Posted in Stuff No One Talks About

Excerpt From a Book I May Write One Day

Dear Lovelies,

I was feeling poetic the other day and started writing stream of consciousness style. I did not write a poem. I wrote two paragraphs, the beginning of something that could maybe, potentially, turn into a short story or book somewhere down the road. Check it out and let me know what you think of it. I wrote this in second-person POV, which is new for me, as I’ve always tried to write in third-person, but that’s what writing is about: exploring new things, getting out of your comfort zone, deleting everything and starting all over again… One disclaimer: I AM NOT SUICIDAL; I’M JUST A WRITER. Sorry. Didn’t mean to yell at you guys but it needed to be said. Anyway, let me know in the comments, or email me, what you think of it. Happy reading!

~

The Guilt of Being

Sometimes, there’s no answer to the question “Why do you want to die?” in the midst of flashbacks that act like your own personal time machine, whisking you away, back to the place of horror, fear, abuse, and panic attacks in a church bathroom that leave you wondering if it’s actually possible for your heart to beat out of your chest cavity and onto the cold marble floor, or if your stomach could vomit up the nothingness you feel inside. You are plagued by guilt of various degrees. First, the guilt, and fear that always accompanies it, of sitting on the hard floor of a megachurch bathroom stall, leaving a semi-silent memoir of pain as you sit sniffling and, with your hands covering your mouth in a weak attempt of muffling your weeping, so as not to be detected by others trying to relieve themselves, lest they ask what troubles you. Second, the guilt that rises in your inner being because you feel like a spiritual failure. Here you are, in a bathroom stall, instead of out there being part of a congregation worshipping and praising the God who saved you from the pit and redeemed your soul for His name sake. You feel like an anomaly, a broken unworthy mess, for succumbing to your trauma-induced anxiety and having a panic attack instead of having faith in God to save you. Are you even a Christian if you have mental health problems? You’re weak. You should be ashamed of your lack of faith. You don’t belong here. You know they’re lies but they sound like truth, so you bury your face in your hands and scream a muffled, painful woe. When you think you’re all cried out, you venture out of hiding and head towards the sink to wash your face… and a stranger’s kindness forces you back into the bathroom stall to sit and weep again. You don’t belong here.

Out of desperation, or maybe a need to connect and get out of your own head, you text a friend in a different part of church, knowing she’s focused and listening to some young dude teach about God, and your chest tightens up, as you are the cause of momentary distraction, though she’ll say otherwise. You venture out of the stall—for real this time—and head to where your friend is. You step onto the elevator, mentally admonishing yourself for being so weak and when the doors open, you turn ever so slightly and see the kitchen down below, a whole two floors beneath you. A passive thought of death brushes pass but you pay it no mind, too engrossed in your current pain to contemplate future plans. Once you find your friend, she assesses the situation, asking therapist-like questions that make you squirm but it’s okay because she cares. You know she cares. She assures you that you’re not a burden and for the first time, you believe her. All is well, until later.

Because of different stressors you are currently facing—the hardest of all being Complex PTSD—you fantasize about death and suicide a lot. Like way more than you should. As you and your friend are moments away from boarding the elevator to join the mass of hungry, loquacious, and contemplative congregations down on the first floor, you look over the rail and the thought comes into your head: Jump! but you don’t, not yet. There are too many people in the room and someone might stop you. No, this must wait for the opportune moment. This needs to be foolproof, perfect.

Posted in Stuff No One Talks About

If Chester Bennington Could Have Listened to Dear Evan Hansen, Would it Have Changed His Life?

That’s a dangerous and important question. I don’t know the answer to that, only God does, but it plagues me just the same. The anniversary of his death is approaching us soon and I know a lot of people just like myself are going to be affected by it. It just hit me the other day while I was listening to my YouTube playlist on shuffle that Chester is really gone and he’s not coming back. The beginning of the mixed playlist went as follows:

1. Mike Shinoda: Over Again

2. Linkin Park: Heavy

3. Dear Evan Hansen: You Will Be Found

As a self-proclaimed Broadway junkie and Linkin Park fan, albeit a little late, I was curious and found myself speculating the following: if these two could have interacted, what would have happened? The chorus of “You Will Be Found” echoed through my headphones while, simultaneously, Chester’s plea of “I’m holding on, why is everything so heavy?” and “If I just let go, I’d be set free” was in the background of my mind; it almost felt like this fictional character was trying to send a message  to a broken, hurting man that just couldn’t get through the barrier in time.

As previously noted, I came into the Linkin Park fandom a little later than most, sometime around late high school, early college years. The first song I’ve ever heard by the rock band that would get me through tough times was “What I’ve Done.” I remember thinking that I’d never heard that kind of sound, that kind of blunt honesty in a rock song before. I was hooked. I commend Chester for being outrageously open in his musical memoir, his collection of albums that made all of us who loved him feel a little less alone in our suffering because he put himself out there first. I always wondered if it was a little more than ironic that the music video for “Numb” was filmed in a church? Nonetheless, I digress.

“Even when the dark comes crashing through, when you need a friend to carry you, when you’re broken on the ground, you will be found.”

Such powerful words and so desperately needed for those who, like Chester, are struggling silently with demons that want to destroy them in the worst possible ways. It’s hard for me to write this when I think about the fact he’s dead. He, who gave the world so much, is dead and the planet keeps spinning on its axis, Dear Evan Hansen keeps influencing people and starting conversations, and Chester Bennington’s legacy continues in only his music. We won’t hear him laugh anymore or get hyped in the middle of concerts. All we have are the memories associated with his life in melodies and chords. If he could have heard the message of an unusual Broadway play telling him “You are not alone. You are not alone. You are not alone. You are not alone.” we might still have him. Or, things could have played out exactly as they did. Who’s to say? Just know this: even if you have to fall to lose it all, in the end, it matters. You matter.

Posted in Stuff No One Talks About

Reasons to Stay (During the Nights when Depression Makes You Want to Quit)

  1. I think God would be sad if you came home early.
  2. There’s ice cream still in the freezer.
  3. You haven’t learned/mastered that Chicken Marsala recipe yet.
  4. You still haven’t written your book yet (think of your characters!).
  5. You wouldn’t want to miss the next Hamildrop, would you?
  6. There are still past and future musicals to obsess over.
  7. You still have shampoo and conditioner in the bottle.
  8. You still have to see Incredibles 2.
  9. Markus Zusak’s new book comes out in October.
  10. Your siblings need you.
  11. Your pain will pass. Maybe not immediately, but it will pass, or at the very least, be tolerable.
  12. You still have to finish Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.
  13. There are demons in Hell who want you dead, who want you to join them. Don’t give them the satisfaction.
  14. You still have to visit New York at least once.
  15. You still have to lay under the stars with a giant blanket and hot chocolate.
  16. You still have to watch the sunrise/sunset and marvel in its beauty.
  17. You are loved. You have worth.
  18. God loves you and needs you here.
  19. When everything is villainized around you, you can be the superhero in your own movie.
  20. There are still shows to binge-watch on Netflix.
  21. Your pet still needs you to care for him/her.
  22. Your best friend still needs you to laugh at all of her/his jokes.
  23. You’re not as broken/weak as you think you are. Trust me.
  24. You are not insignificant.
  25. Four words: Panic! At The Disco.
  26. I love you.

What’s your list?

Posted in Stuff No One Talks About

Don’t Drink the Fabuloso: For Suicidal Christians Too Afraid (or Too Condemned) to Ask for Help

Yes, you read the title right. Do not freak out. For my charismatic believers, do not get the holy oil and start speaking in tongues and/or casting out demons that may not actually be there. Just let me explain.

A Brief Synopsis of My Mental State

I am not okay. (Again, do not freak out.) I will be okay, but right now, I’m not. I’m struggling. Between job rejections, lack of sleep, and life, plus the 3-year trauma anniversary of my suicide attempt and subsequent Baker Act that lasts all week starting on Sunday, I am a mess. (For those of you who don’t live in Florida, the Baker Act is what happens when someone, be it a counselor, doctor, or friend, has reason to believe you are a danger to yourself and/or another; and, as a result, you are locked up in a psych ward or mental health care facility for a mandatory 72 hours, or longer depending on arbitrary tests from a psychiatrist on staff. You tend to lose your humanity in there). I was cleaning the kitchen earlier tonight, and as I was hanging the drying towel on a nearby cabinet door, it opened, and my eyes locked with the purple cleaning solution sitting inside. The next words out of my mouth will probably surprise you, they did me after I uttered them: “Don’t drink the Fabuloso.” I sighed a sigh of exasperation and I swear I think Holy Spirit groaned with me, too. The last thing I want is to make the holy Trinity feel my pain.

Trying to Protect the Almighty

That’s an odd thing isn’t it? To think that I could attempt—and succeed—at protecting God from my emotions and suicidal thoughts? I think the reason why many of us do that, or at least I do, and I could be wrong, is because we’ve gotten so used to putting on a mask and pretending that we don’t think about drinking Fabuloso or gulping down sleeping pills with alcohol, or driving our car into the nearest tree to escape the unbearable pain, but that we’ve got all our ducks in a row instead. That’s not how a relationship works. Transparency and vulnerability, especially with God, are necessary for trust and growth.  A Christian apologist and friend of mine, Michael Patton, writes extensively about the value of transparency in his blog. I tend to refer to it often when I need a reminder or encouragement.

The writer of Hebrews says that we always have help in the form of Christ. He writes, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). We should not feel embarrassed or guilty of our suicidal thoughts when our reality becomes too much for us to handle. This is why the safety net of communication with the Triune God is there (and other resources if need be). Even if no one around us understands our struggle, He does.

The Shame of Silence

I think one of the main reasons we try to put on a brave face is because suicide is such a taboo subject in evangelical Christian circles. The only time it’s mentioned is when a Christian, especially a prominent, popular one, chooses to die by suicide; and even then, the topic is not really discussed, but is rather used as a source of gossip and as a tool for condemnation. It is my personal belief that God wants us to be honest about where we are, even if others don’t get it. If Elijah, who was running for his life from Queen Jezebel (aka the Prophet Killer), could be passively suicidal (that is, longing for death but not actually intending to take one’s own life) and admit that to God, who later sent an angel to strengthen him, surely we who are loved fiercely by the same God can follow his footsteps and be real about our situations and thought processes; that’s the only way to recover and heal. The shame of suicidal ideation only controls us if we don’t speak on it. If we sit in silence, out of fear or anything else, then the suicidal ideation festers within us until we see no other way out and by then, it may be too late.

A Final Step: Have Courage

This is supposed to be the part where I tell you that the next immediate step you need to take is to pray for
God to take away your suicidal thoughts, but I’m not going to do that. (I can hear some of you scream “Heresy!” with heavy stones in hand aiming at me; calm down. Don’t stone me yet.)  If you’re like me, prayer don’t always work. At least, not right away. Sometimes, you need a little more than words to reassure you that your life is actually worth something and that’s okay. That doesn’t make you a bad Christian with poor faith, it makes you human. A beloved Christian apologist and father figure once told me, “It takes courage to move from brokenness to greater wholeness,” and I have found his words ring true even now, years later.

So, if you need something more than the quiet presence of God, go find a trusted person in your life, be it a friend, pastor, or (gasp!) a therapist. Put down the alcohol, or pills, or food, or Fabuloso, or whatever you’re using to numb yourself with and start being honest with someone who will understand and help walk you through this difficult season. If you feel you can’t keep yourself safe, maybe consider in-patient hospitalization. Whatever you do, be honest, take your journey one hour at a time if need be, and stay safe.

I love you.