Hard Truth and Hope (TRIGGER WARNING: Talk of suicidal thoughts)

I write this blog to start the conversation.  I write this blog in hopes that someone will read it an realize they are not alone.  That is the big lie of depression, that we are alone and always will be.  The truth is there are many of us out there and it is my sincere belief that if you just start talking it will begin to eliminate the stigma that hovers over and around depression and mental illness.

That being said…this is a guest post by a dear man – IronTempleDog.  The trigger warning is there because he writes bravely and honestly of thoughts and feelings surrounding suicide.  I want people to see this and reach out, ask for help.  If you don’t think you can talk to anyone around you then please call:

1 (800) 273-8255

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week
Languages: English, Spanish
And now I give you IronTempleDogs words…
“Before you worry, these are just musings. I’m really fine right now. This is just some stuff that was on my mind. Please don’t worry. With that, here’s some stuff I’ve been thinking:

I romanticize suicide. It’s an option for me. I’m terrified of it but now that I’m not religious, there’s nothing really holding me back except the desire to live, the harm I’d do to those I care for and the fear of pain. The problem with that is as the noise in my mind gets louder and more urgent, those things fade in importance. My worry over my own mental health trumps my worry over the grief of others right after the desire to live fades and so far, I’m left only with the fear of pain and that is fleeting indeed.

It doesn’t take much of a nudge to make me think that it will be quick and that it won’t be that bad. I’ve been there… so close to that edge that I could hear the echo. I’ll be there again too. This is the thing. It’s going to get me one day. I have an illness that there’s no cure for and in cases like mine, it’s frequently fatal.

It’s not that there’s nothing I can do. My quality of life has gone up a great deal in the last few years and that helps stave off the worst of my episodes. I have tools, but I know that I’m never far from a tipping point. The tiniest thing can set me off and then there I am again, listening to that haunting echo.

It almost calls out to me. Sometimes even when things are fine. I imagine the peace of oblivion. An end to the endless struggle. I’m tired of being the way I am and some days, even good days, I just want to rest forever. The final mortal equivalent of a day in bed, hiding under the covers. I imagine giving myself the freedom to rest, permission once and for all and I’m not going to lie, it’s appealing.

Then I think of blood and bones and dirt. Pragmatism. I think of hearts broken and lives changed and promises that I’ll never keep. I think of places I’ll never go and things I’ll never see and I hope. I hope for me and for people that love me despite how fucked up I am and will probably always be. I hope that maybe there’ll be a cure one day or ridiculously, that maybe I’ll just somehow be fine one day. Worse even than that, sometimes I hope I’m imagining it. That maybe it’s all just bullshit that I’m subconsciously making up for some crazy reason. Or I hope that maybe there’s yet another miracle just around the corner.

Hope is a motherfucker though. It keeps me here and sometimes here is the worst place. Not really, of course. I’m the luckiest guy in the world, honestly. If it weren’t for being insane, that is. Because I am actually pretty crazy though, sometimes here feels like the worst place and in those times I hate hope with everything I’ve got. You see it’s the reason I stay, in the end. It’s the thing that keeps me dragging on, even when the noise is too loud to think and the pain is too great to bear anymore. In all of the reasons I’ve cited for living, in every single one, hope plays a role.

When I’m tired and I just want to rest my heart forever, hope won’t let me go. For that I both love and hate it in equal measure. It keeps me here. It keeps me here.

So yeah.

Hope. Suicide. Life.

All of them are beautiful motherfuckers.”

The Freedom and the Folly

I realized it had been a few weeks since I posted.

I want to talk openly about what has been going on.  I am going to ask first though that you check this definition for dysthymia.

Now that you’ve done that let me explain why.  About eighteen months ago I was formally diagnosed with dysthymia and bouts of what is known as double depression.  This means that along with the dysthymia I would suffer with times of deep depressive episodes.  Sounds like fun right?

If you read my partner’s blog: lovelifepractice.com you’ll know what’s coming next.  If you don’t then I will tell you.  A couple of months ago my therapist removed the diagnosis of dysthymia. This means that after nearly a decade possibly two from what we can tell I am no longer suffering my depression on a constant basis. You dear reader are sitting there thinking “how wonderful” I suspect.

Yes, it is wonderful. It is also scary as hell.  I essentially have to navigate what it feels like to be happy.  A feeling I am not at all used to.  If you suffer from depression you understand extremes in emotions.  It is a very uncomfortable feeling to go along in a day a experience what I would describe as an emotional plateau. I have to remind myself that this is “normal” non-depressive feelings.  That the extreme emotions I was feeling before had to do with my old neural pathways.  That, in reality, the other shoe is not about to drop.

That is the freedom, really, it is. What is the folly?  That comes from also remembering that I have a chronic illness. The dysthymia may have been removed from my diagnosis but I still battle with depression.  I probably always will.  That the old neural pathways are always going to be there and that I have to train my mind to follow the new ones.  I had to remind myself and my partner that there will probably still be bad days.  Admittedly, we are better equipped to deal with them now.  That helps. I wish I could tell the people that love me and that have been on this journey with me that it is over.  I can’t but what I can do is remember to say “THANK YOU”  and I love you.  I know it is not always easy to love me or understand.  To my partner,Gray, I love you more everyday, more than I ever thought possible.  Thank you for your strength, your bravery, and your compassion.

To the rest of you, please keep fighting for yourself and those whom you love.  It can be a dark and tiresome journey but it is definitely worth it.

How De-cluttering Our Home Helped Me Find My Passion

Happy day after Labor Day! I hope you all had a relaxing 3-day weekend.  I know I did.  In part this was because my partner Gray and I  just finished the process of applying the KonMari Method to our home. I’m not going to talk about the whole process much Gray covers it well in his LoveLifePractice post.  What I am going to talk about is the direct effect it had on my mind and my outlook.

I was hoarder in many ways.  I admit that a lot of it was out of guilt.  I felt like if I got rid of something I would lose my attachment to a person, place or feeling.  I look at that now and feels a little strange. I know that a movie stub doesn’t contain the essence of the person I was there with but What if I forget?

Marie Kondo has a wonderful way to sort this out.  You hold the object in your hands and see if it creates a “spark of joy”, if it does you keep it. This was a bit life changing for me.  I had to hold each thing and see what feeling it brought up. Was it nostalgia, fear, guilt, just a memory of a different time?  If it was one of those things it was time to let it go.  As it turns out, it was time to let a lot of things go.

SAYING THANK YOU AND GOODBYE TO MY THINGS

This may sound silly to some of you but it was extremely freeing for me.  You know, after the initial “you want me to talk to my things” reaction.  Simply, is that acknowledging that something has done its job or served it’s purpose. Thanking it and saying goodbye made it easy to let it go.  In my mind I can hold onto the memory now without holding onto the object.  This idea was the game changer.  I literally (yes, literally not figuratively) felt lighter.  I felt like I could breathe and my mind let go of ALL THE THINGS.

My therapist was thrilled.  He was so happy that I could let these things go and create the space in my life to deal with the present and what was important and making me happy. He and I talked about the process and what it meant to me and what I had let go of besides just things.  I get stuck in my past sometimes.  Letting go of things you never imagined you could freed me from some of that past.  It gave me the distance to look at it differently.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN

I am very lucky.  I have an amazing partner who has created a safe space for me to work with and through my depression.  He has given me the ability to figure out what it is that I am passionate about and how I can make that work.  Together we created a home that is free of clutter and open to creativity.

I have figured out what I want to do.  I want to help others to create that space to learn to let go of some things and realize that the memory or feeling doesn’t have to occupy physical space.  I want to help people create a peaceful, joyful space in which to create and grow and live.

I am growing and learning to move past my fear.  Where does this leave me?  At the beginning of a scary and amazing journey.  I am starting my own business.  The business of helping others organize.  I will keep you posted.

 

The Discomfort of Happiness

I was leaving my therapist’s office last week and looked me in the eye and told me how wonderful it was to see me smile.  It was not long before this that my partner Gray said similar.  I have to tell you that both times I became uncomfortable.

You have to understand.  I have “dealt” with my depression for a very long time.  I didn’t get help or treatment for at least twenty years.  I just lived with it.  I don’t really even notice if I am not smiling so sometimes I am surprised to hear that it is rare.

I am curious if anyone else out there experiences that?  Do you go through your day not realizing that you are not smiling.  I am also curious if those of you working through your clinical depression ever feel woozy when your happy? I have this sneaking suspicion that I am not alone.  If you have spent years depressed then those moments of true happiness can be unsettling.  Understand, I do not mean that they are bad.

Imagine having spent your life on an emotional roller coaster, mostly on the downslope.  I had not realized how accustomed I had become to drama. (No, we are going to call them theatrics)  I am not beating myself up by saying this, at the time I didn’t know any differently.  I now find that the quiet moments of peace and joy feel awkward.  It’s as if something is horribly wrong yet I’m happy. Sigh. Writing that out makes me shake my head.

I guess I bring this up because I am lucky to have a loving patient partner.  I know it is frustrating to have everything going well and have me sort of bristle.  I am working on it.  I have years of neural pathways to overcome.  I just want to tell all of those out there loving and supporting and yes, swallowing a good deal of frustration, Thank you. THANK YOU! We love you and we know it must be so hard sometimes.

Fear

This post is hard today.  The thoughts that have been most present in my mind have come from my therapist asking me to step back and look at my triggers (when they happen) and try to relate them to the abuse I grew up with. I am to look at the connections and not assign blame but try to figure out ways to re-route my reactions or actions in my brain.

This process is not easy, far from it.  I am having to learn to accept that what I experienced as a child is a form of abuse. It’s not physical which makes it harder to spot.  I am an only child so there really was no one to witness it. I spent years thinking that I was intelligent because I didn’t follow the path that my father laid out in front of me.

Why am I telling you this?

As I sit down to write this post I have quit my job in a cafe and I am starting to work from home for myself.  I am full of fear about being a burden to my partner Gray.  I am terrified of failing.  I am doing the thing I was brought up to believe was not the “smart” thing.

Where does this fear come from?  Thanks to my therapist and cognitive behavioral therapy I am beginning to see the effects of the behavior modeled by my parents in my thinking process.

All I can do is get up every morning and remind myself that I am not what my fears make me.  I have the love and support of my partners and friends and I have the strength of my own abilities to create new ways of thinking.

“Do not confuse my bad days as a sign of weakness. Those are actually the days I am fighting my hardest.”  -Unknown

 

I Need Your Help

Over the last 12+ months I have been coming to terms with and learning to live with clinical depression and social anxiety.  I have also become passionate about finding ways to get people to talk about mental illness openly and getting rid of the stigma that is attached to these illnesses.

Why do I need your help?  That is more difficult, at least for me.  Asking for help doesn’t come easily.  What I need from all of you is your ear and if you can your voice.  I want to take you all on the journey with me through my healing and my learning and my teaching.

I want you to be my sounding board and I want your thoughts and opinions as I try to find bigger and better ways to communicate and get others to start communicating.  It is time for all of us to start talking and being honest in our daily lives, our kink lives and the way we negotiate.

I am not asking for anything I won’t do.  I am going to be opening myself and my journey up to all of you in the hope that someone may find some strength in it.