Plato's Play-Doh

Play-Doh for the Mind

Who is Russell Lehmann, and Why is He Writing?

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Who am I? I’m just a creature put on this cruel planet, who somehow continuously finds a way to survive. I have autism, bi-polar, OCD, depression, anxiety and have overcome an excruciating battle with anorexia. All of my major accomplishments in life have come in the forms of self-improvement and overcoming my disabilities. Yet, is this what I want to be known for? Honestly I am still trying to figure that out. I would love to make a living writing, but everybody tells me that earning money as a writer is a lost cause. Hearing this makes me want to write even more, for I never get tired of defying the odds.

Perhaps I’m just a lost soul. I just want to be happy. My dream would be to write for a world renowned magazine such as National Geographic, Scientific American, The Economist, The New Yorker, etc. I would love to stop living on disability payments and support myself. I feel like after all I have been through, I deserve one of the aforementioned positions, for my experiences and struggles have molded me into an extremely smart, insightful and profound young gentlemen. Then again, who am I to deserve anything at all? I am already blessed with an amazing family and an unbelievably generous and understanding friend. I am beyond thankful for who I am as a man, and I lay my head on my pillow each night with the satisfaction of always doing the right thing and holding myself to the utmost standards of integrity. Is this not enough gratification for a tortured soul such as myself? It should be, but then, who am I to settle? Should not I strive for more? Not solely for the benefit of myself, but to spread hope and inspiration to the furthest corners of the world?

As to the question of why am I writing, to be honest, I don’t really know. It has proved time and time again to be a great coping mechanism for me, but I also enjoy the power that comes with writing. The power of creating new worlds, educating the masses, supporting the oppressed, disproving the skeptics and giving a voice to the unheard.

Perhaps someday I will end my pursuit of having a career as a writer, whether I accomplish this goal or not. For now, however, I will continue my quest in an effort to better not only myself, but those who I have the privilege of calling my readers.

Mr. Halley

Mr. Halley Pic

Edmond Halley was an English astronomer, geophysicist, mathematician, and meteorologist recognized for computing the orbit of Halley’s Comet, which later took his name. In 1692, he proposed a theory that the Earth was hollow. This poem is written from the view of Satan, who resides inside the earth.

 

Mr. Halley

Year 1692 is when that blasphemous buffoon

Revealed the dwellings of man’s mind

A song of sorrow tune

 

In hollow earth his thoughts aren’t welcome

I put forth fire on my everlasting

Souls that were in tombs

 

He shall not last in man’s own head

For their psyches reside with me

And slumber in my bed

 

My home, he thought, is bright as day

He knew not it is the flames

Feeding on likes of him for play

 

The expanding air of my own singed lives

Releases to the world above

Making for the glacial lights

 

Dare not his ideas flow

Through the river of the blood

Ensuing to the float to those unbeknownst

 

Down! Down! I’ll come to pluck him from the sky

21 grams smothered in a fire

So hot the blaze will cry

 

Soon, not enough, he will accompany me

Into my dear bed

Filled with minds – temper free

 

Hesitance not taken to his own wit’s dying out

It is his time for him to be tucked in

No more spews from his shriveled spout

 

Invincible in future times of the past and present

I shall remain the captor of all thoughts

Mr. Halley, you will learn your lesson

 

Copyright ©2014 Russell Lehmann

Enough

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The following poem was written by me back in 2012. I had been going through an extremely tough time for many years and just wanted to give up. Every day I took solace in a certain line from Edgar Allan Poe’s  The Pit and the Pendulum: “And then there stole into my fancy, like a rich musical note, the thought of what sweet rest there must be in the grave.”

Perhaps I didn’t want to die, I just did not want to keep living.  However, I have always prided myself on the strength of my character, and I knew that better things were to come, whether they arrive in a day, a month, or a decade.  My time here on earth was far from over.

Still, as Poe’s quote stirred the machinations of my mind, helping me to picture a place without pain, so did writing poems.  It felt good to know that if I wanted to, I could end all my pain.  However I knew that I would never sit down at the table where this option lay.

 

Enough

 

Synapses, neurons, are vital to life

But these crucial facets are detrimental to mine

Ablaze all the time with thoughts that bind

My mind to the chair, with the sponge wet and primed

 

An explosion of thoughts, a cacophony of sorts

Render me helpless, as I crumble once more

Expletives are shouted to these notions I abhor

But they only grow stronger, for winds make the fire roar

 

These unrelenting ideas have started to persuade

My once innocent mind to believe what they say

I used to fight back, but now I just lay

And accept the torment that I have come to obey

 

I’ve waved the white flag, I have no more strength to persevere

I’ll go down with this ship, the water feels so sincere

I look down from this cliff, into the abyss I do not fear

For when I take this last step, my mind will be cleared

 

©Russell Lehmann 2014

The Man at the Window

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Saturday, November 22, 2014 was a very rough day for me. I was questioning my life, my potential, my future. I was pissed off because I have lived such a mentally excruciating life, with very few good experiences to speak of. I was sick and tired of going head-to-head against myself, with a brain that was beyond fucked up. I was angry, I was sad, I was confused, but above all else, I was hurt. I’m such a great guy, with so much to offer this world, and yet, for some reason that I could not wrap my head around, I was being punished. Why? Every day I pour my heart and soul into becoming the man I want to be, going to battle with my disorders that some may say have already predestined my future. I aim to be that intelligent, funny, kind and loving man who is full of integrity and who stops at nothing to accomplish his dreams, but that Saturday I felt like the universe had it in for me.

And then I experienced a moment I will never forget. It was late at night, the downtown air brisk and cold. As I was walking to my car, I noticed a shady figure moseying around the parking lot. I was alert and cautious as I sat down in the driver’s seat, keeping one eye on the whereabouts of the mysterious character. Once I was in my car with my doors locked, my gaze followed his every step. “What is he up to?” I asked myself. “Probably nothing good”

The man slowly approached a store window, and started to peer inside. I immediately thought that he was casing the place, but when I looked closer I noticed that he was looking into a bakery, its window showcasing their freshly made bread. The man had his hands cupped around the outside of his face, his breath fogging up the only obstacle between him and a good meal. Once I realized that this was a homeless man in need of food, my mindset changed immediately. I dug inside my pockets trying to find some extra cash to give him, but to no avail. I desperately wanted to help the man, but I had no means of doing so. I watched him gradually take his eyes off the loaves of bread as he slowly started to walk away, with his head down and his hands inside his pockets.

I soon drove away, contemplating what I had just seen. Within minutes I broke into tears. I felt like a little bitch. Who was I to complain about my circumstances? Here I am, a smart, healthy young man who is very financially comfortable, with a great family, friends and an amazing girlfriend. I’m in the prime of my life and I have so many things going for me. On my drive home I came to understand that the world is my oyster, and that I am capable of doing anything I set my mind to. Watching that man sorrowfully walk away from food he was unable to have broke my heart but gave me a huge kick in the ass. I have it better than 99.99% of people out there, and it’s about damn time that I start acting like it.

That night I made the decision to reach every single goal I set for myself, no matter what obstacles may be thrown in my way. As one supremely insightful soul once told me, “You can do anything you want. You underestimate yourself.”

Oh, and I’ll be sure to keep some extra cash on hand for the next time I come across a person in need.

The Premature Burial

The Premature Burial Pic

 

He was a man of mighty words

He was loved throughout the town!

He preached to the needy herds

When in their sorrows they drowned

 

He was a man of many years

But his soul was so young!

Yet he could not help but fear

That his time here on earth was about done

 

He was a man in fast decline

His physical essence was about gone!

The crowds waited in line

To declare their “so longs”

 

He was a man now passed on

For his body was so cold!

Yet his soul stayed strong

And never left its mold

 

He was a man now entombed

For the grief was so strong!

There was a feeling of disquietude

As he was lowered under the lawn

 

He was a man who was now resting

In such a pleasant peace!

The people put forth their blessings

To the disappointment of his soul, for it was not yet deceased!

 

He was a man all alone

Now all alone in the ground!

Yet unfeasibly he uttered a moan

While his eyes looked around

 

He was a man now alive

Brought back from the dead!

Hi soul had survived

Helping to keep his heart fresh

 

He was a man stricken with luck

Yet in unison with misfortune!

For he was now forever stuck

In a box of retention!

 

He was a man now hoping to be saved

But he had to come to terms!

His future had fatefully been paved

For death was quickly approaching with yearn!

©Russell Lehmann 2014

The Money Pit

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Factual accounts state that in the year 1795, three young men, Daniel McGinnis, Samuel Ball, and Anthony Vaughan, happened to come upon a small circular pit on Oak Island in Nova Scotia. However, I was there also, and for the life of me I cannot figure out how people do not know this. It is my wish to relay to you the happenings that took place during this time.

It was a summer evening in the year 1795, and my three friends and I decided to row out into Mahone Bay to enjoy some solitude. It was the start of twilight, and as we went further out into the water, we happened to notice three green lights coming from the shore of nearby Oak Island. Intrigued, we rowed over to the island to explore and to find a reason behind these strange lights. The island was densely populated with trees, however once we had been on the island for about five minutes, we discovered a clearing in the woods. In this clearing was a small pit, and above it overhang a tackle block from one of the tree’s protruding branches. Once we saw this, we could not help but think of Captain Kidd’s buried treasure, which was purportedly buried on an island east of Boston. With this in mind, we decided to come back in the morning with picks and shovels in order to try to excavate the small pit.

The next morning, we eagerly rowed back over to Oak Island and immediately darted towards the pit. We started to dig, and after about fifteen minutes we came upon a layer of flagstones not otherwise found on Oak Island. We removed these flagstones and in doing so, we discovered that there were already pick marks on the walls of the pit, which led us to believe that the pit had been refilled and was certainly the work of men. We began to dig deeper, and after we had dug about ten feet down, we discovered an oaken log platform covering the width of the pit. Not long after removing these logs we came upon a mat of some sort consisting of coconut fiber. This baffled us, for nowhere in Canada can you expect to find a coconut tree. Intrigued to the highest degree, we set aside the mat and continued to dig deeper into the pit.

After approximately digging another ten feet down, we once again came upon a platform of oaken logs. Upon seeing this we were filled with feelings of both annoyance and of excitement, for who would go to this much labor unless they were hiding something of exceptional value? We once again moved the logs out of the pit and persevered on. After we had reached some thirty feet down into the pit, we came across yet another log platform. Coming to terms with the realization that we were not well-enough equipped to continue on, we reluctantly packed up our digging instruments, and left Oak Island. We were going to need professional help, and we only hoped that this help would come soon.

It would not be less than eight years before we were finally able to secure professional help. A local business man, one Simeon Lynds, agreed to help back us financially and created his own treasure-hunting band called the Onslow Company to assist us in the labor. My friends and I had agreed to share whatever treasure was to be found with Lynds and the Onslow Company, for our biggest concern was not to become rich, but to be recognized as finding buried treasure that had been hidden with such tremendous effort.

When we returned to the island, we were shocked to find that nothing had been touched, and was in the exact condition in which we had left it eight years before. As the long hiatus finally came to a halt, we began our excavation again with immense eagerness. Our treasure hunting companions (that is, the Onslow Company) started digging with their much more productive tools, and once they had reached a depth of forty feet, they came upon yet another log platform. They removed this platform with relative ease, and continued on digging. About every ten feet was found some sort of object. Sometimes it was another platform, while at other times it was either charcoal, putty, stones or more coconut fiber.

We continued on to a depth of ninety feet when we unearthed a mysterious slab stone, about three feet long and one foot wide. Like the coconut fibers, this stone was not native to Nova Scotia, and upon it were bizarre writings unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. The discovery of this slab lifted all of our spirits, for we were sure that we were about to find something of enormous significance. However, to our aggravation, two feet underneath the stone slab was another log platform.

Due to nightfall and increasingly bad weather, my friends and I, along with the excavation crew, left the pit, with all of us agreeing to return to the site early the next morning.

The next day at dawn my friends and I fervently rowed over to Oak Island to continue our search. The sky no longer had dreary clouds overhanging us and it was turning out to be a beautiful day. As we came closer to the island, we could see that the Onslow Company was already there. This slightly agitated the four of us, for we wanted to be a part of the digging every step of the way. However, we were the ones who asked for their help and they were just doing their jobs.

Once we approached the shore, we jumped out of the rowboat to find that the ground was tremendously muddy due to the previous night’s rainfall. As we made our way over to the excavation crew, we noticed that in no way were they in good spirits. This troubled me, and as we came upon the pit it was clear as to why the crew was in such a bad mood. Saltwater had flooded all but thirty feet of the pit. My friends and I were staggered in the most contemptuous of ways. I could not help but to think that our adventure was now over.

One of the members of the crew suggested that we start bailing out the water, even though the impossibility of ridding all of the water from the pit was extremely high. However, we were desperate, so my friends and I, along with the majority of the crew, started removing as much of the saltwater as we could. Once we succeeded at removing approximately three feet of water, the pit immediately flooded back to its original depth. Disgruntled and agitated, we began again to bail out the water from the pit. Starting afresh, we had removed about four feet of water this time when once again another influx came in to fill the pit. All of us now had to come to terms with the fact that digging any further or making progress of any kind was now impossible. With much thought and deliberation, we grudgingly ended our hunt and agreed to meet back in the springtime (for it was now the end of fall), hoping that the water might dissipate in our absence.

Throughout the whole of winter, I could keep nothing on my mind other than the pit on Oak Island. My three friends were less fixated on the setback and were able to continually participate in the joys of life. I, on the other hand, could not help to think in what state the pit was currently in. The part of Mahone Bay that led you to Oak Island was completely frozen over, so getting to the island was near impossible. I had no course of action other than to be patient and wait for spring to arrive.

After the longest three months of my life had finally passed, my friends and I reconnected with the Onslow Company and made our way over to the pit. After having plenty of time to ponder our next move, Simeon Lynds suggested that we dig a separate pit right next to the original one, hoping that the water would flood into this new shaft. Over the course of about four weeks, we managed to dig down approximately 110 feet before we tunneled into the original pit. To our extreme delight, the shaft the we had dug started to fill with water, alleviating some of the water from the pit. Not moments later, however, the shaft crumbled and caved in on itself, resulting in the water once again flooding all but thirty feet of the pit. It was becoming clear to us that we would never find out what lay at the bottom of that pit. To the chagrin of us all, the series of events had at last combined to crush all of our spirits, and we decided to give up on the excavation. The year was 1804.

Our failure to find any sort of treasure hung over me for the next several years. I had felt that we were so close to discovering something unprecedented, yet who knows how close we truly were. A few years after we had abandoned the excavation, my three friends and I, along with the Onslow Company, had decided to outsource the stone slab to a group of cryptographers. After some time, and through much difficulty, the group was able to form a rough translation of the mysterious symbols on the slab. The translation was thus: “Forty feet below, two million pounds lie buried.” After learning of the translation, my emotions consisted of nothing but dreadful zeal. We had already completed more than two-thirds of the excavation necessary to recover the hidden treasure, and we now in fact had proof that there was indeed treasure at the bottom of the pit. This was surely a reason to start up our campaign again, for we would no longer be digging in suspected vain.

My friends were, for some reason or another, not as excited about this latest development. Daniel and Anthony just wanted to move on with their lives and not be held captive by dreams of what may in fact lie at the bottom of the pit. Samuel, on the other hand, did not want to get his hopes up again just to have them crushed like before. Therefore, on my own, I contacted Simeon Lynds and solicited his company’s help to continue on with the dig. Much to my dismay, he told me that the Onslow Company had no more funds left for such a job and that he himself had continued on to other business ventures. Under these aforementioned circumstances, I was more than reluctant to give up altogether on finding the treasure, but knew that it was in my best interest to do so.

It was not until 42 years later that another attempt was made to explore the pit on Oak Island. At this point in time I was a man of 72 years of age. I never completely shut out the thoughts of finding the hidden treasure, and to some extent this had held me back from achieving some of my career goals. In a way, I wish that I had never laid my eyes on the pit, for in the end it did me more harm than good. I paid close attention to this new excavation, however, for my obsession was too strong to control.

The Truro Company, created and funded by investors, re-excavated the pit to some degree of success, depending on what your definition of the word “success” is. The pit had naturally been filled up to the top with mud and debris from the flooding waters since the last dig 42 years ago. The Truro Company, however, was able to dig to a depth of 86 feet without much difficulty. In spite of this, they shouldn’t have been surprised when the pit started to flood with water. To their good fortune, the flooding was not nearly as intense as those that occurred earlier in history. They knew from past accounts that there would be another oaken platform blocking the way at 90 feet, so they ingeniously built their own platform directly above the aforementioned platform, and from their implemented an extremely large pod auger in order to drill through the oaken platform that had caused precious difficulties and to continue on with their excavation. Once they had drilled through the 90 foot deep platform, they came upon another one, this time made out of spruce, at a depth of 98 feet. As they continued to bore into the ground, a loud clanking noise was emitted from the pit. By means of extreme effort, the excavators pulled the drill out of the pit and discovered that wrapped around the tip of the drill were numerous chains of the most elegant gold.

The excavators were very optimistic after discovering this gold that they had hit the motherload. They decided to continue to drill further into the pit when a member of the team discovered that the flood water rose and fell with the tide. Assessing the situation, the diggers came to the conclusion that the ocean water was filling the pit through some sort of man-made tunnel. Astonished at how much effort the creators of the pit went through to protect whatever lay below by building such clever obstacles, the Truro Company (although becoming increasingly frustrated) delighted themselves in thinking about how important the treasure must be.

For the next few months the workers put extreme effort into finding the opening of the tunnel. The work had finally paid off when someone came across piles of clay on the sandy beach of Smith’s Cove, approximately 500 feet away from the pit. Upon further examination, it was found out that there were artificial layers of natural material that lied on top of the original beach. The workers dug through the sand to uncover more coconut fibers of large quantities. With their anticipation rising, they continued on to dig past the fibers and came upon dead grass that was inches deep. Lastly, after removing the grass, they came upon larges beach stones that covered up numerous drains that seemed to point in the direction of the pit.

A cofferdam was subsequently built around the beach of Smith’s Cove in order to block any more water from flooding the pit. This idea was of no use, however. The excavators then thought of rerouting the tunnel by digging several ditches for the water to fill into, but once again this idea had failed, for the pit still flooded with water whenever the tide rose. It started to become apparent to the workers that the constructors and designers of the pit had truly made access to the bottom impossible. Ultimately, in 1851, the Truro Company ran out of funds and had to abandon the dig.

As of right now, in 1861, another search for the hidden treasure has been started up by the Oak Island Association. The group supposedly consists of many expert excavators and treasure hunters; however this reputation has indubitably been ripped to shreds, for one of their men died while trying to pump out the water from the pit. According to the local papers, the group was using new, state of the art pumps powered by steam which malfunctioned when one of the boilers ruptured. This led to one man being scorched to death while injuring many others.

It is becoming increasingly apparent to me that I will never know what lies at the bottom of the pit that my friends and I discovered over 65 years ago. In my old age I have tried to settle my obsession with the pit, for it has truly been the focal point of my life since I was the young ripe age of 18. This in some ways is bothersome to me, for at times I feel like I have wasted my life fixating on every detail and development of the search for the buried treasure. Yet there are still no hard, steadfast facts that make any individual 100 percent positive that there is indeed a hidden hoard of riches that lie at the bottom of the pit.

I am approaching my final years, and although I relentlessly try to put the pit out of my mind, I am unable to do so. Perhaps God will grant my mind some quietude before I pass, but if not I am willing to accept that I brought this debilitating passion on myself the moment I laid eyes on the pit.

I shall wait and see what occurrences take place in the coming years, but I am relatively sure that nothing of significance will come about. It is almost inevitable that I will die without ever knowing what lies at the bottom of the pit that has taken control over my life, and to some degree I am okay with that. The main point of my relaying this story to you is to help the venture carry on, for so much hard work has taken place that to abandon the excavation altogether would surely be of the utmost disappointment to all that have kept tabs on the events. Perhaps one day soon I will be looking down at the pit and see what the treasure hunters finally pull up from the bottom. Yet if this does not happen, I will continue to torment myself with my addiction to the thoughts of the unknown, however long that may be.

 

Copyright ©2014 Russell Lehmann

Broken Souls

Broken Souls Pic

Molested by the utmost disgraceful thoughts. Subjugated by authority who thought they knew best. Disparaged by contemporaries. These are a few characteristics of a broken soul. Nay, perhaps these were just the characteristics of my broken soul, for one man’s problem is another man’s pleasure.

Regardless, broken souls are everywhere, although I have never been able to relate to one. However, I did see two movies this past year in which I saw myself in both of the main characters. Albeit they were somewhat fictional accounts, comfort and resonation swam through my blood in such a manner that my body was pulsated with the calming vibrations of the interconnection of the human race. For the first time in my life, I was able to fully and completely identify with another person’s struggles. Alas, I will never meet these people, for they were just actors acting out scripts in front of a camera. Nevertheless, I have to say, witnessing someone go through the same struggles I have dealt with felt good. REALLY good.

Might this intertwined feeling of mine, that of consolation and relief, be a result of instinctual selfishness? Who’s to say, that’s a discussion for another time. For now, follow me as I delve into the two characters that helped me feel not so quite alone.

The first character made me realize that we all have our routines, however some become empty burdens rather than a functional categorization of life. Melvin Udall sticks to the same exact schedule every day in order to not upset himself. Rather, in order to not aggravate his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. He hates being touched by anyone, is afraid of germs and performs rituals in order to prevent any danger that might come his way. He frequents the same restaurant every day, eating the same breakfast at the same table and eagerly hoping to be served by the same waitress. If something unexpected happened during Melvin’s daily routine, than all hell would break loose. He would become increasingly agitated and uncomfortable, and lash out at others around him. Melvin Udall was, in essence, a broken soul.

Melvin was the first person, fictional or real, that I ever found myself relating to. I used to have the exact same routine every day, and if anything put my routine in jeopardy, I would have a mental breakdown. Growing up, I absolutely hated to be touched by people who I did not know, and I would wash my hands over and over and over until the water ran red with blood. My rituals included everything under the sun, from locking doors to flipping light switches to retracing my exact walking patterns to moving my jaw in precisely the same manner with every bite of food I took. If I was strong enough to deny myself permission to perform such rituals, my mind would become overwhelmed with disturbing thoughts, such as my parent’s being lit on fire and then dismembered. I could not, for the life of me, liberate myself of these thoughts. That is, unless I began to perform my self-degrading rituals again.

As I observed Melvin’s slow but eventual progression into recovery, I felt as though I was watching myself through the eyes of an individual who had also traipsed the wallowing depths of Hell. I felt exultant for Melvin, while feeling grateful and joyous that a certain stranger could relate to his own personal hardships. You see, I was this stranger, because not only did I find someone whose actions were the exact representation of my own, but I also found, inside myself, that lone observer that I have spent my entire life waiting for. That one onlooker who says “I see a piece of you in myself. A piece that has defied all odds. A piece that obliterates any obstacle in life. A piece that, although born flawed and defective, has turned into an astonishingly exquisite specimen.”

The second character offers a glimpse into how I conducted myself when I was a boy. Charlie Fineman’s soul was broken after his wife and daughters died during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Charlie was once a sociable and successful dentist, however five years after his family died he is but a shell of his former self. He suffers from PTSD and is a withdrawn social outcast, all the while being judged due to the fact that his actions differ from the norm. When he does traverse the terrifying, carnivorous jungle of civilization he keeps to himself, hiding behind his unkempt hair while blaring his favorite music into his headphones. It is extremely difficult for him to communicate with others, and he takes solace in his house by playing video games in the dark. Charlie Fineman was an extremely promising being whose potential was being devoured by a broken soul.

Watching Charlie aimlessly toddle his way through life pierced my heart as if it was a pumpkin being carved by an overzealous child on a cold and rainy October night. I sobbed throughout the majority of the movie, tears streaming down my face and neck until they became one with the wrinkled shirt I was wearing. I realized that I used to be Charlie. I used to be a shell of my former self. I used to be victimized because of my odd behavior. I used to hide under my hoodie and blast music into my ears to drown out my terrorizing surroundings. I used to have a broken soul that ate up every last ounce of my sweet, innocent potential. Perhaps worst of all, unlike Charlie, I knew what kind of capability and aptitude was bestowed upon me, yet it was eclipsed by my unreserved fear of the horrors of the outside world. I had been beaten down and stepped on so many times in my young life that I was excruciatingly petrified of trusting and depending on anyone outside of my family, and the notion that you can make it through life in this world by yourself is an immense fallacy.

Melvin Udall and Charlie Fineman both redeem themselves at the end of their respected movies, which was yet another reason I could relate to them. I am becoming the man who I have always yearned to be: a thoughtful, honest being who is determined to accomplish his goals and who is strong enough to persevere through the darkest of hours. A loving, caring individual who is exceptionally understanding of others and their afflictions. A man who acquires his intellect through great erudition, and who takes tremendous pride in his intelligence, for he now knows that knowledge is the one thing that can be given to you, but can never be taken away.

I assume that by now you are quite curious as to what the titles of these movies might be. The first movie, starring Jack Nicholson as Melvin Udall, is As Good as It Gets, while the second movie, starring Adam Sandler as Charlie Fineman, is titled Reign Over Me. I will always hold these two films in high regard, and I am exceptionally thankful that I stumbled onto both of them. Although my soul is no longer broken, from time to time I still wage war with my inner tribulations. At least now, however, I have two individuals to think of when somebody tells me that I am not alone in this fight.

Poem from the Past: Get Well

Get Well

Get Well pic

You have no friends

You have that special wish that you commend

You finally met the person of your dreams

But fuck the feeling it’s pretend

 

You were so excited; you were climbing the ladder of love

But then you fell down the rungs; you’re starting to think that there’s no one above

That watches over you; instead he watches you!

He torments you! Like a fucking flat tire your heart blew

 

You wish you could go back, back to when you were ten

Your were so popular; Yes, sir, you were the man

But that fuckin’ metal in your mouth didn’t give a damn

Blow your fucking brains out! In this life a chance you didn’t stand

 

But this is now; there’s no denying the last ten years have been pure hell

Robbed of a childhood, your heart pounded while your brain swelled

Your old friends walked the bridge over the pit where you just fell

But now I guess the time has come, to stop dwelling and get well

 

©Russell Lehmann 2014

30 Delightful and Enchanting Writing Tips from Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac

 

We all know Jack Kerouac as one of the most fundamental writers of the 20th Century, as well as a literary genius who helped kick-off the Beat Generation.  For heaven’s sakes, if you can type a last name as unusual as his into a Word document without it being underlined in red, you know the guy must be pretty special.

Kerouac was always being asked how he created such symbolic magic on paper, so one day he sat down and created 30 writing tips he called “Belief and Technique for Modern Prose”.  These tips, listed below, are Jack Kerouac at his finest.

 

  1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
  2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
  3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house
  4. Be in love with yr life
  5. Something that you feel will find its own form
  6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
  7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
  8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
  9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
  10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
  11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
  12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
  13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
  14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
  15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
  16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
  17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
  18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
  19. Accept loss forever
  20. Believe in the holy contour of life
  21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
  22. Don’t think of words when you stop but to see picture better
  23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
  24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
  25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
  26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
  27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
  28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
  29. You’re a Genius all the time
  30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven

Guest Post: Maria Senise

I am quite proud to have Maria Senise, a woman of determination and strength, contribute to my blog with this post of hers.  I can relate to everything she mentions here, from her mind-numbing obsessions and rituals to her descent into the never-ending abyss of worrisome thoughts.  I was stunned to learn how strikingly similar our life stories are. I urge you all to attempt to read this whole post, even if it doesn’t interest you.  If you do indeed finish it and come away even modestly more aware of just how dire mental illnesses can be, and how it truly tests the strength of one’s character, then please, by all means, share it with those who may become enlightened themselves.

 

Anxiety, OCD & Depression: How It All Began

By Maria Senise

Guest Post by Maria Photo

It was March 8, 1982, the greatest day in history…the day I was born. It was a blizzardy, blustery night, with blinding snowfall, crazy winds, and chaotic natural danger. This was what I was born into; who knew it would be a metaphor for my mind the rest of my life?

 Allow me to preface the rest of this piece by saying I grew up a cheerful kid and have many happy memories from my childhood. I did not deal with abuse or trauma. Aside from my parents not getting along, life was pretty normal and happy.

 I was always the academic, the top of my class, class president, band president–basically, every nerdy job in school, I occupied. I was voted in grade school as “Most Likely to Succeed,” and my classmates predicted I’d grow up to be a nun or the president, which I find completely laughable now; I don’t think a nun would have the foul mouth I have. In retrospect, however, I see why they thought these things.  I was ALWAYS pleasing everyone from my parents, to my friends, to my teachers. I wanted so badly for everyone else to be happy that I soon lost sight of my own identity. I now wonder if I purposefully lost my identity in a crusade to avoid confronting my demons.

 I remember always being a worrisome kid, thinking about things that shouldn’t concern a little one. In first grade, I distinctly recall needlessly spinning a scenario in my head about my parents’ finances. What if my parents lost all their money? Then we’d lose our house, and then we would be homeless, and then we would starve, and then we would die. Why was I thinking like this? There was absolutely no reason or evidence to support this line of thinking, yet I, as a 6 year old, decided to send myself into a dizzying panic about this impossibility.

There was another time in elementary school when I thought I was going to die. I took a bite of my sandwich, and I neglected to meticulously chew it into the tiniest bits possible before I swallowed. I was not choking, nor was I having trouble breathing or talking. It wasn’t even traveling slowly down my esophagus. Nevertheless, because I hadn’t chewed it through to my normal standards, I thought I was going to die. I went to the nurse’s office and everything. Why they didn’t raise a red flag back then, I’ll never know…

 The OCD and anxiety I had felt those early years had lain fairly dormant until middle school hit. That’s when my mind kicked into high gear, and the overwhelming anxiety truly began. I became absolutely obsessed with praying and trying to be perfect in order to ensure protection for my loved ones. I was convinced that if I didn’t do anything wrong, not only would I save myself from going to hell, but I would also protect my loved ones from any harm in the world. I thought that if I fucked up, I or someone I loved would be punished for it. I compulsively prayed to keep the devil away. I knew this wasn’t normal behavior or thinking, and I was deeply ashamed of it. I spoke to my mom about it, and she comforted me the best way she knew how. I just wish that at that point, she would’ve taken me to a therapist. At that time though, therapy was never an option in my family. No one ever spoke of doing such a thing. Therapy?! Gasp! You’d be considered a fucking nut job if you needed THERAPY!

 The thing was that I felt I was a fucking nut job and continued to be one for a long time wasting precious energy and years of my life feeling lost, crazy, alone, and incredibly confused. During college, I had gone through a few bouts of deep depression. My dad helped me the best way he knew how, and it took the heaviest darkness away, but still no therapy was in the cards for me at that point. It wasn’t until I had a hard-core breakdown in my mid-twenties, during which I sobbed until I puked continuously and simply wanted to die, that I finally went to therapy.

 Therapy saved my life. When I first started going, I told no one about it, not even my closest friends. I feared the sting of the stigma that surrounded mental illness. I was very soon diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Depression, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Through weekly Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and medication, I was able to start managing my issues and start to understand my life and discover myself.

 I had won the huge war that had raged within me by confronting my issues. However, I am, by no means, cured of any of these disorders; in fact, I fight smaller battles against them every day, now equipped with the tools to do so. Because I had waited so long to seek treatment, my mood disorders are aggressive. The neuro pathways in my brain have been trained to follow the worries, obsessions, and negative thoughts habitually. It’s hard to retrain the brain and carve new pathways after so many years. This is the reason I so strongly desire the disappearance of the stigma associated with mental health issues. The stigma silences people unnecessarily into years and possibly lifetimes of misery. I, after many years of silence, am proud not to be silent anymore. I have been incredibly open with my friends, family, and perfect strangers about what I deal with mentally and emotionally, despite any possible judgment or backlash. The more I speak, the more strength I gain. I have found that through sharing my struggles, my treatments, and my thoughts, that others become more willing to share theirs as well. I’ve realized that my early days of feeling alone and isolated were all for naught; there’s a whole world of beautiful, not-so-crazy crazy people out there who are my kindred spirits.

 

 

*Please feel free to check out, like, and/or share Maria’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/HeadAboveWaterLifewithMoodDisorders

You can also check out her blog at www.LifewithMoodDisorders.blogspot.com

Or follow her on Twitter: @MariaCMeow 

 

**Originally published at http://oldschoolnewschoolmom.com/2014/05/stigma-fighters for the Stigma Fighters campaign.