Saturday, April 21, 2012

Early War Post: April 21st- "Lean into the Pain"

Last Sunday I posted my ROW goals for the week, because I wanted to accomplish a lot before my schedule got worse.  I thought that I would need to take up a fourth job to make ends meet for my family, because of our current financial situation.  However thinking about that along with other things going on in my life (lies that I've heard from some family members and the stress of being back from a deployment) took me into one of the worst depressive episodes I've ever had.  I felt the icy fingers of addiction reach into my chest and rip my heart out, and for a brief moment I was deliciously numb as I spent way too much time last week playing video games and isolating myself from my family, from myself, and from my writing.  It literally destroyed an entire week of progress for me in my fiction.

So as I am coming back from Never-Ever land to focus on what I think is most important I thought, I'd share with you a little bit about the issues a person can deal with in depression and why exactly it is real.

My first deployment overseas didn't have me doing what people think of soldiers typically doing.  I'm sure everyone has seen folks who go over and they are breaking down doors, taking down bad guys, and generally kicking butt and taking names.  For me I wasn't on that mission.  I wasn't on a mission to seek out and destroy the enemy.  Instead I served the enemy.  I worked as a guard at a Detainee Camp.  This means those folks the other guys found and brought in, we took care of until their trial dates.  We made sure they didn't hurt each other (which we failed at), we made sure they had food, and we tried to make them as comfortable as possible while we watched them day in and day out.  It might not sound so bad until you realize that if you are trained to seek out and destroy the enemy serving the enemy (who indeed would slit your throat in a heartbeat) does some messed up things to you psychologically.  Most people left this specific duty with terrible cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD and it took us a long time to get over it.  I almost lost my marriage as a result of the issues I came home from that deployment with.  And I'm still feel broken even now.  Just I've had a little help to put most of the pieces back in the right place since that time.

When I was there I often indulged in my addiction to games and just zoned out because I had to deal with the pain somehow and there wasn't a lot of other options.  I don't smoke, and I don't drink, and I really didn't want to start up any other addictions so I just did a lot of writing and played my games frequently.

But when I got home was when the emotions came full force.  I went from being an Honors Student who loved being in class to sleeping through all my classes everyday.  I could go to work, because for some reason when I'm helping someone else I can forget all my pain for that brief moment (which explains why I always look for work where I serve others), but school just was too much.  There were days I could barely crawl out of bed because I was so sad.  I went to a therapist who said I was okay because I was still going to work.  They told my wife that I was being responsible because I took care of my obligations.  But I didn't, I didn't give her love, I couldn't care about myself, and worst of all I hated almost everyone I had gone overseas with.  And anyone who knows me knows hate is not a natural emotion to me.

It is the fact that I wasn't willing to deal with the emotions and either slept or played videogames that was sinking me.  I didn't have the coping skills to deal with such volume of painful emotions.  Depression is a disease.  It forces a person who is dealing with horrible things to deal with them in unhealthy ways.  I know some folks who eat when depressed, others who cut themselves, and some who sleep it all away.  When we don't know how to deal with the things the world has given us sometimes we crawl into a hole and hope everybody goes away because we don't know how to deal with their company and our pain.

I've met people in my life who have said that they don't believe in depression.  And there was a time in my life that I didn't understand it very well myself, and I wouldn't have been able to truly deal with my wife's depression very well.  But that was all before I had visited its depths myself.  I just want to say that it is a real illness.  And for some it goes beyond that because they are missing chemicals to balance their bodies properly.  For them it is more than a coping mechanism, it is a struggle to find real joy in life.  They have to fight against this disease to even find their emotions in the first place.  And I don't envy them in that fight, because I know from my own experiences that it is a very difficult fight to deal with.

The only reason I'm coming out of it at the moment is because I heard something in group therapy that really helped me this past week: "Lean into the pain."  By leaning into the pain it causes me to actually recognize that I'm in pain, it causes me to seek out some help from my family, and it causes me to look into the depths of the emotional hole that lies inside of me.  I can't say by any means that I'm whole yet, but I know that as I take more time "leaning into the pain" I'll be better able to deal with the things that life has put before me.

I no longer hate the people I was with back then, but I realize that that period of my life was probably the most pain I've ever been in.  And because I didn't learn earlier appropriate ways to deal with that volume of pain I chose addiction and depression over connection and family.  But I'm learning that now, and that's one of the reasons I do ROW80, because I want to replace my addictions with my writing and make it the lifeblood of my life.  It isn't an easy process, but it is entirely worth it.  Because one day I might not be broken anymore, but through all this I'll be whole.

I don't plan on posting goals with this.  I'll wait till Wednesday to do that.  I got a lot of work to get done though and I'm not going to be wasting any time.  Too much reading, writing, and living to do to allow the pain of my life to tear me apart.  But if you don't see me for a minute, know I'm off fighting for my life, my family, and my writing and that is the most important fight of my life.  As always, I'm Jayrod Garrett the First OG.

My question for you today is: What gets in the way of your goals?
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