Hi there. My name is Chris. I am a survivor of suicide and live with clinical depression. I often mention Specter who is the personification of my depression. Thank you for taking the time to read this post and to be with me on my journey…our journey.
Question: How have you learned to survive through your weekends?
Specter has a cousin and her name is Weekend. This twice removed cousin hasn’t visited for years but I remember the horror just the same. I had just separated in my marriage, was living in a new apartment with just my business clothes, laptop, and a sleeping bag.
The Monday-through-Thursday ramping up of worry.
The Friday night dread of falling asleep and waking up crying on Saturday.
The Saturday morning realization of waking up at 5:00…4:30…4:00…3:00 am with anxiety, loneliness, fear, hurt, and desolation.
Full of gloom.
Saturday morning through Sunday afternoon She stayed ever present. Morning was my crucible; Weekend’s disfigured child that accompanied Her…was attached to Her. Like some 1943ish sinister Siamese twin experiment. I was awake with a cocaine-like charged
pulse hours ahead of the rest of the outside world. Just Weekend. Morning. And Me.
They usually started to slip back into the shadows at Sunday’s dusk. Descended into the murky depths of the basement of my soul. I could see them at the bottom of the rickety stairs just out of sight. Right where the darkness took over the muted light. Leaving the rotted, rusty hinged door to the depths slightly cracked as an omen that they were returning in several days. Weekday holidays or sick days home from work, I could see their black, hollow eye watching me through the keyhole.
How I’ve Been Able to Free Myself from the Dread of Weekend and Morning.
1. Acceptance. There comes a point when you are able to accept your circumstances. You learn to adjust to your new life. You learn to take things in stride. The time of healing is proportional to the depth of hurt and pain. I’ve learned that the fallout from the hurt, depression, anger, and resentment from a failed, eight year marriage does not happen with three magical clicks of the ruby slippers. But it does start. At some point it does. It starts with acceptance. When you can scratch, pull, and drag yourself to that point, you’ve traversed the chasm my friend. You’ve begun the journey to healing. There is a point when your weekends will return to happy times. Just you watch how you grow and heal.
2. Time and prayer. It’s been some time since I’ve lived through a weekend haunting. I know that time and prayer have helped me get used to my new lifestyle. It took me about 3 years to accept and acclimatize to the lonely, desolate valley that consumed my life. It may have taken a shorter amount of time if I accompanied that time with prayer. I didn’t. We usually find our faith when our hope is broken. I fought the feelings at first but it
Becoming bearable turns into life becoming “easier” – livable. It’s not easy to get up in the morning. Especially if your situation is exacerbated with depression. But you will do it. With time. With acceptance. And if you’re as broken as I was, with lots of prayer. If you are at this point, please have faith that you will push through this stage. Next to Marine Corps boot camp, that three-year valley was about the hardest thing in my life. With boot camp, I knew when the trauma would end. With separation and depression you have a blank map. A scrap of despair in the fog of war. But you will persevere. You will endure. You will learn. And you will be able to speak to others going through the same thing. You will be their model of hope. I never thought I’d get to the other side. I did. If you are a person of faith, you may have learned to hold this verse close-
Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
3. Fill my empty time. Once I had accepted and endured, I identified potholes in my recovery. The biggest one being the empty time I had on the weekends. Here’s what I learned to do to survive:
♦ Be proactive, not reactive. Don’t wait for Specter to come out of the shadows. Don’t wait for the weekend before you schedule things to do. Plan ahead of time. As in Sunday night or Monday. Whether it was visiting the local war museum by myself, or accepting my friends’ invitation to hang out (1. I’m an introvert, and 2. hanging out and drinking on a Friday/Saturday night was the last thing on my mind) I made sure I had something to do. I walked the beach listening to my music. I took pictures and visited historical landmarks. I collected sea glass. I enjoyed sunsets. I fished. I made it a routine to go to yard sales every Saturday morning. I went to breakfast with my brother or a friend. I started going to church. I went to the Singles group our church had, as well as the Men’s group. I played Rockband with my other “band members”. We started a band. We went on “tour”. These survival strategies soon turned into new routines and rituals that became part of my new life. I still do most of them to this day. Last year I started my own business. This year I started a blog for my business. A month later I started this blog. I’ve only been blogging on my depression for a month. Earlier on, the hard part was always coming home to an empty house. Whether it’s a two-bedroom apartment or a two-story house, the silence is the worst part. Because that’s when I heard the basement door start to creak open.
♦ Always have a plan “B”. If everything I mentioned in the previous bullet fell through, I had a backup plan. My time was so crammed full with things to do. Though they seemed rather forced, I did them out of survival. I did what I had to do. I would have much rather stayed on the couch and watched movies so I really had to push myself here. I was so scared to be alone in the silence. Staying busy circumvented the misery and pain.
Maybe you have other suggestions for me? Things I shoulda/coulda/woulda done? I really appreciate you taking your time to read this and being with me on this journey. I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts and dialoguing about our experiences.