• Sometimes I get down

    by Donald K. Sanders

    Sometimes I get down. I am aware that it is happening, but I’m unable to stop it. I feel like I’m running down the stairs in a high-rise building. When I was a young man, I lived in a constant state of fear. Not the fear that a normal person might feel but a fear that a soldier feels in a high stress situation. It’s hard for me to explain because I know there is no logical reason for me to feel this way at this point in my life, but there I am.

    Through the years, I have sought help from the Veteran’s Administration and I must have seen 30 or so doctors of different varieties. Some I saw regularly for years. Some were more effective at drawing me out into the open than others. Dr. Janet Lial was very effective at getting inside my head and wandering around, looking at this and ignoring that. I never knew exactly what she was looking for.

    Dr. Lial wrote a report of her findings at the end of a session that lasted several years. Dr. Lial was a person of great strength and fortitude, for she would show up every week, for years upon years. Where others gave up, she was persistent and deserving of my trust. I was given a copy of this report and I will now relay to you some of its key points. Right now would be a good time to mow the grass or wash your dishes if you don’t want to delve inside my head too much.

    Dr. Lial’s report went sort of like this:

    Mr. Sanders is more anxious than most people. He is reactive and uneasy. This is an appropriate topic for further exploration and discussion. He may be sensitive to criticism and takes things personally.

    Extraversion is low to low-average. Mr. Sanders is oriented toward the inner world of thoughts and ideas. He prefers activities that involve less interaction with other people. He is reserved and cautious in forming personal attachments. His social interactions tend to be serious and staid.

    (Staid? What the Hell is that?)

    I found Mr. Sanders to be forthright and genuine when revealing personal matters. He is self- reliant and prefers meeting responsibilities or tackling problems on his own. He may avoid asking for help and may abstain from situations that require working closely with others.

    Mr. Sanders lives in a world of ideas that sometimes outweighs consideration for practicalities or for other people’s needs. He has a social demeanor that is cautious and restrained. He may not pay attention to practical considerations or to the pragmatic aspects of a situation. (What the hell that means, I don’t know.)

    Mr. Sanders functions better in an unexacting, flexible setting rather than a rigid system. Generally, Mr. Sanders tends to balance toughness with sympathy, resoluteness with receptivity. He has a willingness to accommodate others while wanting to control his environment. He may defer to others rather than exert his own opinion or needs.

    Other people are unlikely to misinterpret his emotional state. His emotional control is low. Openly expressing one’s mood or feeling can be positive however in situations calling for “putting your best face forward” low emotional control can be detrimental. When caught up in events or people Mr. Sanders may at times disregard his impact on others.

    So there it is. I guess this is the way others view me when they get to know me. I don’t claim to understand all of this or even how they came up with this information. The questions they asked me made absolutely no sense to me. I.e. “If you had three numbers, say one, two, and three, which would you keep if you could keep only one?” I would answer, “Why, three, of course. What, do you think I’m an idiot?”

    Now isn’t this column an interesting little bit of trivia? What is interesting to me is the fact that I have never seen myself in this light and this report took me by surprise and that’s not good for a guy in my emotional state. The report says it all. I live in my own little world.

    In the world where I live, the sun falls through the plumes of air with the softest and loveliest of splendor. I wish to surround myself with those with a vision of how the Earth should be. As Walt Whitman put it, “Now I see the secret of the making of the best person. It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the Earth.”

    • Donald, as I was reading this I thought about how you are so introspective. I also thought about our day together and how it flowed so easily and thought you felt the same way. When was this report written? I think you are amazing and no report at all will change the personal interaction I have had with you and your written word and your stories about your early beginnings. I love you each and every way your present yourself. I am so glad we know each other and I consider you my friend. You make my world better.

    • “I found Mr. Sanders to be forthright and genuine when revealing personal matters.” I’ve always found that to be true.

      • Kelvin

      • December 16, 2012 at 4:05 pm
      • Reply

      To be honest, reading this I was thinking, “Who is this report talking about?” Maybe I haven’t seen it or I’m not as observant as I think I am but I don’t see you that way. When I met you I didn’t meet someone who lived in his own world or scored low on extraversion at all. And you’re not staid. I’ve seen my share of shrinks and doctors. Some have been great. Others I’ve been left scratching my head. While I know you grapple with the darkness and have written breathtaking columns on those issues, you’re one of the funniest people on iPinion and a breath of fresh air.

      • Well, there you go. I guess I’m a lot different on the outside than I am on the inside. Parties like we were at when we met are really high stress for me and I’m usually ready to leave as soon as I walk in the door. My wife is usually to blame if I stay any length of time. Of course, the host and hostess were so great-how could I not stay. Not to worry, I think it may not be too long before we meet again, my friend. Someone is bound to invite me to a party sometime.

      • Maya North

      • December 16, 2012 at 5:59 pm
      • Reply

      I was diagnosed as a sociopath the very week I had spent an entire night trying to talk a friend through his urge to suicide. Go figure. If I was a sociopath, I would not have to pull over when driving because I’ve been thinking of pain I’ve caused people I love and I’m crying too hard to see.

      Listen to your own internal voice about who you are and trust it. Between what I’m reading and the comments above, I am guessing you are rather marvelous.


      • Jesse

      • December 17, 2012 at 8:45 pm
      • Reply

      Donald, I agree with Kelvin. You are a lovely friend, a gentle soul and very perceptive about the feelings of others. There is a lot to feel in this world and sometimes it’s overwhelming. I hope you know that a shrink’s findings can never encompass the very complexity of your being. No way. Anyway, I am glad to be your friend. Jesse

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