(Prelude: Its been four days since I wrote the following. I’ve been sitting on it, wondering if I should post it. It’s a little scary to put something so personal out in the “public eye”.)

Back in my mid 20’s I was diagnosed with clinical depression and given some anti-depressants. I took them for awhile, but they were worse than the depression itself. So I quit taking them and went to self-medicating. It worked a lot better for me.

I say that because the last while I’ve been really struggling. Then Saturday night I was trying to self-medicate with a bunch of different natural remedies. All of them you can buy in a store (not a dispensary). But like with prescription drugs you have to be careful with what you mix together. Well something happened Saturday night and it sent me into Hell… or as I’ve titled this post, a dark night of the soul.

I’ve been through dark and difficult times before, but what I’ve been through the last three days is the darkest period I can ever recall. It was really bad! I mean REALLY BAD!! I was blasted in all four areas of the soul – spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental. It was like my brain had been fried. I was in a constant state of anxiety or panic. I couldn’t focus my brain and my thoughts were so dark. It consumed me completely.

Sometimes, most times, when I’m going through hard times I can mask it or at least not let it be so noticeable. This time it was completely visible to anyone who looked at me. And those who were near me, I know they could feel the darkness around me.

As I write this, I think I’m doing a lot better. I say “I think”, because to be honest, I don’t know for sure. Yesterday I had someone give me a Priesthood blessing and that pulled me out of it physically. It took awhile, but with that blessing and prayers, I woke up this morning and was able to get through the day to this night.

I prayed a lot as I was going through all this. But my big worry was, when I came through it, would my behavior change as I pleaded for it to do? I even told God that was my fear. I told Him that I always do that; when I’m in trouble I’m pleading for help. Then when I get that help and start getting better or doing good, then I slowly start backsliding. Its my pattern. How do I break it? I have no idea. For me, that is the challenge of addiction.

I know of people who have been sober for years, and then something happens; something that rattles their soul to the core, and they’re back into their addiction. Some catch themselves before it goes too far. And, sadly, some never make it back. Of course, there are those who stay sober all the way to the end. True warriors.

There are wounds to my soul that have never been healed. Some of them pop up at the strangest of times. My biological father died the month before I turned three. Today I’m at work and I’m headed to break. As I’m walking to the security desk to go out, all of a sudden I have an image come to my mind of my father’s funeral when my mother came over to me and told me it was time to say good-bye to my dad. The imagery was so clear, and now I’m fighting back tears as I walk to security. WTF!! Where did that come from!?!

One time when I was in prison, I was in this unit where we had extra privilege’s like having access to a mini yard in our section full time. One time I’m out there by myself and out of nowhere I remember this beating I received from my step-dad. But it wasn’t the usual memory. This was full on recollection in technicolor and sound and feeling. I was around eight or nine years old and I can’t remember what I had done, but the punishment was a belt whipping on my bare buttocks. I could feel the sting of the belt and remember how I screamed and jumped around while he held me by the wrist and continued to whip me. It was so vivid I broke down right there in the mini-yard. Why did that come like that at that particular time and place? That event wasn’t even in my consciousness. But it came back out of nowhere with such clarity. Messed me up.

I remember, I think it was the second day after my crime came out. I was so traumatized by what was happening. I had just met with my attorney and was trying to figure out how to get her the money to represent me. I was walking around numb, feeling disassociated from everything around me. Finally, I went to a park and laid down. I remember kind of like loosing consciousness, kind of like a dream. I was flying over this large body of water, like a sea. I think it was part of my soul taking off, and to be honest, I don’t know that it has ever come back. I did a soul retrieval with my first therapist, but I’m not sure all of my soul came back.

I took this programming class in prison called “Victim Impact”. In it the case worker would describe a crime and we would have to identify all the different victims of the crime (primary, secondary, tertiary, etc.). I remember this one time we all went through all the different victims of our crimes, and then the case worker asked us, “What about you? You’re a victim of your own crime.” That really hit me! Until that point, that had never occurred to me. And you know, in all the therapy I went through, how my crime impacted me was never addressed.

I believe the majority of people have zero empathy for criminals. They don’t even care or believe the criminal has the right to be impacted by their crime. But they are. The degree of impact may vary, but they are all impacted, one way or another. Mine devastated me.

So is it any wonder I’m still trying to self-medicate. Trying to find a way to soothe my soul. Religion and spirituality can do a lot to help. To help…but not heal. Christ says He will heal us if we are converted to Him. But where does that conversion come from? I’m so impressed by people who can give up their “sins” to know God and then are converted. Maybe I’m not trying hard enough to give up my “sins”, i.e., addictions. Maybe I like them too much. Maybe they’re the only way I think I can feel “normal”. To feel human. I think that is where the faith part comes in. I wished I had some. Or maybe I already have it and I’m just not brave enough to use it. I don’t know.

All I know is that I’ve hit a brick wall and I can’t seem to make a break through. If after these last three days of hell I don’t find a way, then…. well… I don’t know what.