Category Archives: Mental Illness

Regret Is Eating Me Alive

galveston

Galveston Island, TX

I felt the need to write. I have started several novels over the years, one chronicling my suicide attempts and hospitalizations. I just can’t seem to make myself sit down and write them. That’s the problem.

So I have this blog. I sit myself down right now to write, but I don’t really have anything encouraging to say. Ha. That is usually followed by what turns out to be an encouraging post.

I started this blog in hopes of offering positivity to those who suffer mental illness among other things. The Catholic part comes from my faith tradition, which I am trying like mad to hold onto. (Most days I’m a religious hypocrite.)

I wanted my very own ministry (‘apostolate’ in Catholic terms), but it turned out that I’m just as broken, sinful, and run-down as the people whom I wanted to encourage.

So, here I am talking about how miserable I am. I suppose I could give a lesson on what not to do.

As a father and husband, I use my own dad as an example of what not to do. See, he was a real prick during my childhood. The problem is, I’m turning into him, whether I like it or not.

OK, here’s what not to do. This week we took a family vacation to Houston, about a three-hour car trip. See, I have a decent job, but we’re not exactly rollin’ in dough. So we went to Houston because there are fun things there for our kids like NASA, the beach, The USS Texas battleship, etc., etc.

Our friends go to Hawaii. Spain. The Bahamas. We go to friggin’ Houston. But I digress.

I got angry several times and my wife and I fought. I’m sure it hurt out two children.

Now we’re back home. This evening I drove my two sons to their friend’s house for a sleepover. They had their little bags packed with all of their pool gear, swim wear, and change of clothes. On the drive there, I yelled at my youngest son for something really stupid. This was just before we arrived at their friend’s house. I didn’t apologize. I’m sure I hurt my son and put a damper on things.

Here it is, Friday night. My favorite day of the week. And I feel like crap. I’m fighting severe depression even though I took my meds for the evening. I feel guilt weighing me down like barbells on my shoulders.

On top of that, I’ve been stealing from my own mom. I use her credit card at will. She is retired by the way. She tells me to stop, but I don’t. My sister gets involved and texts me angrily. I take offense and delete her number. I even unfriend her from Facebook.

My life sucks now.

And now I sit here on this Friday night, pouring out my guilt and screw-ups on this blog. I could be partying (yeah, right) or enjoying a good movie. My wife is in her room, not to be bothered (ugh).

I decided to look through the Bible for passages about regret. I pored over lots of passages. One I found shows the nature of God (Genesis 6:6):

And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him to His heart.

This shows that God experiences regret. I think of myself in this Genesis passage, and then I think that God has every right to strike me down and send me to hell where I belong.

Then I read this passage from 2 Corinthians 7:10:

For Godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

How do we get to the point of having Godly grief? I sure wish I knew. At least this is a compass setting for me. It’s something I can pray for, because I have no clue how to achieve it.

Tonight I cut up my mom’s credit card information. It’s a start, right? We have to start somewhere.

Baby steps. Hey, whatever it takes, my friend. Baby steps are alright.

Whatever is holding you down at this time, take baby steps to improve your situation. That’s what I’m doing.

Overeating? Eat a little less. Bad father? Give your kid a hug. Bad husband? Clean the kitchen. Missing too much work (like I am)? Take it one day at a time. I will be there Monday. 

You get the idea.

Now, I’m going to go salvage the rest of my Friday night.

~t


Blessed Are The Misfits

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Let’s see. How can I sit down right now and write an encouraging blog post for you? As you know, I’m not the most encouraging blogger. I kinda suck.

Anyway, I’ve been reading a book. Actually I’ve read it, but I’m reading it again. That’s how good it is. The book is Blessed Are The Misfits: Great News for Believers Who Are Introverts, Spiritual Strugglers, or Just Feel Like They’re Missing Something. For short, I just call it Blessed Are The Misfits. You can tell from the title just what kind of book it is.

I won’t get into the details too much, but it is a perfect book for someone like me. The author, Brant Hansen, spends time describing how introverts and “weirdos” like he and I don’t really fit into the whole Church culture. (He’s coming from a Protestant viewpoint by the way.)

What I like is how he says that, even though we don’t fit in or aren’t “fired up” to share Jesus with people, we as Christians still have an obligation to love people.

To love people.

This is super hard for me because I generally don’t care much for humans. I have to work with them and teach them, but that doesn’t mean I like them.

Topaz, how can you call yourself a Catholic when you hate people?!

I try to love them. I also fall short a heck of a lot. That’s where God’s grace and effort on my part come in. Here is an excerpt from the book:

I know I don’t fit in. But I also know I’m supposed to love people, even those who will never, ever understand me and don’t even want to.

Obviously he’s talking about the “popular kids.” You know. The happy cliques, the look-at-me types, the ones who I went to school with, and the ones who I have to work with. (Nope. The popular cliquish people are also found in jobs in the adult world. It doesn’t end in high school. *eye roll*)

Hansen says at the end of an early chapter:

He [Jesus] knows this world is both cruel and inhospitable to Him and His people. But He told us God “so loves” it anyway.

He even plans to rescue it.

This is what I get from everything so far: I don’t have to force myself to become an extrovert in order to be the best Christian I can be. I just have to deny myself and try and love people. Because Jesus loved people. He still does. He even loves the people on heavy metal blogs and websites that talk about how they hate Him and that the Church He founded is a pile of garbage that we don’t need. (It breaks my heart, but I still visit those metal blogs and sites because, well, I love metal.)

Anyway, I hope you got something out of this post today. If not, then just remember to love people because God loves people. Even if it’s the hardest thing you’ve ever tried to do. And try to love the misfit types and “different” types too. Because God does.

~t


Uncontrolled Anger & Stryper

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You lie in the graveyard,

you’re rotting away.

— B***hole Surfers, “Graveyard”

Well, my friendship with Shiela is officially over. We totally ignore each other in the halls at work now. I started it and she followed suit.

I can’t express how angry it makes me feel. I got home today and felt like going out somewhere just to physically bully someone. I want so badly to verbally abuse Shiela, maybe ask her how the wine tastes in her coffee tumbler. I’m even thinking about telling her supervisor that she drinks at work. But then I think, What can she get me on? There’s got to be something bad that she knows about me. My gosh, we were best buddies for over a year.

I’ve been extra angry and depressed at home especially. I actually hosted Sheila at my house a few weeks ago and waited on her hand and foot. I served her (frozen) vegan pizza and her favorite wine, pinot grigio. I even gave her a pillow and covered her with a blanket when she passed out on my floor.

Those days are over. And I cannot accept it.

Luckily, last Friday was the CD release date for my favorite Christian rock band Stryper. It helped somewhat listening to the words this past weekend (especially since I skipped Mass).

These lyrics from “Sorry” especially spoke to me:

Sorry

It doesn’t always make it starry

Maybe next time be more charming

so you don’t have to say sorry

I should have treated her with kid gloves at all times instead of texting her something that was “questionable” (see previous posts).

How was I to know how sensitive she was?

I pray that I’ll awake from my coma and start to enjoy life again. I pray that I can love Shiela even after what she did to me. It’s so hard but I’m trying.

~t


Missing My Friend

 

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How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat.

Some dance to remember, some dance to forget.

– The Eagles, “Hotel California”

I’ve blogged about my friend from work, Sheila. She suffers from several mental disorders and is an alcoholic on top of all that. We are kindred spirits and have become best friends.

I never knew that I could have a totally platonic friendship with a female. To be honest, I can’t be certain if Sheila is straight or not. She’s never talked about any past relationships, she’s never been married, and she dresses in loose blouses and loose pants everyday at work. Not that that’s a bad thing or anything. It doesn’t matter to me. Somehow, this is the first time that I’ve actually thought about it.

Well, for the first time, our friendship is in serious danger from my perspective.

See, Sheila has a classroom with her own private closet (All other classrooms have to share a closet with another classroom). Several times, in jest, she’s mentioned that she could “jack off” in her closet and nobody would ever know. This was the first sexual comment that she had ever made. Being a lonely celibate male, I took mental note of those comments. I couldn’t help it.

One evening last week, out of the blue, I thought it would be funny if I texted Sheila the words, “Are you jacking off?” Her immediate response was, “What???”

After that, I never heard from her. She avoided me at work for the remainder of the week, and she is not answering her phone or texts this weekend. Usually when she gets drunk, she blocks me on her phone for small infractions that I’ve done. For example, when one of her cats died, she thought I didn’t show enough compassion to her.

I’m thinking that she has blocked me again.

I never meant to offend her. And, by the way, would that comment of mine really offend her?! After her references to masturbation, would she really shun me for joking about it in a text??

I’m at a total loss. I’ve been depressed and full of anxiety this whole weekend. Yes, the days that I live for, Saturdays and Sundays, I’ve spent down and out.

I miss my friend. If I can build enough courage to go into work tomorrow (My social anxiety makes it hard for me to attend work sometimes), the first thing I’ll do is apologize to Sheila.

I didn’t realize how much I needed her friendship. No one else on earth understands me the way she does, and vice versa.

Sheila, please forgive me. I didn’t mean to offend you. You have been planning your suicide for when your last remaining cat dies, and I don’t want to be a trigger.

Come back to me. I need you.

~t


In Defense of Logan Paul and the Suicide Forest Video

logan

Logan Paul

As you probably know, I blog only when I have something to say, which isn’t very often these days.

However, the recent controversy over YouTube star Logan Paul caught my attention for two reasons: 1) He went to Japan, a country in which I used to live, and 2) he encountered a suicide victim inside a forest named Aokigahara, a place referred to in English as the Suicide Forest.

I have been to Aokigahara. It’s at the foot of Mount Fuji, a famous inactive volcano. I didn’t venture inside the forest because of all the warning signs and creepiness. Plus, it’s believed to be haunted, and I’m scared to death of the supernatural.

As a person with mental illness and suicide ideation, I wanted to see with my own eyes this ‘foolproof’ method of ending one’s life. Suicidal individuals wander inside the vast, dense forest and literally never find their way out. They usually die of starvation. The trees are so dense that helicopters cannot see inside the forest from above.

To be honest, I had never heard of Logan Paul before this latest controversy. I was able to see the video on TMZ though since it doesn’t exist on YouTube anymore.

Paul seems to me like an arrogant, immature 22-year-old. Being a YouTube sensation and getting filthy rich from it, it appears in the video that he and his friends decide to give his fans a treat and spend the night in the ‘haunted’ forest. They accidentally find a hanging body as a result.

From this point the media rage ensues: Paul didn’t turn off his video camera. Instead, he decided to show a close-up of the hanging body with purplish hands. The face was luckily blurred out.

And then he uttered a joke and laughed. Jeez, an arrogant, rich kid had the audacity to do this. *Sarcasm mode off*

My gosh, young people nowadays take selfies with their dead grandparents at funerals. They watch daredevils fall to their deaths from tall buildings without batting an eye. Some people, young and old, laugh as a coping mechanism when faced with awkward situations.

Bottom line: Logan Paul is a young, foolish, stunt-driven punk who laughed while standing next to a suicide victim. What the hell else would you expect?

Personally, seeing the cold purplish hands of the victim in the video was a strong enough deterrent for me. I don’t want to end up like that, so I keep taking my meds and visiting my therapist.

Paul probably had little interest in promoting suicide prevention. Anyway, the video is out there and it’s not going away. Paul will continue to make money off his videos because his legion of young fans are forgiving of their heroes.

Since I saw the video a few days ago, I’ve had zero thoughts of suicide.

All I can say is: It helped me.

Has it occurred to you that the video might help others too? Help them in ways that a suicide hotline number wouldn’t?

~t


Mental Illness 1, Sheila & Topaz 0

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Sheila and I had planned a happy hour after work last Friday. We were both really looking forward to it after a long week of being “in the trenches” (teaching).

We went to a place that Sheila recommended. Since she is a vegan, the restaurant was a vegan Mexican place. I didn’t know anything like that existed. It was in the artsy part of the city.

The decor was made up of the Virgin of Guadalupe statues, banners, and renditions of local artists’ interpretation of the Virgin. The place was a total dive, but that’s what gave it its charm. I told Sheila that I didn’t know if we should pray or eat: the centerpiece of our table was a religious candle of the Virgin, the kind that you find in barrio shops for a dollar.

It turns out that this place didn’t serve alcohol; they hadn’t applied for a liquor license yet (they were under new ownership). Disappointed, we left in search of a microbrewery in the same vicinity. After sitting down, Sheila complained that they only served beer. Duh. It’s a microbrewery, I almost said.

So then we went next door to a trendy coffee shop/bar where everybody was pretty and handsome; definitely there to be seen on a Friday evening. As we perused the menu (they had spirits!), Sheila suddenly grabbed me and headed for the door.

“That woman [the waitress] was laughing at me. I have to get out of here.”

I was aware of the waitress the whole time, and she was not laughing at or doing anything to offend Sheila.

So we sat outside on the patio, trying to decide what to do and where to go. Sheila had become totally silent. After several minutes, she said, “Let’s head back to our cars.”

Walking to our cars, Sheila’s eyes began to tear up. She wiped them with the back of her sleeve. “Why am I cursed?” she sobbed, looking up at me, her nice blue eyes now red with tears. “I’m not supposed to be happy,” she said, her voice choking up with more emotion.

I didn’t know what to do. From experience, I’ve learned to be a good listener. In Sheila’s state of mind, she wouldn’t have heeded any advice I offered her. “I’m going home,” she said, dejected.

All I could think of was to say, “Call me if you need anything.” I got in my car, and we were off, going separate ways, back to our miserable lives all alone.

How I wished that I could have persuaded Sheila to join me back at the vegan place. We could have brought a bottle of wine (BYOB was okay there) and enjoyed ourselves.

Instead, I left Sheila for the evening.

I know what it’s like to have paranoia and to think lowly of myself. I still do. But medication and therapy have helped me tremendously. I still have my moments, however. But Sheila is unwilling to seek any sort of treatment.

I’ll continue being her friend. Hell, I’m the only friend she has besides her two cats. I’ll continue not because I’m trying to “save” her, but because she’s my friend.

~t


My Friend of Misery

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I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting, and dirty.

— Pope Francis

I made a new friend at work. I’ll say her name is Sheila. It’s a wonder that we found each other. You see, Sheila suffers from depression and suicidal ideation just like I do. We didn’t know this when we started chatting daily and visiting each other’s classrooms.

Sheila seemed meek and shy. I could tell right away that she was introverted almost to the point of misanthropy.

After talking casually for several weeks, she started confiding in me. “I have a drinking problem.” “I suffer from depression.”

I also started opening up with her. It turns out that we both have spent time in psych wards for suicide attempts and depression.

Sheila and I are at the point to where we share everything with each other — because we have each other’s trust.

Today we were on the topic of suicide. We were discussing how different methods wouldn’t totally work. A bullet to the head might turn one into a vegetable instead of being fatal. How swallowing Drano could only burn your insides and not kill you. How pills don’t work (because we have both tried them).

Then our conversation took an eerie turn. Could we go to the Netherlands and take the euthanasia drug? Surely not. They wouldn’t give it out for healthy people’s suicides. What about Oregon? Nope. same thing.

Then Sheila said something that — well, I should have been shocked or red flags should have gone up, but they didn’t.

Sheila said, “As soon as my two cats die, I’m checking out.” Then she made a cutting motion across her throat with her index finger.

All I said was, “How?”

“I’ve been researching about hiring someone to kill me. Either that or jumping off a bridge into traffic.”

The thing is, I did nothing to persuade her from those plans. I didn’t step in like a friend should. I didn’t report her to 911.

Instead I empathized with her and told her I felt the same way. I even asked her if she would someday fly to Amsterdam with me so we could take the euthanasia pill together.

I know that I failed as a Christian. I know that I still have a shot at persuading her to live though.

But what about my agreeing with her? That certainly isn’t the Christian thing to do.

Oh, and Sheila is an alcoholic. She drinks wine at work out of her coffee tumbler. On Fridays we go out for lunch and we both slam beers.

I have the time of my life with Sheila — in a totally platonic way. But at the same time I am starting to believe that God put me in Sheila’s life to help her. And helping her I’m not.

Could you pray for me? Could you also pray for Sheila? Her parents have passed away, she doesn’t communicate with her siblings, and she has no real friends except for me. She has no one to live for.

Right now we are partners in misery yet we both are the only ones who can make each other laugh. It’s a tough situation because I love our friendship.

But at this point I guess I don’t love her enough to reach out to her as a Christian.  The scary thing is, I don’t want it to ruin the fun we have.

The suicidal downward spiral feels like a water park slide: looping down and around until we go crashing into the water, all the while laughing and giggling like two kids under the summer sun.

Except we’re under storm clouds and I’m doing nothing about it. I want to feel ashamed of myself but for some reason I don’t. You have every right to judge me, but at this time I just ask for your prayers. That I can be a man of God and help this poor woman.

~t