Episode 19: The Wall?

This episode is the natural progression of the previous episodes. I am at the wall, clinical depression, slumped against it. Maybe setting up camp with a sleeping bag and my coffee maker. Not depression, clinical depression. There’s a difference. And I can’t figure out a way to get beyond it. Never have.

I’ve been able to ignore the wall for years at a time. Maybe even a decade? But get beyond it? Nope. I know there is no cure for clinical depression, no magical pill. I could spend years in therapy, read all the books, do all of the treatments, and the wall will still be there. Or will it?

Before getting into the episode, the important stuff: I just want to remind everybody that I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist, or any kind of professional with an –ist at the end of their title. I am just a guy who has been there.

If you are in crisis, or know somebody who is, I implore you to reach out to a professional. In the United States, there is now a national hotline you can call or text. 988.

I’ll repeat that because it bears repeating. If you or someone you know is in crisis, I implore you to reach out to a professional. Dialing or texting 988 in the US will put you in touch with a crisis counselor instantly.

Now, let’s get into the episode.

…but before getting into the episode, I wanted to talk a little bit about the here and now, what my life is like.

If you go by the podcast, as some of my friends and family are doing, you might think that I am on the edge. Maybe even leaning over the edge. Hell, some podcasts have sparked phone calls and one even caused an intervention by YouTube. No, it is not like that.

One friend says I think too much. Another friend warned me about doing the podcast, that the constant negativity is harming me.

It’s really not like that. As I mentioned in a previous episode, depression causes time to compress. Yes, I do struggle with Major Depression, PTSD and Anxiety Disorder. There is also the childhood trauma and few other things and acronyms. It has been this way all my life. But it is episodic.

I would hazard a guess that 5% of my life is the bad times. The other 95% is the normal, or whatever normal I have been able to squeeze out of it. Depression can make that 5%, though, seem like a 100%. This podcast is about that 5%.

It is much like last night. I was having a good day. Not a damn good day, but a good day. I got work done, went to the store, and came home to find out that my dog had gotten out. I was living close to the 95% and the 5% caught up to me.

I was terrified and almost in tears, thinking my friend would never be back. The wall of depression compressed around me and I started thinking about all of the worst possible things. I was shaking and angry, unable to go out looking for her because of my broken ankle and feeling helpless and hopeless.

Then, I reached out. Friends and people I barely knew got involved and the search was on while I sat outside waiting.

Dani returned about an hour later. She had had a nice run. All was right in the world again. I even made a funny video about it. After thinking about it a lot, and experimenting, I figured out that the little bitch figured out how to open the door from the inside to let herself out. Really. No shit.

I was exhausted from worry so went to bed soon after, about 8:00. But it was not an “escape to bed.” It was just your normal, “I’m friggin’ exhausted, and I need sleep” going to bed.

The podcast is about living in depression. I dive deep. I need to move forward. And to maybe help others move forward. I want to push against that wall, examine it, and study it. I want to figure out if it is a wall, chains, or just a cage I built around myself.

I do think the effects of the depression, PTSD and everything else affects me every day and that is what I am attempting to figure out how to break free from. But I do go to bed feeling hopeful and happy and then wake up happy that I can turn on the coffee maker, and that the day, today, is filled with hope.

I think that that is the main reason why I have allowed myself to ignore the wall, or whatever it is, for so long. For year, and for decades. My true self is beyond it but also a tidal wave of regrets. I am terrified.

Afraid that my salvation may also lead to my destruction?

It’s a scary proposition. 51 years of having something control me in ways that I do not understand. If I unlock the potential for the next how ever many years, I also release knowledge of all of the things I could have, should have, would done differently. 

In any case, I am going to continue to dive back into that 5%, dive deep, and ask the question that I have asked myself hundreds, perhaps thousands, of times.

“What the hell is wrong with me?!?”

I think of the old expression, the grass is always greener on the other side because it is fertilized with bullshit. That’s not the case this time. I know that beyond that wall is my true self, a life to be lived without the weight of depression and PTSD. Without the suicidal thoughts. A life of self-actualization. No, there is no cure for depression but there are much better coping mechanisms.

I think that that is what caused the last depressive episode that did last years. So maybe that 5% ticked up a few percentage points. I can only ignore the wall for so long, allow life to make it seem dim and almost not there. But I also know that throwing myself against that wall has become a common thing in my life.

A long time ago, I wrote a short story about another wall, writer’s block. I wrote about how I don’t believe in it, that there are ways beyond the wall if I but choose to take them. Sex, music, and letters to friends allow me to seep through it or get beyond it. Simply battering myself against it allows me to eventually break through and write.

This wall is different. In 51 years, I have not been able to get beyond it. Three years ago, I began ferociously throwing myself against it, trying to batter my way through. I screamed at it, “what the fuck is wrong with me?!?”

There was no reply, not even an echo. No sound came back but a feeling did. An utter exhaustion, so deep and so terrible it filled me so there was nothing else to me.   

Tired, exhausted beyond anything I have ever felt, I slummed against the wall and decided to give up. The 5% had compressed into the 100%. The depression engulfed me, became my world. It sucked everything out of me, and I decided to end the battle, end the fight, and check out. I decided to end my life.

At 49, I decided I had had enough. I had had a good run, but the exhaustion overpowered everything. I was tired and just wanted to sleep. It was far beyond, “an escape to bed.”

In my journey towards self-destruction, though, I found pieces of things that could lead to hope. It was like walking along a beach and finding pieces of shells and sea glass that could eventually lead to art. I stuffed them in my pocket for no reason whatsoever. The end of the journey along the wall, on the beach, would lead to a nice, quiet place to end my life and end the exhaustion.

I was still exhausted when I got to the end of my journey. I slumped against the wall. Instead of ending my life, I started sifting through the pieces I had found. Maybe, I thought to myself, I should do something with these pieces before I ended my life. It would be a waste not to. Maybe help others that were wandering along the wall. I couldn’t get through it, but maybe they could with the help of the pieces that I found.

I put some of the pieces together into a book, that is still being edited. “Disconnected: An Odyssey Through Covid America.”

Other pieces led to other things. The transcripts of this podcast will become a first edition of another book that I want to write: “An Odyssey into Depression.” Then there is the biography I want to write about my mother and then…

So now I am setting up camp against the wall. Instead of trying to throw myself against it, I am exploring it and examining it from time to time as I live my life. Throughout my life, I learned a major truth: there are always ways beyond walls. I have pieces and am finding more in the oddest places.

When you start looking, stop ignoring, is when you find things. That’s another lesson I learned as a writer. I hate when young writers ask me how I find ideas. I’m not even nice about the answer anymore. “Open your damn senses,” I tell them. Just spin in the place where you are at, with your senses open, sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing and there are 20 story ideas right there.

I spun through America and am spinning now, through the internet.

It is much like a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces scattered throughout the world. I opened myself to finding them, waiting for the clicks.

I just saw a post by a friend on Facebook. Well, a Facebook friend who I never met. But her post “clicked” in somewhere or another.

Anna Fotiou wrote, “At the innermost core of loneliness is a deep and powerful yearning for union with one’s lost self.”


It is the piece that joined the quote from Michelangelo with the rest of the puzzle. When asked how he carved David, he responded that he saw the angel inside and had to release it.


It joined with the piece about how I was so lonely because I was in relationships with a business partner and life partner who took but didn’t give, draining me.


Robin Williams quote, about how he always felt that being alone was the worst thing until he realized that being made to feel alone while surrounded by people was worse.


That deep chasm inside of myself is depression, a blackhole that sucks everything into it, all that I am. The funnel towards it is loneliness. Especially at night, it is like doing a highwire walk across the chasm. Sara’s lesson about the safety net below me, the connection of people and relationships that will catch me if I fall.


Hell, I know now that if the stress of walking that highwire is too much, I can jump off it, fall on purpose, to land in that net and bounce instead of falling into depression. Papa Bear and Mama Bear, Dawnie Dear, Sara, Rachel, Justine and all of the other people in my life.


Just moving the puzzle pieces around, the new segments I formed. Knowing it is not so much as battering against the wall until it crumbles, but if I put the pieces together into the right pattern, it will make a spell that will make the wall simply disappear.

No, there is no cure for depression. I don’t know about PTSD and Anxiety Disorder. But I do know that if I click enough pieces together, get enough segments together, I can learn things so the depression will not determine my course in life, my reactions and my inability to act.

I really want to go back and focus on that quote from Michelangelo and compare it to the idea of the wall. It doesn’t fit and needs new channels and pathways. It’s not a wall. It’s more like a mountain of marble that I created. I need to start chipping away. I have started chipping away.

I am floundering a bit here, trying to be coherent. Many times, as I start writing the script for the podcast, I’ll uncover things that make me go back. That happened this time. From the wall to the mountain. This time, though, it is not going to happen.

On top of everything else, I got sick, the flu or something, that just left me escaping to bed. Or falling into it because I could not do anything else.

And I am really going off on a tangent here because 1) it is the best I can do and 2) it kind of makes sense.

Having a broken ankle is bad enough. It’s getting better but it is still hard having to depend on everybody for everything. Then, add the flu on top of it and you have a recipe for probably what would be just a normal kind of depression.

Aye, I’m a man. I am sick. Hear me whine.

Nobody was there to listen to my whining, so I just thought about things. Okay, there was some wallowing in self-pity as well. All of the things to be depressed about rode the waves of my fever. I have a bit of a list going on here, and I am a very typical male when it comes to getting the flu.

The fever finally broke last night. The exhaustion is still crushing me. But I also know it will pass. So, I slept through it all and will continue to do so. Physical therapy is going well, though I had to skip it today, and my foot is healing, and I have some movement back.

It all makes me think of a meme that I saw that I want to make into a video once I learn how to combine them.

The Universe: Are you listening?

Me: I know, I know. I should be doing things, but I had a shitty day.

The Universe: I know you had a shitty day.

Me: I’ll get started right now. Before you break my other friggin’ ankle.

The Universe: I’ll ignore that, but no. I’m here to tell you to cut yourself some slack, give yourself a break. You’ve been doing well. Not great, but well. Find a movie to watch or break out one of those books you reread constantly.

Me: Seriously?

The Universe: Yes. You are allowed to just say “fuck it” once in a while and become a vegetable here and there. I even take time off. Just don’t make a habit of it.

And with the that, this episode is a wrap. I’m going to bed.

Be good to yourself. Be kind yourself. And give yourself a friggin’ break.


As a reminder, this podcast is not being funded by anybody. Definitely not NPR–though I hear the bells in my head. For as little as $5 per month, you can become a patron to help me expand it because I’m going to keep talking no matter what. You can find the link to the Patreon page on my website, http://www.FriendsofGina.com.

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