It is a quiet morning here in purgatory. . .
The streets are empty and the sun is beginning to do its trick. I am unclear whether the sky will be blue or somewhat gray because the clouds have not seemed to let go, at least not yet.
There have been so many changes that are both mounting and oncoming and there are so many times that we try to look away or turn a blind eye. Either way, the one thing we know is that denial does not stop devastation.
Not at all.
I mean, sure.
This might placate the inevitable for a while. We might be able to find ways to postpone the apocalypse in our life, at least for a day or two. But what we need to understand and what we have to recognize is that fate has a job to do.
This has nothing to do with our wants or needs. Life happens without our regard. This is fact.
Don’t believe me, then ask the parent who buried their child or talk to the kid who misses their grandparents.
Ask someone who was hoping for a new chance and was met with a new form of rejection.
Remember what we said about life.
This is it, isn’t it?
Maybe . . .
But know this: life and time will never stop moving. Not even if we vanish from this earth. Time will keep moving; therefore, like a locomotive down the tracks, no amount of denying or pretending will ever change the pace of time. A second will always be a second and a minute will always be a minute.
Everything adds up.
So, make it count.
Or a least, this is what people tell us. Am I right?
Next thing you know, you’ve aged.
Maybe you missed out on some things along the way.
Maybe you’ve let a few of your dreams and goals slip by because they lost their priority.
Or, maybe you canceled this out; as if to say, what’s the point?
It’s never going to work anyway . . . right?
Here we are though.
Most of us are closer to the end of the road than we are to the beginning. In fact, I go back to that saying, which I think is brilliant: This moment is more precious than you think.
In fact, “Enjoy Yourself (It’s Later Than You Think)” is a popular song published in 1949, with music written by Carl Sigman and lyrics by Herb Magidson.
There’s something to this . . .
I have watched myself look upon the rest of the world and stand there with the ideas of looking from the outside in. I have wasted years, if not decades, wondering the age-old question: When is it my turn?
I can say there are mornings where there just wasn’t enough coffee. I can say there were moments when there wasn’t enough inspiration or motivation to put me into action.
I can say that, yes, there were times when I didn’t want to get out of bed because of what I called, “my opposing thinking” and to me; everything was opposing. Everything was against me. The mounting tidal wave of impending doom was enough to block out the light. To me, it was only a matter of time before the wave came down and devastated my total existence.
Nothing worked. Nothing had the visceral feel of being worthwhile, because why? Why bother?
As a child, I was not a kid with a clean room. I never made my bed and at the time, I argued, “What’s the difference if I make my bed or not? I’m just going to sleep in it and mess it up again anyway.”
There was an entire conversation about this which led into other questions such as:
Why shower if I’m just going to be dirty again?
Why clean up?
There’s something to this analogy that goes a bit further than the relationship to a glass being half full or empty. To be clear, I grew tired of questions like this. I grew tired of people telling me that I should be grateful.
I should be happy. Shouldn’t I be?
No, I should be ecstatic. I should be thanking the ever-loving heavens because I am blessed.
I am fortunate. I am lucky to have what I have and to live where I live.
When people said things like this; what did this do for me, besides drive me away or further my resentments?
This did nothing but support my own personal exile.
I remember being asked: you complain that you have no shoes. But what about the man with no feet?
My Answer: Fuck the guy with no feet. He doesn’t need shoes.
What they hell does he have to do with me?
What was I thinking?
I was thinking that my thoughts and feelings did not match what people were telling me they’re supposed to be.
I was thinking that I failed to see the great extraordinary life that everyone talked about.
I was angry about this too. No wait, I was pissed.
And I mean I was PISSED!
Nothing came easily to me. I struggled to understand myself. No one seemed to make sense to me. Everything either appeared forced or contrived and as hard as I tried to be comfortable around others, I always had this idea that everything about me was mandatory instead of wholesome and natural.
I lived with a sense of detachment. Later I learned about the challenges of our thinking. I learned how the pattern of our thoughts create a change in our personal chemistry, which is what’s known as emotion.
I found out that if I wanted to be better or feel better, I had to understand more about the direction of my thinking so that I could live better.
I thought my own way into despair. I turned the engines of my anxiety and spun the propellers of my thinking which caused my depression to take off.
I never knew that counteracting this with action was the key (or the ticket) to a better situation.
I had to get down to the roots of my hell in order for me to create a better expectation of something heaven like, which was not a promise that heaven was real. No, I was just looking for something to help me get out of my own hell.
I opened this entry with the introduction of purgatory which, to me, is an association with a buffered mindset. This is what it was like for me when I was on different medications. I lost my drive. I had little to no spirit. I didn’t weep or feel as dead to the world. Then again, I never had the rush of adrenaline either. I never felt the thrill of life.
Instead, I was locked in this midland state. Nothing high. Nothing low. Just flat.
My depression worsened while on these medications.
I had to find a new way.
I say this and confess my truths as person who lives with medicated resistant depression. I say this as a man who had to learn new ways to create new thought patterns.
I had to find new joys and new methods to build more uplifting systems of living.
Otherwise, it would be a case of “more of the same” for me.
And I was done with “more of the same.”
I was done with this for a while.
I had to figure out a plan to push me; to get me out of bed, to perk me up enough to put both of my feet on the floor and then I had to find a source of fuel and inspiration to motivate me to get out of myself and go!
Why make the bed?
Why get up?
Why bother doing anything if I’m only going to mess it up in the end?
I can remember one of my worst depressive states. I was laying in bed and staring off into the nothingness of the ceiling above me. I notice a cobweb in the corner of the ceiling.
It was old and abandoned. I noticed how the web sort of dangled and moved with air that was blowing around in my room from a small fan. The cobweb was lifeless and pointless. It was gray and colorless. This was me too.
I was this person; lifeless and pointless, gray and colorless; but more, I was lost and hopeless.
What do they do for you when you’re like this?
They give you medicine,
What did the medicine do for me?
Well, aside from the excessive weight gain, I lost the ability in my manhood to be aroused.
And this was supposed to help me?
What about understanding my thinking?
What about learning how to correct my thinking errors or personal distortions?
Rather than medicate the symptoms, which proved to be less-successful; why not learn to dissolve the weeds that suffocate the roots of my thinking? Why not learn ways to promote a brand of thinking that empowers me instead of devours me?
I was lost.
I agree that I needed assistance. I am not saying that medicated assisted treatment is not necessary or successful. Instead, I am saying that there is more than this that needs to be done.
I believe in medicine. I know there is a place for this. However, I also know that we need more than just a pill or a shot.
I can say that we live in a world where there’s a fascination over pain medications. I can say that, although I love my country, there are problems here.
One problem is the fact that our country makes up for only 5% of the world’s population yet we use more than 80% of the world’s opioids. In fact, we consume 99% of the world’s hydrocodone.
What does this tell you? We don’t want to feel pain. I can say this is true.
I can say that we want the easier and softer way.
Okay, fine. But does this help?
Is this a problem of the prescriber? Or, is this the user? Is this the idea of pain? Or is this the fact that no matter how we try; sometimes, we cannot escape pain. We can’t erase it or get away from the anticipatory anxieties that something wicked comes our way.
By the way, pain medication does not remove the pain. This masks the pain. This masks the symptoms and the problems. This does not remove the problem by any means.
Maybe this will placate the problem for a while. But in the end, without getting to the source, the pain will never go away.
I relate this to my personal brand of depression.
But first, I want to be clear. I do not say that pain meds or any meds for that matter are unnecessary. No, on the contrary. I am simply saying that treating symptoms is not strategically as sound for a long-term brand of recovery without addressing the source of our pains. But this takes work and mostly, no one wants to put in the work. They just want to take a pill, forget it and find relief.
I can remember when I began working as a specialist. I met with someone who was new to a treatment facility, which is where I was working at the time.
This person’s behaviors were chronic. Their responses were chronic. Their drinking symptoms and health was a clear line on a chart that was exceeding in a downward slant.
This person looked at me and asked, “What the fuck are you going to tell me?”
Then they asked “Who the hell are you anyway? You don’t look like any doctor I’ve ever seen before!”
This person was right. I don’t look like any doctor that they’ve ever seen before. In fact, I don’t look like any doctor that I’ve ever seen before.
Also, to protect anonymity, I offer this with a neutral pronoun as a means to protect confidentiality
“I’m not a doctor,” I explained.
“Oh yeah? So who are you?”
“I’m Ben . . .”
We talked for a while. But I knew this needed to be different. I knew that this was not going to be an easy sale with this person’s history. I say sale because, in fact, I had to sell this person on the idea of giving life another shot.
I can also understand the need to have “something” in whichever form this may be; but either way, we all need something that makes sense. Even if it’s unhelpful or even unhealthy, we all need something that makes sense to us because oftentimes, the world does not make sense.
Nothing seems fair. Insecurities are abound in large amounts and then let’s add life. Let’s add losses. Let’s add changes that were unforeseen and let’s not forget heartache and brokenhearted syndromes, which come with first loves – or at least in this case, this was their first attempt at love which turned out to be humiliating.
Let’s not forget the kids we grew up with who moved on and went to big schools and have big important jobs now. Then let’s add the reflection in the mirror which might be distorted and proving that to you, you’re a failure. You’re a joke and an imposter.
Guess what? Everybody knows it!
Let’s add the family dynamic. Let’s add the chains of depressive thinking and then let’s tack on the hours of anxiety. Let’s not forgive ourselves for our failures (or our so-called failures) and let’s hold ourselves painfully accountable for every mistake and keep this as a life sentence.
Let’s add to the mix a misunderstanding and false sense of self.
Let’s pack on layers of image and personalities, which we tend to use as our defense mechanism.
Let’s compile all of this and add bottles of alcohol, reeking through the skin and then let’s place this in a room where people say, “Oh yeah. Before we get started, all that stuff you do to help you have your life makes sense . . . yeah, you know the one right? It’s the only thing that makes sense to you . . . yeah, well you’re not allowed to do that anymore either. So, now that you’ve signed all of the forms and your insurance is cleared, Here ya are. Welcome to alcoholic hell. Thanks for playing and thank you for coming in today.”
No wonder why this person or anyone in this position; or wait, no wonder why therapy or the different modalities of change are intimidating.
Where’s the reward?
Where’s the relief?
What do we do now that we’ve given up the one thing that made sense in an otherwise senseless life?
Why try this anyway?
Besides, nothing I do works.
So, why make my bed if I’m just going to mess it up again?
I asked this person + does any of this sound familiar or make sense to you?
It did. . .
“You don’t sound like any counselor I’ve ever met before.”
“I guess it’s a good thing I’m not a counselor?”
“Then who the hell are you?”
I’m Benny. I’m the one here who’s looking to coach you through this.
“You’re not going to leave me after this, are you?”
Nope. I’m not going anywhere.
What was I thinking?
I was thinking “score one for the good guys” because regardless of what happened after that moment, this person did not go home (as he promised) and achieve death by their own hand.
I was thinking that this IS life on a different level; that people can wake up and that help can be offered in a multitude of ways.
I have to say this and I have to because I honestly believe this is part of the problem.
I see no reason to lie and tell people that life is all puppy dogs and rainbows.
Life can suck sometimes.
I see no reason why people refuse to say this. And I get it.
We want to give a positive outlook. We want to promote a daily stream of positive affirmation. However, I am positive that people out there who live with depressive challenges would like to shove those positive affirmations, positively right up someone’s ass!
So, let’s be honest.
Life hurts. Life is scary and lonely. Sometimes, you’re not the one who fits in.
I get that. This actually makes sense to me.
Life comes with cuts and scrapes and invisible bruises that never seem to heal.
Don’t think otherwise, not for a second.
I say this because the moment we allow for the truth to be told is the time we can allow for us to adjust and make a change for ourselves.
I will also offer you this. I have news for you. You can relieve yourself of the pressure of having the right words to say. Oftentimes, there are no right words. Just right listeners.
Be that one before being anything else.
How many times have we lived our life according to the wrong blueprint?
How many times has someone told us to be grateful? At the same time, the last thing we felt was grateful.
How many times did you feel so distant and watched everyone else around you laugh or experience joy yet, to you, there was something missing?
Or wait, how many times have you been in a crowd and felt so absolutely alone?
How many times have we crucified ourselves with judgment?
This is where depression lives.
“Benny man, I gotta tell you something . . .”
“I’ve been going to the same therapist for four years and talking about the same thing and none of it worked for me.”
Know what I told them?
Get your money back!
I don’t do therapy. I don’t treat or diagnose.
I coach. I create action.
I have to.
I explained to this person, I have to live this way too. Otherwise, like you, I’d have been dead by my own hand a long time ago.
I write this with humble gratitude, love, admiration and respect for J.L.
We might not have always worked out the best plans.
But to me, perhaps our interaction helped me more than it helped you.
By the way –
If you ask me, I think you’re pretty goddamned beautiful.
That’s what I say.
Be well my friend,
wherever you are.