Present Day, November 12, 2017

There is a strange but somewhat consistent and often proven out as true phenomenon surrounding death. I have witnessed it myself. It typically centers around the passing of an elderly person. In this scenario, it is often a grandma or grandpa who has been on their deathbed for some time hanging on by god only knows what power. Everyone, including the medical professionals, anticipate that their last heartbeat would have…should have…already occurred or take place at this very moment. But it doesn’t.

In fact, it is not until a certain visitor arrives. Maybe a loved one from out of town, an estranged child, or just someone with more of a life than the ability to simply stand vigil. It is with their arrival that things begin to change. Yet the arrival is not enough. Typically there is a very specific act, let’s call it “words of release” that are uttered…and death comes. Almost instantly.

“I made it grandma. You don’t have to fight anymore. I love you. Goodbye.”

“It’s okay dad. Be at peace.”

“We promise to take care of everything. Please don’t worry anymore. Just rest.”

And the battle to stay alive ceases. The last breath is drawn. Tranquility comes.

At my worst, this is how I feel. Like I am just waiting to be released. To be freed to quit fighting the demons in my head and find peace. Maybe it is just a survival mechanism or subconscious form of self-preservation, but without that release, I struggle to take those final steps. I envision them. I feel them in the depths of my being. But I am held back by something or someone who will not allow me to “go.”

I think the suicidal urges and ideations of someone with a mental illness are maybe hardest to understand from the outside looking in. The darkness of them is impossible for me to put into words. The tangible “realness” of each impulse.

I have just come through a rather dark period. I mood chart daily and have a level that indicates a particularly bad, desperate kind of day. After having only two of them through a four-month period I had six of them in three weeks. It was rough. And there were days when I just wanted to be released. I just wanted those closest to me to indicate they would be fine without me and that I could finally end the pain. To just hear the words that would allow me to end my torment.

They weren’t spoken and I survived another fall. Is it just me? Does anyone else know how this feels? Has anyone ever longed to know that it’s okay to never again want to feel not okay?

I wonder at times how my life will end. Will I get old? Face cancer? End up in a hospital or hospice care? Whatever the scenario, I think I will be holding on loosely. And when the words come…I will go. Quickly.

National Men’s Health Week 2017

Quite confident the statistics cannot have changed much in one year.

And not in to squabbling over UK vs USA numbers. A bleak picture regardless.

Present Day, May 18th, 2017

I have a Moleskine journal. Moleskine because that is the only journal my oldest daughter believes to be a true, authentic journal. Like any other father, I am always striving to impress my children. I know, right?

Inside the back cover is a pocket for storing things. I really do not know what they have in mind. Locks of hair from loved ones or wanna be loved ones? Stamps for collecting? Clips from newspapers or magazines?

I have a few items in mine. Things I wrote when I didn’t have the journal along. Or things written down for me. 

Two items create a unique juxtaposition in the pouch, sitting back-to-back. The first is a letter from my wife. We did a wine box for our wedding. The idea for the  wine box is that you seal a bottle of wine with love letters to each other in a decorative box to be opened on your first anniversary. You place it in a visible place. If, god forbid, your marriage is on the brink in less than a year, you both agree to open the box and read the letters. I am not sure what happens with the wine.

We didn’t. Make it a year that is. Oh, we are still together, but it was close and the box was opened. The letters were read, and I keep the one she wrote to me in my journal. I don’t remember what happened to the wine.

The letter is right next to a much shorter note. Torn off a sheet of paper. By my therapist. It is the number for a suicide textline. In case of an emergancy. 

So I don’t know what Moleskine intended, but it is kind of my survival pouch. A love letter from my wife, a suicide textline’s number, and another item or two. Things to review if I am on the brink. And have my journal handy. And am willing to seek inspiration.

I reviewed the contents tonight. Mainly just to remind myself of what is in there. It was a rough day, but I am not at “that” point. Just curious. So I scanned the contents, reordered them all, and tucked them safely away again. 

I was reminded that I have not been mindmapping enough lately. Have not been “journaling” enough. Have not put enough ‘pen to paper’ so that I can go back and see what I was thinking. See what conclusions I was drawing. See where I was and how it compares to where I am.

I think my daughter is right. I think Moleskine does make a better journal. However, sitting unused on a shelf…they are all the same.

Present Day, March 6th, 2017

I have entered into a loosely defined two or so week period that is traditionally a bit dicey at best and dangerous at worst for my life. It is the period of, and please…this is not a clamor for attention, my birthday.  Annually one of the most challenging periods of my year.

If you wonder how that might be possible, I would venture to say that you may not have spent the better part of your life wishing at some level that you were not alive. Or at the very least failing to see the upside of still breathing. For those who struggle with Bipolar, depression, suicidal thoughts or ideation, or other battles to stay alive it is difficult to differentiate the difference between celebrating having survived another year, and mourning having survived another year.

As is normally the case for me, there are soldiers on both fronts attempting to win the battle. It was the first full year of my life married to my beautiful wife. I was able to see my daughter achieve a massive life dream of heading off to college in the city of her dreams. My son performed an amazing senior recital and will soon find out where he will next venture to for his master’s work. My relationships continued to grow with three unique step-children. Together, my wife and I were able to purchase and launch our own business. I seem to have achieved a new level of stability in regards to medications, therapy, and management of my illness.

However, in almost the smack dab middle of all this was an unscheduled, unannounced train ride that resulted in a pseudo-arrest and eight-day hospitalization proving once again that no matter how well things may be going I am more than capable of losing my shit on a moment’s notice. There was an intense struggle with a depressive low at the Christmas holiday which almost resulted in a second hospitalization. As predicted, by the resident psychiatrist and staff at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, the addition of medications to my life have added 15 pounds and climbing to my frame. And my inability to keep my mind together that glorious week will likely cost our family a cool $8,000 thanks to a health insurance policy that is “ass.”

I suppose every life has its yin and yang. For the Bipolars in the crowd, it is more like a damn yin and mother fucking yang. And it all makes the “celebration” of a birthday a little more precarious for a man who is notorious for over memorializing landmark days and moments.

In a few days, I will turn 48. My daughter asked me what I wanted. I told her that I wanted her to save her money. I told her I wanted her to enjoy her college experience and friends. I told her I have everything I need. And I meant it all.

They say money can’t buy happiness, and I happen to believe that. In my case, nothing can. Some days are just happy days. Some days just are not. For year 47, more were than were not. So I guess that means being alive for another birthday is a good thing. Let’s just hope that by the time this little period of life ends I still feel that way.