Days 25, 26, 27 – Fisher Wallace CES Stimulator Report / Kingdom Bound.

8/4 Report

Sleep evades me again and I know that I am unlikely to get really good sleep until I return to PA and am able to take clonazepam again. My legs have been insanely restless – probably due to a combination of factors – including traveling (which has always caused issues, since I was a child), standing (e.g. for the service), and stress (e.g. traveling, crisis). I’ll finally enter into a fitful sleep around 3 am and won’t awake until 8 am.

Once I’m up its time to begin preparing for departure from mom’s house to Kingdom Bound (KB) – a good 5.5 hours away. Before Charity and I depart (in separate vehicles I brought mine just in case I wigged out and needed to jump ship early from KB) I take a brief nap. If you want to put me to sleep, just put me in a car and drive me around. Its a technique my parents used on me as a child and which, unfortunately, still works to this day – which means long trips are a pain not only b/c of pain issues but also b/c I get extremely tired…so taking a nap before I set off is a good way to stave off the feeling of eyelids having twenty pound weights hanging from them a little longer into the drive.

We depart around 11:30 am after saying our last farewells. We’ll drive for the next 8.5 hours (with a rest stop here or there). Wait, that is longer than 5.5 hours? Yup, it is. When we are around 30 minutes from our campground we receive news that one of the vehicles en route has broken down around 1.5 hrs. behind us – so we turn our cars around and head back – picking up the stranded passengers and luggage and then turn back around and head to the camp ground – thus adding the extra 3 hours you so adeptly noticed above.

Most of the group heads over to Kingdom Bound for the Matthew West concert. Several are off purchasing groceries (Sarah and Will) and Kyle and I stay back in the cabin and get settled in. By 10:30 everyone is back at the camp ground, we eat some pizza, and then by 11 pm I’ve hit the sack.

Amazingly, I’ll sleep through the night peacefully (usually traveling so long causes a lot of leg issues)…not awaking till 9 am on Monday.

I utilized the CES in the morning before I left mom’s house and again before I went to bed. I also let Sarah and Will try it – which was entertaining. 🙂

Emotionally, I’m doing okay – that is, for my circumstances. My ‘crisis’ continues to weigh heavily on my shoulders, traveling is always a significant stressor for me, but in spite of both of these, I’m doing okay. This may be b/c Kingdom Bound has always been a refuge for me…It was a place and a time when I walked away (as a teenager) from all my worries, enjoyed friendship, teaching, and musicians for days on end. It has always held that for me – and so it is a place that feels safe…and I think some of that nostalgia is washing over me.

8/5 Report

I slept through the night peacefully and am up around 9 am. We all get ready for our first day at KB. After arriving, Kevin, Will, Kyle, and I hit the water park. The lines are surprisingly short, the water is upstate NY cold, and it is a lot of fun. Around 1:30 we meet up for lunch.

Usually I go from morning till night at Kingdom Bound – every day…but with the extra burden I’m bearing, I’m worn out by the time lunch is over and take a nap. After the nap Will, Kyle, and I hit up the arcades – unfortunately the game selection isn’t as good as it has been in last years…I really enjoy the interactive games where one gets a workout during the game…but I can’t dance, so DDR isn’t included…

Afterwards we walk through the marketplace…then I’m back to the waterpark, where Charity and Angel have set up camp, to rest for a bit longer. Then into the Lazy River – which I circle several times before it is time to rush off with Gina to Nine Lashes at The Edge. Nine Lashes is followed by Red Jumpsuit Apparatus – which most of the group wants to see – so they meet up with us at The Edge. I wasn’t familiar with Red Jumpsuit Apparatus – though I was/am a fan of their Face Down1”Do you feel like a man , when you push her around?  Do you feel better now as she falls to the ground?  Well, I’ll tell you my friend, one day this world’s going to end As your lies crumble down, a new life she has found (and so on). song – I just wasn’t aware they made it.

It’ll take us an hour to make our way from The Edge (with a few stops) to the Performing Arts Center where we’ll here Bob Lenz speak and then Hillsong United lead worship in concert.

I had forgotten how quickly the temperature drops in upstate New York in the evenings. It had been a “hot” day but it was now cold – and I was freezing in shorts and a t-shirt. Add to this that I’m not a Hillsong fan. I know, I know – something is wrong with me. But you already knew that, didn’t you? Anyways, my usual struggles to enjoy Hillsong style worship is amplified ten-fold by my current crisis. This style of worship focuses a lot on how we are feeling/experiencing God – and I don’t think that is wrong – but when you aren’t feeling/experiencing God, it becomes very difficult to sing the songs – so I didn’t.

I’ve handled the day in general pretty well, even though I’ve been more tired than usual, but my mood is heading downwards with the temperatures and as the concert progresses. God has been (really seems/seemed) distant throughout this crisis and singing these sorts of songs isn’t what I want to do at the moment. After an hour or so, I head back to the car, turn on the heat and wait for everyone else to finish with the concert and return to the cars.

We are back at the camp ground by 10:30 or 11:00 pm and I am ready for bed shortly thereafter. Again, I’m not used to this. Usually I’m not the last one in bed – but I’m also not the first. Now I might be the first. Unfortunately, I’ll be up in the middle of the night again with restless legs.

I can’t remember if I used the CES in the morning – I was feeling decent in the morning, and one is always tempted to “skip” treatment (medication, exercise, whatever) when feeling well, so I may have skipped it. I definitely used it in the evening – as by the time we were back at the camp ground I was deep in my internal angst.

8/6 Report

I’m up by 1 am with restless legs2Restless isn’t really a good descriptor – they are restless, but they are also painful. They want to jump and bounce around and they feel tight and strained. so I take a middle-of-the-night shower. This isn’t enough so I spend some time reading and journaling and am finally able to fall back asleep around 3 am.

I’m up by 9 am but not feeling well – physically or emotionally. My throat is itchy, my nose is dry, my head and my legs ache. Everyone else heads out to KB, but I remain at the camp site to recuperate – sleeping, rehydrating, relaxing. By the afternoon I’m feeling significantly better physically and emotionally. I’ll remain physically well, but by the time I leave for KB around 5 pm I’ve already spiraled down emotionally (external factors regarding current crisis contributing).

We go to see Mike’s Chair at the Worship Experience. I like Mike’s Chair, some of their songs carry a lot of meaning for me. I love Let the Waters Rise3Don’t know where to begin, it’s like my world’s cavin’ in / And I try but I can’t control my fear, where do I go from here? Sometimes it’s so hard to pray when You feel so far away / But I am willin’ to go where You want me to and God I trust in You, and so on. but even that s0ng is a bit too upbeat and hopeful for where my spirit is at currently. I feel like I’ve been saying, “let the waters rise” and they are over my head and I’m drowning…I’m not ready to sing any more about letting the waters rise right now. Should I be? Sure, but I’m telling you where I am, not what theoretically I should be thinking/feeling.

I leave Mike’s Chair a little early to make it over to the PAC for For King and Country. I love their song The Proof of Your Love, though again, the show is too upbeat for the current situation of my soul…Yet, I appreciate both musicians and am better able to cope with their music than I was with Hillsong’s the previous night.

Then it is time for Thousand Foot Krutch (TFK). Woot! This is the band I am most excited to see this year. I’m sad that they are at the PAC instead of The Edge. The Edge is a much more intimate, rowdy, and loud environment, imho, and I usually enjoy the concerts there more than at the PAC…but I still hope for a good show – and it is solid…though I really hope they move TFK back to The Edge in 2014.

I have a REALLY hard time letting loose. Sarah jokes that it is the “second time she has seen me smile” (that is, during the TFK concert) and Gina is taking lots of pictures to record me bouncing, waving, singing, etc. to the music. This is the most people oftentimes see me let loose – though last time I was at a TFK concert I was jumping up and down and shouting. 🙂 But I have a hard time just letting loose…

I mean really letting loose. For me, there are levels. I made it to a level I don’t usually make it to, but there are higher levels that are even better. The problem is that I think too much about what others think. I try not to care – but I still do. Which is funny, b/c I’m one of the biggest advocates of “don’t care what others think” and in almost all areas of my life I do a good job at it (not being careless, just not caring when I’m doing what is right/good) – but I have a really hard time not caring when it involves me being goofy.

I don’t know how to dance – other than slow or skanking – but I am very tempted to skank to TFK…but would that just be ridiculous? I mean, can you skank to TFK? Or should that be reserved for a bygone era of Supertones and FIF? So I don’t…and even if it was Supertones and FIF playing, I’d still have a hard time letting loose enough to skank.4I know that ‘skank’ has other definitions than a dance, here I am referring to the dance.

Still, I enjoy TFK. Afterwards is Scott Dawson speaking and then Newsboys. I love Michael Tate and I have been listening to Newsboys since the beginning (and seeing them in concert – including at KB – since almost the beginning). Still, their music is much too upbeat for the current state of my spirit – so while I bounce to the beat a bit, the words can’t penetrate me. I’m too broken to feel them right now.

We had back to the campground and are there by 11 pm. I use my CES device and then hit the sack by 11:30.

I’m happy to see the teenagers having a good time – but my body is tired and my heart is heavy.

I’ve talked about this before – but I think it bears repeating. I am like a battery (traditional introvert description) that requires “charging” before it can be used (put into social situations). I usually do a good bit of charging before I go to an event like KB – and prepare to do a good bit when it is over…and I usually make it through quite well. However, the current ‘crisis’ in my life is a continuous drain, so my battery is always critically low – no matter how much I attempt to charge it….which means that I don’t have my usual “reserves” to commit to KB.

It is not that KB is more draining than usual, it is that I am already drained when I approach KB, and what little energy I have been able to conserve is quickly consumed by KB and I am left empty.

It is frustrating to be this way. To all external appearances I am healthy and well (at least to those who do not know the subtle differences in my mannerisms).5As a defensive mechanism I early developed the ability to maintain a ‘flatline’ emotional state – whether I was happy or sad. This allows one to be sad without incurring the wrath or even just unwanted attention of others, b/c the casual observer can’t tell any difference between ‘flatline happy’ and ‘flatline sad.’ The problem is that this really minimizes one’s ability to experience happiness, while negative events can still ‘flood’ and ‘overwhelm’ causing breaches in the ‘flatline’ state – or even if the external flatline state remains, internally there is chaos. I am healthy and well – it seems it would be easier if I bled, vomited, or so on – in this way I would be obviously ill. But instead I’m the “walking wounded” – continuing to function, continuing to match the pace of those around me, while dying on the inside.

The psychologist I see currently6And have been seeing for perhaps a year now. – an older, grandfatherly gentleman – encourages me to “compartmentalize.” That is, to set the ‘crisis’ into a box and deal with it when I am not otherwise engaged (e.g. with work, ministry, relationships, etc.). Unfortunately, my ability to do this is extremely limited.

I can do it when there is a crisis (e.g. someone needs me) – in fact, I’m really good at that. While others are freezing up, I can move immediately into problem solving/action mode. But when things aren’t in crisis mode, I put it in the box and it jumps back out again.

I suspect this is related to my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). An analogous situation might be an OCD sufferer who can’t tell if they locked the door (even though they just checked fifteen times). In the same way I can’t put the question – the situation, the pain – away. My brain just keeps reminding me just as for someone else it reminds them that they need to lock the door – even though they have done so over and over again!

I try to ignore my brain, to refuse to cave, but the energy consumed by doing so is just as much as if I think about my current situation.

A question I frequently am asked at this juncture is, “What can I do?” I appreciate that others are concerned about me and are willing to help me. The asking is a real blessing to me, the genuine offer of assistance is a blessing…but the answer is almost invariably the same, “There is nothing.” This doesn’t mean I want you to stop asking, to stop caring, to stop offering – it does mean that there is literally nothing that anyone can do to lift the darkness. Others cannot rescue me from it, I cannot rescue myself. I batten down the hatches and wait for the storm to pass.

This is not a comment on your competency, your care, your character. It is a commentary on me. What can one offer a terminal cancer patient as far as healing? Nothing. This is not b/c of our inadequacy, but b/c of their illness. It is similar with this.

Though I suppose there is one thing you can do for me. You can continue to live your life. I don’t want others to stop living b/c of me. I don’t want others to miss out on what life offers b/c I am. I don’t want others to join me in the ashes – much of the small joy I receive comes from seeing others experience the good things life offers. Continue on, I promise when the sun breaks, the rainbow sets across the sky, and I am able to open the hatches of my little vessel – I will catch up and join you as I am able.

Footnotes

Footnotes
1 ”Do you feel like a man , when you push her around?  Do you feel better now as she falls to the ground?  Well, I’ll tell you my friend, one day this world’s going to end As your lies crumble down, a new life she has found (and so on).
2 Restless isn’t really a good descriptor – they are restless, but they are also painful. They want to jump and bounce around and they feel tight and strained.
3 Don’t know where to begin, it’s like my world’s cavin’ in / And I try but I can’t control my fear, where do I go from here? Sometimes it’s so hard to pray when You feel so far away / But I am willin’ to go where You want me to and God I trust in You, and so on.
4 I know that ‘skank’ has other definitions than a dance, here I am referring to the dance.
5 As a defensive mechanism I early developed the ability to maintain a ‘flatline’ emotional state – whether I was happy or sad. This allows one to be sad without incurring the wrath or even just unwanted attention of others, b/c the casual observer can’t tell any difference between ‘flatline happy’ and ‘flatline sad.’ The problem is that this really minimizes one’s ability to experience happiness, while negative events can still ‘flood’ and ‘overwhelm’ causing breaches in the ‘flatline’ state – or even if the external flatline state remains, internally there is chaos.
6 And have been seeing for perhaps a year now.

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