I haven’t written a life update for quite a while. Probably because when you’re feeling better after an extended bout with crippling depression and anxiety you would rather be doing stuff you couldn’t do before rather than talking about it.
But that being said, I am doing better. So, so, so much better. Not all the way better… but closer to normal than I’ve been in quite a while.
I’m podcasting again. It’s a show called Made My Day (mmdcast.com) where we celebrate the little, tiny wonderful things in life. It’s been well received by my loyal listeners and it’s been featured in iTunes in every category I listed it in as well as the Podcasting front page. We’re seeing about 900 downloads for each episode within the first 7 days and 1300 after the first month. It not only helps me because it’s something I used to enjoy doing… it’s also forcing me to find something everyday that makes that day worthwhile. It’s nice to be able to see things that are worthwhile again.
I’ve been creating again. I designed a bed for my son and hope to build it eventually. It looks like an AT AT (Imperial Walker) from Star Wars. I’m also working on decorations and such for my daughter’s 9th birthday. She wanted a Minecraft themed party. They don’t sell anything close to Minecraft party supplies (yet), so I’ve been making my own. I even made a giant Creeper from the game. All of the food will be themed after items in the game. The games will also be themed after the game. So pretty much everything.
My kids pretty much lost me for the better part of a year… I can’t get that time back for them… but I can make up for it by giving what I have got… and I’ve got lots of free time and creativity!
I suppose one of the reasons I have put off an update is because I was doubtful that the goodness would last. Not because of negative thinking, but because of experience. This isn’t the first time things have felt better only to be sucked back into the darkness again. It’s a terrible tease. Not just for myself but Jenn as well. I wanted to give this some time to be sure it would stick… and I definitely feel like it will.
Not to say that every day is a barrel of happy glowy sunshineiness cause it’s not. I still have good days and not so good days. The difference now is that the bad days are in response to something bad. Like losing two hard drives worth of data. That’ll wreck your week. That’s a normal response. Before things would be bad because they felt bad… for no reason at all. Which is not normal. So even the bad days are better because I can link them to something! It’s normal!
In the past the good moments felt like a rush. Heart would race, hands would shake, mind would be going ninety to nothing… but this is different. It’s been a slow climb from miserable to no completely miserable to hoping I’m getting better into knowing I’m better. And now the only reason my hands shake is because I’m a bit over medicated… which is a good thing… it means I don’t need it all anymore. The doc is slowly weaning me down to avoid any catastrophes.
I did have one setback recently that both Jenn and I was possibly permanent. While trying to deliver some media content that a customer had purchased I realized that the 2 TB drive that it was one wasn’t being recognized by the computer. It was an external USB drive so I tried it out in our other machines. Nothing. I opened it up, pulled out the drive, plugged it in directly to my PC and the drive was unallocated. That’s a fancy word for empty. For several reasons almost every photo we’d ever taken of the kids, every birthday, halloween, Christmas, vacation… everything was on that disk and that disk alone. Same with every drawing, podcast, story or other digital project I had worked on in the last 10 years.
This of course rocked my world. I started feeling the old anxiety attack pain in my chest. I spent days trying to recover the missing data. Each scan taking 4-6 hours. Every round getting my hopes up only to be smashed back down after the scan found no recoverable data. It was pretty bad. But it was going to get worse.
One of the websites I read said that making a copy of the messed up drive was a good idea. That way you could experiment with the copy. I tried that. I made a copy to my main PC drive. The next morning I found that rather than the copy taking up unused space on the drive (as you would expect) it copied over everything on this 2nd drive. Every bit of software. Every project, drawing, and a Christmas story video I was working on… gone. You can only feel so bad… then you just go numb.
The point of all of that is that after a few days (in mourning) I’ve snapped right back! It sucks horribly that all that stuff is gone… and I’m still trying here and there to get it back… but I’ve accepted the loss and it didn’t break me down and keep me down. That’s huge. It’s normal. Normal is good.
Jenn and I have decided that we’re going to sit down after the holidays and talk about the future. Neither of us have a clue what’s coming next for us. We’ve definitely learned that the typical American church model isn’t working for us. I don’t see myself ever going back to being a typical children’s pastor in a typical church. I also don’t like the idea of home church… or not going to church. But at the same time Jenn and I aren’t really enjoying going to church and quite honestly wouldn’t be going at all if it weren’t for the kids.
That’s another thing. I feel that I’m closer to God than I’ve ever been in my life… yet feel completely disconnected from him. It’s like he’s all amongst us but I haven’t been able to reciprocate. And he’s cool with that. There’s not been any pressure to hash things out. I think he’s just happy that I’m obeying more than I have in my whole life. Obedience is better than making up.
My friend David says I’m an exile. I don’t fit in church culture… and I don’t fit in the world culture. I’ve become something else… and I have no idea what that is, what it looks like and how it will flesh itself out… but for the first time in a long time I’m optimistic. My wife and I are good. My kids and I are good. My dog and I… well… I kinda hate him… but everything is good. It always was, I was just screwed up. I’m glad I’m not as screwed up as I was anymore.
I’m feeling the need to write up this entire experience before it all fades from recent memory. I have some journals and such that I can tap into. I want to help people who knew me understand what happened. I didn’t go crazy. I didn’t have a moral failure. I didn’t do anything worthy of shunning… I just couldn’t stop feeling horribly sad. More than I want to tell the story of how it all went down I want to brag on the folks who hung with me and helped me through it. My wife firstly. My doctor, a very good man who was the first to believe that I could get better. My very few friends who checked in and let me vent my feelings through phone calls, text messages and emails. And last but not least my kids who rather than being a source of pressure, accepted who I was and celebrated every milestone right along with Jenn and I. Our new dog gets no credit because all he did was pee and poop on the floor. I’m not sure that there’s any scientific studies that will back this, but it is my conviction that dog poop does not help depression in the slightest.
One more thing. Jenn says I should write more… so I’m writing. I started a short story for elementary aged kids that was lost in what will be known as the hard drive disaster of 2013. Luckily I did most of my outline online in Google Docs… so I still have that. I also took my drives to a professional place in Tampa for data recovery. If they’re successful it could cost between 800 and 1700 per drive. Not sure I can swing that… but I have some cash squirrelled away from drawing pictures for people. I may have to part with it. Part of me hopes that they can’t recover jack squat. That way I can put it behind me and keep my money.
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