Friends of GInA: Gentler Insanities Anonymous

***Please note: I am not a doctor, therapist, psychiatrist or any kind of –ist. This is just based upon my personal experiences and encounters with others who suffer from mental health issues as well as professionals in the field.***

If you are in crisis, I implore you to reach out to one of the following hotlines or go to the nearest hospital.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

1-800-273-8255

Veterans Crisis Hotline:

1-800-273-8255

Chat: Text 838255

 

Gentler Insanities Anonymous. It is an idea that I had decades ago. It’s simple: if I have a $1,000 a day cocaine habit or am a fall down drunk, there are a dozen meetings I can go to each night. But what if I suffer from depression, anxiety, PTSD or any of the other mental health issues that can be having a serious impact on my life?

Friends of GInA is a place to come for support, information, and really just someone to say, “I’ve been there, I might be there now, and I understand in a way your closest family and friends may not.”

There are places to get help. It is not as easy. It is hard to explain. It can even be difficult to understand ourselves. I have spent a lifetime trying to figure out what were “bad decisions” and what were decisions that my depression influenced me to make. –I do own all of them.

The memes and quotes are nice enough but I wanted to do something more, do something that goes beyond the superficial and dive deep into my world. You are welcome to join me.

You can sign up for regular updates via email by filling out the form at the bottom of the page.

The Pit

A person falls down a deep hole and starts yelling for help.

An engineer comes along, looks down, sizes up the situation, and yells back: “I’ll devise a way out and then I’ll be back.” He walks away.

A priest walks up and yells down, “I will pray for you,” and then he walks away.

A friend walks up and, without a word, jumps down into the hole.

In the deep, dark place, the person says with bewilderment, “What the hell did you do that for? Now we’re both stuck down here.”

The friend replies, “Yes, but I’ve been here before. I know the way out.”

–author unknown but I saw a version of it on an episode of the television show, “The West Wing.”

The 12 Steps

1. We admitted we were powerless over our insanities — that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

 3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God (or the Universe) as we understood It.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to the Universe, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our Illnesses.

6. Were entirely ready to work on these illnesses.

7. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

(Editing and rewrite in progress)

 

The Podcast

I was recently interviewed on a podcast, “Before You Kill Yourself,” by Leo Flowers, a Tedx Speaker,  and stand up comedian with a Masters in Psychology/Counseling.

I thought we would be discussing my book, “Disconnected, An Odyssey Through Covid America.” Instead, we just jumped right into the deep end of the pool and discussed depression, suicide, and other mental health topics. You can find the podcast here:

Christopher Gajewski: Overcoming exhaustion; being parentified and what is the cost to yourself of not saying ‘No?’

You can read the column about the experience here:

Into the Deep End

In Memory of Robin Williams

And Others Who Lost the Battle Against Depression

 The doorstep to suicide is the loneliest place in the universe. I’ve been there, so understand. Many people don’t, and that is understandable. How can someone be expected to comprehend such a distortion of reality? I’ve stood in a room full of people who loved and cared about me–and felt completely alone. While friends and family were giving me hugs, all I could feel was a vile self-loathing for being such a burden on these wonderful people.

The doorstep to suicide is a very cold place. I had always thought differently. When thinking about it, it was a passionate event. A climatic ending. But when I was there, it was a very cold and serene place, like an arctic field. Suicide becomes a rational decision, the only option that makes any sense. It can’t/won’t get any better, so what’s the point? You are standing in that arctic field, alone and bitterly cold. There is no place to go, no shelter, no warmth, no hope.

The doorstep to suicide is a timeless place. Imagine if you will an agony so terrible that it becomes your existence. The pain so awful that it fades into a numbness that encompasses your every breath, until your breaths are a burden. There is just a “now,” bereft of a joyful past and a hopeful future. I was 29 years old and my life was over. I could not remember 28 years of love and joy and could not conceive of the 15 years of happiness that awaited me.

The doorstep to suicide is a selfless place. I would have never of thought that. The opposite really. I had always considered suicide the most selfish thing a person could do. How could they do that to their friends and family? I had been there, been a witness to a person who tried to go through that door and had to clean up afterwards. Selfish, self-centered damnable…but perception distorts as badly as reality on that doorstep. What many consider selfish distorts into selfless. The question, “how can you do that to your family and friends” becomes “how can you NOT do that FOR your family and friends?” How can you continue to exist and allow your existence to drag them down, and do them harm?

I sat on that doorstep for a cold, timeless moment, got up, put my hand on that doorknob…and I am not quite sure what happened. An internal whimper. An upwelling of passion that escaped like a gasp through the ice that made me think: something is not right here. I called Rachel. An old friend. Two thousand miles away. She would understand. But she didn’t. It still made sense to me, to step through that doorway. I hurt so bad. How could she not understand?

“Just one year,” she said. “Give me one year. Put it aside for one year.” If I could make it through 29, then what was one more? Give her one more year. That didn’t make any sense, but, for her, I could do it.

The doorstep to suicide is a place I never went back to, but I still can remember it. I wonder if it was the same for Robin? I wonder if he made a call that went unanswered?

The path to the doorstep is a cluttered place, filled with misconceptions and burdened by the stigma of mental illness.

Depression is a disease.

Depression is real.

Depression can be treated.

You are not alone.

There is hope.

Friends of GInA

 

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