Man Fights Depression and Learns from Past

Walt Whitman - em Camden, 1891
Walt Whitman – em Camden, 1891 (Photo credit: marcelo noah)

Depressive.  It helps that there is a noun for folks who experience depression.  Many years ago, “depressoid” came up.  But there is one perspective out there that gives  “depressoid” a harsh connotation.  Most of us know that good people, brilliant people, creative people, humorous people … struggle with depressive symptoms:

Abraham Lincoln, Republican candidate for the ...

Lincoln (A.), Letterman (D.), and Lennon (J.) … Williams (Robin), West (Jerry), Whitman (Walt), and Wallace (Mike) …

English: Jim Carrey walks in the the studio of...

Beethoven, Hornsby (B.), Hopkins (A.), Hemingway (E.) …   Jim Carrey (J.),  Christie (A.), Carson (J.) …  Yes, these are … indeed good people.   And they are entitled to respect.    The depression for one man I know was connected to an auto accident, when he was rear-ended.  An M.D. told him that chronic pain affects the dopamine levels.

Letterman (Photo credit: PDR)
English: John Lennon Deutsch: John Lennon
English: John Lennon Deutsch: John Lennon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is another man I met many years ago who suffers from a serious case of major depression.  He believes, whole heartedly, that it comes from his twenty-five years of passionate drug abuse.

Another man I have come to respect over the years, not a friend but a colleague, disclosed that his mother suffered from a mood disorder that could have been a mania-dominant bipolar disorder.

In my own journey of depression, I have consulted countless folks (no exaggeration); especially over the last fifteen years.  Suicide, of course, has been one of the topics commonly disclosed.  I really appreciate one particular dialogue I was privileged to be present at, listening in:

“Well, suicide is not an option.”
“Not an option? What do you mean it’s not an option?”
“It’s not an option.  It’s not something that can happen.”
“Oh, my; you are sadly mistaken.  Suicide is always an option.  It happens more often than you may think.”

I appreciated the words the second man used for the purposes of reality.  I never forgot that conversation.  It made me aware how dangerous our thoughts can be; and how reckless our false assumptions can end up being.

And, lastly, it illuminates … quite brightly … courage.  For the truly depressed souls, getting up in the morning, takes courage.  And using one’s giftedness, as well, takes courage.

I fight depression.  But to fight depression I have to think outside the box.  I have to be intentional, and proactive.  Self-pity is my enemy.  Love is the greatest force that I know of.  And I learn from my past; otherwise I forsake wisdom.  And good friends?  Indispensable.  Empowerment?  Gold.

Man: 3am … Pre Snow Blow

(This post …written in a spiral, 04/23/13 @ 3am)

Man: mysterious, brilliant, irrational, practical, calm, handsome (based on perception), and the list goes on and on.  I look out the sliding glass door, into the darkness pierced by white snow; it looks like about 6″.  Man, at it again: insomniating, ink rides paper, attempting (its futile) to contain the overwhelming excitement of the moment.  (Pause) … (Heavier pause) … (An even heavier pause) 

‘Cannot sleep, pondering a profound and piercing question that make writers pensive: “But, how much snow will we get and (as psychotherapists like to ask) how does that make me feel?” 

Kitchen-bound.  Refridgerator.  Two different kinds of cheese dip, recently acquired and unopened.  I break a rule: I open both of them.  With rectangular crackers, I alternate dipping between the two.  I know this is wrong, but I’ll deal with the consequences later.  After all: I’m a wilder man.

This is a Krups "Vivo F880" espresso...
This is a Krups “Vivo F880” espresso maker. It’s cleverly designed from a usability perspective, but it broke/wore out after about a year, just like most of my espresso machines do. This photo is edited to show a white background, since I didn’t have a more natural background available to put it on. Some edits were performed by Keysignal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I turn on the espresso machine, and experience visions of grandeur as I consider the amazing coffee that will be flow from this small inconspicuous machine.   I will be able to do a cup of Mud, and then go back to sleep.  This does not make sense.  How can I drink coffee at 3am and then go back to bed?  The phenomenon is profound to the point that I freeze every muscle in my body, staring toward a window.  The pen is motionless.  Time has been suspended.  At some point I slowly emerge from the catatonic state.  I am able to surrender such a complex issue, and the pen starts moving again.  I know that coffee is imminent, unavoidably imminent; just as the snow-blowing is imminent, unavoidably imminent.

But the snow-blowing can wait until daylight.

Not so, for the coffee.

English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto...

Good Guys
David, with the head of Goliath

Good guys have been around for a while.  I have to stop, from time to time, to remember that there are good guys.   It reminds me that I’m not alone in a messed up world … It reminds me that there many reasons to hope.David met Goliath, hurled a stone through the air, and it connected.   WHACK!  David was a good guy, who didn’t take it lightly, Goliath talking smack … and messing with his people.
It reminds me of a line from a book entitled Flight of the A-1 Intruder, by Steven Koontz: “Son, if there was ever a time to come to know Jesus, it’s right now.”  Jesus was not known, yet, at that time, but it would have been a great line.  Goliath was a bad guy who couldn’t keep his head together.

Eliott Ness (Eliot Ness – Wikipedia, the free ) went after Al Capone, and … succeeded.  Crafty?  Oh, yeah.  Tax evasion.  HA!  Eliott Ness was part of the “Untouchables” … and they had a vision, these guys.  They took down Al Capone.

Al Capone. Mugshot information from Science an...
Al Capone. Mugshot information from Science and Society Picture Gallery: Al Capone (1899-1947), American gangster, 17 June 1931. ‘Al Capone sent to prison. This picture shows the Bertillon photographs of Capone made by the US Dept of Justice. His rogue’s gallery number is C 28169’. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s good to remember that the “archetypes” … somewhat an appropriate term … are important because they symbolize justice.

Superman and his alter ego, Clark Kent
Superman and his alter ego, Clark Kent (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They remind us, as well, of the good guys … going after the bad guys.  Like Clark Kent, a good man, that had to deal with some legitimate tension / ambivalence / frustration of living out two different roles.

A shaken Clark Kent, unconcerned about his sec...
A shaken Clark Kent, unconcerned about his secret,assists Lateesha Johnson; she was attacked by gang members. Art by Dan Jurgens. From Superman v.2 #121 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I could not  live out two roles like Clark Kent.  He was a reporter.  No, a super-hero.  No, a reporter.  No, a super-hero.  Is it a bird?  Is it a plane? Nooooo!  It’s … a … newspaper reporter!!   Another challenge for Clark Kent: he did not have a cellphone, which meant he had to use a phone booth. But at least he got the girl in the end.

 Then, there is another archetype: Aragorn from The Lord Of The Rings, who lost his dad at the age of two … because of a conflict between Aragorn’s dad and a gang of orcs who were, like Goliath, no doubt talking smack.  An elf type named Elrond (who was the toughest elf-type that I have ever seen) raised up Aragorn.  Aragorn eventually met a babe by the name of Arwen, who happened to be Elrond’s daughter. Aragorn walked softly, and carried a sharp sword, and was a full-blown orc terrorizer.  
One good way to wrap this post up is with a picture of a real-life hero … laying it all down to keep us safe, MIT police officer Sean Collier, 26, of Somerville, Mass.,  Sean Collier died Thursday night after two men fired gunshots at Collier, who responded to a disturbance on the campus.    Picture below, courtesy of USA Today

Righteous Anger, Chase, Restoration

“The game is afoot.”   Sherlock Homes.

‘Not a game, far from it, on the other end of the spectrum.  Race, followed by chase …  a chase that may not be over.  Anger/rage, emotion(s),  have rattled my soul, and two pieces are apparent:   “Don’t mess with the children …”; (quote) “Beware the wrath … of a patient man.”  Unknown

“Connecting the dots”, I consider the good guys, going after the bad guys.  Our warriors balance anger with the methodical, effective, quick chase.  I review my own rough, general, sequence of events:

  1. Bad guys show up;
  2. They do something really, really, bad to hurt folks;
  3. A child dies, two adults die;
  4. Good guys start the process of finding the bad guys.

The process means that anger, rage, are not the point. Instead, it’s about “cause & affect”.

  1. “You did this;
  2. Now, the consequence;
  3. We are coming for you;
  4. We will find you.”

The chase may still be on.  But two bad guys are no longer on the loose.

Something happens (one of the laws of life).  We process what has happened.  We get angry.  We find hope.   And through all this, mourning takes place at different levels, in different ways.  We … figure out what we are supposed to do.  The chase takes place.  We find what and who we are looking for.  And then what?

I don’t know. One thing I do know: I am immeasurably thankful for the good guys,  determined to take care of business.

Life continues;  journey does not stop; story is still being written.  Growth happens; pain fades, peaks; there are good days, bad days; and restoration.  Restoration can be a long process.  Truly, the story is not finished, but still being written.

Hope Hidden

Hope .  “Hope” rhymes with “Nope”, and “elusive” rhymes with “reclusive”.  Bear with me.  I am opening up a valve from my writer’s heart and mind … Let me see what flows from within.

The Boston violence and the Texas disaster, both, scream of loss and incredulity.  There is, undeniably, great pain, a great stain of injustice.  I don’t always do well with great pain, and loss, and injustice.  And this dynamic of disruption and disorientation creates one of many catalysts for writing.

RELEASE ! ! !  I’ve heard it said before from one far wiser than I, “Release what is good …”, which led me to one of my beliefs: “Release the Peace” … and “Embrace the Grace”.

I’ve been blown off course, not unlike a small vessel on the sea in the midst of a storm.  I mean that in the immediate sense (initally processing the pain, loss and injustice from recent tragedies) … and I also mean being blown off course in a global sense … it is more about a major transition in my life, now, as I carefully consider a question you all have asked yourselves: “What’s next?

When I think of the disaster in Texas (although I am not up to date with any details due to the micro-challenges of my day, my week, my family, my own attempt to do self-care) I cannot avoid considering that someone … somehow … dropped a big ball … With that much flammable substance, wouldn’t there be / shouldn’t there be sufficient safeguards to try (at least) to avoid such a disaster from happening?  I heard on the news that buildings as far as four blocks away were leveled.  To me that is mind boggling … What, 150 souls perished?

Okay.  So, wrap-up.  Amidst this deep, unfathomable, pain, and loss, and injustice, and confusion … there is still hope.  Or is there?  Maybe I am just speaking for myself … Hope is very strange, because hope can disappoint us. Hope is about what we cannot see.  Hope conflicts with the phantom of pessimism: “Nope!”. Hope is elusive … and I can be reclusive, if I give up hope… which means I hide … I refuse to participate in these battles that we are called to fight, every morning, every day.  And, I’ve referenced something Red said to Andy, in the movie Shawshank Redemption: “Hope is a dangerous thing.” I am guilty of hypocrisy, in that I have … at different times in my life … given up hope.  And, yet I believe that one can get it back, if one wants it.  But one must really want it, to get it back.

Bad Guys? Who Catches Them?

Boston … targeted … WHY?  There are people in Boston.  And there are people situated across the continent.  Boston wasn’t the real target, but Americans.  Innocent Americans who were not mediocre, out cheering for someone else … out living life.  Those two pictures, the 8-year old boy, the graduate college student … Their faces and their smiles are full of life.

And the crazed animals, or psycopaths, or whatever … they were about death … they had death in their hearts and minds, and irrational rage, and evil, but they haven’t totally maxed out their own death content.  But they will at some point, and hell awaits them.  The bad guys went after good people who were free, who died in their freedom … died living.   I hope you are finding some degree of relief, consolation … some degree of comfort … that the eight-year old boy is not in pain now, nor is he scared … But that does not resolve, in any way, the hellish, unfathomable, anguish so many more people are overwhelmed with …

My wife does not believe in the death penalty.  I cannot fault her for that.  She is a good-hearted woman with great wisdom, and she is fair, compassionate.  As for me …

I think considering the options are important.  The one I came up with first is one better off kept inside the confines of my mind.   I won’t discuss it other than calling it (my own term) “Sensory Escalation For Violent Criminals”.  I know that the O.T. piece about “an eye for an eye” is a very controversial topic, and I guess I better not get into that, now.

So, who catches the bad guys?  God be with those good guys … going after the bad guys …  They are men & women who want justice.  They are men & women … who are husband and/or dads, wives and/or moms.  They are single men and women who pour everything they have into their careers of making things right.  They don’t do it to be known.  But they want it known that justice has been served.

These are men & women who sacrifice their sleep, at times, to keep looking for the bad guys.  They give up their lives, if that’s what it takes.  I cannot imagine how many men and women, who go after the bad guys, have some psychological woundedness from PTSD.  I cannot imagine what other situations they have to suffer with.  There’s no way for me to know.

Our military men and women are laying it all down so that we can do what we do … they are keeping us safe so we can sleep.  On the mainland, our law enforcement folks / FBI / ATF / NSA / etc., etc., etc. are doing the same thing our military are, but in different ways.  True, that sounds over-simplified …

Whoever the good guys are, chasing the bad guys, I cannot thank them (you) enough.  If any of you are reading this … Thank you.  You probably drink a lot of coffee, and eat a lot of fast food, and I have no problem with you drinking some beers (or whatever) after work … you all deserve so much more.

There are some good-hearted, wise, bloggers who are speaking into this tragedy in a way that reminds me of what is important.  I am thankful for those bloggers.  Here are three … and there are many, many more.   

Peace. T

Men Who Write, Continued: Tolkien

I was surprised by a gravitational force pulling me back, again, into my thoughts of  writers who have gone before us.  This time I thought of J.R. Tolkien.  

Picture provided from:
Tolkien’s story is a great story. I encourage you to spend a little time to read about this man who authored The Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit.  The scene described below comes from The Lord of the Rings.

At the Council of Elrond, long discussion came around to the option of destroying the Ring, which meant journeying to Mordor, and

English: Replica of the One ring from The Hobb...
English: Replica of the One ring from The Hobbit and The Lord of the rings trilogy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

throwing the Ring into the fires, there.  However, no one volunteered for this task, and there was silence.

“No one answered … Still no one spoke. Frodo glanced at all the faces, but they were not turned to him.  All the Council sat with downcast eyes, as if in deep thought.  A great dread fell on him, as if he was awaiting the pronouncement of some doom that he had long foreseen and vainly hoped might after all never be spoken.  An overwhelming longing to rest and remain at peace … in Rivendell filled all his heart.

Elijah Wood as Frodo in Peter Jackson's live-a...

At last with an effort he spoke … as if some other will was using his small voice. ‘I will take the Ring,’ he said, ‘though I do not know the way.’ …”

“Elrond (spoke to Frodo) … ‘If I understand aright all that I have heard … I think that this task is appointed for you, Frodo …

Hugo Weaving as Elrond in The Lord of the Ring...

This is the hour of the Shire-folk, when they arise from their quiet fields to shake the towers and counsels of the Great …  But it is a heavy burden.  So heavy that none could lay it on another.  I do not lay it on you.  But if you take it freely, I will say that your choice is right …’ ”    ”  ‘But you won’t sent him off alone, surely, Master?’ cried Sam …”

Tolkien and C.S. Lewis hung out together along with a group called the Inklings.  Having community is so important: for encouragement, for insight, for accountability.  And yet, when it comes to writing, one writes alone.  We are ring-bearers, really.  To use Elrond’s words: “.. it is a heavy burden.  So heavy that none could lay it on another … But if you take it freely, I will say that your choice is right .. ”

Gerald May wrote a book The Dark Night of the Soul, based on the work by St. John of the Cross (16th Century) with the same name; an excellent read.  I bring it up because, for me, the long hours and grueling experiences of writing can be a desert experience … sometimes more than others.   I am interested to know if anyone else experiences a “dark night of the soul” whether it is connected to writing, or not.