Friday, May 7, 2010

Water and Chains

Sometimes I feel like I'm drowning. Oh, I can breathe, and that's the funny thing. I don't feel like I'm dying exactly, but I feel incredibly heavy, as if I were bound in chains and thrown into the water. I'm sinking. No matter how much I struggle, I can't break my chains and rise to the surface. I'll never see the sun again. In someways, that's a relief, but then people still expect me to act is if I can move, and think, and see.

Sometimes, all I want is to sit on the ocean's floor in my chains in the dark and be weighed down. It's so hard to move at all, let alone try to rise and swim. I feel so heavy. It's like wanting to sleep, but people and priorities say you have to stay awake. How can I rise from beneath my chains?

That's what depression is like. Being chained to the bottom of the ocean. Tons of water over my head. Trapped in chains surrounding my body. It doesn't hurt. It just feels numb. I want to feel numb. If that's all there was to it, then I could sit in the water, in my chains, and be numb. But that's not all there is to it; it never is.

I'm surrounded. Not just by my chains, but by people, and responsibilities, and priorities. They all tell me I should break my chains, rise above the water, and work and do and fulfill and produce. I can barely hold my head up and you all want me to fly. Get real.

They say, "All you have to do is have the right attitude." They say, "You need to look at your depression as a challenge to overcome, not a problem to avoid." Nice try. You first.

I've read Stephen Covey. I've tried Zig Ziglar. I know the principles of cognitive therapy. Replace the old thoughts and perceptions with new ones. Redefine tragedy as difficulty and redefine difficulty so it can be overcome. Even the old Star Trek original series episode What Are Little Girls Made of? chimed in, with the once-person, now-android Roger Korby telling Kirk that turning humans into machines would make it possible to reprogram people and turn feelings of sorrow into joy.

Are people computers? Can we be reprogrammed? Do I want to be reprogrammed?

In keeping with the Star Trek theme, the Next Generation episode The Hunted featured a society that reprogrammed some of its citizens to be the perfect soldiers during a time of war, but when peace came and the programming couldn't be reversed, the soldiers were put on a colony planet (penal) so they wouldn't hurt anyone. A gilded cage is still a cage and havoc resulted (similar to Timothy Zahn's novel COBRA). No, theraputic reprogramming wouldn't make me dangerous, but I don't want to be treated like a thing. I already feel objectified enough. Are my feelings just algorithms? And even if they are, can my current "programming" be overcome?

I suppose some on some level I believe that people can be reprogrammed, but my "program" seems to be very difficult to modify, especially for me. No matter what books, techniques, or therapies I've encountered, although they make things seem kind of hopeful for a little while, eventually something happens, the chains reassert their weight, and down I go beneath the waves again.

A 1930s fictional police detective named Jim Corrigan was murdered by gangsters. He was drowned in a harbor but as death took his body, his spirit refused to give up. Through some supernatural means, he assumed the identity and mission of The Spectre, an undead being who at first, took vengence on Corrigan's murderers in a violent and terrible way, and then spent his further existence seeking justice and vengence against any who had committed heinous crimes. When Corrigan sank beneath the waves and died, something came back out of the water, but it wasn't human.

A man with the unlikely name of Scott Free, born on New Genesis and raised on Apokolips eventually liberates himself from Darkseid's hell hole, travels to earth, and becomes the "super" escape artist Mr. Miracle. What do they have to do with anything?

Corrigan and the Spectre are my soul sinking into the wine-dark depths of the sea, wrapped in chains, and comdemned not to die, but to live in emotional and spiritual darkness. Mr. Miracle is the hope that somehow, the impossible can happen and that the chains can be broken, returning me to life to walk in the sunlight again. Small wonder that I find much of my identity in the pages of comic books, sometimes in the lives of the genre's darkest characters.

That's the nature of this blog and the part of me who comes here to write it. I have established this venue to give a voice to the mute pain that exists only in the shadows, unable to be expressed in the rest of my life. Struggling in the darkness against the pressure around me, can I become free again (have I ever been free)? Do I have the ability to escape from bondage alone? Can somebody save me?



  1. hello,
    I write because I feel you. also because I know the WAY out. it's not a method, or a technique, or medicine. it's a Name.
    there's only one Name under heaven that is above every other name, whether its the name of a great man, or a nation, or a catastrophe, or a disease, or of anything else.
    The Name is JESUS CHRIST.
    Call on Him right now. He is able to do beyond what we can ask or imagine. At the sound of His name, every demon, even Satan flees. You ask, "Do I have the ability to escape from bondage alone?" The answer, sadly, is NO. No man is able to save himself from the power of sin and death.
    Sickness and death are the results of sin.
    But the good news is that Jesus came to destroy all the works of Satan and he is able to give anyone the freedom he sorely needs.
    Your pain, the pressure, the darkness will end, when Jesus starts His work in your life.
    I urge you, right now, ask for God's forgiveness for all your sins and invite Jesus Christ into your heart. He will respond and come to save you and change you.
    I know this is true because he changed me, too.
    God loves you more than anyone can love you.
    If you need some more information on how to allow God to change you, eMail me at langyaw(AT)gmail(DOT)com.
    God bless you!

  2. Greetings, origlangyaw.

    I was a little surprised to see a comment here. I wrote this particular post 18 months ago and a lot has happened since then.

    But let me back up.

    If you read the "About Me" section on this blog, you'll realize that "Jonathan Cyfer" is an alter ego. I blog here (and tweet on twitter) to express a certain side of my personality. Like most people, I have a "dark" side to who I am; a side that, despite all the good things in my life, tends toward feeling blue and needs to cry out once in awhile. That's part of what I do here.

    It sort of relieves the rest of my existence, and the people in it, from having to put up with my moodiness, at least for the most part. I can say things here that wouldn't be understood or accepted in the rest of my life.

    You seem like a nice and kind person who is extending the gospel of Christ to another lost soul in the hope that another person will be saved by Jesus. I thank you for that and I appreciate the offer to email you. While I'm not going to get into a lot of details about my spiritual life, I will tell you that I have one and that I strive to draw close to God daily. I also want to say that even with a strong spiritual and religious life, occasionally, a person can still get down.

    I have a couple of friends, a married couple, who are strong Christians. They are also both struggling with cancer and believe me, their faith doesn't mean that they don't sometimes become angry and depressed and scared. Jesus doesn't keep you from feeling terrified or depressed, he just makes sure to hang in their with you during the process.

    Thanks for the compassion. As you can see, it took 18 months for someone to come along and express those feelings. Sadly, that sort of kindness of the spirit is rare.


  3. Wow. Just wow. I totally relate to your article, although my depression is long over. I just wanted to wish you well on your journey, and tell you, I wish I had seen this blog years ago. God Bless.

  4. Thanks, Susan Anne. I wrote this a little over three years ago. Thinks are sometimes better and sometimes not. I haven't "drowned" yet, but neither do I consider myself "free." I'm glad your depression is over. Also, thanks for the blessings.