Better Living Through Chemistry

Per my psychiatrist, I’m now in partial remission of my chronic major depression, which I’ve been treated for over the last ten weeks. [Yeah, I’m one of those people who looks at the DSM-IV codes written on my chart after every session, memorizes it, and then goes home to look up the code’s meaning when I get home.] Below is a list of the people I have become since going on anti-depressants, talking through the underlying issues in my life, and thinking about what I own and what I don’t own in my history:

  • The person who awakens every morning before dawn long before an alarm clock beckons me to arise. Anyone who’s ever lived with me is probably stunned by that revelation. I am the person who, in February during the worst of my most recent episode, moved the alarm clock into the bathroom so that I’d already be halfway to the shower by the time I woke up. Now I’m routinely awake and refreshed before 0600, and often before 0500. The last time I was doing that, Boris Yeltsin was coming to power in Russia. [I say that because I distinctly remember watching footage on The Today Show of tanks rolling in Moscow one morning in our living room in Forest, Miss.]
  • The person who folds laundry and makes his bed. [The hell?! I’ve never made my bed in my life except under duress.] I was doing this just a few minutes ago, and I was quite struck by it.
  • The person who is far more cognizant of his eating habits. Look, I didn’t get to be as fat as I am overnight. I look at photos of me in college and am a bit shocked to look at the weight gain from then until now. It has been a long, long time since I’ve been anything close to what you’d call skinny, but these days, it’s honestly a realizable goal, one I’m starting to wrap my head around. From a quality of life perspective, this is #1A behind the #1 of “not being so depressed that I just flat-out can’t function in life above a subsistence level” that was, of course, the main push behind going into treatment in the first place. The big thing is this: I can see myself making the responsible choices that will get my weight under control. I can visualize myself being a skinnier dude and finding the will to make it happen. Quite honestly, I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I felt this way, but I do know that it’s been a while.

I’m really excited to see what this new me has in store. I look at what I have achieved over the last few years at work in a time where I’ve been so weighed down with my own negative self-perceptions and lack of drive to attack problems as they come that I’m honestly a little bit scared of what I might achieve unshackled from my former demons. I worked 67 hours last week, and until the end of it, I attacked problems with gusto, to the point that I was afraid that I was experiencing hypomania. [Yes, I mentioned this to my psychiatrist, and she determined that I wasn’t hypomanic—despite the fact that I was exhibiting noticeable psychomotor agitation when I was in her office. Instead, she chalked all that up to stress and anxiety.] Sure, I was wound down by Friday and Saturday, but I had a reason to be wound down. [One of those reasons undoubtedly was being at the office until 2230 on a Friday night, then turning around to be there at 0700 the next day. But hey, the shit shipped.]

This is not to say that I am Right or Perfect or even Very Good. I can still be a raging asshole at times. I still make dumb decisions. I’m still not owning up to all of my failings. But I am so far out of the hole that I can see a whole lot of sky above me, and that gives me reason to keep on climbing. That’s as good an argument as any I know for seeking treatment.

Opening a Closed Book

Two posts back to back? Well, in the spirit of personal transparency …

I’ve obviously had a category called depression for some time. Typically I’ve written about depression as it was happening as a form of therapy—acknowledging the problem is how I’d pull myself out of the funk I was in. [Or so I thought; there are times now when I wonder when I’ve not been at some level of depression for the last few years. Anyway.]

Sometime after the first of the year, but truly and acutely the last week of February, I entered another episode of major depression. By mid-March, I was destroying all the relationships that were important to me at the time, and it was radically affecting my work as well. I never will forget a co-worker stopping and looking at me, saying, “Geof, come on … cheer up. It’s not that bad.” I remember looking at him blankly, the realization slowly dawning for me.

The crisis point was one day at work when the stress level got too high and I … well, I broke down. I shut my office and was alternately crying and catatonic for the better part of two hours. After pulling myself together, I did the hardest thing I’ve had to do professionally—walk into my boss’s office, explain the situation, and tell him that I needed time off. I worked the next day [it was our monthly program review with the customer, and my absence would’ve been conspicuous], but I took the rest of that week off and sought help.

On April 1st, I did the most wise thing I could have: walked into a psychiatrist’s office and started treatment. This coming Thursday will be my fourth visit, but I’ve got to tell you that I saw effects quite quickly. I’m aware that many folks suffering from chronic major depression struggle for months and sometimes years to find an anti-depressant that works for them; I had noticeable results almost immediately. In fact, I almost wondered if there was a placebo effect for what was going on with me, but as we’ve adjusted dosages, I’m aware that there is, at least for me, better living through chemistry.

And honestly, if I hadn’t sought help, well … the biggest stressor in life—my job—would’ve eaten me alive. It is not that I hate my job—I absolutely love what I do. I don’t love every day of it, but viewed from a perspective, I do really value the work that I’m doing and have a passion for doing it. Seeking professional help for a mental health condition was the best professional choice I’ve made in the last year—and in this last year, I’ve been heavily involved in bringing the company eight figures’ worth of business. My job does not get easier as Shuttle end-of-life approaches; rather, it gets harder. Had I not sought treatment when I did … well, I really don’t want to speculate what I might’ve done. I did not ideate in this round of depression, but I have in the past, and this low was far lower than the rest.

People view my life from the outside and think that I’m a successful guy. And honestly, I’m inclined to agree with them. Sure, I’m way fatter than I need to be, and I’m still single at 29, but I largely feel most days like I’ve got Life by the balls. But you can be that guy and also be the guy that Depression has by the balls and the scruff of the neck, ready to toss you in the nearest incinerator. It makes little sense if you’ve never been there, but if you have been, you’re nodding your head.

And if you’re nodding your head, friend, and you’re not seeking help, go. Now. I mean it. You owe it to yourself and the people that you love. Taking care of your mental health is no less important than taking care of your physical health—and I might argue that it’s almost more important, because mental health problems harm the very thing that is most important in life: relationships. Take it from me—get right.

15 Years Later, Maybe I Figured It Out

Last night, I broke out Eric Clapton’s Unplugged. At the time, I tweeted, “Breaking out Eric Clapton’s /Unplugged/. You may hate it, but this was 1992 for me.” As I listened to “Lonely Stranger”, I had a memory and a revelation. The memory: I had a line from the song, “Some will say that I’m no good / Maybe I agree / Take a look then walk away / That’s all right with me” in my MSMS application essay until Mom made me take it out. She had my best interests at heart, to be sure—I didn’t need to be the cocksure kid who didn’t care if he got into MSMS or not. [After all, they were really interested in taking kids who wanted to be there, because it was so damn hard. Honestly, I really wanted to be there, but man, I just didn’t care about shit at that point in my life.]

The realization was simple: I self-identified with “Lonely Stranger” because it was really the first time in my life where I didn’t have anyone close to me. I can count on one hand the number of people from my old high school that I even bother to keep up with anymore—and two of them are married to each other, which makes that easy enough. For people that know me now—the person who networks relentlessly, even putting together two folks a time zone away—you might be really surprised to see me back then. Sure, I was still my talkative self, but I rarely if ever truly engaged with any of those folks. Kari has often expressed some … well, I guess concern … about how I consider my life in Mississippi pre-MSMS from when we’ve talked about it. I think that she’s right to do so, but honestly, I think that a lot of it comes from the fact that I was first depressed there—without realizing it until years later—and so I associate all the crappy, negative stuff about myself with that place, which is neither fair nor healthy.

A Mount of Athos to Shape Your Form Against the Sky

There are two reasons that I have written—and, likely, will continue to write—about my struggles with depression:

  • Writing is, for me, therapy.
  • Someone might read my words and find something in them. What, I don’t know, but maybe something.

I was talking with a friend today on this very subject. Said friend said:

I don’t know – I think [depression]’s pretty common, and I also think that it’s important not to let our experiences isolate us by imagining that we are the only ones who feel/have felt a certain way.

That led me to think again about why I’m writing about such personal things “out loud” in the Weblogosphere.

Writing is Therapy

For me, to vocalize the thoughts I’m having is extremely, extremely important. It helps me to examine the feelings in a dispassionate way. I get to read what you have to say about what I write, and to the extent that you are not a part of my incessant internal dialogue, you are a disinterested party. However, many of you are people that care about me because you know me, so you’re not that disinterested.

I also get to use one of my favorite realizations, brought to me in a quote that my senior-year English instructor, Mrs. Richardson, used to often drill at us:

Reading maketh a full man; conference, a ready man; and writing, an exact man.
–Sir Francis Bacon

I can read about people’s issues all that I like, and I can even talk them over. However, because I don’t have a personal panopticon—yet!—I haven’t a complete record of things that I say. While my writing may be inexact, it is out there, and you can read and reference it–and also upbraid me when I am inexact in my exactness. 🙂

Someone Else Might Glean Something

In this vein, I am reminded of—wait for it—a song quote.

So I write a book of life,
Using the best words I can find.
For some struggler to snuggle up
When the world becomes unkind.
When the world becomes unkind.
Caedmon’s Call, “Not Enough“, Caedmon’s Call

“Not Enough” has long been a favorite of mine–it has the appropriate amount of realization that, really, my one life is rather insignificant against the glory of Heaven and the totality of the Universe. That said, I can, in my own broken way, point to Christ.

If you haven’t noticed, my whole issue with depression mainly comes from my own self-importance drowning out the voice that reminds me that I am not my own creature.

That’s why I make this mount of Athos–to shape His form against the sky.

Welcome to the Goldrush

Suddenly I’m weightless.
Gravity is mine.
I see it with my eyes closed,
what my heart knows: we must leave this world behind.

‘Cause when I wake from dreaming,
it’s then I’m most alive.
Eye lids barely open, no words spoken,
ah, but you were by my side.

You can always tell me
anything at all.
Think of all the times
you’ve let my lips move, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Oh, what you’re missing.
Don’t you wanna see what you’re missing?

— Over the Rhine, “The Seahorse”, Good Dog, Bad Dog [emphasis mine]

Many of you have emailed me about the password-protected entries:

They are password-protected no longer.

They all deal with the depression in which I found myself early this month. I was able to admit it and, with the prayers and concerns of a few, deal with the symptoms while I dealt with the main cause–a falling-away of faithfulness to the ideals of the Church, specifically corporate worship.

Since I am not really “there” any more, I don’t see any need for the secrecy. I probably wouldn’t have had any at all had my grandmother not been pretty ill; unfortunately, I’ve learned the “keep it from the folks until it’s passed” behavior from my parents.

Mom and Dad, I apologize for not sharing this at the time, but you had enough to deal with. If these words anger you, understand that I’ve heard them from you. That’s not intended to be accusatory, but rather declarative.

For those who asked and got a “not now”, I also apologize. I needed time to sort this out, and I needed to keep it somewhat close to the vest. I’m typically open, and this time, I was not. I have hated that the entire time.

For those who listened, I thank you, and I know that you will continue to listen.

Welcome to the goldrush.

An End, Some Means, No Need

I’ve only ever gotten very close to suicide once. I’ve thought about it more than once, mainly because the one time I got close made it a spiritual issue [as if it’s not], and, well, I believe in spiritual warfare. Our weaknesses are exploited by the one who tempts.

This is one of mine, I guess.

The closest I came was in October of 1996. It was my senior year of high school. I knew where I’d be going to college [and I really did–I graduated five years later, having never changed my major]. I was in all the classes that I wanted to be. Things were going good.

Then they weren’t. I can’t even remember what it all was, but I know that two seminal events kicked it: the death of our longtime family pet, Buttons [hey, it was my brother who named her, not me!], and the death of a high school friend in a car accident. Those two events happened within, oh, a couple weeks of each other, and for whatever reason, they sent me into a spiral.

I did the typical “What is my place in this world, and where do I find strength?” bit. Of course, the funny thing is that my time at MSMS saw me go away from church almost completely, mainly in a desire to get some sleep sometime. One could draw some parallels to my recent situation, and I think they’d be fair.

I mean, what life is worth living if Christ is not in it?

Anyhow.

I have been listening lately to Over the Rhine a lot lately, if you haven’t noticed. After finally getting enough of a deep drink of Ohio to last me for a while, I finally delved into Good Dog, Bad Dog. It’s also just excellent.

Sonically, I quickly fell in love with “Poughkeepsie”. Then, this morning, I read the lyrics.

Poughkeepsie

I thought I’d go up Poughkeepsie,
look out o’er the Hudson,
and I’d throw my body down on the river.
And I’d know no more sorrow,
I’d fly like the sparrow
and I’d ride on the backs of the angels tonight.

I’d ride on the backs of the angels tonight.
I’d take to the sky with all my might.
No more drowning in my sorrow,
no more drowning in my fright,
I’d just ride on the backs of the angels tonight.

There are those who know sorrow
and those who must borrow
and those whose lot in life is sweet.
Well I’m drunk on self-pity,
scorned all that’s been given me,
I would drink from a bottle labeled Sure Defeat.

I’d ride on the backs of the angels tonight.
I’d take to the sky with all my might.
No more drowning in my sorrow,
no more drowning in my fright,
I’d just ride on the backs of the angels tonight.

Then the skies, they fell open
and my eyes were opened
to a world of hope falling at my feet.
Now I’ve no more or less
than anyone else has,
what I have is a gift of life I can’t repeat.

So I go up Poughkeepsie,
look out o’er the Hudson
and I cast my worries to the sky.
Now I still know sorrow,
but I can fly like the sparrow
’cause I ride on the backs of the angels tonight.

I ride on the backs of the angels tonight.
I take to the sky with all their might.
No more drowning in my sorrow,
no more drowning in my fright,
I’ll just ride on the backs of the angels each night.

That says it all. I am not drowning. I might just be treading water, but it’s not drowning. Not at all.

Tackling Too Much, Too Fast

When I find a problem and really come to grips with it, I always have this urge to charge headlong at it like a crazed strong safety who sees the running play developing in front of his eyes. Like that safety, I want to charge headfirst into the hole, elude the blockers, and knock the problem’s mouthpiece into his uvula.

This is a noble thing, to be sure, but it makes you look really, really stupid when you bite on a play fake and the tight end floats into the zone you would have covered if you hadn’t been ready to slobber-knock the piss out of the issue.

I’ve been unhappy with the way some things are going in my life of late, and I’ve been wanting to change everything at once. I have a pattern of doing this, and it never really seems to work. I’ve chucked away my old sportswriting gigs, dropped student government, and otherwise done a lot of rash things that, while they made sense, may not have been executed well. I think the greatest indication of that is to know the regret that I feel.

I don’t like regret–it’s an indication to me that I made a bad decision. Anyone who’s ever watched me take on the CPU in any PS2 sports game knows that I hate, hate, hate, hate, HATE to lose. It’s just my nature; it’s not anything that my parents did in nurturing. Honestly, I think that in a couple of places in life they wanted me to get into situations where I would experience failure, purely for the experience of it.

It’s dichotomous, though; I hate failure, but I know it well. I’m a broken, poor wretch of a sinner, as we all are. I think my boy Derek has it quite right:

My life looks good I do confess
You can ask anyone
Just don’t ask my real good friends
‘Cause they will lie to you
Or worse they’ll tell the truth

‘Cause there are things you would not believe
That travel into my mind
I swear I try and capture them
But I always set them free
It seems bad things comfort me ’cause

Good lord I’m crooked deep down
Everyone is crooked deep down
Good lord I’m crooked deep down
Everyone is crooked deep down
(Everyone is crooked deep down)

There was a girl she was made for me
But stood me up our wedding day
And now that girl runs around on me
And she’s drunk all the time
But I died to make her mine

Good lord she’s crooked deep down
Everyone is crooked deep down
That girl is crooked deep down
Everyone is crooked deep down
Everyone is crooked deep down

But I’m not water and I’m not wine
You could say I’m just here for the party
With one thing on my mind
Squeezing me and my camel through the needle’s eye

The other issue that I have with tackling problems and failure is the desire to go back and fix regrets. I went back to writing and editing TOTK.com Sports at least twice, if not three times, after quitting. I knew that it was a waste of my time, but it was such a wonderful outlet for my writing. [If I’d had a Weblog back then, I’d probably have never gone back, honestly.] Writing is a drug, and the feedback is wonderful.

Of late, I’ve been wanting to go back to being involved with the broadcasts of Charger Hockey on the radio. Stupid! Nonetheless, my ego wants the recognition that goes with it, and I also purely enjoyed getting to know the guys. It was wonderful to feel like a part of the organization.

It’s know what I need to do, though. Knowing what problems I have, I need to plan how to tackle those. I need to divert my energies into coming up with a coherent plan for things and working on executing that plan, rather than just charging off willynilly. I need to make a stop on this set of downs, but I don’t have to do it on the first play with a big loss that ends up causing the offense to punt.

Patience.

A Hallelujah Chorus

Today, I made it to church. Unlike so many times in the last quarter—as I think of it, I don’t think I’d attended worship services at all in my home church in 2004—I not only taught Sunday school but attended worship. Yeah, it’s pretty ludicrous to be at church on a Sunday morning and not go to worship services.

As I walked across the parking lot from the Disciple Center to the main church building, I began to ponder on this some, wondering where I de-railed. This is a question with a two-part answer. One part of the answer goes back to 2001, when Mom had just had her stroke and I spent many a weekend in that fall in Tennessee. Sunday mornings were often spent at the hospital, and then I’d come back that afternoon because I’d need to be there for UMYF that night. That, or I would have school stuff that took precedence over more time with Mom and time at church.

At that point, I started to strip my church experience down to my service, which I felt compelled to do, and worship, which I didn’t feel compelled to do. That’s silly; corporate worship is pretty clearly laid out as a solid part of the faith in the Bible, and it’s not as if the UMC chooses not to affirm it.

Anyhow, I guess that’s where I got into the habit of not going, or at least not seeing it as a big thing. Before, if school had me too busy or something and I’d miss, I’d get a phone call from church. Yeah, they actually check the attendance at Aldersgate, and if you miss a bunch, they call—not as a guilt trip, but to find out if something’s wrong. Has your job changed? Are you sick? Is someone in your family sick? Have you just fallen away? Wesleyan theology discounts the Calvinist notion of perseverance of the saints, so we do try to help each other muddle through. Presence is important.

As for where else I’ve gotten away from church, I guess the hockey trips I took last season got me out of the habit as well. Sunday was often our travel day, leaving as we would on Saturday night after the game to start traveling home. I often made it to youth on Sunday night, but I routinely missed morning worship.

Some small part of me wants to toss this at the feet of the church and ask, “Why have you not called to ask about me?” That silly part of me is working under the false pretense that this is their job or obligation, which is wrong. It’s their choice as well as a vocational ministry. To be honest, I’m not sure if we’re doing that anymore; perhaps I’m off the list because it was understood that my schedule was kinda wacky.

Either way, somewhere in the midst of all that, I got the silly-ass notion in my head that equated corporate worship with practicing a musical instrument. Where that came into the picture, I don’t know … but it did. :shrug: I really began to see it as some wacky obligation that wasn’t necessary to being a good Christian or a good person. Did I need to be there?

I think this was slightly compounded by the fact that the chancel choir really wants me to be a part of their number; they want me to be an active part of their part of worship because I have God-given talent. Okay, I guess … but what if I just want to absorb it all for a while? Rather than confront the situation, I guess I ducked it.

If I wasn’t in our traditional worship services, our contemporary service would still want me there, serving my butt off. Video, audio, greeting, maybe some occasional vocals … something. The ego appreciated the offering, but … just not sure it was for me.

It was quite interesting to go over to church today; one of my co-workers, Dave, was greeting churchgoers at the door, along with his wife. Funny how I can’t ever seem to get away from work?

So I found myself in a pew today with Lynn. Lynn’s probably in her late 50’s; she had her granddaughters with her today. Lynn’s husband “doesn’t do church”, best as I know, so I often get paired up with her for the things I do at church [including service of communion]. Lynn’s also a tenor, and in the times I’ve been a tenor in the chancel choir, I’ve sat next to her frequently. It was good to have a familiar face in the pew next to me today, one who didn’t judge with a look.

After the children went forward and then off to children’s church, Lynn left the pew, donned a choir robe, and went up to the choir. That left me alone … on the front pew … to the preacher’s right side. I hadn’t felt exposed and alone like that in a while.

It didn’t help that Larry spent about 20% of his time looking dead at me as he preached.

But I need to be exposed.

We all need exposition; we all need to know that we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Only with that humbling knowledge can we honestly and forthrightly accept the free grace that was purchased with the death of Christ, the resurrection of whom we celebrate on this, an Easter Sunday.

As I sat there, I realized that I’d turned into a Christmas-and-Easter Christian. The last time I’d been to a worship service was at my parents’ church before Christmas.

That simply exposed me to myself—a fraud. This nice sheen of having it all together … crushed under the weight of the truth of how far I’d slipped.

Thankfully, I’d been willing to admit that much in a prayer request slip—folded, so that only the ordained ministers will see it—that I’m struggling right now and need their support in prayer. What comes of that, I’m unsure.

But we must be broken to be made new, and I’m unconvinced that our breaking is a single event. I think it’s far more of a process–which doesn’t make me a process theologian, but does make me a pragmatist. I’m being broken here again, and this breaking is largely my own [un]doing.

You’re makin’ a mess
Somethin’ I can’t fix
This time you’re on your own

I’d make it alright
But I wouldn’t get it right
I’m leavin’ it alone

For cryin’ outloud
Cryin’ outloud
Cryin’ out
You’re cryin’ out

Yeah

You’re makin’ a mess
Is that what you do best?
Is madness just a hand-me-down?

It’s anyone’s guess
But I must confess
The performance isn’t that profound

Yeah

I’m waiting for the end
Waiting to begin again

You’re makin’ a mess
Somethin’ you can’t hide
A slow suicide
Just one bite at a time

I should love you less
But I can’t I guess
Only God can save us now

Cryin’ out

Yeah

Over the Rhine‘s “B.P.D” from Ohio

Listening to Karin sing the opening song on Ohio, it’s as if she’s singing directly to me. I’d dearly love OtR at any time in my life, but right now, it’s hitting at a great time, smacking me sonically.

I’m feeling more positive right now than I have in weeks. I can’t really pinpoint when I started being frustrated and, well, depressed about everything. The conscious mind wants to point to my grandfather’s death, but I know full well that it was before that.

I don’t know how much that matters; I seem to have figured most of the root cause, and I’ve made small steps towards ensuring that it doesn’t happen again. The temptation is to think that, in admitting it, I’ve licked it … I got a bit euphoric yesterday simply from feeling freed by having said something. I don’t want to confuse euphoria with joy, or even joy with happiness. This isn’t something to be fixed with a couple emails, a couple handwritten prayer requests, and a couple long, drawn-out ramblings on the ol’ site. Far from it.

But these are all a start … a foundation, and a reminder.

Lastly, I was reminded of the joy of singing and serving at the end of our service. The choir performed Handel’s Messiah for the Easter season, and they rightly sang the “Hallelujah Chorus” as a benediction today. In a bit of a switch, they offered to have congregation members join the choir if they felt led. For whatever reason—pride? belonging? vocation?—I went up and joined the choir. I’ve sung the Chorus a number of times, and I scarcely need the sheet music at this point. I can sing either the bass or the tenor line, and frankly, I wanted to sing both. I forced myself to settle down and sing the bass part, where I foibled only once. [I’d probably have more issues with the tenor part, mainly for its range.]

But the text had greater and richer meaning today.

He shall reign forever and ever … and that includes my life, which certainly hasn’t been lorded by the Lord of late.

Of that, I repent.

[Again, this entry was originally published as a pass-protected entry. My apologies for not publishing it openly when written; at present, I’m still worried that shouting this from the mountaintops would be counterproductive. You might be mad with me, and you probably have reason. I ask your forgiveness.]

Down

I admitted to myself on Wednesday that I was worried that I was getting depressed. I said that I left work because I had a migraine; that was neither totally true nor totally false. I did have a bitch of a headache, but it wasn’t crippling. It was getting there.

But I did realize that I needed to get away from work–right then. So, I did.

I spent Wednesday either sleeping or solemnly playing MVP Baseball 2004 while letting my mind just wander. To my knowledge, I’ve really only been depressed once–and that simply the confluence of a bunch of saddening events: my dog dying, a high school friend dying, and the frustrations of my senior year at MSMS really beginning to weigh upon me. I can’t remember whether this was before or after my ill-fated rafting trip with Rick where we spent more time in the water after wiping out than we did in the canoe. I haven’t told that story here, but it’s riotously funny if you can get past the Geof-almost-drowned bit.

Anyhow, though, Wednesday night I was wholly unable to sleep. I guess my issue was that I could not vocalize the problem. I inherently knew that I was becoming depressed, but I guess my mind was more focused on the probable causes and solutions than simply acknowledging the problem.

That’s pretty typical for me. I was an engineer before I was academically and vocationally trained to be one; seeing a problem, I’ll jump to a solution pretty quick. The problem was, frankly, that I wouldn’t admit the problem.

I spent all day Thursday mulling that, wondering how to say it, or where to say it, or what to say. I spent Thursday at home from work, again with a “migraine”. If I’d gone in at 9:00 a.m., I’d have been fine to work that day, even with the sleepless night–by then, I’d gotten enough sleep to get me through.

I came in yesterday and pretended as if nothing was wrong. It worked for a while. It stopped working around 10:30 a.m. Why, I don’t know.

I then spent 15 minutes figuring out how to say it. Post it on my site in public? No; my parents have enough to deal with right now. They are strong, and I really hate to exclude them from this, but I don’t need to send them into orbit right now. I don’t admit this readily, but they’ve both had issues with depression in their adult lives. Why I thought I’d be immune is a question I cannot well answer.

But at 10:45, I broke and sent the following email to Stephen, Misty, and Rick:

Hey guys.

I think Misty twigged to it the other night, but couldn’t say it, not in a group.

I’m worried that I’m slipping into depression.

Admitting it is what I need, even though it makes me feel weak, and I never want to feel weak.

But I can’t deny it.

I’ve been here once before, but it’s been a long time. Rick sorta knew me then, but not really.

I promise that I won’t do anything stupid, but … damn, most days I feel like I’m about to just lose it.

And I need to say that to someone, and even though y’all have enough burdens …

Love y’all.

Geof

The penultimate sentence is paramount, to my reading. I am someone who is sought out for advice. I am a source of strength to others. But where is my source of strength?

I’ll be honest and note that my own faithfulness in terms of attending worship at church and honestly working through a prayerful consideration of my own life is, well, nowhere right now. I can’t begin to tell you why it’s not, but I think that this is the root of most of my problems right now.

Yes, in admitting the problem, I’ve now stared to seek a solution. That solution is to seek out the underlying causes and deal with them on an individual basis. The next problem is pretty clear, even though I’ve not said it anywhere until now–I’m just not being faithful by works.

The United Methodist Church asks four things of its members: their prayers, their presence, their gifts, and their service. At best, I’ve been getting the last two done in my work with the church; however, I’ve not been doing well with the first two. I need to pray for my church, and to be honest, I need to have them praying for me. It is not enough to rely upon three friends, even if they are strong ones who love me deeply and are there for me when I need them.

Knowing this allows me to work on solving the problem of presence. I think that’s the easiest to solve–for without presence, I can’t ask for prayers.

Small steps. I’m already feeling myself coming out of the deep hole. It’s a slow road up, but at least it’s not going down.

[A note to the reader: this entry was originally published as a private entry on my site. At some point, I’ll make these public. Please understand that it’s been hard not to make these public, but I have my reasons for not doing so now, where now is the time of posting. In publishing these when things are better, I am not only providing a trail of my own path for others who might find themselves there, but I’m providing myself breadcrumbs as a reminder in case I get stupid and do this again.]