Place names and names of persons have been changed to protect the rights of those involved.

Bibliografic information of the ‘Deutsche Nationalbibliothek’: The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek records this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliografic data are avaiable on the internet via www.dnb.de.

© 2020 Craig Fielder

Cover picture: © rolffimages - stock.adobe.com

Cover design and layout: © Criag Fielder

Translation by: Wiebke Blanck, Germany

Production an publishing company: BoD – Books on Demand GmbH – Norderstedt, Germany

ISBN: 978-3-7519-4798-5

DEDICATION

This book is for everybody, who is looking for spiritual
enlightenment. Hopefully you will see that GOD is closer to
you, than you expect.

Table of Contents

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

I have been on holiday at the ocean with my wife for four days now. I wanted to take a rest. Just hang out after these past stressful months. Lie in bed, watch TV, and relax.

But instead I had a stressful drive here last Saturday, lasting several hours. And who was driving? I.

And then came Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, entirely planned by my wife and full of small and large activities. Activities that I didn’t feel like doing, so I downright had to force myself to join her. What happened to getting a rest so far? Nothing.

Late afternoon today, I just can’t help but put on my running gear and just run away. Run as fast as I can. Where? Anywhere. Just away from … who or what am I actually running away from? I’m asking myself after half an hour. Away from my wife? My daily routine? My work? All these things that need to be done on the house? My fears? The thought of killing myself? Am I even running away from myself?

Most likely away from anything, says a devastatingly honest voice inside myself.

Looking back

In July 2010, everything was alright. I was on the sunny side of life, successful in my job and had been happily married for two years. I was comfortable among my many friends and mates in the cricket team, the two music societies (brass music and big band) and felt very well, and was popular, at the local Scouting organisation. Everything I started seemed to work out successfully. My school education, my studies, building our house, a stellar career from clerk to manager, music, my leading role at the local Scouting organization, my relationship … . Everything.

Why should I have scrutinized any of that? Because I had scarcely any time for myself? Because I was on the road all the time? Because I hardly had any time to relax? Maybe, but I did not. Why? Because it all worked out somehow.

That’s why I never thought of refusing further appointment requests and offers. Not even after a session with the brass musicians, when our conductor asked whether I would like to take individual lessons with him. I hesitated at first as I felt I was taking on too much, but I did not manage to disappoint him by turning down his offer. Besides, I did not know how to say “no”.

Shortly after, when we agreed at one of the following rehearsals to practice at his house on Mondays, 4 to 5 p.m., I only casually felt my body contracting frantically as we shook hands, my conductor beaming at me. But even though I tried to ignore my body’s reaction, it was difficult to return his friendly gesture. After all I had just agreed on giving up on my last free afternoon.

What about listening to myself and just letting this go? I asked myself.

But I could not or did not want to let it go, and that’s where it all began.

August was the time of the folk festivals, and also high season for all brass bands in our region. We were on the road almost every weekend, with not only one gig on the agenda, but rather two or three. So I spent almost every Saturday and Sunday on stage in my Bavarian costume, making music.

To be honest, I was still having difficulties to gain a musical foothold in this demanding brass band, although I had been involved with them for almost a year. However, I was always proud to wear the costume at our gigs, which was considered as being a symbol of high musical quality in our region. I was proud because I could actually show those who had had little confidence in me reaching the brass band’s level that they had been wrong. But this pride made me blind. Had they been wrong indeed?

During our numerous gigs, I had to sit close to the drums onstage. And so it was even on the last Sunday of August.

We had already been playing for a couple of hours when the bright, penetrating ringing of our drums’ cymbals, which were placed about one meter behind me at the height of my ears, started to annoy me. Actually, they always started to annoy me at some point, but this point came pretty early that day.

But it wasn’t just the drums’ cymbals – our entire music seemed very loud to me that day and I perceived them as a horrible noise. So during breaks I was glad that my ears were able to relax a little and I constantly thought of packing my bags and going home.

But what would the others think of me? I could not let them down, particularly because our personnel were very limited that day and we would have to take part in a rather exhausting parade through the village later in the afternoon. So I stayed, kept on playing and, worst of all, was positioned right next to our band’s cymbals in the parade again. A coincidence?

When I came home early in the evening, I was exhausted. My head was pounding and I was not feeling well at all, but hoped it would be better the next morning. Luckily, it was.

At that time, our house-building project had already made great progress. Everything was going very fast. The signing of the contract at the construction company in August 2009 (one year ago, pretty much exactly), the construction start in September, the actual construction, and our moving in in May 2010. Too fast? Had I been persuaded by my wife, the builder and the bank representatives to prefer an earlier date for the construction start than spring 2010?

Obviously yes.

Now we had already lived in the new construction that seemed completed on the outside for three months. But the amount of “little things” that had yet to be done did not seem to decrease at all. A garage door was still missing and foot rails, pictures, curtains and lights had yet to be installed throughout the house. The biggest worksite, however, was the outside area, which we had planned to prepare all by ourselves. A foolish and exhausting plan, I realized as my father and I had been busy for some time to distribute gravel on the garage drive and to straighten the terrain a little that had a sloping location, and as I noticed how gruellingly slow we had made progress during the last weeks, even though I spent any of my little spare time on-site.

In the beginning of September, I incidentally noticed that my days had been passing in the same way for weeks – or even months? Getting up at 05:40 a. m., work until about 4 p. m., then work on the house or around it, and practice a hobby almost every night.

But I wasn’t fully booked during the week, but on weekends as well. My timetable was filled with obligations. Time for myself and time to relax? Not back then.

I bought ear protection for musicians after our show at the folk festival at the end of August. But my hope of going back to enjoying with easiness, after these weeks of noise sensitivity, dashed right on the first practice in September.

We were halfway through the practice when I suddenly got dizzy. It came so violently that the music stands and the musicians around me suddenly seemed to move into the distance and everything seemed to happen in slow motion. I was shocked by this state, became tense on my chair, hoping that my twisting head would stop soon. But it took a while.

When I got out of my lethargy at some point, I tried to play on. But I could no longer bring the score in line with my instrument. It felt as if I had forgotten how to play all of a sudden. It didn’t work anymore. I did not work anymore.

I realized at once: something was wrong with me – but what, and why? I didn’t understand, so I tried to get some orderly tunes out of the instrument with my mouth again and again. But I couldn’t or I souldn’t make it. Something or someone seemed to get in the way at full stretch.

I was dismayed and confused. I had never gone through something like that before and had no idea how to go on.

Confused, I put my trumpet aside that night, and my life started to change.

When I woke up the next morning, however, everything seemed alright at first. As if nothing bad had happened at all.

Accordingly relieved and in a good mood, I drove to work and wanted to go on just like before. My relief came to an end as the dizziness I had felt the night before suddenly returned while I was at work. Again, I felt petrified, and some minutes passed until I could return from my state of shock.

I started thinking.

What if the dizziness has nothing to do with the music?

In the following days, this question made me uneasy, particularly as the dizziness became a stubborn, unwanted and unpleasant companion. In the end, I gave in and saw a physician for an examination. The result: I was very healthy – even though I did not feel like that at all.

When a second appointment at a physician produced the same result a few days later, I started questioning whether my persistent dizziness was real. Maybe I was just making it all up? No, there was no reason for doubt, as I continued staggering more and more frequently, always feeling as if I had helped myself to a great amount of alcohol, but I had not.

So I kept searching for an answer to a simple question: why is this happening to me?

Why?

From this time on, my thoughts kept coming back, more often and for longer periods, to finding at least one plausible answer to that question. But I didn’t find any and even though I realized I was pondering about it all the time, I couldn’t find a way of getting out of that loop. On the contrary. It got worse.

I saw a physician again and again I was assured that everything was alright physically.

I was disappointed with this result. For the first time in my life, I wished a physician had diagnosed whatever illness in me.

But was I ill at all?

On the evening of September 16, which was a Thursday, I got my suitcase out of its lonely corner in our closet and started packing my things for the upcoming weekend trip with the brass musicians. But suddenly, I hesitated.

What about staying at home and just relax for once?

I felt the ambivalence that this question was raising inside me. But, as it had often been the case in my life, I valued the expectations of others higher than anything else. So I kept on packing, even though the haunting doubts remained:

Am I even able to meet their expectations? Am I still the one who can make others laugh? The joker who is always in the midst of activities and makes a party deserve its name?

The creeps on my arms were a speechless response. But not the one I had hoped for.

Next morning, my alarm clock rang a little later than usual. When I woke up I noticed a certain agitation in me that I was not able to read. I didn’t want to let it annoy me, so I said to myself that a joyful anticipation must have started that agitation confused.

I got up exceedingly vigorous to wake myself up and went into the bathroom. But unfortunately, it didn’t take long until I realized that the energy and wanted ease in view of the upcoming weekend had left me. I felt tired instead.

So I stood in front of the mirror for a long time, lost in thought, again struggling if it would be better to quit at the last minute.

It was only when I realized that the toothpaste was about to slide from the toothbrush into the basin as I had held it at an angle for too long that I was able to produce an answer: I’m going to do it, as usual.

After a short breakfast, I set out for the bus stop, where my doubts were joined by dizziness.

I felt accordingly bad as I climbed the small stairs in the front input of the coach, wished the bus driver a good morning as I passed him, reached the deck and stared down the long passage along the rows of seats. I knew: this was the point of no return.

I breathed deeply and looked around. The bus was already crowded. And so were the front places where I would have preferred to sit, as you don’t feel as much rocking movements there. Damn it. Willy-nilly I made my way along the appallingly narrow passage between the rows of seats to the rear part of the bus. In doing so, I smiled and said hello in an amicable way to everyone I was passing, trying to hide my thoughts, the dizziness and the effects of the last weeks’ events.

To my discomfort, I found a seat only in the back. I was relieved to discover that the seat beside me would remain empty when the bus left, deciding to enjoy this little escape from everyday life as much as possible and make the most of the situation.

When I returned home on a late Sunday afternoon, I was tired and exhausted, just picked up my sponge bag after a short hello to my wife, brushed my teeth and fell into bed tired as I was.

I had gone on the trip. But at what cost? Was it worth it?

Don’t know.

However, I felt like I had gotten back a glimmer of hope.

Anyway, that glimmer of hope died two days later. My despair at my inability to explain what was wrong with me superimposed last weekend’s pleasant experiences. In particular, my regained inner smile was gone and I asked myself: how could I go on? I didn’t know, and that scared me.

I remember quite that I felt that day, for the first time, as if I was slowly sliding off a tree. The tree of life, as it were.

Little branches would stop me, and I would take a short rest there, feel like finding support. But these branches seemed to vanish and I was sliding down deeper and deeper, without knowing when it would end.

Tuesday after the weekend trip in question was one of these days when one of the branches below me vanished just like that and it was grim to discover that, obviously, nothing would remain the way I knew it.

In the course of October, things got worse, as I was sliding further down the tree. Obsessively, I clang to the daily routines and rules and tried to get support out of that. It didn’t work.

I was sliding off the tree the way I would slip off a dangly rope I knew from sports lessons in school. Yet I still had the mental strength to slow down the slipping. Bad thing was that I was getting weaker the longer I had to wait for the supporting branches. These branches were currently not in sight.

Then, at the end of October, I realized with a heavy heart that I was withdrawing from my social environment, and thus my usual way of live, as I was preoccupied with myself most of the time.

I had not been at the Scouting organisation for weeks, which I was feeling bad about as I had never been someone who would turn away without a word. But what was I supposed to say to my fellows? How could I justify my absence without triggering more questions? Questions I could not answer. As I didn’t know what was wrong with me myself.

But I wasn’t just too weak for the Scouts. I had also not attended the two music societies for some weeks.

Instead, I was agonizing over my own thoughts that had never been occupied with myself for so long ever before.

Of course, there had been moments earlier when I had not been well and I was pondering over myself for a short time. But to this day, things had always turned to good account again quite quickly.

This time, it seemed to take a remarkably long time. It had been more than three months now.

In the beginning of November 2009, my former high self-confidence was almost gone. I wasn’t getting better, but constantly worse, which caused an insecurity inside me that kept paralyzing me more and more.

Out of desperation, I thus once searched for the word “dizziness” on the internet and found a website that presented a sort of quick test on burnout symptoms. After short hesitation, I answered the questions.

After all, what was left to lose?

However, last but not least I did not click the “evaluation” button. My thoughts produced their own result:

Don’t get misled. Something like burnout cannot happen to you. You have always been a cheerful and optimistic person …

So what if I am not?

This last thought, which again left me with unresolved issues and let another branch vanish, made my body get tense. I was gasping for breath. At that moment, I felt like sliding off that tree faster than ever before.

It was the day when I got lost in the maze of my own thoughts more than ever. Thoughts that were increasingly becoming dangerous.

That’s just imagination!

I feel so powerless, weak, and exhausted. These last weeks really sapped my energy.

I am so tired. What can I do to finally feel better? For God’s sake, why does nobody help me? Nothing I have done so far has changed anything. So what now?

This state is screwing me up. I’m hardly doing anything because I’m afraid of doing something that might make me feel worse in the end.

What is right?

What is wrong?