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Struggling and wondering. A long ramble about recent life.

by Once

I am really trying.  I am really struggling.  I am struggling through a grief process that should’ve happened almost two years ago, but I only delayed through heavy marijuana use.  In late January of this year, it caught up with me, and I had to quit because of problems sleeping.  I’ve been clean now for almost two months, and in some respects things have improved, in others not so much.  All the mental health issues (depression and anxiety) that I’d been keeping at bay with weed are now front and center, demanding attention.  I feel naked and defenselss against them.  I am unemployed also, just a few weeks short of one year without a job.  I’ve never been in this position before.  I am having difficult finding the strength to right this ship.  I have plans on paper for what needs to be done, checking for various jobs and beginning the application process, updating my resume and practicing interviewing skills, but so far have only managed three applications with a major grocery store chain for a job as an online order fulfillment clerk – walking around the store filling orders for people.  One of these jobs looks promising, I passed their background check and have filled out paperwork for orientation, I’m just waiting for a call from them.  I’m desperate to escape my apartment, where I’ve spent the past year in a drug induced haze, trying to avoid the grief caused by losing my little buddy May 1 2019.  Apparently what the experts say about grief is true – you can’t avoid it, no matter what you  do.  Drink, do drugs, indulge in wild sex, it will be there waiting for you when you are done, and it will crush you.  I am being crushed right now.  Obliterated.  There is a positive side, and its’ that I’m beginning to move through the process and that means that with each passing day, something resembling normalcy is waiting.  It has to be.  It just has to be.  I did something so unbelievably different just a few days ago, I stepped so far outside my comfort zone.   I was at a local park, and there is a group of rhythm junkies that meets there once a week to bang on their drums and socialize.  Introvert that I am, I approached them and began making conversation.  I was terrified.  Before I knew it, one of them handed me a set of maracas, and I was joining in the chaos of rhythmic jungle beats filling the air.  I have never played drums or any percussion instrument, but have been banging on things for my entire life.  I have pretty decent rhythm, and several of these folks complimented my maraca playing, and it was just a wonderful two hours.  Just beautiful.  Only a few weeks earlier, I met a guy at this very same park who was sitting alone and banging on a djembe drum, and I sat and talked with him.  He inspired me to buy a set of bongos, which I have been practicing on…I’ve put off this dream for too long, and am going to try to make something of the little bit of god given talent I received.  I’ve made a couple of new friends with whom I text, I’ve found a grief support group to attend, I am beginning some drug counseling classes very soon, today in fact one of them begins.  I am trying.  I am mother f*cking trying to straighten things out.  I realize it’s going to be difficult, because this pit I am in is pretty treacherous and it didn’t happen overnight.  The only way out is slowly.  However, I’ve been having these “trial runs” for suicide.  I have “put my affairs in order”, so to speak.  Ive created this folder with my meager final wishes inside.  It is bright red and says “If I’m dead or injured” on the cover.  It’s in plain sight inside my apartment, designed to be seen by law enforcement of my landlord, should something happen to me.  There is a prepaid cremation plan, and several letters to friends and my landlord that indicate some final wishes, instructions on how to dispose of my belongings, what I’d like done with my cats. I’ve sent copies of my final wishes and my meager estate plan to my family.  I don’t have much of anything to offer, I just want them to know that they don’t need to go through the hassle of paying for a funeral for their lost brother.  They live out of state, and I’ve made it clear to them that I don’t want them to have to lift a finger to clean up what I leave behind.  My ashes can sit in an urn that remains unclaimed forever, I don’t need or want a funeral or any kind of memorial service at all.  My ego isn’t that powerful.  I could care less about any of that nonsense.  At this point, the only ones who will be inconvenienced are those who will have to clean up my body and bring it to the funeral home to be cremated, and my landlord, who will have to clean out my apartment.  A crew of two can have the job done in no more than two days.  I own very little.  I call it an estate plan, but I possess an estate about like America has no financial debt.  I have a few bank accounts and retirement plans, and my siblings are either beneficiaries on the retirement plans or co-owners of the bank accounts.  Problem solved.  No complicated wills or trusts to probate or deal with.  What a bunch of nonsense we force ourselves to deal with all in the name of managing our “stuff.”  What fools we are, how we chase shadows in search of contentment like puppies chasing their tails.  The pain I’m dealing with is beginning to override the love for my cats.  I’m beginning to see that I may not be able to continue to be here to take care of them.  My issues are pretty severe right now, I am hanging by a thread, and while my goal is to see one of my cats through to her dying day, I have serious doubts about being able to do it.  I know cats very well, and they are resilient animals, and she will survive without me.  It will be an adjustment, but she can make it if she needs to.  I don’t like to say that, but I am approaching a tipping point, and I’m not sure which way things are going to tip.  I carry two notes in my wallet.  One is a suicide note, of sorts, the other is a wallet sized version of my “If I’m dead or injured folder”, indicating that I have two cats at home and who to call to deal with them.   I’m writing this not in the hopes that it will be read, more so just to get things out.  To reinforce to myself that, while I am making a genuine attempt to return to a version of myself that is sustainable, things are also pretty dark right now, and suicide is looking more and more appealing.  I’m seeing a counselor who is supposed to be helping me overcome suicidal thoughts.  (I went to the ER in February for insomnia and mentioned that I had written suicide texts on my phone to my siblings but hadn’t sent them.  They freaked out, so I got to go see a counselor.)  I have had six sessions with him, and he is extremely concerned.  He wants me to check into a psychiatric hospital, and tells me that he feels that suicide is right around the corner for me.  I lied to him about the method I’m thinking of, telling him that I live near train tracks and also know of a particularly high bridge that would certainly do the job, which are both true.  The reality of it is I have a loaded .357 waiting to go.  It is in my nightstand, and is the only reason I own a weapon.  I dare not tell him I own it.  I went through this same exact counseling in 2018, and told the counselor then that I owned this gun, and they made me give it to a friend so as to keep it away from me.  I did, and while I eventually got the gun back two months later, I am not willing to part with what could be the best friend I have.  My little security blanket, my insurance policy against the mind that is struggling to remain intact as mental health issues slowly erode it, like a mental cancer.  Mind you, I am trying.  I want to live for … something.  I am learning to play my set of bongos.  I am going to find a job, doing something, anything…I need it desperately.  I have a license to drive trucks and buses, and have done many years of medical transportation…but I need to begin slowly right now, and will take a job at a grocery store if one is offered, just to begin to rebuild some routine.  I am riding my bike for exercise, even going to church, not because I believe the teachings of the ridiculous catholic faith, but as a platform to connect with something beyond myself.  I am trying.  Noone can take that away from me.  I’ve done a lot of damage to myself since I began smoking pot again in 2017, following twelve years of absolute sobriety.  Twelve long difficult years, that I threw away.  It cost me a job I loved, one that could have easily seen me into my retirement years, had I not made the bad choice to begin smoking.  Marijuana was a fun ride for many years, and I know it is beneficial to many, and I don’t disparage it one bit, other than to say that for me, it has been a disaster.  It has gained me nothing, and cost me dearly.  I wish I could continue smoking it, but I can’t, it just doesn’t serve my best interests to do so, and so that is that.  I’ve never been this close to suicide.  I don’t know if I can do it, but I am prepared.  I began a new med routine today, trying effexor for anxiety.  I had a tele-med visit with a prescriber yesterday, who asked me about suicidal thinking.  I explained my situation to her and the preparations I’ve taken.  She said “You’ve certainly given this a lot of thought and planned things out.”  I also lied to her, claiming that my options are again, train tracks and high bridges.  No mention of my loaded weapon.  Shame on me.   This life, this world…there is just nothing left that really appeals to me.  I’m clinging to a thread of hope right now, but don’t know how things will turn out.  This is just a collection of my thoughts.  It does nothing to change anything.  I am tired and frustrated and lacking in drive or desire to continue playing this idiotic game.  Doing so will gain me nothing, and since first attempting to find relief from depression some thirty years ago, things have only become progressively worse.  There is no magic cure to any of this crap.  There is no permanent solution, all the pills and mantras and routines are only “management tools” to help you cope with each breath, as the cancer of mental health destroys you, minute by minute.  At this point, my catholic and christian upbringing still taints my thinking about what might be awaiting me after death.  I don’t fear hell, nor do I look forward to heaven, but still have doubts about some sort of reprisal for being a coward and taking the easy way out – apparently, we’re put here to suffer, and nobility is found in doing so and dying a natural death.  Or so they say.  Having no idea what to expect if I decide to pull the trigger, I can only take comfort in the fact that in the past ten years, I have tried to live (and been succesful in doing so) a life of worth, of doing things more for the benefit of others than just blindly chasing my own happiness and success.  I’ve done work that has focused on people and their problems, and have found some perspective as a result.  So, if I kill myself, and am confronted by some angry higher power, I will defend myself by saying “What did you expect me to do?  I tried.  I changed my way of thinking, lived less for myself, and tried…and just what did you expect me to do?”  I hope that’s good enough, but don’t really care if it isn’t.  If there’s some horrible punishment awaiting me after death by suicide, oh well….at least I know I gave it a good try.  If that’s not good enough for whoever or whatever might be waiting to decide my eternal fate, it can go f*ck itself.

I am comforted by the stories of people who had much more to offer this world than me, who commited suicide.  Dr. Sophia Yin comes to mind.  Dr. Lorna Breen.  Robin Williams.  The list goes on.  What kind of “god” dumps us into this mess and then punishes us for not finding our way through the dark shit of life?  I just can’t see it.  I need to believe that these religious stories are all just so much hot air, and for the most part I do.  But still….don’t we all just have abolutely no idea what comes next?  How can we, until we depart?  I envy the dead.  They know.  They experienced the final reality, and have moved on, or are just silent, and gone.  How I hope for the latter.  Just an end to all this insanity.


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thebends 3/19/2021 - 4:08 pm

This post hits home for me on so many levels. Great to hear you’ve decided on sobriety, me too, but it’s exactly like you said… Without the fog of drugs and the excuse of depression, we’re forced to confront our lives. The good thing as you’ve probably noticed is that when our minds are clearer, the pain is in our heads as opposed to in our bones. But it’s there, strong as ever. Sounds like you have a good game plan though. Probably the best strategy I’ve heard: get a new job, prepare for the end, and treat yourself with some fun. Studies have repeatedly shown that learning a new skill (musical instrument, new language, hobby) is a great cure for depression because it works a special part of the brain that doesn’t usually get much use. In all, sounds like you got all your bases covered.

About religion, I’ve also tried to grasp the concept of a higher power but it’s tough. Like you implied, it’s inevitable that we start feeling confrontational with whoever’s in charge of this suffering. “What did you expect me to do” indeed.

Sometimes I like to imagine that I myself am god, not in an egotistical way, but in a way that might explain why I was sent into this trash heap, to report back what needs to be done to fix this mess. In any case I can’t imagine any supreme being who would punish us for reaching our limit. Would you punish a white blood cell who couldn’t fight off a cancer by itself? As long as it tried, and didn’t turn into a cancer itself, I’d say good job, take 5.

Once 3/20/2021 - 12:01 am

I like the analogy of the white blood cell. Makes sense, thebends. It makes sense.

Atintofgreen 3/19/2021 - 10:06 pm

This is just me rambling…
I have been told I think too much, but that is just the way things are. In one of my explorations within my mind, I stumbled upon a realization. It all began with a video of an individual interacting with a large predator (insert the animal of your choosing here). You see, something they usually say in these types of videos is “this is a wild animal, it does not belong in captivity”. Man describes all creatures on this earth as animals except for one, humans. The only difference I see is that animals are confined in metal cages and humans are confined by abstract concepts such as “credit scores” (insert chuckle here). A human, at the end of the day is a wild animal like any other creature on this planet meant to be free. For the longest time I left the question “how do we grant the mind freedom?” on hold. It’s been a long time, but I recently stumbled across a story that might hold some answers. The story was about a man named Wim Hof (known as the ice man). Hof accidentally discovered an interesting way to cope with the grief of losing his wife, by submerging himself in ice cold water. Something he said that captured my attention was “The colds is merciless. It brings you direct in the depth of yourself. You’re not thinking. Your emotions stop. You are just surviving and that makes you a free man”. Maybe we can grant the mind some rest by filling our bathtub with Ice and water and submerging ourselves into what Hof described as freedom.

Once 3/20/2021 - 12:13 am

I see the logic of emotion stopping in order for the body to survive. There’s not much room for it as you cling to a thread dangling over an abyss, except for maybe fear. I’m so caught up in frustration right now that I just don’t know where to turn, what to do…more than anything I need to find work, quickly. Anything. I’m losing touch, anxiety is running rampant. Thanks for commenting, Atintofgreen.

Robert77 3/19/2021 - 11:42 pm

I am well acquainted with grief and I can relate to much of what you are saying. I do look forward to heaven and I don’t think God can blame us for ending our lives in this kind of pain. I was also raised Catholic but walked away from Catholicism many years ago. I have a problem with organized religions because I don’t think God is impressed with them. I know this life is very short compared to eternity so Im guessing God doesn’t think a few years in hell are that big of a deal. I have had a taste of hell and I don’t want to go there forever. I quit weed about a year ago now after smoking it for 40 years. It took a few months then all the grief hit me real hard last July and I have not done so well since. I started taking valium in December because the pain inside me was just too great and Im seeing my ex wife again and although she is Bipolar and giving me the meds she has also contributed to much of my pain thru the years. So Im all kinda messed up at this point. My dad killed himself recently and my son is now threatening it. Its like the whole world just collapsed a year ago starting with this COVID bullshlt. Thats not to say my own world hasn’t been a mess for many years now but nothing is getting better and I have no hope that it will. I actually am a guitarist but have a decent drum set and been playing a lot of hard rock recently and it really helps me. I wish I had more encouraging words but all I can say is you are not alone in your suffering.

Once 3/20/2021 - 12:26 am

That’s harsh about your Dad and the issues with your son…sorry. I express gratitude daily for the good in my life, and as for catholicism… I think it’s just a reminder of a time when I was comfortable with religion, back in my pre-teen years. It feels like I’m connecting to something, but I should know better. Man needs religion, whatever “god” is doesn’t. Yet I’m still intimidated by the old beliefs of religion…and have a hard time conceiving of not existing. The lockdown is a nightmare scenario for so many…I’m at my breaking point, in every sense of the phrase.

Robert77 3/20/2021 - 8:04 am

What you have gone thru seems a lot worse to me and I am so sorry for your loss. This lockdown has destroyed everything in its path. I lost a lot of my support system and I have been out of work since last August. It just feels like the end is near no matter what. I feel like im also grieving the loss of my country also. The cure is worse than the ailment with destroying so many lives for a glorified flu virus. My mechanic, hairstylist and favorite restaurant are all gone and out of business. They want me to wear a mask at a NA meeting so I won’t go. Whats the point. Now that my son is in treatment my ex wife has to deal with her feelings of us growing closer because we are back in each others lives so she is closed up guarded and superficial now and it just frustrates me. She sees feelings for me as Im trying to control her. I see my feelings for her as being pushed over the edge.

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