Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bad rounds of golf get me depressed....well, actually good ones do too

"Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours"    -- Gordon Lightfoot (The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald)

I am generally not one to dwell upon past mistakes, or to revisit the past as a way of punishing someone for long gone ills, hurts, and injuries.  The forgiveness and graciousness of God has embedded in me a concept of constantly wiping the slate clean, always ready to give someone another chance.  To look upon others as though I had a pair of their moccasins on my feet...to try to understand, empathize, and relate to the decisions they make...good, or bad.

Except when it comes to me.

I have clinical depression, and having lost both of my parents at a young age, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know why the head doctor diagnosed it that way.

I hate medication as a way of life.  I love medication when it comes to potions and salves that do their jobs to alleviate suffering for the ills that come with life.  I utterly despise the existence and marketing of drugs that I'll have to have in the budget for the rest of my life.  My company uses a monthly recurring revenue model for its revenue tracking and sales pipelines...so I know all about getting 10% market share of someone's wallet for the rest of their life.  One more note, while I'm wandering off topic:  If drug companies are for-profit companies, then why would they be motivated to create medicines that resolve symptoms?  Particularly when they could just abate the systems temporarily and get you hooked on their legalized crack for the rest of your life.

So, back to the depressing thing:  At least once in my life, I would have told you that depression, ADHD, and a host of behaviorally diagnosed conditions were completely bogus and that you were full of crap if you had one.

Not anymore.

The song lyric above touches a part of me that nobody else really knows.  I've been taking medication for depression for about 7 years now.  It is a misconception that anti-depressants are happy pills.  People who get them unnecessarily really don't benefit from their work...I promise you.  The medication has helped me identify what plagues me, it does not, however, help me escape or overcome my adversary.  It helps me recognize and identify...not defeat.

The only thing more frustrating than being beaten by something that you can't see...is being able to see it, but not prevent it.  You see it coming, and you fear.

Depression IS NOT a bad feeling, laying around lazy-like, being in a bad mood, or having a doom and gloom attitude.

Depression IS being dogged by a slight sense of negative emotions that never really stop.  I coped with this for years by smoking and being extremely active...even if I was just mentally masturbating.  Action gives you the illusion of production.  I could keep the negativity at bay, as long as I kept up a good pace, shifted a bit this way, nursed my addictions and employed a "smoke and mirrors" strategy once in a while.

Killer whales will track baby blue whales for hundreds of miles, chasing them...waiting for them to tire...and you will get tired.

Depression is about the ruthless, merciless thoughts that crowd around you when you do get tired...when you can't fight any longer.  You win the first quarter, and you win the first half of the game...but depression remains patient...it has all day to wait for you.

Sometimes it doesn't hit me until I'm ready for bed..."what if that's the last time you ever kiss your kids goodnight...you know the best you can hope for is to die in your sleep."

It never occurred to me that not everyone fears their own death when they go to bed every night.

If I rated myself on different aspects of being a man:  fatherhood, employee, being a husband, being a friend...  I would never rate myself higher than a C.  I know the thoughts I have...and I know the shortcomings, at least most of the time...and the guy waiting for me at the end of the day always carries a knife.  I can cut into myself quicker, deeper, and more effectively than any surgeon ever could.

It never occurred to me that I might be a good worker, and a good father and husband...or that other people didn't always think they were horrible.

During seasons of my life, like now, the weight of the long run of 2010 has caught up with me...I can no longer run.  I generally go through introspective bouts around holidays, birthdays and anniversaries.  I'm in one now.

When she prescribed the medication...she said it would take years...I saw an effective marketing plan.

When I'm exhausted, I only go to bed when I have to...  I only get up when I have to...  There's no getting up early to drink coffee while watching the sun rise...which I think I'd love.  I wait until the last second, then I wait some more.  I'm acutely late to most things, but try to make up for it with my charm.

When I'm exhausted, I don't want to work, why would I?  Why would I push forward, I know I'm going to get caught anyway...and be dragged back into the morass of self doubt and self flagellation.

Where does the love of God go...when depression turns the minutes to hours?  I can't really answer that.  I know that God remains faithful, but where do God and my psychological and psychiatric issues connect?  I've no fucking clue.  I really don't....for love of all things holy, I wish I did.

But I'm not without hope...I've an incurable case of hope, and sponsorship of that hope remains to be Christ.

She said it would be years...and she was right.

This time, it is a little different.  I see it.  I see that I've no reason to hate myself.  I have learned to ask myself the question "and just why do you think you'll die tonight Mr. Downer?"  it is comical in a way, when you can step outside of it... I'll have to continue learning, taking short steps to manage my own brain and to dispel the demons...I can take the knife away from that guy waiting for me...he's a coward anyway.  But, I cannot be arrogant, because he'll be back tomorrow when my bravado has faded.

Now, I'm furious. I've seen what dogs me.  I believe it to be real.  I've no idea why it happened...I know how it could have happened.  Years of elevated stress, wondering about my well being and safety...in the absence of the two people God sent to take care me...(you can see why God and I have some issues).

I'm furious because I'm a talented and gifted man.  But, I've been running this race with a backpack full of bricks...wondering why I can't keep up with anyone else.  I'm furious now, because my life is half over...hopefully, and I feel behind.  What could have happened?  Who could I have been?

But, I'll take what HAS happened, even if I'm only a bit "ok" with it for now.  I truly do have a wonderful wife, and two fantastic kids.  My friends are good, and hopefully I'm a good friend back.

If you know anyone that has depression, or might...do something to help them.  I understood at a young age, why some people take their own life...Now I understand as an adult why some still choose to do the same.  Our world is broken, and mostly so are we...

Maybe shooting 85 isn't so bad after all...perhaps I should feel good about not 3 putting once.

FS

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Evidence that Demands a Verdict...My Style

The days old toothpaste that has affixed itself to the side of the basin of the sink, in a bathroom in our house, is evidence enough.  The white striations of flouride, mixed with scope (supposedly) that run down the slopes of the sink, retell the story of non-detailed little people slashing away at their teeth, in hopes of eradicating that final germ of plaque.

I have kids.

They leave their clothes laying around their rooms, but probably not quite as much as I did.  Maybe they'll take their dishes into the kitchen, and I'm sure Vegas will give them really good odds that they set them down without rinsing those dishes...  And, the underwear, towels, hoodies, and jewelry that I find in the bathroom, in the middle of the hall, retell the stories of mornings gone by, and searches engaged upon, for "this", "that" and the "other thing".

My kids are cave people.  They rarely speak in complete sentences, and often respond to you with a singular grunt.  They are beasties of the worst kind when it comes to reminding you of homework, or the "really big ass project" that's due this week.  (that might be my favorite:  "Hey Dad, have we started on my autocad-design of the next NASA space shuttle...because its due tomorrow!")

Have I mentioned that I love Bourbon and Dr. Pepper.

I watched my son, today, run around the basketball court...playing against a team that was bigger, faster, leaner, meaner and just plain better than our team.  My son, became a different creature, reminding me of myself, at a younger age...he didn't understand "couldn't"...he could not hear "losing"...wouldn't withstand "not good enough".  He barreled around the court chasing loose balls like they were diamonds...he got a look of determination on his face, as he "backed down" his opponent towards the goal to shoot.

We lost.  But, I realized that the Cave Boy was a hero, and I loved that hero.

My daughter read more minutes last year, than anyone in her class...logging more than 6,000 minutes of reading.  Now, to those of you that might know my wife, you'll understand that to be like Houdini escaping from a paper bag...reading is in their DNA.  However, it was an officially recognized accomplishment...and one that I didn't learn of until this week.  My daughter casually mentioned it...as we discussed another topic.

I fell in love with my daughter all over again...she didn't need anyone to know.  She knew, and it was enough. She didn't need your praise, and she didn't need your approval...she knew damn well she had kicked some major reading ass and didn't need anyone to really tell her about it.

The little cave people that inhabit my home have some sort of spell, or magic upon me.  They leave the light on in the shed out back, but I still can't seem to be really upset with them.

I've drank a bit this evening, and decided to write this when I saw their toothpaste art in the sink... what a tribute to two kids that are surely the glory of their parents.  Toothpaste on the side of a sink...

FS

Friday, January 7, 2011

Redemption

Redemption becomes the ultimate success.  I have found myself in the company of many people, who tend to know drastically more about things than I do.  I know a Rocket Scientist, an extremely well educated and knowledable Meteorologist (and brewmeister), A sports information specialist, A restaurant owner, an investment specialist that overseas an entire state, Chairman of a board at a bank, several lawyers, a couple of doctors...you know, lots of people that know lots of stuff.  I suppose I can ride along with my industry knowledge of financial and check fraud...but I'd rather not.

I've noticed we sometimes have to define the positive through the negative.  Instead of celebrating what has happened, we tend to celebrate what has not happened.  This excites my curiosity. Why do we do this?

It's like we seek perfection by scrutinizing the negative, or lack thereof.  This becomes more apparent for me when we talk about the other fields where we are not experts.  When we become highly educated in a particular field, it tends to make us a world acclaimed critic of many other fields too.

Plus, The Internets makes us all experts at all things instantaneously anyway.

Where does redemption come in, you might ask?

I like redemptive stories.  I feed off of them.  If we are all experts at everything, there's nothing to redeem, nobody can be wrong, we're all "right".  I can tell you now...when everybody's right and we all know everything, something's wrong.

Redemptive stories that affect the soul, focus on loss prior to win...Imperfection.  It is necessary.  No instant expert, nobody's 100% right all the time.  Look at it this way...I'm not familiar with any awesome stories where the children or parents have all they need and an abundance of love, and a grounded attitude of love towards others and then something awesome happens.  That would be a foreign story wouldn't it (not to mention boring)?

Doesn't really happen that way, does it?  Redemptive stories we like start with loss, or need, or lack, or depravity...

Many times, redemptive stories pertain to the shortcomings of an individual, or a family...and then some mysterious act of revelation, provision, or grace transforms the picture completely.  Redemptive stories are a valuable part of our lives, here's a few reasons why:

1. We aren't good people.  We try to be (some of us), but in the end, we all look in the mirror and see lack, want, or the need of being a better person, father, mother, business-person, etc.  Redemption in the real world provides permission for us to hope.  They allow us to dream of a better tomorrow, even though today looks like hell.  A better tomorrow, in which, we get to play a part...to belong and contribute.

2.  We all lose.  Nobody remains undefeated for their lifetime, in the end, we are all worm-food.  We connect with people when they lose, often times absorbing the loss into our own sense of personal tragedy...whether it is the loss of a loved one, a failed marriage, failed high school athletic career, or simply being a failed person.

3. We get to see the sun tomorrow.  Redemptive stories remind us that the world doesn't have to end as it now seems.  We can see the sunrise tomorrow and believe that we can attain to something better...like hope, but more like belief in that hope.

4. We enjoy winning.  Deep down inside of the most selfish bastard, remain the seeds of joy excited by seeing a loser become a winner...waiting for the right connection, to relate in someway and be connected, and then succeed.  Nobody heckles Special Olympians...people who give their all, and retain a sense of pride and determination regardless of how they appear to be doing... determination we wish we all had...many of our disadvantages are internal and not so visible.

We can once again believe that we are a character in a great adventure, and be important to the completion of the story....if that's a bit cliche for you, then we can once again believe that we don't have to live and die an asshole, but we can find compassion and help others in peril, regardless of how awkward we look in the process.  We can search, work, and find around us the stories of people that have suffered, lost, and maybe even don't deserve to win...and yet, the world turns upside down sometimes and victory can be attained.

Reminds me of a saying given to me once, when I was down, out and about ready to check out permanently.

"Hey, cheer up, I skipped to the end of the book...we win!"

Hang in there...remember that every lost ball, wayward tee shot, shanked chip, and horrible round can be redeemed...and we can smile just a bit more today because we know that.

Monday, January 3, 2011

That was yesterday's round, year, and season...

No matter whether you play golf for fun, for serious exploits, or even for a living, the mindset from course to course, and from day to day never changes:  New day, new course, new round...forget what you did yesterday, good or bad, you need to focus and play strong today.   We can dwell upon the past laurels of success, or pine away the shoulda-coulda-woulda's that escaped successful execution, but regardless of how long you consider yesteryear, today stares you straight in the face.

Successful performance on the golf course comes from mental preparedness, practice, and a strong resolve to your chosen strategy.  Interestingly enough, sheer talent often gives way to the dull droll of the persistent.  Talent doesn't make 4 foot putts...practice makes 4 foot putts.  We all have talents, and we all have wonderful beliefs about how the world operates...but when you tee the ball up on the first hole...your talent must be translated into consistent execution or it doesn't matter what you believe about the world.  

It is a new year, 2011, stocked with new joys and fears, both of which I seem to not be ready to tolerate at the moment.  That's not a good time to tee off...strong resolve to your chosen strategy.  See, to digress a bit, I have a relationship with God, and I enjoy it...although I've been remiss about worship and attending church over the past several months...er, year.  I have a few of choices in front of me, of which I must choose if I will be successful this year.

Tobacco or no tobacco, does tobacco really stop with me?

Control:  shall I fear death because those around me have, or have had cancer and some have even passed on to the next life?

Faith:  shall I attempt to waltz through the year with a childlike faith that God will simply push me into success?

Work:  will I work hard?  hard enough?  or, will I slack when I have the chance?

Presence:  will I bring all that I am to the course?  or, again, will I slack and let others do what God has put before me?

Golf is a very fickle mistress, and she forgives none when it comes to proven performance.  You can get a lucky bounce here, or there, but successful golfers know that hard work remains the best tool for successful scoring on a golf course.

My chosen strategy has been to walk the course with the One that has gotten me this far...and I will stick to a sense of hard work at being a father, husband, and employee, and I'll have to trust that when I can't take care of my worship life, that God remains big enough to take care of me.

Keep your thoughts on the course to a minimum, it ain't pracice anymore, pick your 2 or 3 thoughts that get your head in the right place and stick with it.  Keep it in the fairway and practice your 4 footers...and I'll see at  the 19th.