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Thursday, October 14, 2010

near death experience

In my last post I wrote about what was happening to me in my life; simply put, my life seems to be on a downward slope. Some things I have control over and others I do not, but I have always been quite the anxious person. As a side note, I feel some people confuse anxiety with impatience. In my opinion, there is a vast difference between the two, but they share commonalities.

Anxiety is this overwhelming emotional, mental and physical sensation that surrounds much of what I feel I cannot control. It is about everything boiling simultaneously and creating this pressure that will inevitably explode, that I seemingly have absolutely no control over. I can not breathe properly, focus my attention, think clearly or make wise decisions when anxiety strikes. I am not saying that anxiety cannot be controlled, but rather that it seems to strike at random, on its own terms and is usually the result of deep-seeded, underlying issues that have little to do with the struggle at hand.

Patience, or the lack of it, seems to be about outward, day-to-day choices; being impatient, for me, is a fleeting moment and goes away in a short amount of time. I find that my patience level is related to my level of responsibility and accountability. If I am waiting behind a disabled senior citizen who is taking forever, I can choose any number of choices that each come with their own consequence. It is not the only time this has ever happened to me and usually the real issue is that I did not plan my time out properly to include possible situations like ones that would drive me up a wall.. Usually I just get annoyed, see if I can assist them in anyway or just tune the whole situation out, but in the end, the way I react has more to do with my choices. Procrastination leads me into darkness and opens the gate to impatience, which can only be followed by a lack of self-worth and anxiety. I used to have a sign on my door that read, Procrastination is a Dirty Word; I have this to be the truth.

The following is not something I really want to talk about, but I think it is something I need to talk about to help myself and possibly someone else.

Throughout my life I have entertained thoughts of suicide or physical harm to myself, but I have never taken it so seriously to even remotely get close to doing anything of that nature. This is not to say I have not turned to alcohol, sexual promiscuity, impulse shopping or any other number of outlets to get me through the moment. I have also turned to healthier outlets that include walking, running, massage, bubble baths, playing the piano, phoning a friend or writing in my journal. Today I am writing on my blog in an effort to get through the moment.

Last week I ran out of my anti-anxiety medication and could not get a refill from my doctor for a week. My HIV medication includes side effects like nightmares, vivid dreams, hallucinations and suicidal thoughts. Without my anti-anxiety medication in place, my emotional and mental state can go down the drain really fast. This last week without my medication has been a living hell for both me and my dear friend and roommate who has had to step in an protect me from myself.

On several occasions in the last week I pondered harming and/or killing myself to stop the pain of anxiety that had taken over. I do not know what actually stopped me each attempt, but I thank God I never went through with it and I thank my best friend for being there for me each time I threatened my life. At one of my lowest moments my sister answered my 2 am phone call; however; if you see me around anytime soon, you will notice I have no hair due to my final attempt to end my life later that morning. Thankfully, I got to the doctor yesterday and am back on medication to help me remain stable. I can only imagine how much pain one feels that actually goes through with a suicide; my heart and soul goes out to them because I have touched upon that moment of hopelessness and despair.

Recently, in the news, I have read and heard about the several suicides by teens and college students in response to bullying. The media and celebrities have made anti-bullying a buzz topic again, but they have failed to address the importance of mental health issues. Many of these people may have endured any range of anxiety and depression; yes, bullying is horrible and certainly adds to the problem, but let us remember to look at the whole picture.

I read this article recently addressing this topic about the way the media has addressed bullying-related suicides:

"By putting forth bullying as a "cause" of suicide and ignoring underlying mental-health issues that are present in 90 percent of people who die by suicide, the national media may be "normalizing" suicide as a rational response to bullying. For (people) already at risk, this could be a dangerous message."

On this note I am hoping to reach out to those effected by various mental health issues as I am. Suicide or physical harm to oneself or another is not a valid answer, even though in certain states of mind, it may feel that way. During this recent General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, several speakers addressed the topic of Satan's plan to make us, "miserable like unto himself."

"Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself...I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit; and not choose eternal death, according to the will of the flesh and the evil which is therein, which giveth the spirit of the devil power to captivate, to bring you down to hell, that he may reign over you in his own kingdom."
2 Nephi 2:27-29 

Our great Mediator has made it possible for all of us to make choices and live according to the results of those choices. However; we can not always control our environments, other people's choices and unforeseeable events that cause problems. Still, the Lord provides several outlets to deal will our problems and unfortunately, so does Satan. We have have to do our best to choose what is right for ourselves.

When it comes to mental health issues: feelings of deep sadness, depression, anxiety, hopelessness and despair, we have to find ways, whether though medication, therapy, friendship, prayer, meditation or other outlets, to deal with life. It is not easy and often there seems like there is no way out; it can be a sickening, gut-wrenching feeling. I have been there, friends have been there, members of my family have been there. I am encouraged to know that I am not alone in this life. Maybe not everyone has someone who lives with them, loves them or cares about them, but we are not alone for a reason. Once I sought relief from my problems and anguish with a stranger on the train and it made all the difference. Just telling someone else that I was hurting and was in need helped.

There are so many ways to get help and find ways to eventually overcome fears, doubts and bad days because Christ made it possible to overcome death, both spiritually and physically, which includes our mental and emotional lives. Nothing so important as our lives and mental health ever changes overnight so I know I have to find ways to take simple steps; ones I know I can take.

My hope is that anyone reading this or otherwise will never feel so alone, hopeless or in despair enough to do which can not be undone. I humbly seek to be non-judgmental of those who have gone through and acted upon these awful thoughts of suicide, how can I judge when I do not know all things. I do not know what becomes of that person, but I hope and pray that they will one day find the grace and peace of God's love and almighty hands. I reach out my hands and love to those struggling with these thoughts of loneliness, hopelessness and despair and pray that you will find ways to find peace and love through healthy outlets and people who can help in your moments of need and pain. I acknowledge that it was only through the love of God, family and friends that I am here today. I have the opportunity to still to do what I can with what I have. Please pray for those who struggle with mental health issues, face demons everyday and/or contemplate physical harm or suicide. Let us all shine a light on the darkness of hidden, underlying issues that many people deal with in their lives. Every life deserves hope including yours!

You have been caught Jey Walking!


Bravone said...

Jey, what a beautiful, thoughtful post. Because I experience anxiety and depression as well, and have been "on the brink" of taking my own life, my heart reaches out in empathy and compassion to you and others who experience mental health issues.

I am not much, but likewise offer myself to you and anyone as a friend in time of need.

Thank you for the eternal view of such a difficult mortal condition.


Anonymous said...

Little do I remember the situations that we are able to ask for help from others. I often wonder if during my life I'm going to be in a position to have to stand on the freeway offramp with a sign that says, help? I hope not, but in a way, this would be something that when the need was met, would be an awesome experience, to ask for help. I liked your example of asking for help on the train, it helps me to understand that I'm not alone and I can ask for help from others in times when I'm down and depressed. Hang in there! You always catch my attention, and it always changes me.

Horizon said...

I am glad you are still around to share this touching message. You are loved. And you are not alone. Hug!

Troy said...

So glad you are okay! Thanks for sharing this!

ControllerOne said...

Sticking around was an excellent choice. You need to see how everything turns out!

Jeff "Jey Walker" Gladstone said...

thank you my friends, glad to still be here