Whatever happened to Ethan? (May be triggering to some)

ehpoole

Ethan
Corporate Member
For those of you who still recall who I am, as I’ve not been around much this past year, I have been meaning to write this for while now but never quite getting around to it as these are never “fun” discussions to have. So I apologize for the considerable delay as I do consider many of you to be among my friends and I do feel you all deserve to know at least a portion of that puzzle and why you have not seen me around much in awhile for the last year. I also apologize for it having a rather dark angle rather than the more upbeat replies I usually try to author, but not every story can be a happy one! But before it goes unsaid, I really appreciate all the hard work our Webmaster, FlyingRon, and other admins have invested into this site in my absence as I was simply not in any condition stress-wise to handle the site migration this go round (though I helped our Founder with the last major migration, so I know just how much work goes into the process)!

While earlier this year I had to take leave as I was investing a good many months worth of my limited labor (for those who don’t know/remember me, I have considerable chronic health issues and physical disability...so, I’m a bit slow) upgrading and making repairs to our local amateur radio club’s Communications trailer, a club that I have also been the President of for the past several years here in Anderson, SC (though I’ll be stepping down for 2020 for reasons to follow). However, it was around late June (post Field Day) or early July this year that things really began unraveling for me in terms of my mental health. While I have always had to deal with episodes of depression that usually strike about every 4-5 years I had nonetheless gotten very good at pushing the depression back over the years and so that was manageable...I have always been very good at burying things deeper, at least until they could be buried no deeper.

However, the depression itself was really just a side effect to a far more sinister nemesis that has largely been running my life for the past 30+ years (literally my entire adult life and into my teens) and ever lurking just below the surface where it had been carefully buried for the past 36 years. That nemesis would be childhood Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD, also known as DTD or Developmental Trauma Disorder), and everything that comes with it in terms of emotional flashbacks, anxiety attacks, emotional dysregulation, and my tendency for dissociation when under severe stress. Starting in early September I began therapy for the C-PTSD though this is going to be a very long road as I’ll likely still be in therapy even a decade from now as you never truly recover due to the fact that my adolescent brain became wired for surviving an extraordinarily abusive environment and not exactly the world we actually live in and that severely distorts self-identity/ego, trust, romantic relationships, we tend to live fairly isolated lives due to social anxiety, as well as having severely impacting my physical health (nearly all of my ongoing chronic health issues were caused by the abuse in my teens and are exacerbated by the eternally elevated stress that accompanies such — my physical health literally collapsed at age 18 before I had even graduated high school).

In my case, the story began at age 13 after a rather traumatic move from Ft. Lauderdale, FL, leaving behind all my close friends, to a rural north Florida school where I was never accepted by fellow students nor many faculty. As such, I was quickly ostracized by my peers cutting me off from potential friends (save for the one other ostracized teen I befriended — and the thing about rural schools is that there are seldom opportunities for friendship outside of school) from grades 7-12 and soon thereafter the bullying, pranking, acts meant to humiliate, name calling, property theft and destruction, rumors, etc. began in earnest by a considerable number of my peers as well as a number of the faculty. Over those six years alone I would estimate between 3-4 incidents for each hour of school or around 25,000 incidents over those six years, most were, of course, minor incidents but even the minor incidents keep you forever on edge and forever on guard for the next threat. That faculty joined in only further encouraged the other students as the bullying could go on with impunity and with the knowledge of the school administration, but nobody ever considered bullying to be of any real consequence (in fact, the only punishment for bullying I can recall was an occasion where *I* was punished for my reaction to a group of bullies...severe bullying/mobbing was OK, just not trying to defend yourself). Like most teens, I compartmentalized the abuse well and never told my parents since there was nothing that could realistically be done (no other school to go to, practically speaking, nor can one reasonably get a no contact order that includes 50% of the school) and so I bore that burden alone for six years.

By the time I graduated at 18 my physical health had already collapsed, hence most of the chronic illnesses I live with to this day, including severe chronic pain and Fibromyalgia. And one of the crueler realities of childhood abuse is that it leaves us highly vulnerable to future abuse in our adult relationships. We tend to be the rescuers or codependent in romantic relationships and for whatever reason abusive partners tend to be drawn to us, and us to them, much like moths to a flame and our highly empathic nature (a product of the abuse) tends to allow us to see the positives in others in full TechniColor but leaves us extraordinarily blind to the negatives until much too late. So we tend to pretty reliably end up in relationships with oftentimes very abusive, even violent, partners. Depending upon which we fear most, the loneliness or the abuse, we then either go from one abusive partner to the next or, after a particularly violent and/or abusive relationship, we wind up forever swearing off all future relationships entirely to protect ourselves from further abuse which makes for an exceedingly lonely life as an adult (which has been my path as it also tends to destroy what capacity for trust may have previously remained) as there is no opportunity for companionship nor children for many of us (at this point in my life, it’s much too late for me to have children, particularly given my health, though I had always most wanted to be a father in this life). As a result, I have avoided any possibility of romantic relationships for over 25 years after a particularly violent partner in my early 20s while in college (she likely had undiagnosed Borderline Personality Disorder, also the product of severe childhood abuse), and with that relationship so went the last of my ability to truly trust others. You see so many dreams die along the way that others take for granted or even discard as though they mean nothing and, as one can imagine, that is very painful as such are things we can never have in this life.

If ever people wonder why we have school shootings, this is the number one reason why. One can not fathom just how much rage and anger a teen can bottle up after tens of thousands of instances of abuse over the course of years with no viable or acceptable outlet for that rage nor means of available justice against one’s abusers, so it builds and builds, and you pray that the student (or yourself) will move or graduate before they reach their personal breaking point. At least I had a stable home to retreat to for half of each day, but many return to abusive families or have the bullying follow them home via social media and cyberbullying these days and they are at exceptionally high risk. If there were real justice after school shootings, we would also round up, arrest, and prosecute all the students and faculty who engaged in the bullying and prosecute them for the same exact crime. But, alas, like so many things in life, we blame the student, a victim too, who was bullied into a psychotic and suicidal breakdown and then wash our hands of all those years of abuse and it’s final cataclysmic result while we collectively act perplexed and wonder aloud what happened all while offering our collective “thoughts and prayers”. It is not a mystery, we create this epidemic ourselves by tolerating even extraordinary levels of bullying in our schools, even encouraging such in some instances (as with my experience of faculty encouraging the abuse) — teens are not meant to exist as islands unto themselves devoid of friends with only hate reflected back at them by their peers (it is NOT antisocial to refuse to socialize with one’s abusers, but you here that explanation a lot), such hate and isolation poisons and destroys both the soul and mind through no fault of the abused child.

But anyhow, that is the Cliff Notes version of my story and why I have been absent for a good while and will likely continue to be absent for some time as I still have a very long journey ahead. But I do wish that at some point in our not too distant future our society will learn to simply love one another for we are each unique in all of creation rather than continue practicing hate and judgement upon one another as the hate has to stop, but especially this sport of hating others we view as somehow different as though it were a sport!
 

ehpoole

Ethan
Corporate Member
...Continued...

I do miss many of you and I reflect quite fondly on so many of you whom have been with us for many years and I do still try to check in here once or twice each week and occasionally you will see me comment on a thread, but I’ve not been nearly the regular I was up until the start of this year when I would typically check in multiple times each and every day just as I had since I joined this site back in 2009! Do to the stress component, I haven’t really been up to doing any moderation work either so I’m very grateful others are filling that void as well. Hopefully, in time, I will be able to return as a regular and maybe even do a bit of woodworking to boot one of these days (so much of my time went into admin work here, and several other hobbies, that I haven’t done much woodworking in years, LOL!).
 

marinosr

Richard
Senior User
Ethan, thank you for your sharing your struggles with your mental health and helping to reduce the stigma around mental illness. It's so important for people (especially men, which I think constitute the great majority here) to hear these stories and know that getting help isn't weakness. I wish you the best on your road to recovery.,
 

jerrye

Jerry
Corporate Member
Ethan, you've taken care of us for a while now. It's time for us to take care of you. That's what living in community is about.

My wife shares much of your history and current situation, so I am capable of understanding a bit of what you're enduring. Praying for you, friend...
 

Henry W

HenryW
Senior User
Ethan, thank you for your sharing your struggles with your mental health and helping to reduce the stigma around mental illness. It's so important for people (especially men, which I think constitute the great majority here) to hear these stories and know that getting help isn't weakness. I wish you the best on your road to recovery.,
Amen.
 

frankc4113

Frank C
Corporate Member
Ethan,
As I'm certain you are aware, the fact that you are able to talk about the issues you have and continue to deal with is cathartic itself. I know it took more than just picking up a computer and typing a message, especially one that was so well thought out.
The "healing process" is one that never ends an the baggage is always there. To discuss it as you did is a great part of the issue and I wish you the best in that you can never change the past. The only thing any of us can do is to hope to change the future. Positive thoughts do go a long way in our lives while hatred just exacerbates the already horrible issues that occurred in the past.
 

Hmerkle

Board of Directors, Vice President
Hank
Corporate Member
Thank you for sharing this Ethan @ehpoole
I did not know the extent or the duration of your disability.

As you know I am one member not far from you and if you need help just say the word!
Prayers for your healing process as we all know it is a process.
Thank you for all you have done in the past for the success of the site and hope for your continued involvement in the future! (you WERE missed!!!!)
 

redknife

Chris
Corporate Member
Thank you for all you’ve done here, Ethan. You’ve helped me many times on the forum. I am deeply touched by your journey. I wish you only the best in sorting things out and share your hope for a kinder society.
 

ScottM

Scott
Staff member
Corporate Member
It has taken me a while to even attempt to reply. Reading that took my breath away. I have never met you face to face but I feel we have been friends for a life time. All I can say is even if you don't believe GOD does love you and so do we. I am not near by but if you need help in any way have truck will travel. Sending a virtual hug.
 

Bryan S

Bryan
Corporate Member
Ethan that had to have been hard to say, but thank you for letting us know what was going on. One thing I can promise you is that you are in my prayers
 

Gotcha6

Dennis
Corporate Member
This is why the moderator's job is so critical to the atmosphere of this site. We do not know what circumstances anyone here are enduring and we should offer to be an open, receptive site to all. It is ingrained in our efforts to be the friendliest woodworking site around. People need to be able to come here and forget about all the negatives in their lives and enjoy the skills we promote regardless of their situations.
Ethan, here's hoping you have a favorable recovery outcome and just remember that sorrow shared is sorrow halved, while joy shared is joy doubled. We are willing to help halve you sorrow and are hoping we can double your joys.
 

Graywolf

Richard
Corporate Member
Thank you for your work. Thank you for sharing your truth. Thank you for your courage in facing your truth. Wishing you peace.
 

ehpoole

Ethan
Corporate Member
I just want to thank all of you for your very kind and touching words, i’ve come back a number of times in the past day, or so, to reread your words and thoughts as they mean quite a lot to me.

I have been struggling quite a bit lately to hold things together (I have to at least make it through Dec. 5th for our radio club’s Xmas party and the Board handover, after which time I’m no longer the responsible party for everything!), but especially these past several weeks that have been particularly rough in terms of unusually severe many-days long anxiety attacks (which are the emotional flashbacks) and triggers (which can be remarkably innocuous in any other context) all the while fighting the instinct to dissociate/depersonalize while still getting projects done and masking the effects while in public so that others, and especially the public, don’t have to see just how bad things can get at times.

I’m still trying to figure out how I’m going to get through Christmas given that my family’s (I live with my parents) plans are to once again spend Christmas at our apartment down in Orlando to be with my sister’s family and my 7 year old nephew (or grandson from my parent’s perspective) as I will not have nearly as much distraction down there (my physical health limits me to just a few hours a day, every other day, visiting as it is exhausting even when at my best, though I love my nephew and sister dearly) away from my hobbies and interests — my distractions — and spending a lot of time in my head is not a great place to be lately, especially if I’m also trying to avoid dissociation, and I can sometimes get caught up in the emotional dysregulation side of C-PTSD where I am caught between juxtaposed extremes of happy and sad thoughts where it feels like my mind is just about being ripped in two as I bounce back and forth between those extremes, sometimes hour by hour (it is a bit like ultra rapid cycling bipolar disorder on steroids when those spells hit). A month ago it would have been no problem, but what it will be like next month, who knows! Nor have I been able to sleep well at all lately and the poor sleep makes all my health issues, physical and mental, orders of magnitude worse. I actually had to start on blood pressure medication recently (a first for me) as the nurses were a little alarmed with numbers like 165/120 (prior to 6 months ago that would have been more like 105/75), so stress is through the roof due to the near constant levels of anxiety.

For the time being, I just hope to survive this as it takes quite a toll on mind and body and I will likely be in the stabilization phase of treatment for several years before we even begin to start addressing the actual past trauma. The only thing that I know for certain is that I can not do another 25-30 years like my previous 30! The only silver lining, and it is both a blessing and a curse, was the discovery that a very dear friend of mine — one of the very few truly close friends that I still have and trust — that I have known for 27 years has also been struggling with C-PTSD and abusive relationships. Our trauma stories are so similar one would be hard pressed to figure out where one person’s ended and the other began. While we had always been open about our history with mental illness neither one of us had ever discussed our past trauma as nobody tends to discuss such, but least of all while one is still coping and keeping it successfully buried, though, of course, no matter how well buried it is it is still nonetheless quietly running your entire life as an adult. We even started therapy the same week without knowing it, what are the odds after so many years? But she and I have been talking regularly lately as it does help immensely to have someone to talk to who actually understands what we are struggling with. I’ll probably try to visit her come May when the weather in Indiana is a bit more “favorable” for someone who does not especially enjoy the cold (it has been quite a few years since I last visited, literally a different millennia). But it is also a curse as well because I also know just how much she has suffered over the past 36+ years and I would never have wished that experience upon anybody I cared about, ever!

But I really do hope that everyone here is doing well and are looking forward to Thanksgiving with their families. This year it will just be my parents and I since travel has always been difficult for me due to my chronic health issues, but I do enjoy Thanksgiving...though it would have been very nice to have my sister’s family around but her work schedule didn’t allow such this year. At least we got to have them for awhile over the summer break from school!

And I truly appreciated all the kind words. I had meant to post some explanation for awhile now but such discussions are much too easily pushed off for another day because it is not a fun or enjoyable subject matter, but I felt my friends here deserved some explanation as to why I have become so rare around here nor have I been up to serving actively as a lead admin as I had done for nearly 10 years before all of this decided to make its presence known. But I have certainly missed all of you!
 

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