Military

Veteran’s Day in the wake of elections . . .

I’m reminded today and this week that I have served in the military under every Commander in Chief since Ronald Reagan. That’s five presidents so far and getting ready to be six. 

“To support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies. . . I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation.”

Enough said.

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What My Depression Feels (Felt) Like

I wrote this on my first day of inpatient treatment last month. It seems like a different world. Thankfully I am no longer in this place in my mind and hope to not go back! 

What Depression Feels Like

To me depression feels like nothing, nothingness. A heavy nothing to walk through, to look at, to listen to and to carry.

Depression is negative energy. It pulls the life from life, takes the joy from joy, takes the love from love; the result is death and sorrow and loneliness – and nothing. 

There is no purpose to life, to living, to even trying; try for what? 

Meaningless, meaningless . . . 

So I like to sleep. Sleep is nothing. I don’t dream much anymore. I like to drink. It removes sorrow and loneliness and leaves a feeling of dreamy ambivalence. 

To me, sometimes it feels like I’m floating in space. Head floating. Brain floating or being slowly pressed. Pressure . . . 

My chest feels the same, like I’m out of breath, but breathing isn’t a problem, it’s floating pressure. 

Sleep is the cure, the escape.

My brain feels full, like an overfilled Tupperware, pressing on the lid and contents overflowing, squeezing out. Memory is sporadic, concentration comes and goes. Reading and writing are a diversion from reality.  

Concentration for decision-making is hard. Distractions are time killers. To refocus and get back on task takes immense effort. 

Productivity has declined to almost non-existent. There’s no point to start. The finished product is meaningless. I can sit and just stare for hours, in nothingness, then sleep. 

Sometimes I wish I wouldn’t wake up, or I’d just die in some way. Living is a drudge, like walking through mud, heavy, pointless, meaningless, nothing. __________________

I’m no longer at this place. But I want to remember it. I’m still cleaning the mud off my shoes and know the danger still exists. I’m fighting for my life and for my family and for my Creator. 

I have a lot to live for. A lot to work for. 

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. 😉

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!! 

A Messed Up Assignment From My “Friend”

When I think about the cause of our time in Afghanistan, it is based on the very real existence of evil. Secondary to this is our notion that we can change people’s fundamental beliefs on life & relationship in a matter of months or years. Change takes generations.

It’s not that the Afghan people are all evil. But the tribal nature and illiteracy of their society lends itself to manipulation by a small power based. And power often can be corrupted (or corrupting).

Therefore there is an entire nation (practically) living in fear and under deception of the evil we represent by being there.

I have no doubt that almost anyone I interacted with would have, under the right circumstances, taken my life. The circumstances being a perceived matter of survival for themselves or their families.

Sadly, I also saw a primitive side of the Americans. One of the most heart wrenching things was the manipulation of the young Afghan boys (young men really) who would work in the camps. Manipulated by the American Soldiers I saw (our men of power in that situation) throwing rocks, teaching vulgar words and phrases, insulting, and rewarding rude and demeaning behaviors.

This is winning hearts and minds for a generation? We are teaching them to hate us – can’t you see that? Are you so filled with hate yourself that you need to demean these young men who will soon carry a gun themselves?

I stood over the flag draped caskets and body bags of countless young Soldiers / Marines (20 perhaps in the year). I tried to say a word of comfort to those who remained, I tried to provoke the Commands present to emotion, I wondered about the families who would receive these gift boxes.

Perhaps the worst occasion was the burned bodies of 4 MARSOC Marines – perhaps some of the most highly trained and lethal warriors in the world – burned to a crisp in a hooch fire caused by faulty electrical wiring. I was on the scene early and tried to talk to some of the survivors – those lucky enough to get out of the fire early – some “stood guard” at the head of the flag draped stretchers the remains rested on.

We had an ad lib ramp ceremony as they were loaded on a helicopter, then another ramp ceremony on the airfield as they were transported across the country to Bagram overnight. I rode with the MARSOC team and we slept on the floor of the plane. As I read from a Psalm at one point, these men started to weep, not just a tear, but to CRY out loud. I watched them during the week, getting supplies from the PX, smoking cigars, staying close to one another.

Sorry guys, I’d love to stay longer, but Disney World waits. What difference do I make anyway?

Safety?

There is no safety – it is pure illusion. Some of the 100+ flights I was on had gunners hanging out the side of the bird, some we were required to wear body armor and helmet. By the end I rarely even cared, because most flights were old civilian helicopters, and doubtful there was even a side arm on board. I’d sit, and close my eyes, sing along to Billy Joel and wait.

“hey sir” when you hear incoming stand with your back against these walls here because they are all coming from that direction. “if you know where they are coming from why don’t you go get them?” “They are in Pakistan – we can’t” “You mean they set your entire camp on fire and you can’t do a thing about it?” The four days I was there, each night there was least 4 or 5 mortars dropped. I just stayed in bed and prayed and went back to sleep.

Only 2 came to my service there – they were late because they had to clean first.

No one understands this. I didn’t understand this. I really don’t know what we did there in a year. We lost lives, we created fear, we inserted hatred, and we came home and went to Disney. And NO ONE will talk about it. My mom asked some questions, but no one else.

Before I left, we conducted about 20 memorial ceremonies for MiTT team members attached to our BDE. I was new, naïve. I wanted to make a good impression.

But let’s talk about the lives that were lost on this side of the ocean.

The depressed and very high risk soldier, my friend, who died in a high speed chase with police.

The Chaplain, my friend, who put a bullet in his head and left his wife and friends and family to clean up the mess.

The single car accident at 0100 heading the wrong way on an isolated highway.

The mysterious asphyxiation while sleeping a few days before his girlfriend’s husband came home from Iraq

The soldier who died clutching an air can he used to get high

The young South Korean Soldier attached to our unit who jumped in front of a train his first weekend pass out of basic training.

I looked at their families, I held their hands, I talked to their moms and dads and wives, I tried to provide an answer to why – or at least to comfort, I spoke words, I put on a uniform and stood at attention, I went to their funerals, I conducted their memorial ceremonies. One dad told me he was sorry I had lost a friend. I will never forget his words.

The young man who struggled to come to terms with his homosexuality for 6 years, and told no one because he didn’t know how his Christian parents would react. My Son the Graduate – we love you no matter what!! I am sorry you were alone all that time right in our house.

The young man who was hurting so bad he decided to stick a hypodermic needle in his arm. My Son the Sailor, how could you not know you are my favorite person in the world?

The young girl who moved out on her 18th birthday graduated high school 8 months pregnant. Jamie, I am so sorry I could never replace the love of the father you needed so badly.

The young man who tried to leave home at 17 because . . . just because he couldn’t stand it there. You are truly better off alone now with your wife and son. I am sorry Mountain Man.

It makes me sad. Too sad. I didn’t know there was so much pain in the world. I didn’t know there could be so much pain in my own home.

There is no safety, there is no control. Why do we go on? Why do we care?

All I ever do is try to make someone laugh or smile or feel loved. I never tried to hurt anyone at all. And I don’t like the hate . . .