There Are These Days

A couple of weeks ago my world went dark. I made horrific plans, mapped out the day, my valuables, important tokens of my life. I say this because it does happen to people, and now I feel a better grasp and that is more valuable than any guilt or shame over previous moments in my life.

I call it these days because they really come and go. The weather outside is beautiful, and during the summer I spent most of my time on my bicycle, and tonight I couldn’t get myself to move. It is funny how our lives become wrapped up in ourselves, and we forget about those around us. Now with Covid, we are more often than not forced to live only with ourselves. I have a dog now, he is a beautiful animal, and just comes and lays by me most of the time, or if he hears or senses anything emotional from me, he’ll come and check me out. A couple of weeks ago when I hit that low, he was someone I couldn’t leave behind without somebody to be there to care for him immediately.

I think when I get lost inside myself, I forget the world around me. I feel pretty valueless when I let this trapping take over my state of mind. I fortunately have a lot of people I can reach out to, but sometimes one or two might be far more important than everyone else. It doesn’t mean that everyone doesn’t carry the same value, there are just easier words found with the few.

I began writing to an old friend recently. I wrote her a letter out of the blue, and it was overwhelming for her to hear my words 40 years later. I felt this certain energy when I wrote her, it just let my mind go and took off and I could see and hear my words as they were hitting the paper, and I just let them go. I’ve only been able to do that with one other person in my life and now she has disappeared much like my old friend, so I resort back to these pages. I hope someday I can put them together in some manner that lets at least me believe the words hold value.

Tonight I found myself watching TV, letting the hours slip by. I have a morning obligation that I have to contribute to rather than just show up. Sometimes it is easier to do that – show up – without really taking value in the effort or what others are receiving from me. What is the energy I bring to a room. I want my students to have fun, so we have a lot of laughs, but what if it means nothing to me anymore. Isn’t that really just hurting the kids? Oh, see how easy that was? I found another way to beat myself up.

The weirdest thing happened to me the night I was feeling my low. I was beside myself and I wrote a letter to a dear friend whom I cannot get a response, and I talked about some dark moments. I think deep in my mind, I was begging for a wellness check, and so shortly after I went to bed around midnight and my code for the entrance to my village gate rang on my phone. I couldn’t figure out why. I thought there might be a connection and so I stood out on my deck expecting the cops to pull up for a welfare check on my state of mind. But no one ever did. So now I guess somebody hit the wrong number. I really haven’t any idea, but I think God was sending me a message.

I think about where my state of mind goes so quickly when I am feeling down. It goes as deep as my fresh optimism goes high. I can never seem to find that common ground, that even keel, that ability to balance on the fence.

I think in the time of Covid, it really is difficult to feel hope without despair. I don’t like my job right now, it is not because of the kids, I love my students, I just don’t like having an administration that has their own struggles but doesn’t reveal with anyone because of their role. I think we are all struggling right now, and to add to it, a remarkably historic election week, and we are all on the edge.

I guess I have rambled here a bit tonight, but I really wanted to just talk about how easy it is to fall into a mania that gives suicide a platform when loneliness and sadness overtake our lives. It happened to me, and it does more often than not, I just am better hiding it than I used to. There are really only a couple of people in my life who know I walk around like this all the time. A couple of weekends ago, nothing mattered, and then I scared myself, so now tonight as I finish this up, I guess I am just recognizing another vulnerability in my own human condition that I cannot let become triggered – rather I need to accept it and move on.

I always find a way to come to terms ever so briefly with understanding mood. I just wish it could be consistent and forever.


© Thom Amundsen 11/2020

Finding One Door

IMG_0177

This matter of doors,

talked about in quiet rooms,

where two people, maybe four, three

could openly speak

closing doors, reasons why,

open doors, easily cry

for there is some certain avenue

allows us all to find our way,

if we choose to be

the person we might

want to

speak someday.

 

I remember a year ago,

saying I wished I might not live another day,

exhausted,

it was a similar hour of night,

this seemingly special occasion,

where I

the leader or the exhibit on display,

wanted nothing more

than to go away.

 

Yet here I am today,

celebrating some reason to explain

how it might I came to be,

this life,

this scrutiny

that only I control.

 

Oh I may allow others

have a hand

in my own dismay,

but it is in those darker

moments,

I can begin to

explain away,

the tragedy of my own

today.

 

I met someone once,

she touched my heart,

we spent hours into the twilight

talking about who or what our psychic meanings were.

I remember wanting only to

kiss her,

and yet so compelling was her ability

to sway the judgment of my play,

I listened,

and the hours flew by,

suddenly sunlight peeking through

her apartment drawn shades,

the two of us laying comfortably apart

together,

opened our eyes,

smiled,

suggested

what a day this will be

today.

 

So tonight,

just after midnight,

I look again into that open door, a space

just kind of waits,

and yet there are so many stories about

that man in the chair,

who looks like yesterday,

or maybe a little like his mom

whom as he weeps in

a sweet silence,

he imagines or hopes,

dreams on occasion,

if he did stand up,

and walk through,

there would be she,

and all of the questions

that have rocked his mind for over

half a century

might suddenly

come to life,

what some could easily pin upon

the afterlife

 

Yet why is that even as we try to blend

the pallet of our fantasy,

why do the same entrances tease our mind,

the darkness will always prevail

until that moment,

when trying to be,

might only become

the aftermath of

we in the some triggered response

to ending all of the confusion

that inherent blend of

mystery

the human condition.

 

Safe in my distance, I do imagine the other side,

and just wonder if a  picture will ever help me decide.

 

The Notion of Giving Up

I’m in a bit of a crisis, so I’m going to write from my heart. I don’t really know where this will take me, if only to let me vent some of my fears, and find some peace. I recently came to a conclusion about important aspects of my life, and a need to make significant changes. We sometimes are forced to make those decisions only because we have to go on with trying to become who we are meant to be.

I struggle with depression, I have all my life. In different periods I used self destructive measures to deal with my anxiety and the fears that came along with not feeling good about myself. My self confidence has always suffered, and there have been rare times when I could look in a mirror and be happy with what I might see. I find that to be part of the human condition that we all carry around with us. It is ironic, because I know people that will clearly say to me, I don’t understand depression because I have never experienced it, and I find myself walking away, feeling envious. I have to believe though it is true, and they are part of a fortunate lot.

In my life, I have been vulnerable to my own insecurities. There are things that bring me happiness, probably the greatest one I can reveal here, safely enough is the birth of my children. They are truly the most beautiful gift in my life, and I am blessed. My wife has been the caregiver throughout our marriage, and together we raised our children to be wonderful contributors to our society. I am proud of them and feel fortunate that we have been given this miracle of a healthy disposition in our family.

It wasn’t always like that. My own struggles with addiction have weighed heavily on the fabric of my marriage, my relationship with my children and my colleagues and friends. I have been lucky to find a supportive environment that helps me discover stability, but I have to admit, I sometimes need that 24/7 and when a significant moment occurs in my life, I become shaky and wish for negative outcomes, only those that would apply to me, no one else, I would pray would be impacted by my own faults.

This leads me to speak to this current crisis I am experiencing. I have found that my validation that I grew comfortable with for a period in and around nearly two decades has become a bit of a false pretense. I have no regrets, I just believe I have to move forward, and rather than smile at the fear I have when I am around people, I must find peace within my own mind. I think that is a difficult process when fighting with anxiety and depression. I think we tend to connect with those people that understand our moods, our emotions, our challenges. I think those people are important in our lives, and they sometimes come from unique avenues in our world that we choose to live in. I think our fear of losing that can really shake a person up.

I’ve wanted to give up so many times in the last 50 years, it actually has become a rather comical curse for me to carry around. I’m not suggesting humor necessarily as much as I am speaking to the circle of deceit I have left myself living in, rather than foraging forward to find a solution to my fears. I have had occasion where I really did want to check out, and I looked for ways that might be possible. Ironically today, the first thing I thought about when I was experiencing self-defeating ideas is my two children, my son in particular – his vulnerability seems a bit more apparent having suffered through the loss of people he has been close to in his life. I thought of my own impact being parallel to what he has already struggled through and the message that would leave him with being horrific.

Tonight, I read on my twitter feed a person who has pledged 22 days of doing 22 daily pushups to represent support for our military who live in a constant struggle with their own lives. The 22 represents the number of military personnel that take their lives every day. I thought about that and applied it to myself. I have not been in the military, I have not suffered to the degree that so many people around me have. I have only struggled with my own addictions and self-loathing but it really is nothing when placed side by side with someone that has had to endure far more challenge than myself.

So tonight, I am reflecting. I have been forced to move forward. I will not let depression continue to enjoy a stranglehold on my well-being. I experienced something this evening that literally tore me apart and left me feeling sick to my stomach. I will practice humility and grace as I move forward beyond my own self-aggrandizing behavior. I have a responsibility towards a world outside my own rollercoaster of emotion, and I might well jump on board and own myself.

I hope you have been listening, and for those of you that made it this far, I appreciate you. Thanks for coming along on the ride.


© Thom Amundsen 2019

 

Watching Jumpers

a bridge

Driving over the bridge

I thought about the edge,

the lives standing on a ledge

wondered til I felt a cringe

 

Thought of all the lives

a beautiful spring day

turning evening anyway

bicyclists, walkers, drives

 

This quiet sense of wonder

overcame my state of mind

only a silent recall, remind

it does put an end to a wander.

 

Driving by again I returned

this time to lights and fear

there was an apparent jumper

bicyclists, walkers, all turned

 

away from the activity, a quiet

like our lives ever hold merit.

 

A Teenager Committed Suicide

Yesterday, a former student took his own life. The circumstances are horrific to realize that life had come to such terms. It is also ironic for many people including myself. We all have dark moments that cause us to imagine a deadly option. This young man somehow felt there was no one he could speak to that might help him through his crisis. In my life the issue of suicide has always been thought to be a cop-out and an easy option, a valueless choice for those around their lives.

I have students crying in the hallways today. I had a student contact me yesterday evening in tears – we spoke for several minutes, and I invited him to come by. This situation has impacted a lot of people including those that have the feelings themselves. Nobody really knows what a person is going through when they choose this deadly way to stop the pain. Nobody knows the tears in the final moments because we just don’t understand. I do.

I believe suicide is a mental illness beyond the circumstances of finality for a person suffering from inevitable mortality. That is the only time when such an act seems feasible. I say that again knowing in my own life there are times when the world I live in becomes exhausting and I no longer like the loneliness I feel. I am especially mortified by this situation with our student. He touched a lot of lives. I watched him laugh both in the classroom and with his friends. I watched him be successful in his love of sports in the events he participated. I watched people groom his life.

Today, I see the outcome. I sense the family and their reaction not as a close friend but as a person that appreciates the grief they feel. I understand why students are at a loss in their actions as they try to wrap their heads around his loss.

Suicide is something that everyone needs to acknowledge is a terrible way to end a person’s life. If someone reaches out be there for them, because the moment you take that for granted they may take action on something they didn’t have a chance to rethink or turn away from the act. Sadly one must though realize the end game is not their responsibility. A call, a visit, a wellness check may be all that is needed. Let them know they are not alone and they have a possible firm ledge to step back onto, let them find their own professional guidance.

Do not abandon a person when they are at their seeming lowest. Look for the signs and be there no matter the effect the notion might have on your own life.

The victim needs your real love.