In the Morning the Battle for Endurance has Been Lost.

In my last few entries, I’ve discussed how much better things have been for me recently. That is still true, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still problems. As good as things are, I still have strong feelings of emptiness, failure, and overall malaise. Yes, it’s possible to enjoy myself and still feel those things.

It bothers me that I can’t completely enjoy myself, even in the some of the best of times. I KNOW that I have a bigger social circle than I’ve ever had. I have closer connections to people that I used to have, yet there’s still a lack of something. That’s the emptiness that I feel. I don’t know how to fix that.

I am doing better than I’ve probably ever done in my life, yet I still feel failure. I sometimes wonder if this, more than any other aspect of my life, is due to how I was programmed as a child. Praise didn’t come my way as much as criticism did. My accomplishments were often ignored. I’ve often realized that if someone points out something that I did wrong, they’ll focus on that, and not that I fixed whatever thing was wrong.

The malaise that I mentioned is just an overall feeling. I have more free time, yet I feel like I don’t. I have time to get up early in the morning and do things, but I don’t do that. I hit the snooze button again and again until I have no free time in the morning. I don’t know why I have such problems with this.

My issues are not an easy fix. Maybe I would feel somewhat better if I just got out of bed in the morning and did something. Like many things I write about, this may not make sense to many of you, but something as simple as getting out of bed early to do something is very difficult for me. I don’t have an explanation for it. It’s just not easy. It’s not a laziness thing. It’s a mental thing.

The part about having so many friends and feeling empty doesn’t really make sense either. I try not to think about it too much. That’ll just cause anxiety and make me feel worse.

The failure part is a difficult one. As I’ve said, I know I’m doing better, but am I where I should be? Can I get to where that is? But, then again, but what standards are we judging that by? I don’t have those answers. I don’t even know if I want those answers.

Going day by day allows me to not worry about long term things. But, not worry about long term things may be cutting my sights short and not giving me anything to strive for. It’s a conundrum.

Some people may think the problems that I’m describing here are simple fixes. Some people may think they’re not. I know I like when I get things done. It’s just difficult to start doing things. That mental block that is very difficult to get past. Being aware of it is good, yet bad at the same time. The fact that I see this in other people makes me more aware of my own issues and how I KNOW I would feel better if I just did what I thought could improve my situation, but as I said, doing it is sometimes inexplicably difficult for me.

I’ve said before that I was brought up in a world of “can’t” and “don’t.” Meaning I was always told what I can’t do, and often told “don’t do (whatever).” It really has made me almost sure that I can’t and shouldn’t do things. I know that world has to change, but I have to figure out how to change it.

But, as I said just a little while ago. I take everything day by day. And despite what it may seem like in this entry, even with the feelings I’ve described, I’m in a good place right now. I want that to continue. I’m afraid of what how I would feel if I wasn’t where I am now. And maybe that’s exactly why I need to take things day by day.

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I Walk in the Darkness and Neon Lights.

I’m generally a miserable, cynical, pessimist. I can’t help it. It’s what I’ve become. It’s how I’ve been programmed to be. I’m not saying any of that for sympathy. I’m saying it because I think, in a way, it’s helped me appreciate certain things.

On more than one occasion, I’ve written about how I always expect good things to end. I don’t enjoy happiness as much as I should because I don’t expect it to last.

Another thing I’ve said a few times and have written entries specific to this is how much music has helped me through so many bad times.

Everything I’ve written in this entry so far is tied together by experiences I’ve recently had.

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a few concerts over the last few weeks. The bands I saw were bands that I had seen MULTIPLE times before. Their shows were great. I have nothing bad to say about them. But, the music and the bands were almost secondary to the overall experiences that I had during those times. It was really about the people, friendships, and relationships that I’ve developed because of the music.

This is another difficult entry for me to write. I’m so much more creative when I’m miserable. I’m so far removed from being miserable right now that I almost don’t know what to write about.

Anyway…

Getting back to what I said at the beginning of this entry, I really do appreciate everything that I was able to do over the past few weeks. A few years ago, there is almost no way I would be able to afford all that I did. Heck, I may not have been able to afford it just one year ago, but so much has changed since then.

I live really close to New York City, but it is EXPENSIVE to drive there. Something as simple as being able to afford to go to concerts in NYC two nights in a row is something that I very much appreciate being able to. I’ve been so much worse off financially in my past that I am very much aware of how good it is that I can do that.

Perspective is a good thing to have. I’ve been THOUSANDS of dollars in debt. I’ve been miserably depressed. I’ve worked at jobs that I could barely afford to keep working at. None of those situations apply to me now. My life is so much better than it’s been. I’m very much aware of that. Yes, I do expect the ride to come to an end, but I’m actually enjoying it too much to worry about that right now.

I know things could be A LOT better in my life. But, I also remember how bad they’ve been. I do not lose sight of that. I cannot lose site of that. It keeps me grounded. It keeps me sane, which is actually quite a task.

I’m genuinely struggling to find something bad to say. I’m so conditioned to be miserable and cynical that this current version of myself is confusing. I’m not saying that I don’t want it to last, and as much as I think it’s not going to last, I’m going to do whatever I can to make it last.

This is how a lot of my recent entries have gone. I don’t know what to say in them. I haven’t been unpacking much baggage. It’s ironic that I’m almost bothered by the fact that I don’t have much to complain about. It’s like I’m hoping for something traumatic just so I can write a really good entry. And as much as I’m tempted to say something snarky like “with any luck, that’ll happen some time soon,” I’m actually glad that I don’t have much to say.

Between Striking Out and Striking Rich, Just a Risk. One I’ll Take and Take Again…

What a difference a year makes.

My late June blog entry is always about my upcoming birthday and what that means to me. Last year’s entry was a bit darker than others that I’ve written. And after just reading it again to get a feel of what I was thinking at that time, I noticed that I had I said that I had originally written a darker draft of it. I almost wish I had saved that draft just to see how bad it was.

One year ago I felt that I had nothing going on. I was at a dead end job that I could barely afford to work at. My social life was not what I wanted it to be. My financial situation was horrible. I just wasn’t in a good place.

But, as I wrote in the follow up entry, a lot changed very quickly.

I’m in such a better place than I was last year at this time. I have a much better job than last year. The travel time is significantly less (I can walk there), I’m paid better than I was, and I have affordable health coverage.

My social life is better than it was a year ago at this time, but not exactly where I had hoped it would be. By no means is it bad. I haven’t felt lonely in a very long time. I’ve actually felt like I belong in the situations that I’ve been in. Not feeling like an outcast is a massive improvement.

Over the past year, my circle of friends has grown. I’ve had a few people return, only to disappear again. I’ve met some wonderful new people and I’ve reconnected with a few that I honestly thought I might never talk to again.

I’ve recently had a series of things go wrong, that a year ago, would have been financially crippling for me. But when they happened, I was able to take care of them. Now, instead of those things causing me to worry about if I’m going to be able to afford food or if I can afford the gas for my car just to get me to work, I’m just upset that my bank account is lower than I want it to be. I cannot stress enough how much better that makes me feel.
Money may not solve all of life’s problems, but having more of it than you did before certainly does alleviate some burdens.

This entry, like a few that I’ve written recently is difficult for me. Not because I have a hard time discussing my issues, but because I’m not in a bad place right now. Misery is so much easier to be creative about.

I don’t want to say that I’m “happy,” but I’m definitely not “not happy.” I’m not sad, nor am I complacent. I know that I’m in a better position in life than I’ve been in a long time, if not ever. But, I’m also VERY much aware of how bad things have been for me. I don’t want to ever to forget how bad things were. I NEED that perspective.

There’s still a lot that I can improve about my life. There’s a lot that I can change and a lot that I can’t. Unfortunately, the stuff that I can’t change actually does frustrate me quite a bit. I keep hoping for different outcomes there, but I don’t know if I’ll ever see one. Yes, I’m aware of the definition of insanity. I know it well.

The things that I can change are sometimes difficult for me to achieve. My depression and my programming is hard to overcome at times. I get more stressed about things I haven’t done than needing to do them. I don’t know if that makes sense. Part of the problem is how regimented my days have become. Doing extra things seems like a break from a pattern. I know things need to get done, but if they’re done at certain times, they’re interfering with other things. I think this particular topic should be saved for another entry and I should try to go into detail on it.

Last year I said “I do know that I’m tired of starting over. I feel like I’m constantly starting over. I’m just not going anywhere. There’s beginnings and endings. The middle part seems very stagnant.” Ironically, I basically did start over not long after that. It was good for me too. I don’t think I’m going nowhere now. I THINK I’m moving forward, just not at a very fast pace.

In just a few days, I’ll turn 43 years old. Am I where someone my age “should be?” Probably not. But, I am where I am, and that’s not where I was. Where I was wasn’t good. Where I am is not great. But, where I am is a lot better than where I was, and that’s a good thing.

I’m Wandering Through Thin Skies and the Transparent Air I’ve Missed.

I’ve sometimes joked that there’s never been a better time to be depressed. And honestly, I stand by that statement, as weird as it may be. There’s so many more resources and things available to people that suffer from whatever kind of mental illness that they suffer from.

I’ve recently had the pleasure of hearing stories from some high school kids. I’ve heard about their battles with depression. I’ve seen how positive, uplifting, and even inspiring these kids are. They spoke about how friends rally around them. They spoke about their support system in the school and the support that the school provides. And while I was hearing these stories I thought to myself “where the Hell were these support systems when I was in high school?”
In just a little under a month, 25 years will have passed since I graduated from high school. It looks like a lot has changed in those 25 years.

A friend once told me that she was being bullied by some other students while in 8th grade. She told one teacher about it. He pulled those kids aside and said “leave her alone, you know she’s crazy.”

I remember very clearly when I was speaking to a guidance counselor about a class that I wanted to take. She was told that my grades weren’t good enough for that class and then proceeded to mention how lazy I was. When I got upset about that comment, instead of seeing a lack of motivation possibly due some form of mental illness, she was doubled down on my laziness.

My friend’s example and the my story about the guidance counselor seem to be a stark contrast to the things I heard from the students that I talked to recently. Teachers and counselors are so much more aware of mental health now. Students can go to them for help and not fear being made to feel worse like I did.

The stigma attached to mental illness needs to be eradicated.

I purposely left that last sentence by itself. It needs to stand out. If someone needs help, they should be able to get it. If they’re reaching out to someone, the last thing they need is to be made to feel worse.

I’m now a part of my town’s Stigma Free Committee. I’m proud of that. I’m glad to be a founding member of something so important. But, at the same time, the whole thing terrifies me. I have a bit of social anxiety. I don’t like being the center of attention. I don’t want to be the face of anything. I like lurking in the background and doing what I have to do.

A few years ago, I had a conversation with one of my elementary school teachers. I’ll never forget when he said “I was always worried about you. You were that quiet kid in the corner.” I laughed at that and told him “I’m still the quiet kid in the corner.” But, what I didn’t realize at that point, and probably until the idea for this blog entry started is that I’m turning that “quiet kid in the corner” thing into a strength. I’m not saying it was ever a weakness, but it’s definitely a good thing for me.

As I said, I don’t want to be the face of things. I don’t mind being a part of something, but I don’t want to be the main focus. This blog allows me to do that. Yes, the majority of people that read my entries may actually know me, but my real name isn’t on most social networks. I’m able to hide behind a screen name. I’m able to be in the background, but still make a difference.

Some may think it’s ironic when I say that many of my friendships have been formed due to my misery and depression. But, it’s absolutely true. Music has much to do with that. I listen to a lot of miserably depressing music. And I have a great time doing it. Bands like Paradise Lost, Katatonia, Anathema, and Life of Agony have been therapeutic for me at times. Let me give you an example.

In the summer of 2016 I went to 2 days of a 3 day music festival somewhere near me. The person I was with at those shows saw me watch a band on day 1 and saw me thoroughly enjoy myself. She saw me watch Life of Agony on the other day and commented that she’s “never seen me like that” and wanted to know what was different for me about the experiences. I told that I attend that first bands shows just for a good time. I see Life of Agony to let out my problems.

Life of Agony shows are great experiences for me. I’ve had vastly different experiences at them too. There’s times when I’ve gone to see them when I’ve been in one heck of a depression spell and I’ve walked out of their shows feeling refreshed. There’s also times when I’ve gone to their shows in a great mood and just enjoyed the show for what it was. And not to mention that I’ve made some incredibly great friends at those shows.

I’ve drifted a bit from the original concept of this entry, but that’s fine. I only had a loose set of concepts for it. I’m not going to edit this one much. I’m not going to do a ton of re-writes. I’m going to leave it as it is. I’m going to try to tie the various themes together, but after another brief turn. in the meantime, if you want to read more about my experiences at Life of Agony shows, you can read this entry.

We really do live in strange times. The political climate in the United States may be more divided than it’s ever been, if you don’t include that time leading up to the Civil War. But, Civil War aside, we’re pretty divided. There’s very little common ground anymore. It’s either one side or the other. That’s another reason I like my music and the concerts that I go to. I know there’s people there of different political beliefs as me, but for the time that we’re at that show, none of that matters.
Music can be a universal language. It doesn’t speak to one type of person. It speaks to everyone. It doesn’t know race, gender, religion, or political affiliation. But, you know what else doesn’t know any of those? Mental illness doesn’t discriminate. It can impact anyone, regardless of their background.

We need to do something. After talking to the students that I’ve talked to, and after hearing some of the things the schools in my town are doing now to help kids cope, I have to admit that I have a little bit of hope. Although, hope usually scares me. Hope means something could be going well, and it’s my nature to assume that something will go drastically wrong once there’s hope. But, in this case, I want to keep believing in that hope and prove my usual doubts wrong.

I know my blog entries have helped people. There’s been a few people that have reached out to me to tell me. In fact, one of them is someone I met because of the concerts I spoke about earlier. See, I told you I would keep this all tied together.

The things I write, even if it’s just once per month (as it usually is) are very helpful to me. But, if anyone else gets something positive from them, I think that’s great. It’s also a bit overwhelming to know that I’m making any kind of positive impact, even if I’m hiding in the darkness while I’m doing it. But, I’ve said countless times that we need to do something to END the stigma attached to mental illness. And even if JUST ONE person feels the need to reach out to me about something, I’m doing my part.

Will you do yours?

Aware of Some, Aware of Nothing More.

This entry is about Nothing. It’s about how sometimes I like Nothing.
It’s about how I do Nothing. It’s about how others do Nothing. It’s about how sometimes Nothing is good. It’s about how sometimes Nothing is bad. It’s just about Nothing.

Like I just said, sometimes doing Nothing is good. It’s good to sit around and do Nothing after a exhausting days. It’s good to not over exert yourself and just relax. But, of course that only depends on if Nothing is relaxing.

Nothing is sometimes very stressful. Nothing can raise my anxiety levels. Doing Nothing can stress me out. If I have things that I want to accomplish throughout a day and I don’t get to them due to being in a depressive episode, Nothing can make me more depressed. Being depressed about doing Nothing can be caused by doing Nothing.

There are people that I know that do Nothing to help themselves in situations. They’re not proactive at all, they’re hardly reactive. They’re either content, complacent, or numb to Nothing. I think I was there too, for a long time, but now I don’t like doing Nothing. I know what Nothing does to me.

I can’t do Nothing. Nothing doesn’t get me anywhere. Nothing accomplishes Nothing. Nothing causes more problems. I see people doing Nothing to fix situations and that Nothing bothers me, especially when them doing Nothing directly impacts my ability to do more than Nothing.

However, even if I can’t do Nothing. I can do Nothing, and I do Nothing often.

It’s easy to do Nothing. It’s comfortable to do Nothing. It’s very easy to believe in Nothing.

Sometimes doing anything other than Nothing requires so much mental energy and sometimes I just don’t have it. That results in me doing Nothing or making sure that Nothing happens. The problem with that is the cycle that I described earlier. And Nothing usually wins.

In some cases, Nothing is kind of like multiplying any number by zero. The result is zero, or Nothing.

Sometimes I like Nothing. Sometimes I dislike Nothing. Sometimes Nothing makes me happy. Sometimes Nothing makes me sad.

Sometimes I feel that I deserve Nothing. Sometimes I feel that I need Nothing. Sometimes Nothing is just right. Sometimes Nothing is never right.

There’s times that there’s Nothing better than Nothing. There’s also times when any thing is better than Nothing.

Nothing is like Nothing else. My Nothing is not your Nothing. My Nothing is my Nothing.

Maybe I’m good at Nothing. I don’t think I’m good for Nothing.

It’s often said that Nothing lasts forever. Is that good or bad? I guess that depends on what Nothing is.

If anyone reads this entry, I hope they get more than Nothing out of it. I’ve put more than Nothing into it. But, as I’ve stated, this entry is about Nothing.



Living Life Today When Tomorrow Brings This Trail of Desperate Thoughts.

I’ve sometimes written about how difficult it is for me to come up with a quality blog entry when there isn’t much going wrong for me. That’s what I’m dealing with now. I’m still “in a good place.” I’ve been there for a little while. Yeah, I’ve had my ups and downs recently, but the lows haven’t been as low. The highs have been steady. And as usual, it’s confusing for me.

There’s a lot about my personality and thought process that is somewhat contradictory. While I try my best to not take good things or people for granted, I’m still disappointed when I lose good things or the people. Even though I’m always sort of expecting to. I know that doesn’t make sense to some, but it probably does to others.

I’m finally in a position in life that I don’t have to worry about so many things that I’ve had to worry about before. I have a good job. I have good health care. I don’t have much of a commute to work. I’m very much less stressed than I have been in such a long time. But, I’m scared that it won’t last. Is that due to precedents in my life? Is it due to my usual fears? What causes this?

I often talk about my programming. I’ve been programmed by my life’s experiences to not expect good things to happen, and not to last if they happen at all. I’m always expecting the worst. Yet, I still hope for better. I think that bit of contradiction causes some of my anxiety.

I’ve talked about how my life needs a balance. If one aspect of my life is going well, others have to be going poorly. Right now, there’s nothing that’s going particularly poorly. That worries me. While I’m enjoying myself right now, I always have this underlying feeling of “when is it going to end?”

Even as I enjoy how things are going right now, I should probably be enjoying things more, but the worry never leaves. I don’t know when or if it ever will. What would cause me to not worry about the future? I should be able to see the path I’m on right now as a good one. Well, more specifically I should be able to be on this good path and not worry about when it’s going to take a u-turn.

Not only am I enjoying things now, but more and more tasks are coming to me. Some are with my job, some are just things that I want to get done for myself. I know that if I accomplish or complete these tasks that I’ll feel good about them. I know that some of them could very well help my mental/emotional stability. Fear of failure with them is always with me. That’s something that never seems to leave. Sometimes I find it so much easier to not even try because in my mind, I can’t fail if I haven’t started something. Yet, at the same time, that sometimes makes me less motivated to do anything. It’s a bad cycle.

I know that much of what I’m saying in this entry is repetitious. I’ve said much of it in other entries. But that’s how my life is. A series of repeating cycles. I don’t know how much control I have over each of them. I know that some of the cycles can be broken, but I also think that my path/u-turn analogy from a minute ago applies here too. Maybe I can reverse course on some misery and head towards more joyful things. That road seems to be more difficult to navigate though. The road to Misery is a downhill path and the road out of Misery is a steep hill, usually very twisty and with many obstacles.

As I was writing that last sentence I thinking about a way to wrap this entry up. The talk about the “roads” got me thinking about the Allman Brothers Band. The 50th anniversary of their very first show was just a few days ago. One of their more famous lines is “the road goes on forever.” I guess this entry is me saying that I know the road goes on forever, but it doesn’t have to be one way street. I’m not sure how much I can dictate the path that the road takes, but I’ll do my best to navigate.



Say Just Words

It’s pretty common now for people to talk about how much tougher the older generations were because words didn’t hurt them. They’ll talk about how their generation didn’t need “safe spaces” and how they weren’t afraid of the truth. They’ll say that their parents “didn’t raise sissies” or something like that. And of course, they’ll probably mention something about using violence against anyone that says anything offensive towards them.

In addition to believing the concept of an emotionally tougher generation is simply not true, I believe that type of thinking is outdated. I also believe it was never healthy and not good for anyone. Feeling what you feel at the time you feel it isn’t bad. Expressing your emotions isn’t bad. Crying or being upset isn’t weakness.

This post will probably be a bit disjointed, as many of my posts are. But, I know the point I want to attempt to get across in it. I know what I want to say. I don’t know if I’m going to say it as well as I would like to, but that’s okay. I’m going to say whatever I say.

For much of my time in school, I was made fun of. If it wasn’t my long hair, it was my glasses, of maybe it was how I dressed. The kids that made fun of me for having bucked teeth and an overbite were the ones that later made fun of me for having braces and head-gear to correct those issues. It’s been years since those things happened, but it doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten them. Memories like that can pop up pretty randomly and still cause me to have issues with my appearance.

I fully admit to issuing my share of insults and mockery to kids in school. I admit to making many off-color and insensitive comments about… well, about just about anyone and everyone at some point. But there was a point when I stopped. As far as I know, there was not anything specific that made me stop. There wasn’t a figurative light going off in my head. I had an awakening. I realized the damage done to me and I don’t want to be a part of that damage done to others.

Surviving the constant ridicule and mockery without publicly crying didn’t make me stronger or better suited for the world. It made me numb. It made me believe that I was supposed to be ridiculed and mocked. It made me not like myself. It made me not able to deal with people in an effective way.

As I often say in my posts, this is not a “woe is me” post. This is me trying to figure things out. This is me trying to understand why and maybe try to move forward in a more positive way. Or at the very least, a less negative way.

Way too often, we look at things from a particular point of view in life and we don’t change. I look at so many aspects of life differently than I used to. I don’t think as highly of some people, events, or memories of my life as I did before. I realize that they may not really have been as good as I thought or hoped they were. My opinion and my feelings changed.

One of my favorite holiday specials is Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas. In that special, there’s a band of “hooligans” that sings a song with a line that says “We don’t wish to learn, but we hate what we don’t understand.” I think that applies to almost everything I’m writing about today. People ofeten mock things they don’t understand and they don’t bother to learn why people act differently from them.

I like logic. I like understanding things. I like understanding people and their actions. Even if their actions aren’t good, I want to know why they did what they did or said what they said. But even as much as I want to understand why people are they way they are, I’ve also learned that I’m not always going to understand all aspects of their lives. I also don’t need to. If they’re not doing any harm to me or to anyone else, why should them being “different” matter? It shouldn’t, so why do we mock differences? Why do we say hurtful things?

Why do we continue to push people and push them until they reach their breaking point? Why don’t we care more? Why?

Yeah, I’m passionate about this. I’m in my 40s. Things that were said to me by classmates, teachers, authority figures, and even relatives have stuck with me. Their words have impacted me. They’ve made me doubt so much about myself. Even now, as it’s so easy for me to see how much better off I am than I have been in a very long time, there’s still things said that knock me down. There’s things said that remind me of other things that have been said and that’ll bring me down me more.

I remember what it was like to not want to go to school because of the ridicule I knew I was going to face on a daily basis. I knew I was going to hear words that were offensive to me. I knew that there was basically nothing I could do to make it better for myself on a daily basis. If I cried, I would be mocked for crying. If I told someone about it, I would be mocked for telling. So I just kept taking it. That does a lot to someone’s mental and emotional state. As damaged as I may be, I’m also lucky to have come out of it as well as I did.

One of things that bothers me the most about when I write things like this, or a political post, is that I know that the people reading these things aren’t necessarily the ones that “need to.” My audience is mostly like-minded people that know where I’m coming from. The people that are reading my posts aren’t the ones that I’m passively calling out in this entry. But, that isn’t going to stop me from writing and it isn’t going to stop me from posting. But, I often hesitate to post certain things because I’m not sure how some people will take it. I’m afraid of their replies. And THAT is what this post is mostly about.

Words are powerful. They can shape opinions. They can create emotion. They can lift someone’s spirits. They can tear someone down. Say the right thing. If you don’t understand someone or something about them, mocking them isn’t the right thing. Say words. But just say the right words.