it's okay to not be okay
Summer came and went and I'm not gonna lie, it was a toughie. There were times over the past two-and-a-half months when I was so catatonically depressed, I could barely get out of bed, never mind post blogs. I stopped running, writing, socialising, and basically being me. I could have posted my journal ramblings but that would have meant blacking out all the swear words and the negativity that seemed to be consuming me. I have endured much in my life and always charged at it with a never-ever-quit kind of evangelism. This time was radically different because all hope seemed to be gone. The expressions “silver linings” and “it's just a season” from sympathetic observers were met with gritted teeth and a get-out-of-my-face-while-you-still-can demeanor. Not fun. Definitely not fun for my wife. It is very easy for me to say to myself—and to others—“keep putting one foot in front of the other” when things are OK-ish. It was another matter to be living in total despair and believing that even God had abandoned me. That's when the tapes in my head started to play, and the more I isolated myself, the louder the music played. You suck, your life isn't half as interesting as your peers, you will fail if you try anything creative, you have no calling in life, nobody would give a crap if you died....
One of the most difficult passages to write in the book was talking about the time I tried to kill myself in August of 2010. I hadn't even told my family members about it and they had to go through the process of reading about it in a memoir! I was in the forest with a noose around my neck and ready to call it a day on life when I was jolted from my drunken stupor by a super-natural force I'll never be able to forget or explain. What is so significant about this passage is the words I wrote about my mental state before I edged out on that tree branch.
“It was on that journey I said to myself. Do it today, there is nothing in this life for you anymore but hurt and pain; the kids will forget you and get on with life. You will no longer feel the deep shame and powerlessness that has taken away the person you were. Kill yourself. Today!”
Reading it again I am like, Whoa dude! It's not only dark, but it's also not far from the voices I heard this summer. And that's the part that scares me. You see, it starts as a few negative remarks. Then turns into a prolonged time of feeling “down,” and then—if we're not careful—takes over the psyche. The very things that could have and would have jolted me out of it were the two things I really love; socialising and exercising. I refused to do both.
It came to a head one night about four weeks ago as I was pacing the kitchen staring out at the moon. I had to reach out to someone, and I did. A buddy of mine on the other side of the world dropped all and talked me off the ledge. I was exhausted at this point but the unburdening was pure relief. I put the phone down at 4:00 a.m. and finally slept after months of restless nights. Since then I have been going through a process of grieving some of the things that brought this on. It's not just grieving the bad stuff, either, but also grieving the seasons that were really great which I may not have again with the same people around me.
Now that I am doing better and seeing things in a different light, I know what I need to do when it starts to get dark in my mind. I head out for some fresh air and talk to God. I also talk to my friends. By letting go of my pride and the need to be the strong one, I am allowing myself to sit down with a friend and speak it out loud. Because when it's spoken, the lie is broken. We are not designed to sit in a corner and wallow and by no means am I making light of what you may or may not be going through. The encouragement I would give to anyone in this situation, whether you’re the friend talking to the person in despair or vice versa, is to take that walk. Take that step that seems to be impossible. Just pick up your keys and walk out the door. It's OK to rant, to curse, to wave your fist screaming “Why have you forsaken me?” There is much I have learned from coming through this experience. It has built my character and taught me that my patience with the world means nothing unless I can be patient with myself first.
[bctt tweet="Because when it's spoken, the lie is broken."]