to them.
When I left the hospital, I was transported to the Virginia Beach Psychiatric Center of my own recognizance. I remained there for a week.
What I’ve Learned
1. Journal (or blog). I’ve learned to blog about my experiences. Whether you do this in a paper journal offline, or a virtual journal on the web, this will normalize things for you. You will not only be telling about your personal experiences and processing things for yourself, but you will also read stories of others going through the exact same thing. And you will know that you are not alone. This will be the start of a wonderful support network for you. Blogging will help you put your situation in perspective. It will help you crystallize the things that matter…the truths. It will allow you to see the progress you’re making. It will allow you to see your lapses as well as write about what you will do differently next time. I’ve found that writing about mental “illnesses” is a really big issue in the blogging world. Why not express yourself in a public forum and receive support from others that are going through the same issues?
2. Have a support network.On the night of my incident, the last friend I texted knew EXACTLY what I was doing. She lives a solid 50 minutes away from me. As soon as she got my text she rushed to her car and sped to my home. It was her three calls that I heard on my phone that night as she called on the way to my home. She got there in 20 minutes! She rallied several others to save me that night. They are my angels. I would be dead if she were not in my life. I love you, Chelise. If you need a place to start looking to start a support network, join the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI). Find a local group to join as your support system. I am working on doing this for 2015.http://www.nami.org/
3. Have a plan.I did not have a plan for when the beast reached out in September. I should have had an intervention and had it posted on my wall. I should have had a contract that I signed with my support network. I didn’t have a support network either. The first step would be to call [a specific name here] should I feel like I’m becoming depressed. The people that were closest to me that night all keep our phones on and the volume on high when we go to sleep. We answer when the others call, no questions asked. No apologies. No judgments. It’s our oath.
4. Take your medications religiously.I have been on medications for years. You will need to contact an MD who can prescribe your medicine but also set up a schedule with a psychologist. A professional who can be an outlet for you. Someone who teaches you how to move forward and gives you strategies or resources for help. It MAY take time to find the right combination of medicines. For me it was years. Don’t give up here. DON’T. GIVE. UP. Keep going until you find the combination that works. It makes ALL the difference in the world. In hindsight, the only combination that worked for me was the one I got in the psychiatric center. You will suffer less the sooner you and your doctor decipher this. Be transparent with your doctor and tell him/her what works, what doesn’t work, how you feel, when you feel what you do (dates, days, and times), and for how long. Keep a journal of the medicine you take along with the date and the amount. I used to get weary of carrying a paper journal around so I have a file in my (free)Evernoteapp labeled, Prescriptions. Keep track of them here and also bring the actual bottles in to your doctor when you meet with them.
5. Don’t drink.Yes, give up ALL alcohol. Drinking negates the effects of the medicine. I was drinking a lot of wine at one point and could definitely feel a difference. You have to try YOUR BEST to not drink any alcohol. We have a “disease” we live with…a cancer of the soul. This is the biggest way to combat the emotional effects of the specter that haunts us.
6. Challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone of seclusion.I’m an introvert. I like my alone time. Alone time can be dangerous. If it’s not time that you’re recharging your socially depleted batteries, it’s probably tipping into the red zone. Force yourself to seek help and comfort from your friends. Reach out to them. You may have to be a friend to get a friend. It doesn’t have to be all of them. Just one. Find your angel.
7. Exercise.The second biggest way to combat the beast lurking in the corner, is exercise. After alcohol, this is the biggest factor for a healthy mind. If you don’t like weights, try the treadmill. If you don’t like the treadmill, try walking on the beach. If you don’t like walking on the beach, sign up for a Yoga class. Get outside. Get up. Notice the greatness of God’s nature around you. Get your heart pumping. Get those endorphins surging through your veins. Push yourself to up your heart rate for 20″ straight. Aim for once a week and move up to two times a week. Strive for 3-5 times a week over time. Forgive yourself if you miss a workout. It won’t be the end of the world. This is not short term or a five day fad diet to get in shape for Spring Break. This is long term baby! If you think about it in these terms, you’ll be more forgiving of yourself when you don’t get up to get the heart rate up.
8. Give thanks.Be thankful for the small things in life. Say it out loud. “I’m thankful for the bright sun.” “I’m thankful that my car works.” “I’m thankful to have a job.” In exercise of my faith, I spend days walking along the beach picking up sea glass and shells. Each time I find a piece of glass or shell and bend down to pick it up I say, “Thank You for this, Lord” The more you can program your brain to be thankful, the brighter your days will become. Little by little. Baby steps.
9. Don’t beat yourself up.My new mantra is, “I realize I’m perfectly imperfect, and that’s perfectly okay”. It came to me as clear as day while I was in the psychiatric unit. You have to learn to not punish yourself. You are human. You give grace to others. Now just give it to yourself.
10. You. Are. Not. Crazy.Don’t EVER let someone tell you are crazy. And don’t you DARE believe the lie. What you are going through is VERY, VERY real. Don’t EVER let someone downplay what you may have to deal with on a daily basis. Don’t let them downplay it if you go through it once a year. It is real. It lives with us. It may lurk in the corner or it may not. We realize this. You are human just like everyone else around you. This is not anillness, this is a lifestyle.
I see a direct relationship between the homelessness as it emerged in the late 20th Century and the American Eugenics Movement which was globally popular before World War 2. Homelessness is described in the Eugenics Handbook as “Lethal Neglect.”
I sit here in the midst of an amount of wash not known to mankind. I look, I think. I ask what more could I have done.
It was before the death of my husband that it was noticed that my oldest needed help. Something was “wrong”. She was then only in the 3rd grade. 3 years later when her Father died, she never really came back to her pre 3rd grade personality. What happened to her is still a mystery, only known to the monster that is eating at her life.
At the age of 21 now, no where near being able to move out and move “on”, no where near being able to reach to ask what it living inside her head making her the self destructive person she is by not caring about her personal belongings, not finding value in anything at all, what do you do?
What do you do when YOU have survived only to live in the eyes of the trauma you child can’t break through, perhaps never break through. How do you deal with the pain today, that was far worse than the pain of yesterday.
You pray….you hope…you cry and then you cry again.
Time is very much synchronated, but not the clock of survival. There we all wear own very own personalized watch.
For your child, it is being there. Promising them that you will never give up on them even if they give up on themselves….and holding that promise sacred. Their time will come. It must.
Having made and promptly broken every resolution made for New Years in the past, I’m trying something different this year. I have decided to pick 2 keywords as my themes for the year which will hopefully guide my actions in the 12 months ahead.
The words I have chosen for 2015 are “create” and “giving”. I want to build up and not tear down. I would like to make something new, whether it is a new blog post, an article written out of my comfort zone, an e-book, or building a sense of community in my online and virtual worlds. I want to share my experiences more transparently and honestly in the hopes that even one reader will say to herself, “hey, I’m not alone feeling this way”. As I wrote in an earlier post, The Winning Ticket, I want to give back to my community, not keep…
Depression is a common experience. We have all felt ‘depressed’ about a friend’s cold shoulder, misunderstandings in our marriage, tussles with teenage children – sometimes we feel ‘down’ for no reason at all.
However, depression can become an illness when:
The mood state is severe
It lasts for 2 weeks or more and
It interferes with our ability to function at home or at work.
Signs of a depression include:
Lowered self-esteem (or self-worth)
Change in sleep patterns, that is, insomnia or broken sleep
Changes in appetite or weight
Less ability to control emotions such as pessimism, anger, guilt, irritability and anxiety
Varying emotions throughout the day, for example, feeling worse in the morning and better as the day progresses
Reduced capacity to experience pleasure: you can’t enjoy what’s happening now, nor look forward to anything with pleasure. Hobbies and interests drop off
Reduced pain tolerance: you are less able to tolerate aches and pains and may have a host of new ailments
Changed sex drive: absent or reduced
Poor concentration and memory: some people are so impaired that they think that they are becoming demented
Reduced motivation: it doesn’t seem worth the effort to do anything, things seem meaningless
Lowered energy levels.
If you have such feelings and they persist for most of the day for more days than not over a two week period, and they interfere with your ability to manage at home and at work, then you might benefit from getting an assessment by a skilled professional.
Having one or other of these features, by themselves, is unlikely to indicate depression, however there could be other causes which may warrant medical assessment.
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