O The Places My Mind Goes – Part 1

I need to write this in two parts. The night before and the following day. I can’t do both at once. Too difficult.

Two nights ago I awake from a nightmare sometime after 3 am. No idea what it was about, but it doesn’t matter. I’d been anxious all day about my blog. I hadn’t blogged in more than a week. Slew of ideas, but couldn’t write anything. At the top of my list was writing about how I conquered anxiety for a day by taking Sienna out to the Long Island Children’s Museum, but I too anxious to write it. Ironic.

Anyway, it’s 3-something am. First thought is about the blog. Check FB just because I was awake. Scroll through my feed and find links posted in Dad Bloggers. Chest begins hurting. I’m not good enough. These guys are so much better than me. They keep pumping out words, heartfelt, poetic words. I’ll never be a real writer.

I see pics of decorated houses. I’ll never own a home. Sienna will never have a backyard in which to play, to build snowmen like in the pics I’m looking at. I’ll never own a barbecue. I’m a failure. I was supposed to be something! I was supposed to have a prestigious job and money! I was supposed to be a success! Friends from grade school have houses! Friends from grade school are rich! You’re going to be 40 in a couple of months and you’ve done NOTHING job-wise!


Note: Rationality is out the window because my chest feels like cement.

Sudden thought shoots out of the darkness and scares the hell out of me: I can’t kill myself because of Elaine and Sienna. I can’t do that to them.

Note: It’s literally been seconds since I went from blog anxiety to suicide.

I’m shaking. Wake Elaine up. Wake her up and tell her what’s going on. Ask her to hold you, calm you. I can’t. She needs to sleep so she can work tomorrow.

Note: She’s gonna smack me when she reads this

Instead I post this on FB: “Fighting to prevent a full-blown panic attack. Feeling severely depressed. Chest feels like it’s being crushed. Don’t understand it…fell asleep feeling a little better and then woke up at 3-something only to fall apart.”

Note: Facebook has a give and take relationship with me. I’ve found a lot of support on Facebook, especially during my first months with Sienna, many times from people I hadn’t seen in decades. At the same time the pictures and posts can make me feel weak, depressed, envious and stupid. Sometimes I consider quitting FB, but I keep trying to be rational about it. It doesn’t always work.

Why hasn’t anyone responded to my post? It’s been seconds and no one’s written! Where the hell did the suicide thought come from?

Note: I’ve been suicidal a number of times throughout my life, but I’ve never had a plan (outside of downing a bottle of sleeping pills) or written a note. I never had the courage to go through with it (and yes, though it’s a selfish act, it does take bravery to actually do it, imo). At best I’d imagine I was like Huck Finn, watching his own funeral. At worst I imagined holding the bottle of pills. I hadn’t thought about offing myself since long before Elaine got pregnant. Probably three years. The shocking thought of suicide terrified me and plunged me deep into the darkness.

I drop my phone. I’m shaking, I cling to Elaine hoping she’ll wake up, but I still can’t allow myself to actually awaken her. She needs her sleep. I’m hyperventilating. Breathe! Breathe! Breathe!

I get out of bed and dizzily walk down the hall. Go into Sienna’s room and watch her. No. I’ll wake her up. Can’t do that. Find Minky. I need Minky.

“Minky,” I whisper, voice hitching. “Minky.”

I find the puffball in the closet. I grab and hold him so tightly he squeaks. Take him back to the bedroom. Concentrate on his purring. I take Minky to the bedroom. I carefully place him on the bed and get under the covers. He climbs onto my aching chest. His purr is like a chainsaw. He noses my face. Licks my hand. I gently stroke him, feeling the softness of his fur. I scratch him behind his ears. Over and over I pet him.

FAILURE! How can you think of suicide?? How could you do that to your family? SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!!!

I’m depressed. I’m shivering. I pet Minky for more than an hour and use all my power to concentrate on what’s right in front of me. It’s past 5 am. I want to see if anyone’s responded to my status update. I don’t check. Just pet Minky. Elaine’s still asleep. Finally I join her.

6 thoughts on “O The Places My Mind Goes – Part 1

  1. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Dashing Dad

    December 19, 2013 at 11:31pm

    Listen, we are all the thoughts of being worthless from time to time, especially guys like you and me who are in our late 30s and don’t have a job (Well, I am currently working as needed for 6 companies – for a total of 8 hours this week). I actually have a Ph.D. and I still can’t get a job. Just cling to your family. They love and need you.
    As far as the bloggers who write better, we may look up to them and be jealous of their writing, but they look up to other writers.
    I will leave you with a quote from Stuart Smalley, “You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it, people like you.”

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      Lorne Jaffe

      December 20, 2013 at 7:27pm

      Thank you so much, Dashing Dad. The job thing is brutal. I haven’t got my PhD, but I do have an MA and it didn’t get me anywhere. Of course I was too terrified of failure/success to really fight in the work world. I feel like I don’t fit in there. Can’t play the games. Don’t know how to pretend. I actually thought about using that Stewart Smalley quote if I were to write the 2nd part, more of how hard it is to sit there and try to believe it. You’re write about the other bloggers looking up to writers as well and clinging to my family. My family’s the most important part of my life. Friggin’ brain just gets in the way too much. Thank you again for your kind words!

  2. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    December 19, 2013 at 11:50pm

    Wow, this is so powerful. Your honesty I this post and willingness to share such a hugely personal post is inspiring post is touching.

  3. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    sherry amatenstein

    December 20, 2013 at 5:12pm

    Such a wonderful piece – Lorne. Sharing it helps so many people. We want it to help you as well 🙂

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