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Edge of Darkness

A life's journey with depression

straightforward, serious
It's me again. Long time, no post. But this needed to be said, and I hope the few people that still check this site will notice it and speak up if they have any suggestions.

rev•e•la•tion (\re-və-lā-shən\) noun
1 a : an act of revealing or communicating divine truth b : something that is revealed by God to humans
2 a : an act of revealing to view or making known b : something that is revealed; especially : an enlightening or astonishing disclosure [shocking revelations] c : a pleasant often enlightening surprise [her talent was a revelation]
3 capitalized : an apocalyptic writing addressed to early Christians of Asia Minor and included as a book in the New Testament —called also Apocalypse

Curious? I'll explain in a few moments, but please just bear with me.

A few weeks ago, as I was driving home, I looked out over the bayous that line the route I take to and from work and thought, "How easy it would be. I just let my car slide off the road and into the swamp. It looks like an accident and Kanna still gets the insurance money."

It isn't the first time I've had such thoughts. More than once, I have caught myself in a daydream, standing at the edge of a tall building and just leaning forward, letting the winds embrace me. It's cool and comforting; it feels right. And that is very worrisome.

Even now, as I work on a project that is putting me under a bit of pressure, I confess that suicide seems a better option to the stress and anxiety I am feeling. I honestly believe that if there were a guaranteed means that I could be certain would have no chance of failure, I would take it. And frankly, that scares the living hell out of me.

It frightens me because there was a time that I would never have seriously entertained thoughts of self-destruction.

I've never told anyone this, because it seems so silly or stupid. When I was much younger (in my early teens), I read a Superman comic in which Superman has been mind-controlled into believing that he has failed everyone whom he cared about and that the world would be a better place if he never existed. He sets a super death-ray that can even affect him (don't ask why he has one of these lying about) on a timer and stands before it.

At the last second, he realizes that suicide is never the answer and leaps out of the path of the blast. This also clears his mind and he realizes that he has allowed doubt and guilt to lower his defenses and facilitate his manipulation. I was inspired by that story, and made a solemn pact with myself that no matter how bad it got, I would never resort to suicide.

And yet, on more than one occasion in the past month alone, I have given serious consideration to doing just that.

Over the past several years, I have been in an ever-deepening downward spiral. My depression has gotten worse, and it is affecting my work, my relationship with my family and friends, my spiritual well-being, and my health. I have lost focus and stopped believing in my dreams. Stress has chipped away at my self-image until it collapsed entirely and I feel that I am worthless and that there is no reason to go on. I have to force myself to be interested in even the things that once brought me joy.

But last night, as I lay in bed, trying to drift off to sleep, filled with anxiety about the project I am currently working on, I had a revelation (told you I'd get to it). I know now what must be done, and it begins with an ending.

There is a concept called the career break. Many successful people take such a break, lasting from six months to two years, and travel, study, do volunteer work, or work abroad. It functions as a sort of sabbatical, allowing you to find yourself and sort out your life. And it may help you realize your dreams.

I need a career break, I think. I would like to actually finish a novel in that time, perhaps while doing some volunteer work and maybe a little traveling. I would like to get back into my faith, and find my roots. I would also like to lose weight and get back in fighting trim. All of these things, I believe I can accomplish, if I were freed of some of the stresses of the daily grind.

The only problem is: how? I still have a family to support during that period, and I have unfortunately become accustomed to eating regularly. I have my wife, and six four-legged children, to take care of.

If anyone has any suggestions on how I can do this affordably, clue me in, please. I do not have a lot of savings to fall back upon, and I don't want my wife to have to deal with everything while I'm off cavorting about Europe. But at the same time, I need this. My sanity needs this.

My life may very well depend on this.

There But for the Grace of the Gods, Go I
meh, blank
It's hard to conceive that anyone may not have heard by now, even if second-hand, but here are the facts:

Tuesday evening, George Sodini entered the L.A. Fitness Club in Bridgeville, PA (a suburb of Pittsburgh). He proceeded to a dance-aerobics class in progress, turned out the lights, and opened fire with three handguns. Three women were killed, nine were wounded, and Sodini committed suicide. His online journal explained his motivation:

"Women just don't like me. There are 30 million desirable women in the US (my estimate) and I cannot find one. Not one of them finds me attractive."

"Every evening I am alone, and then go to bed alone," he wrote. "I see twenty something couples everywhere. I see a twenty something guy with a nice twentyish young women. I think those years slipped right by for me. Why should I continue another 20+ years alone?"

I do not condone what Sodini did, but I certainly understand his motivation. I understand it all too well. In another place, another life, that could have been me.

I've had those thoughts. Even though I am happily married (and have been for 21 years), I still cannot comprehend what attracts my wife to me. She is gorgeous. She could have any man she wanted. I'm not attractive, I'm not fit and muscular, I'm not rich; so what's the attraction? Had I not been lucky enough to find her, I could be George Sodini.

In high school, I dated several girls, but never the same one more than once (until I met my wife-to-be). Girls simply did not find me attractive or interesting, and frankly, nothing has changed. So yes, I understand him completely.

The media has been saying that his journal represents "a descent into madness," but I don't think they get it. All of us, every one, is capable of this sort of outburst. Any human being capable of self-reasoning is nothing more than a ticking time bomb of unfettered violence kept in check by a veneer of civility.

The human brain is a remarkable organ. It controls all of our body's automatic functions (breathing, blinking, heartbeat, etc.), allocates energy to all parts of the body, stores memories of personal events up to 90 years or more, interprets all of the data that you receive through your five senses, and still has reserves. The brain is capable of an estimated 1015 operations per second (as fast as the world's fastest super-computer, the MDGrape-3). And consider that the aforementioned computer cannot interpret visual, auditory, olfactory and tactile input, like your brain can.

And yet, for all it's remarkable power, the brain is really quite fragile. Sometimes, all it takes is for the least little thing to go wrong, and push the individual over the brink. It's easy to understand someone going on a rampage when they lose their job, and their wife leaves them for their best friend, and their mother passes away, all on the same day. But it is much more difficult to understand why someone shoots up their office because the morning train was two minutes off-schedule.

But sometimes, that's all it takes.

Pissed Off!
outraged, angry, furious, mad, pissed
( You are about to view content that may only be appropriate for adults. )

Writer's Block: Swine Times
grumpy, ill-tempered, annoyed, grouchy
Are you worried about catching the swine flu? Do you have a plan for avoiding contagion or dealing with quarantine?
Not particularly. Frankly, the swine flue doesn't bother me, because research is showing that it is no more deadly than normal influenza. It sucks, but being sick is no fun, no matter what the cause. Has anyone stopped to think that the reason so many Mexicans are dying from it might be because their hygiene is not up to our standards? I don't mean that as a slur against the Mexican people, but they live, in large part, in a Third World country.

My plan is to live life as I always have; showering daily, washing my hands after using the bathroom or before eating, and avoiding crowds.

down, depressed, sad, unhappy, upset
It has been far too long between posts, but to be perfectly honest, much of my attention has been directed toward other pursuits of late. Not to worry, though; I'm back (not that any of you missed me).

Today, I'd like to take a moment of your time for a brief but meaningful lesson.

Many of us have seen the letters "RIP" used in conjunction with graveyards. Many more people, perhaps even you, have always assumed that they were simply a blessing invoked upon the deceased, "Rest in Peace." While not entirely wrong, this does bring to light an interesting point that I would like to clarify.

The letters RIP are, as expected, an abbreviation. However, they do not stand for "Rest in Peace." Rather, they symbolize the Latin prayer requiescat in pace, meaning, "may he/she rest in peace."

It's an importance difference. "Rest in peace" is a short sentiment for the deceased, but requiescat in pace is intended not for the dead, but for the living! You see, in earlier times, superstition was rampant and it was believed that the dead could rise from their graves to terrorize their loved ones. Thus, requiescat in pace is a prayer that the dead will lie peacefully and not return.

As is the case with several common phrases and habits in widespread use today, many people do not understand the true meaning behind that which they do. Perhaps you are one of the many people who toss salt over their left shoulder for luck. If so, you may be surprised to learn that you are following an ancient custom. It was believed that the Devil sat at your left shoulder, and by tossing salt into his eyes, you could blind him temporarily. This quirk is often performed in conjunction with spilling the salt. Why? Because the Devil was believed to cause arguments or tension when salt was spilled, and by blinding him, you temporarily escaped his influence.

Have you ever broken a mirror and thought to yourself, "Well, that's seven years of bad luck?" You may have intended it jokingly, but several hundred years ago, that wouldn't have been the case. In ancient times, mirrors were believed to be a window to a person's soul, and to break a mirror was to crack the soul, which would take seven years to heal.

Do you suffer from triskaidekaphobia; a fear of the number 13? If so, then you aren't alone. This phobia afflicts more than 100,000 people. The origins of this superstition are unclear. Some think it refers to Judas who betrayed Christ and is believed to the the 13th to sit at the table in the Last Supper. Or perhaps the origins are steeped in Norse myth, where Loki, god of mischief, is considered to be the 13th god. He was also said to have been the 13th guest at the funeral of Baldr, whose death he is believed to have arranged. Or maybe it comes from the Persians, who believe that each sign of the zodiac rules the earth for one thousand years, after which the earth and sky collapse in utter chaos. Thus, 13 is a very unlucky number.

Are you a cat fancier? Well, perhaps you wouldn't be such if you knew that for centuries, cats were believed to be demons in disguise, the familiars of witches. A black cat that crosses your path might be trying to cut off your access to Heaven... or it may just be getting out of your way. Cats with two tails were believed by the Japanese to be vampires, and even today in the Netherlands, cats are excised from the room when the family discusses private matters. Why? Because the cunning cat might spread their gossip all over town!

Finally, many of us cross our fingers for luck, but do you know why? It's because to form the sign of the cross with one's fingers was though to ward off witches and demons. The cross was seen as a symbol of unity, and good spirits were thought to dwell at the center. Originally, it was a gesture of cooperation between two people; on to make the crossbeam and the other to support it, but with time it was modified so that an individual could make their own cross.

Tits on a Boar Hog
down, depressed, sad, unhappy, upset
If you've never heard that expression before, just think about it for a moment. Why would a male hog need mammary glands?

Well, that's how I feel; about as useful as tits on a boar hog.

I have plenty of work to do, but I don't want to do it. Why? Mostly because it seems pointless. Accomplishing it gives me no joy, and it serves no purpose other than to remove it from my desk.

Right now, I'm processing publications, which entails insuring that we have 20 copies of each document, sending out one copy to each of 12 people, taking 2 copies for the master files, and placing the remaining copies into a folder that will be placed on the shelf in case someone desires a hard copy.

First, we get relatively few requests for publications anymore. No one is interested, it seems. Secondly, even when someone is interested, most of the popular publications are available for free as PDFs on our website! Why should I have to pay the cost of mailing them, when anyone who wants them can just pop over to our site and download them?

Sure, there are a few that, for whatever reason, cannot be made into PDFs, but they are few and far between. I can see having hard copies of those on hand, but if it can be scanned, why are we wasting money printing and mailing it, when the end user can download it and print it on their bill? If the person does not have access to a computer (and those examples are getting fewer and fewer), then I will print up a copy and send it out to them, but I really can't see any reason not to consolidate everything to the Digital Age.

Aside from publications, most of my job revolves around maintaining our website which, frankly, is something I could train a monkey to do. It used to be that knowing how to make computers dance to your tune was a viable skill, but the Internet and advances in programming have made it easy for anyone to build and maintain a nice website with a minimum of effort.

As a result of dissatisfaction, I'm not very motivated to do my work. And since, at the end of each week, I have to submit a report explaining how I've earned my keep for the week, it doesn't look good if I put on it, "Did not feel like working." But thinking about that just makes me even less motivated.

At the point I'm at right now, I really don't care if I get fired or not. I've got a doctor's appointment in the morning and with any luck at all, he will tell me that the headache that has been plaguing me for the past four days is a tumor and I have only a week to live.

State of the Union II
grumpy, ill-tempered, annoyed, grouchy
A couple of talking points this week:

My Fellow Americans
I just returned from my bi-weekly rap session with my mental health counselor. Amongst the chit-chat, he put forth an idea that, well, I think I just might try. I told him that I have long joked with friends about what changes would be instituted if I ever became President of the United States, and I've even joked (never seriously) about tossing my hat into the ring a few times.

My doctor said, "You know, you're charismatic, intelligent, you have a strong personality, and a good sense of humor, but you can also buckle down and be serious when such is called for. I don't know if I would say to go for the Presidency, but I think you would do well as a local politician. I think that you would be a good fit for such a role."

Sure, I've kidded about it, but I never thought that anyone would take me seriously. But if he thinks that I could pull it off, then maybe I should give it serious consideration. I haven't yet decided what office I would go for, and it certainly won't be in the next election, but I might get my name out and then go for the one after that. So if you're in my area and you see my name on a ballot, be sure to tick the box next to it.

I want to like Obama, I really do. I think he's a fine, upstanding citizen, and he has great potential, but the passing of the recent incentive package definitely qualifies as a WTF moment! I'm not saying that some of these needs do not need to be addressed, but there are far too many "gimmie" bits in this most recent package that have nothing to do with the economy and exist only to sate one politician or another.

I will say this; if I am elected, no matter to what office, I will not let myself be swayed by bribes, shady deals, and sneaky underhanded mudslinging.

WTF 2: The Second Fucking
A friend, who shall remain nameless, has been notified by the INS that they must leave the country or face extradition. The reason is because the individual's VISA expired when their employer dropped the ball and let it lapse. Now, the individual must leave the country and reapply for entry. This despite the fact that they came here legally, have worked in the country for more than 15 years, have never been in trouble with the law, have never been involved in illicit activities, and in general, have been a fine and upstanding citizen! What is more, they have performed research that has benefited the country and which has been used by the government!

And yet, every day, we provide health care and welfare to people who are living here illegally, having sneaked across the border or floated in on a homemade raft! This individual has never received so much as a parking violation, and has been lawfully and dutifully employed in the U.S. for better than 15 years!

Furthermore, the individual's employer, who are responsible for the whole mess in the first place, is standing by and doing nothing.

Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture?

I wish I were Lost!
creative, inspired
How cool would it be, really, to be on The Island? If you're a Lost fan (and if not, I feel sorry for you), you know the island I'm talking about.

Sure, there's the whole survival thing, but you know, their basic needs were seen to and I think I could handle it; even if I had to go it alone. With companions, though, I'd find my niche very quickly. The Others would be the only real concern, and frankly, I know a few tricks that would keep them to their side (or at least away from our camp). It's certainly better than what I do for a living right now.

And time traveling? Well, that would just be plain cool all the way around. Even if I had no control, I know enough history and a smattering of enough languages (including some ancient ones) that I'd have no trouble fitting in just about any place (with a few notable exceptions). Plus, I can make black powder! (In fact, just about any geek who has ever dreamed of tripping through space-time has memorized the formula, just in case...).

Heck, I'd even take a zombie apocalypse about now. I'm prepared for that, too. And at least it would serve to break the monotony.

State of the Union
down, depressed, sad, unhappy, upset
Kanna's condition continues to improve. She has been steadily gaining vision throughout the weekend, and today she said she is at about 95% clarity.

A realization occurred to me yesterday, as I was driving home from dropping her off. This may upset or annoy some people, but I think it's true. It occurred to me that given the number of conservative radio talk shows (The Savage Nation, The Glenn Beck Show, Rush Limbaugh, The Schnitt Show, etc.), there are relatively few Liberal talk radio programs. I think I've determined why this is the case...

It's because those of us on the left are free thinkers. We don't need someone to tell us what we believe. The right requires guidance, where the left is capable of self-direction.

Michael Savage often says that Liberalism is a mental disorder. Well, and maybe he's right. Compared to many Conservatives, who blindly follow whatever charismatic speaker of the hour happens to be on the air, I guess we would seem to have a disorder.

Update on Kanna's Health
down, depressed, sad, unhappy, upset
As most of you are aware, I took Kanna to Tulane on Friday to have her eyes checked and we found that she had, in fact, lost a fair portion of vision in her remaining eye. As part of the procedure, the doctor dilated her eyes and broke up some scar tissue around the site of her former surgery. It is not uncommon for a patient’s eye to be blurry for several hours after being dilated, and Kanna’s usually return to normal within about 24 hours. Thus, we weren’t too concerned when she had difficulty seeing straight on Saturday. When it continued into yesterday, we became a little concerned. When she could not see well enough to drive into work this morning, we were alarmed.

She has contacted her doctor and he says that we should not be alarmed. Some patients remain blurred for as much as two weeks; others recover in a matter of hours. Still, we remain in a state of guarded awareness, as intense pain, nausea, or deflation of the eyeball would indicate a problem (the latter, quite obviously).