Meet Chance- Future Service Dog in Training

Having POTS has really changed my life. I haven’t been able to walk without assistance for over a year, due to being extremely dizzy and uncontrollable chronic migraines. I also pass out a lot. My family and I made the executive decision to get a puppy and get him trained to be my service dog! The service dog will be able to assist me in public, and also be trained for when I’m home alone to be able to help me when I pass out; or incase of an emergency.

To be honest, I was nervous to even think about getting a service dog. I was afraid when I take him out in public people would judge me or stare. I realized that if a service dog will give me some independence, and be there to help me when needed- then I don’t care what people will think. I decided I need to do what’s best for me. I am home alone a lot, because I work from home. Due to passing out a lot and being dizzy, my family worry about me a lot when I’m alone and also try not to leave me alone for very long. A service dog will be able to help me in case of an emergency and also will be there when I need stability when I walk. I learned instead of caring what others think, I need to get out and live my life and not base my life on others opinions.

After searching for weeks for the perfect dog for me, I found one- a golden retriever. His name is Chance, and my boyfriend and I fell in love with him instantly!

He is super sweet, and we developed a bond right then and there.

When we first brought him home, we felt like we were bringing home a newborn home from the hospital. We

were all nervous on how it would go, and how he would fit in with our other dog and cat. It actually went better than I ever could have imagined.

Chance and my cat- Joey are now forever friends, and Max leads Chance like a big brother around the house.

He is a very playful puppy, and he loves to cuddle.

We put him in puppy class, so he can associate with other puppies and learn basic commands. He is a super quick learner, but he gets distracted easily. He has graduated puppy class and just started the intermediate class.

Chance is teething and definitely loves to chew up shoes! Fingers crossed that habit breaks soon! He tends be become a little crazy, but we can all use a little crazy in our lives. It has really been fun watching him grow up, and develop a personality. I can’t wait for our bond to become even closer as he grows.

This has been an unforgettable journey so far and I look forward to him being able to help me; so I can become more independent, and can go even just to the grocery store by myself. Chance has been the missing piece in my heart I never knew I was missing. My boyfriend and I have truly become a little family with our puppy and its been heart warming. I look forward to sharing my journey with you all.

The post Meet Chance- Future Service Dog in Training appeared first on Life with an Illness.

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~PAIN~

Pain has a way to rope and lasso you in, All you want to do is scream and escape your skin. In this tortuous and arduous situation- life has basically come to a hault, Never believe that this obstacle has ever been your fault. For, you will overcome this horrifying pain, Utilize the strength your…

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The Positive Side of Having a Chronic Illness

Having several chronic illnesses, I’ve learned that with a positive outlook even during the hardest times you can still find the good in situations. Everyone endures a difficult trial, it’s the way you look at it, that determines how you will get through it. There are a million negatives of having a chronic illness, however,…

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“You Don’t Look Sick”

An invisible illness is not only difficult to deal with physically but it’s also mentally. An invisible illness is defined as not immediately visible. When you’re hurting and miserable the last thing you want to hear is “well, at least you look great, you don’t look sick”. Here is everything you need to know as…

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Inner Strength- Poem

Your world feels like it is crumbling at your feet, All you want to do is climb in bed forever, and hide under your sheet. You know you won’t ever give up, But you just pray and wish the pain will just let up. You have a little piece of light in your heart,that the…

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Never Give Up

Life will always throw trials and tribulations your way. There are times where you just want to give up, and go back to bed. It’s a lot easier to just say I’m done, I can’t do this anymore. It takes a truly strong person to pick themselves up, and continue the fight. It takes a…

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What’s in my Infusion Bag?

Infusions are used for several different illnesses.When your doctor tells you that, you will now be receiving infusions, it tends to make you feel very overwhelmed. There are also several different types of infusions. Infusions can also range in how long they will take. I had to get an IVIG infusion for lupus, and now…

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Calling Those with a Chronic Illness Lazy

Having a chronic illness, is honestly brutal. We are always faced with hard trials, and dealing with intense pain. It’s like constantly living in a nightmare, that you can’t wake up from. It’s extremely hurtful, and a huge letdown for someone to call those with a chronic illness lazy. Unfortunately, it’s common to hear. A…

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Easy Ways to Organize your Medication

With having several chronic illnesses, my medication list is extrmely long. It can often become overwhelming looking at my list and trying to organize it. It’s also very easy to forget I took a pill, or take a pill and forget I took it. Here are easy ways to organize your medication. Use a pill…

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The Power of Staying Positive

With having a chronic illness you are constantly being thrown difficult trials. Having several chronic illnesses myself, its been the hardest thing I have ever been through. Even though I struggle, I always get asked how I stay so positive and how I have a great attitude through all of this. Everyone has their bad…

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Thank You for 2,000 Followers!

Wow! I am speechless!♡ I just want to take this time to thank you. Thank you, for reading. Thank you, for your support. Thank you, for helping me spread awareness, and helping others. Two years ago, I got sick. After countless amounts of tests, doctors, trips to clinics, and hospital stays I still am fighting…

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Things a Person with an Illness doesn’t want to Hear

With a life changing illness comes an emotional rollercoaster. Often illnesses are accompanied with depression or anxiety. With emotional health and physical health you will have your good days, your bad days, and your really bad days. It’s always nice to see family and friends but we all hear things that we don’t want to…

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Ways to Reduce Stress Successfully

Stress is something we all face. It’s unavoidable at times, and causes more weight on top of your shoulders. Prolonged stress is found to be linked to several health conditions such as: anxiety, depression, heart disease, strokes, and etc.. It’s important to keep your stress under control. Here are ways to reduce stress successfully. Keep…

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Ashwagandha

Originally posted on Journey Into A on November 11, 2017.

My dad always tells me “use your tools”. Without fail, every time I tell him I’m feeling depressed or anxious, he says “use your tools”. From there, I’ve looked at my methods of helping myself as tools in a toolbox.

I’ve got a bunch of these tools and I’m always looking for more because not everything will work every time and not the same mixture of things will work. My body seems to reject everything I use in the spring and summer and needs something else in the fall and winter and that’s not just talking about natural supplements, but toothpaste, shampoos, and more. The more tools I have to combat the ebbs and flows of depression and anxiety along with the differences half of the year makes on my body, the better.

A few months ago, I was asking about a mood boosting probiotic and another customer mentioned Ashwagandha to me. She went on and on about how it’s an ancient remedy that helps elevate mood and a number of other things. I didn’t get it right then and there because, well, I had to research it. I didn’t know or trust this person and it was the first time I’d heard about it.

Ashwagandha is an herb that can help with a multitude of things, but I take it for stress and depression. I bought it about a month and a half ago and have only used it a few times, but it has helped so it’s added into my toolbox. It feels like it resets me or helps me to reset myself, if that makes any sense. It’s as if the stress and depression are smoothed out over to the side and I have an easier time moving around it rather than it weighing me down and suffocating me. On top of that, it doesn’t make me feel drowsy, which is huge! It’s now my go-to when things are too heavy.

I’m grateful for that stranger putting in her two cents. Her words stayed in my mind and led me to try another supplement to help me. So now, I’m telling you all about it!

*Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and I do not claim to be. Everyone’s body is different and what works for me may not work for you. I am merely speaking about my own experiences with natural supplements. I suggest you do your research and/or talk to your doctor. The site I’ve linked (here and above) is just one of many I have visited, but that one seems to be where you could get the most information.

Why did I go natural? Read the backstory there.

Me and My Pharma Cocktail Took a Little Trip

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.

Drawing Mental Illness | [Video]

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.

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Brain Bugs

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.

My brain.

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

Today I Created a Facebook page…

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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.

Chris

My Depression Controls Me

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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.

This Depression Thing

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?

shades_01I 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.Quote_gray_001

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.

 

Here’s my fantasy world map so far…

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!

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Here is the original map I started with…

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And I redrew it here…

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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!

Catharsis and the Angels

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Catharsis hung there.

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.

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.

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.

Their screams.

They were forever labeled in society by those they knew. Those they loved. Those they had children with. Their families. Their neighbors.

Branded.

Shunned.

Stigmatized.

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.

Alone.

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.”

Thought Someone, Right Now, Needed to Hear This.

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“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.

Love and the Maiden

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.

Wasn’t it?

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.

Relentlessly.

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.

But.

Sometimes love does not win.

There’s This at Work…

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My daughter helped me design this board at work.

I was prejudiced.

I prejudged.

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.

An Update About My TMS Consultation

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

http://tmsneuro.com/help-beat-depression-with-tms-therapy-treatment/?gclid=CM725YOd58wCFQWUfgodsSwJ8g

The Mayo Clinic

http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/transcranial-magnetic-stimulation/home/ovc-20163795

Neurostar TMS Therapy

https://neurostar.com/neurostar-tms-depression-treatment/

The Ivory Tower | [Short Story]

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.

Why Won’t My Brain Light Up?

(or, My Decision to Explore TMS)

brain_001

It’s simple really.

You know?

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.

brain_003

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.

wh atma y me an s2 m3

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.

A.

Lot.

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.

Depression.

A severe, deep-seated depression.

My Specter.

Picture 5

[SOURCE: https://indisposedandundiagnosed.wordpress.com/2015/06/10/this-is-what-chronic-illness-looks-like/comment-page-1/#comment-1817]

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Exude grace. Strive to give others the benefit of the doubt.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

“Cry Thunder”

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

Cry thunder!
Sword in his hand,
Titans of justice, fearless we stand
Cry thunder!
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

March on
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

Cry thunder!
Sword in his hand,
Titans of justice, fearless we stand
Cry thunder!
Strong in command
Blessed by the union, freedom of man

[Solos]

Unholy darkness,
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

Cry thunder!
Sword in his hand,
Titans of justice, fearless we stand
Cry thunder!
Strong in command,
Saviour of nations, freedom of man

Cry thunder!
Sword in his hand,
Warriors defending,
One final stand
Cry thunder!
Strong in command,
Blessed by the union, freedom of man

Blessed by the union of man
Cry thunder!
Yeah yeah

I Want to See What You See | Poetry

Poetry_do you see what i see_001.jpg

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

Keeping My Brother

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…

…and drills…

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”

About This Map

20160421_104910.jpgMany 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.

Nurturing Emotional Wounds

Emotions should be treated with kindness and a gentle spirit. When an emotions feels like it is too overwhelming you can console that feeling and care for it.  Think of your emotions and feelings as children who need to be taken care of and nurtured. If you abandon your feelings they will only grow more. […]

http://gentlementalannie.com/2015/12/12/9635/

Sometimes | [POETRY]

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.

poetry_sometimes_001

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

Specter | [POETRY]

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.

X Chris

specter_poem_001

specter_poem_002

specter_poem_003

specter_poem_004

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.

suicide awareness_001 suicide_prevention_002

Who is Specter?

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.

X Chris


specter

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.

specter_003This…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:

Continue reading “Who is Specter?”