This is my final battle ground. I know the names of my demons. I know their features, their smell, their habits and hiding places. I know their attack patterns. This one, though, I do not know. And it has stalked me all of my life.

Recent events had me move my office upstairs and then move it back downstairs. It was the same in both places. Just like in everyplace I have lived. It is like yellow “caution” tape goes up on the doorway. I find other stuff to do.

I broke the yellow tape tonight. I can feel the demon’s presence. It just wants me to get the hell out of the room. Go do something else. Play electrician. Watch movies. Pace. Do anything except sit here in front of the computer.

I’m working on a book. Broken Things: Living with Depression. It is being written in three parts. Present Tense: where I explore the latest depressive episode. TMI? Off the table. Past Tense: where I’ll explore what may have made me who I am. Then, Future Tense: where I’ll talk about healthier coping strategies.

But the future must be now, and then I’ll get back to the rest. For me, it begins with breaking that yellow tape. For others, it may be making a friend.

Friends of GInA is an old, old idea. Gentler INsanities Anonymous. The idea really took shape after a meeting at NarAnon. If I had, or loved someone that had, a drug habit, there are a dozen places I could call for support. What do you do, though, if you suffer from depression, anxiety, PTSD or one of the dozen of other gentler insanities that millions of people live with? What if you are forced to isolate yourself in your home during a pandemic, when social withdrawal is the first unhealthy coping mechanism that comes naturally anyway? Where will it lead? What can you do?

As a functional depressive, my greatest strength, and my greatest weakness, is that I can react, but I cannot act. I’m a highly functional depressive. I can keep moving forward no matter what the burden or obstacle, but I cannot sit still and create.

Aye, I know where those unhealthy coping mechanisms lead. That’s part one, Present Tense. But let’s talk about part three right now, Future Tense. As I stare at my computer screen, locked away in isolation, when night falls and I begin wandering through the halls of twilight. Let’s talk about breaking the yellow tape.

The pandemic doesn’t bother me. I’ve been through more than my share of catastrophes. It is simply something that is happening and I need to react to it. Just like hurricanes, train wrecks, and a multitude of other things. What bothers me is sitting here. I can feel a pressure building in the room. Run! Escape! There’s 80 million hours of TV binge watching to do.

I’m jumping way ahead here, but the 12th step in a recovery program, this one borrowed from AA, is “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to [friends of GInA] everywhere, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

Maybe my 12th step is the path to figuring out this demon? Or maybe it can just help you start on the journey, another step along my own?

It’s hard. Harder as I step one year closer to 50. I am almost afraid to recognize this demon because it brings with it close to 50 years of regrets, of not being able to break the yellow tape and the possibilities it may have brought me. But it is what it is. And it is time.

C’mon, as I started saying a long, long time ago–but this time with the broken strands of tape fluttering in the breezes of the past. C’mon, take my hand. Across the threshold and into the halls of midnight. No reason to be afraid. I know the way. I know the paths and corners and hidey holes. The tune is somber, but will you dance with me?

In yoga practice, you always end with bowing and saying, “namaste,” or “I’ll bow to the divine in you.” I switched it up and started saying, “aloha.”

“In the Hawaiian language, “aloha“ may mean love, affection, compassion, mercy, sympathy, pity, kindness or grace. These sentiments make it a lovely common greeting and expression of farewell. Living Aloha is the coordination of mind and heart within each person. It brings each person to the self.”

Instead of a bow, I tip my cap and wish you aloha. I thought tomorrow night might be Step 1. But that one word in the definition pulls at me, pulls me away from the pressure and towards it. So maybe we’ll dance over there tomorrow night, towards Mercy…

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