Driven to the hinterlands
driven to the gray
by the chemical reaction
of the chemicals I take
to balance the effects
of the chemicals I make
Driven to the hinterlands
driven to the gray
by the chemical reaction
of the chemicals I take
to balance the effects
of the chemicals I make
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
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.
I’ve noticed this post gets hits everyday so I thought it’d be worthwhile to repost it.
Dear Lord, protect and bless my dear sons. Both need your strength and healing power.”
Is it time yet? Am I there? Do I have to do this? Are you sure I am the one that has to face this?
“I have paved the way and am walking with you” were the words I could hear in my heart sent from the Shepherd.
I reached over and gently kissed his brow saying, “Momma’s here now, son. I love you. I will always love you. Together we will fight the darkness. Together with the Shepherd.”
Hi, I’m Chris.
And I survive with severe depression.
Since this Monday will be one year since I hanged myself, I’ve asked my mom to be a guest blogger.
I will post her story this Monday night, so please stop back to read what she wrote. You’re NOT going to want to miss this!
Thank you for your support in following surviving the specter and for always sharing your thoughts, my friends. I love you.
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…
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.
On the hinterlands of the dismal grey wasteland of Relationship, at the base of Cold Mountain, loomed a dark grey fortress known as Desolation.
Its colossal walls were miles high and meters thick.
The top of the wall was a foreboding omen to those who dared approach from across the tundra. Craggy stalagmites protruded at odd angles like dragons teeth and witches claws. Bones littered the parapet where vultures had dropped the leftover carcasses of their prey.
Vigilant gargoyles with ripped wings gazed out onto the horizon. They perched themselves every 100 yards, digging their talons into the chipped rock of the facade. The commander of the citadel called on their allegiance by name – Defensiveness, Frustration, Exasperation, and Malice. With glowing white eyes, they penetrated the darkness, letting out shrieks of alarm should life approach out of the black.
The commander himself was the sole inhabitant of the fortress. A horseman who sat deep within the cold, grey rock of Cold Mountain.
He had built the fortress himself after subduing and slaying his enemies – both innocent and those wretches accused of treason against the crown. He displayed their crucified and impaled bodies outside the wall as a warning to his enemies. They flooded the plain as far as the eye could see until the tundra faded into the fog of war. He hung their decapitated heads and tortured bodies from the walls. Signs of failed attempts to gain entrance into his realm.
Sitting in his murky throne room, Isolation – a place of slate and rock, he slumped on his throne of dark cracked granite and twisted oak. The cold iron crown of Pride, atop his swarthy, creased brow.
Over the course of the hundreds of relationships throughout his time as a foot soldier and knight, he strategically and tactically built this place stone upon stone.
An impregnable keep from his witching enemy, Hurt.
He built it to protect him from Hurt and the outside world. A sanctuary where he would be safe and not have to fear about facing his nemesis, along with his chieftains, Regret and Resentment.
It was his last bastion of safety.
He never left. And he never had visitors…the last visitor he had was years ago. It was easier this way.
He remained in isolation without friends. Yet unimpeded by with burden of the outside wasteland of Relationship. Unprovoked by Hurt, the horseman maintained a rigid perimeter to be traversed in order to gain access to the outside world.
It both prevented entry and exit.
One moonless night, the harpies atop the walls wailed and shrieked.
The horseman rose to his feet and stepped to the parapet of his throne room. Gripping his lance and torch, he glanced out into the wasteland.
Hurt was approaching on his steed and along with his chieftains.
Stonewall made his way to the rampart and silenced the guardians atop the wall.
“What is it you want my nemesis?” he shouted.
“I only wish to have a moment of your time my brother,” Hurt volleyed back.
“You have no business here, fool! Turn back and come this way no more! Before I command my beasts to lurch down from these walls and tear your skin off and feast on your bones and entrails.”
“YOU FOOL!” Hurt roared. “Do you think you can withstand my forces? I shall return with legions of my hordes and we shall gain entrance, tear down your walls, and feast at your table as you die.”
“These walls are impregnable and you would be fool to think you can circumvent them and cause harm. If you advance you shall receive no quarter.”
Suddenly, Defensiveness spread its torn wings and dove towards the invaders. Hurt raised his lance and caught the harpy in the throat, instantly dropping it to the ground as it choked on its own blood.
Upon seeing his guardian die, the horseman raised his fist and plunged it towards the ground, signalling Frustration to awaken from its stone shell and harass the invaders. With lances pointed at it, Frustration circled and when spotting his victim, he swooped down and ensnared Regret in his dagger-like claws. Sweeping back to the top of the wall, the harpy dropped his victim, impaling him along the rows of fierce spikes.
Frustration dove again.
Hurt threw out the net and caught the gargoyle in mid-flight, dragging it to the ground. And in one slash, decapitated the beast with his war cleaver.
The horseman summoned Exasperation and the beast dove to the ground below. In one movement, the seasoned guardian grabbed Resentment by his throat and soared back to his nest. By the time he had reached his perch, his victim’s life had been drained. Dropping the carcass, it lunged again towards its victims.
Hurt pulled his bow and an arrow from his quiver and drew on the advancing harpy. And at the precise moment, let his arrow fly, embedding it straight between the beast’s eyes.
No sooner had the guardian’s lifeless body crashed to the ground, then Malice gained flight and pursued Hurt.
As Hurt turned to reach for his sword, the harpy sank its claws into the enemy’s back and tore out his vertebrae, leaving his body collapsed on the ground.
As the raptor rose into the air Stonewall followed it with his eyes. He watched it until it landed on its pedestal and took its original stone form.
The war hardened horseman shifted his gaze to the plain below, pike still clutched in his fist. He had fought off Hurt and his commanders another day.
But at what expense he wondered.
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%.
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).
Hi folks. I’m Chris.
And for about 12 years, playing drums has been a significant part of my life.
I played throughout middle and high school and went on to play drums in the Marine Band for several years. My parents paid so that I could attend private lessons (thank you momma and dad) while in high school.
In lieu of living in apartment, I’ve had to come to settle with playing drums in a video game to whet my percussive appetite.
When I sat down to play “Critical Acclaim” by Avenged Sevenfold the other day, I just sucked. Trying to look for a teachable moment, I came up with these five things that I can relate to my life on a daily basis.
Sometimes my drums are “off” when I play.
Really. They are.
They don’t play when I hit them, or more accurately, they have a lag.
Sometimes my SMART TV or some quirky electronic bug seems to decide on an incorrect default for my drums. This can result in a delay between when I hit the pad and when the sound is heard.
This results in “missed” notes.
This results in my score going down.
Which results in me failing out of a song.
Through a process of troubleshooting, I usually find that I need to recalibrate my drums to my TV. This little factor has a HUGE impact on how well I perform for the stadium of overzealous fans crammed into my beach bungalow’s living room.
In life, I sometimes get off track. My actions don’t align with my beliefs. Sometimes my words can come out all jacked up, potentially ruining someone’s day. My temper flares. My mood swings. My irritability soars. I get overstimulated and need to take a step back.
It’s at times like this that I need to take time to get my recalibration on, baby.
I need to realign my thoughts, actions, and words with my core beliefs.
I need to reorient my moral compass and get my rudder straight.
Sometimes we all get off track.
Better get yo’self back on track.
Better get yo’self some recalibration.
I wish I could play all the songs on Expert and get five stars. The fans deserve it.
Unfortunately, I have a long ways to go.
Fortunately, Rockband has a practice mode.
After I humbled myself the other day to Critical Acclaim, I switched over to Practice Mode and played the song a few times at different speeds. I had to break sections down that were killing me. I had to divide and conquer.
Now I can play the song on Expert.
After playing it about 20 times in the past two days, I finally achieved five stars on “Hard”.
Just to be sure it wasn’t a fluke, I played it again to be positive I could get five stars on the same difficulty level.
Practice paid off.
When I took private lessons, I didn’t like to practice. In fact, a lot of the time I would practice the 30 minutes prior to my lesson, or even in the car on the way to my lesson!
Outside of Rockband, I can at times, suck at communicating with my girlfriend. – I fail “our song”. If you ask her, she knows the hours where I have a metabolic dip that happens to be exacerbated by my sleep apea – times where I’m about as worthless at communicating as a hibernating grizzly.
Being an introvert also puts me at a level where I feel socially inept when it comes to talking to others.
I’m also a “stonewaller” – I reach a point in our arguments where I just withdraw and don’t respond or even talk at all. My exasperation and patience has jumped out the window.
I’ve been holding myself accountable to make these practice areas in our relationship. Meaning, when I’m in a good mood, I’ll try to initiate conversations more. Or when I’m irritable, trying to push myself to say, “listen babe, I want to talk about this, but am just too tired. Can we hit this again in a couple hours or at another time?”
A lot of the time I’m not able to do it and so I have to start all over from the beginning of our song.
We all have things in our life that we have to practice at whether we are already good at what we do, or pushing to be better at something.
There’s things at which we all fail.
Better get yo’self better atcho song.
Better get yo’self some practice time.
When you’re playing Rockband, you have to play what is on screen, NOT what you think the song sounds like.
You need to play what you see, not what you think.
You may have the drum chart to Your Betrayal, or Diary of Jane memorized, but that ain’t what’s on screen if you’re playing on Easy.
A lot of times I’ll throw in a bass drum kick with a cymbal smash because that’s how I learned to play drums and that’s the way the song sounds. But that’s not was the screen is showing.
Sometimes in my relationships, I assume things. I think about something too hard. I incorrectly interpret the tone of a text or read into something that was never intended to mean how I took it.
I need to step back and take things slower. I need to relax a little and take things a little more lightly. I need to be slower in my responses and give them time to cook so I don’t hasten out a response of anger and resentment.
We all have an area in which we overdo it.
Better get yo’self to chill out.
Better get yo’self to slow down and simplify.
Compared to a teenager, it took me an insane amount of time to get to the level in that song that I did. I had to start on Medium then work myself up to Hard. Then I had to work myself up from three starts to five stars.
I didn’t just sit down and play and BAM! I’m at my goal. I had to take things level by level. I had to use baby steps.
We all want things too quickly don’t we?
We all have a sense of video game satisfaction and entitlement where we may want to get to the end sooner rather than later. Where we try to find an easy way around. Where we want to punch in a cheat code instead of unlocking the puzzles in the game.
We all want to skip the trials and journeys.
Better give yo’self some time to git to that goal.
Better get yo’self to take it one step at a time.
Probably THE MOST challenging thing for me when playing Rockband is that there is no time signature.
Time signatures to the musician are what signs and lines on the road are for the driver. They tell you how much each thing is worth on the sheet of music. Without it, it’s…well, it’s Rockband.
Rockband has a minimal amount of guidance and sometimes I have to guess at where the notes are to be played. I understand why this is, it just makes things harder for the musician in me.
My life is like that. I have several guides that I need in my life to keep me between the lines on the road of life –
♦ The Bible – this is kind of my oil in the engine and user guide. When I do devotions in the morning and take time to read my Bible, Jesus Calling, and In Touch, I’m filled with peace and hope for the day. Life still happens, but when I have a driver cut in front of me, or given a situation in which I have the opportunity to exercise patience and kindness rather than the opposite, I’m able to come back to what I’ve read earlier that day at my kitchen table. The Bible is my anchor point, magnetic north, and grounding point. It’s also the lines, the speed limit and other signs that keep me grounded and directed in life, helping me stay on the road while I travel.
♦ My friends and family – These are my sounding boards as well as how I receive feedback to my “performance”. If I have ideas that aren’t so great or am about to make a bad decision, these people help me see that. They may give me alternatives or sound advice. They may advise against what I am about to do or support me with reasons why they think I should make a certain decision. They let me know if I’ve earned a 1-star performance or a 5-star performance and what I need to do to move up to the top 5% on the leaderboard.
♦ My conscience/the Holy Spirit – Sometimes I want to respond to my ex-wife’s email and texts with anger and vengeance. Sometimes I get irritable with my girlfriend. I always have a choice on how I respond. When I respond negatively, I get a little pinging in my brain telling me that’s not how I should be doing things – that’s the Holy Spirit. You may call it your conscience but whatever it is, we each get that little morale alarm advising against what we’re about to do, or a little victory bell of confirmation letting us know that we did the right thing.
I screw it up a lot, but I can’t blame it on not having a “time signature”.
We all have a time signature that gives us structure to our lives.
Better find out what drives yo’ life.
Better get yo’self familiar with yo’ time signature.
I found a quick read over at PsyBlog explaining how Socratic questioning helps folks with their depression. Check out the link below and let me know what you thought in the Comments section!
So this past Sunday I got baptized. That’s me in the middle with my bald-headed self coming up from the dunk.
This was a watershed event in my life because it was a public profession of my faith – our baptisms are held at the ocean front in Virginia Beach!
I’ve been accountable to my Lord since I was born again. On the other hand, this outward profession of my faith seemed a little out of my comfort zone. Probably because I realized that now my actions, words, and thoughts may be judged by my peers – everyone who surrounds me. You know, the Christian who talks the talk but has a harder time walking it?
What I think, do, and say has the possibility of being put under a microscope and analyzed to see whether or not I’m walking my talk. And that is good. I like this idea of being held accountable by my peers because it will help me be a better person.
It will take me to the next level of humility. It will teach my when I don’t act in accordance with a God whom I now believe loves all…no matter their story, hurts, failures, and brokenness. This is the Lord I’ve come to know in the past several years. And I want to be held accountable against His bar of
These can be difficult ideals to live up to at times, but with the help and support of ALL my friends, the process will be a worthwhile journey.
2. Self analysis
This is the perfect time for me to take a personal inventory. How have I done to this point? What changes do I need to make moving forward? What are my goals in life? Are they in alignment with His will? How have I treated others? Have I held people up, or brought them down? Have I spoken life enhancing words to someone, or have my words been toxic to their ears?
Answering these questions will lead to an honest assessment of my life to this point. The answers will help me understand my performance. The answers may not be things I want to hear, but they will help me to empathize and understand the impact I’ve had on people’s lives – whether helpful and positive, or hurtful and negative.
3. Desire to grow
I was born with an innate desire for self-improvement. Maybe it’s because I was also born with a harsh superego that thrashes me each day. Either way, this event marks a new stage in my life.
Baptism doesn’t make you a new person, it’s just an outward act for an inward decision.
Baptism doesn’t make you a kinder or happier person.
It doesn’t make you personable with everyone you meet.
It doesn’t give you the patience to weather the DMV lines, or go the extra mile for someone that’s wronged you. That’s what the Lord does in your life.
Me, I have a long ways to go. I am selfish. I say hurtful things. I say things out of anger or defensiveness. I act carelessly.
Not all the time.
But I have my fair share friend, believe you me. It is the Lord’s mercy, grace, and compassion that has turned me into any of the good things I am today. They are for His glory and due to His will.
He has blessed me with things like patience (through many, many, MANY trials), and my own life after I hanged myself last September.
He has also blessed me with the things He has taken away – toxic relationships, a failed marriage, a decreased streak of anger and resentment.
This event was a milestone in my growth as a man, as much as it was an event in my growth within my faith.
He felt such hopelessness in life, all he could do was jump.
She felt such disassociation, all she could do was cut.
Reality was harsher, than this living hell,
they lived inside their heads. No one could ever tell.
The night harpies of terror, claw her hair each night
When she pulls the covers up around her, shaking from the fright.
The flashbacks and the memories, of her broken bones
Break her hope and will to live, she wants to just be gone.
Away from all the pain, the hurt, the emptiness.
He tries to run, he tries to end the dread,
of living in a quagmire, he tries to choke it from his head.
Wishing it was just a shell that he could peel away and shed.
See, you’re not alone in this, no you’ll never be.
There’s just too much that’s going on for you to ever see,
that others survive, through the same unending pain.
Come in, we’ll hold you dear, we’ll help you feel again.
Matthew Malin will be my guest blogger this Friday night about 8:30 eastern time (U.S.)
Without taking too much away from his intro on Friday, he and I both survive with depression.
If you would like a great read and example of his writing, check out his short story, A Sheep Named Wolf. It’s an excellent moral tale of humankind.
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
“Save My Life”
You come here every Friday night
I take your order and try to be polite
And hide what I’ve been going through
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
I’m the pastor at your church
For all these years you’ve listened to my words
You think I know all the answers
But I’ve got doubts and questions too
Behind this smile I’m really just like you
Afraid and tired and insecure
If you look me right in the eye
Would you see the real me inside
Would you take the time to
Save my life
I am just like everyone
Jesus I need You, I need Your Love
To save my life
Heading towards “E”, one mile at a time,
The rubber is melting the road.
With her foot to the floor, and the gauge in the red,
She races to unburden her load.
The wraiths of panic, pursue her in flight,
Their talons are shredding her gown.
The harpies of terror, claw at her hair,
Knocking her down to the ground.
In panic she runs, through her forested mind,
Past triggers, closing too quick.
She can’t get away, not this time,
She’s stuck in the labyrinth; the crypt.
The branches slash, the thorns rape her skin,
And the rocks they bloody her feet.
She’s almost on empty, the tank’s almost bare,
She’s crumbling in fright and defeat.
And I catch up to her, pulling her close,
So she stops, and she looks up at me.
“I can’t do this. I won’t, and I quit.”
“Let me go. I just want to leave.”
And I let her crumble, and the tunnel opens up,
She’s so exhausted, and broke.
But she’s made it again, through the anxiety,
Such a spirit of resiliency and hope.
It crushes him and breaks him,
to the soil under his feet.
The Specter and the haunting,
that no one clearly sees.
It lacerates his rib cage,
and it takes his will to live.
It rapes his spirit of resiliency,
it crushes his limbs and hips.
It hobbles him and leaves him,
a catatonic shell.
He screams under the water,
in a drowning, tannic hell.
Hopelessness enshrouds him,
he cannot get away.
No strength to fight, or rise, or move,
this is his every day.
Aside from the sculpture, Laocoön, The Dying Gaul is one of my favorites.
You can see the pain the warrior is enduring. You see the piercing in the warrior’s liver, possibly a coup de grâce?
You see the struggles of battle and the broken sword by his right hand.
I wanted to incorporate those feelings and emotions in my poem…
Depression doesn’t care about its victims.
It chooses aimlessly and can strike at any time.
It is bold and impudent.
It. Has. Gall.
I live with severe depression and in September of 2014 I unsuccessfully hanged myself – my friends saved me.
I’ve seen some pretty interesting locations showing up in the stats portion of surviving the specter, and am interested to know where visitors are viewing from. If you would kindly let me know where you are from and what drew you to the site, I would appreciate your thoughts.
Please feel free to include any other comments or even ideas for future posts.
If you’re interested in being a guest blogger, check out the guest blogging tab and email me your work – I’d love to read what you have.
As always, thank you for taking your time to help with this project and may you find peace through your valley, my friend.
My girlfriend has PTSD.
I’ve learned that flashbacks haunt her on a regular basis. It took me some time to get used to this and so I wrote a poem about it because it is something I’ve learned about her and her PTSD.
I found an article that helped me learn some more things about this phenomena and thought that it would be good to put it out there for our community – http://ptsd.about.com/od/selfhelp/a/flashcoping.htm
In coping with flashbacks and dissociation, prevention is key.
Flashbacks and dissociation are often triggered or cued by some kind of reminder of a traumatic event (for example, encountering certain people, going to specific places), or some other stressful experience. Therefore, it is important to identify the specific things that trigger flashbacks or dissociation.
Here’s a pretty good article on mindfulness – http://www.choosehelp.com/topics/depression/mindfulness-and-depression. I thought you might like it.
How many people use this? I have a really hard time sitting in one place for 20 minutes. I’ve done this once, in a Saturday session NAMI class. My “safe place” was the beach that’s across the street from me. Here’s a picture of it for you to enjoy!
If mindfulness is new to you, here’s a quick quote from the article that gives you the gist of it-
The main idea in mindful meditations is to look at your thoughts as fleeting curiosities. This is added to a perspective that we need to live in the present. Not to ruminate about the past or worry about the future. Now that already sounds good to people who suffer from depression. It is sort of like when I was a kid, and there was a big kid who would threaten me. My mother would tell me to ignore him. She said if you don’t react he’ll leave you alone. I said, “But he’s going to beat me up!” She told me that he is looking for a reaction and I need to let him find it somewhere else. I said, “but he’s picked on me in the past!” She said, “That’s in the past. Let it go!”
That’s the attitude you need for mindful meditation. You learn to ignore the threatening thoughts. Especially with negative, beating-you-up type thoughts, but also for any thought. In mindful meditation you learn how to observe your thoughts without letting them conquer you or control you or your emotions. You learn to detach yourself from your thinking in such a way that you can consciously decide whether or not the thought is worthwhile engaging or not.
This is the second part in a series of self discovery by looking at my dad, and our relationship. Be sure to check out the first post on the connection between our anger. These posts are a way of thinking out loud to discover if there is a connection between my dad and my depression.
* * *
I don’t resent my dad. And I don’t intend for these posts to shame him on the www.
He always provided for our family. He never physically abused my mom and never cheated on her. He never drank and he never came home drunk. In fact he came home every day after work, whereas a lot of his friends probably took to the bar and the strip club…even if they were married. He conducted himself like a gentleman.
Dad was a family man. He took our family camping each year. He raised me in the Baptist church and modeled Godly principles. He served his country for 21 years in the US Navy as a submariner. He’s retired three times since then. Certainly a hard worker with a work ethic as impregnable as steel. He will always be an honorable man in my eyes.
* * *
This post is a narrative on the role religion played both in my life and in the relationship between my dad and I.
Dad and I had a tenuous relationship exacerbated with the issue of church. I grew up in the New England Baptist church. Yeah, you know, fire-and-brimstone, burn in hell if you do one thing wrong. Set those furnaces to BROIL for this guy! Start the barbecue, baby, this party’s about to get started!
Understanding this Baptist view of Hell is important because it was a major deterrent and tenet of my church.
So, also having a huge inner self-critic (Type 1 enneagram), really made things ride high on the scale of suckwad . I grew up with a huge guilt complex (still live with that, good times) and fearing my actions would earn me an eternity in napalm. You know that stuff has to extinguish itself, right? The jelly burns until there’s no more jelly.
Burns through clothes.
Through eyelids, lips, and scalps.
Down to the bone. I suppose it could disintegrate bone and teeth, too.
The cool thing I’ve learned about the fire in hell is that it never goes out. Kind of like those war memorials of the eternal flame – like the JFK memorial. You’re just doused in it. And you burn for the rest of your existence with no relief. Yeah that mess scared me as a child.
Even more as a grown man.
That was such a great deterrent to being unsaved. Screw that mess! Burn in hell for eternity, or live in a place with no brokenness, sadness, hurt, or pain?
The answer was easy. SAVE ME LORD.
Now in reality I didn’t decide to be born again for this reason, but growing up in the Baptist church had a huge impact on my growing up.
Here’s a few ways-
I remember that my dad and I argued pretty much every Sunday after church about things like-
♦ Why I had to go if I didn’t get anything out of it?
♦ Why I couldn’t wear jeans and had to tuck my shirt in (I HATE tucking my shirts in, call it slovenly, it works)?
By the time I signed up for the Marine Corps, I was ready to get out and live my own life, free from the guilt of Baptist Christianity.
I’m really glad you asked about that last part…you know…that part about guilt. Guilt is a HUGE part of my personality.
Just shy of 42 years old and I am starting to outgrow it and put it in its place. I don’t know where this came from but I have a feeling the answer lies somewhere between me being the oldest child and the tenets of that little Baptist church in southeastern Connecticut. I’ve talked to other “oldest children” and they seem to be able to relate to this idea.
I don’t think it’s the fault of my childhood church, rather it may have been the way I interpreted what was preached. There didn’t seem to be any raw compassion.
There was a lot of friendliness, but there wasn’t any talk of real world issues.
THAT’S IT! No. Talk. Of. Real. World. Issues.
No talk of struggles with porn.
No talk of suicide.
No talk of brokenness.
No mention of…
…“I’m hurting and I need your help”
…“I can’t pay my electric bill and don’t have food for my kids”
…“my wife cheated on me and I can’t handle these feelings”
…“I am constantly angry”
You know…no talk of real talk. It was all so perfect and I never felt like I fit in.
So I just suffered inside.
I felt like a circle trying to fit in a square.
I never felt a connection between church and my life. I felt so OUT OF TOUCH with it all. It seemed SOsososososo isolated to me.
I felt outside and evil for thinking, acting, and being something that was SO out of touch with my church. In actuality, I probably thought things that a lot of other folks there thought and struggled with.
I felt shame because of my lust.
I felt evil because of my language.
I feel like a let down to the people around me.
In fact, if you REALLY knew me…
I always felt like I was either hiding something. Or faking something because I felt it would earn my dad’s approval. It wasn’t his fault. I always thought my dad and mom were perfect. They never hit each other and I don’t remember them fighting until their separation. They never cussed at us or berated us. They never had affairs. They never drank. They were both good, good parents.
And along with the Baptist upbringing, I never felt like I could measure up to their example. In fact I remember one day my mom told me that I woke them up cursing at the top of my lungs in my sleep. I remember my mom saying something like that meant I do it in when I’m awake. And she was right.
[“I hear the secrets that you keep…when you’re talking in your sleep”]
I felt a huge amount of shame and guilt. That afternoon, after I got home from school I wrote my first suicide note at my desk with a razor blade out.
That’s what my religion did for me.
“The opiate of the people”.
Thanks Karl Marx.
Let’s wrap this up F Troop…
♦ Openness and input. I don’t want to force my daughter to go to church. I’d like to think of it as encouraging her and explaining the benefits to her. I don’t want to it to be a “you’re going as long as you’re living (visiting) under this roof.” She should be able to see some importance in going. Some goodness in her life. It ain’t easy getting up to an alarm clock on Sunday. But amen brother, it helps me to be a gentler, self-sacrificing human. I also want her to feel her input is welcome and regarded. If she doesn’t feel she is getting anything out of it, I would prefer to have a discussion with her, instead of some mandated directorate sent down from me to her.
♦ Try not to give up. As a child, my religion reinforced my already huge guilt complex. For the past several years, I have become a member of a church where I feel like my needs are being met. We call it our hospital. It feels good. I’m glad I found my way there.
♦ Admit your humanity and imperfection to your kids. I try to remember to tell my daughter my imperfections whenever I can. I don’t want her to grow up with the guilt complex I had and still struggle with. I tell her when I’m wrong and I apologize. I give her examples of times I’ve jacked things up. I constantly tell her it’s okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them and don’t repeat them. She’s seen me give a reckless driver the bird and has heard me cuss. She knows I have a temper. I slip. She knows that. And she knows it’s wrong. She also knows that I’ve been humbled because I try to admit my imperfection to her.
As a child I grew up to believe that the Lord was some sort of angry God waiting to cast judgment on my every decision. The Jesus Calling app has led me to a different understanding.
He is a Lord who cares and is empathetic. He laughs when I laugh and he hurts when I am sad.
These devotionals have helped bring me through my valleys…my times of worry, anxiety, and pain.
I’ve posted these devotionals from my journal in the hopes that they touch the hearts of my friends who feel like I used to (and sometimes, still) feel-
♦ I grew up, and still struggle with shame and guilt
♦ I still struggle with my self-image
♦ I was angry, especially at God – sometimes my current circumstances
♦ I felt lost
♦ I hated going to church, and I hated when other Christians judged me and pressured me
♦ I struggle with depression and feelings of worthlessness
A little thought of hopefulness
Went out for you today.
I see you’ve grown discouraged.
I’ve seen you’ve been away.
I miss you and I wonder.
If you really are okay.
And that I want to see you.
Perhaps we’ll talk today?
Maybe in a little while.
I can hear your voice.
To tell you that I love you friend.
Amidst the strife and noise.
I miss you and I wonder.
If you really are okay.
And that I want to see you.
Perhaps we’ll talk today.
That’s what it feels like. It feels like she doesn’t love me.
“Of course she loves you, you’re her dad” they almost jeer from the side like some frenzied Colosseum.
I see her every two weeks from Friday through Monday morning when I drop her off at school 50 minutes away.
I call. I text.
And no answer. This is my trigger.
I’ve felt like a horrible dad since last September. Probably even before that. You all know what happened last September when this trigger hit the hardest it’s ever hit.
It’s one of the hardest demons for me to face as it lifts its cowl and I see its razor incisors dripping to gnash.
I’ve been drinking regularly.
I’ve become really good at that.
The buzz kind of numbs the pain. Sometimes it backfires. Like when you zip tie your neck to your bedroom closet’s doorknob and fist a bottle of sleeping pills down your face.
I get angry because I subscribe to blogs where women write about their dads. Some good, some bad. They miss them or they remember how good they are to them. The good ones call and stay in touch with their girls…their kids. Even the bad ones; their daughters still yearn for a relationship with them. It’s their biggest dream.
You know how painful it is when you call or text and YOU KNOW there will not be any response?
Do you know what kind of strength that takes?
How deep the wound of worthlessness continues to open?
How much the nine inch nail is driven?
It’s one of the worst pains in the world. I wish it on no one.
Maybe I Should Practice What They Preach. Maybe I shouldn’t have read them at all.
A fellow blogger framed it perfectly for me. I can’t quote it or remember who it was but the gist of it was, “even though my mom and dad were divorced, my dad delivered flowers to me every Valentine’s day for the past [#] years. No matter how far away he was. No matter how busy he was, the flowers showed up with a note EVERY single year. Because of that I know he never forgot about me.”
This is a reblog from a post I wrote for the Mental Health Writer’s Guild. Check out the wonderful work Kevin has done with the site and ask him about being a guest blogger!
Note to Reader: This post mentions my suicide attempt. If this is a trigger, please do not read it at this time. May peace find you in your valley, my friend.
Hi there! My name is Chris and I’ve lived with clinical depression since middle school. On 9/14/14 attempted to take my life. I was saved by my friends who arrived after I had blacked out. In hindsight, these are the ten lessons my depression has taught me. Thank you for taking the time to read this post.
I was brought down this path for a purpose. Perhaps it was to build me to the next level, or strengthen my dependence on the Lord, or to bring me to humbleness in order to care for others. Either way, I’ve been able to learn the message from the lesson. And that is, that with the Lord’s help, I am surviving through what (at times) has been a tumultuous ordeal. I know I couldn’t do it on my own. And for that my faith has increased.
My mantra has become, “I am perfectly imperfect, and that’s perfectly ok.” I had a hard time with feeling like a failure. With feeling like I let people down. With having low self-esteem.
It was when I was attending classes in the psychiatric center that I had an epiphany. The world does not stop rotating when I mess up or feel like I fail people. Others make mistakes, I’m allowed to as well. I ain’t perfect and will never be. I accepted it. I stopped the self-berating. I got my ego under control. I left the pity party. I’ve been able to allow grace for myself.
I never realized I had this until I “woke up” in the hospital two days after I chugged a bottle of sleeping pills and passed out at the end of a noose hanging from the closet doorknob in my bedroom.
Friends and family were there. In abundance. They had dropped everything to be by my side. They put their lives on pause and came from states away to be with me through my struggle. Unconditionally.
I hope that when that time comes for me, and the call is given, I can be there for those that need it in the same manner these folks were there for me. Generally, you don’t need a ton of people in your support network. You just need the right ones.
In order to be released from the hospital, I had to take responsibility and become accountable for my actions. I needed to have a plan in place in for the times Specter decided to fade out of the shadows and peel back his lips over his razor incisors. Here are some things I am personally accountable for-
♦ COMPLIANCE – Taking my medicine consistently and on a regular basis.
♦ 911 – I realized that I needed to have a plan in place. I now have people that I call if I feel I am having an episode of depression. We keep our phones on at night (I used to turn my volume/vibrate off) and answer without hesitation.
♦ HONESTY – I have to be transparent with my medical providers/doctors/psychologists. I know I need to give them as clear a picture of my mental state as possible and they are here to help me. In turn, they need to know the effects of the medications as well.
It’s a good idea to keep a journal. Since I’m not one for lugging a notebook around, I use my Evernote app on my phone. I also try to bring in all my meds whenever I have an appointment. It gives my doctor an accurate picture of my supply and whether or not I need an emergency refill. The last thing you want to happen is to run out of your medications.
There will be times when I fall. When Specter knocks me to the ground in an assault from-the-rear. This goes back to #2. I have to realize stumbling is ok. That I’m a human. And that I am imperfect. And that is okay.
Be willing to learn about your condition…your mental health. Read articles on it. Start a blog on your condition. Be open and receptive. Make connections with other people. Join a local NAMI group where your voice will be heard. Never stop learning about your mental health.
It helps to be aware of your feelings. The cycles. The timing of the waves. Through recording my episodes (or simply noticing when they happen on a calendar) I used to almost be able to anticipate when I would have one – usually about every two weeks. Fall-down crying, broken on the kitchen floor. It’s not a good place to be. The medicine I have now minimizes those episodes (20 MG Lexapro with 5 MG Abilify) and evens out the highs and the lows of a life with depression.
Find what helps you in your journey of healing. Journaling is a very popular coping strategy. I experimented with the tech version of journaling recently – blogging. I started surviving the specter in February of this year (2015 as of this post) and it has helped me process my experiences, as well as network with individuals going through the same thing.
I’ve tried to share my story as much as possible with those whom are comfortable. I was attached to a belt for 45 minutes. I have been fortunate. I have been given a second chance and I believe I have a duty to be open about it. To discuss it. To teach about it. To join others in their struggle. You will never know how much hope you will be able to give someone by telling your story.
You need to have an outlet. Mine is art in one form or another. I like to create beach décor and I started a side business into which I channel my energy. It is a healthy outlet. I’m an introvert by nature and so I enjoy being by myself with my tools and materials, building, and creating. I get satisfaction from creating happiness for others. Ironically, this is the project I completed hours before my downward spiral. What’s your outlet? What channels your energy?
Thank you for taking your time to read this post. May peace find you in the valley you are currently traveling.
You all obviously know about the irritating assumption that we are not sick, because we don’t LOOK sick. People associate illness with common physical effects like pale skin, an agonised facial expression, weight loss, tubes coming out of our noses, a tumor or wound that is VISIBLE. What does Chronic Illness look like? What do our symptoms look like? N O T H I N G. They are I N V I S I B L E. They cannot be seen, but are very much REAL. So, lets set the story straight once and for all. THIS is the face of Chronic Illness:
I really encourage you to take a similar photo of yourself, and post it with the title “THIS is what Chronic Illness looks like“.
Tag me in it – reblog me – don’t steal this page and mark it as your own! You don’t have to show your face if you would like to maintain privacy. Get creative!
Surviving through severe depression and suicide.
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. No answer. I called her on her second cell phone number. Ring. Ring. Ring. No answer. 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.
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 about 3/4 of the way and then topped the rest off with diet Coke. I started to drink. Heavily. 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.
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.
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.”
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. When I had finished sizing and positioning the noose, I released myself and got my bottle of sleeping pills.
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.
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.
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