I decided it’s time I revisited and reevaluated my coping strategies. Last year I hanged myself and was tethered to a belt for around 45 minutes before my friends saved me. When I was about to be released from the psychiatric institution I had to provide my input in the coping skills portion of my crisis plan. I would have done better if they had told me to think about this ahead of time so my answers (though they were honest) weren’t well thought out. As you can see, it’s been long due for an overhaul.
Also, instead of trying to fix the problem once it’s started, I know I need focus on what to do to prevent the problem from happening in the first place. You know, preventive maintenance not damage control – put the oil in the engine so it won’t seize up, not fix it once it does.
So I’ve taken an honest look at what I’ve done in the past to self soothe and cope, and compiled a list of things in no particular order. These are all things that have brought me to a place of peace and have helped me through my depression.
I like to create nautical and beachy-themed art from upcycled materials. Trash like spent wine bottles and scrap/pallet wood. I started a short-lived business which has recently become a necessary ending. I don’t regret that I stopped and will still continue to make things for birthdays ,etc., but the large scale production for custom orders and art shows has found its way full circle. Art, whether sketching, calligraphy, mixed media, painting, writing poetry, or photography has always found a place in my heart for coping and self expression. Some of my friends have said that it masks my anger and resentment. I guess the magnitude of the pain manifests itself just as powerfully in the more beautiful things of life. If people like my art, I guess I have a lot of pain I’m dealing with.
2. Collecting Sea Glass.
As a kid I really disliked going to the beach. I grew up in Connecticut and was a semi-city boy. I used to balk all the time when my aunt brought me and preferred to stay poolside if anything. Since I live at the beach, this was a way of thinking was sure to change after some time. Our beach is rather off the publicly beaten path, which is fine by my introverted self. There is something soothing about being able to walk the calm shores of the bay by myself that grounds me. There is something rewarding to be able to bend down and find a piece of foggy/”cooked” sea glass or an intact shell that is perfectly shaped. When you’re depressed you don’t feel like enjoying these simple things and this is one such example of something I am trying to get back to. No excuse. It’s too beautiful out to not enjoy this.
3. Taking Pictures of/at the Beach.
I’m not a professional photographer by any means. I’m a simpleton, shooting images from my trusty Samsung Galaxy Note 4 then editing them in Pixlr. I love to capture the beauty of God’s handiwork in the waves, sunsets, and other things I notice here. This rickety stretch of beach fencing is one of my favorites. I like what it stands for, too – slowing down erosion of this little slice of heaven I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy. In fact, I’ve added a new category of beach pics to my blog so you all can enjoy the same thing. Please feel free to download them and use them as you like. It makes me happy to share this joy with everyone.
Scenes like this just make me forget about my worries for a little bit. It’s almost like my worries are sinking into the horizon with the tired, setting sun. I’ve always been a fan of nature, out away from the city.
Sometimes I feel about as worn out as my drum set looks – check out that yellow pad! No matter the condition of my equipment, Rock Band helps me unwind when I muster the energy to assemble my set and pick up the sticks. It’s also a chance to get together with my friends, a.k.a, my safety network. Aw yay-YUH, we throw big RB parties up in hee-YUH. I’m not up to expert on all the songs, but it’s on my bucket list. Aim high with yo’ wock band thelf. I’m not so sure this is a clinically-approved coping strategy, but it keeps my mind off depression at times so I think I’ll keep it.
6. My Faith.
Through my trials with divorce, porn, anger, resentment, and depression, I’ve reconnected to my faith. I was turned off to it for so long. Maybe because I was brought up in a fire-and-brimstone New England Baptist home. Maybe from the self-induced guilt that only the oldest child experiences. I always lived with guilt, shame, and anger. I hated it. I hated going to church even more.
Recently, as in the past 5 years recently, I’ve heard that we find the Lord when we’re broken. When we’re as low as we can possibly go. When we’re far beyond the anger and hate.
Here’s an example-
My brother broke his neck two weeks into Army Boot Camp and retired on full medical benefits. The whole time he praised the Lord and I COULDN’T UNDERSTAND. I was so mad at him for being thankful that he was sentenced to be a quadriplegic for the rest of his life!!! Who in their right mind would be thankful for that?!?!?! I’d be PISSED!
Through my own trials I’ve come to sort of understand how my brother felt. I can’t say I am thankful when I go through my own tribulations, in fact I’m probably more of a monster to be around. But I’ve learned to thank the Lord for the lesson I’ve found in each of them. This could be a whole separate post so I digress.
My coping mechanism is the devotional journal shown below, focused around the various topics that impact my life (see the red tabs). Not only does it help me get more out of what I read, but it’s also a reference when I need to push myself through <>. It’s also become an artistic outlet and a way of giving glory back to my Lord for the talents he has blessed me with. I read Charles Stanley’s In Touch free monthly devotionals, and the Jesus Calling app. Both have helped me grow into a better person than I was several years ago.
If you’re at a place where you are angry at religion and angry at the people who profess to be Christians (and act just the opposite), I would humbly suggest giving these two resources a spin. They have awakened me to the true spirit of Christ, the kind that should be taught in our churches – a kind, caring, empathetic, humble, and gracious person who accepts all regardless of their mental, physical, financial, or moral standing. Once you have accepted that Love, you are never cast out. Being a man of faith doesn’t make me perfect. Far from it – I lust, I’m vulgar, I get angry easily and stay resentful for days. No, being saved shows how imperfect I am (“and that’s perfectly okay“) and that I can’t do this on my own. I have unconditional acceptance and love from above and that is refreshing to me.
Thank you for taking your time to read this and to provide your thoughts.
What coping strategy has helped you through your mental condition?
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention blogging;)