The title says it all. I may be back, or I may not.
The title says it all. I may be back, or I may not.
The older I get the more I realize that even if things do get better, it’s always temporary. The good days feel like a tease and a cruel joke because when the bad comes, it’s like it laser. It targets all those things to make sure I feel the maximum amount of pain.
People always give laughable examples of what could be my thing to fight for, but what is and isn’t worth it are very personal things to a soul. I need something to cling to that makes ME feel like I have a purpose.
For the last several years I had several things. They meant everything to me. One by one they all were taken. I don’t have it in me to start over again. Every few years I cycle through this. Just because it might be good again a few years from now doesn’t make it worth the suffering now.
Each and every time it gets harder. Each and every time I am more alone in the fight. And with the direction the world is heading now, I see only darkness and hopelessness for us all. I am amazed that so many people can just keep going on like things are fine. -Brona Storm
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.
It really sucks to be down in the dumps.
For the past several months, I haven’t had the desire to do anything; staying in bed all the time was the only thing that I wanted.
I am thawing though. The rock bottom was hit again, nearly putting me back in the hospital. One thing that my psychiatrist told me was that mental health inpatient facilities were “prisons where they can monitor those who are suicidal.”
He told me the same thing would be to stay home and get rid of any guns, sharp objects, and pills. I took his advice and decided that inpatient wasn’t a good choice.
Anyway, I was on lithium and one other drug that made me so jittery and paranoid that I couldn’t leave the house. Even after I quit using them, the effects were still in my system.
I was a recluse, afraid to do any activities with my family or to even go out of the house. Just the mere thought of going to the store frightened me. All of this was after I quit using those two medications by the way.
I even had to be put on light duty at work in a non-teaching capacity. That stressed out my supervisors because they didn’t know what to do with me. There was no way I could teach classes with my paranoia and feelings of claustrophobia.
I missed Mass several times and have only started going back. One time I went to church and, once I sat down in the pew, I had to get up and leave.
The bright side is that I’m scheduled to be back in the classroom next week. This is a major step for me. I feel that I’m ready, and I’m mentally preparing myself. My current meds are acting fairly well.
This has truly been a dark night of the soul for me. My only link to God was when I would lay in bed begging him to heal me.
Since then, I have started going to Mass again, reading the Bible, and reading devotionals. I am slowly but surely climbing out of my pit, and it’s so hard.
But I’m doing it.
I received a comment on one of my recent posts that really hit home. You see, when I started this blog (as mentioned in the “About” section), I had the intent of beginning a ministry to help others who suffer from mental illness. Being faith-based in nature, my aim was also to help people know God.
Well, by perusing my own posts for the last, oh, several months, I was hard pressed to find much, if any, encouragement from myself.
In other words, I’ve been sulking in self-pity for the longest time. I realized it, but I didn’t seem to care. I didn’t feel the need to make any adjustments. King David used the Psalms to gripe about things, and then he threw in a praise to God at the end, I would tell myself, half-believing the justification.
Also, my posts have gotten shorter. Why? I ask myself. Because I’ve been selfish. I drag myself before the computer, I whine and complain, and then I log off, putting in my “time.”
I’m glad Jesus’ ministry wasn’t like that.
I’m FAR from being like Jesus. Really far. At times I try–
See, I just caught myself before the full-on “woe is me” stuff came out.
Thank you, dear commenter, for bringing my self-pity to my attention. I listened to you because:
The truth be told, I came back from the psychiatrist this evening. He’s trying to adjust my meds. Things aren’t working out too well. For some reason, when I leave the psych’s office, I feel like cutting loose with sin. The doctor told me I suffer from hypermania (whatever that is), bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (which explains why I feel the world is crashing down on me when I give in to the tidal wave of lustful thoughts and feelings).
The person who left the above-mentioned comment recommended a book entitled The Temperament God Gave You. I ordered it, and it arrived a few days ago. I like what I see so far. I’m so glad a Catholic book on that topic is available.
Dear readers, the only inspiration and positive thoughts that I have for you this time aren’t necessarily Christian nor are they from the Bible. An hour ago, I was sulking in my big, fluffy chair in my so-called library, and I pulled down my copy of poems by Emily Dickinson. I opened the book to a random page and found something called “Hope.” I posted it on my Facebook page, but you can read it below:
by Emily Dickinson
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
For the past two weeks, I’ve been anxious and depressed. I have received a tentative job offer from a company, and any day now, I am hoping to get the firm offer. The deadline to submit everything was last Friday, November 28. It’s only been a day and a half, I keep reminding myself to no avail.
What would I do if I didn’t get this job? It seems like a shoe-in; what if it slips through my fingers like the previous offer from the university? They did my background check after they gave me the offer, only to rescind it the next day. I was crushed.
I get obsessed so easily whether it’s women, job offers, material goods, aikido, et cetera. I develop the worst tunnel vision.
Without much faith, I have been begging God to give me patience and to wait on Him. I’m having loads of trouble doing that, though.
I quickly forgot about these problems, however, when I learned yesterday that my best friend from high school had passed away.
I have never had another friend like David; I don’t expect that I will. We were kindred spirits. Somehow we connected on the first day of high school despite having come from different middle schools. We were both anti-social and awkward without realizing it. We knew each other better than anyone because we were just like each other.
It was the hardest thing in the world for us to make friends with others. We were so shy and afraid of interacting with people that it’s a wonder how the two of us even met. I guess it was our destiny. I don’t recall how we actually met; I just remember having metals class with him, and, before I knew it, we were best friends. Neither of us had a circle of friends, so we made our own circle of two. We didn’t let anybody in, and no one wanted in.
Maybe it was like having an identical twin brother. I don’t know what that’s actually like, but I have read that identical twins are best friends for life. Maybe David’s and my friendship — no, our bond — was like that.
We weren’t complete unless we were together. We confided in each other — even stuff that our parents never knew about.
One time when he had built up the nerve to skip school and spend the day in the woods, I was lost and even envious. Just going one school day without him had me wandering around the halls, dazed and depressed.
Only one time did we fight; I mean literally fight. David was fuming because I decided to hang out with his neighbor, a dorky kid our age who liked the same 80s hair metal (before it was called “80s hair metal”) bands but didn’t have the same connection to David or to me.
In our confrontation later that day, we came to blows; we were both crazed with anger. Amazingly, that was the only time we were ever at odds with each other. It was the strangest thing.
Being a mama’s boy, I attended college close enough in order to keep living with my family. David told me a few times in passing that he was considering the military. I didn’t believe him. I mean, he couldn’t leave! I was attending college near my house, and our life was the same as it was in high school — just the way we wanted it.
But David ended up joining the army. His departure date loomed in our minds, overtaking us like a shadowy demon.
In college, I was recruited to join a Christian cult (but that’s a different story), and David was in the army, stationed far away. We kept in touch, but life took us down different avenues. Eventually we lost contact.
Around the year 2000, I was desperate to locate my best friend. David’s dad was transferred around the country a lot, so I had no idea where to start looking. Google produced no results. Several times I almost hired a private investigator.
I refused to give up. David was more shy and anti-social than I (and that’s saying a lot), so I figured he didn’t want to be found. Nevertheless, I continued scouring the Internet. Then my online searches for him became intermittent; about once a year, I did searches, always coming up with nothing.
I was becoming convinced that he was in the witness protection program or something.
Well, yesterday I did my annual Google search for David, and the fifth result was his obituary. On the website, David’s mother had listed her phone number hoping that I would see it and contact her.
It took me over a year to find the obituary and phone number, but I did indeed find them.
Last night, for the first time in over 21 years, I was speaking to his mother. Same voice and everything. That alone made me cry; I wasn’t ready for it. Hearing the pain in her voice brought everything together, and it finally hit me that my best friend of all time was dead.
After finding out about David and talking to his mother all evening, I am sobered and humbled. I had been stressing out over a measly job offer while David’s mother has been going through hell, perpetually grieving over both of her sons who were taken from her way too soon. (David’s older brother passed away when I was in college.)
I miss you, buddy. I will always miss you.
Here I go again on my own,
going down the only road I’ve ever known.
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone.
–Whitesnake, “Here I Go Again”
I am a member of the Knights of Columbus, and we had our monthly council meeting last night. The officer installation for the 2014-15 fraternal year took place in June, so our July meeting was the first time that our new officers took their positions (I continued as an officer).
This means that our new grand knight (chairman) assumed his role as leader of our council. The only reason he “got the job” was because no one else wanted it; too much responsibility and pressure. (In a lot of cases, grand knights are retired guys because they have the most time to devote).
Well, we officers and regular members knew it was a bad idea because… um… let’s just say he wasn’t the right type to lead a K of C council. Problems started right off the bat: He never bothered to learn the ins and outs of the office of grand knight; he shouted and berated guys who had the floor during meetings; it was “his way or the highway;” etc.
Needless to say, this caused an enormous amount of tension in the air every month, not to mention the fact that members have stopped volunteering for fundraisers and various other projects due to an apparent drop in morale.
At the July meeting, I merely sat there and observed the circus around me, ashamed at what the council had become. Last month, I went off on the grand knight and had to be calmed down by another officer. At that point, whenever I would think about or see K of C guys, I would get panic attacks and start to hyperventilate.
Last night, at the September meeting, all hell broke loose.
I won’t go into the details, but there was a controversial proposal from the floor which created a battle line immediately. Shouting ensued. Words with venom dripped from a portion of these godly men’s mouths.
After the meeting, I was confronted by some of my “friends” about my stance on the particular issue. It led to harsh words and defensive body language all around. I left in a huff, shaking and gasping for air, ready to physically assault someone.
It was as if I were drunk: I don’t recall everything that transpired during my raging panic attack. I loudly cursed at a friend and officer in the lobby of the parish community center. I stormed to my car, not looking back as my friend chased me down. I didn’t acknowledge him until I got to my car.
My complete meltdown was taking place. I could not stand up. Leaning on my car, shaking, you would have thought English was not my first language: I was having trouble forming words and uttering sentences.
I remember breaking down in front of my friend, confessing all of my mental issues. I was a blubbering mess. I kept repeating the refrain, “I don’t want to go to prison.”
I was on the verge of seriously hurting someone.
I would love to tell you that my friend hugged me, told me everything would be okay, and that I went on my merry way.
That’s far from what happened next.
One of the new members and officers, an arrogant, loud-mouthed stocky Latino guy strutted over to me in the dark parking lot. His actions and expressive speaking style reminded me of a pissed-off prison inmate.
“You know, I don’t appreciate the way you talked to me in there. You don’t know nothing about me. I’m a man. You disrespected me.”
(Mind you, we are two practicing Catholics and officers in the K of C, so this will definitely amuse you anti-Catholics out there.)
Lots of talk. Lots of swagger. Chest puffed out. Intimidating?
Not in the least.
I’m 6’5″ tall, 220 pounds, and skilled in aikido which I practiced in Japan. This guy was expecting me to either cower before him or run away.
Instead, I got in his face (Well, his face was in my chest).
Accusations, threats, and macho shouting progressed until my friend stepped between us.
Latino’s smart-ass taunts got me more worked up; I was already a basket case, pushed to the brink of insanity.
To make a long story short, he eventually walked away to his truck and left as I kept yelling, trying to provoke him into come back and taking a swing at me.
What did I learn from this?
That I have a lot of soul-searching to do. That both the Latino guy and I need to repent. That I wasn’t being like Jesus.
That my illness had struck again and I’ll have to leave the council out of shame. That I’ll have to find another parish to attend. That I’ll have to start over yet again.
I have since officially resigned from my officer position, sent a heart-felt apology to the Latino guy, and sent myself into permanent exile from this K of C council and parish. Possibly an indefinite exile from the Church and religion for a while.
I never, ever imagined this happening. This K of C council was full of my brothers in the faith. I looked forward to every meeting, every function, every volunteer opportunity. Because it was a brotherhood.
But it happened.
Here I go again.
(Photo by Topaz)
During my youth, from as early as I can remember until I finished high school, my dad (I hesitate using the word father) made my life — and the rest of my family’s — a living hell.
He was angry a lot of the time. My grandfather was worse, and my great-grandfather was the devil incarnate from what I was told. The times when my dad was
happy not angry were the worst because he was like a landmine field. My mother, sister and I had to tread carefully during those times; in the blink of an eye, my dad would transform into a raging monster. I would compare it to The Incredible Hulk, but at least people could see the transformation of David Banner into The Hulk and run away. With my dad, one minute we would be at the dinner table having a normal meal, and the next minute he would be screaming at my mother, berating her and, depending on his mood, slapping, hitting, or choking her.
It made for an excruciating childhood. I have a younger sister and brother, so I’m not sure if being the oldest child mattered, but I seemed to be the one who got the full brunt of my dad’s temper. I won’t go into great detail here — I wrote about a particular experience that I can post at a later time — except to say that I was verbally and physically treated the same as my mother.
The verbal abuse was constant: I was a “retard” because I wasn’t athletic (even though I excelled academically); I was a “mush mouth” because I wore orthodontic retainers for a number of years that hindered my pronunciation; I was a “worthless piece of #!$&” because, well, because I existed; and lastly, I was a “faggot” because I was shy and never had a girlfriend during my high school years.
The degrading names weren’t limited to the above four, but those were the main ones. I was told by my aunts and grandparents that, when I was a toddler, my dad would set his glass of Coca-Cola on the very edge of the living room table while he and my mom watched TV. Whenever I knocked over his glass, he would scream at me and lock me in my bedroom. It was as if he would create situations in order to pounce on me.
To this day, I can hear my dad yelling at and berating me whenever I make a mistake. When someone is approaching behind me, I have flashbacks to when my dad would sneak up behind me and give me a hard shove. And, worst of all, when my wife gets angry at me for not taking out the trash or not helping her around the house, it’s not my wife yelling at me; it’s HIM. As a result, I immediately get defensive and escalate things to full-blown arguments. My wife ends up in tears because I’m so difficult to deal with at those times.
The arguments with my wife don’t happen as much these days, but for the longest time, I really didn’t know why I was so defensive; on occasion, I would lie or pass blame on our kids — anything to get out of the hot seat. My marriage was not a marriage: It was a return to my youth, the cycle of hell repeating itself all over again. I still walk on egg shells most of the time when I’m with my wife.
It wasn’t until I was hospitalized after my suicide attempt that I learned about PTSD. I always assumed it was only related to war veterans. Little did I know that I was suffering from it.
I have to deal with PTSD in all areas of my life, even my career. I used to have a primary care physician who I quickly got rid of; I now see a PCP in the same building. As with all things, there is the good, the bad, and the ugly. Well, the first doctor was the latter two.
Soon after moving back to the U.S., I went to see if he could prescribe Xanax to me. Not only did he refuse, but he blurted out, “You have anxiety and social phobias? Why the h*** did you become a teacher?!” A valid point, but there’s no way that I’m going to pay toward his country club membership and tolerate that kind of attitude. (I would expect it from a shrink because they’re not exactly “normal.”)
Anxiety sometimes gets the best of me when I’m in front of my students. I had some horrible experiences straight out of graduate school because of my insecurity. I was hired by a university as soon as I finished school, and I wasn’t ready to be in the trenches. College students can be as bad as public school kids sometimes.
I may think that a particular student is smirking at me because I’m inept, or I might believe the whole class is masking their contempt of me because I’m not as good as previous teachers who they’ve had.
The doctors say that the verbal and physical abuse was a big cause of my various mental health issues. I know that I can’t blame it all on my dad; that would be the easy way out. I’m sure it also has to do with my illness and with my own character. It seems like the boundary between all three of these is blurred. I have no idea what I can change and what I cannot change (Yes, I’m familiar with the Serenity Prayer).
Even though I am free of suicidal ideation and depression for the most part, that darn PTSD still rears its ugly head regularly. Perhaps it’s because I’ve never dealt with it. This week I have an appointment with my therapist, so I’ll bring it up. Maybe it can explain my abnormal marriage.
When I write a blog post, I try to end everything on a positive, spiritual note. Today, though, I find that difficult. So, I’ll just share that Serenity Prayer with you:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.
i would like to go, but i really have to leave after work today. sorry. 😦
maybe another day
Well, I’ve told you nearly everything about my suicide attempt almost a year ago (August 24 to be exact) and the aftermath: the psych wards, doctors, therapists, meds, second attempt, etc.
But there are some details that I’ve hesitated to reveal. Details that I thought were too personal, too embarrassing to me. Things that, if you knew about them, would make me look bad, like some kind of jerk — or hypocrite.
Maybe it has more to do with that H word. I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I’ve been a Catholic for three years, blah, blah, blah.
I’m sure you’re wondering by now why I began this post with a cryptic note. It’s actually an email from my work account that I received at 2:22pm on August 24, 2012.
The evening of my attempt.
The above email message was from a single female colleague of mine. Needless to say, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was in response to my asking her out. I thought I had deleted it, but, in the process of cleaning out my inbox recently, I ran across it and froze as all of those terrible memories came rushing back at me.
There may be people reading this, religious or otherwise, who will judge me. I can’t help that. It was one of the lowest points in my life. Nothing was going well: my marriage, job, finances, and so on. The future was obscured by dark storm clouds that weren’t going anywhere.
This lady, I’ll refer to her as Maria, had just started working in our department. She was a single mom, attractive, and very intelligent. I fell for her. Plain and simple. She seemed to show interest in me, and we started having lunch together in the break room. Every day we were around each other due to the close proximity of our offices, and each day I walked deeper and deeper into a fantasy world: I no longer thought clearly. I withdrew from my family, and all my thoughts were about Maria.
I even had entire therapy sessions that were about her. I told my therapist that I was ready for a divorce and that I didn’t mind not seeing my sons regularly because I would have two stepdaughters instead. I feel so ashamed right now while typing all this.
My therapist yelled, screamed, and threatened me to stay away from Maria. He told me I was becoming unattached from reality. I replied that I had finally found someone who I was compatible with. He couldn’t reach me.
Maria and I had lunch twice off campus during our lunch break. We talked about her two grown daughters and she proceeded to inform me about her nasty divorce years ago. (The only physical contact we ever had, though, was when we hugged on her last day of work before taking a summer break.) I thought it was only fair to tell her that I was married since my wife and I don’t wear our wedding rings anymore. She seemed completely taken by surprise, and then things went downhill from that day on.
She kept a distance, and the only emails we exchanged were business-related; no more smiley faces and cute little greetings. Anxiety overtook my whole body, and I was going insane from the panic of everything falling apart.
What would I do? Maria was my last hope. My depression became so intense that I refused to get out of bed on several occasions during the week, missing more and more days of work. I didn’t care. Nothing mattered anymore, and I just wanted all the pain to end.
When I did go to work, I searched frantically for any signs that Maria might still have an interest in me. What I had perceived as flirting only turned out to be wishful thinking. In no way did I want to face the truth, but my fantasy world that I created was crumbling all around me, and I was devastated.
That email was my last-ditch effort. I was already at the edge of madness, and the above reply that I received was the final shove that pushed me into the abyss.
You can read more about my suicide attempt later that evening in this post.
I am still here today by the grace of God. Apparently it just wasn’t my time. I like to believe that I was spared in order to give my testimony to help others who may be in the same situation.
Since late last year, I have rededicated myself to God and am free from being emotionally wrapped up in bad situations. My eyes have been opened. I’m human and am still tempted by sin of course, but I pray daily that I will never be blinded again.