Tag Archives: depression

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

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Rainbows & Unicorns: The Formula for Perfect Blog Posts

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No, I haven’t lost my mind.

I came across this Bible passage on someone else’s blog recently:

Let us not become weary in doing good,

for at the proper time we will reap a harvest

if we do not give up.  (Galatians 6:9)

It is an incredibly inspiring verse, enough so that it made me meditate on each word and phrase — something I rarely do these days.

Then I started thinking: What a fine blog post this would make. Throw in a nice, warm piece of Scripture, add some inspiring words (maybe from my therapist), and, presto, a blog post is born.

Not to make light of Sacred Scripture or anything, but, to me, there’s definitely more to it than that. People can express themselves in any way that they see fit. I’ve noticed that my posts tend to hover around the darkish portions of life, completely negating the original intent of my blog which is to inspire and prayerfully help others grow closer to God.

Why do you hover and brood over dark things, Topaz? Well, because that’s life. That’s all. A lot of things complicate my life and I suppose they make me who I am and make me write about what I do.

Heck, I started this blog post to discuss how banal so many blogs out there are. A lot of them are like Facebook updates or sprinkled with memes that wreak of generic spirituality and inspiration.

I guess another reason I’ve decided to write this is because today is my oldest son’s birthday (and I’m relieved to say that he’s still in elementary school — they grow up so fast). I wanted to be a tad bit encouraging in honor of him.

I’m not particularly depressed right now. However, my buspirone and trifluoperazine are making me pretty dang sleepy. I was about to collapse on my bed after getting home from work until my wife told me to do something fun. I guess writing blog posts is considered fun. (Like most things, I find writing hard to do, like a chore that I need to get done but I keep putting it off.)

So, hopefully, the Scripture will inspire you and that you’ll have a good day.

I can honestly say that at this moment I’m glad to be alive.

~t

 


Trapped Under Ice

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I read this last night during my private devotional. It’s Psalm 8: 5.

What are humans that you are mindful of them,

mere mortals that you care for them?

Somehow, though, I wasn’t able to fathom how much God loves me and how he cares about me as I’m just a speck in the universe. I try to grasp these concepts with my finite mind, but I just can’t seem to.

I have been suicidal for the past two days. I don’t know if it’s from my new meds or if it’s from job stress. I mean, I look around at all that I have — a loving family, a good job, a nice place to live — and it does nothing to me. I don’t feel any differently.

I know that I’m supposed to take heart and believe in the Gospel, but it’s just too darn hard when I don’t see it. Where is God in all this? Why doesn’t He help me?

All I’m left with are my thoughts. Thoughts that wander throughout my empty head and through the empty life that I’m feeling.

I guess what I mean is that God exists; I just don’t see or feel His presence anywhere.

It sucks, really.

~t


Jade the Healer

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Baizley

Purple is the color of bruising, of healing…

-musician/artist John Baizley

 

I feel like a little middle school kid, rushing to his diary to write about that cute girl at school who was nice and talked to him. I feel that way because that’s what happened today.

I’ve missed work since late last week because of agoraphobia-type anxiety. It was the worst. I suddenly couldn’t find it in me to do the job that the government hired me (pretty good money) for.

What did I do?

I stayed home. Slept. Drugged myself up and slept the days away. I made excuses to my wife, and I started the God-awful process of finding a therapist who would write me a note so I could miss work and not get in trouble for it.

By the way, if you have a therapist and he tells you to follow-up with him, be sure to DO IT. Or else you’ll be screwed months down the line when you need something from him. Like a note for work. Ugh. Trust me on this. (That guy was a whack-job anyway.)

So, I started the search for a new therapist. Through the years, I have yet to find the one that’s right for me, and most of them are like least-common-denominator material, if you know what I mean.

I didn’t care who I got: man, woman, whatever. My sights were low: I just wanted a damn note! That wasn’t too hard to ask for, was it?

The first lady, seemingly straight out of high school, did my “in-processing” yesterday and was far below stellar in the personality department.

Note?

“I do in-processing. Not notes.”

Damn.

This morning I went for my therapy appointment, someone they “placed” me with, like it was a dating match site or something.

I sat there in the waiting room, praying that I would just get my note for my employer after a 45-minute chit-chat session.

Then she came to get me.

I’ll call her Jade. The beautiful blonde beam of sunshine came out to shake my hand. She seemed fresh out of grad school, yet with years of experience tucked under her belt. A curious one to say the least.

It’s not like I was suddenly in love, but it sure beat the individuals who passed as “therapists.” Jade was enthusiastic, very glad to see me, secure, and sincere.

She told me something that I haven’t forgotten:

Normal is a setting for washing machines.

That’s all. No one is “normal.” Even she has episodes of panic attacks.

We also did some mindfulness activities at the end that made me gush.

Gush?

Oh gawd. Do I have a crush on my new therapist?!

~t

 


New Q&A Section: Is It Hard Being a Catholic While Suffering from Mental Health?

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Someone emailed me at my address recently (thepsychword@gmail.com). They asked a simple question: Is it hard for you to be a Catholic and to also suffer from mental illness?

First off, I would say to read some of my earlier blog posts in order to get a gist of my answer.

However, yes, it is difficult at times. But at other times it’s quite easy and even fun.

For instance, we just got a new priest at our parish. The former one retired. He was from Mexico, and he could hardly be understood. He let everything go in the Mass: bad music, no crucifix above the altar, clapping during Mass, etc.

Fortunately, our new priest, a much younger Hispanic man (I live in San Antonio, Texas, so, as I’m an “Anglo,” I’m in the minority), is a great homilist and is taking great measures to add more reverence to the Mass.

I guess I digressed, but oh well.

Having a new priest breathe new life into out parish makes me very happy. I am also going to be a catechist (teacher) on Tuesday nights to second graders! I am extremely excited to get out of my comfort zone by doing this.

Yes, I still have my struggles when I do not feel like praying or even opening my Bible. However, I have to fight through it. A lot of times I’m unsuccessful, though.

But, as they say, making the effort is half the battle.

Or, what usually happens is that I slide by until I feel that drive again.I know this isn’t the best advice and I’m probably not the best example for all of you, but, hey, I’m human and suffering with depression and bipolar personality.

I hope this is a good enough answer for you. It’s Sunday night, and I wanted to get this response posted for you, dear inquirer and reader.

Have an incredible week, everyone! I’ll try to as well. It’s a lot of up and down for me. Pray for me as I pray for all of you.

Also, keep the questions coming. You can drop me a line at thepsychword@gmail.com.

~t


5 Reasons Not to Kill Yourself

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Credit: Topaz

Disclaimer: This post is ultra-serious. However, as they say, with us crazies it’s either laugh or cry. Well, today is a laugh-or-cry sort of day for me (hence the topic of this post), so please forgive me if I seem flippant about this whole topic. At least it’s kept me from crying.


My psychiatrist has had me on about five or six different types of medication for anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. Seroquel has left me groggy and in a zombie state of mind for who knows how long (My short-term memory has suffered — I can’t even remember what activities I did with my kids yesterday.)

I have decided to go off all of my meds except for Xanax and Klonopin (two benzos — uh oh). The Klonopin is supposed to provide more stability to aid my Xanax which is more short-term.

I could be setting myself up for something major. I don’t know. All I know right now is that I would rather have a clear (depressed) mind than one that is hazed and spaced-out.

I’m typing this while being on sub duty at my school. Things got so bad with my groggy and forgetful side effects from my meds that my doctor wrote me a note stating that I should be on light duty at my school for a month. Hopefully it doesn’t come back to haunt me professionally.

Talk about feeling useless. All around me today, teachers are upbeat, full of energy, chatting away incessantly, and having an overall grand time in life.

Me, I’m relegated to my empty classroom. I am typing this post instead of throwing up my hands in surrender and quitting everything in life — even my family. It’s that bad.

Which brings me to this blog post. 5 reasons not to kill yourself. Here goes:

 

1. It Takes Effort

All the research involved in how to successfully take your own life (and, believe me, I know) is overwhelming, and, if you’re already on the brink of suicide, why would you want to spend the effort doing all that research? It’s too hard.

And what if you fail in your attempt? Which brings me to…

 

2. You Will Probably Fail

This really sucks. Believe me, it’s happened twice to me already. The first time was traumatic to my wife, children, mother, and to my bank account. Not to mention my reputation and career.

There is a very good chance that your suicide attempt will fail. Need some statistics? Then Google some. They’re out there. And you don’t want to be hooked up to a feeding tube living out the rest of your life as a vegetable. (Couldn’t they just unplug me? You may ask. It’s much more complicated than that.)

 

3. Someone Will Miss You

Someone will. Who, you ask? I don’t know. But someone. Not only that, but that one person (or two, or three, or…) will slowly start to die from the inside out. I know. I watched my aunt slowly waste away to nothing after my cousin killed himself.

I’m beyond caring, you may be thinking. My pain is too great. Well, then, imagine that person saying, “[your name], I love you.”

 

4. What Awaits You? / Are Your Really Prepared For The Great Unknown?

If you’re a person of faith, wouldn’t it be against your religion? Wouldn’t you go to hell? For you atheists, what? What makes you think something better awaits you “on the other side” or wherever you think you go? Or, do you subscribe to Ozzy Osbourne’s theory that, after you die, you’ll be merely a turd flushed down a giant toilet, gone forever. [paraphrase]

Isn’t watching your favorite movies or drinking a nice craft beer under a shade tree better that being flushed into the big septic tank in the sky?

 

5. The Little Gems Hidden Throughout Every Day

You know what I mean. Biting into your favorite chocolate candy bar. Ordering pizza and watching a new movie on Netflix. Taking up a new hobby like bass guitar, not because you hope to ever join a band, but because you love the thumping pulse of the bass, and you like to feel the satisfaction of playing the intros of your favorite songs.

There are other gems: Feeding newborn kittens from a bottle at the local animal shelter. Treating yourself to a coffee and pastry at Starbucks. Curling up beside the fireplace with a good book.

Go find your nugget.

~t

 

 


Self-Pity

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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:

  1. you were sincere,
  2. you were loving, and
  3. you know what I’m going through because you suffer from it too.

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:

HOPE
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.

~t