bearthinking

About recovering from depression and suicide.

Angry Questions, Who’s Insane?

By the standards of our culture, our society, I am mentally ill. Oddly enough, I am comfortable with that. The basis of my illness, depression, was not a matter of choice but genetics. Unfortunately, ignorance on my part allowed it to develop and influence me for far too long. I am getting treatment, both for the chemical imbalance and for the behavioural issues.

But I question society’s capability and competence. Our species is locked into modes of behaviour that would put an individual into an asylum for a long, long time. On the one hand we piously quote books and people who decry murder, theft, envy, and the like; on the other we murder, thieve, are envious, and the like. More often than not, the exact same individuals and groups of individuals are doing both.

From Wikipedia:
“Schizophrenia (pronounced /ˌskɪtsɵˈfrɛniə/ or /ˌskɪtsɵˈfriːniə/) is a severe mental illness characterized by a disintegration of the process of thinking, of contact with reality, and of emotional responsiveness. It most commonly manifests as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking with significant social or occupational dysfunction.” “Impairment in social cognition is associated with schizophrenia, as are symptoms of paranoia, and social isolation commonly occurs.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schizophrenia

“Paranoid personality disorder … Those with the condition are hypersensitive, are easily slighted, and habitually relate to the world by vigilant scanning of the environment for clues or suggestions to validate their prejudicial ideas or biases. They tend to be guarded and suspicious and have quite constricted emotional lives. Their incapacity for meaningful emotional involvement and the general pattern of isolated withdrawal often lend a quality of schizoid isolation to their life experience.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paranoid_personality_disorder

“Borderline personality disorder (BPD) … typically involves unusual levels of instability in mood; black and white thinking, or splitting; chaotic and unstable interpersonal relationships, self-image, identity, and behavior; as well as a disturbance in the individual’s sense of self. In extreme cases, this disturbance in the sense of self can lead to periods of dissociation.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borderline_personality_disorder

I’ve been following the news for years as my depression allows. I am constantly struck at the sheer depth and breadth of schizophrenic, paranoid personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder traits exhibited by people and groups touted as ‘normal’. Actions and statements that would get me institutionalized (and have) are bandied about media pundits, religious leaders, and politicians as a matter of course. Worse, they are accepted, even by their opponents, as being reasonable, mentally fit people. And yet, I am judged mentally ill when I behave in the same manner.

I guess the difference is that, while I do in a fashion flaunt my mental ‘illness’, I haven’t yet made the news, or gotten at least dozens of followers who swear by my every word (although there are those who swear at my every word), or been voted into public office. Or maybe the difference is that I have sought help in managing my mental ‘illness’. Would I be a success if I ignored my treatment, eschewed therapy, and started figuratively yelling at the top of my lungs as well?

Why am I judged sick when the Texas GOP is publicly spewing ignorance, hate, and fear? When Christian, Hindu, Muslim, and Buddhist leaders, among others, advocate murder for those who do not accept their religion? When a country that is vociferous internationally about civil rights abuses in other countries uses torture and racial profiling on its own citizens and on non-combatants? When my own country, which prides itself on being ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave’, has allowed itself to be chained by fear?

Is it any wonder it is so hard to not be depressive? I did not choose this world to live in. I have tried 8 times to leave it. I’m stuck here. And I am pissed off that those who would condemn me conduct themselves so basely.

Can we cure our species? Can we stop the madness? Should we?

July 1, 2010 Posted by | depression, suicide | , , , | Leave a comment

Choice of judgment.

It was a hard night, last night.  The moon was out, the stars shone bright, the heat of day gave way to a not unpleasant muggy coolness.  But I came up against the “very firmly held belief” of one I had counted as a friend.

Very firmly held beliefs are wonderful things.  They allow you to make up your mind without ever needing to deal with facts.  They allow you stop feeling, stop attempting to understand those around you, allow you to blame them when they give up and walk away.  In a sad way, it is their fault; they now have the very firmly held belief that you do not care, and are they wrong?

But there s something else very firmly held beliefs do.  They allow you to not face yourself.  They allow you to live in denial.  They allow you to ignore the consequences of your own behaviour.

I came up against it last night.  My roller-coaster ride of dealing with depression has actually been going fairly well of late.  There have been a few set-backs here and there, but over-all I have been making progress.

As part of this, I have been reaching out to people that have fallen away from my life.  In a few instances, some have reached out to me.  I have been upfront about having depression.  It is a central fact of my psychology, one that influences my perceptions and reactions.  I have said and done self-destructive things without being aware of it; I figure if my friends know this about me, they can help me before I spiral down too far to reach again.

The major part of how they help is simply by being there; knowing that I can get help when I need it.  This actually makes it easier to NOT call them at 3:47 AM because I don’t think I can make it through the night without putting a bullet through my head.

So when a friend reached out, I reached back.  Then she said her husband would like to hear from me as well.  I took me a few days to email him.   I was nervous, dealing with other issues (aftermath of ‘Sailing’ {cf.} among them), and had already sent a message via her.

Now, I’m glad I waited.  If I had read his reply earlier, it would have been much harder to dig myself out of a down-spiral I had hit.  “I think it is stupid and selfish for a person to choose to wallow in a masochistic funk that feeds on itself when all that is necessary is for that person to CHOOSE to not follow that path.”  Seems OK on the face of it.

But what about those of us who are not aware of depression or the effect it has on our thinking and perception? This is especially bad with teens whose symptoms are usually masked or explained away by changing hormones.  There are those of us who spend years not knowing why things are always bad around us.  Or why it is so hard to get out of bed, to have an interest in anything at all.

Even after we are aware of the situation, it is hard to get help – for so many reasons.  Not all of us can hang tough through it, either; hell, not even Ernest Hemingway managed it.  And for some of us, the help has to be fairly radical even after we have committed ourselves to it.

There are two main forms of Depression proper: Situational Depression, a temporary downturn as a result of things such as job loss or ‘holiday blues’; and Clinical Depression, a permanent but treatable condition.  The basis of Clinical Depression is not choice, but hard neuro-chemical fact.  For a varied combination of reasons, there is a flaw in the neuro-chemical cycles that regulate mood.  Sometimes, things go wrong in our lives and overwhelm us; for most people, that can be dealt with as the neuro-chemical cycles kick in to help keep us positive.  For others, that does not happen.

Our perceptions are that things will not get better, that we have no real positive effect on our circumstances, that there is no point in trying even.  The world sucks, and we get to have the shitty end of the stick.  There is no choice, that’s just the way it is and it can never change.  We have a ‘very firmly held belief’ in that.

Then there are those of us who really are beyond help, who are so firmly held by the grip of a vicious neuro-chemical imbalance that we cannot get out of even with radical help.  Well, they are stupid and selfish for choosing to wallow in that, aren’t they?

Given a choice we can actually see, given an opportunity to stop feeling this way – helpless, isolated, and worthless – we try to abandon our very firmly held beliefs and come out of The Pit.  I will not go back into The Pit because of his very firmly held belief, but it seems to me that he has made a choice, built his place of judgment.  As have I.

June 20, 2010 Posted by | autobio, depression, recovery, suicide | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

remembering to create: day zero

day zero

For years I lied.  Everyday, to everyone, I told a lie.  A deep, pervasive, insidious lie that tainted all my life, my hopes, my plans.  It blighted and consumed every aspect of my life.

I told one lie for seventeen and a half years.  I lived it, in spite of so much evidence that it was false.  I was married for just over 19 years; do you count the time you are separated, if not then it was almost 19 years.

I told myself that in spite of the problems we had, that it was a happy marriage.  People who did not know us well assumed it was too.  Apparently the divorce did not come as much of a surprise to people who knew us.  It seems that what came as a surprise was that I was not the one who initiated it and that we had lasted as long as we did.  This is the power of a lie.

This lie was just one of many I was living.  (I can just hear my ex now… and she is neither wrong nor right, such are people)  Some of the lies, I’m still living.  A list?  Well, here’s a partial of the more socially acceptable ones…
1) I am basically a happy person; 2) I’m a horrible writer; 3) I’m a horrible artist; 4) I have a good opinion of myself; 5) I am solely responsible for the ruin of my marriage; 6) I had a happy childhood.
I know my ex would never believe that I think #5, but it is true.  I do blame myself, completely.  I ‘know’ it to be true, and try to compensate.  I also know it is not true as nothing is ever that simple; we both lied to ourselves and each other.

These lies, these self-delusions are just part of what led to my suiciding.  Several times.  Why?

Why?  Why did, and do, I buy into them?  Part of it is neuro-chemical, part is habit, part is believing what others have told me, and, oh my, how many other factors can I list?  In the end, though, I must bear the ultimate responsibility.

I am fully aware, and have been, of my depression.  I was fully aware, on one level, of the falsity of my marriage after that first year and a half.  I know I am a talented artist and writer.  I know I have low self-esteem (see depression).  I know my childhood was not happy.  But being oblivious is so easy.

I lived in that warm, comfortable oblivion.  I let myself allow depression to take hold of me.  I did not seek help before, during, or after my suicides.  And, actually, after one suicidal ideation episode, it was my ex who encouraged me to get help.  Well, threatened me more than encouraged me, but I did get help, so that is forgivable, I think.

But (it is always there, isn’t it?), nothing like that can last long.  Reality crashed the party, put cigarette butts in the fish tank, smeared cake on the ceiling, and set fire to the couch.

See, when she told me she was divorcing me, I went into an auto-pilot mode.  I agreed to things that are going to end up damaging my life further, I made poor decisions for my future, forgot to trust my instincts, and went into a numbed emotional state.  I don’t think anybody noticed because of the worst decision I made; I isolated from my family and friends.  No-one I was around for the next year actually knew me.

I could not afford either good insurance coverage, a therapist, nor my meds.  That last did not seem to be a real problem, because long before I ran out they stopped working.  And the only therapists I would have been able to go to, well, it would have been public assistance therapists, and they are way overworked.

The house of cards started falling apart.  First the meds stopped working, then a person I thought was a friend turned out not to be with a vengeance.  I hit a creative wall at a million miles per hour and now had no expressive outlet.  I lost my job and could not get another one.  My plans for Father’s Day a year ago got nuked with no warning, no negotiation.  I stayed alone in my apartment for days on end, money was running out, my lease was ending.  I had nothing to live for anymore.

I had no desire to live of my own and it seemed to me that no-one else had any constructive use for me either.  Everything was gone.  I had nothing, not even emptiness.  Not even oblivion.

and the evening and the morning were before…

June 16, 2010 Posted by | autobio, depression, suicide | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Ninth Circle

OK, this is more or less stream of consciousness.  I have put the Seven Day project on hold indefinitely.  I have too much to work through before it can come to fruition.

Suicide is still something I live with everyday.  Memories are triggered by the smallest things and I cannot seem to break or re-channel the cycles.  It is worse, because I cannot stop thinking about either of two women; my ex and “Babycat”.

I am torn between the past and the future; my present has been one of limbo and looks to remain that way for awhile.  Ideas form, plans start, then a crush of painful, blighted memory and Sisyphian hope traps me, sapping my will, my strength, my spirit.  Only when I draw, or write, or create my digital works, or paint do I have anything resembling relief.

I think I have given up trying for happiness.  And forget about love.  I can no longer contemplate inflicting my life, my self like that upon another person.  I yearn for it, burn for it, need it so badly.  The unconditional sharing and commitment entwining two souls into one.  But, having felt it once, or at least thinking I had, having fooled myself that I shared that way with another, I no longer trust it, no longer trust myself.

And to my ex, NO!  This is MY fault, not yours.  If you think I am blaming you, well that’s your problem, not mine; so keep it to yourself, please.  I am the one who did not question my relationship to you sufficiently.  If I had then I would divorced you before we had been married two year.  Of course, then our son would not have been born.  *sigh*  It truly is an ill wind that blows no good.

What it comes down to is that while I am precluded from completing suicide, I have no real reason to live.  Desire to?  Yes, inasmuch as I have a fair survival instinct.

As much as I want to, as much as my instincts tell me to trust in Babycat, I can’t permit myself to reach out that way.  I started to, I started to come out of The Pit.
I began to reach out, knowing that the least that would happen would be the gaining of a new friend.  Which did happen; I am profoundly grateful.

There is always a ‘But’, right?  One comment and I cracked.  I had no defense, no sense of self worth sufficient unto the day.  I failed, spiraling down again.  Down into The Pit, into the Ninth Circle.  Frozen in my betrayal of Self, glimpsing past Lucifer to reflections of Heaven’s Gates.

How do I forgive myself?  I cannot get past my subversion of self-preservation, my instincts screaming at me to flee a bad choice in marriage partner, my failure to recognize the worst threat to my Self: myself.

One of my people, the Bear people, was sitting on a rock in the hills after a particularly satisfying round of mating followed by berry-eating.  The sun was warm, the breeze just cool enough, and he slept.

He dreamt of his otherself; the cabin, the family, the days of toil and the nights of rest, the times of joy, anger, contentment, and sorrow.  As he dreamt, a branch snapped loudly by his ear.  He awoke, startled and afraid.  He reacted to protect himself and clawed out at the shape that loomed in his eyes.  He roared his pain and fear, smelt the blood, and felt his Self leak away into nothingness.

His life ended then.  He still ate, slept, shat, toiled and rested, but it was meaningless.  There was no more contentment, anger, sorrow, or joy. His home was empty, his days and nights an endless endurance of pointless activities.

I don’t wish to die, but I have no true hold on this life anymore.  It has leaked away into nothingness.  I fear knowing it will always be so and fear hoping it won’t.

May 26, 2010 Posted by | autobio, depression, recovery, suicide | , , , | Leave a comment