invisible illness

I’m back, not sure why?

I’m not sure why I’m here, but I am. I’m back on the blog and glad to be back . . . I think. 

It’s been almost a whole year since I’ve written anything – a year since I’ve been on WP at all. I got out of the hospital exactly a year ago. Seems like a dream from another world.

It wasn’t easy to get here. Looking For Chris has a unique password and a unique email with a different password. I couldn’t remember either so I had to go through a few layers of password to retrieval. All this to say I WANTED to get back in. It was a yearning of sorts that came on quickly, a thirst to be satisfied.

Why am I back? Why the yearning? I’m not sure to be honest.

I wanted to write I guess. I hope that’s a good thing, but I’m wary. I’ve been feeling good. My wife Marie and I are doing well. Our family is well. For the last several months signs of depression have been at bay. 

But the last few weeks I’ve been feeling it again. The lack of desire . . . for life, not wanting to do anything and not caring what happens. Maybe that’s why I’m back – crawling into myself again, feeling lonely for no reason, feeling insecure when things are going well.

I think I left to heal. I was feeling somewhat narcissistic and secretive in my approach. I hope this will be different. I hope now to write more for myself and less for others. I hope to find a “So What?” in what I write – helpful to me, maybe for you too. 

I’ll say it again, I’m wary, but here I am . . . nice to be with you all again. ūüôā

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Don’t Cut Down That Bush!

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I almost cried in church yesterday (OK truth is I did cry —¬†a tear or two).

If you have been following my blog, you may know that I’d really, REALLY like to have a good cry. I’ve been getting closer and closer recently, but still just a little choked up is the best that has come.

Yesterday we had a guest preacher, the president of a nearby Christian college, who offered the following illustration (and I hope he’ll excuse my embellishments):

A man had a rosebush in the back of his yard which was planted a little too close to the fence. But he care for the rosebush, tending, pruning, feeding, and protecting it in the winter. But year after year the man was only rewarded with one or two blooms for all his effort. Finally, one summer he was fed up with the rose bush and intended to cut it down, dig up the roots, and start again with something more suitable for the location.

As he walked down toward the fence with his tools, his neighbor called from her screened in porch on the other side of the fence, inquiring as to his intentions. He explained he was preparing to rid himself of what he had come to consider a bush of thorns. The older woman pleaded, for him first to come to sit with her on her porch and have a glass of tea.

The man was annoyed already with the bush, and now with the further interruption; not wanting to offend his shut-in neighbor, he acquiesced. As he sat on her porch, he saw that her yard was mostly untended, but for the most fabulous rose bush he had ever seen which had come under their common fence and flourished on her side of the fence.

She explained that since her husband had died and she could no longer care for her yard like he used to, this was the only thing of beauty she could see from her porch. She begged him not to cut the bush as she enjoyed sitting and looking at the magnificent blooms, and on occasion, she would get a subtle hint of their scent.

Unknown to him, his care for the bush for so many years had produced for the older woman the only thing of beauty she could see for most of her day.

The reason this affected me so greatly, is I have come so close recently to cutting down my rose bush Рthinking it merely a bush of thorns. My ambition is the serve the Lord, and I have not always seen the fruit of this labor. Lately, He has been offering me reminders like this, that the unseen is often more important that what is seen.

The second part to this story, is that¬†I actually shared my deep emotional response¬†with my wife.¬†This is something¬†I am really trying to work on, letting Marie into my private “man world.” Over the last several weeks I have realized just how closed off to her i have been – this is on me and I’m trying to correct it.

 

God, What Are You Doing? Sunday Sundries

A long time ago a wise person told me that I can do almost nothing for everyone in the world who are hurting. 

I also can’t fix the hurting who are close to me in my world, nor do I even have complete control over my own life. 

The best I can do is to ask God, “What are you doing here, and how can I be a part of it?”

Somewhere along the road, I tried to take on the role of God in my own life and the life of others. 

God, what are you doing here? I would be honored if I could play a small part.

#SundaySundries

Back to the Grind

Hi all!!!! Well fellow bloggers and WP enthusiasts, I’m back from the lone star state and my inpatient treatment for depression. I ended up staying 5 weeks and it was a very beneficial time! 

  
I so much appreciate those of you who have checked in and especially for the prayer I know some of you offered on my behalf. The bonds we form as people – even through the cyber world – are always amazing to me! 

I’ve been back home for a week now and trying to figure out how to reenage with my blog. Not sure why this has been a challenge, but this morning I thought I’d just dive in with no agenda. 

I haven’t read any of my previous posts from before I left but I’m feeling like I did a lot of whinning and complaining before. Not sure if that is actually true, but it’s my recollection. In any event I’d like to take a more positive approach so will work on that. ūüėČ

One of the changes I have worked on is being more open with my wife, Marie. I was able to communicate home daily during my stay. At first we fell into our old pattern of me withdrawing and her pursuing and then getting frustrated and angry with me and me withdrawing even more. 

About half way through my stay, my therapist at the hospital had me call her during a session and tell her some things about my depression that I hadn’t shared with her. Maybe I hadn’t shared some of these things with you either.

For the last three (plus) years I had frequent, almost constant thoughts that I didn’t want to go on living – that I’d like to just go to sleep and not wake up – dreading another 40 years of life. 

More recently, late in the summer I began having more intrusive thoughts of suicide. I didn’t want to act on these and didn’t have any plan, but these thoughts continued to grow. 

I really and truly have been close enough to others in my profession to witness how devistating suicide is to families and friends. I liken it to taking that person’s problems and giving them all to each of the people close to him and thus exploding the same suffering exponentially to others. 

I would not place this burden on my family. This is what really led me to seek more intensive treatment. 

Since then, I have felt so much more open with Marie and she has been receptive, supportive and loving. This has continued since I’ve been home. But almost more important I have been turning to her and opening up to her (which I think maybe is all she wanted in the first place). It has felt good to open up to her and she has listened well. I hope this is something we can continue to build on. 

More importantly, I have been for drawing closer to God the last 2 months; closer than I have been in a long time. With nothing to do but work on myself for so long, I picked up the bible … for me. I read for me, and started falling in love again. More in this later!

It’s good to be back fellow bloggers and friends!  

Grace and Peace!! 

The Mind of a Soldier Once Returned From War

THIS WAS WRITTEN BY A FRIEND OF MINE, JESSE BARTON, AND SHARED WITH HIS PERMISSION.

 

yours truly, Chris

 
The mind of a soldier once returned from war in a nutshell:

It took me six months after we landed back in Kansas to come to terms that my life was a reality, and I wasn’t living in a fairy tale land.I had abused alcohol on the weekends not caring what happened. I would go to bed at midnight in complete darkness only to fall asleep at 3am and be up within 2.5 hours to get to work.

I did wrong to my friends, and my family thinking of nothing but just doing. Just…wash rinse repeat.

I couldn’t wait to leave active duty and didn’t seek help. I lied to the medical staff saying I was fine, war was a joke, it didn’t bother me. 

I lied to my wife, and myself more importantly.

We moved back to Minnesota, and when we got settled in to our new home in a place that was supposed to be safe, that’s what the realtor said. 2 weeks later a man was gunned down by the police a few blocks away, and the crime just kept coming. 

Every waking moment I was there, I kept myself hypervigalant by locking all the doors, looking out the windows whenever I could, just making sure myself and my family was safe. I didn’t sleep well, and it was rough. I didn’t drink anymore though, I stopped that when we left Kansas, and continue to not 99% of the time.

Wherever we drove I looked for IED’s and suspicious people under bridges, on hills, at crosswalks even. 

We moved finally after a year, and I could only feel a small relief because we moved to a new area I had rarely been. It was quiet, and the neighbors were great. But my head was still lost in Afghanistan. 

I would go to school and be there only the amount of time I needed to. I didn’t hang out with people, and only wanted people to come to me because I felt safe that way. 

Going into crowded places made my heart race, my nerves were short, and I hated staying in the same spot for more then a few minutes. Not just your normal–well she is taking forever to find a shirt — rather it was — I need to get the hell out of here. That lady looked at me, there’s a person 25 meters away, there’s a small kid running free, what’s that light out for? 

We moved to a new neighborhood, bought a house, had Christmas a week or so after we moved in, but I stayed hypervigalant every day. 

I had a breaking point finally after all the negativity that consumed my life. Negativity that I will not share with you Facebook world, and only a few have heard what I have been through. 

The ER nurses and psychiatrist said I didn’t meet the criteria to go to a “loony bin”. So I said ” You wanna play games with me and hand me papers and phone numbers. Well I know how to work the system, I’m not stupid. This regard, I mean me, I’m going to kill myself if you don’t give me what I need.”

10 minutes later they said I would be going to a clinic for help. 

Carrie was my social worker at St Joe’s. She got me back on my feet after this “retard” fell into the abyss on a piece of string that was about to break and I would no longer exist, well physically I would be 6 feet under, and mentally I would be in the minds of some. But I would have killed myself, because I couldn’t take the negativity of this world anymore.

I couldn’t handle my home life.
I couldn’t handle people trying to kill me that weren’t there.

I couldn’t handle the image of a small girl who I had to treat that changed my view on the world forever 3 weeks into my deployment.

I started therapy. I cried. I laughed. I remembered things I couldn’t when I tried before. I was able to sleep again, and dream. 

Dreams, I hadn’t had dreams since mid Afghanistan, 2011. It’s 2015. Now I do a few times a week, and no matter if its good or bad, its a dream that I remember and love it.

It’s a big big world, and there’s people out there who do want to kill me, and hurt me. I’ve excepted that, because there’s people I want to hurt and kill too.

I’d rather help people though, and tell them it will be alright. 

Because…. I am alright. And I am better. Not %100, and there’s things I need to work on, “kinks” as my wife said to me the other night. And I will get those kinks worked out. 

I’m not living in fear anymore, thank you Jim for pushing my mind and body to be where I have gotten. 

The biggest supporter of me is myself.

The best supporter is my wife, she’s been through all my ups and downs, and I can’t say I am sorry because without those, I wouldn’t be OK. 

I would be stuck in Afghanistan, with Stan trying to kill me and whoever is with me. 
–Fuck you Stan, fuck you!!!! You can stay in your hell hole of a country and leave me alone now. You can’t hurt me any longer. I don’t have room for you in my head, and whenever you pop up Mr. Stan, I’m gonna put you down like the 300m targets this Combat Medic can hit. I can save a life, but I can take one just as easily. You can’t hurt me anymore, you just can’t.

Get help if you need it, I almost ended my life a few times, that my wife doesn’t even know about. I’m glad I did not, and will not.

So you wanna know what the mind of a soldier is who was told there is a bounty out on your head? It’s horrible. But I feel free today. And look forward to living life again. 

I won’t say I’m sorry for not being around, and declining invites from friends and family. I just couldn’t do it, but I promise myself I will do my best not to be that person anymore. And if its a bad day I will let that person know, because sadly I will always have Stan in my head. 

Stan doesn’t scare me now. I will scare him if it comes down to it. Because me, I’m going home. I will always make it home.

__________________________

Notice

I am deep in the bowels of a psychiatric treatment facility – probably in a straight jacket by now. This is scheduled post – if this had been an actual post you would receive instructions to shelter in place.