Downer Than Down

Depression is a curse no one escapes, for some it is rare to occasional due to environmental factors while others struggle a lifetime with the demon. My family and many close friends live with the latter. I cannot move, I cannot breathe, I cannot speak or eat. Despite all of the physical loss, life is a walk in the park compared to living with fading hope. There have been some hopeless periods over the last 25 years of living with ALS including two selfish suicide attempts. They were selfish in the sense I was fed up, couldn’t take it any more and thought of no one but myself. It was interesting how both were thwarted. There was a closed horse park in Rex a mile from my house. My plan was to go to the deserted park out of sight and hearing of others then recline my chair on the ventilator hose suffocating myself.

I embarked on the terminal quest and was almost out of the neighborhood when a gentleman walking in the opposite direction stopped me, introduced himself as Roger Tyler and said he lived a few doors down from me. Well, Roger stuck to me like a bad stain. We talked and talked fifty feet from the stop sign at Hayes Lane and Coatsworth Drive. I was carrying on an internal dialogue with myself and Roger,:”Well, it was nice meeting you, but I need to go commit suicide.” He would not leave as the sun fell below the horizon. Accepting this was not going to be the end of my dash I turned the chair around and Roger walked me to my backdoor.

A few years later I exceeded the threshold of what I could bear, off to the horse park again. As I topped the rise on Hayes Lane seeing nothing but the stop sign at the corner I was bathed with a sense of relief knowing my misery would be concluding momentarily. As I was approaching the spot where Roger arrested my efforts I thought about him and how our friendship grew out of that unlikely encounter. When I reached the precise location Roger derailed my progress the wheelchair turned ninety degrees, jumped the curb throwing my feet and hands off of the chair; my head bounced off the headrest and flopping around like a rag doll. I was stuck! My first reaction was a huge belly laugh and the thought, “OK, I GET IT!” I cannot explain why the chair turned abruptly. I scan drive with directional arrows and the forward arrow was latched. With the wheelchair jacked up on the curb unable to communicate I entertained simultaneous thoughts. One of the musings was, “How in the hell are you going to get yourself out of this fine mess David?” the other was, “This was more than a coincidence!”

I accepted and decided I was in it for the duration, now if one of the spectators gathered would lift my head and place it on the headrest so I could breathe. Multiple cars were stopped my audience was expanding when a face I recognized asked me if she should get my Dad? I winked for yes. Leslie departed with my head dangling like an abused bobble head. The traffic jam caught the attention of a police officer patrolling. The cop walked up to me and carefully placed my head on the headrest. Ah, an unobstructed breath! Suffocation isn’t the way to check out.

I retell this story, because everyone must fan the flame of hope especially when it seems there is no reason to try. I have doubts about the other side mostly because I cannot comprehend how a loving creator allows the innocent to suffer and has destroyed the innocent in horrific deaths, but I do appreciate the present is the only guarantee there is. Along this seated journey I have come to understand that nothing lasts forever, difficult times will pass or if the departure is tardy adjust your perspective, new normals should be embraced. Also, anything good in life requires nurturing to sustain it and flourish.

I gave it another day and another and another……., but I eventually hit the jackpot of all jackpots! An extraordinary wife that loves me unconditionally in my useless condition, the large family I dreamed of with six children that love me to the moon and back only desiring my love in return. I would not trade places with anyone! Family hug!

Carey and I have both experienced the never ending pain of losing a sibling by suicide. The loss never heals and the void widens. I will never forgive myself for not being aware my sister was so hopeless she tied belts together to hang herself from attic rafters. Unforgivable!

If you’re at the bottom of bottoms please find the strength to tell someone you need help. This facebook world is invasive turning us into voyeurs at a fatal accident and whores the meaning of a friend. Please take the time to know the people close to you. An occasional “like” scanning the news feed isn’t going to help someone in need. I wish for no one to be burdened with the regret I know.

Give it another day! The storm will cease, the clouds part and the waters calm. Carpe diem! Have a great day! dj

9 comments on “Downer Than Down
  1. Mike Greenzalis says:

    David, what a wonderful read. You have quite a bit to be proud of. And, you have to know the lives you touch with your words and your experiences are many! God bless you my friend. Never give up!

  2. Elizabeth Gilstrap says:

    Wow David! Thank you so much for writing this! I met you at MCG when I was a PT student and you have always been an inspiration to me. I had never struggled with depression in the past but last year at age 26 I had to fight breast cancer. It hit me so hard! In January of this year, due to chemical imbalances in my body created by medications, I became depressed. I was ok with the depression for a while and my breast surgeon even said it was okay to feel like I was feeling as long as things didn’t get worse. I began with the depression feeling that I wished the cancer had taken my life or that I could go to sleep and not wake up. And then I began thinking of plans to end my life. Being a healthcare provider I was able to recognize the warning signs and sought help. Thankfully medication helped. And I never got to the point where I tried to act on these thoughts. Depression is no joke!

    I never had the thought, “why me?” In response to the cancer. Because we live in a fallen world, bad things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people.

    “For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.” (Matthew 5:45 NLT).

    God did not give me cancer and he did not give you ALS. These things happened to us. But I strongly believe that: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28 NLT)

    Does the fact that having ALS or breast cancer suck? Yes!!! But I believe that it is the goodness of God that brought you Carey. And it is His goodness that opened doors for me that I never would have imagined.

    I continue to pray for you and Carey! I know that when you stand- yes stand!!- before the throne when it is your time that you will be able to see how God used your ALS for his glory! I know that you have definitely impacted my life and the lives of my grandparents when you spoke at my graduation. Keep the hope David!


  3. AJ Podboy says:

    Thanks David. I needed that today.
    My “First world problems” really are insignificant in the great scheme of things.
    No such thing as coincidence sounds contrite or egotistical to some, but I believe that when you follow the path, there really is no such thing.
    The Universe & The Great Spirit, Holy Spirit, God,, Karma, Grace…whatever you personally call it, wants you to succeed.
    You are the product of all that has come before you – your ancestors & their will to live & create descendants. Their Spirit lives within you.
    The legacy you leave is not some monument or gravestone…those are soon forgotten. Your legacy is the Spirit you leave with others…and you my friend have some great Spirit.
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Mary johnson Sumner says:

    David you know me from Lee Epting catering. I was Mary Johnson at that time. I enjoyed reading your blog. Thank you for sharing and inspiring me. Please know that you and your wife and family are in my prayers.


  5. Kathryn Carden says:

    Wow! If that was the Roger Tyler that I have known for many years then I have no doubt that God sent him to you that day.

  6. RUTH A CLARK says:

    I am sorry for the pain you are in now. Soon I will be feeling the pain myself for my Mother as she has taken a turn for the worst and she doesn’t have much time left. My Father left us in 2008 and that wasn’t easy either but now I am feeling so empty and alot of other feelings. It is so sad that your sister took her own life. It happens too often. Sometimes we feel as tho “why didn’t she call us”. “Why didn’t she let us know”? Depression is often a very private thing. My prayers are with your family.

  7. Darrell Moore says:

    David you have certainly touched on some topics I am interested in. Depression; curses, environment, demons, suicide, not having the courage to ask for help, facebook ( I have threatened to dump it many times) and the topic I want to humbly address in this response- how a loving creator can allow suffering to afflict the innocent. These are only my thoughts and as such they are in no way meant to dispute your position but rather encourage you. However, for the record (and I mean this as a compliment) if I thought it was necessary to beat you up on this issue I would not hesitate to try, for sure your mind is as good as anyone’s also you are a worthy spokesman, your wisdom and ability to find the deepest part of the target is truly remarkable.

    Nevertheless, if I were to make an attempt at unpacking this dilemma of why God allows the innocent to suffer my first question would be is God real? Well, if I am he must be, because if we meditate on the reality of human existence long enough we will often land on the same question. How did we become human and nothing else did? Take plants for instance, they sprout they grow they die. Ok so do we, but plants can’t love, they don’t think either but we do both. What about animals? They appear to show love and a few show some ability for abstract thought. Well that’s pretty close to home right? Maybe not, let’s use the raccoon i.e. as our paradigm of hope to prove God is fable and everything sprung up out of mud. The raccoon is an animal it does what it does, it sleeps during the day and knocks over garbage cans by night, it doesn’t consider if spreading garbage all over your yard is wrong it just does it, raccoons don’t get angry when we chase them away they just come back tomorrow night. So how did we get to be different than the house plant and the raccoon? I know what you’re thinking-me too, I know some people that act like both but the truth is they just aren’t applying themselves.

    We are different because God made us so.
    Humans have creativity; imagination, emotions and compassion! We hurt when others do, we cry when others do and we rejoice when others do. The way I see it, God has blessed us with the experiences needed to learn how to. How did he do that? He blessed us with suffering so that we would know joy, He blessed us with hatred so that we would know love, fear so that we would understand security. This hard life so we would appreciate heaven. True, Gods ways are not our ways but he loves us, all of us. Humans have a choice to seek him out and THAT is the unparalleled difference that sets us apart from flowers and raccoons. I know without my suffering I would not have made the right choice, and if I’m wrong and this is all there is so what, I’ve never been very good at anything compared to perfect. And the truth is none of us are innocent anyway, we have turned over garbage cans all our life, and unlike the raccoon we get pissed off when we get caught. lol Love your blog David and I’m telling people about it.

    • David Jayne says:

      Thank you Big D for your heartfelt response. Thank you for your donation and spreading the word buddy!

      Love ya

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