Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Feeling Loved

When Robin Williams died I thought "Oh, that's sad, but celebrities are always dying tragic deaths, so I'm not surprised," and I moved on. But everyone kept bringing it up... Some of these people wondered, "how does someone who has taken some of the deep roles he took (amongst the silly ones), and brought hope to others, lose hope so completely, and kill himself?"

I don't know much about him, but every time I saw him on a late night show, or any of the places he had freedom to do as he pleased, he came across as truly manic (that high-energy crazy silly happiness... the high to the low in manic-depressive).

In certain social situations I react in a similar way. I get excited and shaky, and I struggle to contain it so I don't look too crazy.  In my more mild personal experience, and things I've read, people often experience a crash afterward. The pattern isn't always the same. Sometimes it takes 5 minutes, sometimes a couple days, or sometimes I don't crash, I just level out. Often I'll be excited and happy one day, and the next I'll be stressed and sad. Other times the darkness creeps on without the excitement preceding it.

In the depressed phase, I don't feel like I can do much to fix myself even with prayer, so if circumstances and people around me aren't helping to snap me out of it, I just sink into my meaningless pain.

I remind myself that God loves me, that Stephanie, my family, and my friends love me. But even knowing how much I am loved, I might not feel that love. In the moment, with the stabbing pain deep inside, the truth fades, the light fades, darkness clouds your vision. I imagine it is then that people cut themselves to make their internal pain visible externally, or they kill themselves to stop the pain.

I've never actually come close to that, and I doubt I'd ever lose enough of my sense to take that step, but I have tasted a bit of the pain that causes it. And in those times there are only a few things that keep me from moving further toward those dark thoughts. As for behaviors like cutting, I know that it is offensive to God if I desecrate the body he gave me, and Stephanie would be hurt as well. I don't really contemplate suicide in part because of a fear of Hell, and in part because I feel a duty to live for God's sake, and for the sake of Stephanie and our kids.

However, the casual self-destructive thought is not foreign to me. If not for the sake of a few, I have a fair amount of disregard for my life and a strong cycle of joyful light and painful darkness. What other sources of hope and meaning can I find in the dark cycle? God's love feels far away. I have a lame job, which I'm not even that good at (so I'm entirely replaceable). My creative endeavors don't go anywhere. Even my closest friends, like Harvey, Mary, Ken, and Erica might not notice if I disappeared for a couple months.

I think that may be another draw of suicide. Before he died, how long was it since everyone talked about Robin Williams? Yes, if I died, my friends would all come together. They would cry, and say how they'd miss me, and talk about the love I showed them. Certainly many people would care if I died. But how many truly care if I live?

“It’s not enough to LOVE, people have to feel that they are LOVED.”
~Saint John Bosco

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Seeing Jesus

Listening to a talk by Bishop Fulton Sheen the other night, he gave the reminder that we were taught to pray, "Our Father, not my Father," and that we, "see the face of Jesus in the face of the poor." This takes our invisible Lord and makes him visible. It helps calm our doubts, and helps us to feel the amazing warmth and love of God.

We can experience this most powerfully by going to help those who are the most needy: Feeding the homeless, counseling the despondent, bringing the gospel to the faithless. We need to do these things when we can (something some of my brave friends do far better than I). But we also need to recognize that everyone is poor or broken at times, in their own ways.

By recognizing the needs of those in our daily lives, and showing them compassion we can all feed the poor every day. Most of us eat several times a day. And we need emotional and spiritual sustenance each day as well. Be a friend, be a brother, look past what people ask for, and give them even more. "For if we can not love the people we see, how can we love God, who we cannot see."