I went to see my doc today about my meds. He had me on 40mg of Lexapro and 15mg of Abilify. Since the side effects have remained the same (apathy, disinterest in life, etc.) he upped the Abilify to 20mg for the next four weeks. He said that if that change doesn’t help, then he would switch out the Abilify for something else. Read the rest of this entry »
When Catharsis opened his eyes, he felt the dull stinging of burnt flesh on his face. He could smell it through the medicated jelly, covered by stained strips of papyrus bandages and mud. Read the rest of this entry »
Trigger Warning: This poem is about self harm. Please do not read it if this is a trigger. [UPDATED] Though I do not struggle with self harm, several of the close people in my life do, and so I wanted their words to be heard and felt here. These words put into poetic form, are from the discussions and talks I’ve had with those people.
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.
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.
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.
Contextual background: A brief history of Ür and its rise to greatness is given along with the story of how affliction came to be.
The walled city of Ür had not always been the great fortress in which Catharsis had dwelled. It was once a lonely oasis in the desert, won by nomadic herdsman who had battled for its possession in order to nourish their herds and provide sustenance for their families. A place of healing in the middle of a harsh, windswept, barren land. The grand-eldest male by the name of Ür, gave the fertile gem its name – earliest in the elder tongue.
Soon after, blood clans made pilgrimage to the lush gardens of the watering hole and joined their families of the original community. They brought with them their customs and beliefs, families, and herds. They added their lands to the original estate and struck its edges to mark their claim with altars to their deities.
Down through the time of unrecorded and recorded history, the oasis community of Ür matured in size and prestige, quickly mounting to power as an unrivaled city-state and controlling the land to its horizons. Through many generations did Ür prosper under a golden age. It basked in its splendor, taking in travelers far and wide. All who knew of Ür knew of its greatness, even far beyond the horizons of its realm. It prospered in its glory and was regarded as a bastion to the weary, lost, disheartened, and broken.
Its strength came in its acceptance of its citizenry’s diversity, welcoming all who wished entrance, save for those whose lives consisted of the worst of mannerisms – greed, pride, lying, thievery, conceit, ill will, bigotry, and murder. Nay, even those lost souls were granted sanctuary if they received the king’s oath of fealty, making their pledge of faithfulness and good will to both their master and fellow man. For only the pure and good willed were permitted stay within the city’s walls.
But it soon came to pass that an unnamable sickness came to the people of Ür.
It was an invisible sickness to most – only visible and comprehendible to those who endured it. It was so believed to steal freely throughout the walled city, creeping like some menacing fog yet without detection. It could not be fought because it could not be seen, and a sense of mistrust and paranoia soon descended on the land. From whence did this pestilence emanate? Why did it torment the people of the glorious citadel? How could it be routed out? What were its ailments? Was it escapable?
Soon whispers in taverns and alleyways gave rise to the belief it was a punishment from the gods of the soil, water, and heavens for man’s abuse of their resources. Man’s lack of respect for what the deities had preciously and graciously imparted unto them.
Whispers soon turned into a dark, unspoken secret realization that it was a torment conjured from the Wahrlog – the evil demon lord that lay beyond the Marshlands of Melancholia and deep in the Quagmire of Hopelessness. Sent to plague humankind. And so this belief held steadfast amongst the citizens within the city’s walls.
The people named it affliction.
Sacrifices were made to appease the demon who created affliction. Fruits, flowers, and grains were laid before the great gates and in the marketplace. The blood of animals was shed and smeared on the doorposts and windows of the earthen hovels of the city. Great warriors were sacrificed.
But to no avail.
Affliction still swept its invisible hand across the land like some gray blanket of hopelessness.
It did not exist completely unseen, however. For those afflicted showed similar signs of the invisible illness. They could identify each other for they were the only ones to see it. It was not invisible to them. They held another certainty in their common – they were all visited by the Wahrlog.
To not be afflicted, one had to know what was to be looked for so that it might be named and identified. “Those who do not see” were blessed amongst the masses, for they would never know the loneliness that gripped its prey. They would never feel the talons of melancholy nor the depths of the deep dark pain it spawned.
Catharsis could see clearly, the others whom had been afflicted with the same torment with which he himself lived. He could sense their numbness, almost smell it as they wallowed through their daily lives cocooned in their catatonic shells. He could see the lethargy and apathy in their eyes as clear as he could see the noonday sun, or the abundance of his crops. He could see that their solitude and isolation were manifestations of the affliction of the darkness – that constrictor which grips its victim and strangles him of life.
Catharsis had lived with these things for the grander part of his life and it greatly added to his confusion about who he was as a man. He oftentimes felt alone in his struggle. Wishing this affliction would leave him. Often times wishing for his own life to end to escape his life of grey.
* * *
Affliction soon found its way to the royal family and took the life of the regent’s heir – it had not preference nor prejudice against whom it took. Shock and panic drove through the city’s streets. How could this sickness have impressed royal blood?! How could it taint such pure bloodlines? What mockery was this?
And so, to combat affliction an edict went out from the royal family and the priesthood: those who were tormented with affliction would be scarred by the branding man’s iron for all to see. They would be labeled with the eternal mark upon their forehead to be ostracized, outcast, and stigmatized.
Identified by the seal, shunned, and avoided so their inexplainable poison would be naught able to disease others.
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 yourdepression make you feel?
Maybe all this strikes a cord. If it does, please remember: you certainly are not alone.
I’ve been Tweeting with a friend whose site is based on raising suicide awareness, especially for those who need answers to “why?”. I wrote this some time ago and am hoping it helps a little in the way of explaining my personal experience.
I hope that my words may provide some closure for those that may still be seeking answers. A small bit of understanding to answer the question, “Why?” My family and friends are fortunate because I am able to answer those questions for. I am fortunate to be alive and explain it to them.
Here is what the world map of Jiyan (“Life”) has evolved to so far. It’s still a work in progress!
Here is the original map I started with…
And I redrew it here…
This region is located in the southwest corner of the world map at the top (with all the pencil notations), just so you can see how it will all fit in.
I’ve had a hard time coming up with more ideas for the stories, or turning those stories into chapters, and it would REALLY help me to hear comments and suggestions on what I can do to improve themif you go back to read the Short Stories category.
Thank you friends, I’m excited to hear your suggestions!
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.
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.
Hello and Happy Memorial Day. One thing I love aside from taking pictures at the beach, is taking pictures of train tracks. They entrance and mystify me somehow. I wanted to share them with you. Please feel free to use them and kindly link back to this blog so I can see how you incorporated them into your work.
Enjoy and thank you all for your support and readership!
Depression jacks up my relationships. Intimate or non-intimate.
I’m not pawning my behaviors off on depression.
Just explaining where they come from.
To improve myself, I must understand myself.
And I’ve found a lot of my answers in “Living with a Depressed Male”, Chapter 14
of Unmasking Male Depression, by Dr. Archibald D. Hart.
Having struggled with depression, not knowing this information led me to feel “crazy”, something a lot of us who survive with mental illness feel. Every. Single. Day.
Though chapter 14 is “primarily for wives” (p. 225), it really helped me understand myself a lot more.
I’d like to unpack it for you.
NOTE: Dr. Hart is a man of Faith but you don’t have to believe for the majority of this information to “make sense”.
* * *
I like bullets.
So does my A.D.D.erall.
So instead of summarizing his points in paragraph form I’m presenting them as bullets with page references. My hope is for you to take something away from this and relay it to others.
Here are the points that helped me understand how depression impacts me as a male.
“The Best Things You Can Say to the Depressed Man in Your Life” (p. 231)
“I love you and always will because you are important to me.”
“I can’t really feel what you are feeling, but I want to understand.”
“The best I can offer you right now is to be your friend.”
“You don’t have to apologize for the way you feel, because I know you can’t really control it.”
“You are not alone in this; I will stay by you until it’s over.”
“This won’t last forever, and when it’s over we’ll sing God’s praises together.”
“God isn’t causing this. He wants to help you bear it.”
“Some of God’s greatest servants have also suffered from depression – and God helped them through it.”
“The Worst Things You Can Say to the Depressed Main in Your Life” (p. 235)
“Get your life together; you are a man and can control yourself if you try.”
“God isn’t pleased with your life at the moment. Maybe you have unforgiven sin.”
“Stop feeling so sorry for yourself and just try a little harder.”
“I don’t know how much more of this I can take. You are driving my crazy.”
“Remember that there are many people in this world who are worse off than you.”
“I’m beginning to think that it was a mistake for me to marry [be in a relationship with] you.”
“You should stop seeing those quacks and taking those pills because they’re changing your brain.”
“Believe me, I know how you feel because I was depressed once and I didn’t make a meal of it.”
Men are a problem to women but rarely is this intentional. They are to an even greater degree a problem to themselves.
How Depression Effects Men & Makes Them Act
Depressed men frustrate and alienate those they love the most. (p. 226)
Depressed men become monosyllabic, self-absorbed, disinterested in almost everything, and very irritable. (p. 226)
Your loved one has not chosen to be depressed. If he could, he would gladly give it up. (p. 227)
…depression saps energy and diminishes self-esteem, and it will make your loved one feel worthless and unwanted. Guilt hangs … over every depressed man’s life, and thoughts of dying are very common. (p. 227)
…you can …count on there being a major communication problem. Depression shuts down our need to connect and incapacitates our socializing skills. (p. 227)
Depressed people become very sensitive to even the slightest rejection and jump to all sorts of negative conclusions and self-blame. (p. 228)
Don’t give advice…Men want reassurance that all will be right again. They also want reassurance that you love them and won’t abandon them at this dark moment in their lives. (p. 229)
Men express their depressions differently, and this difference revolves around irritability and aggression… (p. 230)
Let’s make no mistake about it: men don’t become “nicer” when they are depressed; they often become nastier. If they were mildly irritable before the depression, they become grossly irritable after. They can’t necessarily help it, as it is a by-product of the depression. Depression robs you of all control and turns you into a prickly time bomb. (p. 230)
Caves (e.g., retreating)
Caves are bad for depressed men. The problem is the cave’s effect on rumination. The so-called cave experience is deadly to depression because it offers a lot of time for rumination, and rumination feeds the depression just like logs feed the fire. (p. 233)
The cave has a soothing effect on men who are depressed, which is why they seek it. But here the soothing feeds feelings of dejection rather than providing a time for escape. Distractions are good. Retreating to solitary confinement isn’t. Depressed men need to be taken out of themselves, not allowed to retreat into themselves where they shut the cave entrance with a big boulder… (p. 234)
So…do you have a depressed male in your life? What has made sense to you here? What do you not agree with? What are your experiences? Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.
SOURCE: The words contained in this post are largely the intellectual property of Archibald D. Hart from Chapter 14 of his book, Unmasking Male Depression.
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…
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.
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.
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.
Author’s Note:By its origin, this blog was started as a way for me to grow and survive through my depression, not as a vehicle for me to post short stories. Recently however, I’ve become interested in delving into some ideas I’ve had. This has largely been the inspiration of my good blogging friend Matthew Malin at “Confessions“. One story of his started it all – “A Sheep Named Wolf” and I encourage you to read it before reading any further. Matthew, thank you my friend for your support, encouragement, and for starting me on this journey. I’m interested in seeing where it leads…
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.
Encircling the citadel like some leviathan was a moat. Many spoke how when the trench was dug, the moat was filled with blood. Perhaps the result of the dripping sweat and toil from the backs and brows of the builders. Perhaps the result of each family’s dedication and loyalty in assisting their loved ones in the task.
As the population of the garrison grew over the years, and more and more citizens left their families behind, the consistency of the lifeblood seemed to break down. Thin itself out. Devolve and dilute into something thinner and less consistent. A primordial liquid. That of water.
* * *
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.
[Collection of history as transcribed from ruins of the old language]
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.
A shunning compounded by rejection and neglect.
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 gleaming, soaring 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 against their loved ones. Their soul mates. Their compatriots. Their mentors. Their childhood friends. And their confidants.
They betrayed them out of their haughty arrogance. Leaving those whom were closest to them out in the cold to be ravaged down to the bones and sinews by the wolves. At times when relationship was needed the most.
And they established their new life secluded from any pollution from the outside world.
Catharsis left his field and began to trod the dirt path back to his home. The sun was setting behind him over the walls of Ǚr and he could see his dark shadow extending in front of him with each step he took closer to his home. His tools were slung over his shoulder. Burning a hole through his burlap shirt. Reminding him of the long day’s work.
When he felt it he stopped and turned around.
He squinted his eyes to see what was there.
He turned around and continued to press onward down the dusty road to his hut in the village. He could see it in the distance and smell the open wood cooking fires in the courtyards wafting towards him in the warm breeze.
His hut sat there amongst hundreds of others, at the foot of the great citadel. That place reserved for his Paladin and the village’s safe place against the Wahrlogs of the Encroaching Hinterlands.
Shh! That place must never be mentioned he reminded himself.
Catharsis’ body was sponged with tiredness. Dull pain from the constant hammering of his joints fighting the thick rocky soil of his field. His field, sat with others against the edge of the small kingdom. The village fields ran almost two-thirds of the way around the inside of the kingdom’s circular wall. Extending from the wall itself inward until they touched the edge of the village.
He looked back again, and this time his vision extended down the single cart road all the way past the Inner Gate and on to the Great Gate. Through the square steel he could faintly see their neighboring kingdom, Ǚruk. As the disappearing sun silhouetted the city black, his gaze came back inside the wall, scanning its base where the thick clay scaled downwards to meet with the growing crops.
“Hmph,” he grunted to himself as he turned and continued walking.
Catharsis was a complicated man. At least he thought himself to be. A man full of emotion simmering just under the surface of his tanned, taught skin. His head like a steadily simmering cauldron full of voices chattering incoherently about self-examination, guilt, shame, ineptness, and social inwardness. But also of helping those in need. These other voices spoke of selflessness, servitude, and exuding grace. Either way, his voices never stopped.
On the outside, his neighbors observed that he was a quiet soul. A soul that preferred to be alone. None would have guessed his social awkwardness and so he preferred this life of his. This life of toil. Where his efforts were manifest in the abundance of his crops.
As he arrived and entered the open doorway to his mud hovel he sensed it again.
Turning around he caught the blur.
Perhaps just a menagerie from the day’s heat and dehydration. Nothing a swill of barley grog wouldn’t take away. But then, he knew that was a remedy he wasn’t permitted, for it tainted the effects of the Elixirs—those magical potions prescribed by the Mediciner to help diminish the effects of Affliction. That ailment – no, that torture, which he had endured since childhood.
He also knew that this Reaper was here to claim his soul.
Setting his tools down at the adobe threshold, he entered and cautiously lit a lamp on the table in the center of the room. Slowly raising his eyes and scanning the dim outskirts of the dull glow.
Now he felt it full force.
There it was in the corner.
The only reason he knew it was there was because he had lived this situation many times. Felt it so many times before.
Been broken by it.
This visit by the Wahrlog of Darkness. This Specter.
Catharsis knew it was lurking just out of sight. Where the light faded into the darkness.
As he squinted, he could see its pale face under its sackcloth shroud push from the dark recesses. Its black, hollow eyes. Its sinister, unsheathed dagger teeth glistening in the shadows. Its chipped, stiletto nails sliding around the corner and scratching the walls of his soul.
Suddenly all the horrors of his life appeared at once. Those Tormentors that haunted his days.
The loss of his family. The hurt for his estranged daughter. His numerous failures in Relationship. His anger. His stonewalling and defensiveness. The ever present Darkness. When all of these forces gathered on him at once it was impossible to face.
The darkness enveloped him. Specter’s cloak spreading out from arms that spanned what seemed to be the entire breadth of the single-room dwelling.
He couldn’t stand to face this apparition again. Not with the incessant intensity with which it came like so many others.
Often times leaving him crippled fetal on the floor, crying like a baby. Stripped of strength and will. And hope. Begging for it all to end.
Not this time.
In desperation he looked around the room for something to fend off the beast – this harpy. He could feel Its presence growing stronger and reaching towards him.
He couldn’t fight any more than he already had. The Wahrlog slashed at his eyes and dug his talons into his chest, plunging for his soul as its prize.
And so Catharsis decided to finish the fight he could no longer endure.
He fumbled for the cord hanging from the peg on the wall.
Throwing the cord over the rafter and fastening the loose end to the doorpost, he climbed atop the table.
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
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 would like to thank Natalie and Alexandra over at Joy with a Side of Sarcasmfor their humbling rendition of “So whAt.”! What an awesome tribute using Vimeo. Thank you ladies. Please check out and follow their blog and leave a comment!
TRIGGER WARNING – This post ideals with suicide. Please do not read it dear friend, if this is a trigger.Mom. Angels. I am safe. This is just a memoir because I know others have no choice but to survive through the same. You have supported me to talk about this curse, through God’s strength.
Regardless of how alone you feel at this very moment – YOU. ARE. NOT. Please reach out. We are here to support our brothers and sisters through this dark abyss. Through this Specter. You can read as much as I remember about my personal fight and that night of hopelessness from the end of the belt.
Image of poem with lyrics below, as well as an image of hand holding an empty bottle with pills emptied out on a wooden floor.
The Night I Killed Myself | Part 1?
Anger triggers, trigger pulls, Specter slashing me
Digging claws of hopelessness, broke on bended knee
Half pill, whole pill, crying on the floor
Throw it back, chase it down, hanging from the door
Laughing at the little thought, that I was trying to sleep
“You fool you’re trying to die tonight, you worthless, monstrous creep”
Sitting on the bedroom floor, belt around my neck
Pills on wood, two bottles gone, end without regret
The pain, the hopelessness, the ever growing rage
The beast had torn apart, his rusted , Lexapronic cage
“SHH-! Don’t say it. Don’t dare speak his name”
“He’ll hear you, and he’ll cut you, and brand you with his flame.”
I can’t take the monsters, that rape me every day
Taunting me to exit out, you know, the easy way
Ever since the middle school, I entered a layer of hell
I never made it out of there, the pain’s too much to tell
* * *
There’s this girl that stole my heart, she used to call me dad
A fool to think I was the hero, I knew she never had
This is a repost of a four part poem I wrote on Specter, the personification of my depression. With it I hope that others suffering from the torment of depression and thoughts of suicide know they are not alone. Remember this is Suicide Prevention/Awareness month. Let’s help breathe hope to those who may be in a valley.
Thank you to my readers and followers for all your support. You are special to me.
Specter, Pt. 1
Michael please save me,
deliver my soul.
Specter is slashing,
and tearing a hole.
It bites and It gnashes,
and tears open my wounds.
I don’t have the will,
it’ll be over soon…
Specter, Pt. 2
…And as I looked up,
my defender looked down.
Descended and thrust,
crushed Specter to the ground
His lance tip pointed,
at the devil’s crown.
Specter’s incisors and daggers
extended and grown…
Specter, Pt. 3
…Specter shrieked like a pig bled, hanging on slaughter.
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:
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