Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Thoughts on a full life and a life gone

Time has once again slipped away here.  I have been nearly consumed with the bathroom renovations, working out, gardening, horseback riding, sailing, working on lectures for a class, and going to meetings. Some days it feels as if I have taken on so many projects that I will not get any of them done.

I don't think that I am running away from anything by keeping busy. I have looked at my motives and find that I have so many interests and not so much time to get to them all.  At any rate, I am having fun with what I am doing. I suppose that's the important thing.

Today is my Al-Anon anniversary.  Eight years ago I walked into my first meeting knowing that if I didn't change my outlook on life, I would not make it. I was thinking that suicide would be a good way to end the turmoil in my life. After all, no one would really care whether I was gone or not.  That kind of thinking is what brings a person to their knees:  wishing that things could be different, wishing that words could be taken back, wishing to stop the anger and the fear but not knowing how to let anything go or make anything right.

Fortunately, a good friend in the AA program told me that I needed to go to Al-Anon.  I had resisted an earlier suggestion years before that I needed it, because I thought that therapy would be the answer.  Unfortunately, therapy didn't make me feel better about myself.  Instead, I felt more angry than ever because I tended to blame my feelings on what others had done to me.

And so here I am eight years later.  My wife is in AA, sober and loves me.  I have friends in the program that I treasure.  I no longer want to end my life but live it to the hilt. I have struck out to do new things, pick up some old hobbies that I gave up years ago, and have learned to not obsess about what others are doing.  I have a lot of joy in my life these days.  Every day is a new adventure and a chance to live as fully as I can.

I do have moments when I worry.  I sometimes feel sad that we have no family left, except for cousins.  I fully admit that I don't know what I would do without my wife.  She is my heart.  My fear of losing her is kept at bay for the most part. But as we age, it gets harder to ignore the ticking clock.

Her depression remains a concern.  For the most part, she is happy and stays busy. But then there are the quiet days in which I know instinctively that she is depressed. Alcoholism and depression are so often companions in destruction.

Occurrences like the suicidal deaths of Robin Williams yesterday and so many others, including friends of mine, remind me of just how fragile our psyche is. When my friend, K., decided to end her life a few years ago, I was distraught. She had 26 years of sobriety, died sober,  but had suffered terribly over the past year with severe depression which had occurred on and off throughout her life.

People are taken to the depths of despair by depression.  I watched my own mother struggle with deep depression. There is no way to know when a person has run out of options and has decided to make the final decision to end their life.  Most of us wonder if there was something that we could have done.  If any one of the people who decide to end their life had reached out, a dozen or more hands would have been there ready to grasp theirs. But would that make any difference?  I don't know.

Lots to think about today.  A full life, a life gone, and the circle repeats again and again.  Hope that you are all in an okay place today.


  1. congrats on your anniversary...and i am glad you fond the change you need...i was floored last night when a friend texted me to tell me about robin williams....so many memories around his movies...and interesting conversation with my boys around it as well...hope you get a few of those projects done to feel a sense of accomplishment...ha...

  2. I bottomed out emotionally ...and finally knew to walk into an Alanon meeting. I went years before but didnt work the steps or have a sponsor. My life has slowly shifted and I have discovered a new freedom...Whether the alcoholic is still drinking or not I can still rest with serenity.

  3. A quote from my uncle after he had been retired for a couple years that I remember so well when ask how retirement was treating him. "I don't know how I had time for work."

    That is what I want retirement to be for me.

    I believe recliners have killed more retired men than all the wars combined.

  4. I am glad you chose an Al Anon meeting eight years ago. Just count the traffic on this blog and see how many you have touched. I am sorry that Robin Williams didn't or couldn't make a similar choice...who knows.

  5. I am reminded of an observation that used to be commonly held in the psychiatric halls. It was thought that the depressive, having committed themselves to a suicidal plan felt a peaceful relief in the last days and hours knowing that they were nearing relief. I can hope that those who pass that way have left their pain behind and are in a

  6. Robin Williams death certainly makes a greater awareness of depression and it's affects. Thank you for sharing your struggles and thoughts. Your blog is inspiring to me. :-)

  7. I wish you many more good birthdays in your program. It is definitely a major and moving force for good in your life.

  8. Happy Al-Anon anniversary.

    I'm so happy you found Al-Anon. You and your blog have been a source of light for me in many ways, so I am grateful you received help in your time of need.

    Depression is an awful thing. I hadn't even realized I suffered from it for years because I'd stuffed it down so deep and numbed everything out. I remember, after a bit of time in sobriety, being hit by a peculiar emotion. I realized I was sad. It was such a foreign thing and scary, to be honest. Luckily, I was in therapy at the time and had an outlet for exploring it safely. I'm so sad that Robin Williams was unable to find respite from his pain. I will miss him.

  9. I'm sending caring thoughts. Thank you for being so perceptive. Happy Birthday, too.

  10. The last eight years have been transformative Syd, thank you for sharing that process and journey with us.

    Alcoholism and depression are a tough combination and many of us know that. One day at a time.

  11. alcoholism and depression. yes. and the inexplicable loss of hope, for a way out, for a better life... lost... I understand it, deeply, those thoughts have crossed my mind, fortunately life intervened (with a little bit of self-determination). I will never 'bame' anyone for taking their life, no-one can ever feel what that person felt at the time, that drove them over the edge.

    To have read how your life has changed, has been enriched, and how you can now live it on your terms, is what hope and will can achieve. Thank you for sharing.

  12. You have some deep insight. I enjoy reading your blogs, and I'm happy to be part of your journey.
    I think depression is the devil. I need to keep praying and meditating to stay God conscious and awake and aware. I need to stay in 10,11,&12 BEFORE anything else. That being said some of us need to be the leaders of our families and guide and direct people with depression back to God. Not only taking care of ourselves but taking care of our families. Hey much love. Peace

  13. Syd ol' buddy. i have been working with/on my own chronic depression for decades, it sucks. I have figured out so many ways to end my life where there'd be no mess to clean up and I have all the tools I need to do it as well. I don't sail, garden or even whack the weed or cut the weeds. Life is simply one ordeal after another and this

    "If any one of the people who decide to end their life had reached out, a dozen or more hands would have been there ready to grasp theirs"

    YOU may have reached out Syd, most people in reality run like hell is after them from a person who is depressed. Most people want rainbows shooting out of everyone's butt-- at least to me life doesn't work that way.

    You want to know why I don't kill my body? because one of the few pleasures i have is cheating death of it's physical victory--fuck'em, I may be broke, broken and tired of it all but at least i still have will enough to slap that hand away for awhile longer yet. Call it Detroit mean, it'll win in the end and that's cool but i may be depressed most of the time but it's the little pleasures i take when i can find them. Cheatng death---yeah it's a small thing but it's my thing.

  14. I will add my name to the long list of people who will congratulate you on your 8 year anniversary. You have made a difference to so many of us, Syd. Thank you.

  15. Happy Anniversary! Al-Anon is such a miracle! It has and will continue to save my own life and helps me continue to surround myself with serenity.

    You shared "Alcoholism and depression are so often companions in destruction." Honestly, this brought a stream of tears to my eyes and compassion to my heart. I can only watch and guess that H is suffering from depression in addition to his alcoholism. All I can do is keep him in my prayers and hand him over. **tears**

  16. Syd, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! Your post has "happy" written all over it--grin!

    As for being busy--who could have told me that I would be so busy that I hate to go to bed, to sleep. But of course, sleep comes easily in that "busy" scenario.

    SO upbeat you sound--maybe you always have? Well, depression, yes, there is THAT!! This morning I read that the age of depression onset is becoming alarmingly younger, gradually since the end of WWII...I too, have seen (witnessed one) people whose minds just caved under the pressure--real or imagined.

    Of course, since alcohol is a depressant--one of the few which make us think it does the opposite!!!--I guess it should not be a wonder that many of us are afflicted.

    You have a talent for writing of serious matters, without causing alarm, and without "teaching"...so good is that!

  17. wow is it eight years already.. time flies.. Well done. You have had a lot to deal with in those eight years.. So glad you found your way back to each other. thanks for the eight years of posts syd :) irish


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