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Headlong, Headstrong, A Journey Through Madness Back To Where I Belong

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posted on Oct, 2 2014 @ 04:41 AM

Hello once again ATS! It has been awhile...

Given that I have scarcely visited nor posted in just a few days shy of a year, I imagine that this should begin by greeting the folks who have come along during that time span. Hi! I am Hefficide, or Heff, or John - or "That damn guy who just deleted my post and won't apologize" to some. Individual mileage with me will surely vary! Regardless, however, I am thrilled that each and every one of you are here on ATS and I am eternally grateful that those of you reading these words have chosen to do so.

From the deepest recesses of my heart, thank you. It has taken so much work and so many small miracles to get me back to my online home that I truly do feel a profound appreciation just to be able to post and interact with this community.

If you are a new reader to my writing - buckle up. I tend to be verbose, irreverant, somewhat tangental and always stuck somewhere between dead serious and totally joking. You'll get used it, for better or for worse.

To those who are familiar with me from the past - either cheer, or drink and take some Excedrin. Either way, you're stuck with me being back!

368 Days and Why

Exactly 368 days ago today I disappeared. Not just from ATS, but from the entire world. As it happens I knew where I was at, but nobody else did. I wound up a missing person and a great many people ( the majority of whom are ATS members ) went to some amazing and very touching and humbling lengths to try and find me.

The reason for my disappearance was that I had myself hospitalized. The reason I wound up a true to life missing person - on the G.B.I. missing persons list - is that medical privacy laws prevented anyone from finding out where I was.

The reason for my hospitalization will come as no surprise to those who have been around a few years. It is a subject I have been very open about ( quite deliberately as a means of fighting an ever increasing stigma )... I am mentally ill. I had a full nervous breakdown. A breakdown that resulted in me being spirited off a few hours from home and into my first experience as an inpatient in a "mental health crisis ward".

Needless to say ( I think ), a person in such a place, both in regard to state of mind and actual physical location, does not bother to consider things like "Somebody might be worried about me". In fact it was weeks and weeks after leaving that particular facility before I even discovered, by chance, that I was a missing person and that there was a small army seeking to find me. One very awesome individual even taking his own time to plaster my ugly mug all over half of the state of Georgia.

Imagine my shock when I went to the public library in the town I had been taken to for the first time, logged into Facebook to check messages only to discover that there was a group called "Where is Heff?" that had quite a few members and who were doing everything that they could ( much much more than law enforcement even thought about doing ) to try and solve the mystery.

I was utterly overwhelmed. The truth be told, I still am. It is a thought that deeply touches me even today and reminds me that there are some incredibly caring and giving people in this world. Many of them members of this community. My debt to those folks can never be repaid. Not in a dozen lifetimes.

To get back to the narrative, after eight days I was discharged from the mental health crisis center. I had walked into their front door with literally nowhere else left in this world to go. I had left the very place I am writing from now with a duffle bag and a desire to never be a bother to anyone else ever again. Such is the way that severe depressions can get one thinking. That duffle bag contained one pair of jeans, two T-shirts, a pair of socks, a bottle of Aspirin, a pocket knife, and three flash drives.

I truly have no clue why I packed half of that stuff. I remember thinking, at the time, that it all made sense. But in hindsight it was not the optimal mixture of things to pack when one is headed out into the world with empty pockets and nowhere to go.

Given those facts one of the case managers in the mental health crisis center asked me a profoundly bizarre and disturbing question the very first full day I was a patient... She said "How would you like to remain in this city after you are discharged?"

At this point I was still pretty jacked-up mentally and the question made me about as paranoid and anxious as it possibly could. What the Hell did she mean? Why would I want to stay in a city where I knew absolutely nobody and had never so much as visited before? The entire day I freaked out over her question. It haunted me for some reason.

The next day, however, my senses began readjusting to normal and I saw the question in an entirely different light. I had left home due to a family squable ( now solved through the miracle of my sister and her husband breaking up ). But, moreover, after having spent several years sick, unable to work, and fighting tooth and nail with Social Security, the idea of not imposing on friends and family any further was extremely appealing. So, things were arranged, I was interviewed, a background check was performed and I was accepted into a place that refers to itself as a "Community Home".

I still cannot tell you exactly what a "Community Home" is. It seemed like part nut house, part nursing home, part homeless shelter, and part halfway house. Even having spent 51 weeks there I never did quite figure out how to explain to others. What I can say is that the place changed and saved my life. In spite of the horrendous food, the fact that I spent the first six months in a bedroom with three other men ( the remainder of the time with just one roommate - who I am going to write a short story about in the next few days - and a staff that had several extremely bad apples in it... That place still changed it all for me. I walked into their front door a broken man who had sunk into depression so profoundly that I had become an agoraphobic and recluse who could not even make eye contact with others any longer. I walked out their door, late last night, upright, smiling, engaged, proud, and strong. Never again will I meet a person without looking them dead in the eye. Never again will I fall into that nameless and shapeless fear of nothing and everything, all at once, that PTSD can lead a person into.

For the first time in seven years, I am almost as in control as I was before my illness began to escalate.

Prior to my absence from ATS I was known and pigeonholed as a dyed in the wool liberal. That was BEFORE I entered the literal belly of the beast and saw just how dysfunctional and broken the support system for sick people is in this country. Before I learned the truth about things that I think 99% of the population just doesn't know.

I have more to write about my experiences, but this is enough to begin the dialogue.

Thanks for reading!

posted on Oct, 2 2014 @ 04:52 AM
a reply to: Hefficide

Wow Heff! It is so very good to see You Back Here! And back on Your feet to boot!! I cannot believe it has been so long since I last saw a post from You. I do remember the Where's Heff page as well. Ya had people pretty scared. But it is Great to have You around again! Take it easy, and See Ya on the Boards! Syx.

posted on Oct, 2 2014 @ 05:04 AM
Heff, you have no idea how happy I am to see you again!!!!!!!! I have always admired your strength and honesty. I have always wondered what happened to you, where you were and how you were. Thank you so much for returning to us and for sharing your life experiences with us. I look forward to reading so much more from you. big Hug!!!!!

posted on Oct, 2 2014 @ 05:05 AM
a reply to: Hefficide

I'm pretty new around these parts but welcome back.

I imagine the experience of finding out people gave a crap about your disappearance is somwhat akin to the "A Christmas Carol" style of see what the world is like without you. Your self description of your style on here sounds kinda like me although I'm not as irreverent on here as I tend to be in real life conversation.

I especially look forward to any threads you make on mental illness. I think the term itself is a misnomer. Yes some people at the utter extremes could be classified this way but I feel like many mental illness diagnoses are merely a mismatch between a person and their societal environment (especially autism).

Either way I look forward to another voice on here (even if your TECHNICALLY an old voice). Hopefully I wasn't too verbose or off topic but I'm very prone to being both. Welcome back sir.

posted on Oct, 2 2014 @ 05:07 AM
a reply to: Hefficide

Good to see ya back! I remember you previous absence and then you showed back up and then *Poof!*, you disappeared again. I feared the worst. Sorry about that.

Glad to see that you are feeling better and look forward to seeing that avatar more often.

posted on Oct, 2 2014 @ 05:09 AM
Good to see you back Heff! I know PTSD can be a serious challenge having it myself and depression that comes from the physical pain of all my injuries. Maybe some day we will speak of it, but I am just glad you are feeling better and back in action. Lots of crazy stuff going on in the world and we need a sober judge of things.

So, are you saying they cured you of liberalism? Now that would be quite the transformation my friend.


edit on 2/10/14 by spirit_horse because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 2 2014 @ 05:14 AM
Mate, it is so good to have you back and extremely heart warming to read your story.

Yep... you were and are still respected and loved by so many of us here...

Looking forward to getting my posts removed from you or just having a good chin-wag or sharing/debating points of views...

Right... I am off downstairs to cook me up a massive big bacon sandwich in your honor Heff...

Kindest respects


+2 more 
posted on Oct, 2 2014 @ 05:15 AM

originally posted by: spirit_horse

So, are you saying the cured you of liberalism? Now that would be quite the transformation my friend.


Actually the experience cemented many aspects of my liberalism, and killed off a few other parts of it. There is so much misinformation about things like mental health units and shelters floating around that I spent an entire year having to reevaluate much of what I thought I knew.

An example. The "Community Home". Zero government ( tax ) dollars. I paid $1,250.00 per month to share a room with three others ( for roughly half that time ) and The United Way and private donors matched that for a total of $2,500.00 per month. Nineteen rooms, four beds per room... All this in what was obstensibly a "non profit". Problem was I am fairly good with math and their income by far and away exceeded their costs.

In short, my politics got a LOT more complicated.

posted on Oct, 2 2014 @ 05:24 AM

originally posted by: Hefficide

Actually the experience cemented many aspects of my liberalism, and killed off a few other parts of it. There is so much misinformation about things like mental health units and shelters floating around that I spent an entire year having to reevaluate much of what I thought I knew.

An example. The "Community Home". Zero government ( tax ) dollars. I paid $1,250.00 per month to share a room with three others ( for roughly half that time ) and The United Way and private donors matched that for a total of $2,500.00 per month. Nineteen rooms, four beds per room... All this in what was obstensibly a "non profit". Problem was I am fairly good with math and their income by far and away exceeded their costs.

In short, my politics got a LOT more complicated.

Wow! And I thought it was ridiculous where I was. They spent well over $1.25 million on 23 major surgeries and I get the high priced ACA insurance and they don't cover anything I need in daily life. But hey, they can spend $300,000 on studying 'How to ride a bike'!!1 Definitely have their signals FUBAR between where they are getting the money and who they are spending it on.

But, it's OK if you weren't fully cured of liberalism. We still love ya!

posted on Oct, 2 2014 @ 05:55 AM
a reply to: Hefficide

All I can say is welcome back. What a journey you have taken! It is always good to hear from all those familiar people whose posts I have read over the years. I was wondering where you were.


posted on Oct, 2 2014 @ 06:15 AM
O Happy day! ATS party time! What great news to awaken to this morning. It just feels sooooooooooo great to have you back.
Write as little or as much as you want and we will read and weep and think and roar with laughter, not to mention discuss, debate and argue.

It just feels as though ATS has removed the scaffolding and taken the huge plastic sheeting off. All is well on the boards again. Raising my first cup of coffee in your honor, Heff. Now I really feel like going outside to greet the day.

posted on Oct, 2 2014 @ 06:16 AM
Welcome back Heff !

What an incredible journey !

Your sharing of your story is not only very brave but very selfless at the same time.
If only one reader can see hope in your words - you have succeeded.
Even if only to remind the majority that things are always tougher for someone else.

Look forward to catching you on the boards! Or you catching me ...

posted on Oct, 2 2014 @ 06:27 AM
a reply to: Hefficide

I used my ghost account and joined that facebook group.
Its nice to have you back Heff and I`m glad it was a positive ending to a negative situation.

posted on Oct, 2 2014 @ 06:33 AM
a reply to: Hefficide

So you´re admitting YOUR the guy who delete´s our post, and try to force us to follow their rules (ATS)? Like an Evil Mastermind, participating in the conspiracy to keep us all behave and talk nicely to each other?? Shame on you for making this such a Nice boring place! I wont even call you an Evil Mastermind, that would just be a compliment, wouldnt it? Nahh, You Sir! I will just call a Mastermind...

Welcome back Heff, your a loved person, even by those of us who likes to lurk in the shadows
But i will comment on this, because, that story sounds very much like my own experience last year, apart from the details (I was in a homeless shelter/community Home, different country,different reasons) the feeling i get reading your description, is just scary. I know the rotten apples, the silly rules preventing the others from helping (real help), the feeling of hitting rock buttom when things cant get worse, and then to realize that it aint all that bad and all the strenght you need is within yourself, gain control of yourself, realize what your all about, and then the "outside" world can be controlled. Thats my story anyways
So iam looking forward to read more about Your experience, and maybe share some of mine

Take care of yourself Heff, and iam glad to see that your doing well

posted on Oct, 2 2014 @ 06:34 AM
Welcome back! So glad you have returned. Happy you were safe all that time if not sound ;-). You were sorely missed.

posted on Oct, 2 2014 @ 06:35 AM
So glad your back to entertain us with your presence. I had to check you up on facebook, to see how you were. It's great to have you back where you belong,

posted on Oct, 2 2014 @ 06:45 AM
Welcome back to the guy that made me feel so welcome with his Zim avatar when I came here years ago, nervous about partaking in such a large forum.

I looked for your avatar in those early weeks and it/you always gave me a smile and a sense of comfort when I was still getting my feet wet. Then I find out one day that you also have a deep, abiding love for bacon... and I knew I would like you forever... even if you could remove my posts.

I am glad you're back. Sometimes it's really hard to find yourself when you've fallen so far down in that pit of darkness and many never do. I am glad that you did.

It is so good to see you are back Heff.
I wish you smooth sailing from here on out.
edit on 10/2/2014 by Kangaruex4Ewe because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 2 2014 @ 07:33 AM
a reply to: Hefficide

Heff! I was just thinking about you a few days ago and wondering if we'd ever see you back here with us. So glad you're back have I missed your posts and look forward to hearing more from you. Your honesty is refreshing and to be admired something we all can learn from.

posted on Oct, 2 2014 @ 07:43 AM
So glad your back Heff.

While the mental health issues can be far more dangerous than most everyday people seem to care, and I'm sorry you had to have them in the first place.

But it sounds as though your experience was truly life changing. And sometimes, people need that for growth. Thankfully, you sure seem to be the type of person, that could deeply understand what you went through, not only for your own personal strength, but to see the bigger picture for all who have to navigate the Mental Health Care.

I look forward to reading everything you have to write about it.

Welcome home.
edit on 2-10-2014 by chiefsmom because: Didn't come out the way I meant.

posted on Oct, 2 2014 @ 07:59 AM

This calls for some heavy duty celebration !

Puff out that chest with some serious pride because, dammit man, you've pulled yourself through one hell of a tough journey that many have not been able to...

And now you're all shiny and new !

This song is for you Heff....

edit on 2-10-2014 by CranialSponge because: (no reason given)

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