Friday, April 28, 2017


Is What I Have

And I could not be more excited. I have had almost no true time alone since we move to San Antonio. Someone is always home. Even if they are asleep, I still feel that I have to be quiet. The wife works nights and the boy does homeschooling. There is always someone home and there is a constant go, go, go. Now, I cannot say all the go is gone (I still have responsibilities), but I can relish in a couple days worth of interactive freedom. It's amazing. 

Earlier this week I had an anxiety attack, for the silliest of reasons, and I am really not 'used' to them anymore (like I had been earlier in life when they came on regularly). I am still battling depression, majorly, and the rest of the family is vacationing at the beach this weekend. I am unable to go, partly because of school, but the deal was that if I could not be safe alone that I would go with the family on vacation. I soooo wanted some time alone and was still fighting the depression that I just exploded with the anxiety of 'what if I can't do it?' It was just too much. But I made it through that episode and here I am. Alone. Well, not really. I am at school.

This next week will continue to be busy as hell. Even though I have no classes, I have a strict schedule set up for studying and accomplishing school-related tasks, before finals.

Bring It

I have hikes coming up this summer. The most enjoyable pain awaits. So tomorrow I will be taking a local hike. Now, I am in Hill Country, and it has just that... hills. There are no mountains around here. At all. But I hear that Government Canyon is quite pleasant, and I will be hopefully be putting in a few miles out there. And to simulate a hiking pack, I have gotten a hiking belt and attached weights to it. Gotta start early, in the cool part of the day. Because 90 degrees pops its head up fast and if the humidity comes with it, things will be much tougher. I am used to 5000+ feet, where the sun beats down, but low humidity and cool breezes abound. 

As for the Depression

It's here. But for the moment, I am flipping it the bird and doing everything I can just to enjoy the here and now. Let's deal more with it later.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The End is the Beginning is the End... Wait... What?


I am like this boat. At every instant there is a new path to take and, without the proper instruments, it can be nearly impossible to distinguish from where I have come. This week is going to be difficult. I feel trapped and pressed against a wall. Major tests this week, with finals looming next week. My one hope for this week is that I will be allowed to stay home over the weekend and relish in the peace of solitude, as my family vacations at the coast. There is one major problem with this. I am dealing with serious suicidal ideations and the deal is that if I feel that I will kill myself (or just generally unsafe), then I have to go on vacation with them. As oddly as it sounds, I think that would make things worse. I need and crave my alone time. 

I really want to be able to have some silence to study in and I have plans to try out a local state park that offers some of the best hill hiking. (From what I have been told.) My hiking trip in the Sierra Nevada in June is going to be difficult. I will be packing more weight than usual, at ten thousand feet. I want to be ready. So I got a military backpack belt that I am attaching weights to, to help me work a little harder on my preparation hikes. I have told my wife on multiple occasions, that hiking is "the most enjoyable way to die." I love being beat up and word out. Getting cramps and pushing through. Experiencing new pains and finding a way to still proceed. Hiking is my favorite past time ever. Unfortunately, I don't make time for it much. But I am going to do it, if the family is out of town.

This week's tests scare me. And when I am scared, I get distracted and 'spin my wheels', if you know what I mean. Even right now I am distracting myself by writing. But those of you that read this, I ask that you send up a prayer, send positive vibes, or whatever your thing you do is... for me. Please. I need to make it through the next couple of weeks, without the stress and suicidal thoughts taking over and winning. I don't want them to win. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Taking the World on a Porpoise - Part 1

Porpoise, Purpose

We all need it. A purpose, not a porpoise. "On a porpoise," was just a silly saying I used to have with friends. But how do we find it? What does it mean? These are obviously my thoughts, but I hope for this to be an open discussion that others will join in on and add to.

What is purpose?

A motivating factor. A drive to go, accomplish, and achieve. Something that all living things must have. Even the most simple, non-sentient life forms have a desire to survive and reproduce. However, human beings have highly developed cognitive abilities due to are large brain and frontal lobe. This is a major blessing and can be a major scourge. Humans used to work hard to survive, and most of the world still does. People work their asses off, so to speak, to get food and shelter. Their purpose is to survive. But in the first world it is relatively easy to survive and thrive, so what is the motivating factor? of my great questions and enemies.

How do we find such a thing?
  • Use that forebrain. Again and again. Think about yourself, but try to not fall into the trap of 'overthought.' I cannot quantify the number of times I have thought "this would be so awesome to do and I would find purpose, but what about this this and that?"
  • Make decisions about what you desire. It can be a desire for yourself, loved ones, those unknown, animals, the entire world, or a plethora of other possibilities. Pick one or more.
  • Can't decide? Don't give up.
  • Try. Act. This is part of the not giving up. Think you want to help others, but that just doesn't bring you joy or a feeling of purpose, try something else. Sometimes the thing you least expect to be your joy will provide it. Humans have an amazing ability to overthink things.
  • What is life about? Holy cow, this is not to be taken lightly. This is a culmination of many thoughts. The granddaddy of all questions. Be careful. Be very careful. But if you can answer this, then you have the answer to so many things. That doesn't mean it will be easier to act on them, but it will provide impetus to serve and act. 

Where Am I?

This isn't something I am immune to. Actually, I would say that I am prone to this question. Part of my depression lies in the fact that I lack purpose and also passion. Everything is mundane. Part of that is the depression. It dulls the glistening gold that is life. So many people see a treasure chest of precious things and I see a box of ashes. Completely skewed thinking.

I want warm fuzzies. Previously, I worked as a land surveyor. I liked it and I was damn good at it. But I burned out and left the profession. Part of that was getting together with my wife, who is a nurse. My job had human contact but it wasn't always pleasant, more competitive. I wanted to be able to say I had helped another human being, at the end of the day. And then I became Mr. Mom. When I quit my job I literally imagined I was going on a vacation to find myself. Wow. Being a stay at home parent is NOT easy. I languished for years in an incredibly difficult job. Over time I lost hope that purpose would ever be found. A medical career was calling, but which? In the meantime I started a photography business and then returned to website programming. There was no purpose in those things, but I was bored. I supposed that providing beautiful wedding or other photos to a client was somewhat fulfilling, but not enough. After years of thought, I decided it was time to act. I tried to decide what type of medical career would allow some patient contact (I am not incredibly personable) but would allow me to feel a connection with helping them. Thus I am pursuing a career in anesthesiology. I don't want to play god with someone's life. I simply want to be the person to keep them present in this world, especially during surgery. 

Is That It?

No. Not for me. But I have to save my thoughts and that rabbit hole for another entry. What exactly are the ramifications of my chosen path? Oh boy. That'll take some thinking.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Drink this and You'll Grow Bigger, Eat This and You'll Shrink, You Bastard

This Ain't No Fairy-tail

Today has been a good day. And that is why it is bad.

The calm comes before the storm. Always. Last week was a major storm and all that I can imagine now is that the eye has opened before me. I had a dreadful exam this morning. But it turned out to not be as horrible as expected. We had an egg hunt around our house today and dyed eggs. Things went as predicted. My daughter made dinner for us and everything was really rather droll and enjoyable. It wasn't bad. It even peeked into good territory, and it scares the ever-loving shit out of me.

Paranoia of your own mind exists, strong and hearty in the minds of those with major depression. Our own senses and faculties can fail to alert us of the true episodes that are headed our way. Sometimes I dull my senses enough to enjoy myself. I am dulling them now. I am not, nor will I ever be, that person to use anything illegal to alter my world. Tonight I have enjoyed a few drinks and thought it prudent, or rather interesting enough, to pen my thoughts at this time. And by "thought it prudent", I mean that a good blogging friend thought it interesting enough to encourage me to write my thoughts while they were "loose", as it were.

You Called It

I am not an angry drunk, or any of the other negative iterations. Generally, I am a happy drunk or happy drinker. Perhaps that is what I am now or perhaps not, it is not for me to decide. What is for me to ponder is whether this is good or bad. Ok, I don't have to ponder. Usually I drink and enjoy myself, just for a subsequent rupture of personal mental fortitude. Tomorrow it is likely I will wake up at the bottom. Why? I suppose my brain chemicals will have bottomed out and lack the power to lift me to even a normal level. I hope it isn't so. Tomorrow is a busy day. There are events and works for me to do. Let us hope that this is a fluke. I will set my alarm for dawn and try to hit the gym, to pain myself into joy, as it often does.

It's Too True

The more I eat, the more I shrink. What the hell does that even mean? To those of you that have read before, it is plain that I am trying to lose weight. The more I eat and increase my belt, the more diminutive I feel. Screw it. Today has been a failure of abstinence. Tomorrow I will likely be a bit hungover and hitting the gym in pain to make up for the sins of today. 


Why do I do this? Drink, eat? One of two reasons: fun or self medication. Which, which is which? Tomorrow will come and we shall see if this reprieve comes at pittance or a multitude of destructive thoughts that hope to kill my, well, everything.

More Importantly

If tonight is all that I have, then maybe, just maybe, it was worth it.

The Followup 
(2 days later)

Originally I thought that I would douse this entry and toss it for being disingenuous, but I decided it was part of me and my journey, and it would be dishonest to pretend it doesn't happen. As it were, the next day was a fine day. But the following day (today) I began to roll downhill again. I am not sure if imbibing played a role, but let's just say it did and leave it at that.

Tomorrow I meet with my therapist, which is a good thing. Hopefully she can help me stay on track and keep hope in my sights.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Light in the Darkness

A Starting Point

"What are you going to do when the feelings are strong and you want to kill yourself?"

Hold onto the hope that there is hope. Maybe that sounds ridiculously cyclic, but it's what I've got at the moment. The darkness is still there...for sure. But action item 1 on my list to combat a suicidal situation is to work and keep busy. The best personal medication I have EVER had is work. Today was good for that single reason. I was busy. The darkness has a hard time creeping in when my mind is busy balancing ionic equations, studying with a friend, exercising at the gym, or studying more chemistry for my horrible exam tomorrow.

We will have to see where tomorrow takes me. I still have plenty to do. The semester is beginning to wrap up and the proverbial shit is hitting the fan. Add in that it is easter weekend and hopefully I will be so busy that depression is out in the cold. But it will be back. It doesn't like being left out. A greedy bastard it is. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Four Letter Words: Hell and Hope

Present Storm

Last night I emailed my therapist about getting in to see her this Friday or next week. I promptly heard from her first thing this morning. She had time and thought it was necessary, according to my email, that I be seen immediately. I had described myself as 'barely stable.' Timing worked out, so I went in to work with her. When I go to see her, I often do a digital intake questionnaire. It can be annoying, but you grow used to it. She can then compare it against previous visits to see how I score on various indices, like stress level, depression, etc. 

Right off the bat she mentioned my indices jumping up to near max and that I was marked as high risk of suicide. Well no shit. She had a form and asked if I was comfortable filling it out. Uhhhhh.... I'm not sure. What is it for and what can it mean? I am not going to answer questions that will force me into hospitalization. I will die before I am hospitalized again. That is no hyperbole. I REFUSE to ruin my academic standing by showing this despicable weakness. That is, of course, one of the best things to say. Right? But I agreed to continue and we went through the assessment. Megan and I have good rapport. She is a therapist that I trust, and connecting with a therapist is incredibly difficult to find. When I think back to some of the awful therapists I have worked with over the years...I just cringe. The university limits how many sessions we can have a year, and try promote the use of our personal insurance, but after looking around at covered providers I just gave up. Last fall I was experiencing regular suicidal thoughts, but they were manageable. I called one therapist that literally said they do not accept suicidal patients and that I should go to the hospital. THANKS!! Megan is convenient to access and works well with me. 

Nit and Grit

Do you want to fill out the form? That is what it was meant for. No. My hands were shaking and I didn't want to touch it, so she asked all the questions and I answered honestly. Questions included: 

  • What hope did I have and what was keeping me alive? I began to cry and said that my main reason for living was keeping my wife from being saddled with my student debt. How horrible is that? My loved ones didn't come to mind. Desolation and depression warp the mind until you are numb to things that actually make sense.
  • How likely was I to hurt myself or attempt suicide? At the moment it was a 3, maybe a 4, out of 5. The other night it had been a solid 4 and creeping up towards 5.
  • What was driving my desire to die? My uncontrollable thoughts.
  • Did I have a plan and means to access said plan? Yes. I explained them. She asked if I would tell my wife where the items were. I was hesitant and refused to agree at that point in the session. I told her that my plan was pain free. If I truly was going to do this, that I would prefer a pain free option.
  • Had I practiced my plan? Yes, but inadvertently. I knew what they items would do together and tooken them at the same time for different reasons, not thinking much about it. The effects were obvious but not deadly at that dose.

What was my driving desire to die? My stupid brain. My deleterious thoughts. Unwelcome, disgusting, and intrusive thoughts. I have no reason to want to die, but my inner thought generator disagrees with my assessment. There are no voices, but there is a strong compulsion to do it. You, I, have to do it. Failure to kill myself only adds to the overall failure of my life.

I cry and the dumbest and most random things. A couple of times I started breaking down, but my male machismo crap thing started kicking in. Show no weakness! Oh, wait, I've shown plenty of it. I don't know why I have such a hard time crying in front of people. But I can tell you hands-down that my ECT treatments make me tear up and cry about 50 times more than I used to. That bastard side effects is second only to my memory issues and amongst my largest detriments of ECT.

A Bit of Help

A local psychiatric specialist, that has rounds on campus, was brought in to consult with me on my medications and treatment history. Everyone has their role. Yes, I take my medications. (Religiously. Probably once every other week I miss a morning or nighttime does. It is always on my daily task lists. It's an annoying reminder. Very hard to ignore or forget.) I am comfortable opening up to Megan, while Tracy was more of a business transaction. An exchange of information. She was able to point me in the correct direction for local doctors that I could consult with over ECT, ketamine, and possibly TMS. That is exactly what I want.

What is it that can get you through these thoughts at this time? Hope. The hope that reprieve will be coming soon. If that is pulled out from under me then everything will go to hell in a handbasket, very fast. 

I suppose that is something good, that I even have the concept of hope to hold onto. The last time I was hospitalized, in 2014, I had lost all sense of hope. The cycle of depression had won. It would never be destroyed and all that I had was desolation. That is why I told my doctor I would not longer take my medications. I know how my body works, and my dark spiral of self-destruction would take hold in no time. I gave up. Fuck depression and unwanted thoughts. They won. That is when he asked if I would consider something different. I remember telling him, "I am not opposed to happiness, I just don't think it is possible." I was given a choice between ECT and TMS and went with the more effective avenue.

The Cost

I let my wife know the other day that I was willing to undergo ECT again, but there is a problem with it. The associated memory problems are a major concern. What I conveyed to her was that it would save my body and destroy my sense of self, worth, and possibly hope. How the hell does that make any sense? I am in school. My brain and memories are some of the most important things in my world right now. If I lose those memories, any of them, I'm fucked. 

Perhaps to you this isn't a complicated situation, but to me it is incredibly intricate with its tendrils curling out in every direction. So much to take into consideration while trying to keep it together. 

Quo Vadis

Hopefully somewhere, but right now I still feel tossed about in a storm, and no damn parting in the clouds will be sufficient. I need the skies to clear, ocean to calm, and a tropical island to appear on the horizon. Only then will I believe that hope can still mean something.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

I Just Don't Know

Before Yesterday

I wrote about my struggles with binging and the hope that another day brings. I lost my hope. Stressors of school and things around the home pushed me towards the brink. Acute meds helped to stave off a major episode of anxiety and outbursts, but the binging continued... in a massive way. Eventually I binged myself to sleep, just to wake up the next morning in a more pathetic state. 


I had an appointment that I forced myself to go to, feeling like shit. Partly hung over from medication and partly sick from the binge. I cancelled other things because I knew I would be useless. I hate cancelling, but revealing my weakness would have been worse. Even though I didn't want to, I started reaching out towards my safety net. I suppose it is there for a reason and I've been conditioned to use it. I emailed my therapist, to whom I have an amazing connection. On my way hope I began to ball, knowing that nothing is actually wrong and yet I want to kill myself. The near overwhelming urge has no place in my life. I have a good, no, great life. And yet these bastard thoughts penetrate my brain for no reason. Knowing that telling people my thoughts, or that I had a plan, would likely place me in the hospital, I felt trapped. I don't have time to be hospitalized. I have family and school! Nowhere to go but hell. I don't want to kill myself, but the brain wants me too. The compulsion is a driving force that some of you have felt. It makes no sense.

I got home and began messaging one of my best friends that lives back in California. She is amazing and helped talk me down somewhat. My anxiety over my suicidal ideations began to subside somewhat. My therapist called and I was still barely able to keep it together. She asked how likely I was to act out my plan, on a scale of 1-5. I lied. Last night and earlier it was a 4 and heading towards a 5. I was still a strong 3-4, but I told her I was a 1-2. I know her well enough that if I had said 4, she was going to make sure I went to get help, or it would come to get me. It's her job. Talking to her helped more. 

I hate that there is no acute medication for depression. Anxiety, yes, depression, not so much. I have read interesting things about ketamine, but who knows when that may become available, and to whom. I asked my wife to call into work and make sure I was ok. It makes me feel awful when I have to ask that. She works nights, which can be some of the darkest times. No pun intended. 

I am still trying to work towards the TMS, but that is not an acute treatment. ECT is within the realm of possibilities, but not until the summer... which is a long way off as far as I am concerned. I felt an episode ramping up a couple of weeks ago, but did not know if it was going to be a small bump or a baseball bat to the face. Now I know. The only thing is that I do not know if it is over. Sometimes I build up to a big release and it slowly abates, but not always.


Trying to focus on the here and now and what I have to do to get to tomorrow and the next day helps. The end of the semester is nearing and shit is getting rough. So many things go many directions. I am preparing for a final practical this weekend that, well let's just put it like this, the midterm practical induced a good amount of drinking afterwards. Yes, I know, that is not good for my mental state. I got a 50% on that exam, which on his terms, equals a B. These exams are a blow to the ego and what I can only assuming is a leveling agent to weed out those that are not truly serious about their chosen academic path. 

Distraction and a checked-off list is the goal. Done with this, move on to that. Dear freaking god, I hope that continues to work or even works to a greater extent.


I would be lying if I said I am not afraid of the next few days and weeks. It is hard to say if it is a positive motivating factor or something that detracts from my daily life. I didn't really want to get on here and write, but I realized I had to face my feelings. They have been faced. If there is a motivating force behind this and all of us, I do not know what it is. Why do we all get up in the morning and do what we do? To survive? Because others do? To procreate and continue our species? I don't have a clue. As far as I'm concerned, I am alive because of my wife. The ECT she helped me through brought back a will to live. How the hell that happens is beyond me. I have told her before that she is either incredibly wonderful and gracious, or incredibly selfish for keeping me around for herself. Where will fear put me?

Monday, April 10, 2017

Binge on the Fringe

It's Really Not That Simple

Yes or No. Fail or Succeed. It is easy to put those labels on and become overly inflated or hopelessly deflated. I have struggled with binge eating for years now. It is one of my stress-depression mitigating/coping mechanisms. However, it only fixes a very short term problem and adds to the overall longer,MUCH longer and larger, problem. But over the last month I have really started to get ahold of the binges and take control. It has been empowering and helpful. Not only do I feel that I have a hand in my destiny, I am losing weight and becoming healthier. 

But there are still slip ups. I woke up this morning stressed. 4am and the first thing on my mind was everything, a whole day of shit to do and things to accomplish. How the hell was this going to happen? BAM! Binge time. In the history of my binging, it wasn't that horrible. My stomach is not used to having all those things crammed into so quickly, anymore, so I had to stop. Still, in the span of about 30 minutes I had consumed about 1400 calories. Now I feel ill, both physically and mentally.

My Hope and Savior

What I try to hold onto is two things. A) I love the gym and have the time and energy to burn off most of that sin, but more importantly B) Tomorrow is a new day and I can start over. I just have to remember that today hasn't destroyed tomorrow, or the next day, or week, or forever. It is just a bump in the road.

Another thing that greatly helps is the feeling of discomfort and pain that comes with the binging. My memories fade. A week or two from now I might not think this was such a big deal, but for the next few days I will remember this and it will help me stay on path. 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Depression Wins the Day

Depression is the Wrong Name

That is why this damn disease is a form of hell. I recently read a post by some ignorant 'genius' that if you eat enough bananas that your depression will abate. It's science folks! Right? I would be eating bananas and shoving them in my ears, eyes and any other orifice if I thought it would get rid of these unwanted thoughts and feelings.

What happened? Nothing considerable. I had a short conversation with my 6-year-old daughter. Nothing extensive. No yelling, whining, or slant talk from either side. Seconds later I felt the hole in my chest open up and am trying hard to keep from crying. That is the joy of bipolar depression. 

Hell is the Right Word

Today has really only just begun, but now I only feel like crawling into a corner and crying until I dry into a pile of meaningless dust. Writing this out helps. It is somewhat cathartic, and it somewhat worsens the whole experience. I think it is a net gain, but it can still be difficult. 

I wish there was a pill for acute depressive attacks. I've heard good things about the short term benefits of ketamine, but who knows when that may ever be available. There are various tactics I've tried over the years to center me, distract me, or otherwise lift my spirits; but sometimes they all just fail. 

Saying days like this suck is an understatement. It is when they come in succession that I know I will end up in the hospital again. I have hope that tomorrow I will hear good news about the possibility of getting TMS. ECT really helped, but I don't want to deal with the side effects again. The cocktail of medications I am on are working, but not completely. Oh how I would love to see a permanent or even a somewhat permanent change and be able to decrease my medications. 

My current psychiatrist was astonished at the dosing of lithium and lamictal I am on. Especially the lithium, without being toxic. But it was keeping me stable. 

All in All, You're Just Another Ant in the Hole

Hell has to lose eventually, right? God....anything? Oh, yeah, I forgot, I'm just another ant. 

The End is Nigh

I decided to update this entry at the end of the day. Today happened, but more out of habit and necessity than willpower. I guess a routine helps. I still dealt with several depressive dips out of nowhere. Some I felt coming on and some struck like lighting. My wife is very perceptive and kept asking if I was okay until I opened up. She understands me but feels horrible that she lacks the power to 'fix' me or truly help me at times. She is a registered nurse and excels at helping people with acute problems in the ER. That she 'cannot' help her husband frustrates her. I've let her know that the simple act of her being present is often a major help. It helps, knowing that I have her as a safety net that cares about and loves me. If it was not for her I would quite literally not be alive, because she found me and rescued me the last time I attempted to kill myself. She is my personification of love.

Friday, April 7, 2017

To Hell and Back

The Golden Trout Wilderness

This will mostly be a post of pure happiness. A reminder of the light I find in a dark world.

I cannot being to describe the love I have for hiking and the joy it brings me. What I tell my wife is that "it's the most enjoyable way to die." That sounds a little kitschy, but it's not like I go out there with a death wish. It is just that hiking in the Sierra Nevada can be incredibly challenging and wear one thin. For instance, near the end of this hike I bonked about 500 feet from the top of a mountain at about 7,000 feet.

I was not in shape for this hike. Not at all. But with the impending move to Texas, I knew I had to soak up some more beauty before I lost access. My buddy, Bane, accompanied me and was just as tuckered out with the 26 miles we put in in just under 24 hours.

The Dream

As it can go in the Sierra, weather was somewhat unpredictable. I try and prepare for the worst case scenarios, but that also makes one's pack heavier. We got smatterings of rain, snow, and a mixture. The beautiful views, clean spring water, and fresh air just cannot be beat.

Hell It Is

So what was so important about this particular hike for me? Below is photo of me in 2001 while climbing Pecks Canyon. While we were taking a break, I looked out and noticed a particularly nasty piece of landscape, miles away.

I searched for it on the map and finally found it. "Hell for Sure." Right away I decided that I wanted to get there someday. As time passed, so did the dream. Enter 2016 and I needed a 'coup de grace' hike destination, and then I remembered. I wanted to be able to say that I had been to hell and back. Literally. I got there, and let me tell you, that map was not joking. I could never have climbed up hell. It was exceedingly steep with a very loose hillside. But I made it to hell. I had a damn good time doing so. Of course, being out of shape, after the hike I could barely walk for a week, but that is what hell will do to you. 

I miss that land. I worked up in those mountains for a couple of summers and developed a love and attachment that could never be extinguished. 

Abyssus Abyssum Invocat
(Hell Calls Hell)

Unfortunately, hell did follow me. My original plan was to spend a couple of nights out there, reaching further destinations. But on the first night the world began crashing in on my mind and the suicidal thoughts could not be ignored. Hell For Sure is nothing compared to the formation of the deadly chemicals in my mind. In the future, I hope to build up my resistance and be able to be alone in my own mind. Until then, I will just have to find a companion for my adventures. Oh, and some mountains. Texas excels in beautiful hills, but not so much the mountains.

The Laws of Depression Dynamics

Depression cannot be created or destroyed, but only transformed.
(I actually started this about a week ago, but it took a few days to find all the right words.)

This may sound like complete crap. And it could be. If you are suffering from short-term depression around a particular circumstance, or many other things, depression can be created and destroyed. (But I am NOT saying short-term depression is easy.) And you are better for having seen the end of it. If you haven't seen the end of it yet, I hope you achieve it and flip depression the bird.

For those of us with long-term, treatment resistant, debilitating, life threatening, or other types of hellish depression, it often seems that this is the truth. Perhaps depression was created. I know when mine began, but I do not know the source. Was it always there and something just triggered it? I've had more than one doctor convey that belief. I also had a minor concussion around the same time. Did I create my own hell? That is a haunting belief I try to keep my mind from. Either way, perhaps it was created. So, that begs the question...

Ad Infinitum?

But depression has become a part of many of us. It cannot be destroyed. We can learn to live with it, come to peace with it, use it, and work through it, but for most it is there forever, as a fabric of our being. There comes a time when removing the parasite would actually kill the host. However, we have to find a way to transform its existence and tentacles, in order to live our lives.

Acceptance is difficult. At least it was for me. Allowing myself to realize that this was a part of me that would never go away broke my spirit. It took me about 15 years to get to the point that I was willing to even think that. Even now, writing about it, makes me emotional. I don't want this. I don't want this for anyone else. I wouldn't wish this on anyone. No one wants to live with thoughts they have little or no control over. 

Currently, I consider myself going through a 'dip' (my euphemism for a minor relapse), but I'm overall somewhat stable. Out of the blue today I just wanted to cry. Quickly there are thoughts of hopelessness and suicide flooding my brain. Why? Nothing happened. The day was actually going great. It cannot be destroyed. I transformed it by using my coping mechanisms, which in this case was mostly just distracting myself with work.

Within a system, depression tends to increase.

Without help and a plan, disorder... depression will get worse. If you think you can go it alone, please don't. I have a childhood friend that has been the bastion of strength over the years. She has patiently listened to my depressive thoughts and struggles with suicide for years. Then depression hit her. It was a combination of personal experiences and circumstances that has brought her to the brink. Even though I have been through years of help, I feel impotent to effectively assist her and bring her even a modicum of relief. 

I can tell her all the stuff she knows: see a therapist, see a psychiatrist, exercise, spend time with friends, etc, etc. But when you are in the pit of hell, you struggle to do any of that. If and when you feel that ray of light on you, seize it and get some help. Reach out. Reach out to friends and family. If you don't get their support or feel like you are a burden, then reach out to anyone. Reach out to me. Reach out to so many other people online that are going through similar circumstances, that can empathize.

Disparity Amongst

I have made my own, personal observations that men seem to have more difficulty reaching out than women do. Without delving into all the aspects, I think it boils down to the fact that men are expected to be strong and stoic. Not as much as previously, but it is still there. Toughing it out may seem like a viable option... that can become a disaster. If you know anyone that needs help, please encourage them to get help. This includes guys, which can be stubborn to admit they need help. It took me years to admit certain things to myself and get the help that actually, well, helped. Who would have thought?

This message is just to any of the guys out there reading this: you are not alone. And if you already know that, cool. Keep your eyes and ears open for others that may need encouragement.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Brink of Balance

Still in the World of Questions

Although my relapse has somewhat 'abated', I still have pervasive thoughts that make me realize I am on a near razor sharp balance between good mental health and dropping off a cliff. I am still hounded by unwanted thoughts of failure and suicide. How deep and dark my thoughts go aren't something I am comfortable writing to the world about, so I will leave it at that.

Today was not horrible, but it started horrible. I got up early and thing just did not work out for the first few hours. But I made it through the day and avoided writing my post that was initially titled "Sometimes the World Needs to Shut the F*ck Up" and then "Break Stuff", and realized I should expound upon the more salient aspects of myself. 

Echo Charlie Tango vs. Tango Mike Sierra

I started mulling over the possibility of going through a round of booster ECT sessions over the summer, but I am mortified that I might lose important information I learned in school this year, which made me wonder if TMS might be the preferred option. While I like my current psych, he is either a genius or completely insane. My wife thinks he is the latter, but he has worked out for me thus far. I am not pleased with the quantity and level of medications I have to be on to control my thoughts and unwanted desires. The ECT helped change that equation in the past but it also made me into a different person. It is hard to describe what I mean by that, but maybe someday I will be able to articulate it. I am interested to see if TMS could also help balance out that equation.

To that end, I have started looking around for a psychiatrist that specializes in TMS, that I could also use as my primary psychiatrist. I will want to do this soon, because while there are little side effects of the TMS, if there are some I would like them over the summer, when my thinking cap is allowed to be less secure.

Head Like a Hole

I do not enjoy... NOT enjoy being in the middle a productive day and having depression trepan my skull and pour the acid of oppressive thoughts straight to the core. Why do I, on a daily basic, feel that killing myself is a viable or ONLY option? It is not what I want, but the thoughts and 'desires' stay. I cannot kill them. I suppose that pun is intended. I've tried. The meds help. The ECT helped. The distractions put them at bay. But they cannot die. It's as if I were trying to extinguish the sun with spit-wads. Damn this.


Has anyone out there had a positive experience with TMS... or any experience?

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Day's Struggles. School for the 'elderly.' (Believe me, the youth consider me an elder.)

Daily True-zings

A couple of weeks ago, my psychiatrist decided to decrease my lamictal to see if it would reducemy hand tremors. I really cannot say if it worked or not. What I can say is that I started to relapse into depression. My thought was that it was related, so after a couple of weeks at a lower dose I decided to return to my original dosage. Guess what? It didn't help. Looks like I am simply in a depressive episode. My thought on the matter is that it is rooted in school stress. Family, school, and working on getting a job adds up to substantial pressure.

I've said this before, and I will say it again, damn school is harder 15 years later. Things that stuck in my brain and immediate made sense before have become mud through which my mind is trudging. All in all, I am getting my ass handed to me. In yesteryear, straight A's came without much effort, but now I struggle to get B's and even C's in some cases. Screw that. It is drilling a hole through my psyche, right down to my self-worth and pouring the acid of discontent and feelings of failure right into it.

Ironically, I am generally the most responsible person I meet there. Duh, I am older and seasoned. I have had a professional career and understand what it means to be reliable, but it's the letters that matter in school. Damn those letters. Character counts for something... but not yet.

No Mathematical Degree Required

More work = (more failure... potentially) = More depression = More suicidal thoughts

The spontaneous implementation of unreasonable assertions by my brain to take actions that will devastate my family piss the hell out of me.

But how to control them? I struggle with this. I have struggled with this for years. Find a happy place. Utilize resources. Use your action plan. Diffuse, diffuse, diffuse. For those of you that have experienced a depressive or suicidal episode, you understand how utterly and completely it can consume your thoughts and push out any hope of, well, hope. Seeking the refuge of aid becomes an insurmountable task.

Hill After Hill

Obviously I have made it this far. Last semester's relapse was significantly harder than this semester's. That doesn't make it welcome. How can I make it or how do I make it? I guess it is by doing what I did years ago. Working. Keeping busy. Wearing myself out. All of the best self-medicating actions I used as a professional. No matter how hard I have tried to find the root of my personal hell and deal with it, nothing has come of it. 

Who else has experienced this? No matter how hard you try, you cannot find the true, addressable root of your emotions in therapy. No matter how much  you attack the thoughts and feelings, there can truly never be a resolution. I have been unable to accept, and may never be capable to accept, that my troubles lie primarily in fucked up brain chemistry. I dare say that if god is up there, he is truly just a child with an ant farm. "He, he. Let's see how this one does with a screwed up brain."


Containment is key. Contain the brain, contain the contagion. The contagion that infects the rest of my thoughts. Distract and stimulate. That is my plan.

Monday, April 3, 2017

And the award for 'Father of the Year' goes to...

Not Me

I'm not a horrible person. I know there are children worse-off than mine, with appalling circumstances. I don't abuse drugs, alcohol, them, or many other things. But I do abuse myself. They don't get a whole father. They get a remnant. 

I gained my older two children when I married, and I was lucky that they accepted me. But I told my wife I never wanted to have a child of my own until I could resolve my psych issues. At the time I obviously believed they could be cured. But as things go, a surprise was presented to us. And as time went on, my mental health continued to decline. 

I tried to kill myself when my daughter was 3. Depression warps your mind into believing lies, and I truly believed that my family would be better off fending for themselves than living with a shell of a person that had to be watched after. I was just another child, or perhaps a pet. 

The Bridge to Nowhere

But I'm still here. My wife refused to give up on me. I am lucky. And yet I still feel like a piece of glazed pottery, spider-webbed with cracks. At any moment, the entire thing will explode into hundreds of pieces.

I am not an honest person... not completely. I am somewhat honest to myself, my wife, and one of my best friends. (Oh, and honest on these posts.) Beyond that, it is smile and wave. Although I have supportive friends and family, I do not want to burden them with long-term troubles. "Hey, Jason. How you doing today?" "Oh, just trying to suppress feelings of ending my life." The harsh reality is that, well, reality is harsh. I cannot complain about my personal support structure. I have known others with little or no support. But, in general, our society wants to believe that everyone is strong, well kept, and impervious to mental fatigue or, god forbid, anything worse.

Again, I am a liar, but in another way. By not telling the world, my friends, and my family what I am going through, I am perpetuating that same lie for everyone. I hurt others living with similar troubles when I refuse to accept and bring mine to light. Damn that burns like salt in an open wound. And I hurt my children. More salt.

Crossing Over

My children know some of what I've done or been through, but not the entire story. They range from 6 to 16 years old, and are therefore capable of varying levels of understanding. It is hard for me to be 'human' and to them. In my mind, I want to be the impervious superhero, wearing my red cape. Instead, I feel like a living corpse, devoid of complete human abilities.

But it is important to show my kids, friends, and family that one can be truly human and survive it. I would hate for any of them to think they were the oddity and go it alone, and suffer for it. I know my son has suffered from depression. For different reasons than me, but I find it difficult, if not impossible, to talk to him about it or help him with it. I feel that I am letting him down. I have to try more.

The Truthful Lie

And yet, I don't want to be a hypocrite. I haven't survived it all. Will tomorrow be the day that the voice of depression finally crushes my will? Probably not. But it isn't too far of a fall for me to be flat on my face in despair and hopelessness. It is a precarious balance to me. I am never convinced that I have broken free enough to rejoice.

An Interesting Anecdote
(about the bridge in both banners)

Many of the banners I start my posts with are simply found online and represent my mood or subject for the blog. But some of the images are mine. These are both mine. The Golden Trout Wilderness is my favorite place in the world, and this cattle bridge is in that hallowed land. When I was a young adult, I was a group leader for a great camp that brought in at-risk teens and taught them important things, such as hard work and purpose. This involved difficult back-country hikes with teenagers that had their own personal troubles and issues.

At one time my group was camping on one side of this bridge and another group on the other side. One of the young men on the far size decided he was through with his group and leader and was leaving. I helped the other leader by blocking his path over the bridge and refusing to let him by. Somewhat desperately and vindictively, he said that he was going to jump of the bridge and kill himself. I don't think he expected my response, "Go ahead, it's not far enough for you to die. You will probably end up paralyzed, with someone else wiping your ass. A burden to everyone." He looked over the edge and stepped back. The trouble, for the moment, had diffused.

What I said was harsh, but I wonder how I would react if I (or someone else) spoke similar and brutally honest truth to me during suicidal moments. I find it hard to believe that I would have as wise a reaction as that immature, young man. That speaks volumes and makes me ponder, as these posts usually do.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Somhow Forward - ECT and Why I'm Still Here

Point In Fact

Let me cut to my truth, right off the bat... ECT saved my life. It brought back a desired to live that I had long lost. But that wasn't without some costs. It has a stigma. That is an understatement. In movies, people are strapped down, shocked against their will, and drool all over themselves in the end. From what I gather this used to be truth. These days it is not simple to have this done. If I hadn't been through years of troubles I would never have been recommended for this procedure.

My Timeline... with Notes
  • Major depression (actually bipolar depression, but that is another entry) threaded its fingers through my brain for years. And I mean YEARS. 
  • Summer 2014
    • I attempt suicide but am found and revived
    • Hospitalized again. I refuse to take my medications and tell the doctor that I know without them I will just continue to attempt until I succeed. My cycle of depression has worn me down. Every time I think I have found happiness, depression pulls me back towards hell.
    • The hospital doctor (which I had dealt with before and thought he was reasonable) asked if I would consider ECT or TMS. I told him I was not opposed to happiness, but that I thought it wasn't possible.
    • ECT and TMS are very different. ECT has a higher success rate with more side effects, and vice versa for TMS. I was desperate and decided to go with the more effective option
Insurance would NEVER have approved this if I hadn't been through the better part of 20 different psych medications. As it was, they approve me to go to a location 300 miles from where we lived. Not convenient in any sense.

I was an inpatient at their facility when I had my first treatment. My wife was unable to make it. Something about having a job and three kids. No good excuse. ;-) But I was scared. That is an understatement. I was scared as shit. I had the movie images in my head that I would wake up and not know my name or where I was. Holy, fucking, shit.

Ride the Lightning

I went through the treatment and woke up just fine. Amazing. The treatments continued. I cannot remember the regimen, as you shall shortly learn why. A couple of weeks after treatment began, the depression came back. They had started with unilateral/unitemporal treatment. That is standard. Less side effects but less effective. They ramped me up to bilateral/bitemporal. Which is more effective but has more side effects. But it was working. For a few months.

Most commonly, around winter/Christmas season, I dip. And slam into depression hard. I had been slowly decreasing my treatment frequency, but the doctor decided to do a short 'burst' of several treatments and then begin weaning again. I trusted my doctor. He was nothing but honest with me, so I went with it. As far as I am concerned, that is when the memory issues began, to a significant effect.

Back at home, in a place I had lived 95% of my life, I began to forget where I was. The doctor explained that the hippocampus contains the geospacial matrix and that the neurogenesis the electroconvulsive therapy induces disrupts this, but that it will subside over time. Fair enough. But I also began noticing other memory issues. (As a side note, the geospacial issues did mostly resolve.)

As far as I am concerned, I have spotty memory from 2011-2015. Someone described to me my memory as a filing system. She said someone opens the drawers and throws the folders on the ground. The memories are still there, but you don't know where to find them. This was somewhat true. If Lex reminded me of a memory, I could often remember it, but could not on my own.

What Was it Like?

I laid on a gurney and an anesthesiologist gave me an IV. The nurse put various electrodes on me to monitor my heart. I talked to the doctor about my feelings and thoughts, and anything else I thought pertinent. Then I went soundly asleep. I was in recovery for a while, waking up from the groginess of the anesthesia... I think. I really do not know if it was the anesthesia or treatment, or both, that made me so out of it and weak. Realistically, it was not that bad. The staff was great. And my wonderful wife drove me home ever time. All 300 miles.


Some of the odd effects that ECT brought on was an hyper-attachment to emotional stimuli. I cry easier to emotional moments. A sad scene in a movie, a treasured moment, or a moving action can easily tear me up. The doctor said it was good that I was learning to be in touch with my feelings, but it is rather annoying to me.

I can smell better than I could before. Who the hell knows why, but I can now smell things that I never could before. Before the treatment, I just could not tell you what I was smelling, because it just never registered. Odd.


I am still convinced that the treatment has or may have some long term effects on my memory or processing skills. This could truly just be all in my brain, pun intended, but who knows.

Despite the downsides, ECT truly saved my life. I have often (and still do), looked at other people and wonder how it is that they have an inate drive to survive and achieve. Our species, heck, every species has that but I lacked/lack it.

Where to Go From Here

Honestly, I think that I could benefit from more therapy. Whether it be a prescribed series of treatments or booster sessions. But being that I am in school, the potential memory loss of class information scares me. There may come a time it is needed. Many patients have annual booster session, and I am a likely candidate.

Near the End

I was supposed to continue a slow, weening regimen of treatments over two years, but I willingly cut it short. Near the end I switched from bilateral to bifrontal, which is supposed to be effective but have less memory issues. I only did this a couple of times and then stopped treatment. It was conveyed to me that this could cause a relapse. I was lucky that it did not.

And Then...

I specifically chose to not include my wife's recollections in this post, because I want people to know what I remember. She will occasionally remind me of things about my treatment that I do not remember, but I believe they are trivial. 

Questions are Welcome

I am an open book. If you are considering ECT or have input about it, please comment.