My thoughts have turned to my journey through darkness and some of the more humorous aspects of those times. At one point, I was sent to speak to a chaplain concerning my depression and suicidal thoughts. Prior to being seen by the chaplain, paperwork had to be filled out. I took the questionnaire and clicked my Papermate pen and proceeded to fill out each question. The questions went something like this:
- Are you suicidal?
- Are you seeking help for depression?
- Do you suffer from anxiety?
- What medications are you taking for your condition?
- Are you religious?
The exception was that there were about fifty questions to answer before you were put in the queue. I finished my paperwork and scribbled my signature across the bottom of the page. After an hour, I was called to the back where the chaplain sat behind a metal desk. He was much younger than I was, and he smiled broadly as he stuck out his hand.
“Hi, Sergeant! What brings you here today?”
I grasped his hand and gave him a firm handshake. He motioned at the chair and beckoned me to sit down.
“I feel lost sir, things have gone south quickly. My marriage is in shambles, and my career is ending due to epilepsy.”
“Oh man, that’s horrible!” He picked up a pen and looked at me inquisitively. “Why do you think all this is happening?”
“Um, I don’t know, sir.”
“Me either. Do you suffer from anxiety or depression?”
“How often do you deal with these buggers during the week?”
“Everyday. I take medication for both depression and anxiety.”
“Man, that is a travesty. Sergeant, I want you to close your eyes. Imagine you are carrying a pack and it is loaded down with all your troubles. Each trouble is represented as a brick. Now, the more troubles you take out the pack the lighter it will be.”
I cracked one eye open and stared at him. He had joined me in closing his eyes as well, and instead of me making a snarky remark, I took a deep breath.
“Okay, you can open your eyes now. I think we have made great progress! Just remember Sergeant, when you feel stressed, all you have to do is take those bricks out of your rucksack. Turn that frown upside down! You have a good day now, be safe out there.”
I slowly made my way to the company headquarters and met my buddy in the parking lot. “Hey bud, you get some help today?”
Sighing, I took a deep breath and shook my head. “Man, I don’t know. This lunatic across the street wanted me to close my eyes and unload bricks or some crap.” My friend doubled over with laughter. Placing his hand upon his chest, he tried to compose himself before speaking. “You saw the young guy, yeah?”
“You just remember Sergeant, only you can unpack your rucksack! We have made great progress! Are you suicidal now?”
“Well, I wasn’t prior to going in there….but no…..I’m not suicidal, just really angry at the moment.”
“Say you won’t be going back.”
“I’m not going back.”
31 January 2020