Celebrating Life

On April 3rd, The Fast and the Furious 7 will hit theaters, and with it the sharp reminder of franchise star Paul Walker’s death last year. He died doing what he loved: driving.

Today, March 12th, is my birthday.

There was a time when I wasn’t sure I was going to see Furious 7. I wasn’t even sure that I was going to see today. That time was not that long ago, and I haven’t told anyone what I am about to say now, except for my therapist who helped me live through it.

Several months ago now, but still recent enough to haunt me, I was sure I was going to die, and not in any macabre way, I was sure I was going to kill myself.  I literally saw no future beyond January 1st. My depression had started to overwhelm me, and I was drowning in it. Days were literally as well as figuratively dark and cold. I looked up and saw no sky; I looked out and saw no horizon. I was alone and I was suffocating on nothing.

I had one thing before me: my sister’s wedding. I had nothing after that. I was determined that I was going to attend the wedding and have one last good time and then end it all. “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die” as the saying goes. I knew I was going to see my immediate family at the wedding, and so I could say one last goodbye and be done with life on this terrestrial sphere.

The wedding was as wonderful as could be. It was warm, sunny, and the happiest of occasions, but a darkness and a chill had settled in my core. I knew my days were shorter rather than longer. Once the wedding week was done so was I. I used up any positive energy I had left smiling for pictures and keeping it together so as to not ruin my sister’s big moments.

I returned from the wedding and stared down a calendar of days until the 1st of January. I manage to stave off hospitalization because I told my therapist I wouldn’t do anything to myself until at least then, but I knew that day was coming.

I welcomed it. I cherished the thought of the final release. When one has nothing to live for, one tends to think of the end as blissful nothingness. I hoped, and still do, that there is no afterlife. One life is enough pain and struggle and weariness without another life to endure. When I do die, I want that to be it, for it all to be over. I don’t want to live again, or to  live eternally. As the philosopher Yoda said on his death bed, “Forever sleep: earned it, I have.” I want to earn my forever sleep.

More than anything, that dark December of last year, I wanted my forever sleep. My weariness screamed for it.

And then, just when it was almost over, just when I had the bottle of pills in my hand, when I grew tired of setting it back down, unopened, just then I found a glimmer of something else.

Hope.

Hope for a future, for a better tomorrow shone through my deepest depression. I decided to make a radical decision for life instead of against it. I decided that January 1st was not going to be my last day on earth. I can’t tell you exactly where that minuscule drop of hope came from, or why I decided to delay death, but I did. In my mind, I simply decided to see exactly how long I could stretch life. At the time, I didn’t know how long that would be. At least another day. At most, a week. Here I am, three and a bit months later, still going.

Along the way, I decided to move to Texas, to physically grasp a brighter, warmer, sunnier future. I decided to leave all I could behind me, and strike out for something new. I am making my run for the border, eating and drinking and being merry for tomorrow I live.

In just a few weeks, I will sit down in a theater and watch the Fast and the Furious 7, and silently, simultaneously, mourn Paul Walker’s death and honor his life, and I will do what I have been doing since January 1st: I will live fast and furiously, one quarter mile at a time, until I have earned a natural end and a forever sleep.

No more do I contemplate my own death, at my hand or by Nature’s. It will come when it comes. For now, there is living to do. And never more have I been aware of that than today, on my birthday, as I turn 28 and start a brand new year. I honestly did not think I would see today, but here the sun sets and this day is almost over. Another one is coming.

 

Why I Write About Depression

My name is Phil, and I struggle with depression.

I’ve been writing a lot about depression recently, and I apologize if I am wearing out the ears of those who listen. But rarely I have little else I can do, and writing is my way of speaking to the world. I don’t really know how big my audience is, beyond my mother, but I write anyway because if I can reach just one person, that it is worth it.

If you are reading this, then you know me, and that means you know at least one depressed person. Knowing is half the battle. Part of being human is caring for your fellow human. It helps to know what someone is feeling so that you can adequately and appropriately care for them. Helping someone with a broken leg walk on the leg isn’t helping. You have to immobilize the leg and keep pressure off of it, and help them walk on crutches. Knowing how to help is everything, and you can’t do that unless you know what is wrong in the first place.

I write about my depression so that you know what it feels like. Depression is such a hard thing to understand precisely because most people think they do understand. The “blues”, feeling sad, or dealing with life’s normal problems is what most people think of when they contemplate depression. That isn’t it. Those things fade, or come and go with life’s ups and downs.

Depression, that is, clinical depression, what I suffer from, is a constant feeling of heaviness. Constantly being sad or weary for no reason at all. Life goes up and I stay numb. Life goes down and I stay numb, or get worse. Something sad happens and I cry for days. The blues, and most other colors, are black or shades of grey. There is no color.

There is fear as well. In my case, debilitating terror. Fear that I will never feel better, which is, in part, justified. Clinical depression can be managed, but not cured. Fear that I can’t do anything. This fear they tell me is irrational. It doesn’t matter, I feel it all the same, and most days, it overwhelms me.

There is guilt. Did I do this to myself? Answer: no. But it doesn’t matter. I feel guilty that I am not normal, that I don’t function and live like everyone else. My mind constantly tells me that I screwed up, that I made this happen, and that if I just bucked up and got with it, I could be better. Nothing is further from the truth. No, I didn’t make this happen, and I can’t unmake it either.

There is sadness. I am sad for all that I have lost, all that I don’t have, all that I am not normal. I have lost a wife, friends, family, several jobs, self-sufficiency, happiness, pleasure, enjoyment, a full palette of emotions. I know that I have lost or lack those things. I can’t will them back, or make them happen just because I want to. Sometimes I feel vestiges, sometimes I hear echoes of those things, but sometimes I merely remember or imagine what they must be like.

There is anger. Anger is born of helplessness, in this case. I know exactly how little I can do to alter my situation. There are no bootstraps, and pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps usually results in you smacking your chin on your knees and getting nowhere. I can be proactive. I can get out of bed. I can take my medication. I can do something, no matter how inconsequential or irrelevant. But nothing will banish my depression. Nothing will make it go away. And that makes me mad, angry and upset. It is unfair and frustrating. It is wrong. But it is nonetheless.

And that is just four little things. I hesitate to keep going for fear that it will sound like wallowing or self-pity or “woe-is-me”. This, too, is a symptom of depression. It is difficult for me to fully articulate what I feel because I don’t want to sound like I am merely complaining or moaning. But someone needs to tell it like it is, someone needs to speak up about how it feels. I have no pride left, so it might as well be me. Judge me all you want, tell me to suck it up and be a man if it makes you feel better about who you are, but this is my everyday reality as of right now. I wish 1000% that I could just change it. I pray and ask God to make me better. But wishes aren’t real. God, if he is real, doesn’t do that sort of thing. Medical science can only make my condition manageable, and right now, barely so. What else is there to do but speak up?

But speaking is only half the battle. Now you know how I feel, in part. How do you help me walk with a broken mind? Be a crutch.

It is a failing of American culture that we abhor help. Americans are all about “do-it-yourself” and “self-made-men”. Mostly that’s bullshit. Sorry, but there is no better term. Be a crutch, be a help, do not make me do this myself. Being alone only makes all of this depression worse. Trying to go it alone is mostly impossible. Speak to me: let me know that I still have friends, people who care. Help me out: literally. Offer to come over and help me clean up the apartment. Offer to pay for my laundry and or help me haul it up the stairs. (I’ll probably say no out of humiliation or misplaced pride.) Come and cook with me so I have meals to re-heat. (I don’t know how I’d respond.) Come and go grocery shopping with me. (That could work.) Come and play games with me or hang out and watch a movie or hang out and talk or just hang out and be quiet. (I’m always up for this.) Take me out somewhere to do something. Depression keeps me apartment bound so much of the time. (I’ll almost never say no.) Every little gesture means the world. I can feel and live vicariously. By literally being with me and helping me I can be, even for a little while, normal through you.

Is it your responsibility to make me better? No. Do not feel guilty if you can’t do any of those things. Don’t make it your place to be my everything. That is on me. But anything you can do is a help. I have to walk on the crutches, but without crutches to walk on, it is hard to walk. Crutches come alongside the injury and lift up the heaviness. Help by being a crutch.

And that is why I write. So that you know how I feel and how to help. But not just me: there are millions of depressed people. Some function better than I do, some worse. All need crutches. Get out there and help people walk.

To read what else I have written about depression, search this blog for “depression”.

Ordinarily Depressed

Hello. My name is Phil and I battle depression.

What I am about to say is both difficult to say and strange for me to admit: I’ve been depressed. It is difficult because for a long time I didn’t know what was happening to me or why. I felt pain, I felt sadness, I felt guilt, and I didn’t know what to do with myself. It is strange because Depression, or Clinical Depression, is my every day state of affairs. Little d depression isn’t. Strictly speaking what I am experiencing is death, death of a very dear relationship, but the symptoms of that death are depression and sorrow.

As many already know, my wife is divorcing me. Don’t ask me why, I don’t really know. Ask her. She left last May on a mutually agreed upon separation and the very next time I saw her, November, she was submitting paperwork for divorce. We have barely spoken, not through lack of my trying, so I really have no idea what is going on or why this is happening. All I do know is that it is happening. Somehow, somewhere, the relationship died. That is a tremendous burden that I have been bearing for almost a year now. But ever since the divorce papers were filed, I’ve felt something different, something more. At first I didn’t know that I was bearing it, or what I was bearing, or that it was different than my day to day depression, but now I’ve come to recognize it for what it is: little d depression.

I didn’t know big D Depressed people could feel the depression of ordinary folk, the fleeting, down in the dumps blues. In fact, I’ve written quite a bit about how large D Depression doesn’t go away, is much more intense, and is a constant pain in the head. But to experience little d depression on top of that is new for me. To grieve a death of a relationship is new for me.

Back in the day I lost my grandmother to indifference. As far as I know she is still alive physically, but the last time I saw her was 20 years ago when I was 6. One day she just stopped coming around. I was young, carefree, and not terribly close to her, so I can’t say it bothered me all that much. Sure, it was sad to have a grandmother who didn’t care about you, but I don’t remember grieving over her. She just ended in my life.

Around the same time (I think) my great, great grandmother died. I remember my older brother and my mother being very upset, but again, I was young and I didn’t really know her so I had little grief. My first real brush with the grief of death was when Larry died. Who was Larry? Larry was an older gentlemen who lived on the street where I grew up as a little boy. He was an old, crusty salt of a former sailer and a surrogate grandfather. I loved hanging out with Larry and he loved to spoil me and my brothers with ice cream from the ice cream truck and we had all sorts of fun together. He used to decorate his house outrageously for Christmas and always was an interesting person to be around. Larry died from lung cancer brought on by a lifetime of smoking. Larry I mourned, but I remember being more angry that he was taken from me than sad that he was gone.

The first time my sadness outweighed my anger was when my grandfather died. Grandpa Curwin, my maternal grandfather, was a constant in my life and I loved him so much. I still remember how he smelled, how he smiled, and his loving affection. I used to love to talk to him and wheedle out stories of his time in the Army during World War II, or stories about his many automobiles and girlfriends. My grandfather was loved by many people, and he was such a nice, wonderful person it isn’t hard to see why. But he died suddenly of many things. His was the first funeral I ever attended and to see him lying in that casket is something I will never forget. I was angry, but I was also so very sad to know that I would never hear his voice again or see that twinkle in his eye or smile on his lips. He was gone, and I had to say goodbye.

The death of a relationship is different altogether. The person still lives. The feelings still exist. But the relationship is deemed to be over and there is nothing you can do about it. Unlike a physical death, where there is an acceptance of the circle of life, a grave to visit, and a body to see to sink home the reality, here the vibrancy and immediacy to life still exists. The person lives, and breathes, and laughs, and continues, but is no longer accessible. You want to accept it, you want to feel the reality, but every time the person is seen, or heard of, the heart wants to say “they are alive, run, embrace them and be joyful! death has ended!” only it hasn’t and you can’t. There is little possibility of real mourning. There is only the pain and separation. And thus my depression.

I had to have my therapist explain what I was feeling and why, and fortunately she is wise and experienced and knew almost immediately what I was describing. Still, it was a revelation to me. To be ordinarily depressed is new. Usually I am a happy, upbeat kind of guy. According to my therapist, my mother, and most others I talk to about how I feel, these little d depressed feelings will pass. I will come out the other side and I will be ok again. Grief lasts but a moment in the long term of life, so does loss, and where one relationship ends, there is always the possibility that another will begin, or so they say. I had just become used to the idea that my sadness, my mental inertia, and the dimness that is my Depression would be with me always. I didn’t know I could also get depressed, but it is an encouragement to know that depression lifts, and that I can return to normal.

I wish it didn’t have to be this way, but I am coming to accept there is nothing I can do about it, and that the only actions I can take are those that I do anyway: get out of bed, do something, take care of myself and my pup, and get through the day. Anything more is a good day, and while you are depressed through grief over death, you don’t have good days, especially when you are also Depressed.

Still, it is nice feeling to know that in being ordinarily depressed, some part of me is truly ordinary. Life is strange and wonderful and dirty and confusing and sticky and bad and good and full of feelings. No matter what you feel, or why, remember that. When you feel you are alive, and never more so than right in the feelings.

To read what else I have written about depression search this blog for “depression”.

Shoutings and Silences

My name is Phil and I am depressed.

One of the hardest things about depression is living inside your own head. Sometimes it can be very loud, other times it can be quieter than a graveyard. Both times are very hard to get through. When my head is loud is it like a hundred voices all talking at once. Every thought moves at a thousand miles an hour and shouts for attention. But that is actually easier to take than when my head is silent. Usually it comes at a time when my surroundings are quiet. Ever since my wife left, I’ve been living alone. That makes for a lot of quiet.

Most people live in the happy middle ground between shoutings and silences with a normal amount of noise both within and without, and if circumstances arise that unduly quiet or amplify things, normal coping mechanisms help even things out.

My normal coping mechanisms are broken, and my shoutings and silences are way more intense than other people’s, at least from what I have observed and felt.

I can only tune out the cacophony by playing very loud music and focusing as hard as possible on what I am actually hearing rather than what is mental. Alternatively, there is no way to fill the quiet with enough noise to make it less than empty. Again I try loud music or a movie or something, but there is usually too much space to fill and not enough noise to fill it. I just feel empty.

I hate being alone and I get so very lonely, and this only accentuates the silences and the shoutings. For a long time I have felt that if only my wife were to come back and I were to have another person in my life, the shoutings and silences would disappear. But recently I have begun to understand: my wife has nothing at all to do with life inside my head. She can’t help, nor can she make it worse. It is my own particular problem to solve, or failing a solution, since there often isn’t one, my own particular path to tread. To be sure, another person can help fill the silence or quiet the shouting, but that makes them just another coping mechanism when they do. At that particular moment, any person would really do.

Don’t misunderstand, I am not saying there isn’t anything special about my wife, or that a special person can’t make a special difference. What I am trying to say is this: another person can’t abate my depression. It is inside me. The shouting and the silence are my ailments.

I wish my wife would come back into my life. Having her around made things easier to deal with. But maybe that is why she has left me, in part. I tried too hard to make her my fix, tried too hard to make her responsible for how I felt. I was a fool and I was selfish and I was too stupid to know what I was doing. For that I am so very ashamed and so very sorry. But I can’t change the past. All I can do is work on my today, on my future. Only I can find ways to quiet the shoutings and fill the silences. If and when my wife or another person comes back into my life, I hope to be able to quiet the noise or fill the space on my own, and not make it that person’s burden because depression is hard enough for me to bear, and I have a pretty good idea how it works, at least for me. I can only imagine how hard it is for someone who doesn’t know it as intimately as I do.

Hannah, if you read this: I’m sorry. My silences, my shoutings were not and are not yours to bear. I’ll ask you to bear them no longer. I am sorry I ever did. It was cruel and abusive of me. I can only say I didn’t know what I was doing, but that is a feeble excuse. Thank you for all the years you tried to help me anyway. I can’t imagine what that must have been like. You are an incredible person.

To my friends and family: thanks for being there for me. Sometimes I call on you during my silences, sometimes during my shoutings. Sometimes I just need a friend. I hope I don’t make things too hard for you, or ask more than you are willing to give. Depression just needs and takes; it isn’t very considerate. My depression isn’t your burden, it is mine. Please let me know if I ever abuse our relationship. I don’t want to make the same mistakes I’ve been making with my wife. Depression is a poor excuse for abuse.

Depression fools me into thinking I am helpless and hopeless. But I am not. I am only mentally ill, and any illness can be managed, even if it can’t be cured. Easy to say; hard to do; but knowing is half the battle. Now that I know, I can work towards effective management.

Now I can start to fill the silence and quiet the shoutings.

To read what else I have written on depression, search my blog for “depression”.

Can’t Stop the Sadness

My name is Phil, and I am depressed.

My therapist wanted me to write a sentence, and now I’ve written three. I haven’t written in a while because I am depressed. It is so very hard to find the motivation, the will, and the desire to do even the most basic of things when battling depression. She, my therapist, said it well: “sometimes your brain is amazing and you can trust it; sometimes it’s fucked.” Sometimes I am very logical, I can work through almost anything, I have strength and I amaze myself by enduring what I thought was unendurable. But then, my mind flips on me, and even getting through a day without staring at walls is an insurmountable task.

I often compare being depressed to being an alcoholic. Neither is a choice, neither is banished simply through a force of will, both are medical conditions that can be treated, but alcoholics have it one up on depressed individuals: they have an external symptom that while difficult to deal with, is external and is avoidable. An alcoholic can avoid taking a drink. They don’t need a reason to drink, or to be drunk, but in order to be sober all they have to do is not drink. An outside factor is their tormentor, and as such, it can be avoided. Avoiding it is the really tough part.

But no matter how many meetings of Depressed Anonymous I attend, I cannot ever choose to avoid that which torments me: my brain. I live with imbalances, deficiencies, shorts and faulty wires in my head. Short of a lobotomy, the death of who I am, I am unable to be free. I am an alcoholic that cannot choose to stop drinking. I cannot chose to be happy, to not be sad, to change what I feel. All I can do is depend on some medication that makes the swings of emotion less monumental, less forceful, and continue to rely on my therapist to talk through the rest, to keep things in perspective, in focus.

I can’t stop the sadness, but I can keep it at bay, at arm’s length, at a distance.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer said it this way: “the hardest thing in this world is to live in it.” Living life, for me, is the hardest thing I do on a daily basis. Most people get up, eat breakfast, go to work, come home, enjoy some television, and go to bed and that is their every day routine. I have to force myself to watch television and I barely enjoy the process. Some of that is an effect of the medications I am on, some of that is my depression, it is hard to know which at any given time. All I want out of life is the normal routine of normal people, but today, that is out of my reach. Most days it is out of my reach. But I’m never going to stop reaching, and that is what I can do as a depressaholic: I can keep reaching for normality. I don’t have a convenient external tormenter, but in the midst of my unending torment I can reach towards the light, no matter how dim or distant.

My challenge was one sentence. Here are many. Here is me reaching towards the light, today. If this is all I do today, it is a win for me.

To read what else I have written on the topic of depression, simply search for the word “depression” on my blog.

World Mental Health Day

Hi. My name is Phil. I have a mental illness.

It just struck me as I was typing that line that mental illness is often the punchline of a joke or having a mental illness is played for laughs in some circumstances. I know some people would be upset or indignant about that, but I don’t care.

Not caring is a symptom of mental illness, in my case, depression. It takes feeling and a certain level of self actualization to generate outrage and moral fiber and the will to do something, even if it is to say “hey, maybe there really are mentally ill people and they don’t like being made fun of or something”. Also, I find mental illness jokes funny. A consequence of my long association with depression is a very dark and subtle sense of humor. Mental illness jokes appeal to me on a very wrong level. Well, not wrong so much as abnormal.

Anyway, today is World Mental Health Day. I started writing about my experiences with depression a long time ago as a way to help myself articulate what I was feeling to everyone who knows me and bothers to read what I write, and also as a way to destigmatize mental illness. It is a condition anyone can have, just like anyone can break a bone or get cancer. I am an otherwise normal person who is depressed.

I am not sad because of life circumstances, although I do have plenty of those to feel pretty sad about, the reality is I am sad even when everything is great. Case in point: it is currently October, and I am a baseball fan, and October is the time for the MLB postseason. Usually this is my favorite time of the year. It has magic, wonder, the best teams in baseball, and exciting high stakes games. I have to force myself to enjoy my most favorite thing in the world outside of Star Wars. And I haven’t watched Star Wars in over a year, either. And I love Star Wars most. Most people enjoy what they enjoy. They don’t have to try, they don’t ever think about it, they just enjoy it. I have conversations in my head: “Hey, Phil, look: Star Wars!” “Oh, that’s cool. I guess. I mean, it isn’t not cool.” “What?? That is a salt shaker shaped like a Darth Vader PEZ dispenser on a super fluffy blanket that is also a Jedi cloak!! That is mega-Star Wars-awesome!” “If you say so. Hey, is that the ground? It looks like the ground.” Er, something like that. My point is: depression robs me of my chance to feel and to enjoy.

I am on medication, which is why my depression no longer completely debilitates me. I used to live in a black fog where nothing ever was anything other than a painful haze. Now, sometimes, I do enjoy things. Sometimes the sun breaks through and I have a good day. Those days are still rare. What is worse, I have absolutely no control over when I have sunny days or when I have hazy days. They happen when they will.

Because of this I cannot hold a job, most days I cannot bother to look for a job. A month ago I did look for a job. I found a job. I got excited about a job. I even got called to come and interview for the job. I then emailed two days later and turned the job down. In the space of two days I went from feeling like I would be able to engage in an awesome month long job (it was working in a haunted house) to feeling like it was the biggest mistake I could make and there was no way I could handle it. Ever since I have gone back and forth over anger at myself for turning down work when I need the money, disappointment over turning down a cool haunted house job, or being so glad I did because I can’t bother to take a shower much less get out of the house and into makeup and feel any sort of enthusiasm for scaring anyone. Although the reality is most of the time I feel nothing one way or the other about the job.

And the struggle with mental health goes deeper than me. I lost all of my close, emotional support because of my mental illness. My wife left me, being completely unable to understand or cope with my mental illness. I don’t blame her, usually because, like with most things, often I don’t have the ability to be mad or sad about losing my wife. In my few moments of clarity, I acknowledge that living with someone who is completely debilitated by something entirely in their head is not easy at all. It takes a supreme amount of patience, love, and self-strength. I should know, most of the time I hate being me. I wish I could get away from me. But I can’t. I never will. And nothing I do can change that. She could leave, and the truth is: I envy that she could.

So I do my thing. I struggle to get out of bed, to do something on any given day. My dishes go unwashed, my house goes uncleaned, my hair goes uncombed. Then, every so often, I get a breakthrough, a surge of energy and of feeling and I can do some or all of those things. Right now I struggle to pay bills and afford what I need because I have no job and employers aren’t eager to hire people with mental problems, even if I could find a job I could con myself into applying for. Life is tough and you would never know it because I seem so normal, I can write well, when you ever see me I am putting on a terrific acting performance to hide from you what I really am. I smile, I converse, I do things, I seem completely normal. It is entirely an act. I rarely feel anything I emote. And the act so completely exhausts me that I spend the next few days in a fog.

I am strong, I am resilient, which is why I am still here, but being that takes everything I have on any given day. And that is why I am a twenty-six year old man living with a dog in an apartment that I rarely leave and struggle enjoying the best sport in the world at the best time of the year: I have a mental illness, and it is crippling.

Today is World Mental Health Day. Remember that not everyone is obviously ill, but many are suffering in ways you cannot imagine because you are normal. Be the best friend you can to everyone you know, because you might not always know who needs that the most. Don’t try to fix a mentally ill person. You can’t do it. Just be their friend and never stop, no matter how hard that seems. That is the only thing that works. Spread love as far as you can. Some of us need it more than you could possibly imagine. Above all, know this: mental illness is real, and it is just as damaging as cancer or any other human condition.

Search my blog for “depression” to find other posts about my struggles.

A Thousand Cuts

My name is Phil, and I have clinical depression.

Last night I tweeted this:

“Life is a death of a thousand cuts. The question is: can you find meaning before you bleed to death all over the carpet? Me, I don’t know.”

A twitter friend, a fellow nerd and author, asked his followers to tweet to a woman who truly believed she was ugly and to tell her the truth. I perused this woman’s feed, and was deeply saddened to see that her voice was almost gone. Most of her recent posts were retweets from suicidal accounts. [Author’s note: A suicidal account is an account on social media that is almost entirely thoughts, pictures, and poetry about suicide. They are everywhere on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Most are run by truly desperate people. Take a break from kittens sometime and read the pain that no one sees. It will sober you up in a hurry.] I felt so lost and so small. I had nothing to say to this woman that would ease her pain in the least. But I couldn’t back away, I couldn’t just be silent. So I said this:

“You are beautiful and you are not alone. I know your pain and it can get better.”

It was as honest as I could get. Every woman is truly beautiful. Depression is not something you suffer as the only depressed person on the planet. I do know that pain. And it can get better. Why didn’t I say “it will get better”? Because I do not know that to be true. I have been in therapy for nearly two years now. I am on medication. I have worked through so much pain and childhood trauma. But I still don’t feel much different than I did when it all began. I don’t have the black fog, but I am rarely happy or positive or upbeat. I certainly believe that things can get better. I simply lack convincing evidence that things will get better. I was frustrated that such a small truth was all I had to offer a woman in pain.

I am starting to refer to this year in particular as the year from hell. Ever since Christmas, when some things went horribly wrong and got very, very black, this year has been trending downwards. Me and my wife stopped drifting apart and started racing apart. Then she left, and at the time, I was glad to see her go. I got a job and lost it. I have been unemployed since July. I have sold half of anything I owned of value to simply pay bills. Only recently did I force myself to use a little to buy groceries. I lived for a month on hot dogs and microwave popcorn because the last time I afforded food both were on sale. Last night at my brother’s house was the first time I had a substantially healthy meal in months. I am so lonely I want my wife and my miserable marriage back just so I will no longer be alone. I have lost the ability to hope, to imagine a better future, or to dream of anything beyond my current daily misery. I don’t exaggerate and I don’t sensationalize any of that. I try to present it as mundane and boring, because that is what pain has become to me.

So you can see how that can resemble a year from hell.

Most days I do not know how I will endure until evening. Bedtime is a weariness. I toss and turn most every night and sleep badly.

At this exact moment, I have no idea how I will pay the next two bills that are due soon. It is hard to focus on anything else at the moment. If you are a friend and have been following any part of my social media life lately, you will see that on this blog I have been writing a little, and on Facebook I have been posting lots of Lego Portraits. I have no idea where the creative spark is coming from these days, but I jump into it whenever I feel the slightest twinge because it is all I have. I barely enjoy it, I certainly should, I love Lego, but enjoyment isn’t something I have much control over. I try my damnedest, but usually I only manage a lukewarm enthusiasm. But when you are freezing, lukewarm feels very hot.

This is turning into a bit of a ramble, so I think I will end it soon. The rambling fits, anyway. I’ve hit half of tank of gas and have no idea if I’ll be able to afford to fill the tank when it runs empty, but I’ve started to obsess again over how far I need to travel to do anything. I just want this all to end. Not in a slash-the-arteries and swallow-the-pills suicide ending, necessarily. I’d be happy if there was no tomorrow. If everything just ended. No fanfare, no heaven, no hell, no afterlife, just an end to existence. That wouldn’t bother me right now. I don’t want to die, I don’t want to miss the upcoming Ender’s Game or Hobbit films, but right now, I wouldn’t care if I did. I might even prefer a nothingness because nothingness isn’t pain and frustration and misery.

I’m living a death
of a thousand cuts
my blood spills slowly

I watch each drip
drop into the carpet
soaking microfibers and dust
dead skin cell fossils
splashed with the facade of life

given proper suction
you can drain the body of blood
in 8.6 seconds
so why has eternity
come and gone and I still bleed?

I guess that’s life
with blood and pain and carpet
stained corpses of a million dead cells
each having expended purpose, exfoliated

my purpose remains, I’ve yet to be scrubbed
from the skin of the world
so I endure the thousand cuts
seeking my purpose
and my dessication

That’s not very good, but I do get so poetical and more than a bit macabre during these times. Forgive me.