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?

Advertisements

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.



Step Aside the Scruples in a Stratagem of Strain.

Writing these entries are sometimes difficult for me. Very often I’ll have ideas for something that I want to discuss and I just find it hard to put my thoughts into words. Sometimes I’ll have topics I want to dig deep into, but there’s something preventing me from getting into it. I use this forum to Unpack My Baggage and to express emotions that I’m sometimes not able to express elsewhere. Sometimes I’ll do a quasi-political rant here.

The entries that are the easiest for me to write are the ones that I do when I’m at some of my lower emotional points. I find it very difficult, if not impossible to write anything of substance when I’m “in a good place.” That’s part of the problem I’m having now. I’m in a good mental and emotional place. I’m not hurting emotionally at the moment. However, I can’t say the same about my physical well being.

I’ve been dealing with what I (currently) believe to be the longest lasting lower back spasm that I’ve ever dealt. In these entries, I’ve often said that I hope that my readers don’t fully understand some of the pain I’ve felt, because that probably means they haven’t experienced similar issues. I can say that again here about the back spasms. They’re not fun.

The simple fact that I’ve been able to walk without the use of a cane today is a bright spot. Not being able to support my own weight while trying to stand up is not a good thing.

People, like myself, that suffer from some form of depression will often talk about how difficult it is to get out of bed in the morning. It’s been very difficult for me over the last few days, but not because of mental or emotional issues. I’ve physically been unable to do it easily. I’ve had to pull myself to the edge of the bed and slowly get to the ground and then try to stand up.

Before you comment that I should see a doctor about this, I want to let you know that I have. I’ve already been to my chiropractor twice (as of when this is published) and I went to another doctor that prescribed some medications for me. Part of the reason I’m in a good emotional and mental state is that I don’t have to worry about affording doctor visits or medication because I have a good health insurance plan. I know too many people that don’t have that and something as simple as back trouble could cost them a lot.

This back spasm that I’m dealing with started over a week ago when I sneezed. I’m not kidding. It was just a sneeze that triggered it. It wasn’t particularly bad when it started, so I felt comfortable enough to go to a gym the next day. I was on a treadmill for one minute before I knew I should stop. I did some other cardio machines that had less impact and I felt fine, but I was probably making things worse. I felt a little better two days later and repeated the same thing at the gym, but again, it probably wasn’t a good idea.

If you saw me walking today, you wouldn’t notice a problem. If you saw me walking a few days ago, you would see someone in complete agony. I try my best to not take things for granted, but it’s something we all do. It’s just natural. But, not being able to stand up without assistance is not something I’m used to. Not being able to easily get off of my bed is not something I’m used to. Those are things I never want to be used to.

As of the time I’m writing this, I’m not suffering. I’m in SIGNIFICANTLY less pain that I was a few days ago. I’ve taken the pills I’m supposed to take. I’ve used ice packs on my lower back. I’ve done very little in the way of physical activity. I find it very ironic that I know of some DDP Yoga routines that are good for lower back pain, but I was in too much pain to do them.

I am getting better. There’s still some discomfort. But, like everything else I go through, I just have to take it day by day. I’ve done some stretches and I’ve done some simple DDP Yoga routines. I’ve been able to get out of bed and stand up without help. It’s weird for me to say that like it’s an accomplishment, but after the last few days, it is.

I will get through this. I will be better when all is said and done. If I have to take it easy for a few days and not do any strenuous activity, I’ll do that. If I have to forsake training for races, I’ll do that. I have time to get myself going for those. For now, I just need to get myself to 100%, or at least as close to it as I’m capable of doing.