The following and all of the other episodes to come are snapshots of what goes on in my head, now and in the past. There are times none of this will make sense. There will be times when I might get lucky and the blog I post will be well constructed and will flow like a mountain stream to an awaiting lake below. Other times it will seem like the ramblings of a madman and you’ll ask yourself, “What the……?”
You should probably get use to the latter.
EPISODE FORTY TWO: Horizon Line
I thought about this one when I was driving to work one morning.
There is a moment in my childhood that stands out. I had a tent. A green and red tent that I got in a yard sale. It smelled like mildew and it had missing parts but I didn’t care. I loved it. On this particular day, I sat it up in the back yard, got my favorite pillow and a blanket and a Beetle Bailey book and stayed in there all that Sunday afternoon. It was a nice sunny day with a nice breeze that blew into the opening. I read for a while and fell asleep. I must have slept for over an hour. When I did wake up, I was completely happy.
At that moment, that happiness was my horizon line.
Then my brain changed. There were a lot of little situations that happened and put my horizon line more into a depression zone.
I think of it like an attitude indicator in a plane. You try to keep the little plane on it, on the horizon. Above it, you send the plane up. Below it, you send the plane down. Simple. And that line (the horizon) represents a steady, level flight.
I have a internal attitude indicator. That line is a neutral setting. Neither happy or sad. My little plane sits just below it. I have to bring my little plane up just to be neutral. So…my horizon line sits in the sad/depression zone.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I can be happy. I can laugh and have fun and notice sweet things and enjoy them. But it takes a little work to stay there. Sometimes the work is harder than others.
When I was in school, mostly high school, I liked being funny. Not necessary the class clown (those people got in trouble and I HATED getting into trouble) but just one of those guys that said a funny thing at the right time. The zinger, if you will. I was pretty good at it. I still am. But you couldn’t say I was happy a lot of the time. Trying to be funny helped me keep me above my horizon line and above the normal horizon line into the happy zone. And it worked a lot of the time.
Trying to stay there for long periods of time was exhausting. And going through teenage angst didn’t help. That started my lifelong need of being alone at times. During my high school years we lived out in the country. Our house sat on about five acres of land and a lot of it was covered in woods. My dad had cleared a trail and I would spend a lot of time out there. There were times I would just find a rock or a fallen log and sit there and just think. Or just to listen to the sounds of the woods. It was peaceful and helped ease the constant grinding gears in my head.
And this is the only time in my life that I thought about ending it all.
My parents weren’t happy with each other. My grades were dropping. My passions for things had faded. I wanted to play with toys but felt I was too old to do that and I was caught in a in between land of child and grownup. I felt like I had no outlets.
I felt completely lost.
I sat out there one day, in the woods, and decided to plan on how to do it. It was going to be by slashing my wrists.
I was really going to do it. I really was.
Then I thought about how I would break my parents heart. And as silly as this might seem to some of you, I thought about how I would miss my dogs and cats. I thought about the life that could be in front of me, the things I might do and see.
I sat there for a whole afternoon. And I cried most of the time.
I finally got up and walked back to the house. My dad was outside in the back yard and asked where I had been.
“Just messing around”.
He smiled at me and I smiled back and walked into the house. I hugged my mom and went to my room.
As you can tell…I didn’t do it. And that was the only time I thought about it. I have thought what it would be like if I hadn’t been born like George Bailey from It’s A Wonderful Life but nothing more than that. As some of you may know, I now fear death. So, in a way, that’s a good fear to have.
My horizon line still sits just below normal, even to this day. But I find it a little easier to keep it up into the happiness zone for longer periods of time. I’m married to a wonderful, loving, caring woman, I have a wonderful daughter who is so smart and funny and has given me a greater purpose to be in this world. I have some really great friends I hope to know for the rest of my life. And I have some passions that I love so very much, I want to keep pursuing them until my last breath when I’m really, REALLY old. I have more strength to keep my little plane flying well above the normal line. It does have to settle back down to my horizon line from time to time but it’s for a quick refueling. Then back up it goes.
It’s a daily fight and I guess it always will be. But it’s easier now. There are less storm clouds in the way. My little plane can fly longer…with help.
Oct. 28th 2016
I’ve decided to keep a blog about how I’m dealing with depression. I’m going to consider this a form of therapy. It might not help anybody else but it might help me.