Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Warmth of the Winter Rose

Not the most unique setting of a Christmas poem but I like it. It'll do.  I wonder what the melody hiding in it will sound like?

The Warmth of The Winter Rose

The rose that graced the night in winter.
A bloom with brilliant starlight shone.
I can't recall a fragrance sweeter,
On darkened evenings when I'm alone.

Look out the window at the starlight.
That beams the brightness of the rose.
The black world chills the weary traveler.
The soul is warmed by that past rose.

It's not Christmas but I have always liked Christmas all year long.  How ironic to have married a woman born on Christmas day and because of that celebrate her birthday in the summer.  It makes me think of Christmas even more.  Many people dislike the holidays. I don't.  It keeps me going.  The world is full of commercialism and yes it only gets exaggerated by Christmas.  I hear people complain "But what about Thanksgiving?" begging for it to not be forgotten like some child that get's no love, a day that has no feelings.  These are only days.  They only have meaning that we put into them.  How fitting to have a celebration of the birth of Salvation at the same time of the year the the Sun itself seems to be reborn at solstice.  But what about the secular?  The holiday romantic TV movies and the Silliness and Santa.  Games we play to force ourselves to take time from our distracted modern life and remember our kids and families.  Silliness,  That's some of the best times we have here.  Often it's the silliness that keeps me going when things look bleakest.  So shun me if you like for taking this July evening to write about Christmas, my heart is still warm tonight from the thought.  Say I'm bad because I delight in the secular as well as the sacred part of Christmas but that's ok too.  The silliness and the serious are all a part of the warmth

Monday, May 25, 2015

10 things that I want my sons to know.

10 things that I want my sons to know.

1. I don't try to be mean.  I'm hurt when you're mean to each other or lie to me and it makes me respond with strong emotion.

2. I don't expect perfection except from myself.  I want you to make mistakes.  I want you to own them and recognize them. Don't hide them.  I should probably take my own advice on this.  But especially where it comes to you boys I get frustrated when I am not perfect.

3.  You're special.   You're unique.  This doesn't mean that you're better than others.  You may not even know yet what makes you unique. (You probably won't find it in a video game)  This doesn't mean that rules and social graces don't apply to you.  It's up to you to show why you're unique to the world and work hard to shine that spark to everyone.

4.  I'm not perfect. (You probably already guessed it)  That's it.

5.  I love your mother.  She's my sweetheart.   She's my fantasy. She's all of my dreams come true and you all came from her.  She's not perfect either.

6.  Life can be hard.  Try to fight that and it will beat you down.  But try to use it's unyielding momentum and you're going to get strong.  You'll work to stay on top of it and you'll go farther than you can dream.

7.  I believe in God.   I know he sent his son to help us to return to him.  Others have their beliefs but these are mine.  I hope you have some of your own someday.

8.  Flatulence is only funny to some people like us.  Respect other's belief that it is not.

9.  Dream big.  Reach for the stars.  All of those clich├ęd saying.  Yeah, do it.  You're going to fail at lots of things.  You'll have bigger take aways from bigger dreams even if they fail.

10.  I love you.  Once again, that's all.  It doesn't go away.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Dark

The Dark is a safe place.  
I can't see a thing.
Inside the muddy black,
The comfort it brings.

The light is loneliness.
The sun sees my flaws.
Masks glow artificial
And light is the cause.

The cold is inviting.
It helps me stay warm.
Darkness and cold
Deep inside the storm.

The shadows are friendly
They never say "ought."
When merged in the darkness.
Into one they are wrought.

I'm at home in the dark.
I close my eyes.
It's still there with me.

The dark never dies.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The "White-Knuckle/Blue" world I live in.

White-Knuckles and a Blue Filter

Try to imagine the feeling you get when you miss a stair.  It's brief but for just a moment  you know you're falling.  Now imagine that feeling but you're carrying your infant child in your arms.  Once again brief but now you've compounded the problem with the fear of not being able to catch yourself because you can't just drop your child and you also fear that you're going to hurt the child when you fall.

Not so hard to imagine right? Well the next part might be more of a stretch. Imagine that feeling all the time, with no warning or reason.  Certain events can make it worse but you live with the fear every waking and often sleeping moment. It can be done but it takes a lot of energy and focus.

Okay, now another exercise.

You lost your job.  You have a family to support.  It's your only source of income.  It was something you could have prevented if you had only done "X and Y" (sorry I'm taking Math and variables had to work their way into the metaphor). 

Okay, you got that in your mind but what if you have a happy secure life.  What if you feel like that and everything is going well?  You have no major problems but you feel constantly that something is wrong and that it's your fault?  When something big comes along you get worse but you always feel wrong.

These two feelings all the time are what it's like to have Anxiety and Depressive disorders.

The problem is worse when you have both.  A person might question how you can function at all.  You just do.  At least most days you can.  You push through when you must and let it out when you can.  You run. You write.  You have artistic endeavors but the normal state can be coped with because you have to.  You also have to be on guard for triggers that push you too far.  

I have a neighbor that means well, he's older,divorced and often lonely.  His lawn and yard are perfect and he can't understand why mine is not.  The problem comes when he wants to help. Not physically. With advice.  I will gather yard tools and head out to finish a project or start one.  I've purchased the supplies I need and I will get down to business.  No sooner does Fred see me working that he is out to the fence-line asking what I'm doing. My personality does not allow me to be rude and ignore him.  So I  try to explain.  Fred, meaning well, thinks I am doing it wrong or that it's not a good idea and should try something else.   I know I've got a limited window of time and a limited supply of resources to finish and each minute he explains why I should do it some other way steals my time.  Each suggestion requires resources that I don't have because I have already planned it out and purchased what I need.

I can't set foot in my backyard anymore. Haven't spent more than an hour there in 2 years.  I can work on the front but when I try to go in the back, I end up on the floor in the fetal position.

My Father in law is a good man.  He wanted to be an architect but after finishing his Bachelor's degree in drafting he was not having success getting into an architectural program.   He did some research and got a graduate degree in recreation. He worked hard and made something of himself.  He's also often tactless when speaking with people.  He loves to give advice.  He doesn't like to listen.  He often is critical even when offering a compliment.  "You did a good job, I never thought you could" type of guy.  

I don't go where I know he's going to be unless I can't avoid it.  Every deep verbal cut from someone that I respect bleeds my self confidence until I no longer have any.  There are family things that I can't  miss.  So I go.  I leave early.  I orchestrate plans to keep away from him because there's little I can handle when everyday life already beats down on someone who lives with depression.

I've made it a long way the past few years but there are still situations I can't  handle.

Last week my son was baptized.   I had to be there.  I needed to be there for JJ. But I had to skip the luncheon afterwards. Couldn't risk losing control.  I'd had nightmares for weeks of the horrible things I might say to someone if I was backed into an emotional corner.

Tomorrow is my nephew's baptism.  I took care of that amazing kid during the day for years and just like my own son's baptism I'm not missing it.  But I will be barely holding it all together.  I've been losing sleep. So if I don't seem sociable please don't hold it against me. I'm white-knuckling it the whole time.

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Sharp Metamorphisis


I've discussed the day in detail in my blog before and I've talked to some of my friends frankly about it but I've never really said in a large forum that I have survived a suicide attempt.  It's been almost 2 years but it has been fresh lately due to my involvement in the opera "Madama Butterfly."

The Butterfly

I've relived that day in a fresh way many times as I've watched, from the wings, the third act.

I often tell Derek Myler, who sings the role of Sharpless, that his character is my favorite.  Part of it is because he performs it with a sweetness and a sincerity.  A good portion of why it's my favorite character is in the final scene.  Chio Chio San blindfolds Sorrow and he holds his American flag while she proceeds to commit Hari Kari.  Pinkerton and Sharpless enter and while Pinkerton wails and watches helpless while Chio Chio San's life drains from her, Sharpless runs to Sorrow and holds him and shields him from the horros that a child should never witness.

Like Butterfly, I too chose to end my life.  I chose to do it at home.  I posted my reasons on a status message and locked myself away to shield my family, much like the blindfold that Chio Chio San wraps over Sorrow's eyes and head.

I described a moment of clarity after I had taken the pills, and prepared to take some sleeping pills as well so that I could just fall asleep, in my earlier post on this moment.  It didn't come from myself but I never told of what I saw.

I saw my wife unlocking the bedroom door and finding me,  I saw my children now unprotected from the sight as my wife would have cried out and they would surely have come to her aid.  I saw that the blindfold I had put between me and them was a lie.

After my ordeal and my fight for my life.  I became protective.  I worried about my children and how what I had done would affect them.  I tried to shield them from it.  When someone does something like that at home inevitably DCFS and the police will make a wellness visit.  I was grateful to have them come but fearful of the effect of reliving the moment on my children.  When they came I asked if we could do most of the interview outside in the shade of the maple tree while my children were inside.  I welcomed them to talk to my children and even look at my home after if that was necessary but I wanted to protect them from what I had done as much as possible.  They were so gracious and it was mostly me they needed to see and make sure that I was getting the help I needed.  Many people are angry with or afraid of the authorities but I was grateful for their kindness and compassion and talking with them was part of my healing process.

I had to dye my hair for the opera and I see a different person in the mirror since then.  I change even more as I apply the stage make-up that completes my transformation for the opera.  It reminds me that I was once Butterfly and have changed.  Part of me is now Sharpless.  Holding on to my family and trying to shield them from my depression and anxiety.

So when I cry at the end, it is for the joy that I have in avoiding the scene I watch on stage.

I have become something else since then.

If you haven't read my account of the day you can find it in the blog contents under consequences, or this link:

Sunday, February 8, 2015

It's a process

This was my Facebook status but I thought it went well on my blog as well.

I'm not feeling very intelligent today. I feel awkward and not successful. I feel drained. I also feel a little sick. My brain is not my friend sometimes. My limbic system and amygdala are overworked when I force myself to do things that are good for me but cause anxiety. They respond by trying to slow me down. That's what seems to bring on the depression. My mind wants me to stop and think about what it is that causes the stress and how to fix it. But the logic centers know that I have been actually doing something good so my subconscious mind deduces that it must be me that is the problem.

Usually that makes me feel like I should lash out at myself and warn the rest of the world away from me too but today I'm trying to reason it out. Use the over analyzing that comes with depressed mindset (that's actually one of the natural functions of depressed mindsets in everyone just some people have a greater tendency to use it as their go to problem solving mode and I believe we actually become addicted to it) but use this mindset to fix it. By trying to use specific language to describe what is happening. Instead of lashing out at myself, I am making an effort to analyze what I have control over and what is out of my hands.

I don't always remember to do things this way but today I did. And thought that I would do it in a public way so maybe someone else could see that they are not alone if they are struggling. Our world needs us to remove the stigmas about mental illness so that dialogs can happen and more people can be helped. I'm still drained but there's hope too. I need rest but my mind is less foggy.