What I am about to share with you is extremely
personal. But I felt the need, an obligation
to tell this story. Through the many years
I've written for you, "my friends I've never met",
I shared everyday struggles, personal challenges
and observations of a beautiful life I live.
Because of the nature of this, some of you may
decide to leave my list. Others may find
peace in it because you'll connect in some way to
In all my years of writing and speaking I always
opened my heart and my life to help others
understand they are not alone in their struggles.
I ask that before you come to any conclusions you
give me the chance to share the entire story with
you. Let me assure you all is well and my
life is even more on track than ever before.
I hope you'll understand because...
"We all fall down"
You may remember the childhood rhyme, although in
different variations depending on where you grew
"Ring around the rosy
A pocketful of posies
We all fall down!"
We would hold hands and circle around until we got
to the line..."We all fall down." Then we
dropped to the ground laughing. Well, it's
true. We do all fall down at some time,
perhaps many times in our lives.
The point is we all get back up again.
Through the many years I've been writing for who I
lovingly call my "friends I've never met," (you),
I've always written openly about the good times
and bad in my life. Recently I was attacked
and criticized by two "good Christians" who found
my work garbage and "self posturing." They
saw no value in my telling you the good things I
do to fulfill my mission to "touch the world one
person at a time." They never gave credit
for my talking about the bad. I was told
they were going to use my message and reply in an
upcoming meeting as being a good example of a bad
Christian. They are the self righteous, who
in the name of God, scour the internet to destroy
those who don't think the way they do.
Don't feel sorry for me. I hear from others
periodically and then they move on to beat someone
else up. Although I do take it personally, I
have always been able to remain focused on what I
believe God wants me to do and how He wants me to
do it. What I am about to share with you is
about that truth..."I take it personally."
I have come to realize that I carry the weight of
the world and haven't been able to put it down
accept to catch my breath. I see pain in the
faces of the innocent victims of war. I see
an obituary of a young person in the paper.
I see the joy filled faces of loved ones reunited
with their soldier family member. I read
messages of despair and fear from my readers. I
get messages of hope and thanks from people who
tell me one of my stories "Arrived at just the
right time," or "I think this was written just for
All of that is my reason to keep writing for you.
I struggled with whether to tell you this story.
In fact, when it was happening I didn't want
anyone to know. I was ashamed. Now,
God has urged me to be as open about it as
I have always been in my work. I have an
underlying depression and have for most of my
life. It serves to slow me down, sometimes,
stop me in my tracks, but it also helps me to be
in touch with my emotions. Those emotions
come out in my work. I am sensitive to how
really big little things are and sometimes lose
sight of how little big things should be.
A few weeks ago, when we had a snow and ice storm
pass through my hometown, I spent hours trying to
clear the ice off our driveway. Unable to
use the snow blower, I had to do it in three parts
using an ice chopper and shovel. Without
going into very personal details, I will say that
months prior to this day, I had been slowly
crashing. Family issues, the fact that my
book would not be reprinted, the closing of my
online store and loss of income, my dependence on
one friend for a source of income, and finally,
and the biggest issue of all, was the fact that my
wife needed another operation. We were
reliving the fear of a return of her cancer, all
of this made me feel helpless and without
influence or purpose in my life. At the end
of the day, I was beaten down mentally and
physically tired from shoveling.
I took a medication called flexeril for my back
pain and then after calling my wife I took a 1 mg
"I'm tired. I need to go lie down," I told
her. I never do that.
Apparently I took more. Time passed and when
I awoke I was stumbling, falling and pretty much
incoherent. I ate, kept repeating myself
enough to add to the concern my wife already had,
then went back to bed. I have absolutely no
memory what so ever of the next day. I did,
however, call my doctor to tell him I was
considering suicide. He urged me to go
directly to the "crisis center" at the nearby
"I'm really too tired, Doc," I insisted.
"Promise me that when your wife comes home you'll
tell her about these feelings."
When she walked in the door I did just that.
I believe that the influence of the meds lowered
the veil of my secret depression enough to speak
the truth. "I have been praying each night
that God take my life," I said.
I talked about family and how worried I was about
them and felt helpless in finding a way to protect
them. I went on to explain that I was using
the new treadmill to an extreme in hopes that I
would have a heart attack and die.
"Knowing God, he'd turn that around and make me
healthier," I joked.
We spent the evening together after dinner and I
promised her that I would indeed seek help at the
crisis center. I found out later that I had
spoken with my good friend Nathaniel for about 25
minutes. He is a most remarkable man of God.
Early in the day his cell phone rang, when he
answered it one of my recorded Power Minute
messages played. He knew that God wanted him
to contact me. It was confirmed when he
received the following email from me on Thursday.
I have no idea how it slipped through "spell
check" this way:
"Nathaniel, at today eat five o'clock call doctor
to admit that suicide is promirnrnt in my mind.
This is serious stuff, pleas pray for me, last
nighet I was aIwas pouncing off
rhe wals. literrally. fella few time.
Don;'t rememnber anythng, Plesse pry for me.
I lost mypurpose." (end)
I found that email in my sent box a week later.
The next day I drove myself to the center with the
sole purpose of beginning a process of finding
help. I just wanted to talk to someone and
schedule appointments for on going therapy.
That was the plan.
The next thing I knew someone was asking me over
and over again, "Are you willing to
voluntarily commit yourself?"
I was shocked and appalled at the idea.
"No!" I said time and again.
"One last time...Are you willing to voluntarily
"No! I drove myself here. On my own.
I just came to speak with someone."
They called my wife. My story of events and
reasons for coming there did not match the real
story she shared. Remember, I had no memory
of Thursday at all. My wife arrived at the
crisis center. I was frantic, feeling like a
caged animal and all I wanted was out.
"They want me to commit myself," I said.
She replied, "I know."
Pausing for a moment in what felt like slow motion
I asked, "You didn't sign the papers did
"Yes. Honey, they said it was the best
thing. They said you might hurt yourself."
My wife had committed me under what they called a
302 ... involuntary commitment. If she
didn't they would have sought a court order.
I blew up. I was beyond rude, arrogant,
cruel and horrid. I had no idea where I was
headed or what would happen to my future. My
entire world came to an abrupt halt. Before
I realized it I was in an ambulance, they had me
remove my laces on my sneakers, my belt and all
personal items. I was committed to a mental
health facility. I arrived at the facility
in the early evening. I had since calmed
down and was adjusting to the reality that there
was no way out. I simply had to follow
through on the process so I could get on with my
What I wasn't acknowledging was I needed help to
do it. Upon arrival I told the nurses that I
wanted no visitors. Not even my wife.
Perceived shame and arrogance still prevailed.
I was introduced to my room and room-mate and
settled in with what little I had. The unit
was a fully locked facility for obvious security
reasons. As I was checking in, I observed a
group of people in what was called the community
room. All eyes on the new guy made me feel a
bit uncomfortable at first. I have never had
a problem with meeting new people so, I made my
rounds introducing myself to the others. I
began a journey defiantly and would come to
discover it was all in God's plan.
Since I arrived late on a Friday the next few days
would be pretty much uneventful. There were
no therapy sessions, classes or in depth
conversations with anyone other than my new
friends. I was in Adult 4. This
section worked with people who were struggling
with life issues. Cutters, people who hurt
themselves, people there for a brief mental
interlude because life was smothering them and a
few who had suicidal thoughts.
I am guessing that some of you might refer to this
as the "nut house", the "loony bin," and other
sadly misunderstood and hurtful labels. It
couldn't be further from the truth.
In one discussion I had with a fellow patient, we
came to the conclusion that if you took anyone off
the street, perhaps even you, and placed them in
this unit, you'd fit right in. You'd most likely
discover unaddressed issues and realities you may
be hiding for years. You might also have a
difficult time convincing the staff that you were
"just fine" and could go home. The fact is,
we all have life challenges. Some handle
them, some don't...some hide them and slowly self
destruct from the inside out.
This place can change all of that. I
believed that as soon as Monday arrived they would
come to see that I didn't belong there and release
me. Throughout the weekend, in fact, a
number of people asked me, "What ARE you doing
here? You're too happy." It became
apparent on Monday that in order to get home I'd
have to prove my ability to deal with my over
sensitivity to family concerns and put things in
perspective. I didn't want to become numb to
my sensitive ways, I just wanted to put them in
their proper place.
I would later determine that I had not in any way
attempted to take my life. All my pills were
intact, accept for the scrambled message sent to
my friend asking for prayer,
there were no suicide goodbyes or notes left for
loved ones. I simply crashed under self
imposed pressure. That first evening I
called my wife and apologized for what had
happened. I asked for her to visit the next
day. It was super bowl weekend and I knew I
had to do something about it. A few were
taking up a small collection to try to get a
pizza. Since I had no money, wallet or cell phone,
I had to wait my turn at the pay phone to place a
request with Marianne.
"I heard they wanted to order pizza for the group.
I offered to pay for everything. So, I need
$100," I told Marianne.
"Okay?" she replied with a slight bit of
This little party became the focus of everyone
there. We were about to place an order for
$100 worth of pizza, wings and soda. It was
a big deal because most of the hospital food was
tasteless. Pizza and wings were a bit of the
reality of outside the walls of this place and a
taste of the future we all longed for. It
was remarkable how excited everyone was. Those who
had cares and concerns, depression and anxiety
came together to celebrate life.
When Marianne arrived I also had her bring several
copies of my two books to leave for others and to
give to people I felt God wanted me to personally
touch. Over the next few days I came to know
each and every one of these people like we were
long time friends, even family. I truly
believe that I was meant to be there. There
was a greater purpose than my own issues for
having to spend time with friends I've never
met...before now. Although we sat through
chat sessions of therapy, art classes where
scissors were not permitted and all too many games
of Pictionary, I discovered that the real therapy
evolved right there in the community room and in
the hallways one on one among the people
themselves. It took 14 full laps to walk the
hallway to equal one mile. I did a lot of
walking. We did a lot of talking.
I cannot go into personal details of the lives and
reasons my new found friends were there, but I
will tell you that for some like myself, it would
be a one time visit. For some it
was like a homecoming because they still have not
found the answers they were seeking and have been
there before. No, it wasn't because they
lacked faith. The Bible was prominent in
many conversations. It wasn't because they
were "druggies and alcoholics" who some consider
should be locked up for good. They were
human beings with families, children, lovers,
friends and professionals who permitted life to
get out of focus and fear rule over their every
decision. Yes, some had drinking problems,
drug addictions but all were just like you and I.
It would end up being six days in that facility
I remember clearly the moment my wife walked
through the door that first day and saw me
standing there with my sneakers unlaced, my belt
missing, unshaven and ashamed. I can see
myself standing in the window of my room each
night watching her drive away into the real world,
the big world I could not touch, smell or even
inhale. The day I was released I walked into
the community room where all my friends were
meeting. Interrupting the class I stood in
the doorway afraid that I would burst into tears
because you know I hate goodbyes.
Suddenly these words came to mind: "Every
time you hear a car horn beep, a patient gets
their wings. Listen, in a few moments you'll
I hugged two friends, Momma and Big T, as tears
poured out. I ran as fast as I could with
the nurse to meet my wife downstairs. I
didn't even lace my shoes nor put a belt on.
As we pulled out of the lot I said, "Turn
right and stop when I tell you." She did.
I laid my hand on the horn and beeped a dozen or
Reminiscent of "It's a Wonderful Life" I found
myself yelling, "Hello, car!" "Hello,
house" "Hello, pond!" "Hello, froggy on top
of the television!" And then I fell on the
floor and let my dogs lick the "hello" out of me!
On a Valentine's Day I will remember the rest of
my well lived and greatly appreciated life, I had
my first appointment with my psychiatrist. A
tough old guy who during my stay there personally
challenged me by knowing what buttons to push.
I had promised him when we made the appointment on
my last visit with him that I would call if I
"You know that's Valentine's day. Do I need
to bring you chocolates?"
"Yes," he replied without looking at me.
"Milk or dark?" I asked.
"Okay, but I refuse to bring you flowers!" I
"You can't eat flowers," he said with a tiny
curled up smile on his face.
It turned out to be the sweetest day of my life.
So, there you are. I had to be committed to
a mental facility. Just writing that still
shakes me a bit. It was worth it.
Imagine too, what my wife felt like. Imagine
the pain and anguish she held in her heart as she
left me there and drove home to an empty house.
She would later tell that she "felt my presence."
Now listen...you there right now reading this.
There is no shame in any of this. If you had
any other disease or physical ailment you would
deal with it. You would fight for your life.
If you are struggling with life and at times feel
overwhelmed and think you can't handle it talk to
your family, your doctor, your minister, rabbi or
priest. Talk to God. He's a great
listener and already knows your heart. If
you have had thoughts of suicide...don't wait, get
help right now! No your family or the world
won't be better off without you. They will
suffer greatly and there will be a void left in
their lives that only you can fill. You can
lose your job, your house, your best friend,
spouse or all your valuables and your being gone
won't change any of that.
You are loved. Even if you think you aren't.
You are needed desperately in this world.
Even when you believe you have no purpose.
God didn't create you without purpose. He
created you with love and hope for the world.
I love you,
I need you.
Here are four things that I learned:
1. I will stop and think before I react and ask
myself "Is it worth it?"
2. I will do what is in my best interest.
3. I will NEVER consider suicide. There are always
4. I will remember the past to learn from it so I
don't repeat the same mistakes or "Beat Myself
Oh, wait. There are five...My wife did this
because she loved me that much. Yes, That
I want you to learn to love yourself that much,
too. To love yourself is to love God who
created you. There is nothing that you and
God can't handle together. I know.
Believe me, I know because...
"We all fall down!"
Love always and all ways,
"I wish you enough!"
Postscript: Although I do not know Bob Perks
personally, I have shared many of his stories, or
rather, 'teachings' with many of my readers and
family and friends and I feel that Bob is one of
the most courageous, humble and Godly men I know,
even if it is simply through the Internet.
How many people would openly share their feelings,
their pain, their doubts and even their descent
into darkness (depression) with not only their
family and friends, but the entire world through
the Internet? I daresay not very many.
Courage? Yes, he fits that bill.
Honesty, humbleness, love for others? Yes,
he fits that bill also. By sharing his story
with others, he has pulled back the curtain of
darkness and secrecy that many people, feeling
ashamed, try to hide behind who suffers from
depression and I feel, may have planted seeds of
Hope to many who read this story. Even if
only one person reading this story follows Bob's
advice and seeks help, especially from God, then
he is victorious. As for so called
"Christians" who criticize his writings as
"self-posturing" and garbage, there will always be
those who call themselves 'Christians' but
actually are wearing blinders in much the same way
as a team of horses pulling a wagon. They
only see what they want to see.....they fail to
see the beauty of a rose or a sunset at the end of
a day....the laughter of a small child.
Bob's stories has helped myself and countless
others not only see the obvious things in life but
sometimes the things that we either take for
granted or don't see. Then, after reading
one of his stories, we look at life with a better
understanding......a deeper appreciation of those
around us, and most importantly, we appreciate a
little bit more of God's love for others. I am
honored to share his stories with others and there
is no doubt in my mind whatsoever, than when God
calls Bob home, He will greet Bob with these
words........."Well done, faithful servant".