Back to the Happy

Hear the recorded version of this poem on Soundcloud at this link: Back to the Happy

Verse 1:
Come away, come away with me love
let’s go back to the day when we first met:
magic in the air
a night we won’t forget.

Looking back, looking back is easy
everything wears a shiny rosy hue
life had just begun
there was only me and you.

Bridge:

But time can fly
the years go by
and life gets a little crazy;
We let the doubt
push us about
now look where it’s left us, baby

Chorus:

I wanna go back to the Happy
to the days when the sun shone through the rain
I wanna go back to the Carefree
to the nights when the stars spelled out our name
Can we try, can we try, can we pretend
find our way to that old fairy tale end
and let me go back to the Happy

Verse 2:

Come away, come away with me love
let’s go back to that place we called ‘our home’
built on solid ground
roots in earth and stone.

Looking back, looking back it’s so clear
that there’s more to this house than these four walls
somewhere there’s still faith
haunting these old halls.

(Repeat Bridge and Chorus)

But time can fly
the years go by
and life gets a little crazy;
We let the doubt
push us about
now look where it’s left us, baby.

I wanna go back to the Happy
to the days when the sun shone through the rain
I wanna go back to the Carefree
to the nights when the stars spelled out our name
Can we try, can we try, can we pretend
find our way to that old fairy tale end
and let me go back to the Happy

Can we try, can we try, can we pretend
find our way to the old fairy tale end
and let me go back to the Happy

I wanna go back to the Happy

Let me go back to my Happy

 

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In The Dark

When the dark days come, those are the times when I least feel like writing. I don’t feel like doing anything, actually. Not writing, not reading, not speaking, not listening, not eating, not drinking, not breathing… but especially not like writing.. especially not like writing about why I feel the way I feel.

And yet, today, sitting thinking about being miserable that I haven’t written here in so long because the time hasn’t come that I’ve “felt like it”, I realize that these are the very days when I should be writing about how I feel… writing about how the weight of depression gets so heavy that I can’t lift my fingers over the keys to type, that I can’t make the words come out of my brain and move down my arms, that I can’t make my eyes focus on the screen, that everything looks wrong and nothing looks legible or sensible or rational. Well, of course it’s not rational.. this state of mind isn’t rational. And I should be writing about it.

So, here I am.. trying to sort out some of the words that are hiding in my head, that want to get out but are stuck in there, stuck in the dark, stuck in the muck and mired in the shadowy goo.

I hear, a lot of times, the words, “How can you stay in bed all day?” and “How can you be so tired when all you do is sleep all the time?” Let me ask you this: if you were to have to go through your day at work balancing a brick on your head, wearing a lead vest, and weighted exercise cuffs on your wrists and ankles, would you be tired at the end of the day? Then you have an idea of what “wearing” depression feels like. When a person suffering from depression is forced to go out into the public world at large, whether it’s to work or run errands or whatever reason they must interact with people, they usually have to force themselves to “put on” an outward appearance of normality in order to get through the event. This is by no means a conscious effort to deceive or impress, it’s simply a survival technique. It’s how we survive the anxiety of being among “normal” people when we feel like we’re going to either  implode or spontaneously combust from all the horrible feelings built up inside us. Putting on that outer shell, that front, that mask, takes a lot of energy, it’s stressful, it makes for tense muscles and rapidly firing synapses, leaving you feeling like you’re on a crazy twister ride. And by the time we get back home to our safe haven, carrying all the weight of that persona, holding everything in and keeping that face on for the outside world has drained every last ounce of strength and stamina we have left. Now, imagine doing that every day, sometimes 7 days a week.

That’s when breakdowns happen… when “every day” just becomes too much and we need a “time out” to reset. Physically, as well as emotionally and mentally, we’re so depleted and exhausted that we can’t function anymore. Most people can’t understand how just being depressed can be physically exhausting, you’re not exercising, lifting barbells, doing lunges.. so how can we be tired? Because when the body is stressed mentally, the muscles react physically, tightening and straining in different ways, resulting in a tired body to go with the tired mind. This also can lead to health problems such as stomach issues, bowel and urinary problems, heart and lung troubles, etc. The mind is extremely powerful.

Going back to the whole “staying in bed all day” thing.. this is what comes of dark days. When you feel so crappy, so horrible, so stressed and tired and run down and worn out that you don’t have the energy, the strength, to lift your head off the pillow, you don’t have the desire to see the light of day, you don’t have the need to feed your body.. this is what happens on dark days when depression is at it’s worst. And those are the days when you want to bury yourself into the middle of the mattress and disappear forever… because no matter how hard you try, no matter how long you stay there, no matter how cozy it may be in your room, your bed, your house, you don’t actually get much sleep. You just lie there.. and your mind tries to destroy you slowly.

You lie there until you get thirsty, but you dare not get up to get a drink because you know that if you do, then you’ll soon have to go to the bathroom and that means you’ll have to walk past the mirror and then you’ll see them.. that person that you can’t stand, the one that triggers the dark one in your head to come out and start saying those horrid things you hate to hear. “Oh God.. look at that face! Children would run away screaming in terror! How could anyone think that was even remotely attractive?!” So you stay there lying in bed until the thirst goes away.

You lie there until you get hungry, but you dare not get up to get something to eat because you know that if you do it will draw that voice back again. “That’s right, Porky. Keep stuffing your face and you’ll never loose the weight. You’re always going to be fat and flabby. Forget about that brand new lovely bathing suit again this year. Another summer of long sleeves and no swimming.” So you stay lying there until the hunger goes away.

After a day or two you start to feel gross and you know you need to shower, you hair is greasy and your scalp is itchy, but you’re so tired, your arms feel like they’re tied to 50lb weights, your head feels like a harvest fair prize pumpkin, just breathing makes your chest hurt and the very thought of struggling to get out of bed brings tears to your eyes. Then the voice shows up. “You useless blob! How are you ever going to get back into the real world if you don’t get your lazy arse out of that bed? Look at you! Rats could be living in your hair! You smell! You’re disgusting!” And then you feel so much more miserable that you curl up into an ever shrinking ball and burrow deeper into the covers to try and hide from the darkness that claws at your mind.

It’s a ruthless and vicious beast, living in the back of your brain and feasting on your weaknesses of self-loathing, insecurity, anxiety, and angst. It hides and lies in wait for every little opportunity to leap out and take a chomp out of you. It drools and slavers and gurgles in delight at every chance it gets to chew you up and spit you out. And when depression grips you and drags you into the pit where it lives, you can’t get away from it. It’s on a long leash and it’s hard to shorten it when you’re laying in the middle of its lair.

Now, I see a wonderful therapist, I’m on an effective regimen of anti-depressant medications, I have amazing friends and a loving supportive family… but I still have depression and I still fall into the dark days on occasion for no reason that can be explained.  Sometimes they last a day or two, other times they hang on with their sharp talons for weeks. This time it’s been a week already and I haven’t begun to feel the hope of freedom yet… but I know it will come. I know I’ll break out eventually. Because I always do. That’s what therapy has helped me learn: the dark days come.. and the dark days go. I will always have to fight them at times, but I will always survive and they will always end.

The hardest part is remembering that… that they will end. Because right now.. it’s very dark in here… and I really hate that damn voice.

 

A Matter of Death and Life

Death is strange thing.

Sometimes it appears as a temptress, a siren who lures and seduces, inviting and promising of sweet repose, peace and freedom, endless rest, release and resurrection from the burdens of this hateful life.

Other times it is a sinister monster, a demon ready to devour, to feed upon the weak, to leech precious life from the desperate, clawing and grasping at those who cling frantically to the last vestiges of existence.

Depending on one’s outlook, Death can be either… or both.

Depending on one’s attitude.. or mindset.. or state of mind.. depending on whether there is a choice.. or whether the choice lies in one’s own hand or in the hands of another.. depending on whether one is ready to face it.. depending on.. so much.. so many things.

When Death comes for another, we see it a little differently. If we are losing someone we love, care about, and don’t want to let go of, then Death is a thief, a cheat, a cruel judge who steals away our dear one unfairly, unjustly, too soon, too quick, without giving us enough time, enough room, enough everything. We get angry and spiteful and rail at Death. But if that loved one has been suffering, struggling with illness or pain for a long span of time, if we’ve watched them endure and our heart has been breaking for them, then Death, although still cruel to take them from us, comes as a blessed reliever, a soothing quieter who calms the storm and brings the end of the trials and battles, giving our loved one the final rest they longed for.

So how do we come to terms with Death and find our own peace when faced with it? This is a difficult question, moreso when you take into consideration having held Death in contempt in the past, because when you suffer from chronic depression it isn’t unusual to have repeated conversations in your mind about your own mortality and how you feel about dying, how you feel about living, or whether you want to do either.

One of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do was say ‘goodbye’ to a dear friend or family member, go through the motions of a wake and a funeral, only to have a flickering thought pass through my mind that there were times I would have wished it was me in that casket.. me being lowered into that hole in the ground.. me being sent to the incinerator.. instead of them. Not just because I felt that they didn’t deserve to die, which of course I did feel, but also because I felt that they deserved to live more than I did… that they had so much more to live for than I, they had so much more left to do worth living for, so much more value in their life, and that it wasn’t fair that I lived and they didn’t. After all the times, through all the darkest days of depression, when suicide was at the forefront of my thoughts but was never successfully acted on, I stood in a funeral parlor and wept for the loss of a vibrant soul who should have been alive when I, who belonged to Death more than they, was allowed to carry on.

Living with depression, one comes to feel that you have an intimate relationship with Death, a deep understanding, a companionship of sorts. There is no fear of it, no anxiousness, just a longing at times for the meeting. When the darkness weighs down so hard that you can almost feel your bones breaking beneath the crush, it can seem impossible to believe there could be anything beyond Death that would save you from being pulverized by it. So even when you are outside of the darkness, even when you are managing to cope on a ‘good’ day, having to give up someone you care about to Death, when you believed more than anything that they didn’t deserve to have their life cut short yet, that they had so much living left to do, you find yourself bearing the added burden of another emotion besides grief: guilt. Yes, guilt. You feel guilty. They’ve gone with Death.. and you didn’t, but you deserve to, because even on a ‘good’ day, in the deep, dark recesses of your depression-soaked mind, you still harbor self-hate and self-loathing, feelings so wretched that no amount of compliments, comforting assurances or reaffirmations can ever truly convince you that you are a ‘good’ person and that you deserve just as much to live a rich and full life of happiness as everyone else.

This is depression. It makes no logical sense. And you find yourself self-immolating as you mourn the loss of this loved one, adding to your sorrow, adding to your emotional pain, adding to your grief, adding to your suffering, because you hate the plain fact that you’re alive… which you know, somewhere in the sensible part of your brain, is ridiculous and that your loved one would literally kick your arse for feeling like this, but you can’t help it. You can’t control these feelings. They’re overwhelmingly strong. They hang around your neck like an anchor, drowning you in a sea of sadness. It takes weeks, sometimes months, for you to drag your way up to the surface and fill your lungs with clear air again, before you can finally begin to force rational thought back into your mind, begin to reestablish positive mindfulness, and let go of the need to feel responsible for every horrid thing that ever happened in your life. (Yes, I know that’s utterly hogwash, but yes, sometimes we feel that way). Once you get there, though, the weight on your chest lightens and the memories of your lost one don’t ache quite as much and for a while Death fades away into a shadow that you forget.

With the help of family and friends (and good therapy) you keep learning to cope.. and loss still hurts, you still have dark days, you still think about Death.. but as time goes on, Death loses its lure, and Life begins to get more promising.