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Archive for September, 2011

Social Claustrophobia

I never have liked parties.

I’m a one-on-one or small-group kinda guy. Big, loud, milling groups of people – not so much. Yelling to be heard over loud music and other yelling people – ugh.

At a couple of social gatherings this past week, I found myself in the social mosh pit, yelling conversationally as I tried, in vain, to find some sort of comfort zone. My 3 least favorite social adjectives were in play – loud, dark, and crowded! In each case, the solution was simple – find a quiet table somewhere and just talk to two or three while ignoring the chaos.

Next weekend is another high school reunion. I do enjoy seeing my old pals – though this whole aging thing is starting to wear out its welcome – but in past reunions, we’ve had DJs who thought the gathering was all about them, to the tune of 1,659 decibels of classic 70’s rock (note to DJs – I’m not there to get reacquainted with Peter Frampton. Can do that via iTunes…). Screaming at old friends across the table added auditory insult to aging injury. And, of course, this year the reunion falls on Berlin Fair weekend, so I plan to go there for old time’s sake and experience – what? Loud, milling crowds of people I don’t know. What am I thinking?

Even back in high school I had a measure of social claustrophobia, always avoiding the party scene. I guess some things never change…

I think reunions and parties would be much more enjoyable in a backyard with a grill, comfortable chairs, Sam Adams on ice, and lots of places to really talk. But that’s just me. Do you like the party scene, or do you prefer more intimate settings?

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This past weekend, I lost a friend to suicide.

Despondent over painful issues in his personal and family life, this man – a well-respected businessman who was loved and respected by hundreds – ended his own life.

Trey Pennington was a friend and social media collaborator, someone I had begun to know over recent years and wanted to know much better. I, and many others, will miss him deeply. The sorrow at this loss, and the angry sting of knowing that this gracious gentleman was finally overcome by depression and personal grief, has led me to take action on something I’ve put off long enough.

No-one can stop the wholesale carnage caused by depression each year. But maybe, by telling my story, I can help someone here or there who is living under dark clouds and doesn’t know what to do.

I lived under those clouds for decades. And, I’m recovering.

After Trey’s passing, I decided that, in his memory, I would finish and publish this story. I had put it on the backburner many times because, to tell the truth, although I have felt for years that I was destined to write in both short-form (blogs) and long-form (books), I was intimidated. My perfectionism – which once fed into depression like gasoline feeds flames – kept me back from writing more than a few posts.

No more. It’s time to take the fight to the enemy and try to take back some prisoners.

I have never been able to forget the wonderful foreword of J.I. Packer’s classic book, Knowing God, where he introduces the volume by saying, “As clowns yearn to play Hamlet, so I have wanted to write a book about God. This book, however, is not it….if what is written here helps anyone in the way that the meditations behind the writing helped me, the work will have been abundantly worth while.”

I feel like a clown among giants when I see the works of real authors. Nonetheless, my story may give understanding to a loved one, or help someone in darkness to face reality and get some help. If so, the work of writing – and the pain of living with depression for so many years – will have been “abundantly worthwhile.”

This is a quick read – maybe 15 minutes. And it has a particular focus on men, who often live in denial about things like depression. It is definitely not a literary masterpiece – it’s primarily a call to action.

The book is free to download and the file may be distributed freely:

Click to download –> Clearing Clouds

We can’t bring Trey back. But maybe we can pull some others back from the brink.

>> If you want to take a look at signs and symptoms of depression in a quick-read format, WebMD has the following helpful links:

Women and Depression

Men and Depression (on the topic of men, this is also quite helpful, from the Mayo Clinic)

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