Author: Ken David Stewart

I love books, music,guitars, writing, creating my own videos,playing with my pets and numerous other interests.

Depression Blog Post Two


After one has suffered through several episodes of depression, they can easily identify the signs and symptoms of a relapse . I am presently working through my most recent attack of depression and I’m finally starting to feel a bit better. If I wasn’t, I would not be capable of writing this blog post.

During a serious bout of clinical depression, I rather quickly lose most of my ability to function mentally, emotionally and physically. Don’t ask me about spiritual effects. I’ll just say that one’s relationship with God or their higher power comes to an abrupt halt. I will write more about the negative spiritual destruction of depression in future installments.

When I am seriously depressed my future life appears very bleak to me. My worst depressions occur during the months of December and January. As I’m now 66 years old, I look at my future with dread during a depressive episode. I hate the Christmas season with a passion. This time of the year is the most debilitating for my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.

I have noticed a strange characteristic of depression. Being episodic in nature, the person with this disease will sometimes experience periods of remission. During times of remission, I feel like a different person. My wife also notices a significant improvement in my general demeanour. During these periods of relief from the symptoms of depression, I appear to enjoy life. Unfortunately, even when I’m not suffering from a major depressive episode, under the surface a mild or moderate form of depression continues to exist. This condition is known as double depression.

Around the last week of November I experienced a rather sudden change in my mood. I am presently retired, but still do substitute teaching from two to three times a week when I feel up to it. On the whole, I enjoy my part-time job. Ironically, when my most recent episode of depression first manifested, I was coming off three or four very successful substitute teaching assignments.

Normally I would feel quite encouraged by this. However, near the beginning of December 2018, I contracted an upper respiratory infection. As I’ve been diagnosed with a moderate case of COPD, my colds and flus are severe in nature and can hang on for one to four months. When I get one of these bronchial infections my regular daily activities come to a sudden halt. I become so physically debilitated that I am left to spend most of my day on the couch due to the almost complete depletion of my energy resources. Even a task as simple as brushing my teeth becomes a monumental activity.

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Depression an Introduction


Depression Introduction

Having suffered from severe bouts of clinical depression for much of my adult life, I’d like to share some of my observations from personal experience. If the reader has never suffered from one or more episodes of severe clinical depression they should consider themselves to be very blessed. Make no mistake about it. Depression is a serious condition that can both devastate and impair one’s ability to function in life. I know that many of my Christian brothers and sisters will take exception to what I’m about to say. I can only write from my own personal experience and to tell the truth from the way I see things.

In my opinion, clinical depression is not the result of some kind of spiritual deficit. In our society it takes an enormous amount of courage to admit that you suffer from this illness. Believe me. There is still an unfortunately large degree of stigma attached to the illness of depression. It is first and foremost a medical condition. A person with depression is no more to blame for their disease as would be the case if they had diabetes or heart disease. Yet most depressed people blame themselves for the periods of time when they cannot seem to manage to function.

Episode three of Alligators in the Sewer by Ken David Stewart


Episode Three:

Joshua Jacobson could best be summed up as being a nerd. He was seventeen years old and attended Manhattan Central High School. Joshua’s level of intelligence would be close to the genius level. He excelled in all his grade twelve subjects, but he liked his math and science classes the most. Joshua was an intellectual in every sense of the word. Although his great desire was to be a famous scientist one day, he was also a voracious reader with interests in a wide variety of subjects.

Joshua read nearly everything he could get his hands on. Although his parents were on the lower strata of the annual income spectrum, and neither one had earned a high school diploma, they were very aware and were very proud of Josh’s intellectual accomplishments. From an early age they had a sense that God had given their son and amazing brain for a reason. Although Josh’s parents were poor, they used what little extra money they had to further Josh’s ambitions. As Josh enjoyed reading and conducting research so much, his parents paid for his monthly subscriptions to Audible Audiobooks, so that their son could choose a new  audiobook to listen to each month. They also invested in a subscription to Scribd, a website service that allows its subscribers to read an unlimited number of books on a wide variety of topics. Science fiction books had always been Josh’s favorites.

Attending high school was at times pure hell for Josh. Senior years schools have long been known for bullying students that did not fit the predetermined criteria of what was considered normal. The social aspect of high school was based on cliques. Every high school student ended up in a clique that was defined by possessing certain, identifiable physical and mental attributes.

There was some overlap, but generally all high school students receive a mandatory designation that they were in some group or clique. There was sometimes some overlap, but rarely war a student integrated into more than one or two defining groups.

The first category was known as the brains. This entity consisted of all kinds of all the students that were known for getting the highest marks in all subjects on the secondary education curriculum. The brains were usually not very popular with the rest of the student body. These academic high achievers were either disdained, ignored or were used by their peers. The brains could be helpful to their less academically gifted counterparts in certain situations. Brains came in handy when one needed to cheat on a test or exam or copy yesterday’s homework assignments. The trade-off or you can say. the upside for the brains was that some of their fellow students who required their services offered the brains protection from other students who would bully them, steal from them or threaten to beat them up.

The second clique was known as the jocks. This group consisted of all the star athletes in the school. A third group was labelled as the stoners. This group of students were known for regularly ingesting a wide variety of both prescription and illegal drugs. The brains and the jocks rarely had anything to do with the stoners. Stoners were not known for doing well in their academic studies because they were, as their name implied, usually flying high on some psychoactive substance that would interfere with their cerebral ability to concentrate on their school work.

There was a subgroup of students within the stoners who were talented musicians. The ones that played in a band were generally held in high regard by almost all the student body. The jocks envied the artistic talents of the musically gifted stoners and were very pissed off by the fact that student musicians who played in local bands often had more groupies than the jocks. The jocks could never conceive how these scrawny, dope smoking rockers didn’t need to have any respectable physique to attract females. The jocks never grasped the concept that these musically gifted stoners needed to practice their guitar licks just as long and hard as the football team had to practice their passing, blocking and running skills.

The last high school clique were the most unfortunate ones. This group was cruelly referred to as the nerds. The nerds presented in all shapes and sizes, but their most prominent distinction was that they all presented as being weird in some way or another. Some were morbidly obese, some were tall and lanky and had faces that were crated like the surface of the moon with acne. Many of them offended their peers and teachers because of their strong repulsive body odor.

The nerds were mostly shun by the vast majority of the student body and faculty. On rare occasions, a student that was considered normal would attempt to befriend them or at the very least try to strike up a conversation with them. Those few nerds that received these acts of kindness were often forever grateful for even the slightest sign of attention and acceptance. The few students who displayed this kind of compassion often found that the result would be that the few grateful nerds would cling to them and wouldn’t leave them alone for at least a semester.

Winter Dreams Episode 48


Episode 48
Miles Myers excused himself and ran to the dressing room bathroom. Without a second to spare he made it to the washroom just in time to vomit into the toilet. Miles knew that this was not a case of the flu. It was pregame nerves. At the exact moment that Miles ran to the bathroom Rick Miller entered the dressing room. He could hear Miles vomiting.
Rick was wearing his Maplewood Cougars hoodie. He turned towards his coach, Brad Keenan and said,
“Can I have a private talk with Miles when he comes out of the washroom? “
“Of course, Rick. Miles is very nervous about tonight’s game. I don’t think that he has much confidence in himself. Hopefully, you can settle him down,” Brad said.
Miles left the bathroom still wiping small chunks of vomit from his lips. When he saw Rick his face reddened from embarrassment. Coach Brad Keenan left the dressing room to give his two goalies some privacy. Rick and Miles both took a seat on the bench next to each other.
“I don’t want to screw up tonight, Rick. There’s so much riding on this game,” Miles said.
“Listen Miles. Coach Keenan wouldn’t have you on his team if he didn’t think you are a competent goaltender. I saw how well you played in one of our exhibition games,” Rick said putting a hand on Miles shoulder.
“Now I want you to look at me. Straight in the eyes. I know you can do this. It is within your power to play even better than you did in that exhibition game. You just need to relax and get focused. I want you to try some mental imagery for a few minutes. I want you to imagine making some key saves in tonight’s game. I need you to see yourself blocking shots from every conceivable angle. Get a clear visual picture of the whole team surrounding you and congratulating you at the end of the game,” Rick said excitedly.
He was now standing up and pacing around the dressing room.
“You are going to be a game changer in a few minutes Miles.”
“Does this visual imagery stuff really work?” Miles asked
“You bet it does. I do it before every game. Now you try.”
Miles closed his eyes and began to imagine himself making outstanding saves.
“This is going to be your night Miles. This could be a turning point in your career. After tonight’s game, the team is going to know they have an opportunity to win every time you play a game,” Rick said.
Within a few minutes the rest of the Maplewood Cougars entered the home team’s dressing room. As soon as most of the players were dressed, Coach Keenan asked two of his rookie forwards, Steve Hayes and Rod Langlois to go to the ice warm up Miles.

goalie 8

Alligators in the Sewers Episode Seven


Episode Seven
Sam had been burning the candle at both ends. His ambition to write novels was almost equal to his desire to become a great lead guitarist. To date, he had self published two science fiction novels. He used the Amazon platform to sell his books and was enjoying moderately good sales. Unfortunately, he required other sources of revenue to pay his bills. He got a part-time job teaching creative writing one night a week at a local community college. The rest of his income came from his cut from his band’s performances at various bars in Manhattan. With these three streams of income, Sam could usually just squeak by paying his monthly bills each month.
Sam Bradley lived in a small bachelor’s apartment in East Manhattan. He had been fortunate to find an apartment complex that had rent control. Even with this advantage, Sam was often hard-pressed to stay afloat financially and because of this, he was almost constantly stressed out.
Sam worked hard at all his endeavours. He was not a naturally gifted musician, so he practised his guitar playing daily for at least two hours. He applied an equal amount of dedication to his writing and did an admirable amount of preparation for his creative writing classes.
To add to his issues with stress and anxiety, Sam was becoming chronically fatigued. One night during one of the Raccoons’ breaks, Sam told his bass player Glenn Williams about his exhaustion. Glenn was very willing to help as they were also close friends. Glenn offered Sam a couple of little white pills. Sam asked what they were and Glenn informed him that they were Dexedrine tablets.
Glenn Williams also had to work hard as he had to pay his ex-wife a hefty amount of alimony and child support. He had to hold down a full-time job is IT technician. The small amount of money he made as the bass player for the Raccoons allowed him a little bit of spending money for himself.
Two months ago, Glenn went to see his family doctor and complained about excessive daytime sleepiness. His doctor recommended that Glenn try taking Dexedrine to see if that would help boost his energy levels. It worked like a charm and within a couple of days Glenn was totally dependent on stimulants to get them through his long days.
The Rocky Raccoons basically played classic rock and as they worked hard as a unit over the last few years, they had become very good. The Raccoons were famous in the bars of East Manhattan. They knew their audiences well and what they wanted to hear.
What was popular varied somewhat depending upon which bar they were working, but they had built up a standard set of universal favourites. The Rocky Raccoons found they could never go wrong with songs like You Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC and Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne. Other sure crowd pleasers included songs such as American Woman by the Guess Who and Taking Care of Business by Bachman Turner Overdrive. They learned these two songs from their rhythm guitar player, Kevin Watts who was a transplanted Canadian born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Sam and Keith would sit down and write some original material whenever they got the chance and some times the band performed a couple of the original compositions during their performances.
The Rocky Raccoons were so popular that they had a group of fans who actually followed the band from bar to bar across East Manhattan. The Raccoons’ followers where nowhere near the size of the Grateful Dead’s famous Deadheads, but for a local band they had an impressive number of followers, both male and female. A couple of their female fans were groupies. The Raccoons’ groupies besides providing the band with the obvious favours and benefits were valuable for another reason. Two of their groupies also serviced the world famous bands when they played concerts in New York.
Alicia and Trixie would always put in a plug for the Rocky Raccoons when they talked to the famous musicians and bands. They would also speak with the band’s managers and promoters and encourage them to book the Raccoons as an opening act on the bands’ concert tours.
Occasionally, a well-known manager or promoter would drop by a local New York bar to see if the Rocky Raccoons were as good as Alicia and Trixie them out to be.

music musician musical instrument guitar
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Alligators in the Sewers Episode Six


Episode Six
Joel Jenkins was not having a very good day. The morning started off badly when Joel first opened his eyes. The first thing that he saw was that his alarm clock radio read 7:50 AM. Joel was supposed to start his new job at 7:00 AM. Being late on his first day on the job was not going to make a good impression on Joel’s new employer. Joel was very fortunate to have been hired for this job. Ian, his sponsor in NA got him the job at Sam’s Salvage Services. Sam Bradley was also being sponsored by Ian. This was not an opportunity the Joel didn’t wanted to lose.
Joel was given the alarm clock by Ian as a gift when his sponsor informed him that he was able to get him the job at Sam’s Salvage Services. Joel thought that he had set the alarm clock correctly the night before. Obviously, he had not. The alarm clock was a newer, state-of-the-art timekeeper that included all the latest bells and whistles. He could even set it to wake him up to the sound of his favourite CD. The problem was that Joel had a difficult time with modern technology, mostly because he didn’t own any modern technology. At present, Joel didn’t even own a PC, a laptop, a cell phone or even a tablet. For the last three years Joel had spent all his money on drugs. He’d been clean for almost six months but couldn’t apply for work until he had completed both his detox and rehabilitation programs. He was fired from his last job when his substance abuse severely affected his job performance and on numerous occasions his ability to show up for work at all.
Joel had to come up with a damage control plan fast. Ian had given Joel, Sam’s cell phone number. Joel called Sam right away to let him know what was up. He let Sam know that he was late and was calling a taxi to take him to work. Sam told Joel that he was presently driving a truck in downtown Manhattan and due to the heavy traffic would probably be stuck in that location for likely up to half an hour. Sam told Joel to have the cab drop him off near the First National Bank.
Sam Bradley was a bit of an entrepreneur. He got into the salvage business after his brother-in-law agreed to let him have his old Ford pickup truck if Sam agreed to pay him $200 as soon as he made some money in his new enterprise.
Sam had a very checkered job history with a backlog of bad references from his past employers. This being the case, Sam felt he had to become a self-employed entrepreneur out of necessity.
Sam had a very check your job history with a backlog of bad references from past employers. This being the case, Sam felt he had no choice but to become self-employed entrepreneur
Sam Bradley was a very creative man. He was an artist a broad range of interests. He loved the arts and had taken a stab at most forms of artistic expression including outdoor photography, sculpture and pottery. He found out that he was not particularly talented in all of his artistic pursuits, but Sam had the attitude the one didn’t know if they had an aptitude for something unless they had given it an honest concerted effort.
Through his efforts Sam discovered that he was more than skillful in the areas of writing and music. He became skilled enough on guitar to play in a local band called Rocky Raccoon. That’s where his problem with addictions began.

acoustic acoustic guitar antique art
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Alligators in the Sewers Episode Five


Episode Five
On a sunny Saturday afternoon, Mark Kennedy woke up to the sound of his parents having an animated conversation about Donald Trump. Mark’s father, Michael Kennedy was a die- hard supporter of the controversial Republican candidate. He was an obese, but physically strong construction worker. He had been the shop steward for his union local for a long time, but over the past two years he had become disheartened with the lack of power of his local union to improve the wages and working conditions of his fellow construction workers. At the last local union meeting that he attended, the workers national representative was pushing hard to encourage the union’s local membership to vote for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats in the upcoming presidential election. Not all workers, including Mark Kennedy were impressed. Several members had taken notice of the recent campaign speeches by Donald Trump and many were beginning to think of him as the politician most likely to aid their cause.
His wife, Laura Kennedy was a strong woman. Some may even have described her as being a fierce woman. Laura hated Donald Trump’s guts and her perception of how the Republican presidential candidate mistreated women. As Mark was in the process of greeting the morning, he overheard the heated political discussion going on between his parents.
Mark could care less about politics, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. He needed to call his friends right after breakfast as Mark wanted to invite his buddies out for a game of touch football. Mark was a big fan of the Oakland Raiders and his favorite player was the Raiders quarterback, Derek Carr. Mark usually played quarterback during Saturday’s traditional touch football game. When he was making a long pass mark Mark would imagine that he was the real Derek Carr in the process of leading his team to a fourth-quarter comeback.
Mark joined his family for a bowl of Apple Cinnamon Cheerios.
“So, what are you going to do today?” his father asked.
“After breakfast I’m going to call up some of my friends to organize a touch football game,” Mark answered.
“Are you going to play quarterback again this week?” Michael Kennedy asked.
“That’s my plan,” Mark replied.
“Can you throw passes like Brett Favre?” his father asked.
“No. Brett Favre is retired. I want to play like Derek Carr,” Mark answered.
“That’s okay. That Raider kid is pretty good. I’ve got admit,” Mark’s dad responded.
After he helped his mother do the dishes Mark went to his room and started making the necessary phone calls.
After his father gave Mark a ride to the local school grounds that included a football field complete with two sets of both goal posts at each end zone. After he got out of the car Mark saw to his two best friends, Curly and Red throwing a football around.
Both Curly and Red came by their nicknames honestly. Curly was obese but his long thick brown curly hair was his most prominent feature. Red was a tall, skinny kid who suffered from a serious case of acne. He was glad that his nickname, Red, was a description of his mullet styled. shoulder length, fiery red hair. Red’s family ancestry was Irish. When he got old enough to grow a beard it was almost certainly going to be a flaming red color as well.
Within the next ten minutes, nine other boys arrived. These kids were all grade six students at Birchwood Elementary. Once the members of the two teams were selected, Mark’s team won the coin toss and elected to be the receiving team for the first half of the game. Mark was unanimously chosen to be the starting quarterback for his squad.
The first play that Mark called in the huddle was a down and out pass pattern to the right. Red was lined up as a tight end on the right side of the line of scrimmage.
It had rained heavily the night before and the field was still damp and slippery. As Mark backpedalled and tried to get himself into a comfortable throwing stance, he slipped on the grass just as he let go of the football while attempting to pass to his intended receiver, Red.
The football floated high over Red’s head and landed somewhere in a bushy area to the right of the football field. Red volunteered to search for the football in the brush. He was starting to get all scratched up from the thorn bushes that were prevalent in the bushy outskirts on the right side of the football field. A few feet away Red could see the overthrown football. It was neatly enmeshed in the grasp of a thick bush.
As Red took a few steps in the direction of the object of the search, he also spotted what appeared to be part of an animal’s leg protruding from the thicket. The part of the leg that was visible was pearly white in color, approximately a foot-long and looked bumpy and scaly. This sight of this frightening apparition almost instantly froze the blood in Red’s veins. He was unable to move even though he desperately wanted to run away as far as possible from the object that was causing him this terror was burning inside him.
After a few minutes, he heard Mark calling for him.
“Red, are you okay in there? Did you find the football?”
There wasn’t any response to Mark’s questions. Curly came up behind Mark.
“Ah, Red’s probably just taking a leak in the bushes,” Curly said.
“No. I don’t think so,” Mark responded. “Red’s been in there too long and it’s getting me worried. I’m going in. Are you coming with me, Curly?”
“Why not? Red’s probably just hasn’t found the football yet,” he answered.
A few other boys overheard Curly and Mark talking and offered their assistance to find out what was going on with Red. As soon as the boys pushed through the thorn bushes, they were stopped in their tracks. They couldn’t believe that they were seeing. They saw Red crying as he fell to his knees. He yelled out, “Help!”

close up of alligator head
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