The Lives of the Dead

Some of the most interesting people I meet are dead…

Archive for the category “depression”

I Love The Smell of Free Will in the Morning

first published March 3, 2016dark_alley_b_w_by_godkill-d8w13xp

Co

I was a coward but, in my defense, most humans are in one way or another. It is in our nature to be afraid – of the unknown and of being known, equally of failing and winning, of loving and of not being loved, of change and of not being able to change.

Perhaps it is an unconscious itch at the back of the skull that leads us, in ways unrecognized, to a lifetime of habits. Or they may be burdensome fears, compelling and crippling, which weigh heavily upon us, miring us and slowing our progress. Or perhaps they are blinding and oppressive,  which drive us into dark corners and onto malevolent detours, hijacking our lives.

To be conscious of the fear and the ways in which it shapes us is to finally enter into the terrain where dominion is ceded to no one and nothing; where the blossoms of free will perfume the air.

 

image: Simon Valcourt  https://www.facebook.com/simonvalcourtartiste

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey.

 

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Another Vivid Dream, This Time, Mine

NEW

 

The other night at four a.m.,  I awakened from a dream so vivid,  that even after I’d gotten up and gone to the bathroom, and crawled back into bed, I felt myself still in that dream reality. Even now, I can close my eyes and be there again.  Normally, for me,  dreams evaporate quickly upon awakening unless I write them down or tell them to my husband. But not this one.  It’s as if it actually happened.  And dreams usually have that fuzzy quality to them.  Not this one.

The entire thing unfolded from my perspective, viewed through my eyes, with me  feeling the feelings, but it wasn’t actually me.

I am in my apartment in dreamland (which is nothing like my actual apartment.)   In the dream, it was also about four a.m.  I am sleeping I think on a pull-out sofa because I’m close to the door. I hear something outside in the hallway. I look through the keyhole.  My neighbor, a  young man —  younger than me by at least a decade or two —  is sitting with his back against the wall,  caddy-corner to my entrance.  His knees are drawn up to his chest, his arms are wrapped around his legs, his face is resting between his knees. He is absolutely still.

He often goes out in the evenings and comes home late, having partied himself into oblivion.  Tonight, he’s either drunk or high.  I can’t quite tell.  I’m getting no emotional reading from him. He seems completely inert.

He is a veteran and he suffers from PTSD.  In the time that we’ve been neighbors,   I have been kind to him. Occasionally we have had some serious conversations about a variety of things,  but I would not say we are friends. We hardly have anything in common.

He says nothing.  Doesn’t move.  But I know he wants  me to open my door so he can cry on my shoulder, otherwise why would he be sitting there?   But it’s the middle of the night.  I am not his therapist.  His problems are way above my pay grade.  I don’t know how to help him or that I even could. I feel compassion for him but he’s my neighbor,  a virtual stranger.  I am not willing let him become accustomed to leaning on me emotionally.  He’s not my patient, not my child, not my family member.  He needs professional help which I cannot provide.

Through the door, I speak to him sternly but kindly.  “Go home.  It’s late.”

Eventually I hear him shuffling off to his apartment, which is diagonally across from mine.  There are  just two apartments on the landing with a staircase up the middle.

I go back to bed, waiting for the click of his door but I don’t hear it.  I return to the key hole and look again. It’s hard to see his door from mine as the staircase is in the way, but I can see him leaning, with his head against his own door,  standing only from inertia,  not moving. I really do not want to get involved with him now but I cannot let him stand there all night.  I just want him to go into his own apartment and sleep it off.

I open my door and go over to him. He is almost in a fugue state. Barely there.  “Give me your key” I say, and he does.  I open the door for him and push him inside towards his couch.  “Sleep.  You will feel better in the morning.”    I’m doing the bare minimum to keep him safe, without getting sucked into one of his crying jags.   It’s the middle of the night!  I’m not on call! This is not my job.

I close the door after him and go back to  my apartment,  any vague sense of responsibility  assuaged.  I’m just dozing off when I hear his door open again.  I look out through the peep hole and I see him leaving. He is wearing rubber gloves and carrying what appears to be cleaning supplies.  This makes no sense to me.

I am afraid he’s going to get into trouble out there in his condition.  Even for him,  his behavior this evening has been bizarre.

I call the police. Tell them what’s happened.  I ask them to go find him before he hurts himself or someone else. They ask me for the make of his car.  I tell him I have no idea.  I’ve seen him in it a few times; it’s a nondescript midsize vehicle.  I can’t give them any more than that.  They seem to be blowing me off.  I get angry and ask them if they can’t look up the vehicle based on his name and address.  I am seriously concerned that he’s going to do something bad.  While I do not feel  personally responsible for him,  I cannot ignore this.  If he caused an accident or got himself into serious trouble,  I would feel guilty.

The dream ended there, with me trying to get the police to go after him.  But because it was so vivid,  it was  easy to put myself back into the reality of it.  I reran the whole thing in my head a couple of times, trying to determine if there was any meaning to this.   Later,  somewhere between sleep and wakefulness, I understand what had actually happened:  He had already killed somebody earlier in the evening and he was going back out to attempt to cover his tracks and/or hide the evidence.   This explained his strange impenetrable mood, his total lack of affect.   That night, he had finally hit bottom, and there would be no climbing back out of it.

 

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Via Dolorosa

NEW!

Faj

I was grateful for every moment,  every hour, without pain.  An accident in my 20’s left me in near constant agony.  My damage was not obvious to the outside world,  so people often thought me weak,  a malingerer,  unmotivated.  None of them could understand how such a condition rules and ruins a life.

I was only able to sleep a few hours at a time, before the throbbing and aching and burning awakened me.  I tried to calm myself as best I could, so I might sleep again.  Sometimes, I was too exhausted even to eat.  I could not work and was forced to depend on others to survive.  Although I did not particularly enjoy alcohol,  I often drank,  simply to calm my jagged nerve endings.  All of this wore on the health of my body and my mind.

My tolerance for physical suffering increased over the years, but the pain always managed to outpace it. Such torment was my constant companion.  I could see no permanent escape from this except death.

Those who lived in physical comfort and ease could not understand.

An old woman lived nearby.  She had suffered with a painful affliction for many years, and then, miraculously,  her pain ceased.  She understood. Often, she would feed me,  care for me out of compassion.  We prayed together that I would someday experience the same kind of miracle.  It never came.

Pain feels different to everyone, but for each, it is real. Pain is there to make us grateful for ease, over an hour or over many lifetimes.

 

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey.

Losing Feathers

First published on October 25, 2015

aeg sky feathers

Ror

I could not point to any reason for my unhappiness. It was rather that because I was, by nature, unhappy, I found reason for unhappiness in everything.   It became worse as I got older. Perhaps it was hormonal or maybe it was simply that I was now on the downhill side of my life with narrowing opportunities or reasons for hope.

Gradually, I lost the taste for that which I once enjoyed. I ceased to care about the problems of others, both large and small. I stayed more to myself and found less tolerance for the petty interests of the general public.

I went through the motions of life without extracting any joy, making my last years sad and full of regret.


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Try A Little Tenderness

first published  Oct 7, 2015

self awareness self forgiveness

Co

I was intelligent enough to understand that self-knowledge and self-awareness were crucial for spiritual evolvement,  and I absolutely wanted to evolve. I believed that if I understood myself deeply enough, I could become free from my pain.  Although I dove deep, I was not able to find the way out into the light on the other side. I was trapped inside myself with the knowledge of who I was.

I was painfully familiar with every dark, back alley of my soul. I kept strict accounting of my limitations, my fears, my perplexions. And yet, I was powerless against them all.  Neither knowledge nor awareness was able to banish any of it.

I watched  as others went about their lives in blissful ignorance of their own flaws. I wished with envy that I too could forget all that was wrong with me.

And so, I held myself apart from others for fear of hurting them as I flailed around in the darkness. I couldn’t bear to burden anyone with the wretched curse of who I was.  And so I lived alone,  in the shadow of the Light.

Now it is all clear: It wasn’t the knowledge of my flaws that caused my torment. It was my inability to forgive myself for what I could not change.

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

 

The Vaseline Jar

first published August 20, 2014

fog-man

Pe

Have you ever walked through a fog so thick, you can barely see your feet as they hit the pavement in front of you? You might hear voices, traffic, the sounds of others’ footsteps, but you can see nothing but yourself.

This was my normal state of existence — enveloped in an opaque haze which never dissipated.

Or perhaps it was more like living in a Vaseline-covered jar. I could see what was immediately around me; that which was inside the jar. I could feel my own feelings clearly enough, but could not see my effect on the lives or feelings of others. Beyond my immediate surroundings,  the world was fuzzy.  My future and the possibility of change were all out there, beyond my reach, and always out of focus.

Every so often, someone would come close and enter into clarity for a brief while, but inevitably they would move out of range, beyond my ability to see them clearly; outside my ability to understand; beyond my comfort zone which I could not step outside in order to follow or give chase.

I was too afraid to pursue my dreams in that terra incognita for fear I would stumble and fall. I knew there was joy and peace out there, but they existed in the midst of dangers and demons I could not see, and to which I would not allow myself to become vulnerable.

And so I remained trapped in this bleak brume, trying to hack my way through like a blind person tentatively feeling their way around new surroundings; waving my hands,  as if trying to clear the smoke out of a kitchen after a small grease fire without first bothering to put out the flames.

A few tried to lead me. Sometimes I would follow blindly for a while, clinging, but then the fear began to creep: What if they led me to a new, unfamiliar place and then abandoned me? I wouldn’t understand the rules. How would I cope in this strange landscape? I would be totally vulnerable.

I couldn’t bring myself to trust anyone that much, least of all myself.

So there I remained, safe in my Vaseline jar; in my smoke-filled kitchen, in my pea-soup-dense fog. Just me and my imagination of how it could be out there if I only could.

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

Couple of Hours, Max

 

balloon-pin

 

NEW!

Jul

I was not an average kind of person but I absolutely was of a specific known type: a depressive, nihilistic, pessimistic, angry, neurotic intellectual.   I was thoroughly convinced of my own genius to the point of condescension towards those who were not as sharp as I.  At the same time, I also harbored a  profound self-loathing which sprung from deep insecurity and crippling self-doubt.

I was quick-witted, extremely well-read, with a sardonic sense of humor.  I could, when it suited me, be quite charming.  Although few people dared stray too close to me emotionally,  I was often invited to parties and social gatherings.  I stirred the pot in the controlled way a host likes. It makes for interesting conversation.

One on one, I was off putting; tolerable only in limited doses.  I could find the negative in everything; suck the joy out of any occasion.  I was rain at a picnic.  The pin in the balloon.

Not surprisingly, I did not have any long-lasting intimate relationships. My longest affair  was four years. The only reason she stuck around as long as she did was because she had nowhere else to go.  I knew she was trapped;  I knew why she was with me, and I tortured her for it. She was weak; she was desperate; I resented her need and detested her for it.

Eventually, even the notion of being penniless out on the street was preferable to living with me.

In a strange way, I missed her for a while. She had been, for all her flaws, human company. I craved it while simultaneously being repelled by it, and by my own need for it.

As I got older,  the vague paranoia that had plagued me since childhood began to consume me.  I imagined conspiracies everywhere — by the government, by my landlord, by my neighbors, by whatever family members still had anything to do with me. I picked fights over imagined slights.  If I misplaced or lost something, I accused other of stealing. Eventually even those who had tolerated me and my trunkful of quirks had enough.

My final years were spent alone, mumbling to myself, angry at the world that it did not recognize my genius. I read voraciously and wrote manifestos to newspapers, to authors,  to people in the government.

My observations about the world, about humans and the way they are, were not insane.  In fact, it was the truth of them that nearly drove me mad.

 

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

Hope Springs Eternal, Damnit!

First published Aug 13, 2015

praying hands

Mo

Hope ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. I’ve seen people invest their entire lives hoping for something that will never be when they should be making something out of what’s right there in front of them.

I wasted most of my best days chasing something I wasn’t ever gonna catch. I neglected my family. I neglected my finances. I neglected my health   People in my church told me to “have faith…it will happen!” and they thought they were doing God’s work. I will tell you, they were doing the Devil’s work, because what did I get in the end? Nothing. Sure enough, not what I was running after all those years.   My wife was long gone, hitched up with some guy who treated her a lot better than I did. My kids? They barely knew my name. I never supported them, not in any way.   I had no money. I was living hand-to-mouth. I was chasing smoke.

When I was in my younger days, I would look at the guys who give up their youthful dreams (whatever they were), got married, found steady jobs, raised their kids in a decent place, in a decent way; I’d look at them and think, “Coward!”   I thought they were all pussy-whipped, in one way or another, at least the ones whose marriages lasted. But I eventually realized that for most of them their wives made them better men, and they knew it. Without that steady hand at the rudder to keep them on course, they would have drifted off in a cesspool of booze, cheap women and no commitments to anything.   They would have been like me.

Except I was taught it was a sin to stop hoping. I thought it was a sin to give up faith. I believed in myself. That was the most important thing. I had to keep plugging away, as a sign of my devotion.

I knew a woman with a very sick child. That little girl was sick for years, and the mother prayed every day. She hoped and she prayed. She counted on God to make her daughter well. But in the end, the girl died. And that mother was inconsolable.

Instead of eventually understanding that such things happen in life; that one must mourn and grieve and move on (which is not to say forget the person, but rather move them into our past) she was consumed with guilt.

She had, on occasion, sat in the hospital or fretted in bed at night, wondering what it would be like if the child died. Maybe it would be better for everyone. The girl would never be well; she would be a burden to someone all her life. Her care would be expensive. Was it terribly selfish to want a life without such a burden? She was only in her 20s herself, with her whole life ahead of her.

But everyone told her to “Never give up hope.” “Have faith!” “Believe in the lord!” They said it as if they were channeling Jesus himself.

When the girl died, the mother was consumed with guilt. She knew she had put aside her faith to think about herself for a moment or two, here and there. What a horrible mother she was! She didn’t deserve to have children! It was all her fault. God was punishing her because of her inherent selfishness.

You get the idea.

She ended up in a mental hospital.

That’s where faith got her.

She was never able to work through the untruth of all that.

Some things just have their time. We walk through the corridors of the maze of our life, only able to see what’s immediately around us We can’t know what or who is on the other side of that wall or what or who is around the next corner; certainly not what’s around the next three or ten corners.   Sometimes, we come to a split in the path and we have to choose a direction. Sometimes we find ourselves at a dead end. Sometimes we are on our path alone; sometimes with others. But no matter when we die, it’s always one short corner from the end of the maze of that particular life.

Faith, by itself, it not a virtue. It can even be a vice when it’s faith in the wrong thing.

Maybe the best kind of faith you can have, that only one that makes any sense, is a belief that you are listening to the universe correctly… the faith to be open enough to allow the spiritual realm to guide you – not where you want to go, but where it wants to take you.

 

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

 

Only the Lonely

Originally posted July 14, 2014

Lonely_Old_Lady_by_Nocturnatum

An

I didn’t start out being depressed. It just came upon me insidiously and gradually. I stopped caring about the little things and soon, I no longer cared about the big things either.

I’d never felt much compassion for depressed people. I thought it was self-indulgent to wallow in one’s own misery. Get up! Go out! Help another human being! Get a hobby! Take a new lover!   To me, depression was a result of a sense of loss of control of one’s circumstances. The only way to shake off the feeling was to regain control, in any way possible, even if it meant shifting one’s expectations; setting a lower bar for what was considered “success.”

This theory had worked for me for most of my life, but then, perhaps as a result of my age or my hormones, I no longer felt I had the ability to control my life. Either I wasn’t physically able or because I no longer had the time to master something new or because I didn’t have the connections to those who could help me.   When I was young, everything was possible. As I got older, I realized I would never learn to ski or climb Kilimanjaro or sail down the Nile.

In any case, my usual remedies stopped working. Every day, I felt less able to shake the sense of hopelessness. I had friends, but they had their own problems. Ultimately nobody cared if I left the house or not; if I wore the same old clothes day after day or if I dressed to impress; if I ate right or if I subsisted on a tin of sardines and  some crackers. Nobody cared more than superficially if I was happy or blue.  For while,  I followed the news and latest technological and scientific advances so I could remain current, but nobody cared what I thought or had to say. Only the opinions of young people mattered. The world was moving so fast, and I just didn’t have the energy to keep up.

I felt increasingly isolated. Perhaps some of this was my own doing. I withdrew, and as I withdrew, nobody seemed to notice. And the less they noticed, the more I withdrew, until my world was sad and small. I lived with the realization that I was nobody special and never would be, despite believing all my life that I had something unique to offer.   My problems, my needs, my feelings were of no significance to anyone.

My death was slow and by a thousand cuts, as is often the case. I gradually took less care of myself until the cumulative damage did me in. I never had the nerve to kill myself, but I was relieved when the end finally came.

 

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

 

The Path of Least Resistance

first published July 8, 2014

seaweed

 

Ne

I was swept along by the tide of indecision. Always afraid of making a mistake, I never committed wholly to anything. The minute I walked into a new situation, I was already looking for the exit doors. Life happened all around me but I was not a full participant. I let others lead me, mold me, direct me. I was, indeed, nothing more than a piece of seaweed, drifting along, catching on some flotsam and clinging to it for a while, until I was washed away by a current, to float on my own,  until once again I caught upon something else.   My job, my marriage, my friends were all found along the path of least resistance.

I never stood up for what I believed because I never believed in anything. I was not a bad person. I did not harm others except by frustrating those who wanted more from me.

I was lucky, I suppose, in that I always managed to attach to the right kind of person – people who were stronger, more determined, more motivated, more passionate than I – and I rode along in their wake. So my life was comfortable enough. A decent existence. Not poor but not rich. Not accomplished, but not a failure. Not particularly happy but not exactly depressed.   Mainly, I existed going from day to day with very little drama. Which is not to say there wasn’t drama around me. I just didn’t get drawn into it. My attitude was “Do whatever you want. Let me know your decision.”

I guess I would say I sleepwalked through my life. My feelings were just a low hum in the background, like the sound made by power lines. I don’t remember ever getting angry. What was there to get angry about when nothing mattered?

From here, I understand that many of the things we find so very important during life turn out to have had no real value. We often chase illusion. Perhaps on some deep, spiritual level I instinctively understood that and so, was never drawn into the chase. But I also know now that if you don’t embrace it, feel it fully, allow yourself to be completely absorbed into it  as if it were the most important thing in the world, no matter how pointless the chase might ultimately be, you don’t get any of the lessons.

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

 

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