Public DomainFiction — By Chase Manning on April 14, 2012 at 12:42 pm
I’m Not Alright
My personal battle with myself, depression, and my realization that I was not ready.
Time for a New Strategy
Posted: July 30, 2011 in Health, Spiritual, Uncategorized
Tags: depression, inspiration
This afternoon I was putting away dishes. As I was placing the silverware in the drawer, I looked at the tip of one of the steak knives and thought about thrusting it into my chest. Or maybe my stomach. The hurting sucks and I want to be done with it. I could feel the stab about an inch below my clavicle. I wasn’t symbolic about it, just thought it felt right.
Of course I didn’t do it. She means too much to me to do that to her. So I broke down and cried. I wanted, needed to call her. So I went to the living room and sat on the floor, leaning against the couch, and wiped the tears and snot seeping out of my face.
After it was over, I felt both relief and anger. It felt good to talk to her – so good – but I was angry that I was still here. I made it through, but how many more times would I have to endure these thoughts? I want to live. I want to be here, but not here. This is not life. I need real life. True life. Life more abundant.
You may be confused after reading the above, so I want to clear things up a bit. I have a secret. My old friends, the few I still have, know something isn’t right, and my new friends, fewer still, accept that this is who I am. Though I appreciate your acceptance, this is not who I really am. I have been wearing a mask and carrying my secret like a full rucksack up the mountains of Afghanistan. My secret is that I am depressed. Really depressed. Clinically depressed. Suicidal. What I wrote above is real. I had those very thoughts just last week. My therapist – you know, every Monday when I make an excuse of having to go meet a friend or study or whatever I can think of that week – told me that writing could be a good therapy for me. So somehow, with still moist eyelashes, I brought myself to write about what I was feeling. He was right. It made me feel a great deal better. But it is only a start. I came to the realization today that if I really want healing, I need help. This is where you come in. I am laying myself bare. I am shedding this skin and coming to you naked and vulnerable, inviting you into my life. I have to warn you, though. It’s not pretty. You may not like what you find. But I think this is where true intimacy is formed. Claire has taught me this much. She has held up her end of the bargain thus far in our marriage. Her patience, grace and love have kept me alive, and she has helped me understand my condition and my need for a more well-rounded approach to healing. This blog is her idea as much as it is mine.
So let me lay a few ground rules for this blog:
When you make comments on the post, please, please, don’t hold anything back. Yes, I am weak right now, but I want to hear the truth. I need the truth. I don’t need false motivational clichés. I need complete honesty. Even if you don’t know what to say, then just say so. I crave realness.
Don’t feel pressured to leave a comment. If you don’t feel like it, you don’t have to say anything. I can check the stats of how many people are reading the post, so as long as I know that you are reading, I know I am in your thoughts. And that can be enough.
Pray for me.
July 30, 2011 at 10:16 am
Even though I havnt known u 4 that long, I could still tell that u weren’t ok. But I was 4 whatever childish reason afraid 2 talk 2 u about it. Ive been praying for u, but now that I know what is really going on, I’ll be praying even harder for u.
July 30, 2011 at 12:33 pm
Listen, I know you haven’t been yourself for a long time, but I am definitely here for you. I feel really honored that you would choose to share your life with me. I don’t care what I find. I’m here with you through it all. I’m not going anywhere.
July 30, 2011 at 6:42 pm
Just playing devil’s advocate here for a second – how do you know you are clinically depressed? I am not sure that having a random suicidal thought makes you truly depressed. I’ve had thoughts like that myself, but I wouldn’t consider myself depressed. True, some days I feel “depressed” and don’t want to do anything, but I just move on with my life.
July 30, 2011 at 7:30 pm
@Jeff: Really? 1st off, maybe u need to seek counseling. Having suicidal thoughts is not normal. 2nd, maybe u should consider being a little more sensitive.
July 30, 2011 at 7:37 pm
@Bethany: I am not intentionally trying to be insensitive. I am just trying to understand the situation better.
July 31, 2011 at 6:30 am
Thank you everyone for your support. @Jeff: On those days when you feel “depressed”, are you physically able to function? If not, then I would encourage you to speak with someone about that. If you really can just move on, then you are probably fine. On my bad days, I am unable to do anything, period. And I second Bethany. Having suicidal thoughts is not normal. Self-preservation is in our nature, and thinking of ending your existence is in direct opposition to this. Just think about that, and think about how often you have these types of thoughts, and decide from there if you want to seek counseling. @Bethany: thank you for your support and trying to stick up for me, but I want to continue to encourage everyone to be completely honest, even if it is seemingly negative or insensitive.
Posted: July 31, 2011 in Health, Spiritual, Uncategorized
Tags: depression, inspiration
I know some of you are not the religious type, which is okay. I am, but not one of those religious nut-jobs who shove dead fetus pictures in your face or protest military funerals. I’m not even the more civilized kind who spout “Praise God!” every other sentence, although equally annoying at times. I am just a simple Christian trying to live the life I believe God would want me to live relevant to the time and culture in which I find myself. I once had a deep connection with God and lived a life rooted in faith. My life was in His hands. Or at least this is who I was.
I taught the middle school kids at church about life, helped the elderly with yard work, cooked meals for the poor and homeless and led a weekly Bible study. I tried not to be judgmental, though at times I probably overstepped my boundaries. I even began writing a book to encourage other Christians in their faith. I wrote four chapters before depression began creeping into my body.
As you know, I married young – my wife and I were both twenty. We were in love, knew what we wanted in life, and could not wait to spend it with each other. We were very poor, however. Claire was going through nursing school, while I was holed up in a basement of a government building where I was finishing the last few years of my Army enlistment. I worked too many night shifts alone, especially for what they paid me (forget what they say about the benefits), and Claire’s schooling was very expensive.
Isolation and lack of money were what did me in. I thought life would get better once I got out. I could go to college like I always dreamed, and we could live anywhere we wanted, opposed to where my dear Uncle Sam told us to move next. But the timing wasn’t right. After I completed my five year enlistment, it was the middle of the semester, so college was out. Claire took a job in the ER, and worked night shifts for the next year while I stayed up all night every night by myself looking for jobs. Intelligence Analyst in the Army with only a high school education does not transfer well in the civilian market, particularly in the fall of 2008. Without my income, and Claire’s laughable salary, we were on a downward financial spiral. The first of the month became the best and worst day. We would celebrate making it to the end of the month by going to Applebee’s, then go home and crunch numbers. “If we only buy one bag of cereal, take quicker showers and wear hoodies and sweatpants around the house, we might be able to see that movie. . . .”
Then came the credit cards. Our lifelines. Our nooses. Debt racked up quicker than we could have imagined. “Did we really spend that much money?” I couldn’t go to college the next semester either with our debt building the way it was. Even though the Army would pay a good portion of it, I held out with the hopes of finding full-time employment to loosen the ropes around our necks. Not only did I not get to go to college, I still couldn’t find a job.
The nights by myself became longer. Soon I stopped looking for jobs. Then I stopped running. Before, running was my time to really connect with God. The Army had control over nearly every aspect of my life, but they could not tame my spirit when I ran. During our mandatory 5am runs, I would stare up at the stars and meditate on Him, and life, and love. But things changed. The shame of not being able to provide for my family and my lack of purpose drained me of me. I became distant and angry at God, yet longed for a deeper intimacy with Him at the same time. Instead of that closeness, though, my life started consisting of sitting alone in the corner of my couch with a blanket over me and watching horrible TV through the night. The only time I would ever move was to use the bathroom and to eat. Then it was just the bathroom. Even then, I made excuses not to get up. The bathroom was twelve feet from me, but I rationalized holding it.
When I finally started college, I just knew things were going to get better. But they didn’t. I had a problem that I thought would go away once I got busy and gained a purpose, but instead I carried the problem with me in my backpack along with all my new schoolbooks and responsibilities. When I reached the point of not being able to mask my problem anymore, the fights started. Claire thought I was drifting away from her, which in a way I was. I never stopped loving her, but I checked out of our relationship emotionally, and just didn’t know how to be there for her. The next year for us was rough, to say the least. We began seeing a counselor, but that only helped so much. School became more difficult. I picked up two part-time jobs, but we were somehow still racking up debt. I knew this patch of grass wasn’t any greener, but I still lived in a state of If only: “If only we had more money” or “If only we had sex more often.” Those thoughts led to anger when they didn’t materialize. I rarely let that anger show, however. Even though I felt resentment towards Claire, I still loved her more than anything, and I was afraid to upset her. So I just stuffed my feelings inside myself and vacuum-sealed them shut. But that only worked for so long.
One day, a couple weeks ago, when I could no longer keep up the charade, I waved my white flag and decided to actually tell Claire what was going on with me. How angry at her and at life I was. The dark thoughts I would have on a regular basis. To my surprise, she was happy. I mean, she wasn’t happy that I was depressed, but rather because she knew I still loved her. She was also happy to name what was going on with me and begin looking for ways to treat it. We didn’t know exactly where to go from there, but we knew things were going to change – for the better.
July 31, 2011 at 1:01 pm
All of that sounds rough. You shouldn’t feel too down for not being able to find a job because many people were going through the same thing. It was just the economy. It wasn’t your fault. And you know that “all things work together for good to those who love God.” Everything happens for a reason, so don’t get down and keep looking up.
July 31, 2011 at 2:21 pm
@Adam: Sounds like you need to reread rule #1.
July 31, 2011 at 2:29 pm
I get where ur coming from. I had a boyfriend for over a year, and I was always afraid 2 tell him how I felt if I was mad or if I needed him 2 do something for me cause I just knew he would be upset and leave me. But it didnt matter cause my walls just drove us apart and he left me anyway. U R very lucky to have some1 like Claire who loves and accepts u no matter what.
August 1, 2011 at 8:37 am
@Adam: I know you are just trying to encourage me, but I am frankly tired of hearing that everything happens for a reason. Maybe if I knew what the hell that reason was, it would make things better. But I’m tired of one-liners that get me nowhere. Tell the little kids being trafficked for sex that there’s a perfectly good reason behind their suffering. Maybe all things do work together for good, but right now, I can’t see the big picture, so I need something a little deeper. @Bethany: I am sorry for your struggles with your ex. I say you are too good for anyone who won’t listen to you and accept you, but I also know how much rejection (or at least the fear of rejection) hurts. Thanks for sharing that with me.
Posted: August 3, 2011 in Health, Spiritual, Uncategorized
Tags: depression, inspiration, crazy cats
I am feeling really cruddy today. In case you are too, here is a link to one of my favorite funny cat videos. Enjoy.
August 3, 2011 at 3:49 pm
A Small Victory
Posted: August 5, 2011 in Health, Spiritual, Uncategorized
Tags: depression, inspiration
Today was much better. I spent the entirety of yesterday recovering from a bad day on Wednesday, and today I was able to have a whole day on the upside. I don’t really want to get into what happened two days ago because I am fighting to stay positive. Just be glad that I am here now writing this.
The sun was shining, so I went outside on my porch a bit and just sat breathing air again. I went to the little fitness center at our apartment complex and worked out, too. It was euphoric. In between trips to the water fountain I thought about all the great things I want to do in life, and that I was going to start on those first thing tomorrow. But as I’m writing this, I am not completely unaware of my circumstances. I see the words written last week and the pain is presently trying to make its way back in. I am fighting it. Not tonight, darkness. You’ve had your time. You can come back tomorrow, but not tonight.
I think these words are helping. . . .
August 5, 2011 at 7:39 pm
This is great! Keep fighting! Maybe exercising will help. I think you should try to get back on a routine. Still praying.
August 5, 2011 at 8:19 pm
I think getting outdoors really works. I’m sure it’s not the same because I’ve never been depressed, but anytime I’m down, going outside on a beautiful day always makes me feel better.
August 5, 2011 at 10:23 pm
August 6, 2011 at 9:12 am
I woke up feeling great this morning. I just want to thank each of you for your encouragement. Also, I wanted to share with you a video of a baby monkey riding on a pig. Backwards. Enjoy.
August 6, 2011 at 10:14 am
Holy Crap! That was so funny! Im gonna be singin that all day now : )
Posted: August 9, 2011 in Health, Spiritual, Uncategorized
Tags: depression, inspiration
This weekend was rough. I woke up in the middle of the night on Saturday night/Sunday morning and couldn’t go back to sleep for about two hours. I lay there in bed and ruminated over all the things I was unhappy about in life. I still feel distant, both physically and emotionally from Claire. This night was particularly rough because we got into a fight and didn’t find any closure before we went to bed. Of course it was over the dumbest thing, but I still don’t always know what she wants or how to be there for her.
I also worried about money and the future. I just finished my last course in college, but I don’t have a job lined up yet. Since I won’t be receiving any more education benefits from the VA, I am going to have to find a job real soon. For me, it was 2008 creeping in all over again. The shame of failing to provide for us engulfed me. I wept in silence while my wife, our sole provider, slept unaware a world away.
I thought about taking a Tylenol PM to help me get back to sleep, but I was afraid I was already becoming too dependent on them, or that it wouldn’t be a healthy habit to take sleeping pills to escape, so I didn’t take any and just left myself subject to my dark thoughts. So basically Sunday was hard because, in addition to a horrible night’s sleep, those thoughts seemed to follow me into my dreams and back out to my reality throughout the day. Monday rolled around and I was hardly able to make it out of bed. I had made a list the night before of all the things I wanted to accomplish (Claire’s idea to help reduce my stress and anxiety), but when I woke up I didn’t feel like moving. When I thought about my to-do list, anxiety came anyway and made me so sick I wanted to vomit. So I decided to give myself a break – I mean, why did I need to put all of this pressure on myself? I reset my alarm to the latest possible minute I could wake up and make it to the appointment with my therapist on time, and went back to sleep.
That’s another thing, I guess. My counselor, provided with no charge by my school, is old, and very old-school. I like him a lot; he says positive things and gives good feedback, but he doesn’t seem to believe in a real depression. He believes in some sort of conspiracy theory that the idea of depression was created by pharmaceutical companies to make money. All they had to do was create a vigorous ad campaign that feeds the minds of the millions of hypochondriacs and those who don’t know any better a message that maybe something really is wrong with them and they should buy their product, ahem, “ask their doctor about _____, because depression hurts. . . .” He didn’t say all of that, of course, but he made it clear where he stood. He attributes my symptoms of depression to my melancholy personality, and says that I should just exercise more. But the thing is, depression is real, and it does hurt, for me anyway. Why else am I thinking about stabbing myself, veering off the road at 60mph, or downing a bottle of sleeping pills?
So I am asking you guys for help. What should I do? I want to get a second opinion, but I don’t really have the funds for that. (I’m not asking for money, by the way – I am just heading off the obvious response of “Find another therapist.”) I also don’t know if medication is the answer either. I want to fight this. I want to do all I can to win this battle on my own. I don’t want to have to depend on some magic pill. I have lost a lot of confidence in myself over the past couple of years, and I could really use a victory. Maybe if I take it day by day, win a few small battles here and there, I can get my confidence back and chip away at this disease.
August 9, 2011 at 12:23 pm
Wow, this is a lot. Have you tried a church counselor maybe? Sometimes they have people on staff that can help you for free. I think you can fight this, with God’s help of course, but maybe you do need medication. I don’t know though. How long has this been going on? Maybe it’s time to try it.
August 9, 2011 at 12:49 pm
Do you have insurance? Maybe that will cover the cost.
August 10, 2011 at 3:44 pm
First off, I have been reading this, and I am sorry I haven’t said anything until now. Second, I have a secret as well. I took medication for two years, and I had just started weaning off my antidepressant when I first met you. I am with you. Depression is real, I know. The meds I was on kind of made me feel like I wasn’t myself, though. They just numbed me. But on the other hand, I know of people who reacted differently. I think my problem was not working directly with a psychiatrist. I just told my doctor what was going on and he prescribed me something. So I am kind of at square one right now. I feel bad, but I am not quite ready to start medicating again.
Posted: September 9, 2011 in Health, Spiritual, Uncategorized
Tags: depression, inspiration
Ok, I know I’ve been off the grid awhile now, and have received several phone calls and emails from you guys, for which I am extremely grateful, and I’m just really sorry for not calling or responding back. A lot has happened over the past few weeks – I have had several new developments. The biggest thing is that I am now taking an antidepressant. It turns out that my insurance covered a trip to a psychiatrist, who was also kind enough to prescribe me some generic meds. I was really nervous about taking them – not because of the stigma attached to being medicated, but because I was worried about the side-effects. I had resolved to at least try this route because I realized, through the advice of a counselor at my church, that something inside of me was broken, and I couldn’t fix it on my own.
So I took my first dose on the night of August 17, and on Thursday the 18th my hands shook as I yawned all day long. Now I know this sounds weird, and I know that yawning doesn’t sound all that bad of a side-effect. They were even those really good yawns – yeah, you know what I’m talking about. But have you ever had 176 of those really good yawns in a row? It began to get old really quick. My jaw was aching, my hands were tremorring, and I even started crying out of nowhere. I didn’t really know what to do but to just sleep. I slept for three hours, and as soon as I woke up I started yawning again. The good thing, though, is that I haven’t had a day as bad since. I still yawn more than normal, but I am getting kind of used to it. I have a little nausea here and there too, but overall, I think the side-effects are pretty manageable at this point.
Even more good news is that I have actually been feeling better. I have only had two bad days in the past three weeks, as opposed to three to four a week. And those two days were much lower on the bad scale than usual. I haven’t had any sudden or miraculous shifts in the way I think, and I still have somewhat high anxiety, but I think I am starting to feel a bit better. I feel hopeful for the future. I can see a little glimmer in the distance, and my vision is widening.
September 9, 2011 at 12:39 pm
This sounds amazing. I am so happy for you. Keep at it. I am still here praying for you and will be here if you need anything.
September 9, 2011 at 1:05 pm
Not trying to be insensitive or anything, but yawning doesn’t sound too bad compared to what I’ve heard most people go through. But really, I am glad you are feeling better. I hope you continue to improve. On a different note, I want to thank you for sharing everything with us. Your honesty and vulnerability is inspirational and encouraging. I started seeing a counselor last week. I don’t think I am depressed, but I definitely have some issues I need to address.
September 9, 2011 at 7:09 pm
I literally cried when I read this, I was so happy. I think this is a major turning point n this battle, and u are on the right track. I just want u 2 know that u are loved. Do u hear that? Let me say it again. U R loved. U have so many people who love u and are on ur side fighting with u. Please remember that anytime u start feeling bad.
September 9, 2011 at 8:32 pm
Bethany is right. We are right here with you.
September 9, 2011 at 8:57 pm
Yes, we are here. And hope is good. Take as much of that as you can and hold on to it as long as possible. When you are depressed, it is in short supply, so for you to have it means you are getting better.
September 9, 2011 at 11:33 pm
Wow, I cannot even begin to express how grateful I am for each of you. I want you to know that I love you right back. Knowing that I have Claire and each of you is the reason I keep fighting. This love keeps me going and gives me even more hope. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Posted: September 27, 2011 in Health, Spiritual, Uncategorized
Tags: depression, inspiration, funny cats
My yawning is back with a vengeance. I asked my psychiatrist about it, and he laughed and said, “Oh, you’ve got the yawns.” I don’t feel wonderful physically, but I can tell that I am still improving emotionally. I just wanted to let you know what was going on, and to share another video with you inspired by my condition. Enjoy.
September 28, 2011 at 12:20 am
That’s fifty-nine seconds I will never get back. Thanks a lot.
Posted: January 6, 2013 in Health, Spiritual, Uncategorized
Tags: depression, inspiration
I know that as each of you has walked alongside me the past seventeen months, it has been just as much a journey for you as it has been for me. Even though I have not posted on this blog in over a year, mostly because I’ve had more personal correspondence with most of you, I am writing this now for my own sense of closure. The title of the blog, “I’m Not Alright”, no longer applies. While it is a significant volume in my history, one to be placed on my bookshelf with its binding as a reminder of how fragile life can be and how thankful I should continue to be, I am starting a new era of my life. No more depression. No more prescriptions. Heartache, sure. Hardships, of course. But this time around, it will be different: I won’t be alone. Not that I was really alone before (I had Claire and each of you), but I cut everyone off for so long. Not this time. This past year Claire has shown me how powerful love can be. She has given me more grace than I could ever deserve, and has carried my burdens when I could not. We have stitched up wounds and mended our relationship, and are enjoying a deeper emotional intimacy that surpasses what I could have imagined possible, even than on our wedding day. She and each of you have proved my fears to be lies I feasted on like a glutton. Instead of rejection and shame, I have felt nothing but acceptance and love.
Beyond finding love and the value of friendship, I have learned another simple truth about life and myself. Before Claire and I got married, I was naïve enough to believe that we were on our way to experiencing our happily ever after. That life was going to unfold exactly how we planned it. I know now that this attitude was the true cause of my depression. When life didn’t present itself on a silver platter, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I panicked. I got angry at God, the one who was supposed to take care of me. Like I said in response to Adam, I demanded God give me a reason for everything that was happening to me.
I still don’t know what that reason is. I have some pretty good guesses, but if the only reason for my suffering was so I could experience being human on a much deeper level, I am okay with that. I have resigned myself to knowing that life can be hard, but I can choose how to respond to my circumstances. I am not mad at God anymore. Though I don’t understand Him, or know why He would allow darkness to prevail so long in my life – in the world – I am willing to trust Him again. I think that’s what faith is all about. I don’t have to have all the answers. I just have to know that life is going to be what it is – hard at times, yet filled with indescribable love. I just have to be willing to receive it. Whether difficulties or love comes my way, I think this time I will be ready.