My Heart in the Sun

August 2008

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My Heart in the Sun

So long ago a journey to forget all the things that I had remembered, began with the kiss of poison in a cup.  Embarked upon in the name of hope and peace, like banners in the sky, flaunted like idols on my alter of redemption.  Blood and sweat and tears flowed forth from me, a current of torment and despair; like a spring in the bedrock – my soul broke open and washed away the costumes that I wore.  Battered and bruised, all that remained was everything I didn’t want to see.  But it was a cleansing that was destined to come, a moment of truth – trial by fire, a scar had to form to guard me from the venom of the world.

Suddenly it was all so different, everything that I perceived and every recollection; the touch of evil that I had felt – the black hand of darkness that came upon me in the night and that had left me stained, broken and used, was lifted and I slipped away from the depths of that hell; away from that dreaded place in time.  But the touch of every human hand afterwards burned with the possibility of the same betrayal – a chance of pain once again.  Like a photographic memory, every touch made me see the darkness that had embraced me so long ago; haunting me from a far away place, reaching through the portals of time and space and into my life once again.  And it hurt every time just like the first time – the crawling of my flesh, an aching in my heart, a crumbling in my soul – taking me to the point of no return.

The beckoning of something better, a yearning to be loved for everything that I was and for nothing that I was not, pulled at the strings connected to my heart.  A twinkling of light and truth and honesty, the dawning of hope and peace just beyond the horizon.  It flashed in my eyes, a shock to the system, an awakening to enlightenment.  My soul was given wings, but my feet remained in the past – a prisoner of time bound by memories and I didn’t want to let go for that was the hardest thing to do.

I wanted to live, to live for the first time in my life because I had never lived as me before.  I wanted to be seen and heard and known as me and never again hide in the shadows of shame, guilt and distrust.  All that I had been was waxing away into the past where it belonged, I was coming out of death from the desert – for the promise of paradise, an Eden within my mind.

The essence of my soul was ignited by the spark of opportunity – the moment I’d been dying for – a chance to taste the sweetness of someone else’s lips, to feel the compassion of someone else’s hand, to feel the beating of someone else’s heart.  Who’s to say that I was wrong, lost in a fog of illusion, easily led astray by the seduction of humanity?  To love to live and to live to love – some type of alchemical nirvana to my soul – a drug for the mind, a rush of something primal through my body.  I finally felt awake, I was finally alive.

But time has never been on my side, rather a monkey on my back – reminding me that this is just a rain drop in the ocean, a momentary state of bliss in a film never-ending.  But every mile that I have walked, every fall that I have taken and every point along the way that I got back up is a testament of my will to survive.  Like a charm in my hand, a token of my dreams, a secret to the world that I want to tell, for I have now found the gem of peace, hope and love…

A lotus grows within the swamp, a place full of filth and dying things, but it pushes up through the wasteland of its existence in the knowledge that it lives for the sake of living and nothing more.  It knows that all the effort is worth it in the end – those moments of bliss in an eternity of change with storms, pollution and neglect.  For the rains will always wash away the filth, the wind will always blow away the storms and the sun will always give the lotus energy to continue.

I have fallen for the sun as a reminder that time continues and that change will always be.  I have fallen for the sun as a beacon of hope, a source of peace in it’s power and love in it’s warmth.

The connected spirit knows no distance and neither does the sun – love unbound and without end – the universal language of the world.  My heart is in the sun and my love  shines unbroken down upon the world and into the face of pain and hate.  Blinding away the misery of our own human neglect, casting away the darkness of every tortured past, a kiss of love upon your lips, dancing in your eyes – a momentary wish for something better that I have granted.  Enveloping you in warmth, protecting you from the cold chill of loneliness, a gentleness upon your shoulder – a reminder of my loyalty and trust.  A beacon of hope to you as I breach across the horizon even after the darkest night that you have ever known, a source of peace given to you through my unrelenting power and the truth of my unconditional love that I have placed upon your very heart.


This essay is available as an audio track on SoundCloud:

The Sun Will Rise Again

November 2007

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The Sun Will Rise Again

Reading about or hearing the stories of people who are or who once fought with depression makes me remember my own dark days. Looking back now, it’s hard to believe that I was once that far down, that close to the bottom, to ever consider letting go of life. But in that state of mind, one is simply not letting go of life; no, it’s much more focused than that. It’s more about relieving one’s pain, it’s to stop the hurt of depression that leads them to commit suicide.

When I talk about the “hurt” or the “pain” of depression I am referring to both the physical pain that we feel and also the mental pain. The types of pain that make your body ache and tire easily and the mental hurt that gives way to sorrow, regret, guilt and memories that we would rather forget. For every victim the source of pain can be different, but the singular truth is that we all feel the pain the same way, it affects our lives in a similar way.

At times, I wish that I could reveal all the answers that all the people who suffer from depression are seeking. The trouble with that is the difference in what we believe to be worthwhile in life. We all want different things, we all have different aspirations, to attain different goals throughout life. So it’s hard to put everyone into one category and tell them that this is how you can be saved from depression, this is the key to unlocking the door to a better life. The only thing that I can do for you, is to give you hope and encouragement to find that key on your own. In truth, only you can save you from yourself.

There are many great people out there, both ready and willing, to aid you in whatever way they can. Whether that be financially or just for motivation, but these people cannot change you, they cannot alter your life in such a way that depression will simply vanish and you’ll be happy. That’s a miracle and those of that caliber rarely happen. I’m not here to discourage you from seeking help, by all means please do, but understand that there is no pill, no cure that will take depression off your shoulders. Is there treatment? Yes, but unless you fight, unless you have the desire to live, you will not attain freedom from depression.

I want this chapter to be a wake-up call to all those people out there, all those victims of depression who are laying in their beds, sitting at their tables, deep in thought, waiting for calls from someone who cares, driving in their cars expecting a sign from God that will instill in them the truth of their condition. A wake-up call that offers them the truth in the clarity of daylight, a wake-up call to the reality of life and the choices we have to make in order to get through it.

I’ve been on your end of things. I’ve heard all the terrible things that people who don’t understand depression and suicide like to say, all the guilt they like to give you, about how selfish you are for wanting to die and about how there’s so much to live for. I also know that if you are in a true state of depression, none of those things really matter enough to you or you simply do not believe them. I know that your hate for yourself and the disappointment in yourself is so far above those things that nothing can penetrate the wall of dissidence that you have created.

In your mind it’s easy for them to say those things because they are on the outside looking in, they simply do not understand. And you know what? You’re right, they don’t understand you and they cannot truly understand you until they experience it for themselves. But understand that they say those things and do those things because they love you and care about what happens to you. They will do whatever they have to in order for you to live. But in the end, only you have the power to make the choice to live or die by your own hands.

I’d give anything to have the gift to change people’s minds, to set right the wrongs of their hearts, but that power is too much for the hand’s of a human. What I can do is tell you who I was, where I was and how I became who I am now. I can hope and pray that you learn from the same lessons I did so that you don’t wander down the wrong road. No one deserves to suffer from depression, no one should ever have to commit suicide to find relief. There is no sanctuary in suicide.

I believe that every single victim can survive depression. I believe that every victim can learn to thrive after depression. They say that we never know the value of something until we realize that we may lose it. Depression can work that same way, for once we climb out of it we can look back and realize how very little of life we had grasped. When we come above the surface and see that life is so much more than what we knew, we can finally envision all the possibilities of life and that each is capable of being attained.

I know that it’s hard to wake up from the slumber of depression. For some people it can take just weeks, others months, years and some never awaken. For some people, the memories of the things that came to pass, whatever brought on their depression, is enough to drain away the value of their life. More than blood spills from their cuts, their chance at happiness bleeds away too.

For every victim the key to walking out of the darkness through the door of awakening is different. All that I can tell you is that it is out there, somewhere between your past and your future. Somewhere in the ashes of who you were and the figments of your dreams, smothered under heartache, sunken beneath your tears; the directions to find this key are written behind your eyelids.

My key was in my hand the whole time, it just took me a long time to realize it. Friends can help, loved ones can point you in the right direction, but only you can see the key and only you can use it to unlock the door.

I know that it is hard to understand now, but when you are able to open that door and walk back among the living you will be changed forever. You will not be the same person you were before. You will still know depression, you will not forget anything about it, but you will have a greater understanding of it, a way to grasp it and control it. Depression cannot be killed, it cannot be cured, but you can rise above it.

For those of you fighting depression, facing suicide, living in the chaos of this disease, I give you one last thought to ponder. I know you have heard others say that life is worth so much more, that God has purpose for you, that there are people out there who love you and want to help you. I know that you have heard others say that life is what you make of it, that there are no promises of a happier-ever-after or that you may never achieve anything in life. Whatever they have told you, forget it and remember this:

Life and death are a cycle, it begins and ends everyday. Some people who deserve to live are killed and people who deserve to die are granted a second chance at life. The value of a life is not what you attain in physical materials and nor is it the recognition you can be granted for doing great deeds. The value of a life is measured by the lives you change and the lives you save. As human beings we are bound only by our thoughts, for in thoughts, spawn ideas and in ideas we have the power to take or not to take action and change the course of human history.

In your hand lay the hope of human destiny, let not your desires, your faults, your memories, make you lose focus of that truth. If you want a purpose then let that be your purpose, if you want a dream to chase then let that be your dream, but remember that your mind is without borders. For to set limits to your life is to have already lost it to the pages of time.

Life is short and death will come soon enough, wish it no sooner. For when you pass all other life will continue, the birds will sing again, the clouds will float at the same speed and the world will continue because the sun will rise again. But the sunlight will feel different on the skin of those left behind and the hearts of those left behind will beat at a different pace, the minds of those left behind will be forever altered, the spirit of the youthful will be shaken and all the lives you could have changed and all the lives you could have saved will never get to know the joy of living. For when you take your own life, you are also taking the lives of others.


 

 

Part of this essay is available as an audio track on SoundCloud:

From Under the Thumbs of Demons

August 2007

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From Under the Thumbs of Demons

When writing so much about depression, one would begin to think that they have written all there is to know. But like the face of depression, new things are often discovered and brought into the light can be many more battles.

As I once coined, the War of Depression is not one single battle where we either win or lose. Rather, depression is a life long war with many battles; sometimes a new battle for each day.

What we must come to realize is that if we begin to believe that we may lose a single battle, then we may have already lost the war. To give up is but the most devastating blow to any life. A blow that can be felt in all whom surround us, a hurt that is felt in every heart.

Strength in these matters is something difficult to grasp. These demons of our minds are terrifying and to face them takes courage most men will never know. But if we can attain what we need to stand up against them, then perhaps our own bravery can spread like fire into the hearts of every victim, burning within them the ties that bind their minds to the clasps of the Demons. Hopefully, giving them the opportunity to fight back against their oppressors.

If this can come to pass, then let our courage be a symbol and tool of motivation to all whom suffer in the darkness of the human mind. Let our hope and our dismay be known to all who love us because in this opening of our hearts there is a freedom unlike any other. When we do this, we reach out our hands to them and say, “I can’t do this alone, I need your help.”

Depression is a part of who we are. It may have never been there before, but once it is there is no turning back. No matter how many cuts we put into our flesh, depression will never bleed out.

I see depression as a Demon because something so ugly, so resilient, has to be beyond human substance. It is not a part of my physical self, but the things it does to me can become a part of me.

When I lay down, it is not just because the day has made me tired, but because the Demon within me has taken and fed upon the energy of my soul. Slowly, but surely, he devours who I am and all the dreams I have ever known.

So easy it is to let go of the hands that hold me up. Like a wounded soldier I am lifted up and carried along by my comrades.

A day will come when the Demons of depression will be vanquished into the abyss. Demons cannot die, but they can be controlled. Their lives are eternal, but their freedom is not.

Place your palm upon my chest and you can feel my heart, listen to the beat and you can hear the song of relentless promise. I will never back down from my Demon nor anyone else’s. I have made my stand against them and I only ask that you offer me your hand, as I have offered you mine. Together we will rise above this and we shall find direction.

Years ago a hope was born. One that was beaten and broken. Still alive, it grew and beneath the shadow of a Demon it lived in utter chaos. Deeper and darker the hate of that Demon grew and all that was loved was lost. Shattered and mourned were the dreams of that hope and death itself came down upon him. As wretched as Death was, the relief of this pain was something that hope could not overlook. So bad, he wanted to reach out and touch Death and so he did, with his lips.

Misunderstood and mistreated, hope had nothing more to give and he believed that he had nothing more to receive. As Death delighted in the flesh of hope’s lips, peace came down upon them like rain upon fire. Banishing Death to the far reaches of the human mind. What remained of that August night was but the stillness of what had been. Silence and rain washed over hope like never before. For the first time in his life, hope was given himself. In the midst of that chaos he looked upon himself differently, for now he saw all things differently. But, for him this was only the beginning and the destiny of his journey to understand what had happened had now been made manifest.

Upon his path hope came across love, who never got to know its real self. Still battered and bruised hope knew nothing of love and love knew nothing of hope. But a connection had been made and a thread to their hearts had been sewn. Hope came to know love and love came to know hope. Love gave what it was to hope and now it is time for hope to give what it is to love.


 

 

This essay is available as an audio track on SoundCloud:

The Poet’s Path: A Life of Pain

July 2007

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The Poet’s Path: A Life of Pain

Never does a day pass by that I don’t think about the things that happened leading up to today. During those moments in time they didn’t seem to be all that important, but now looking back they seem to mean a whole lot more; now that they are gone.

Thumbing through my photos of yesterdays, I am reminded of the opportunities I had to change my ways, to say the things that should have been said, to do the things that should have been done. Why does everything become so clear after the fact?

Time is such a wretch. It goes by so fast when we don’t want it to and when we wish that it would pick up the pace it slows to a viscus state.

There are some people who have parted ways with my life that I wish I could meet at least one last time. To get a second chance to say that I’m sorry, to get a chance to redeem myself. And the thing is, there are people in my life now who won’t be someday and when that happens I’ll feel the same way and wish for the same thing.

Parting with people for me is like feeling they have died, especially if they move beyond communication. They become ghosts in my dreams, figments of something that never really was; just a made-up world of characters. More often than not, when I find out that they are leaving, I turn them into enemies to make it easier for me to let them go. It’s so much easier to wave off enemies than allies.

It never takes long after goodbye that I find myself making contact with regret. I start hating myself a little more, start feeling a little more stupid. Sometimes I am just too stubborn to move outside of my comfort zone and if there isn’t a reason for me to stay in it, I’ll create one.

I’ve been trying for a long time to be better than who I am. I wish that I could talk more, be more involved in what’s around me. It’s just so damn hard; maybe it’s because of where I come from, maybe it’s because of what happened to me or maybe it’s because subconsciously I don’t want to change.

No one has a clue how much I’d love to be like everybody else, be more social, more active in volunteer stuff, spend my nights with friends, go back to college, travel beyond the walls that bind me. There seems to be a chain on my ankle, a piece of lead in my stomach weighing me down, and an anti-social demon in my head called depression.

I’ve been through counseling, I’ve been on medications, I’ve read the best books, tried to change my faith, even tried to change my scenery for a short time. I abandoned friends, cut the ties of relatives, allowed myself to hate some people – just to give me a reason to leave.

Thinking of the life of a poet, the best example that comes to my mind, the one that my mind relates to the most is Edgar Allen Poe. But I prefer to write with philosophical overtones like Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Some say that merely wanting to change can be enough to give you the opportunity to do so. I’ve thought about that and have truly tried to act differently, but it never lasts. My mood changes too often for me to maintain a certain kind of mindset.

I remember times back then when I wanted to change so bad, there probably wasn’t much I wasn’t willing to do. I kept myself aware of opportunities to mark the day I’d set myself on a different path. But those days my mind was distorted, my eyes cloudy, my perception easily altered and my thoughts easily persuaded.

There were points in my life that I felt as though I’d never be any different than I was at that moment. Those thoughts usually led to deeper and darker things, an ever-increasing feeling of desperation. At that point only one thing seems to assure a state of change and that was death.

Once during my second heavy battle with depression, 2004-2005, on my way to work one morning I thought about pushing the gas peddle all the way down and driving my vehicle off the road on purpose in order to crash and hopefully kill myself.

Those were very dark days, but darker still was the day I actually came to peace with the fact that I was ready to die.

I feel as though these things, as tragic as this sounds, are really what makes me a good writer. To me, the best poets and authors are the ones who have lived through terrible things and were able to write about them. Such an example is Victor Frankl, who survived concentration camps during the Holocaust and wrote one of the greatest short books I have ever read, “Man’s Search For Meaning”.

To me, people never really get over things like that, like this. Sure we become ’stronger” because of them, our hearts scar over and become a little tougher, we become a little more numb to the pains of life, but the memory of what we felt never really goes away.

In “Premonitions/Restitutions” I wrote, “I don’t write for anyone’s attention.” That’s not really true. I do write to get people’s attention. Writing is my best form of communication, without it I don’t know what would have come of me.

In current times I worry about all those soldiers and marines coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. I’m sure that many have found ways to deal with the things they have seen and done, but for those who have not or cannot – for them I worry.

I know what it is like to live with thoughts in your head, the kind that plague you, the ones that haunt you. The memories that live in your dreams, that can awaken at any moment during the day. The kind you can’t forget no matter how hard you try, no matter how busy you try to make yourself, no matter what you become addicted to. Those things you’ve seen and heard will flash and echo in your head ’til death.

Living with them is so difficult that all too often it seems easier and somehow inviting to just let go, to just give up. No where else seems to give you rest, no comfort, no refuge. In the calm silence of night, sleep frightens you because you know that even in your dreams you cannot escape as you awaken in a panic attack having relived what you wish so hard to forget.

There were days I didn’t want to be near guns because the only thing that came into my mind was putting the barrel to my head. It’s so hard to explain this to people who haven’t lived it. I never had to force myself to think of doing it, my mind would automatically be filled with the action of raising the barrel… the scenario would play over and over.

The things I have endured have somehow humbled me, somehow given me insight into things that others, I pray, never know for themselves.

One thing that still terrifies me, is that there are people out there who endure even worse things, who witness much darker things, who suffer greater losses and they live with it alone, outside of the acknowledgement of their fellow human beings, intentionally or not. It concerns me, as it should everyone, what comes of these people, what comes of the troops, or anyone else who is burdened by the effects of trauma. I literally feel pain, like a punch to the stomach or a crushing in my chest when I hear or read about those whom find their only relief at the end of a barrel, at the end of a rope, at the sharp end of a razor.

Can I ever blame them or even hate them for ever making that choice? No, I cannot because I know their series of thought. I can only blame the rest of us for not saving them, for not showing them the light at the end of their dark tunnel, I can only hate myself for not finding the courage to step forward, to rise up from the crowd and speak out about this on a grand scale. I can only feel ashamed of myself for being a survivor and knowing that I could do more.


 

 

This essay is available as an audio track on SoundCloud:

Premonitions and Restitution

July 2007

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Premonitions and Restitution

Looking back now at how far I have come and yet seeing in that time span an equal amount of uneventfulness, I cannot feel anything more than incomplete, unsatisfied and without fulfillment. These past few days inside my mind, when the world has kept its distance, when my eyes have blocked out what exists before me, they have been focused on what other’s cannot see, cannot know, cannot understand.

Someone once told me how great it must be to have a talent such as mine, to write so fluently about my thoughts and emotions; I smiled at them and said, “Yah”. And then I looked away and whispered to myself, “not really”. Even though many people say they know where I am coming from, they really don’t “know” at all or they don’t truly understand. Sometimes I think about what it would be like to have never placed my pen to paper that very first time, I wonder what or who I would be, if no one ever knew the real me or the past I’ve tried so many times to leave behind me – buried along this desolate road.

It never seems to stop surprising me how many times people will read my material, look at me and say, “oh that’s so sad”, or something about pain and sorrow. I don’t write for sympathy, I don’t write for hugs, or to hear anything about touchy-feely hogwash. I don’t want people to approach me and hug me, to smile at me and say everything will be okay, or to ask me how I feel. I don’t write for anyone’s attention.

I write because I have to, I write because if I don’t, all these things will build up in my head until I cannot hold it in any longer; it’s happened before and I know what that entails. I write because I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, the only one to think of these things, the only one who really gets it.

Sympathetic gestures will never change what has been, hugs will never snuff out what was and no additional tears will ever wash away what came to pass. Sitting around feeling sorry for myself, or being on the receiving end of someone’s sympathy will never fix my past, it won’t change who I am and it won’t secure a better future.

These things I know. But knowing what is true and living in that way are not the same thing, they do not walk hand-in-hand. At times it may be easy to know what is right, but it’s not easy to make things right.

Spending too much time thinking about what I should have done then or what I could have said at that moment, living with regret; it’s something I’ve done for a very long time. Letting go of possibilities that had always existed in what was – life altering situations, seems to be difficult for me. Beating myself up over what the right choice would have been, occupies a lot of my head space. It’s easy to say that “what’s done is done and there’s no turning back”, but how difficult it is to really live like that!

I often contemplate what life would be like if I could forget everything up until now, to not have to remember what has been, whether it would make my life better or not. I guess that I’ll never know.

Writing about how people should act, how they should think, what they should do to better their lives and the lives of those around them, a person would think that I’d be able to do that very same thing I speak of. But it isn’t that way at all. I can help other people, talk to them about how to get beyond where they are in life, advise them on how to get up when they fall and yet I am unable to help myself. How ironic that is, how ironic it is to be able to save someone else and yet be completely incapable of saving yourself.

Still, I am not without cause, I am not without choice. I may be in a fight that will last my lifetime, but I am not without allies, not without a strategy, not without a last resort. But the enemy I face is without mercy, without remorse, without limits.

That vulgar fiend in my head is always plaguing me with hopelessness, ever more regret, anger, selfishness, jealousy; it makes me sick and makes me weak. Never-ending is his attempts to take away the only thing he really wants, my life. Forever lasting is his will, unmatched is his determination to make me fail, to make me give up, to make me quit and kneel before him.

I have seen so many fall before me, I have seen so many give in to his demands, like some kind of tyrant, offering mercy for pleas and cries. But never does he fulfill his part of the deal. Never will he subside his tyranny. Hate and fear are the only things that abound under his rule. Vengeful and savage are his ways, this demon of my mind.

Within this wretched darkness, still illumined among the wrath of chaos is one Light. A Light that cannot be put out. A source of hope, an enduring beacon of peace, rest, humility. This single ray of Light grants all who seek it courage, a steadying of the mind, an awakening of the heart, a vision of truth, justice and freedom. More vivid than any dream, so much more than a glance at nirvana; rather this Light is wholesome, pure, eternal beyond the lifetime of the universe. What I wouldn’t give to touch this Light just once, to bear its glory on my flesh, just to taste its effervescent flavor of joy for a single moment in time.

Seeking this Light is all that gives me a reason, the only thing that reminds me that life is worth living, discovering the immeasurable qualities of its greatness is how I find a way to continue. Always I will remember the darkness and it will haunt me without lapse, but in this Light, I cannot be cut, I cannot bleed, I cannot fail, I cannot be lost to the ever-turning pages of time. Blessed am I to stand before this Light, opened and honest, bearing all that I am, vanquishing all that I am not.


 

 

Part of this essay is available as an audio track on SoundCloud:

Playing Chess With Demons

May 2007

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Playing Chess With Demons

Writing about depression is not always easy to do. I feel as though the topic is extremely important, I know it so well and yet to really nail down the key points I want to make on the subject I find to be difficult. Depression and suicide are separate topics, but so often they play along hand in hand. A man can be depressed without being suicidal, but to be suicidal a man must surely be depressed.

Even in this day and age I still come across ignorant attitudes in regards to patients of depression and especially those who are suicidal. I believe that society still enlarge believes that suicide victims were fully aware of their thoughts and the effects of their actions, ultimately accountable for their suicide. Nothing else can be blamed, but the weak man who pulled the trigger, so they say.

My bout with depression has spanned many years, in being silent of this I became more and more distant and distraught. When I was encouraged to write poetry during grade school, I found an outlet that I could pour out my thoughts and feelings. Poetry became my only way of letting out the thoughts that were building up in my head. As my writing skills increased, I started writing more than just poems. Much of what I wrote became pages of thoughts and feelings, of confessions and regrets. These writings never saw the eyes of others nor the light of day.

By the time I entered high school, I was having a hard time dealing with my thoughts and emotions. Without ever having talked to anyone about it I started to feel as though it was my fault. That somehow I allowed it to happen to me. Eventually I came to believe that it was I who had caused my pain, I was to blame, and the pain I felt was well deserved. This is when I started to physically harm myself. At first I simply gained an interest in taking pain (punches, falls, strained muscles, accidental cuts, bruises and scrapes). Then I started weight lifting and things changed. No longer was the pain accidental, instead I began causing myself pain because I liked the way it felt and I wanted more and more of it. Partly because I felt that I deserved to endure it and partly because I was in control of it; I was causing me this pain.

As the weightlifting increased and stretched from simply a half hour session to sometimes three hours, I put on twenty pounds of muscle in less than a month. I would start lifting after my parents went to bed around 10 P.M. or later. There were times when I was up until 4 in the morning working out. I loved how my arms would go numb, how my abs would ache and my legs quiver from the strain. I became addicted to the chemical reaction in my muscles, I became addicted to the pain. For me it was a way to forget the emotional pain I was feeling, a way to block the thoughts of the things I wanted to forget.

Over time the increased testosterone levels made me irritable and even more seclusive. I became angry and distrustful of everyone. But poetry and writing remained my emotional outlet. In 2002 I came to the conclusion to commit suicide. I was at home and the lite rain outside seemed to make me even more sad. I remember crying a lot as I had written my goodbye note earlier that morning and then left it on the bed of my parents. I put on my jacket and walked outside my house and wandered off a ways a top a hillside behind my father’s shed. Standing in the rain with a cup of what I believed to be a poisonous chemical, I looked up at the dark sky above me and closed my eyes. Many thoughts were going through my head. I thought about how much better everyone in my family would be without me. I thought about how God, if He existed, would take away all my pain. I thought about all the things I would miss, the people I would miss. I told myself that I would see them again in another place, under better circumstances.

As the cold sprinkles of rain fell on my face, I felt more alive at that moment, than I had ever before in my life. Everything was so still, so quiet, as if everything had stopped moving, as if all eyes were on me, waiting to see what I would do. As I lifted the small, cream colored cup to my lips I wondered what it would taste like, I wondered how much it would hurt to die and whether or not the pain I already felt was worse. I anticipated the bitter taste and perhaps a burning in my stomach. I figured that I would convulse and I was hoping that I wouldn’t throw it up before it had the chance to kill me.

The evening wind still carried the scent of summers end. As it was August, the grass around me was yellow from the burning sun of the daylight hours. My heart was pounding and my salty tears bled into the fresh water that the clouds were weeping. My hand was shaking and my knees grew weak. The liquid touched my lips, it was a dark blue like an early winter night, clear of clouds and full of stars, each twinkling a promise for a better tomorrow. But in reality this was a cloudy, summer eve with a lite rain and that’s all that there was, no promise of anything better.

Standing there alone, damp and exhausted both physically and emotionally, I dropped the small cup. It was all in slow motion as I looked down at it falling away from my face, growing ever so smaller. And when it hit the ground, all that it contained flooded forth and into the ground, losing it’s identity among the wet yellow grass at my feet. I hadn’t drank it. I never even allowed it beyond my lips. I fell to my knees and started crying out loud, cursing myself and God. I hadn’t even the courage to end my fight, not even freedom from these demons would God grant me, so I believed.

Two years passed before I ever considered suicide again. The years in between were filled with sleep met after hours of crying and many more curses at God. I began cutting myself after I graduated from high school, after I had quit college and during the time I left home. Some say they cut to remind themselves that they are alive and that the numbness is only in their heads. I had cut because the pain was enough for me to forget the pain inside my head. At the end of my time at high school, when I was enlisting in the United States Marine Corps, one of the reasons I gave myself was that the pain and trials of boot camp was a suffering I deserved. I believed that through it I would somehow find redemption.

In less than a year later, I once again began feeling as though suicide may be the answer, the only anecdote for my pain. This time I was sure that a gun would be so much easier, so much quicker. There would be no more second guessing the decision. However during my battle with depression I had befriended someone who was also battling depression and who was also a writer. She became my lifeline. With her support I sought medical attention. I freely admitted myself into a temporary mental health facility. There I stayed for three days, until I was sent home. I was put on medication while I was there, but other than that I appeared to be well enough to return to life. I went through several different medications before I was able to find one that worked for me. Some gave me terrible nightmares, some simply didn’t do anything, and others made me sleep all the time. At one point I was even diagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder, which was later declared to be misdiagnosis.

The thing that I believe helped me the most was not the medication, rather for me it was having someone to talk to. My counselor was so much more beneficial to me than the medication. Not that it didn’t help, but being able to talk about it to someone who understood, who listened, who didn’t judge me or make me feel more guilty or terrible about myself. That’s what helped me the most.

All along I kept up my writing as it remained my outlet. My counselor later moved away, but I talked about my experience with depression often, with anyone willing to listen. I spoke to others who suffered and the families of those who could not suffer any longer. In time I intended on giving talks about my story and aid in the education of the public on depression and suicide. I believed that awareness was the key to saving lives. And that the greatest enemy of victims of depression and suicidal depression was not the disease itself, but the ignorance and misunderstandings of those who did not suffer from those diseases.


 

 

This essay is available as an audio track on SoundCloud:

The War of Depression: A Synopsis

March 2007

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The War of Depression: A Synopsis

The War of Depression is not one battle with dark days, weeks or months. It is a war waging within one’s mind perhaps everlasting. The demons of unwavering conviction taunt long after one’s release from medical and psychological treatment. It is not a disease to be cured, for there is no such thing. The unrelenting bruises and infinite scars remain long after all treatment has ended. One could say that death shall be the only release.

So easy it is, when in such a state of mind, to forget so much of your life. So easy it is to lose track of who you were, are, or ever wanted to be. It is in this fog of illusion that one forgets others exist and that you are not a man among manikins. You lose track of what is real and what is the trickery of your own subconscious mind. In this abandonment of sanity the thoughts and feelings of those who love you, if not said enough, no longer pass through your own thoughts. You begin to feel alone, see no one around you and soon the vastness of a crowded room seems so vacant. People who you once loved and cared for seem to be nothing more than ghosts and remnants of a dream long gone. Anyone without the proper approach becomes your enemy and you lose trust in them. Best friends become enemies, but none as evil as yourself.

The unavoidable temptation of death is always but a fleeting moment away. At the time it seems nothing else is logical. No answer, no phrase, no harsh words can ever alter such a set mind. An attitude of anger will do nothing in saving of a man in ruin, for digging the hole deeper will only force them down farther and further from salvation.

So many people, who’ve never experienced depression, misunderstand how you should treat a person plagued by it. They believe that a person can be forced out of it, or can just simply be happy and it will go away. They believe that if given unending tasks they will not think about being depressed and therefore be cured. They believe that one chooses such a life. How wrong they are.

No other human can save you from your depression if you do not want to be saved. That much is true. But when you want help, when you want to regain your footing, chances are you cannot do it alone. The actions of caring individuals can play a major role in the recovery of a suicidal depressive. In fact, they may be surprised at how much so little can do for a person suffering from it. We may not be in our right mind, but we react to every little thing happening around us and we can blow it out of proportion. So if the action is small, but good, it can have a big impact on us.


This essay is available as an audio track on SoundCloud: