Unfortunately the newsletter I received is a month behind, however this is a digital series and maybe missed episode may be available.
i built a little wall around
a broken little heart I found
that’d fallen out upon the ground
to save it from the hurt
i patched the hurt and kissed the pain
i hugged away the guilt and shame
i helped to make it beat again
the once l’il broken heart
I came across the video below about artist Shawn Coss who decided to draw one mental health illness each day for the month of October. I contacted Shawn and asked him for permission to post some of his work on my blog and he was kind enough to agree.
Also, check out this excellent article about Shawn on The Mighty here – https://themighty.com/2016/10/shawn-coss-creates-creepy-drawings-of-mental-illnesses-for-inktober/
You can order prints of Shawn’s artwork at the link here – https://any-means-necessary-clothing.myshopify.com/collections/inktober-illness-2016/products/inktober-illnesses-11×17-print
Be sure to support him by liking his Facebook page and checking out his YouTube videos.
Laying on the couch.
Skeletal arm around me.
Sucks my soul away.
This morning, as I was drinking a cup of coffee, a day after my 43rd birthday, I felt a convulsive scattering across the roof of my mouth.
I choked. And spit.
I looked down and saw the bug lying upside down in the light brown liquid, its legs kicking profusely.
I stared at it.
I knew what it was. And I knew where it came from.
The bugs had been with me for as long as I could remember. They are part of my life. I don’t like it, they just are.
At first I was afraid of them. Disgusted. I could feel them crawling over the surface of my hippocampus and through the channels of my amygdala.
I used to scratch my forehead incessantly because I could feel something crawling under my skin, beneath my skull. Like something had burrowed into my nasal passages at night and worked its way into my prefrontal cortex. And laid its eggs. That’s what my brother always told me. We all heard those stories as kids, right?
I didn’t know what it was, or if it was even normal. I was a pre-teen going through a lot of weird changes. A lot of things didn’t make sense at the time.
I remember my first experience with the bugs. I was in middle school at a friend’s birthday party. Introverted, standing away from the crowd. I didn’t know why, and I know it sounds selfish, but I just didn’t feel like being there. The thought of being around groups of people was daunting to me. I forced myself to go, knowing I wasn’t going to have any fun. I just wanted to be at home, locked away in the safety of my bedroom where no one could bother…no, harm me.
So while I was at this party, I felt the itching again. More intense this time. I was worried someone would see me scratching and scrunching my nose, point it out to others, and people would ridicule me. I tried to hide it. I don’t know why I didn’t go to the bathroom before it happened, I just stood there. To my complete disgust, the bug fell from my nose onto my sleeve. I gasped and swatted at it but it just dropped and scurried away into the corner.
I don’t think anyone noticed because no one said anything and people were even coming up to me to talk.
That’s when I knew I was different than a lot of other kids at school.
That was when I knew I had something.
I couldn’t sleep at night. I could feel the bugs scurrying over the macaroni-like canals of my brain as I tossed and turned. I was exhausted during the day but couldn’t sleep for beans at night.
I later learned about something called cortisol, and that it made a part of my brain larger and more active. This is what caused my disturbances – what made it impossible to sleep.
I think the bugs make cortisol in their bodies and then inject it into my brain like venom. It’s what makes me feel and act the way I do.
“It’s just a phase”, my dad said. “Probably from you starting middle school this year.”
“You’ll get better, honey”, my mom comforted.
They just didn’t know.
I didn’t know.
Eventually I came to accept that the bugs were there to stay. I somehow got used to the itching. What choice did I have?
My parents sent me to therapy with my ludicrous and unexplainable rantings of “brain bugs”. The doctor was gentle and understanding while I explained through tears and hanging my head in shame .
“They’re always there”, I sobbed.
“I know”, he whispered. “We’re going to help you.”
I didn’t really understand what the medicine he gave me did, or what it was called. It had letters though-I think an “s” or two, an “r”, and an “i”, or something like that. I was desperate. I couldn’t live like this anymore. Especially when no one believed me.
I took the pills every day like he told me. After a few weeks, the itching began to subside. It was still there, just not as intense. Muted. I learned how to keep the bugs more-or-less contained, though they were always there . At least the medicine helped prevent them from falling out of my ears or nose. I could still feel them moving back and forth inside my skull but I was numb at the same time. I think the medicine made me feel that way – zombie-ish.
I remember that several months after I began therapy, I noticed a girl standing by herself in the cafeteria. She was pretty so I didn’t understand why she was by herself. Probably just waiting on some friends I guessed.
Her eyes darted around the room, almost like she was nervous or didn’t want to be there.
And then I saw her scratch her forehead and wrinkle her nose a few times.
When I walked over to her, she sheepishly looked at me with the one eye that wasn’t hidden behind her beautiful brown hair.
“I’ve got ’em, too”, I told her, casting my gaze down to the ground.
A tear glistened down her cheek.
“Come on”, I nodded.
She smiled. Her eyebrow lifted.
And we turned and got into line to buy our food
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.
Unfortunately, I can empathize with you, my friend.
For my depression controls me, too.
It is not a passing state of mind, nor a feeling.
It is something we survive through every day.
Sometimes, on certain days, it’s not as intense.
But it is always there.
A lot of people may never guess because I try to hide it.
I hide it by staying to myself.
And by pretending like I am concentrating and hard at work.
I am introverted…
…because I don’t want to pull other people down with me.
If my friends didn’t invite me to do things with them…
…I would constantly isolate.
A lot of the times I say “no” anyways because I am “busy”.
I know I am not alone, but a lot of the time it feels that way.
It ruins my intimate relationships.
It makes me run away from those who love me.
This depression sucks the happy out of me.
Even on sunny, beautiful days, all I can see is gray.
I sleep – a lot. Because depression numbs me.
I get frustrated with myself all the time because of how things are.
I don’t want it to be this way, but it just is.
The whole issue with this depression thing – it has sucked all life out of me like some soul harvester.
This past year has been one of the most relentless struggles I’ve had to endure. It gets worse each day I aimlessly trudge through my daily dosage of hours like a walker. And I don’t see an end in sight.
I feel like I stare at an hourglass in front of me. Glossy-eyed and lost faced, watching each grain of sand tumble through the bottleneck , building up the mountain in the chamber below that represents time passed.
The sand falls in slow motion.
Maybe you can relate?
I don’t see the sunshine. I’ve had this gray film over my life. It is a sunny, bright, 82º outside my Norfolk, VA apartment. I can’t see it. I don’t feel the warmth in my soul. I keep all the blinds shut. It’s not the kind of depression where you can simply open the blinds and the gray is gone. That doesn’t work. Our friends will suggest it…to open the shades and let the sunshine in. But those who don’t live with it can’t ever understand that just doesn’t work. It’s a fog of war. It stays.It permeates the skin and sinks down to the core. It’s a wave that has to be ridden.
I’ve been riding the crashing part of the barrel for months.
I have no drive. It’s really hard to continue when you feel so hopelessly apathetic. I get so sick of looking at the hourglass and longing for sleep. If I feel inspired to do something I change to something else before I finish what I started. So many things left unfinished. I wander back and forth in my apartment sometimes feeling that I’m going crazy. Most people that don’t live with this affliction would quickly suggest to exercise. All the other articles and advice out there scream that, but how can you bring yourself to that if you can’t even walk across the street to the beach on such an ideal day?
I’m numb and I don’t feel happiness. I don’t feel the happiness that other people feel when it’s sunny out. I should. I want to feel it. I want to feel “normal”. I want the chemicals in my body to react like that. I don’t want to be numb anymore. Catatonic. Zombie-ish. I’m trying to blog it out because journaling is supposed to be the best form of therapy for depression. It hardly is for me. It’s not cathartic. I’ve had an impossible time dragging myself to type this post and hardly feel any form of relief or healing from doing so. Getting a buzz from drinking (exactly the opposite of what I need to be doing, I know) used to give me a tinge of happiness. Now, that doesn’t even work. I’ve lost all interest in all things: writing, drinking, walking on the beach, reading, drawing, sex, photography, being a dad, friendships. I’ve thought a lot about dying. Not being suicidal, but just as a quiet way to end the mind numbing hourglass watching.
I fail at relationship. I isolate. I drive people away. I drive myself away from people. I isolate myself from those who love and care about me. It makes me drive those away who love me.
I’ve lost a foothold in my faith. I used to find peace when I read the Word and prayed early in the morning. That has been sucked away too. I don’t have the same happiness that I see on other believers’ faces, like when I used to go to church. I want that simple happiness of just waking up and being happy. I know they have their own problems, and sometimes that smile is just plastered on, but I just want to feel the Spirit move me to happiness.
* * *
How does your depression make you feel?
Maybe all this strikes a cord. If it does, please remember: you certainly are not alone.
Limp. Swaying from the rafter that supported his mud and straw-thatched roof.
He could hear the cord stretch and groan from his weight as his eyes became heavy.
Back and forth.
His eyes began to close as the cord tightened and choked off his life wind. Choking his hope. His will to live. His resilience.
He hadn’t the will to raise his arms and save himself. He could have he supposed. But he refused. He felt a calming peace blanketing him as his life energy fell through the soles of his feet, leaving his body forever.
Finally he would be free of this torment.
Finally he would have peace.
Peace from this Wahrlog of the Darkness.
The Darkness. A darkness so consuming, so debilitating, that each day was a struggle. A struggle to rise each morning. A struggle to tend to his fields. A struggle to continue life. A life coated with apathy.
He had hid it well from his fellow villagers. Masked it behind his toiling in the fields. Masked it behind his inward solitude. Disguised it with the will to be alone. To remain undiscovered and unbranded with the Stigma.
He knew others who had been discovered. Who had been branded on their forehead with the seal of their affliction – their illness. He remembered seeing the searing iron hissing as it sunk into their flesh. Leaving a soft cloud of smoke as it pushed deeper into them.
And their screams.
They were forever labeled in society by those they knew. Those they loved. Those they had children with. Their families. Their neighbors.
Some, like himself, afflicted with the darkness – the deep, dark, debilitating depression he knew since he was a child.
Others, afflicted with the fear – remnants of some past traumatic stressing life event that had ripped their soul in half, and forced them to relive their past horrors. Manifest in the forms of flashbacks and tortured by the night harpies of terror. He could hear their screams at night.
In the darkness.
Others, afflicted with the rage – elevated, hyper levels of anxiousness brought on by some outside trigger. Issuing in a brain pandemonium of paranoia and irritability. Lashing out at those whom they held closest as they wandered through their personal fog of war.
Through his closing vision, Catharsis could faintly make out the Specter emerging from the darkness. Moving closer. Stretching his pale white claws from his cloak, his talons scratching the walls of Catharsis’ mud home. Digging into the hardened clay and leaving deep cuts as chunks of adobe were ripped away. In and out of his slumber, Catharsis thought how they resembled his fields that he had just returned from. Their perfect rows whose cast shadows aligned harmoniously in the setting sun.
This was his last thought of peacefulness as Catharsis’ eyes closed.
And Specter’s grip closed around his throat.
* * *
At the instant the beast secured his grip to claim his prize, a magnificent burst of white light flooded the room.
Specter shrieked like a hung pig being bled dry and lurched back from the blazon firestorm that enshrouded the hanging body.
Two forms took their place next to the body of Catharsis. On either side, like stark angelic sentries sent to protect him from the Wahrlog. They raised their hands and in a fluid motion brought them down, lances appearing and striking the mud floor.
Specter hissed and the sentries lowered their weapons, tips pointed at its open throat.
A sentry stepped forward a crouched in the dirt, bracing itself with its weapon. Slowly and deliberately it scratched a line across the floor, fire following in a steady trail.
It retracted and regained its position.
“Though shall not pass” the two sentries whispered.
Specter lurched through the flame and in one swift movement was impaled on their spears. Instantaneously, Specter disintegrated into the light, taking with him his shadows and his darkness.
* * *
As one sentry held fast the body of Catharsis, the other swiftly swung its lance at the noose, cutting him free.
Lowering him to the ground the sentries whispered, “you are safe child.”
We arrived home late afternoon yesterday and the drive wasn’t quite as bad Hooray for that!Well driving we reflected on our weekend e cried listened to music ,it was hard all in all watching my sister in laws husband battle cancer its slowly popping up in all places and breathing is compressed by his tumor in the lungs that one can hear him breath miles away with much difficulty ..well we were there my in laws phoned they booked there tickets they arrive 20 July with there sister who we haven’t seen in more than 10 years ..excited to see the three monkey to they all under ten and one aged 3 .
So we booked our tickets well at his sister to fly well his parents are here to new Plymouth this is massive for me,but we all excited .This week is huge my mom went in for a third op related to her broken femur and hip replacement last night in south Africa its hard to try encourage when she battles to .And today my sister will find out whether she has cancer in the lymph nobs as well ,one weeks ago they removed a tumor in the breast and then sent away for extensive testing today she finds out the results .Hubby i must say is very understanding of the emotions right now.
I took my usual meds the whole weekend to satisfy hubby but last night left them and this morning well hubby was searching for his medicine he came across my stock pile and woke me at 5 am with holly crap theirs about three months here for you how fucking long have you not taken Groan its only 4 weeks not thee months relax …i cant do this im only trying to please others and that hard enough ..I NEED TO KEEP REMINDING ME ITS ABOUT ME AND ME ONLY.
This mornings side effects of starting and stopping meds is one hell of a headache its throbbing,but too a feeling of been isolated from the world i look out side and dream to walk patches by our sea side but the gripping fear some how arises and home i wish to stay rather were its safe ,quite ,and no one can touch me.
“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.
Before Catharsis passed through his Breaking Point against the Wahrlog of Darkness, there were many days his mind would wander.
One thing he thought about was love.
He wondered…wondered if he was ever capable of it.
He thought he was. Or rather, many paths in his life supported that he was capable of what he thought was an elusive emotion:
Ages ago he had been married. Wasn’t this love?
He had helped bare a daughter into the world. Surely this was an act of love.
He often stopped along the rocky roadside to help strangers whose carts had succumbed to wear. Or those who had been bogged down in the tumultuous weather and storms. This had to be love.
Or when he could, he offered what he had to his neighbors or friends in need. Without doubt, this was love.
It seemed he could go on and on with these proofs and until the settling sun descended over the city wall, and the moon ascended with its blanket of darkness, enshrouding Ǚr and the surrounding countryside. Tucking it in.
He could summon endless proof of love.
But he could find no proof in feeling it. The Darkness muted it.
Often times those three words felt empty. He wanted to feel them. But for some reason he couldn’t feel them.
He could only act them out.
Perhaps that was enough in itself.
Perhaps love was not a feeling.
Perhaps it was a choice.
* * *
Many years after the loss of his marriage to the Darkness, he had experienced intimate Relationship with a woman who suffered with Affliction as he did. It was the first time in a long time he held this communal bond with another.
Someone who understood his life with clarity.
It was upon this last thought on which his mind wandered…
Her struggle was not with the same beast as his – this Wahrlog of Darkness.
No, hers was with other beasts; these Wahrlogs of Affliction who exacted their punishments as Rage and Fear.
Yet she, she seemed so oddly capable of love and tenderness. Regardless of the terrors and harpies she battled every night. So inclined to it with all her humanness and personal torments. Greater than Catharsis himself had ever dealt with. So much greater than he was capable of.
It came so naturally to her.
She tended to him and more importantly, understood him. She validated his misgivings and second thoughts.
When they both were strong, they were both strong. But when they were weak, they were oh so weak. So weak that no force could bring them back after they had been ripped asunder. She always seemed to bring them back though.
It seemed over the years that he had lost love. Lost it to the damned Darkness.
Lost it to apathy.
Lost it to lethargy.
Lost it to reclusiveness.
Lost it to the punishment of the relentless Specter – that Wahrlog of Darkness that scratched the walls of his soul with its sinister talons. Torturing him from the dark recesses of his mind.
When he pushed back to fight for what he wanted, It dug its claws deeper through the flesh of his back. Injecting the venom of lethargy and apathy until it dripped into his soul. Sedating him from the surrounding world. Wrapping its free arm around his neck in a stranglehold. Choking off his breath. Choking off his will to pursue what he had wanted.
And then Catharsis would succumb to the Darkness yet again.
Until he made himself alone.
It made Catharsis do things he didn’t want to do. It made him hurt those that were closest to him. It made him callous. It incited him with irate intolerance. Sometimes causing him to lash out in a sleep-deprived state. Venomous forked tongue. That’s what the Darkness did to his soul.
And so it was that at just the time he believed he was beginning to live a normal life. A life consistent with his fellow citizens in the village. It was about that time that it all fell apart.
It was an unfortunate fact of his life.
Sometimes love does not win.
I was prejudiced.
I didn’t think that an office of 400+ onsite/offsite employees would support this.
I didn’t think a firm of 10,000+ employees worldwide would support this.
No, endorse this. Embrace this with such open arms.
This month of #mentalhealthawareness.
A good friend of mine (who I’m talking into guest blogging in the near future) organized the activities that make up this month’s Mental Health Awareness Campaign at our firm’s local office.
When she first started out, her goal was to raise $400 by having folks donate money towards the senior leader they wanted to “get pied” for charity. The leader with the most votes/money towards their name will get pied, while the leader with the least “votes” will get to do the “pie-ing”.
She surpassed that goal and employees have donated a little more than $600.00. She had to set a higher goal of $1000.00.
I work at a really wonderful firm.
I am fortunate.
I am blessed.
And I am thankful.
Last Friday, the 13th, I wrote about exploring the area of TMS – Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation – as a therapy (wish I could type “solution” there) for my depression…my mind that won’t light up.
This past Tuesday I had my consultation and while I am a candidate for the treatment (sirrrrrPRISE, SIIIIIIIRprise) my first important piece of information is that the therapy isn’t covered by my insurance. In fact, the regional manager told me, my insurance was the only one that didn’t cover it. He went on to explain that my insurance currently has a lawsuit against them for not covering the program.
Out of pocket the program will cost $7800.00. Ain’t nobody got pockets that deep, yo! But even then, I would totally go on a payment plan, it’s just these other payment plans I’m on are going to prevent that.
The good news is that there is still a chance my insurance may change its mind when the policy is reviewed at the end of this month.
I’ll keep praying.
If you’re brain won’t light up and you are interested in more information. I’ve included some links here. You can also peruse “TMS” on YouTube.
Links for further reading:
TMS Neurohealth Centers
The Mayo Clinic
Neurostar TMS Therapy
Across the plain of Ǚr, far away from the citadel itself, there stood a shining tower of polished limestone. It was a colossal structure. Towering over the fields below. Dominating the landscape to the horizon, over which the plain’s namesake kingdom lay.
It mirrored the sun’s reflection as a fine gem in the crown of the king. Or a polished plate of glass in the courtyard at midday. It pulsed radiance and even from afar off, emitted a brilliance that was known across the plain.
Its alabaster skin was a testament to its beauty. Each stone finely blended and buffed with the other so that all chinked together like a single dragon’s scale.
It was embedded with many different shades of blue polished gems and minerals that blinked at every angle. Not so much as to overtake the gleaming snowy surface. But merely to accent.
Channels of soft, dark azurite ran starkly down its vertical edges, bordered by thin lines of fixed sapphire.
Thick lazulite crystals adorned its horizontal precipices, giving off a faintly cloudy deep green aura, comparable to the ocean’s depths as seen from the gull’s eye overhead. A halo atop the chalk white faces of the tower.
Many knew of its exquisiteness through story or song only, for none in numbers were allowed too close, nevertheless entrance. Only able to cast eyes on it from afar.
Despite all its beauty and grandeur, it became more intimidating in its features, as any outsider drew closer. One would rather call it a citadel than a tower, for it was well fortified and garrisoned many citizens. The same citizens who had built it over the years, enduring the cold winds, stiletto rains, and molten sun.
Though still opulent to the eyes, one could observe battlements and parapets atop the four megalithic walls. Flanking the spire that shot into the sky like a spike into the heavens. Or a compass point by which the rest of the land would calibrate its remaining three directional points.
A selfish, self-centeredness.
An arrogant and haughty feat of engineering designed to show all who gazed upon it the bigotry and seclusion of its citizenry.
A pinnacle of privilege.
The meters-thick walls of the gatehouse itself menaced any who approached its entrance. Appearing as a harbinger and to vex outsiders, warding them away from the inhabitants. Visitors were not taken kindly to.
Several less imposing, yet formidable keeps, buttressed the corners of the tower’s walls. Upon closer observation, the finer subtleties of the tower came into view – murder holes, curtain walls, and arrowslits. Accoutrements of defense and to prevent impregnation.
Of the songs sung and tales told of the tower’s beginnings, many knew. They had been passed down through the ages by bards, minstrels, and poets. Alongside firey pits and dusty roads.
* * *
Long after the world had been destroyed by Deluge.
And Fire had scorched the forests into plains.
Ages after Wormwood sheared the mountains to the earth.
And Plague had destroyed the animals and Famine had decimated humanity.
Many eons after the earth had been purified and reborn.
Just after man had begun to repopulate the earth.
The tower’s beginnings coincided with The Great Departing. A time of schism marked by a splitting of the earliest members of the new humanity. Though not a splitting in the true sense.
Rather a leaving.
A departure of those from their young familial units.
Those who had a misplaced reality, replaced with a self-righteous bigotry. A skewed, inarguable view of observable facts. A non-acceptance of the world around them. Complete with all its imperfections.
They were the tower’s builders.
They built its four walls. Those gleaning partitions that separated them from the rest of humanity.
Self-righteousness facing the north.
Ignorance facing the south.
Bigotry facing the east.
And intolerance facing the west.
They insulated and protected themselves from their loved ones. Their soul mates. Their compatriots. Their mentors. And their confidants.
They betrayed them. And they established their new life secluded from any pollution from the outside world.
A holier-than-thou life of solitude.
In their ivory tower.
Being mentally ill with depression means that people may not always get me. I’ve come to accept that.
I’ve also come to accept that it’s okay.
A lot of the times I don’t even get myself.
I guess “understand” would be a more accurate word.
It’s like trying to explain to somebody what May means to me, except it comes out sounding like this post’s title looks.
They may never understand what it feels like. And I’m happy that they never will. I would wish this on no one.
There’s so many things I’ve never understood about myself for years, and have only begun to within the past 5-10 years of my life.
A list of un-understandables in my life has been:
I don’t understand why I feel sluggish all the time.
I don’t understand why laughing feels so forced.
I don’t understand why I want to be alone all the time.
I don’t understand why I don’t want to do things.
I don’t understand why I am always so tired.
I don’t understand why I see grey when it’s brightly sunny outside.
I don’t understand why at 42, I can still sleep until 1:30 on a Saturday afternoon.
I don’t understand why I set my alarm for 5:00 am and hit it until 6:00.
I don’t understand why I think of suicide.
I don’t understand why I pray to God to take me home in my sleep.
Over the years I have come to understand why though.
A severe, deep-seated depression.
NOTE: This image is the original idea of Cass and her site at the above link. Check it out and give it a Like!
So for me, the new significance of May is about raising awareness of mental health. And in my case, severe depression and suicide. It’s about taking a chance, stepping out on a scary ledge, and talking about my mental condition to others.
Lessons Learned: Some Things I’ve Learned from My Depression
I would hope that you would take these things and hold them in your heart. Don’t forget them. Remind yourself of them. And learn from your mental condition.
A list of understandables in my life is:
- I have a condition, not an illness. I am not sub-human. I am not sick. I am an extraordinarily strong person because I survive through things other people can’t imagine having to deal with. I live my life a little differently than others because I live with affliction.
- I am perfectly imperfect, and that’s perfectly okay. I’ve learned to forgive myself and accept myself. I have a hard time believing the phrase, “I don’t let my mental condition define who I am.” I know what people mean, but I think in the end, depression has set some life parameters that I have to (or choose to) live by. If I don’t abide by those…rules, I start to hear Specter’s rusty cage hinges creak and I feel him scratching on the walls of my soul.
- What I feel is valid. I am not crazy. I may be a little broken. You may be a little bruised. But don’t you dare let anyone tell you you’re crazy. Don’t you dare let them make you feel that way. You. Are. Not. Crazy. Real talk.
- Only I will take care of myself. I must take my meds. Daily. I must eat healthy. I must exercise. Meh. I’m working on the last two. Have
- Strive to be empathetic and kind. You know why. You have struggles other people don’t know about. So do others. I remember a time my Lexapro had run out and I couldn’t afford a refill. I had been off it for about four days and I could feel the dizziness set in from withdrawals. Then the bottom fell out. Specter’s claws were dug so deep into my shoulders I could feel them carving at the bones. Someone put their hand on my shoulder and sat with me. I was in tears. I was choking my words out in a dark chair in a dim corner. He made a call to get me my medicine. That’s why.
- Be a servant when you can. Help others when they’re down. People have helped me when I’ve not deserved it. Free of charge. Pay it forward.
- Exude grace. Strive to give others the benefit of the doubt.
- Have grace on yourself. Learn to accept grace yourself. Be gentle on yourself. We beat ourselves up so much each day. Allow yourself forgiveness. See #2.
- People do understand – surround yourself with those people. There may not be too many. But you know what? That’s just about the right number anyways. Find your devout warrior supporters and cling to them. Share yourself with them. Open yourself up to them. It is empowering. It is healing.
- My God loves me. Me and God. Ahh, yes. For such a lifetime I’ve bashed myself for not measuring up. Engorging bucket fulls of self criticism, guilt, and shame for never feeling like I measured up. Never earning my dad’s approval, or my Father’s. All. Those. Years. And I got it wrong. His scars are enough to cover my soul. His Grace is the way to my healing. His forgiveness is the magnetic north to my moral compass. SOso many times I fail. Flat on my face. He’s always there to pick me up and hug me with a gentle, warm smile.
Now…Let’s take back our lives and make this our new fight song! This one’s for you Niki.
Time after time as we march side by side
Through the valleys of evil and the torturing souls,
Night after night, for the glory we fight,
In the kingdom of madness and the tales from the old
Death by our hands, for the higher command,
As the darkness surrounds us hear the cries as they fall
Fire burning steel and the tyrants will kneel
Hearts burning stronger with the power of the sword
Set sail for the glory,
Pray for the master of war (pray for the master of war)
Sunlight will fall by the wastelands,
Endless rise for the heroes before
Sword in his hand,
Titans of justice, fearless we stand
Strong in command
Blessed by the union, freedom of man
Reckoning day, for the demons we slay,
With the force of a dragon we will conquer them all!
Chaos still reigns devastation and flames
For the ultimate glory when the legacy calls
Through the hellfire
Blazing for the darkness beyond (blazing for the darkness beyond)
Nightmare return of the thousands
Giving rise to the heroes once more
Sword in his hand,
Titans of justice, fearless we stand
Strong in command
Blessed by the union, freedom of man
In the eyes of broken dreams,
Outside of the wasted and torn,
A land of tears still remains
Soldiers of destiny calling,
And the fallen will rise up again,
Conquer the forces of evil and fight to the end
Sword in his hand,
Titans of justice, fearless we stand
Strong in command,
Saviour of nations, freedom of man
Sword in his hand,
One final stand
Strong in command,
Blessed by the union, freedom of man
Blessed by the union of man
Camera lens of happiness, to take away the grey
Cuz sunshine’s there, I see it, it’s just a million miles away.
Camera lens of hopefulness, to take away despair
The never ending fog of war, the loss of will to care.
Camera lens of energy, to take away the apathy
The never ending lethargy, the sits inside of me.
Camera lens of healing, to take away the pain
Cuz sunshine’s there, I know it, even through the rain
TRIGGER WARNING: This post mentions various forms of self harm. Please, my friend, do not read this if they are triggers for you.
My brother cuts…
…he also burns…
He has been living with me for a couple months now. He has no where else to go. He, his wife, and his family are going through the darkest valley they will probably ever go through.
There were things that were done that cannot be undone. Continue reading “Keeping My Brother”
Many of you know I survive through clinical depression. And though I am 42 (as of this writing) I’ve struggled with this Specter since middle school. Many of you know all too well, the impact it has had on my life and those around me.
I feel pushed by the Lord everyday, to be as open as I can about it – feeling alone is the worst feeling in the world.
I don’t want anyone to feel like that. No one should.
I feel pushed to face the darkness, and encourage those who deal with the same demons. To talk about my experiences with those who have lost loved ones to this affliction, and may be themselves, pressing on through the awful quagmire of hopelessness.
So about this map…Having blogged for almost two years, I am thinking of creating a series of short stories about several heroes and their struggles with mental illness.
I wanted to share the beginning of their world with you.
I wrote a short story on stonewalling in relationships, which inspired me to begin to branch out with my writing.
Hello there. Welcome to this little gathering place. I’m glad you found your way here and I hope that you are able to take something away when you leave.
This post is not a typical one of mine. It’s not common to the past few that I’ve recently added. In fact it’s about as atypical as the ones I’ve recently written.
I’ve been in a bad way for about the past year. I’ll call these months the Dark Age. I don’t know if I’m coming out of them just yet, but I am blogging again. And that in itself is a huge step.
I’ve been apathetic.
I’ve been suicidal.
I’ve been drinking.
I’ve been living it up Netflix style every night with a party for one. Shades drawn. Door locked. A catatonic lump amassed on the tan leather couch that has become my safe spot. I don’t know if I’ve been particularly withdrawn because I’m a heavy introvert, but I have felt awkward and inept in social settings – yeah I don’t really dig those. I’m a big red X, Delete button kinda guy on those MS Outlook happy hour invitations I get once a month. Yeah buddy, cut my knees off and call me shorty – that’s me.
My posts have been increasingly dark and graphic. I’m like that anyways because that’s how my depression manifests itself. Actually, it’s not that they’ve become dark and graphic. It’s just that that’s ALL they are nowadays.
I used to do Saturday night funnies because they used to make me laugh.
I used to laugh.
I used to create these little phrases of hope in PowerPoint and post them. I used to write poetry regularly because I had it in my soul. I haven’t had those intuitions in a hot minute.
40+ pounds lighter and several years ago, I used to get up at 4:30/5:00 to exercise. Now I don’t even care to walk across the street to the beach for a stroll. It’s all I can do to come home, get changed, and plop myself on the couch where I mutate for the rest of the night.
Eating popcorn and Fringe binging.
I don’t have energy for a relationship, but have been in one for the past two years.
[I tried so hard to reach for the stars]
I feel like a failure and that I let people down every day just by being alive. That’s how depression does.
[But I failed you all]
I haven’t even played Rockband until just recently. Forced myself to.
Yeah lately, I haven’t had hope.
I’ve not been hopeful for my life.
I’ve not had “hope through Depression” like the subtitle to my site says.
It hasn’t all been suckwad
Ironically though, I have been productive in small areas of my life. Don’t know how THAT’S worked out, but it has. I earned a merit raise at my job during December’s rounds of performance reviews. I’ve been taking graduate courses for almost the past year…trying to complete a certificate in my job field. I have a beautiful daughter who I spend as much time with as her mother allows me to. But I swear, most days it’s the most I can do to drag myself out of bed after hitting Snooze for 90 minutes, wiping the sleepy dirt from my eyes, and getting in the shower then heading to work.
Soooo anywho, that’s been my life for the past, longest time.
Sass’ – the catalyst
A fellow blogger, a friend, commented recently that:
I think even we, with our own Specters, forget how overpowering they can be and that we don’t want to glorify when it happens. We just want to be honest about it. And in that honesty comes bravery, even if you don’t feel it.
I sent her a quick thank you for the impact that her statement had on me over the past 24 hours, particularly when she said, “we don’t want to glorify when it happens”.
That got me thinking about the title of my blog-
surviving the specter
Hope through Depression from a survivor of suicide. “Specter” is the personification of my depression.
It got me thinking about rethinking that phrase, particularly that little word, “hope”.
What’s in a name?
I haven’t had hope.
I haven’t portrayed hope.
I haven’t sought hope.
So I think it best that I modify the name of this little gathering place.
surviving the specter
HopeSurviving through Depression from a survivor of suicide. “Specter” is the personification of my depression.
Lyrics courtesy of DragonForce, The Day.
Recently I spoke with my old therapist she has many years experience in defending aswell as writing up reports on abuse cases that will be going to court. I generally wanted to know the course of action that will happen ,how invasive are the questions ,time frames etc. seen I now live over seas ! M was incredibly truthful with me in explaining that more that 85 percent of her clients regret or are more traumatized than ever after either beginning or finishing the court trial, by this stage I was crying on the phone “we spoke about my reasons ,they pretty simple im at a honest stage im sick of hearing how my uncle for one continues to molest children even at the age of 77 there around and even though he has dementia and numerous other health issues he still remembers how to do this “YUK” and yet family still hold onto the belief his not aware anymore ,shame leave him the live in a very poverty stricken squatter camp in south Africa so im guessing these young teens are more venerable! Then for me there was not only him I was abused by a cousin and four of his friends and roughly same time there was another group of three that joined separately making a total of 8 offenders so my battle was going to be more intense. M also spoke of the strain on my family as all will be interviewed and we talking of a time frame over 30 odd years how would we manage? … could we survive this?
At this point i battle daily to stay grounded as night falls and my mind wonders were too , M as far away as we are is available for more chats surrounding my questions …she made me promise that either way forward id not do it alone I need a small group of supporters of professionals and family who no my queues .There’s something about that I hate grrr I so want to go it alone its mine and ill deal with it ,there’s to the other piece of contacting sexual abuse rape crises and getting support to a police interview next week around more questions on the process , im battling to even ring and ask!
As for now im drowning myself in work 14 hour days it helps my anxiety and for now im home and don’t return till weekend and Monday then home 3 days were ill go this interview …”BREATH IM TRYING”
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. […]
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:
I’ve noticed this post gets hits everyday so I thought it’d be worthwhile to repost it.
“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that.”
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.
I saw you THOUGHT of suicide,
I saw you wish you died.
Your loneliness and brokenness,
Were all you had inside.
The noose, the pills, the razors,
Sing songs OF sweet respite.
I know my friend, I’ve been there,
I tried too, to end my life.
So hope I send my warrior,
My majestic, fighting friend.
You will not give up that easily,
You’ll fight it to the end.
When life, and friends, and family,
Jeer and taunt YOU to the last.
Hang onto life you solid rock,
Someone needs you now, not in their past.
Someone was preparing to end their life.
You prevented them from doing that without even knowing it…
Please pass this on to someone who is struggling with thoughts of suicide this September – Suicide Prevention/Awareness month.
I held a jar of emptiness
Lonely, full of gray
It sucked out all the sunshine
It took the joy away
You came and said hello to me
You put some brightness in
I will not forget your kindness
My thoughtful, loving friend
TRIGGER WARNING: This post discusses my suicide attempt. Please, my friend, do not read it if this is a trigger.
This month is Suicide Prevention/Awareness month.
So I want to take this month to reblog some of my posts talking about this tumor that can strike anyone at any time.
It strikes those of us who are depressed most often.
For those left in the aftermath the largest question they have is “Why?” My family and friends wondered the same thing while I lay in the hospital.
I wrote this post in an attempt to explain what I was thinking when I put the noose around my neck-
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.
Maintain hope in the presence of hopelessness.
Maintain strength in the presence of despair.
Rethink your decision in 24 hours.
You will overcome.
We believe in you.
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).
Reblog this to someone who may need to hear it today.
Let’s reach out to our friends who are hurting.
He took a little piece of him,
and placed it in my hand
I was hurting, sad, and broken,
and I couldn’t understand
Why he gave so selflessly,
and cared to share a part
Of him so free and graciously,
a portion of his heart
A little brick of hate was laid, down into the dirt.
Along with words of callousness, and spite, and wrath, and hurt.
A wall was built that housed mistrust, by someone I loved dear.
It grew in strength, brick by brick, each year it grew in fear.
All I could do was sit and cry, and beg that it’d come down.
But each day mortar, stone, and hate, solidified it with the ground.
I saw the light begin to fade, as it closed against the sky.
I hung my head in deep despair, in hopelessness I cried.
Then one day a dove appeared, against the blackened grey.
It chipped the joints, and broke the bricks, and toppled them away.
It pecked, and chipped, and split the wall, stone by simple stone.
For love and peace had reached a soul, that never the soul had known.
And now a garden there exists, in place of deep despair.
No brokenness, no sadness, no signs of disrepair.
For what was once a wall they made, was used to shut me out.
Love had now transformed through healing, and brought the rampart down.
Do we each have the moral courage to stand up for those whom are bullied?
I promise to answer the call.
WILL YOU JOIN ME?
Today I saw her spirit, crushed and tak’n away.
The Punisher thought it funny, to treat the girl this way.
The target of repression, he labeled her downcast.
And struck her with his names and stones, and with his fiery blast.
And to the silent, brittle girl, I lunged to take the fire.
To shield her from the dragon’s heat, to help the flames expire.
And all the dragon did, was turn and walk away.
Because someone stood up to the beast, and saved a soul today.
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 the will to live.
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)Evernote app 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.
Keep hope through your valley