The Road to Happiness I Never Knew.

As I’ve said in recent entries, things have been going well for me. And as I’ve also said in some recent entries, that worries me.

Just a few weeks ago, I told someone that I had not had any major depression episodes in 2019. Instead of looking at that as an accomplishment, I actually see it as something being wrong. Yeah, I know that’s not a good thing.

I’m in a weird emotional place right now. I’ve in a much better social, mental, economical, and (possibly) emotional place than I’ve been in years. I’m happy with my finances. I’m happy with my job. I’m happy with my friends. I’m just not happy with myself.

So, what’s causing my unhappiness? Is it the (somewhat simple) fact that I’ve gained some weight over the past few months? I know the cause of the weight gain and (in theory) it’s simple to reverse. Is it more than my weight? Is it deeper? What’s the problem?

Of course, I know that none of my problems are necessarily simple problems. Or are they? Yeah, this is what keeps me up at night. Seriously. It does. I have trouble shutting my brain off at night and I keep thinking, and thinking, and over-thinking my issues. That causes me anxiety, fatigue, and an overall reluctance to do anything.

If my current weight is such an issue, I should just eat healthier, workout more, and take better care of myself, right? The thing is that I’m aware of all of that, but there’s a mental block that’s preventing me from going in that direction. I could easily do a workout each and every morning before I leave for work, except that I can’t. And THAT is causing me more stress.

The only stretching that I’ve consistently done in recent months is stretching the time that I get to lay in my bed and hit the snooze button on the various alarms that are needed to wake me from the sleep that I’ve barely had.

It’s possible that this entry will be the catalyst that I need to change my course and start re-focusing on my fitness. However, if I start to do it out of routine and not out of joy, will it seem like too much of a chore for me? Do you see why things are sometimes difficult for me? My mind goes all over the place very easily.

When I started this entry, I didn’t know that I was going to focus so much on my lack of physical activity. I knew that I was going to focus on my lack of self-happiness. But, as I’m writing this (over the course of a few days), I’ve realized that there’s a few things that make me unhappy about myself. And of those things, there’s a few that I don’t necessarily have total control over. And there’s also some that I have no control over (yet). So maybe, I should focus on what I do have control over and do my best to fix that. If my current weight is THE issue that I can fix, then that’s what I should work on.

My brain is sort of like a highway with many exits. There’s cloverleaf exits, jughandles, u-turns, and dead ends. Sometimes the problem with me accomplishing something is that my brain takes the wrong exit or just keeps going in a self-destructive way that stops me from getting to where I need to be. It’s not as simple as just taking the right exit. It’s a long road and the time I spend on that road varies often. But, maybe if I can get my brain to take a detour, I’ll somehow end up on the right road and get there. Of course, I’m not even sure where that destination is. And if I start to worry about that right now, we’ll be here for a LONG time.

It is Time For Deeds to Take the Shape of Vows and Codes of Promise.

I recently heard someone talk about Mental Illness as an “Invisible Illness.” A light went off in my head when I heard that. I thought it was a brilliant description. It’s so accurate. Society does not feel the same way about Mental Illnesses as they feel about other illnesses that they can see. Society doesn’t believe that Mental Illness should be treated as seriously as a physical injury. How many times has someone that is dealing with some kind of depression been told “get over it?” I had a really bad back spasm early this year. I could barely stand up or walk. People didn’t tell me to “get over it.” They insisted that I see doctors for it, which I did.

What I described above is a simplistic way of looking at Mental Illness vs. other illnesses. But, it’s accurate. The stigma attached to Mental Illness leads to so many more problems and it needs to go away. No ifs, ands, or buts. It NEEDS TO GO AWAY.

I live with depression. I live with anxiety. I live with Mental Illness. Like any nagging physical ailment (and in my 40s, I have my share of those), they can flare up at any time. Sometimes without any warning or logical reason. I mentioned my back earlier. I see a chiropractor somewhat regularly about that. It’s not something that people question. They know I have back issues and they know why I see a doctor for it. When I was regularly seeing a psychologist a few years ago, some people questioned why I did that.

I question why things are going well in my life. I expect all good things to end. I anticipate disaster. I get very anxious about things I have to do. I feel alone when I’m part of a community. I can be feeling great one minute and be a wreck the next. All of what I just described is an illness. Why do people think differently about that type of illness than they think of a physical bruise, or a cut, or even cancer? Why are mentally ill people shunned?

I’ve noticed throughout my life that a general ignorance towards issues causes people to act out and be afraid of things. I used to be a bit more judgmental about cynical about Mental Health issues than I am today. I’m not proud of that. But, what I am proud of is where I am now. I am very much aware of my own issues. I am aware of the damage done to me. I am aware of the damage that has been done to others. I don’t like feeling the way I’ve felt and I don’t want others to feel that way either.

I have often felt alone and helpless. And as much as I KNOW that I’m not alone nor helpless, those feelings are often around. They linger. They cause me anxiety and depression. I do my best to remind myself that I’m not alone. I do my best to remind myself that I’m not helpless. And I also do my best to remind others that they are not alone or helpless.

I want to do all that I can to help others. These entries are very therapeutic for me. I don’t know what my readers get out of them. I hope, at the very least, they realize what I’ve realized a while ago. There is a community of us out there. We’re not alone in this. We are here for each other.

My last few entries have been a struggle for me. Not because that I’ve been feeling down and out. It’s been the exact opposite. I’ve been doing well for a while and I’ve felt that I’ve had nothing to write about. Recently, I took part in a class that really opened my eyes to a few things and really inspired me. I’ll be touching on that in upcoming entries. I’ll also be discussing more about how certain bands and their songs, and their fans, have helped me (and others). I have specific things that I want to discuss. Hopefully, you’ll want to read about what I have to say.



My Vision Now is Incomplete. I am Affected by the Warmth.

As I’ve been struggling to find things to write about recently, I’ve also noticed that I usually have a hard time finding something to write about during this time of year. So, this entry should be amazing. (Insert eye roll here).

Not having been had any major depression issues for a while now, I feel like this blog has been suffering. Trust me, I’m glad to have such a problem.

In the past, many of these entries are planned out. A thought, feeling, or mood comes to me and I’ll start writing notes. It could be something like “childhood trauma caused by bullying.” I’ll start writing examples of that happened to me that pop into my mind and I can write an entry from there.

After I have the basic structure for an entry, I’ll start actually writing something. In many cases, the original entry will be rewritten many times. It’s very rare that I’ll just write something and immediately publish it. I have to be very fired up for that to happen.

This entry is an example of one that has no structure, no preconceived concepts, and no real idea of where it’s going. Although, I did think about writing about a high school teacher or two that actually did encourage me and how much of an impact that has on things like this entry. But, I’ll save that for a future entry that is actually thought out and well written.

I do have some concepts for blog entries that I plan on writing in the somewhat near future, but those entries are about specific things that correspond to specific dates and I’m holding off on them for now. There’s one in particular that I know I’m going to have a very difficult time writing. Some people may be able to figure out what that particular topic is. But, regardless of that particular entry, I think I may need to just start thinking about more topics.

It’s actually possible that I may have an idea for my next entry. That basically depends on how something goes for me over the next few weeks. I’ll be learning some new things that could be very good for my blog entries. No, I’m not implying that I’ll be learning things that’ll make me depressed. I’m just saying that something could be interesting and help me. And that it could make for an interesting topic.

There used to be times when I would have two or three months worth of blog entries ready to go at any given time. There were times when I wouldn’t end up publishing some of those because what I was feeling when I originally thought about it may have changed by the time I got around to actually writing the full entry.

I used to think that having a “writer’s block” was a bad thing. But, in this case, maybe it isn’t. I write about my battles with depression. I haven’t had too much to write about for a while. There’s no way to say that’s not good. It may just mean that I have to work harder to have blog entries of substance. And that is something I’m going to work on, because this lack of misery is really killing my creativity.

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.

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.