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Friday, April 23, 2021

Why I Blog

If it isn't clear, my blog is a journal. Not of every dark secret but basically a written account of the travails of the Turtle. When I started blogging all those years ago, I couldn't write enough. I had three blogs I wrote daily and sometimes more than one post per day. I was young, happy, and excited about life's possibilities.

Yeah, that's over. 

I stopped blogging mainly because I had said everything I wanted to say and started repeating myself. Depression is the same script, after all, and writing that script doesn't help in the slightest. I get tired of my own depression, so I'm sure y'all are completely sick of it. Depression is dull. 

I resumed blogging for two reasons. One, I needed to write about recovery. I needed to do something different and different is admitting the problem openly. Most of the time, writing helps me get a handle on my circumstances. It has helped me do that.  

Two, I was curious if I could still do it. Thanks to FB, my writing life had narrowed to sentences posted to my feed. Easier, yes, but not necessarily better. Since leaving FB and TV, I've resumed reading, resumed crafting of various kinds, and resumed blogging. I don't know that there's a direct correlation but not being reminded of the griefs of my past or the stupidity of the present is good for now. I need real people who are in my physical sphere of influence to focus on. One reason to return to church. I have a chance to do good for those folks. 

Blogging doesn't fit my schedule as easily as it once did. I replaced gaming and vegging with reading and hugelkulturing. My weekends are focused more on seeing family than staying home with the ipad or dvds. As always, I'm seeking balance with alone time - of which I need a lot - and not-alone time, which has proven benefits. 

And, this week, I've resumed writing one of my books. I know I am taking my emotional life in my hands with this action. The last three times I have tried to do this, Satan has hit me so hard with trauma/drama I've folded into depression and panic attacks without a prayer. 

TT: Proof? I resumed writing in 2016 and four animals died in nineteen days. I resumed writing in 2017 and a feral cat and five kittens showed up and tumbled me into chaos and depression for three years. I resumed writing in February 2021 and a stray cat showed up within two weeks and nearly killed me with anxiety until I found a home for her. 

The garage is closed for business. I have plans in place for stray cats now. I have made what peace I can with my guys dying, although they currently appear healthy and obnoxious as ever. 

We'll see. I have no expectations other than trying something new. Something new would be to keep going. 

Keep the faith. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2021


Something fun, not depressing...

Three years ago (?), Elder Brother dug some burial plots in his yard. Not really, but close enough. Six foot by three (?) foot high mounds of dirt over logs. It's a permaculture thing, basically creating a raised bed with logs on the inside that holds its own water. I have watched and waited on the results. His yard's water holding capacity has increased dramatically, and he was barely touched by the flood we all experienced last year. Alrighty, then. 

And, seriously, why wouldn't I want burial mounds in The Swamp? It's been trying to kill me for twenty years. 

The steady takeover by Bermuda grass once Grandma Maple fell has driven me out of The Swamp for the most part. I cannot fight a thing designed by God to feed a million two-ton animals on a daily basis. Because I won't play a game I have no chance of winning, The Swamp - once the joy of my heart - has become a daily reminder of how much I hate life and how much life hates me. 

Last year, in an attempt to be hopeful, I planted a sunset maple, two golden raintrees and a crabapple. I also let four redbuds grow. Shade is the only thing that slows Bermuda grass and I intend to shade the Hell out of my yard. 

TT: In case you didn't know, Satan's lawn is Bermuda grass and his groundskeepers trim it with dull-bladed hand mowers that only cut them, not the grass. 

So, this spring I am building hugels

I don't know if that's the real name or just what I'm calling them. I mean kulture sure seems like the German for culture, right, as in horticulture? So hugel would be the dirt-covered pile of logs and kulture would be the practice of dirt-covered piles of logs. Whatever. I'm a Kansan. I don't want to know German. 

I want to play in the dirt. I want my Swamp back. I want to be flood-ready. Mostly I want to be able to tell the city code enforcement officer, "Hey, these piles of dirt-covered branches have their own websites. You can't cite me for being green and cleaning up the neighborhood. I'm may be a conservative, but I can sure look like a liberal when it comes to saving the planet." 

Keep the faith. 

Monday, April 19, 2021

I Garden So I Don't Choke People

Depression sucks the energy out of me. Makes it hard to move, hard to care, hard to think of anything but the same tired scripts that suck the energy out. 

I learned in 2019 that moving helps. When Miss Kitty was dying, I couldn't eat, but I could move. I kept moving - and accidentally started ketosis and lost 15 pounds before I realized what was happening and forced myself to eat a chocolate chip cookie. That was two months after her burial. 

I knew weekends playing Farmville for 18 hours a day made the depression worse, one of the reasons I quit Farmville. I knew spending any kind of time in The Swamp pulling weeds, watering something, moving a brick or two, helped my mood, which is why I have forced myself to go outside. It is so helpful that on good mental days I lay out my garden pants so I'm ready to change as soon as I come home. Like exercise. Don't think. Just do. 

I didn't do that last week. I over-extended on the weekend, and stayed in Monday and Tuesday instead of going outside. By Wednesday, I was an emotional wreck. 

The anxiety is gone for the moment but the anger and hopeless are building. Mostly anger as society gets dumber by the hour, it seems, but hopelessness is quick to follow when I remember God wants me to love these stupid people and be kind to the morons. How exactly do I do that, Lord, when I just want to bitch-slap all of them? 

Paul Asay runs marathons to avoid the down-sucking of depression, but the trifecta of thick glasses, bad knees and motion sickness rule that option out for me. Plus, I hate running. 

I like outside chores. I've started two hugelkulture beds because they allow me to gather branches, chop wood and dig holes - all things I can do despite Bermuda grass. I'm clearing out the storm drains in the neighborhood for organic material and stealing sticks from neighbors' lawns for the wood. Doing this helps me. I like to think it helps everyone. 

I must keep moving. Lives depend on it. Mine most of all. 

Keep the faith. 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Back To Church

Blogger distracted me with the news my email feature is going away in June. Then Feedburner provided abysmal directions on how to export my email list, a task which will apparently require hours of deciphering "intuative" tech speak instead of giving me a clearly marked button to push. 

I hate young people. 

But on to my chosen topic of why I'm back at church and trying to love people, young and old. 

I was not a pew baby. To the best of my recollection, my family began regularly attending church when I was 10 (?). By 15, we were at church at least five times a week. By 19, I was off to college, my church split, and when I returned home six years later, I had no home church to return to. 

I attended a church with a puppet group for about a decade, until the group disbanded and I realized the leadership didn't actually believe in supernatural events, like the virgin birth or the feeding of the 5000. My next church agreed with my opinion that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, and a being capable of creating everything is certainly capable of creating some bread. I attended faithfully until a depressive episode hit. I went back after a number of years, maybe 8?, and then another depressive episode hit. About the time I thought about going back, covid showed up. 

I resumed in-person attendance this January, and with demonic timing, my most recent trigger appeared. If past is prologue, I should have stopped going out at all and stayed at home nursing my depression like the squalling brat it is. 

This time, however, I will not to be dissuaded. This time, I will do what God tells me to do and not forsake the assembling of ourselves together all the more as I see the day (of destruction) approaching. I now attend one service, one small group and one mid-week prayer group. I have volunteered to bring someone without a ride every other week. I will obey God and Christ's example by mingling with fellow Christ followers. 

Depression separates. From people, from activities, from life. I will not choose to be separate any more. If I want a different result, I have to do different things. This is different, and I will do it. 

Keep the faith. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Look Up, Not Down

Another Beauty in the Browns suggestion. 

Depression lowers the head, the heart, the stomach, energy levels. Everything goes down. It's hard to look up, but you must. 

You must look up. 

Yesterday, I stumbled. Met a fact I didn't want to face. That fact could have swallowed me. 

Instead, I looked up. I looked at the sun. I looked at a world I so desperately want to leave, and decided I envy those who get to leave it. I will not mourn them. They rest in God's hands, no more worries, no more cares. Just loved by the Being of Light. 

I'll be there someday. Not today, alas. Someday. When God finally allows me to die. I can wait. 

I can look up. 

Keep the faith. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Why People Are Important in Depression

People are not my favorite. Ask me. Ask anyone who actually knows me (there aren't many). 

I find people exhausting. Needy. Ridiculous. Often useless. On good days, I can translate this to Mr. Bennett's "Well, well, what is life for, if not to make sport of our neighbors, and provide sport for them in our turn?" On bad days, I have learned to clench my jaw, avoid conversation, and speak in a very, very soft voice when absolutely necessary. 

However, I have learned, and Paul Asay of Beauty in the Browns, concurs, that people are important in treating and avoiding depressive episodes. What people and how many probably vary, but the key is to look outside myself for ways to help other humans. 

Depression is quite selfish. The more I look inward at how awful I am, and life is, and people are, the worse the depression gets. In fact, the better my outward life actually is, the more depressed I tend to become, often because I have no reason to feel depressed, and that is completely depressing. 

Helping another human (and it has to be a human. I have been good to enough animals to know it isn't the same or I would be the happiest camper in the universe) helps me feel better. To be selfless, to be kind, to go out of my way, even for a phone conversation, can give life a scrap of meaning. Piece enough scraps, and you've got a quilt of meaning to pad the day. 

It sounds a bit too easy, doesn't it? It's not a cure-all. I lost my quilt pattern this last time, and I'm having a hard time getting back in the scrap box, but I will keep trying. It's also easy to go too far, extend too much and get buried under exhaustion and stress. I did that once. It was not fun. I'm looking for balance. 

I learned last year that a day where I went out of my way to help another human was a better day than one where I didn't. One personal goal is now to say yes to helping opportunities instead of my knee-jerk no. I don't think I'm trying to earn anything. I think I'm trying to practice not withholding good when it is in my power to do it. But I'm a selfish creature so it is sometimes hard to understand my motives. 

I try not to dwell on them. It depresses me. 

Keep the faith. 

Monday, April 12, 2021

Christians Are Part of the Problem, Too

I don't usually talk about these depressive thoughts. For two reasons. 

I don't want to bad-mouth God publicly. That sounds funny considering what I've already confessed but it's true. I believe in God. I believe the evidence for intelligent design far outweighs the evidence against it. I have studied apologetics for 40 years in one form or another. I am not able to abandon what my reason says is true. I don't want my depressive experiences to become an argument against God. 

I don't want to give bad thoughts to people who've never had them. There are so many things in my head I wish weren't there. I don't want to spread the disease if I can avoid it. No one should have to think these things if they aren't already there. 

However, I am coming to realize that my silence is part of the problem, especially for me as a Christian. In the last 9 years, I've avoided the church because, in general, Christians don't understand what I'm going through. They don't want to be around my grief, my hopelessness and my anger. They don't know what to do with it, how to respond to it, and most importantly, how to not make it worse. As a naturally solitary creature, I don't want to expose myself to further injury by well-intentioned but often condescending comments from the peanut gallery. It is not helpful. 

The depressives out there are hearing me loud and clear. Just like those who've suffered soul-wounding grief, abuse, addiction and any other life issue that doesn't fit neatly into a worship song or have a tidy, miraculous, instant cure. We hurt, and we don't need or want platitudes. We don't need you to fix our problem (although sometimes there are solutions). We aren't looking for advice (although sometimes we are). I can't figure out what's going on, I certainly don't believe you can figure it out (although sometimes an outside perspective is quite helpful). 

What I need from my fellow believers is prayer. They can say whatever they want about me to God. At least I'm being lifted up. I need a kind ear. I need a cup of tea. I need someone to say, "You know, I don't always get God, either." 

We the hurting are just talking about real things that really trouble us. The only thing I want is for God to show up. I don't even need an answer. I just want to see Him, like Job saw him. But I'm not Job. 

Keep the faith. 

Friday, April 9, 2021

When God is Part of the Problem

The hardest thing about my recent bout of depression, the one that I began recovering from 12.16.2019, was how much God was part of the problem. 

I am a Christ-follower. Not a good one, as I've already established - a Pharisaical one. I make up God-rules to follow because I don't want to do some of the things He clearly tells me to do. Obedience to God is worship of God. I'm a terrible worshipper. 

During my depressive states, I talk to God a lot. Hourly. I don't watch TV. I read my Bible and listen to sermon podcasts from David Jeremiah and Paul Sheppard and recently Craig something from Life.Church. I talk to God honestly, like David, who I'm pretty sure was bipolar. I yell a lot, accuse a lot, demand a lot, cry a lot. I am that dripping rain wife Proverbs talks about. Never satisfied, ever-wanting, continuously nagging. Why is this happening? Why can't I overcome this? Why don't you heal me? How can I tell people about your incredible love when you won't show me any? 

As far as I can tell empirically, God ignores me. I don't come to an understanding of the greatness of God, like David seems to. Although, I have no idea how long it took him to write those psalms so maybe his answers came later. I don't glory in the greatness of my creator. 

I don't feel loved. I don't feel heard. I don't feel the peace that passes understanding. I feel ignored. Shunned, even. God has already said everything He has to say and He's done. A new promise, just for me? I have the whole Bible and its promises. Trust those, even if they don't exactly fit my specific circumstances. Besides, I'm not doing what He's already told me to do, so until I cowboy up, He's got nothing to say. 

My source of help will not help. Isn't He supposed to help? Isn't the entire point of the Bible that I can't do this by myself? Sure feels like that's what I'm doing. 

Paul Asay also has trouble experiencing God the way some people do. It's why I listened to him and bought his book, Beauty in the Browns. He has been able to find a way to trust what he knows when the feelings aren't there. C.S. Lewis says the same thing in a quote about trusting what his reason knows when his mood doesn't fit his mind. 

That's all great, except my experiences as I age have become time after time when God let me down. Didn't show up in a visible way. Didn't answer a prayer in a visible way that undeniably points to His hand in the business. Didn't offer comfort in a tangible way. I want to believe He was doing something behind the scenes, and His ways are not my ways, and His timing is not my timing, but is it really so much to ask for one clear sign that He is listening? Gideon got that twice. 

Sure, maybe I'm doing it wrong. It has to be my fault, right? I'm the human. God can't possibly be to blame. I should just trust more, think good thoughts, wait until I die 50 years from now to find out it was all worth it. Those platitudes mean exactly nothing when I'm drowning in sand. 

How is it possible to have a real relationship with an invisible, intangible, unexperience-able being? At some point, a friend shows up and offers a hug, makes some tea, hands over a tissue. If people are the hands and feet of God, and He doesn't do anything Himself, how do I know He's even there? 

I am not driven by feelings, but when all my feelings are hopeless grief, bitter despair, and absolute aloneness, it would be nice if the God I serve would provide a little balance instead of a lot of silence. 

Keep the faith. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Bill Making Stuff

Something funny, not depressing...

Studson Studio has garnered a lot of internet attention. Guy's been posting about a year, has over 100K subscribers. Pastor Paul Sheppard has been preaching for 40 years, has 8K subscribers. Go figure. 

Anyway, this English guy named Bill commented on one of Studson's posts, challenging him to a make-off in that snarky Douglas Adams kind of Britishness that this American can't get enough of, so I clicked over there to find a somewhat morose fellow looking down on me from his carved-out workshop space and I haven't stopped tuning in since. 

Again, the videography, editing and style are top-notch. If Bill has another life, maybe he works in production. The sound effects are Monty Python cheers, boos and farts. Haven't officially identified coconuts yet, but wouldn't surprise me if they come. 

I have zero interest in the rusty, post-apocalyptic robots slash vehicles he creates, but I can't stop watching him make them. He made this hermit crab thing that was pretty cool, and a "giant" robot overlord that was so cute. Not sure Bill was going for cute, but I wanted to take it home and give it a can of oil and some bolts to snack on. 

Anyway, if you're up for some low-key UK sarcasm with bits of junk, lots of super glue and more rust than you could ever want, hop over to Bill Making Stuff and enjoy. 


Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Killing Myself Daily

 I don't remember exactly when I started asking to die, but I'm guessing it was at least 2016. I never expected to live past 30. That I continue to live past 30 is annoying in the extreme. 

These have never been actively suicidal thoughts. In the beginning, they were "I wish I was dead." Ultimately, it became "Anytime, Lord. Kill me anytime. Anywhere. Anyway. I'm ready to go." Then, "Did I seriously survive another day? You're really falling down on the prayer answering thing, God. I can't be clearer." 

I was looking for terminal cancer, embolism, aneurism, stray bus - anything that would take me out without another human having to feel too bad about it. God has stubbornly kept me here despite my nagging. 

After 12.16,2019, my recovery start day, I continued to ask for death daily, often hourly as I tried to give up the horrors my life had become and let God do His thing. I even kept a 3x5 card on my desk that said Cheer up! You could die today! It occurred to me finally that I could kill myself by not giving in to the incredibly selfish, mean, bitter, angry, vicious, snarling beast-thing I had become and instead work to live the life of a Christ-follower presented in the New Testament by Paul, Peter, James, et al. Be kind, humble, patient, gracious to all, generous, not speaking evil, encouraging, doing good, being hospitable. Run from evil, cling to what is good. Focus on pure, noble, good, trustworthy, true things. Of course, this was far harder than being dead, but what is life if not ever-growing hardship? Why do you think I'm so keen to get out? 

Every morning I listened to or read and wrote from the New Testament what a real person should be like. Every day I focused on being that person. It was hard, but what did that matter? It was hard the other way, too, and I was full-up sick of that bitch. This way, Jesus' way, I was tired but I'd tried. And I started to succeed. I started to feel better inside. I started to feel compassion for the people around me, for the people on the phone I had so recently despised. It was better. It was good. 

Then I fell off the wagon. This February-March, I suffered a setback that has apparently reset me back to 12.16.2019. All the old, worldly feelings of anger and contempt are back with a vengeance, and my frustration is greater because I think I should be better than this. I mean, I've practiced for a year, right? I should have this by now. But as any drunk knows, day one starts when you put the most recent drink down and leave it there. 

Ah, well. What is life if not falling down and getting up and falling down and getting up and falling down and getting up all the way to Heaven? 

Which is why I'm still OK with God killing me anytime. But I'm not asking as much. 

Keep the faith. 

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Studson Studio

Something funny, not depressing... 

When I was happy a few months ago, I discovered Studson Studio on YouTube. He wasn't a destination, just one of those suggested paths the unwary can follow in YouTubeland like Alice in the looking glass. 

I was working on my dollhouse because I felt happy and had some energy to spare for having fun. It was really nice while it lasted. 

Google keyed off my miniature searches and YouTube began suggesting miniature building videos. Cue Studson. 

He's a born director, videographer, cinematographer, editor, gaffer and foley artist. One of his videos includes a video remake, shot as a child, of the first Jurassic Park, starring siblings and friends the summer it came out. It's the video where he recreates his childhood home as a building from Jurassic Park

He is funny. Down in the belly funny in the stream-of-consciousness, video-laden-cultural-references, self-effacing way some Millennials have that makes me think of him as the son I never knew I wanted. 

Add his use of trash and recycled materials to build 28mm scale miniatures for tabletop gaming, and I can spend hours watching him without regret. 

He hasn't been posting for long, a year, perhaps, but he has over 100K subscribers. I know they all think he's funny, too. 

So, if you need a little pick me up after a hard day, check out Studson Studio. 

Keep the faith. 

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Depression with a Side of Anxiety

I'm gonna have to stop writing about depression for a while. It's making me depressed. One thing this journaling has done is clarify why I am now determined to seek help both professional and relational and do things differently. 

In the past 24 years, my depressive episodes have been mostly that - depressive. No energy, no hope, no enjoyment of life. Hang around and slog through and wait for the next wave of sand. That's my lot. 

A couple of years ago, life circumstances came together in such a way to frighten me. Really scare the bejeezus out of me for a short time. I couldn't breathe, couldn't eat, had trouble sleeping, the works. The circumstances shifted, the fear subsided and I went on with my normal depression. It was bad but it was the bad I live with daily. 

A month ago, the terror returned and brought friends. The trigger was pretty small but the reaction was enormous. I've lost 13 pounds in five weeks from not being able to eat. I couldn't catch my breath when sitting or lying down. My heart would increase from 50 to 90 beats a minute for no obvious reason. And I couldn't make it stop. I couldn't do anything to stop it. My depression coping skills were inadequate. God wasn't doing anything. I was trapped between hopelessness and fear that the hopelessness would never stop and it was my fault to boot. 

I am mostly through it for the moment. Circumstances have changed. I am eating and able to breathe normally most of the time. But I cannot - I will not - allow that loss of control to happen again if I can do anything to stop it. I do mean anything. Electro shock is on the table. Drugs are on the table. If I thought there was a chance in Hell alcohol would have helped instead of making it worse, I would be drinking Scotch while I write this. 

It is clear to me I have no coping resources left. I have run myself out of mental health and I will need more than me to regain what I've lost. If I can. Two years after my nervous breakdown, I remember thinking "Oh, this is it. This is as good as I will feel from now on. It's not what I was, but it's better than nothing." Which, of course, is fodder for more depression. 

Anyway, enjoy your Scotch or Scotch-equivalent. I'll try to write some happy things for a while. 

Keep the faith. 

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Beauty in the Browns and Waves of Sand

I heard Paul Asay, author of Beauty in the Browns,  interviewed on Focus on the Family in late January before my most recent tumble back into the dark places. Here was a guy who personally understood depression. I decided to buy his book at the next paycheck. 

I didn't, and I should have. I bought his book two months later when I was freaking out with my second brush with depression overly seasoned with paralyzing anxiety. 

Started reading the book four days ago. Two-thirds done. He does get it, and I get him. 

Our circumstances are not identical but the similarities are enough to create kinship. If you or someone you love suffer from depression, I recommend the book. I recommend buying it from Focus on the Family so that your purchase goes to a good cause instead of, well, other causes. Do as you will. 

I'll be writing about the book for a bit because he's got good stuff in there. 

Mr. Asay relates his experience of depression to the static we used to experience on TV when transmissions came through airwaves and metal bunny ears. For me, depression is more like waves of sand. 

I'm walking along, minding my own business, and sand laps around my feet. That's no good. Should probably walk somewhere else. Oops, more sand and now it's dragging at my feet. OK, I've done this before. Keep moving. Then the big wave hits, knocking me off my feet into a hole that begins to fill with sand. I've tried scrabbling out before, but that's so hard and the sand is pinning my legs and then my arms and then it's just easier to lie there and wait for it to pull away because even if I fight, the wave will come back and I'll be right back here again, pinned down, without hope. Why fight the inevitable? 

That's what depression does. It takes the fight out of you. It's hard to be around. It's hard to be the depressed person because I know I'm hard to be around at those times. Nothing is funny. I have no desire, no energy, no creativity. I don't even have the solace of sleeping through it because of my wonky circadian rhythms. I just lie there, knowing nothing matters and I will never stop feeling this way until I'm dead. And maybe not then. 

Which is why I can't take suicide seriously. What if it doesn't stop the cycle? What if the Great Beyond is worse, or more of the same? Those are really bad days. 

I'm good at the moment. Sunny skies, removal of the current trigger, have brought some light back into my eyes. I'm hoping an honest trip to the doctor and Mr. Asay's book will give me some more coping skills. I'll keep you posted. 

Keep the faith. 

Monday, March 29, 2021

The Other Voices

Not sure when this really started, but I have other voices in my head, too. I usually have a song playing in my mind as soon as I wake up. 

It isn't from the radio. I'm awake long before the alarm sounds. The alarm is for the cats, really, to let them know this is the time you can expect Mom to get up and stay up. 

The song is usually what could be considered Christian contemporary, something I heard on Klove, Family Life Radio or American Family Radio's morning show (they're mostly talk, now). Or cable has a contemporary Christian channel, that would be more rightly named The TobyMac Channel. 

No offense to Toby. Prolific is a lucrative thing. 

So, I have this one voice that likes to talk about the bad, the worse and the unthinkable, a soloist or choir singing something about God, and my own nonsense chattering away all at the same time. It's a miracle I can hear anything else. 

TT: Yet I hear everything else. I can hear earthworms moving through the grass at night from my porch. 

I don't know if God gives me the songs or if it's a side-effect of my quirky depression-soaked synapses. There are a number of songs that have helped center me during an episode. Even If by MercyMe, Abide with Me by Matt Maher, Worn by Tenth Avenue North, Into the Sea by Tasha Layton, Truth I'm Standing On by Leanna Crawford, Out of My Hands by Jeremy Camp. Praise God Christian songwriters are not immune from the darker emotions. 

Don't get me wrong. Upbeat praise music is helpful, too, but the Psalms are darkness of human experience and the eternal light and love of God. When I'm in the darkness, I can't feel the light. I need to know someone else was there and came out of it, not that they've never walked that valley. That's hope. To know other people made it out alive. 

Keep the faith. 

Friday, March 26, 2021

Will the Voice in My Head Please Shut Up?

I have a voice in my head. It doesn't narrate my life. That would be fine. Might even be funny. 

This voice interprets events, sometimes into the distant future. The interpretation is rarely a positive prognostication. It's favorite form of commentary is why the thing that just happened isn't the good thing it appears to be. 

"Well, she said yes, but that was because she doesn't understand what's involved. She'll never make it work. It will all end in utter disaster, and it will be your fault, too, because you got her into it. Hope you'll enjoy living with that responsibility. You've been warned, so don't come crying to me when it happens." 

My gut thinks the little voice is right, and my gut controls my throat, my heart and my intestines. My gut can constrict every part of my bodily functions, but it cannot make the little voice stop talking. 

In fact, I have found no way to shut that voice up. I've tried talking over it, singing over it, repeating scripture over it. Praying over it. The moment I stop, the voice picks up with a "that's so cute. You think Someone's listening, don't you? You think all your little ideas about God and Jesus and the universe are true. What a miserable creature you are. You can't be a pagan but you can't trust God, either. If He's out there, He's laughing his invisible ass off about you. He's probably not, though. You're all alone and that's your fault, too. You just don't have enough faith to make God pay attention to you." 

I know icepick lobotomies are not the answer. I suspect it would simply add to the problem, likely with excessive drool. There are days when the thought of a sharp object through the eye socket is quite appealing. It wouldn't stop the voice. I know that. The voice tells me that while it's laughing at me.

I hate the voice. I want it denounce it as a liar. The problem with a lie is how little it has to be to spoil the truth. The truth should be more powerful but the lie lends doubt. Doubt is all the voice needs to shut me down. 

I wish I had something positive to say. I wish I believed like I used to. The fact is I'm currently going through the motions trying to find my lost first love, assuming I ever loved in the first place. I don't know what else to do, really. Until God speaks, I'm just drowning down here with only that hateful little voice to keep me company. 

Keep the faith. 

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Choosing Right

My greatest fear - other than Jaws - is doing the wrong thing. My entire life is built around the premise that I have the ability to make the right choice in any given situation all the time. 

This is obvious nonsense and a huge source of both my recurring depression and anxiety, but I can't seem to shut it down. 

I can cover on the big issues. Drunkenness, drug addiction, gambling, money management - got that under control, mostly by following biblical instruction, with a strong inclination to avoid anything that makes my heart rate increase. As time goes on, though, even avoiding the big wrongs, the little ones pile up. Most of those probably don't even fall into the category of "wrong." Is it wrong to eat cold cereal instead of hot? Is it wrong to move those bricks when you know you'll just move them again? Is it wrong to eat fast food when you have something at home? 

I identified this in college as perfectionism, and became a recovering perfectionist. Learning how to separate real right and wrong from choices with neutral moral value. That was a "right" choice. 

See how sneaky it is? 

Because as time piles up behind you, unless you're a complete idiot, you will notice that some of those innocuous seeming choices really did have consequences and they came back to bite you. Like having six cats in a house too small for them that ultimately leads to four animals dying of stress-related illnesses within 19 days of each other in 2016 that triggers a four-year clinical depression in their surviving human. So now you have to plan even farther ahead, examine every angle of every decision to see if you're missing something that could ultimately go incredibly wrong. This is impossible, I know, yet I try to do it. To protect myself from doing wrong. To protect myself from going insane. 

Somewhere I got the idea if I can think it, I should plan for it. Insanity. The depression, the anxiety, the constant internal debate over what to do or not do - I can't do it anymore. Yet I don't know how to stop. I don't know how to let God be God and let the consequences fall as they may. I'm not talking about betting my house on the roll of the dice. I'm talking about whether or not to adopt another cat. That's a silly thing to go crazy over, yet I am going crazy. The issue should be resolved yet I cannot let it go. 

Pray for me, please, that God will let me know in a tangible way that's He got it all covered. Trust that I am praying, too, minute by minute as I try to catch my breath around my racing heart. 

Keep the faith. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Such a Pharisee

 Pretty sure I've said this before, but I'm a Pharisee. Yes, I know a lot about the Bible. Yes, I present a good front to the casual observer of what a "good person" generally looks like. The fact is, to quote Avram from The Frisco Kid, "I don't know one thing about God." 

I really don't. I have read the Old Testament a lot because I like the stories. I like the clear cut "do this and you'll be blessed; do that and you'll be cursed"-ness of it. I'm good with rules. I make my own if there aren't enough lying around to really keep me on the straight and narrow. 

The New Testament is more "do this because you love Jesus." The blessings are spiritual and eternal, not "here, have some land." The focus is on being remade from the inside-out, not looking different on the outside. That's a lot harder. It's a lot harder to be patient, run from evil and cling to what is good, in as far as it depends on me live at peace with everyone. How does that happen? 

It is past time to do the work of the Christ-follower. Get out of my head and walk the walk. Go out of my way for a human when I don't want to. Pastor Paul Sheppard once made the point that "GOD LOVES PEOPLE." I can hear him saying it over and over, and I now say it to myself over and over. It's good to know. 

At the worst of my worst days, I was exhausted and hating myself for how horrible I felt and acted. As I embrace recovery, I'm still exhausted but at least I tried to do good, be kind, be patient, be gracious, be encouraging, be loving through the day, and so I don't hate myself as much. Practicing the fruits of the Spirit is my reasonable act of service. I think it was David Jeremiah who said serving God is worshipping God. My obedience is more acceptable to Him than any other thing I might offer. That's my daily goal now. To serve God, serve others and keep myself out of it. 

Keep the faith. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2021


 2019 was my worst year ever. It followed a string of worst years ever that may have started in 2016. Or earlier. 

My first real tangle with depression was the summer of 1996. Done with my master's degree and back home to discover absolutely nothing was what I expected it to be, I went down hard. I remember the night in November I considered suicide and that line from Shawshank Redemption: get busy living or get busy dying. I chose life and spent the next two days drawing a children's book I have no intention of publishing in my lifetime. 

My nervous breakdown happened in 1998. Too much stress, too little resilience, and the Turtle snapped. A job change took care of the inciting incident and I spent the next two years on St John's Wort coming back from that edge. 

On it goes. Every few years I come up for air, and then down into the depths again. I'm used to it. This is the wave I ride called life. 

2019 took me to new lows. December 16, 2019, I was in my van, crying, and I admitted I was powerless over my problems. I turned to my Higher Power and told Him from this point on, I would trust Him with my life. I couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't control enough. I couldn't plan enough. I couldn't do enough to make myself feel safe. He had to take over. 

Thank God, I made that decision before 2020. I stuck to my new guns and took one day at a time, trusting God, reading the New Testament and determining each day to practice the traits a Christ-follower is supposed to exhibit. I failed a lot, but it was better. Better to end the day knowing I was trying to be patient, gracious, kind and loving to people instead of a snapping Turtle. 

I suffered my first relapse this month. God was kind, as He always is, and gave me what I needed to get back on the recovery wagon. I am an addict. I'm addicted to myself, my way, my wants. It won't do. Jesus didn't die to give me my way. He died to give me His way to live. His way is better. I want it. I will continue to get up each day and live one day at a time with the strength He gives me. 

Keep the faith. 

Monday, March 22, 2021

The Second Year

The second year is always worse. The first year can be bad. Panic, numbness, disaster, unexpected catastrophe. But in the first year is also an understanding from yourself and your fellows that something horrible is happening and a bit of compassion results. We've seen that. 

That changes in the second year. You've had a whole year. Why is this still an issue? Why haven't you accepted/ adjusted/ bounced back/ made peace/ whatever had to happen for you to stop being a problem and start being the solution? What's wrong with you? We're seeing that, too. 

We're in the second year. We're exhausted, broke, terrified and out of patience with the situation and ourselves. Rage, despair, and depression are the hair coats we're wearing and the whips we're using. 

We can't afford to lose our patience, or our compassion, for ourselves and our fellows. For the Christ-follower, it is imperative to practice the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The Spirit will give us strength to practice these virtues if we focus on why we're doing it. We do it because God is in control and because our fellows are going to Hell without Jesus. Now, more than ever, it is time to practice our faith. Real faith in a real God who loves us and died for us and killed death forever. 

I've studied the Bible most of my life, but I haven't practiced very well. I'm making up for that now. I hope we all are. 

Keep the faith. 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

The Blob

The second scariest movie I've ever seen was The Blob. I mean the 1958 version that, should I have the guts to watch it today, is probably completely ridiculous. But I don't, so I'll never know. I wasn't alive in 1958 so I must have seen it sometime in the 70's. Maybe Monster Theater. No idea. No idea when it scarred me forever but it had to be young. 

What terrifies me about The Blob is the inevitability. I don't know if this scares other people, but looming disaster with no way out is scarier than sharks. Or maybe it's the same as sharks. 

The Blob might be the scariest movie I've ever seen except its impact on me was more subtle than Jaws. After Jaws, I stopped swimming. And going near bodies of water. Including bathtub water. Never know where a shark will come from. No, I haven't seen any Sharknado movies. I have enough problems with my brain. 

Life has become The Blob. Do you feel it? No matter what we do, we can't seem to get away from the danger. Just about everything nowadays is dangerous. Either plain deadly or life-ruin destructive. There's no end in sight. 

One of the things I love about being American is our absolute belief that there's always a way to win. A real way, too, not a cheater way. There's always an out that gets not only the prize but a happy ending to boot. Doesn't feel like that anymore. 

Pastor Craig Groeschel of Life.Church recently recommended not "trying to change" but "training to change." I'm starting that today. Since God won't bring me home yet, I guess I'm supposed to stay here and do something other than panic and cry and assume the fetal position between workdays. 

I was doing OK, but a recent event has knocked me back to pre-2020 anxiety levels. I don't like it. I don't want to live like this. I want that abundant life the Apostle Paul and Pastor Paul Sheppard talk about. If I have to be here, I'd like it to mean something. 

I'm praying for you. For all of us. I'm training my brain to focus on Jesus the Savior and King and Coming Redeemer but it's really hard to feel that truth right now. I'd appreciate your prayers, too. 

Keep the faith.