Tuesday, December 18

Forgetting the Pain

“I didn’t know books could do that.”

“Do what?”

“Take me away from this place and make me forget who…what I am.”

"We have something in common, you know."


"In the town where I come from, people think I'm odd... So I know how it feels to be... different. And I know how lonely that can be."

Sometimes people ask me how I'm doing. My brother has cancer. I have major depression that sits at the edge of my reality and taunts me. Maybe I make a difference in society, but I'm nowhere near having a family. I still fight the same temptations I did years ago. And I feel totally alone in the world.

Most of the time, I can make the effort to overlook it. Turn on optimism, grit a bit, and have enough faith to let God salve the frustration that is my everyday life. I learn to deal with what life gives me... and, for the most part, I go through with only shadows of what I'm missing. And find ways to appreciate the moment even when it seems impossible. Like right now. I feel awful, but it's probably so that I can write this post for someone who needs it in his/her own life. And that's worth it, right?

It's sort of like being color blind. You know it's happening, and that there's a world of color out there... but does it really change your quality of life if you never see the difference?

I think the problem is that sometimes I do get a glimpse of what life would be like without the depression and autism... and then I just want to curl up in a corner and cry. Like Beast in the quote above, there are some things that have the ability to take me away, and make me forget the things I face each day. And then coming back to them seems an insurmountable task. Am I really in this much pain? How can I live like this? Do I have any other choice? It's like walking in the snow for weeks and finally coming in from the cold to a warm home... then, half an hour later, having to pull on your soaked, freezing clothes to go sleep in the snow yet again. Maybe if you'll never have one in this life, it would be easier if you didn't know fireplaces existed.

And then the questions come back. Most people with autism have a hard time getting married. So do people with same-sex attraction. So do people with bipolar. Mix them all up, and am I ever really going to be good enough to make it over those hurdles? To even make real friends where I can feel the friendship? Do I want to take someone with me on that journey? And is there anyone who would want to go?

Tonight the impetus was a Christmas concert. It was at West Jordan High School... and at one point the choirs sang "There's So Much to Be Thankful For." They also asked us to give what we could to support a local children's hospital. The vision of a thousand people working together, opening their hearts, made me feel for a moment like I was part of something greater... but ten minutes later it was gone.

That's how it always is. The things that can make me forget - really forget the woes and frustrations of life - are always too good to be true. They work for a few hours, and give me a glimpse of what life should be. What I'm striving for, and the reason why I'm pushing to change the world.

But at the end of the concert, at the end of the book, when the music is over or the credits begin to roll, I still go home. Perhaps surrounded by family and friends, perhaps with a dozen heartfelt thank-you letters in my email box. But those don't change the fact that, even surrounded by people who love and support and accept me, I still feel totally alone.

So I usually find myself just crying as I try to figure out my life again. Or writing. Or both.

I wonder if it will ever go away. Or if this - a feeling of being alone... whether from the autism/ssa/bipolar mixture or something else - is just one of the things I'll always have in life. I hope that someday it will.

But if not, I think I'll be okay. While coming back to reality is painful, being able to see in color every once in a while - to understand what God has in store and taste that for a moment - is enough to keep moving one day at a time toward the light.


  1. Thank you, I needed exactly that right now. It has been a turbulent night filled with highs and low and this just reaffirmed the spirit and beauty I felt throughout the day with my families and home-teaching companion.

  2. Every person, no matter how happen they seem, is facing their own demons. We are all in the mortal experience together. Keep chugging along!

  3. Just read this after reading your blog. Somehow they seem to correlate.

    A student's prayer

    Give me a heart-breaking gospel
    Give me God's awesome demands
    Give me a burden too heavy to hold
    in any human hands

    Then show me the wounds on my Master
    Show me the stripes that he bore
    Show me the strength of his silence and teach me
    to answer his knock on my door

    From http://mormonmidrashim.blogspot.com/2012/12/a-students-prayer.html

  4. We all have trials, some more than others. This is what our stake patriarch told my daughter in a blessing not long after her accident that put her in a wheelchair. Yes, we all have trials. And it does help to express them to sympathetic ears. We are God's hands. We are the ones who must reach out and help each other. We ARE all in this experience together, as Ben says.

    We just try the best we can to "keep chugging along." It's okay to cry sometimes. It's okay to "plead" with God (the late Neal Maxwell said this, and I believe it!). We need all the help we can get! "Don't give up. Keep trying" (as the late Gordon B. Hinckley said).

    Cheers to you. You're NOT in this alone. You're in very, very great company!!

  5. I thought of you when i got up this morning. I usually check your blog before I go to bed--but I'm glad that I saw it right after I woke up and did my scripture study. I though of you then too-as I read John 9 about the man blind from birth who was healed after Christ anointed his eyes, he washed in the pool Siloam,and was healed.

    Life is a funny thing (so funny/unfunny) that I often want to cry. I too have a lot of trouble fitting in. I guess and second guess and re-guess social interactions hours (and days) after they happen. I too want a family very badly, but so far the timing (and the people) have been all wrong. And once in a while, things go right and I feel like I'm part of something, and then hours later feel it yanked away again. I too have a fantastic family, but often feel completely alone in a crowd of loved ones.

    I was complaining a few months ago to the Lord about my troubles, specifically this loneliness issue. And I asked Him if I was ever going to get my act together here on Earth. I asked Him if I'd ever be able to really fill that desperate longing. And I got a curious answer-- I was promised that life would get better, but truthfully that longing might never go away. At least not on this Earth, because part of my longing was to be in a perfect place with my Heavenly Father again. And that can only be fulfilled if I have come unto Christ, continue repenting, and endure to the end.

    I still am lonely at times and find some days overwhelming (maybe not as badly as you are, but still hard for me). But this answer and realization have made me feel less guilty about my feelings and more able to put them into perspective. It makes me hate myself a little less and lean on the Lord a lot more. Like the man sent to wash away the clay anointing his eyes, it takes some time and a journey to be healed. Life did not necessarily get easier for the man after that, even though he could see, but Christ knew of his trouble, and came back for him. And that is a miracle in itself.

    Lots of love to you David--may the glimpses of eternal happiness be enough to sustain you until you can enjoy His presence for the rest of eternity.

  6. Reading the feelings you described I thought of a favorite movie. The movie is called "Doubt". I don't know if you've seen it or not, but near the beginning of the movie there is a sermon given by a Catholic priest. I love what is said in that sermon:

    "What do you do when you’re not sure? That’s the topic of my sermon today.
    Last year, when President Kennedy was assassinated, who among us did not experience the most profound disorientation? Despair? Which way? What now? What do I say to my kids? What do I tell myself? It was a time of people sitting together, bound together by a common feeling of hopelessness. But think of that! Your bond with your fellow being was your despair. It was a public experience. It was awful, but we were in it together. How much worse is it then for the lone man, the lone woman, stricken by a private calamity? ‘No one knows I’m sick.’ ‘No one knows I’ve lost my last real friend.’ ‘No one knows I’ve done something wrong.’ Imagine the isolation. Now you see the world as through a window. On one side of the glass: happy, untroubled people, and on the other side: you... There are those of you in church today who know exactly the crisis of faith I describe. And I want to say to you: DOUBT can be a bond as powerful and sustaining as certainty. When you are lost, you are not alone."

    That is the miracle of mortality, we are all dealing with our own private hell. We all struggle, and feel at times that there is not hope. Adversity is the common experience of all mankind. What a miracle that is! If we all reach out to others, and allow them to reach out to us, then we don't have to face our struggles alone. True, one person will never fully comprehend the struggles of another completely, but we all understand what it is to struggle! Hence the Savior's command to mourn with those that mourn. Of even more importance of course is the knowledge that Jesus Christ DOES understand exactly what we are experiencing.

    It all sounds great in words, but real life application is much harder, that I know. But when I struggle, I try to just remember that "When you are lost, you are not alone." Thanks for you thoughts as always.

  7. The best way to stave off loneliness or pain or any negative emotion is to reach outside of yourself and give service to others. You mentioned attending West Jordan HS choir concert. I know the director, Kelly DeHaan, because I am in a community choir that he directs called the Sterling Singers. I joined the choir 4 years ago, and it has become one of the most fulfilling and rewarding parts of my life. The mission of the choir is to testify of Christ through music. I happen to know that you sing, and sing well, because my husband (who has SSA) sat next to you two weeks ago at a fireside and he told me you have a great voice. I would have been there with him, but I had a Choirside with the Sterling Singers the same night. Their website is www.SterlingSingers.org. They always welcome new singers. Contact them if you are interested, or maybe find a choir closer to you (the Sterling Singers rehearse in Taylorsville and perform all over the Salt Lake Valley). At the very least, look up our performance schedule and make a point to come to one of our Choirsides. I promise: you will be uplifted. Maybe you are not ready to find an eternal companion, but in the meantime, you can find joy and fulfillment through service. The more you dwell on your loneliness, the worse you feel. The more you lose yourself in service, the better you feel. Marion G. Romney said, “We lose our life by serving and lifting others. By so doing we experience the only true and lasting happiness.” Choose happiness, my friend.

    I would also encourage you to attend Journey into Manhood (JiM) which is an experiential weekend for for men who experience unwanted feelings of SSA. It is sponsored by an organization called “People Can Change” at www.peoplecanchange.com My husband attended JiM last June, and it was like a kick-start to help him start to deal with his issues surrounding SSA that he was suppressing. He is doing much better since then, and attends a follow-up weekly meeting (in fact he is there right now).

    A book I read about a year ago when I was mired in depression really helped me understand for the first time how I fit into God’s eternal plan. Even though I’ve been LDS my whole life, and understand about the pre-existence, why we are here on earth, and about eternity, I didn’t really “get it” till I read this book. It is called “Secrets of the Light” by Dannion Brinkley. He is not LDS, and some of what he writes is a little foreign to my experience, but my purpose for being on earth finally made sense to me, and the depression I was feeling totally went away. I’d heard before that we are not humans having a spiritual experience, but are in reality spirits having a human experience. This book made that concept make sense. David, you are here on earth for a millisecond in the grand scheme of eternity; we all are. But we are here to learn and grow and lift one another’s burdens. Make the most of the time you have here.

  8. Here's something that helped me dealing with SSA and loneliness.

    Consider inviting missionaries over once a week to visit, or offer to make them a meal once in a month or so. I was inactive for many years and they saved my life by knocking on my door in a time of personal crisis. I consider it a miracle that they showed up. I told them about my SSA and the pain surrounding that being in the Church. They listened intently and visited me weekly for several months. Just having their weekly visits to look forward to was a tremendous boost to my struggle with loneliness. It also helped me curb my SSA because I was getting REAL, brotherly, righteous non-sexualized same-gender love and acceptance from them, not sexualized sensations (fantasies) disguised as love. Their love left me full and satisfied. Counterfeit sexualized "love" (fantasy) toward members of the same gender leaves me feeling empty in the end. This was a healing kind of experience, both spiritually and sexually, because for many SSA people, they have trauma and fears related to same-sex relating from childhood. Hanging out with other guys having them know the real you spilled out on the table, and feeling their acceptance of you, can be just the prescription you need and may be profoundly healing on many levels.

    It's hard for everyday people and church members to give us the intense attention we may need at certain times in our lives, but missionaries are called to serve 24/7 and so can be like "first responders" to people in crisis. It would be totally appropriate, I believe, to ask missionaries over and just say, "I really need someone to talk to and don't know where to turn, do you mind listening?" They are called to love, so they're the last people on earth who are going to mock you or reject you when you make yourself so completely vulnerable to them.

    My experience may not translate to yours, but I thought I'd share this with you because their role in my life meant a great deal to me. They even remain loyal friends to this day.


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