A Rock Feels No Pain

In despero , obscurum ; In Diligo , Lux lucis. (In despair, darkness; In Love, Light). -Me

Somebody’s Knockin’… I won’t let ‘im in

Funny, how even when things are going so well, I can sometimes feel that old, cold feeling attempting to come back. There’s no rationality to depression, of course- that’s why it’s called an illness, right? If it were sane, why, then I wouldn’t be a cashew, and you wouldn’t be putting me in the category of a nut. Not, of course, that there’s anything wrong with cashews, or nuts in general- except when there is.

I’ve been thinking lately about the true insanity that comes into play, when the only visible logical rational course, is to die. It’s come up a few times in the last month or so, and I need to blather about it, I guess. Some people will run into setback after setback, job loss, business closing, homes burning, whatever, with a mental shrug and a move on. Others can slide into a dark cold place, when home is going along fine, work is great, and the kids are doing wonderfully.

The first time, I was speaking to a group of people at church, and one of the guys there was struggling to understand, and commented along these lines:

What I don’t understand, is how it can get so bad that you think leaving your family, your loved ones, is at all possible. I know that all I have had to do is remember my family, and no matter what it was that I was struggling with, I knew that I had them, and that I had to persevere, just because of them.

My response to Rob, was, “That’s the insanity of it. I didn’t care, because the twisted convoluted distorted thinking, is that they would be better off without me. The complete irrationality of my mindset, then, is what is so deadly, so scary dangerous. Pointing a truck at a bridge, and scraping the abutment at 95+ MPH, is not a sane thing to do; nobody in their right mind would think that it is. The problem, of course, is that when I aimed the truck, I wasn’t in my right mind, and what to me, today, is unthinkable- well, then, that was a perfect solution.”

Later that week, I was on the phone with my oldest friend, and she was sharing some of her concerns and struggles with her husband, and what she believes is his own depression. I was trying to make clear to her that there’s nothing that she has “done”, or “not done”, that caused him to be depressed. As much as we tend to take on this role, it’s vital to remember that this is a disease that can be treated, but not a contagious virus that you gave to someone. It’s not helpful to tell someone “you have it great, look at all the good things you’ve got…”. If we were rational, that might work, but the whole illness is irrational, so all she can do is love him, and encourage him to get help, and if it comes to it, she can call for help herself, on his behalf.

Then, a couple weeks ago, I was talking to another friend who is in a world of hurt right now. She’s attempting to find meds and a therapist she can trust, struggling to survive as best she can, and she asked me “How did you keep from just giving up?”

Those words are terrifying to me.

I don’t know that *I* did keep from giving up.

I wrote here and here, about how I managed to survive, and to get the help I needed to overcome the immediate crisis, and the long-term (longish? 3 years? How long til it’s long-term?) ability to keep on breathing.

If I think back, I can so clearly feel the emptiness, the cold darkness that I lived in. I can still feel the invisibility cloak that draped over me, I can hear that insidious whisper in the background, telling me that there is peace, there is a way to not hurt, to not feel pain, all I have to do is find the blade, turn the wheel, listen and it’s all still and no more struggling…

All I could do, is share with her how I had felt, and what happened, and try to articulate the difference that I feel now; to try to express that I *know* how she’s feeling, I’ve been there too, and that yes, there is a way to feel peace, and not hurt, that doesn’t involve blades and trucks or pills or high places with sudden impacts. That there is help, and she’s already started the hard part of it, which is to know she’s “nuts”, and work to get better.

I hope I was able to articulate that to her, somewhat.

It made me feel completely unprepared and inadequate, though, so today I did a bit of research and found a resource that I’d been toying with for quite a while now. I looked and found a place to offer myself for training, to work on one of the crisis-help lines, to try to help someone that might be hurting the way I was. I’d like to see if I can be there for another as the 1800 ladies were there for me.

So, take that, Black Thing. I’ll not only beat you on my own personal battlegrounds, I’ll train to join in and fight you on someone else’s battleground too. And, I’ll say F-You, while I’m at it, with a smile and a prayer of gratitude for being given the chance.


Filed under: "cuckoos nest", "mental illness", Black Thing, bridge, depression, progress, razor blade, , , ,

Skipping ahead, and back, and around- and it’s good

I’m skipping ahead, from where I stopped last post. Why? Because it’s my blog, and I can! Okay, so really, it’s because this week- tomorrow, actually- marks the one year anniversary of an event that has been on my mind lately. I don’t know if I’ll ever forget dates, I’ve written about that before- but either way, since I don’t seem to be able to get it out of my head, I thought I’ll share a bit here, and see if it helps.

I wrote about this, sort of, on my return, here:
But, I’d never particularly said what it was that threw me into said tailspin. Last year, about the time we we were redecorating my daughter’s room, I was doing something or other to Lynn’s computer. While doing that, I had seen some things that indicated that an attachment to one of her gaming friends had gone beyond just good friends, and it tossed me backwards, and down.

Good old black thing, seeing this, reared up it’s ugly, cold self, and tried once again to swallow me up. By that night, I was a complete, gibbering, useless emotional wreck. (Do you know that even knowing that it’s an illness, etc, and all that- it’s really not easy to admit to falling apart like that?) (Good thing I know you wont tell anyone, huh?) There was very little room for any forms of rational thought, nor was there any space being left for what I KNEW I should be doing, namely praying and letting God take this on. I have a hard time with that, though, which is one of the things that the depression both causes, and feeds upon. When you feel useless, and worthless, and unable to consider any value in yourself- well, then, why would God? After all, He knows better than anyone just how worthless I am, right?

It’s a nasty, vicious, icky cycle, and about the only good thing I can say for it, is that it certainly does keep you from doing things. Oh yes, if you want to have no ability to function, then go for the depression. Other than that? No, not-so-good.

Anyway, I was falling apart, completely. I had fallen so fast, and so deeply, that Lynn felt the need to hide the car keys, and to move medicines, and to keep a careful eye on me, in case I found a knife, or a razor. That terror, that fear in her eyes, was about the only thing that could have, that finally did, penetrate. I knew, somewhere, someplace inside, that even through the mistrust and anger I was feeling towards her, and her friend, and my own uncertainty about what that meant for our relationship- I knew that I hated that look even more than I hated myself.

Now, a couple years ago, I may well have made the determination that I could eliminate the look, if I eliminated myself. How extremely logical, no? No fear in your wife’s eyes, if you’re not around to have a wife anymore, right?

Thankfully, the God that I just KNEW found me useless and worthless, didn’t. No, once again, He whispered, he reminded me that I was still around for a reason, and that even if I didn’t understand that reason, He did; and He’d let me know why when I was ready to hear it, but that right now, tonight, I needed to stay alive, and here’s the handy solution. Harder solution, yes- but the right one. He told me, get going, dude-

So, I checked into the nut-hut (Behavioral Psychology Medicine Unit, for those that insist on boring, uninteresting names for things). I spent just under a week there, working with the Docs and Nurses, and the counselors and other patients. Something very unsettling, about realizing that the reason the orderlies come into the room every 20 minutes, is to make sure you’re not dead; yes, the whole ward was monitored, basically on a suicide watch, the entire time, every one of us.

I’ll tell you this though, as I reflect over the past year, look back on that day. I am much, much stronger than I was then, much healthier. I know this, because of something that happened just three weeks ago. I was going to start the car, warm it up before church, so went to get the keys from Lynn’s purse. Can you imagine the smack in the face I felt, when I found a couple of phone-calling-cards, and two pictures of the guy from a couple years ago, that had nearly ripped us apart? Yeah, that guy. The one that “I’ve not spoken to, chatted with, thought of, in xxxxx time.”

Yeah, the one that during the first seven months of what I call the Hell Time, was a repeated occurance. Lies, evasions, half-truths, but never actually stopping contact.

That, was a nasty, ugly slap in the face. Every old feeling, all the old fears and jealousy and anger, plus the new anger that arose, thinking that all this time, all the work we’d been doing, all the professions of love and newly rekindled relationship, was all false.

But- and this, my friends, is the much more interesting part, to me- I’m still here. I didn’t spiral into a suicidal depression; I didn’t leave; I didn’t kill myself, or her, or him. In fact, I managed to get to church, and do what I needed to do: I prayed. I prayed to God, to let me see what and why this was back, what I needed to do, what was he wanting from or for me.

And, once again- He answered. He answered through the conversation I had with Lynn, later that day, when instead of leaving, I listened. Seems, the purse she’d grabbed from the closet the day before was an old one, not her current one; she needed to use something, because she’d left hers in the car, and it was with one of the kids. So, she grabbed this one, tossed her wallet and keys in it, and did whatever. Forgetting to get the other one from the car, well, who cared? Her point, was that the photos, the calling cards, were old and outdated. They were not anything she kept intentionally, nothing that she cared about.

As we talked, I fought the unease, the disbelief, the doubts that were there, and did my best to listen with the knowledge that I’d gained in the last two years. Knowledge of her love, through the looks she gives me, of the laughing and fun and joy we’ve re-found; of the love, of the play, of the sex and the giddy silliness that we’ve been sharing, all of these things were in my head as I listened, and tried to counter the ugly, horrible, outdated feelings.

And, my friends- I won. It worked, that time the black thing didn’t stand a chance. By that night, we were wrapped in one another’s arms, entwined and loving one another, making love, hugging, talking. Sharing, as we’ve learned to, the bad times- and rejoicing in the good times, celebrating in love, and fighting off the bad.

Totally different reactions, from one year to another; from one guy, to another guy, from a real threat, to an imagined threat, to a past threat, and once more, God told me to stick around, that He’s not done with me yet. As I was thinking about last year, and what a horrible time it was, how depressed I was, I also couldn’t help noticing something else; Yesterday, in the car, I was singing to Beth and Lynn, singing along with a cd we’d made years ago.

Perhaps you know the song, “I can see clearly now”. Well, the line I loved, and actually repeated, because it seemed so fitting: “I think I can make it now, the pain is gone…
All of the bad feelings have disappeared…
Here is the rainbow I’ve been prayin’ for…
It’s gonna be a bright, bright, bright, bright sun shiney day.”

Works for me.

Filed under: "cuckoos nest", "mental illness", anniversary, Black Thing, depression, God, lynn, meanderings, progress, razor blade, , , ,

Time Passes

Time can be a very interesting phenomenon, as many have observed before me. It stretches, vast and endless, as we wait impatiently for something much anticipated to arrive, or the special day to finally get here, or the end of school for all the squirming, restless kids. It can be interminable, while we wait for the diagnosis, the lab results, the next appointment that is available: “TheDoctoronlyseespatientsonalternateThursdaysinmonthsthataresafetoeatoystersthataren’thurricaneseasononthetropicalislandthatGilligandiscovered,whenhe’shadoatmealforbreakfastnotGilliganofcoursebuttheDoctorhadoatmealShallImakethatappointmentforyounowsir?”

Or, it can be astonishingly fleet, hours passing in a heartbeat of two entwined lovers, one position flowing to another and exhaustion setting in, with the realization that it wasn’t an hour, it was four. The brief glimpse of an afternoon, which speeds by in hardly the time it takes to turn the page when buried and engrossed with your favorite authors, be they novelists or bloggers.

How quickly indeed, an entire year can fly by, even when many, many of the days that comprise this twelve-month dragged with the slowness of molasses.

It has been about a year- (forgive me, but the exact date has actually been lost to my mind, and I’m not sorry about that)- it’s been a year since that day when in the midst of despair, buried under the crushing weight of black, cold darkness when absolutely nothing at all was even slightly, even remotely interesting; a year, since that dark, dark July day that I made the decision. It was, at the time, the only sensible thing to do- I marveled at my own slowness, my own stupidity. How could I have not *seen*? How, for a reasonably intelligent middle-aged man, could I have been so *dumb*?

The answer, it came to me blindingly, and I welcomed it, embraced it, cherished it, for it offered the solution- the pain, the dark despair, the hurt, oh, the constant never-ending soul grinding pain-

Kill yourself.

Kill yourself, and it will stop. There will be no more pain, no more darkness, no more bone-deep cold that no external temperature ever changes.

It was so seductive, so wonderfully soothing, that thought, that whisper from the black depths of my hell:

“If I were to kill myself, just think! Not only will it take away the pain, but Lynn, the kids- they’ll be better off too! They don’t need you, you’re in the way, they’re happy as long as you are the invisible man with a wallet. Why, they probably wont even miss you!

“Oh, sure, they’ll be a little sad maybe, at first, but they’ll soon realize that their lives will go on, just as before, and Lynn, she’ll appreciate one less person to take care of, a little more space in her bed, more time to play her games.

“The kids, they’re young, they’ll get over it, and they deserve a better father anyway, if you’re gone, maybe they’ll fix Lynn up, and have a dad that they deserve, you’re worthless as a father anyway.

“Go on, die a little, it’s better for all in the long run.”

So said the black thing, on that sunny day. I left my office, left my computer and chair and desk and the cells that we call cubicles. I left, and drove; my thinking was clear, I was going to head north and west, and I had just the spot- if I continued (as is normal for that area) at eighty miles-per-hour, and twisted the wheel just *there*, I would hit the bridge stanchion just so, and peace would be mine.

It had to be the bridge, you see, if I went tidily for pills (my other option), it would invalidate the insurance; and, I wasn’t so far gone even then, as to think leaving my children paupers would be a good idea.

A year, since then, and time has flown. I remember, as clearly as if it were yesterday, that day- bright sun, dark, dark shadows on my world. Clear blue skies, and all I could see was my own despair.

Obviously, I didn’t twist the wheel. I thank God, and Frank Warren, and Casie every single day. God, for letting me pass an accident, showing me that someone would have to clean up.

Frank, for constructing his project PostSecret, which book I had purchased not long before.

And Casie, for the letter she’d written, regarding the suicide hotline number that could be found in that book.

Now, I look back, and marvel- not at the simple clarity of my conviction that the only thing left was to die, but at the sneakiness of the Black Thing. Twisted, evil, malaevelent, wanting only pain, and in the end death, is the Black Thing. Disguised as a peaceful solution, offering the way out, and I almost fell for it. Missed it by about 8 inches, which I shall be eternally grateful for, now.

Amazing, where the time goes, isn’t it?

Filed under: Black Thing, death, depression, time

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Ancient History