Thursday
Sep182003

« Crisis = Opportunity »

Now playing: Pat Metheney’s Imaginary Day. Good music, but what do I know?
Weather: Classic late summer in southern California. Beautiful of course.
Best part of the day: Taking a glorious nap after work and catching up on some other things left undone.
Things to do in near future: Begin work on a speech for class, write long and emotionally naked letters to people, remap my life a good deal, get a bike and ride (like the wind, I guess). Plan for my 30th birthday event.
Deep thought: Crisis = Opportunity.
What I did on my summer vacation: Suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts.

Yep, you read right. It was the “Endless Bummer” for me. I don’t mean to dwell. Most of what you need to help envision this is in some earlier entries here. It’s a cloud I have lived with for about 13 years now, this depression. Sometimes it’s in remission and things go well enough that it doesn’t seem to haunt me. But since about early 2000 or so I have been plagued by it rather consistently. It comes from a whole host of things. Sometimes I wish that I only had a pet die, or a bad semester at school. That at least could be cried out. But my soul hurts for some reason. The optimist in me (that I clearly don’t give equal time to, it seems) wants to declare that it’s that hurt and pain, that friction in life that drives a person to overcome all that live a fuller, richer life ultimately, like a grain of sand becomes the basis for a pearl.

“Life is the toughest teacher, because it gives the test first and the lesson later.”

Those words of Oscar Wilde were passed on to me by a counselor named “BB” at a residential crisis center I spent a week and a half at in the first half of September. BB was amazing. He was about my age, had a mastery of relevant quotes from across the ages and disciplines of literature, philosophy, art, psychology, religion and some entirely applicable folk tales to illustrate his points. He utterly lived and breathed his craft. I was at the center for about 11 days and one of the best parts of the stay was hearing what he would have to say and meeting with him. He even played guitar.

None of which says much about my depression, I know. I suppose I could say it’s a chemical imbalance, or rooted in events from the past, with a twice-broken home life, or that I am frustrated as an artist, or that the kids were mean to me at school as a kid, or that I have had a troubled work history, or that I have had some peculiar woman troubles over the years. All of that would be true, and all of it has made me stay awake at night. Yeah, it’s all that and a bag of chips too. I could even throw in some post-9/11 sentiments. Really, the causes of depression are numerous and don’t just turn up at the surface too easily. I can say that I have felt emotionally gagged in some ways. It’s an odd thing to say, but from not really writing much like I used to or making music that gets recorded, or that doesn’t include lyrics, I feel that I have been missing a certain degree of self expression for a long time. It has certainly been three years to the month since my CD was mastered, and only trace elements of music have been done since. But it has also been over two years since I wrote journals, something I did for 10 years since I got out of high school. It’s something that I had mixed feelings about. I stopped because the year 2001 was so heavy on the drama and change that I couldn’t even really keep up. Then, once I got past an SI (suicidal ideation) period early in the year and squelched some further depressive episodes, I went into a long period of trying to block, I guess. I remember it all, but I didn’t archive or give voice to much of anything. It was also at the same time I got on the computer and really changed my life a huge amount with online groups and the web. And, again, within a month of that, 9/11 did indeed happen. The year 2001 was just a madly shifting time. Then, after a few years of being alone, on the first of the year in 2002, I got into a relationship with Kelli that is pretty much my anchor now. So, you can see, nothing is familiar to me, except maybe me.

Of course it’s easy to pin the blame on external forces and people. Anyone can do that. That’s the easy way out. And I have certainly done that for a long time. I guess what its hurting me to do now is to move into a mindset that will actually be more effective: that of making the realization that I have a lot to do with things too. Some things I can safely let the blame fall to external forces, and some I can’t. For those that can be attributed safely to external causes, I should lighten my load and not worry. But for those that are the result of my too-often corrupted thinking, I need to step up and take credit accordingly. Part of my experience at the crisis house was reading the Alcoholics Anonymous book, but really coming to the 12 step process was one that made a believer out of me. I don’t drink or do drugs, but the same as an alchoholic or a user has an addiction to something that kills them a little at a time, I have an addiction to a thought process that does the same. It loses me friends, jobs, women, fame, money and a host of other things. In some instances (too many, to be really precise) it loses me even the chance at those things. Frankly, it’s a case of me being my worst enemy. I have this uncanny ability to set a roadblock up in my mind why things won’t work, thus saving me the challenge of finding that it just might work out, and maybe even well. I don’t know. Maybe I need to start a chapter of Mental Roadblocks Anonymous. (If there is already such a group, please don’t laugh, I haven’t researched it yet!) Don’t get me wrong. I do set some goals and reach them, but too often (particularly in the last two years) it has done a whole lot of nothing for me. I can talk my way out of lots of things, even before I start with anything at all.

It truly is a struggle to try to think differently than 30 years of conditioning has allowed me to think. It has only been a few days since my immersion in the crisis house where all sorts of personal stories and interpersonal and existential lessons were taken in by participation or osmosis. I just about need to reacquaint myself with me now, as with people around me (some of whom I have to admit I feel I have taken for granted). Some days, it feels like a poisoned mass inhabits my body, and it needs to be purged, and when it is, I certainly feel better. I don’t do the things that some other depressed people do, like cutting or any of that. I fear that I supress it, and with the lack of an artistic expression, it’s that much worse. I don’t really know. That is what a year of counseling is aiming to find out, starting this month. There are some things that I can get started on to feel better. I just had this idea: I will write to anyone who sees this that feels I have wronged them some way and seek to make that right in the best way I can. So send an email or call and start a dialog.

Wow, even that felt better.

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