Dark Night of the Soul
This song is a little bit the way I have been feeling recently. Luckily, with the help of my friends, I am much, much better now.
Thank you everyone.
Please listen responsibly.
the long darkness
every man must face his own secret sorrows
the lonely sea and the sky
Normal life is a thing of the past for many of us. Here in England we are in the middle of yet another lockdown. We can’t go anywhere, meet with our friends, enjoy a meal out, or even go to the pub because they’re all shut. In fact, the official guidelines are that we should stay at home unless going out is absolutely essential ~ such as a trip to the doctor, pharmacy, or to buy groceries. It’s the middle of autumn here, it’s turning colder, and yet we are not even supposed to be able to buy a warm jacket or sweater.
The rules and regulations are enforced with varying degrees of enthusiasm by the police, (depending on where you live), neighbour is spying upon neighbour, and supermarkets have grown a crop of security guards to enforce the social distancing and face-mask rules. It’s turned into a Kafkaesque version of 1984. It’s got so that a lot of us English are spending a lot of time alone, locked up in our own homes, solitary.
Being alone for an extended period isn’t necessarily a good thing. Few enjoy solitary confinement, because that’s what lockdown means for many, many people. Days, weeks, and months alone with very little to do can prey upon the mind, make grown men brood and ponder their own inadequacies, make a man face his own secret sorrows and regrets. The ghosts of the past come crowding in, snuffing out the future.
Some feel like throwing it all away, sales of alcohol have soared, and mental illnesses torture some sorry souls. And there is very little help or relief to be found. There is no immediate end in sight either. In England this current lockdown is due to end on December 2nd, but nobody in the real world knows what will happen after that. Prime Minister Boris Johnson probably doesn’t know either because Carrie Symonds hasn’t told him yet.
All a man can do is to keep on keeping on. Find something difficult and intellectual to do. Discover a new creative interest. Look for an idea to get excited about. Think about a new business venture you can do from home. Read something challenging. Don’t just sit there, take some action, put lots of energy and enthusiasm in it. Most of all get outside in the fresh air, walk a few miles and let thoughts drift toward better times.
get outside and enjoy the fresh air
that and sunshine will kill a virus
the greatest weapon against stress is;
our ability to choose one thought over another
Extreme stress and anxiety, the kind that dominates your life, gives you chest pains, and will eventually kill you should really be called distress; meaning extreme anxiety, sorrow, and pain. If you can identify with that, then you are not alone, many, many people suffer from that kind of distress ~ I did for a long, long time.
So how do you cope, how do you get through the day, each and every single fucking miserable, painful day? If you are like most people, myself included at the time, you will likely resort to taking a drink or three to numb the pain. You may also indulge in some other risky behaviours, casual sex, drugs, gambling, promiscuity, over-eating, smoking, starving yourself….. If you have been sensible you will have seen your doctor, and the chances are they will have given you an anti-depressant drug such as Prozac, or worse a beta-blocker or narcotic. Maybe your doctor will have referred you for talking therapy, but I doubt it, and if you did see a therapist / psychologist / psychiatrist I doubt if it did you much good.
To cope with anxiety, depression, and stress, to cure yourself of the debilitating effects of these interconnected mental illnesses, you have to change yourself and your life.
Stress comes from knowing what is right and doing what is wrong. ~ Larry Winget
You don’t want to know this, but the best way to cope with anxiety, depression, stress….. is to remove yourself from whatever is causing your pain. Snag is, not many are brave enough nor strong enough to leave their job, relationship, marriage, home, abuser, addiction….. I did, I left a highly paid career in International Banking and Finance because the stress was killing me. But there’s another problem, we can become so addicted to anxiety, depression, and stress, that when we take away one reason for our suffering we soon find another to replace it. I did, I left the stress of work and substituted instead the stress of dysfunctional interpersonal relationships ~ and all through all of it I was drinking heavily.
When I say that to escape from your suffering you will probably have to change yourself, your life, your career, your habits, your friendships, your relationships ~ I mean exactly that, and it’s hard. Medication, drugs, booze, and displacement activities will mask your pain for a while, but it’s a band-aid on an a broken heart. Talking therapy works with a good; counsellor / therapist / psychologist, but it will take 1 to 3 years before it’s really becoming effective. If you want something immediate, right now, something that works, then it’s down to you, and the first thing you must do is stop doing whatever you’re doing to mask the pain; drinking, useless medication, casual sex, drugs, gambling, promiscuity, over-eating, starving yourself….. Only then can you know yourself and deal with the causes of your pain.
Some say that their stress isn’t so bad. And that a couple of drinks in the evening makes it bearable. All I know is that if you drink every evening, for year after year, then you’re slowly killing yourself.
you may drink at home
rather than in a sleazy bar
the bad effects are the same
knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom
I think that it’s acceptable for me to be apprehensive, introspective, and a little depressed ~ I’m pretty certain this is day #5 of my lying on this hospital bed. I haven’t been able to get up at all, because of the tubes, drips, and because moving is painful for me. Being immobile on a hospital bed, with very little control of my own life, and very little privacy isn’t a joyous time.
At least the catheter was removed this morning, right after the phlebotomist took my blood for the umpteenth time. Nobody tells you that catheter removal is painful, and that there’s probably going to be blood. At least the nurses make me a cup of tea after they wake me up at 5 a.m. I thank them profusely for that.
As it happens I am not looking forward to going for a pee.
I have been trying to make the best of things;
We ought to hear at least one little song every day, read a good poem, see a first-rate painting, and if possible speak a few sensible words. ~ von Goethe
My concentration has come back sufficiently for me to do most of that ~ the sensible words thing may still be eluding me. Maybe the things I write on here contain a few sensible words.
One good thing has come out of this, I have realised that many of the people who know me on here, genuinely care about me and my welfare. I am pleased to call them my friends.
I like the California desert
I wish I was there now
Only out of suffering emerges the strongest souls.
jealousy and doubt
the demon soul eaters
visit in the blackest night
darkness lonely frightfulness
another run around nightmares
of lying half-truths dishonest deceit
she was a dark witch circling the firelight
she made it so very easy, and my soul was lost
not all women are witches
but all witches are enchanted women
never accept a kiss from a witch at midnight
Three cups of coffee a day could extend your life.
Coffee is one of the worlds most commonly consumed drinks, with something like 2.25 billion cups drunk around the world every day. Coffee contains lots of complex chemical compounds including; caffeine, diterpenes,and antioxidants.
Black as the devil, hot as hell, pure as an angel, sweet as sin. ~ Talleyrand
It seems coffee is healthy and good for you. New research, published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, shows that the antioxidant plant compounds in coffee are highly beneficial in reducing liver disease and liver cancers, help prevent type 2 diabetes, reduce the risk of circulatory problems, ward off Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, lowers the risk of multiple sclerosis, and helps to fight diseases of the digestive tract. As all of those diseases can kill you, drinking moderate amounts of coffee may even prevent you from suffering an early death.
There are lots of good reasons to drink coffee. Including the fact that coffee may also be good for your sex drive, (particularly a woman’s sex drive). Drinking coffee increases the plasma levels of the protein sex hormone-binding globulin that controls testosterone and oestrogen. That may well be why coffee reduces depression and suicide risk. Who knew that coffee was a female aphrodisiac?
It isn’t the caffeine that does you good, because people who drink decaffeinated coffee accrue most / some of the same benefits. However, it seems obvious that proper strong fresh-made ground coffee with all the caffeine in it will give you the most benefits. A typical cup of coffee has more antioxidants than a glass of grape, blackberry, blueberry, and / or orange juices. A typical American gets more antioxidants from coffee than from anything else. What you get from a cup of coffee is; improved liver function, reduced inflammation in the body, better glucose control, and coffee also boosts the immune system.
If you are a regular drinker of the falling down water, if you really like your booze, if you sometimes drink a little too much, if you are a practicing alcoholic ~ then you should really drink fresh coffee on a regular basis. Just one cup of real coffee a day can reduce your chances of suffering cirrhosis of the liver by 20%. Coffee will also help prevent you from getting fatty liver disease, whether you’re a boozer or not.
Cigarettes and coffee: an alcoholic’s best friends! ~ Gerard Way.
Don’t think you can get the same benefits from other caffeinated drinks that you can get from coffee, because you can’t. For example, coffee generally makes people feel happier, whereas Coca Cola will give you a caffeine high, but Coke will also make you feel depressed. Especially any diet caffeinated drink will make you feel really depressed. In general soda is bad for you, and diet sodas are bad for you in spades. So your very strong Cuba Libre is doing you no good at all.
The way you prepare your coffee has a big impact on how much benefit you get from all the good complex chemicals present in coffee beans. For example, if you use a regular coffee maker, and you also use filter papers, then you’re missing out on a lot of the good diterpenes because they are absorbed by the paper. In general the less there is between the ground coffee and your cup the better. Possibly a cafetiere / French press using a good dark roast will make you the most beneficial cup of coffee, whereas a cheap instant decaffeinated is probably next to useless in terms of health benefits and taste.
Even bad coffee is better than no coffee at all. ~ David Lynch
These findings are based European study led by Imperial College, London, and the UN International Agency for Research on Cancer ~ which looked at half-a-million people over the age of 35. They found that people who drink three cups of coffee a day live longer than non-coffee drinkers. There is also an US study led by the University of Southern California ~ which looked at 186,000 people.
We cannot say that drinking coffee will prolong your life, but we see an association. ~ Veronica W. Setiawan, USC
In conclusion, real coffee is good for you, pod coffee is pretty bad, cheap instant coffee is nasty and probably causes cancer, and Coca Cola is very nasty. Drinking coffee is cool, often sociable, and a nice woman is more likely to have an afternoon cup of coffee with a guy than she is to agree to meet him in a pub.
Coffee and smoking are the last great addictions. ~ Lara Flynn Boyle
Statistically, women who drink a lot of coffee are also likely to be drinkers of booze and cigarette smokers ~ strange but true.
buy a French press
solitary hopefulness in the midst of blackness
do not condemn me to Stygian darkness
lonely abandonment in unhappiness
shine over me with watchfulness
care for me in mindfulness
lift my hopelessness
my shining star
words and pictures by jack collier
Sense Of Self ~ Low Self Esteem ~ Social Isolation
My counsellor has suggested that I have a poor sense of self. If you read my post Borderline Personality Disorder, you will know that I didn’t really know what that means. So, I did what I do, and undertook a little research.
It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story. ~ Patrick Rothfuss
In psychology the sense of self is defined as the way a person thinks about and views his or her traits, beliefs, and purpose within the world. Then the people in white coats talk about self-image and self-esteem. Do I have a poor self-image and low self-esteem? Some psychologists say the characteristics of genuinely poor self-image and low self-esteem are;
- Social withdrawal
- Anxiety and emotional turmoil
- Lack of confidence, depression or bouts of sadness
- Less social conformity
- Eating disorders / alcohol and or drug abuse
- Inability to accept compliments
- Being unfair to oneself
- Focusing on negativity
- Exaggerated concern over what others think
- Self neglect
- Treating oneself badly, but not treating others badly
- Worrying if you have treated others badly
- Reluctance to put yourself first
- Reluctance to trust one’s own opinion
- Expecting little out of life
It doesn’t feel like I have low self-esteem, in fact I often feel exactly the opposite, but from time to time I have probably done stupid things that tick all of those 15 bullet points.
How do I recover from this? I am not going to stay on this dismal road to the dark end of the swamp for much longer. I know the root cause of my problem, I wrote about some of this in Sometimes I Act Insane, and I am taking steps to address the underlying trauma. But what about some short-term fixes?
There is nothing better in life than commitment to personal development and lifelong learning. ~ Lailah Gifty Akita
After a little bit of research, it turns out there are some self-help techniques I can use, and these basically boil down to learning, changing, and doing. To recover from chronic low self-esteem is basically making oneself do good stuff:
- I need to take good care of myself. Stay sober, eat well, avoid excesses, (too much coffee for example), get plenty of sleep, fresh air, and exercise.
- Stop comparing myself with others, and with things that happened in the past. I can’t fix the past.
- Learn how to say ‘No’ I can be a people-pleaser at times.
- Forgive my stupid mistakes. Instead focus on my abilities, skills, and accomplishments.
- Avoid and ignore negative feelings, thoughts, places, people, and things.
Sounds easy. I bet. If it was easy there wouldn’t be such a huge range of organisations, therapies, and medication to help one deal with, and recover from a poor sense of self, low self-esteem, and social isolation.
I will let you know what happens next.