In the Still Eclipse, Every Light is a Heartbeat.

I end every year with a blog entry where I ask the question “Am I better off than I was one year ago?” It’s not always an easy answer for me. There’s so many variables in it and it’s often difficult for me to say for sure one or the other. This year is very easy. I am absolutely better off than I was at the end of 2017.

As I’ve stated in a previous entry, I started a new job in September. That job may end up being one of the best things to ever happen to me. I make more money than I did before, the commute is barely a thing, and I enjoy the job. I really can’t ask for anything more there.

The job and the pay have made my financial issues a bit less worrisome. The stress relief there is almost immeasurable. By no means I am financially set for life or even close to that, but I’m doing A LOT better there now. I’m actually spending more now, because I can. Over the past few months, I’ve had to replace two household appliances. Buying them wasn’t a concern. I could afford them. I didn’t have to worry about if buying them would prevent me from being able to afford enough gas to get to work before my next paycheck would arrive. Again, I really can’t describe how much of an incredible feeling it is to not have to worry about that right now.

My social life is basically where it was at this point last year. Throughout the course of 2018 I went from optimistic to disappointed to very happy to very disappointed and back to optimistic. I don’t have any regrets about the choices or pursuits that I made in 2018. The various disappointments came from issues that were basically out of my control. That doesn’t mean I’m deflecting blame or responsibility, it really means that there was nothing I could do to change the outcomes, because of things that were set into motion long ago. I would like to go through 2019 without the disappointment. But, we’ll see how that goes.

Last year I lamented about how I only ran in 3 5k races. Throughout 2017 I kept saying that I “wasn’t ready” or whatever excuse/reason I had for not doing more. I did 8 races in 2018. I’ve done a total of 31 since I started and 3 of the first few that I did this year are in the bottom 5 of my slowest ever. But, the last one I did was .4 seconds away from being a top 10. So, I ended my year a lot better than I began it. As for my slower ones, I am a little bit bothered by the results, but knowing how completely exhausted I was after each one, I know that I could not have possibly put any more effort in during those races. I literally exerted every bit of energy I had. It’s not possible for me to sign up for the races yet, but I already know the dates of a few races that I want to do in 2019 and I have somewhat of a plan in place to get myself ready for them.

Again, I didn’t come close to reading as many books as I hoped during the year. I think my new job will allow me to have more time to read. No, I don’t mean I’ll be reading books while I should be working. I mean that I have more free time than I did before with this job and I’m also a lot less stressed. Even if I only read a little bit on weekends, I’m so much more relaxed that I’m able to get a few chapters in during a sitting.

Just like every single year since I started doing the program, I still haven’t been able to perform a Black Crow pose in DDP Yoga. One day I will achieve that.

One of the biggest complaints I have about the last few months since I’ve started my new job is that I haven’t been able to listed to the various podcasts that I enjoy so much. I’m not in my car nearly as much as I used to be, and that really cut down my podcast listening time. If that’s one of my biggest complaints, I’m obviously doing a lot better than I have been.

I don’t know what 2019 will bring me. I have some ideas for things right now. I have some plans to fix a few things in my house that haven’t been looked at or thought about in years. I want to live in an environment that is as stress free as possible I know that being completely stress free at home is not possible, but if I can make a few changes here and there, it’ll alleviate some of the stresses I currently deal with.

My New Year’s Resolution is always the same. It’s “I want to make it better.” I think I did that this year. Despite some really dark and depressing days for me in 2018, I’m leaving the year better off than I started it. I’m really not able to look at 2018 and say it was particularly bad for me. There were enough highlights. I’m hoping to be able to say the same thing about 2019 when it’s over.

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2018 Album of the Year

1- Ghost – Prequelle
2- Clutch – Book of Bad Decisions
3- Ministry – Amerikkkant
4- Amorphis – Queen of Time
5- The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band – Poor Until Payday
6- Bloodbath – the Arrow of Satan is Drawn
7- Muse – Simulation Theory
8- Those Poor Bastards – Inhuman Behavior
9- William Elliott Whitmore – Kilonova
10 – Mayan – Dhyana

If you’re surprised by my choice for Best Album of the Year, well so am I. Even though I saw Ghost live back in 2012, I barely paid attention to them that night or at all ever since. Not long ago, I put a metal station on the TV in the living room to entertain my parrots. A song from Ghost’s new album came on and they went nuts. They loved it. The song was “Faith” and every time I heard it, I liked it more and more. I listened to a few more songs from the album and liked them too. So, I finally bought a copy. I don’t know the last time an album from a band that I’ve never listened to before got to me like this one did. I really feel that Prequelle is one of the best albums from beginning to end that I’ve heard in a very long time. I don’t think there’s a bad track on it. I’ve also recently read articles about the story behind the band and I’m all in. I’m almost upset that I didn’t pay attention to them in the days of Papa Emeritus I, II, or III. But, I am amused by Cardinal Copia.

Although I said that I didn’t think there was a bad song on the album, if I had to pick just a few to sample, I would suggest “Rats,” “Faith,” “See the Light,” “Dance Macabre,” and “Pro Memoria.”

Clutch’s Book of Bad Decisions had to grow on me a little bit. The first time I listened to it, I thought it was good, but not close to their best work. But, it I liked it more and more with each listen. Songs like “Gimme the Keys,” and “Spirit of ’76” stood out from the start, while “In Walks Barbarella” ranks as one of their all-time best songs. “Hot Bottom Feeders” is a hysterical song about making crab cakes, and the video is definitely worth checking out. “Loralei” is a song that I was iffy on at first, but seeing it done live made me like a lot. If you’re a fan of Clutch’s “Pure Rock Fury” style, you’ll love their mix of “Weaponized Funk” on this album.

There is significant evidence to show that Ministry puts out their best albums when a Republican is President of the United States. And furthermore, the less that Ministry likes that President, the better the music is. Amerikkkant is a good example of that. Ministry’s frontman, Al Jourgensen is not a fan of the current President, which is quite obvious by the lyrics of the majority of songs on this album. If you don’t believe me, check out the songs “Twilight Zone,” “Victim of a Clown,” and “We’re Tired of It.”

A few years ago I had given up on Amorphis. They put out a few albums in a row that just bored me. At the insistence of a friend, I listened to their 2015 album, Under the Red Cloud and was very impressed by it. I actually ranked that album as the 6th Best of 2015. Their latest record, Queen of Time is just as good, or maybe even slightly better, since I’m ranking as 4th Best of 2018. It’s difficult for a band to have a unique sound that doesn’t seem cliche for themselves after a while. I felt they were going that way, but they’re back on a good path. “The Bee,” “Daughter of Hate,” “Heart of the Giant,” and especially “Amongst the Stars” are my favorite tracks from this album.

I’ve been a fan of the Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band ever since I saw them as an opener for Clutch about 10 years ago. As much as I liked them then, they’ve become so much better of the years. Reverend Peyton’s guitar work is amazing and it’s a shame that he’s not well known. He’s that good. Their most recent album, Poor Until Payday is a great example of how good he is. Some of my favorite tracks from the album include the title track, “You Can’t Steal My Shine,” “Dirty Swerve,” and “It Is or It Ain’t.”

Bloodbaths’s the Arrow of Satan is Drawn is basically what you should expect from the Death Metal Supergroup. It’s a brutal Death Metal album. It’s exactly what I would want it to be, and a little more. “Old Nick” returned for a second album on vocals with the group and I love how rejuvenated his experience in this band and Paradise Lost. My favorite tracks on this album include “Bloodicide,” “Wayward Samartan,” “Deader” and “March of the Crucifiers.”

Muse’s Simulation Theory is the album that I ranked as the 7th Best of 2018. I think it’s good in 2018 and it would also sound great if it came out in the mid-1980s. It has almost a “New Wave” feel to it. This band is consistent in their quality and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them live a few times. I’ve never been disappointed. “Algorithm,” “the Dark Side,” and “Thought Contagion” are the songs I recommend checking out from this album.

Those Poor Bastards may be the only band to have appeared on my Top 10 list more than once (three times to be exact) that I’ve never seen in concert. I don’t think they tour often, and if they do, they certainly don’t come to my area. Their latest album, Inhuman Behavior, is just what I wanted from them: A miserably depressing album with their unique Gothic, Country, and Doom sounds. Check out the songs “Snake Tongued Deceiver,” “Cult of Lonliness,” “Heap Bad Medicine,” and “Lonely Dreams.”

Like the Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, I first became aware of William Elliott Whitmore when I saw him open for Clutch. Usually, it’s just him and his banjo, but on Kilonova, he has some extra musicians on some of the tracks. The songs on the album are all cover songs, and they’re done very well. Whitmore’s style is very traditional folk and blues. I’m hoping to see him in concert again sometime soon so I can see some of the songs from this album, such as “Fear of Trains,” “Busted,” and “Run Johnny Run” done live.

I have to give YouTube credit for the 10th Best Album of 2018. A suggestion on YouTube one day was a video from Symphonic Death Metal Band MaYan’s album, Dhyana. I had never heard of them, but I checked them out and I liked it. The fact that one of the female singers in the group is Marcela Bovio helped, since I’m fan of her work with Ayreon and Stream of Passion. Songs on the album range from under 3 minutes to over 9 minutes. It’s a good blend of various musicians and styles. If you like Symphonic Death Metal, you should check MaYan out. Try “the Rhythm of Freedom,” “Saints Don’t Die,” and “the Illusory Self” as tracks to start with.

Some albums that didn’t crack the top 10, but were under consideration include Madball’s For the Cause, the Pineapple Thief’s Dissolution, and BillyBio’s Feed the Fire.

Florence & the Machine’s High as Hope, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats’ Tearing at the Seams, Sick of it All’s Wake the Sleeping Dragon, and Buddy Guy’s the Blues is Alive and Well didn’t keep my interest or just flat out bored me.

I know that Within Temptation will have a new album in 2019. I believe Lacuna Coil will as well. Life of Agony could be recording a new record soon. Other than that, I don’t know who could possibly be appearing on next year’s list. I’m hoping for some surprises. I would also really love for a band that I didn’t have any interest in, like Ghost, to win me over with something that I consider as good as Prequelle. We’ll see what happens in 2019.

A note about eligibility for my 2018 Album of the Year:
– the album must have had a United States street date in 2018.
– the album must be new material (for the band or artist).
– live albums are only eligible if they’re new material.

Only the Darkness Can Filter Through.

I was 29 years old and hanging out with the then girlfriend. We were at her house in the middle of the afternoon. She didn’t have any lights on. Her windows were open. The shades were up. Light from outside was coming into the room. She said she doesn’t usually have lights on in her room. She said preferred it that way.

Many times when I go to a friend’s house I’ll see that their front door is open, and maybe there’s only a screen door closed. If the door happens to be closed, it may not be locked and I’m encouraged to just go inside.

Those things confuse me. They always have.

No, it doesn’t make sense to you. It probably won’t. It shouldn’t.
It barely makes sense to me. But, let me explain.

My house always has the doors closed and locked. The windows are rarely open. The curtains are always down. This is what I’ve known for the majority of my life. It’s how my parents did things in the house. If I lift a curtain, it gets pulled back down. It’s what I was programmed to know as normal.

My life has literally and figuratively been locked away in seclusion and darkness.

Breaking my programming is not easy. Some of the sources of the programming are no longer around, but what they taught me still exists. Changing my normal to something else isn’t something I’ve found easy to do.

But, this isn’t just about doors being locked or windows being down, it’s a lot deeper than that. It’s about the people, places, and things in my life that have made me depend on darkness for comfort.

I’ve been in the shadows cast my more outgoing friends and family members. I’ve been the one that was noticed or picked last. My accomplishments only get attention when I point them out. There’s always been that dark cloud over my head.

I can’t flat out tell you that I don’t enjoy being miserable. I know that I enjoy being comfortable. Miserable is comfortable for me. Happiness confuses me. Yet, I enjoy happiness. I enjoy the feelings that I get when I’m happy. However, when I’m happy, I’m sure things are going to fall apart. Why don’t I assume that things will get better when I’m at my more miserable points?

Again, I’ll say that I’m sure this doesn’t make sense to some of you. I’m almost envious of that. Although, if you’re happy all the time, I’m confused by you. I’ve often wondered what type of delusional world that eternally happy people live in. Does it really exist? How are they oblivious to what I see and deal with? Or am I oblivious to what they see and deal with?

I don’t have the answers to the questions I’m asking here. You probably don’t either.

How can someone change 42 years worth of programming when so many situations that have caused that programming remain the same? How can I change what may not be able to be changed? If I can’t change some things, can I work around them?

I’ve written 10 entries this year. Some of them offered hope. They offered prospects of renewal in my life. They offered new chances. There’s a lot of good things happening for me right now. There really are. I’m very much aware of that and I have enough perspective to know that things are going (mostly) well for me. And yes, I did have to throw in that little hint of doubt. It’s because I’m constantly expecting everything to fall apart around me. The balance I’ve been seeking in my life seems to be there already. I see it as lots of little good things being canceled out by bad things.

Do I focus too much on the negative? Do I imagine the negative? What if things really are going great for me right now and I don’t know it? What if things aren’t going to fall apart?

Here’s some irony for you. My anxiety levels just spiked as I was typing that last paragraph. Yes, as I was discussing the possibility that my life might be going well, I got anxious about it. I think that sums up this entry very well.

Now that I’ve taken a few minutes to gather my thoughts as I wrap up this entry, I realize that what I said earlier is very true. I don’t have answers for my questions. I think I just have to keep going on this journey. Yes, my journey may be through darkness, but maybe one day there will be a window of opportunity and some light will filter through.

All You Know-It-Alls With Politic Views.

Thomas Jefferson famously said “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” I do my best to abide by that philosophy. It’s become more and more difficult in today’s political climate.

I have friends that have vastly different political views than I have. I could very easily lash out at them online when I see them post something that I vehemently disagree with. I could call them out on spreading falsehoods. I could hide their posts so I don’t see them. I could even just disassociate myself from them. But, I don’t want to do that. I like dissent. I think Thomas Jefferson would agree that this country was basically founded on dissent.

If you know anything about Jefferson’s political life, you know that he was no saint when it comes to taking shots political opponents. He and John Adams pretty much wrote the book on dirty campaigns when they ran against each other for President in 1800. But, they ended up being very close friends again during the last years of their lives.

Our current environment doesn’t seem to lend itself to such civility. Even though all sides seem to agree on certain things that definitely happened, they can’t agree on how it impacted things, the fact that it’s still and issue, or who’s to blame for it. Yes, I’m being vague. But, does that even matter? There’s so many issues this could apply to.

Just last week, Senator John McCain died. A lot has been said about him. There’s been a lot of praise of him from his friends, colleagues in Congress, newscasters, and from me. I did not agree with much of Senator McCain’s politics, but I respected him. I believe he served his country with dignity and class during some tough times.

During the 2000 Presidential Election, he made it very clear that his opponent Barack Obama would be a good choice for President, but he felt he could do a better job. That’s why he was running against him. He made it clear that Obama was a good man, but the two had differences of policies and views. That’s what the entire election was about to him, and to be honest, that’s what it should always be. It doesn’t need to be name calling, tarnishing of reputations, or smear campaigns. It should be “I want to do things this way, my opponent wants to do things that way. Which do you prefer?”

I could go on a mini rant of my own and point fingers at whom and what I believe started us down this path. I don’t think it’s any one person, place, or thing. It’s a culmination of things. Where we are now and who we see acting out isn’t the cause, but the effect. I’m just hoping we can turn things around.

I want to be able to vote for a candidate because I think he or she is the best person for the job. I don’t want to vote for someone because I know that he or she is less awful than the opponent. I want a candidate to tell me specifically what they will do for me. I don’t want them to tell me how bad the opposition is. I want to be able to discuss the differences of opinion with someone and not immediately get angry.

I don’t know if we can get back to a civil society. Each side has their own set of facts. Even though that’s not at all possible. People believe what they believe, no matter if it’s true or not. I try to read things from all perspectives to gain insight so I have a better concept of what is true or not. I don’t just go on hearsay.

Building on that, and if I may (once again) quote a Founding Father, John Adams, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

But, this isn’t so much about facts as it is about discourse and conversation. Yes, facts play a part in that, especially now. I’ve had many political discussions with people I don’t agree with. Some of them are close friends. We’re still close friends. But, those are ones that don’t deal with the rhetoric and name calling that I see online all the time. I have theories as to why we got to that point, but that would be extend this entry to a very long one that I don’t have the patience to write, and you don’t have the patience to read. Maybe one day I’ll get into that history lesson.

What I’m trying to say here is that I think we need to make a concentrated effort to get past the anger and hostility. We need to stop believing things that simply are not true. We need to accept what things are wrong and not do the “yeah, well (insert name here) did that too.” We need to stop the blame game and see truths.

Unfortunately, I think we may have gone too far in the wrong direction already. I hope I’m wrong.

My Prospects Have Become Less Promising.

Just two years ago I was dreading my 40th birthday. I had a lot of questions about my future. I was working for a company that was going out of business. And while I was technically a full-time employee with health benefits, I was only working around 32 hours per week. That was also the lowest paying job that I’ve had since the 1990s. I was also working a part time job on the side to earn more money. When the full-time job went away, I got a 2nd part time job to keep myself going. While my employment situation was iffy, my social life was looking pretty good. There was definitely an upswing there.

Now, I’m just a few days away from my 42nd birthday. I’ve just passed 1.5 years at a full-time job that pays me the most I’ve been paid since 2001. That job doesn’t offer cheap healthcare coverage. I have to drive over 30 miles to get there. I haven’t had a raise and I don’t see one happening in the near future. I made choices about my jobs that looked to be the right ones. I’m in the exact same, if not a worse place, than I was when my situation appeared to be less stable. And oh yeah, my social life isn’t looking nearly as good as it was two years ago.

After the initial dread of my 40th birthday wore off, I was really optimistic about things. I had a lot of good things happening. But, it’s now two years later and a lot of curve balls have been thrown at me by life. How many more can I foul off before I strike out?

How can I really be optimistic when I see no hope for me? The economic system is set up to hold me down, not lift me (or society) up. I certainly can’t thrive in this environment. I can barely survive. As I said, I have a full-time job. I don’t have the time for a 2nd job. Trust me, I would probably get one if I could. I’ve been looking at employment opportunities elsewhere. I’ve looked at entry level positions that are closer to my house that offer comparable pay to what I’m getting now. I’ve noticed that a lot of entry level jobs require a lot of employment experience. At least that’s what their descriptions say. I think the people writing them don’t understand the term “entry level.”

I’m not going to use this entire entry to go over my employment/financial issues. Trust me, I could go on for days about them. They’re definitely a big source of my anxiety and worries. My social life is as well. It’s amazing to me that I can say that I truly have more friends than I’ve ever had, and yet I feel lonelier than I have in a very long time. That’s what chronic depression will do for ya.

As I mentioned in last month’s entry, I often write these out and then delete entire paragraphs. What you’re reading now is many re-writes. I had originally written something MUCH darker. I discussed something about a big fear I have about being 42. I went into (vague) detail about what it means for the rest of my life. My heart rate rose as I typed it and the thought of publishing it was too much for me. I know, I know. I can’t just leave it out there like that, but I have to. It’s something I not really capable of publicly talking about. To be honest, it’s more of a superstition about a family history thing that I’m almost sure will impact me as well.

I’ve written about how I was bullied as a kid. I’ve talked about other things from my past that had negative impact on me. I’ve gone into that a lot. Is it weird that I still look back somewhat fondly on the days of my past just because they seemed simpler? The struggles of adulthood are very overwhelming. It’s even more overwhelming when you’re sure that you’ve accomplished very little, are years behind where you think you should be, have no money to your name, and are having thoughts about mortality.

Yes, that last sentence was a reference to the thing I said I don’t want to talk about.

Everyone has a breaking point. I often wonder why I haven’t reached mine. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I haven’t. But, how much can one struggle before he (or she) gets there? 42 years old. Never moved out. Single. Paycheck to paycheck. No help and no hope in sight. I’m not really putting a lot of optimistic shine in this entry, am I?

Again, let me assure you that if you think this is not nearly as dark as the original versions of this entry. Maybe one day I’ll be able to really get into some of the darker thoughts and concepts in my head. I’m just not able to now.

I don’t know how long my story will last. I know that there’s a lot of unfinished chapters. There’s chapters that I wish could be erased or modified. There’s also chapters yet to be written. I don’t know how those unfinished and unwritten chapters will play out. I don’t know how much control I’ll have in them. I don’t know how long they’ll be or how many remain.

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.

I also know that I’m going to be very disappointed at many points of my life. Let me put a positive spin on that. I’m going to be disappointed because I care. I’m going to be disappointed because I keep trying. I’m going to be disappointed because I keep doing things. They’re not all going to work out. Things that I think may be going well, may not end up good. But, I’m still going. I’m still fighting. I’m still here. My current prospects may not be so promising, but I can’t go back to where I’ve been.

All You Live, All You Give. All You Live Fits In a Teardrop.

Just a few years ago I was officially diagnosed with Dysthymia, which is sometimes defined as “a mood disorder consisting of the same cognitive and physical problems as depression, with less severe but longer-lasting symptoms.”

I no longer suffer from it. Well, actually I still do. But, the name of the condition has been officially changed to Persistent Depressive Disorder. With the new name, it’s a bit easier to understand. It’s very self descriptive now.

Why do I suffer from this? Is it genetic? Is it due to things that happened to me as a kid? Is it from my parents? If it is from my parents, again, I ask if it’s genetic?
Is it due to being bullied as a kid? Is it due to bad relationships? Did I allow myself to be bullied because I was verbally put down so much at home that I didn’t know I could stand up for myself? Was I in bad relationships because my parents didn’t set an example of one that was good? Maybe I was in bad relationships because it was all I knew? Is all of this my own fault?

I don’t have the answers to ANY of those questions, other than maybe the last one. I KNOW that not everything that I deal with is my fault. I know that there’s situations that I couldn’t avoid. I always feel that my quest for the answers is a source of more anxiety and depression for me. I don’t like when things don’t make sense. Much of my life doesn’t make sense. I don’t understand a lot of things about it. In fact, there are some things that I completely understand and they’re even bigger sources of depression.

Very often I feel like I’m a prisoner of my own life. And it’s a life sentence. There doesn’t seem to be a out of the bad situations. I keep trying different things and they all produce the same results. This is something that I will definitely dig deeper into in a future entry.

Happiness confuses me. I think I’m comfortable in my misery. I know that’s not a good thing, or is it? Can comfort be bad? There’s a difference between comfort and complacency. I think I’m more comfortable than complacent. I think…

I was about to say that I could easily tell stories about my parents and their impact on my mental health, but I really can’t. This entry originally had specific things in it that I’ve deleted. I guess there’s specific things I don’t want to talk about on here. Although, sometimes I wonder if it’s because I’m afraid that some people’s visions of my parents may change. I really don’t know. I keep wanting to delete this entire paragraph.

This entry is one that is giving me a bit of anxiety. Then again, most of my entries do. Part of my condition is a fear of expression. That’s something I definitely got from my parents. Not only did they not express themselves in a positive or constructive way, more often than not, they didn’t say anything at all until it all blew up. I want to delete this paragraph too.

I’m noticing a trend and I’m not just talking about my “breaking the 4th wall” in this entry. I’m noticing that I’m hitting a wall. It’s a big one. I need to find a way to chip away at it.

From September of 2010 until the end of June, 2012 I was seeing a psychologist once a week. I felt it helped me a bit, although now I realize that I really never scratched the surface of what my issues really were. I was just focused on what I was going through at that time. Although, I do know that it’s all related.

Part of the inspiration for this particular post is a documentary I watched last week. That documentary is called “Bipolar Rock N’ Roller” and it deals with one man’s struggle with mental illness. I became familiar with it because the subject of the film is Mauro Ranallo, and he’s currently a commentator for WWE, among other sports.
This is not the first time that something I’ve seen related to WWE has inspired me to write a blog entry about my own battles with mental illness. A few years ago, I watched a reality series that WWE produced and one of the stars of that show came out during one of the episodes. Even though his sexuality well known before that, the simple fact that he said it publicly impacted me. I saw a weight lifted off of him. It motivated me to write more about how depression burdens me and to share more details in this forum. Sometimes my sources of inspiration are not what many of you would consider conventional.

How does my story have anything to do with a Professional Wrestling commentator’s issue with Bipolar Disorder? It doesn’t. But, watching Mauro Ranallo so openly tell his story inspired me to get a bit deeper into mine. One day soon I hope to really get into details, because I don’t see a professional about my issue anymore. This is therapy for me. This is what I do for myself to get my story out. This is me unpacking my baggage, one blog entry at a time.

How Many Have to Drop Before it Stops?

There was not a school shooting in my hometown. But, there was reason to believe there could have been. The other day, a student in the high school that I attended made a threat to “shoot up” the school. Another student reported the threat, police and other law enforcement agencies came in, the student was arrested. No shots were fired, although a gun was found at his house during an investigation. This happened about two weeks after the latest mass shooting at a school that got national attention.

Guns are a problem. I’m not going to sugarcoat my opinion on that. Some of you may stop reading this after that last sentence.

Mental illness is a problem. Do I still have your attention?

Are we allowed to discuss both issues in conjunction with one another? Or are the abundance of mass shootings in America only due to mentally ill people that happen to have illegal guns? The gun used in the Florida shooting was legally purchased. What now? How can we debate that? Oh right, the shooter was sick in the head, and that was the only issue. Let’s offer “thoughts and prayers” and go about business as usual.

The United States of America is THE ONLY COUNTRY in the “developed world” that has a gun violence issue like this. We continue to ignore the issue and claim that the 2nd Amendment is under attack if changes to gun laws are proposed. Well, how about we think about things this way. We are allowing people to be killed because we’ve done NOTHING TO STOP IT.

Metal detectors at schools are not going to solve this. Armed guards at schools is not the answer. Giving guns to teachers is not the answer. To be honest, I don’t know what the answer is. I just know that whatever we’ve done so far, which is nothing, isn’t working.

Last year there was a mass shooting in Las Vegas. It was from a window or a hotel. People were gunned down while they were enjoying an outdoor concert. If more people had guns there, do you really think it would have solved anything? No, it wouldn’t have. It would have been more chaotic and more deadly. That, I’m sure of.
What action did we take with this incident? I know, we offered more “thoughts and prayers.”

We need help. We need help from Congress. We need help.
We need access to mental health care.
We need less access to guns. I’m not arguing pistols and hunting rifles. That’s a different topic for a different time. There is no reason for any person at all to own a machine gun caliber weapon. Nothing anybody ever says to attempt to justify that one will work.

We hear the slogans “America First,” “Americans First,” and “Make America Great Again” from the President. I don’t like him. I never will. I think he’s going have disastrous long-term effects on the economy, race relations, diplomatic relations with other countries, and so many other issues. However, if decent gun regulations are put into place that make it more difficult to buy a gun while he’s in office, I will not only support the move, I will praise him (if he is indeed a part of the process), and I will say that he’s put “American First” and taken a step to “Make America Great Again.”

I’m not looking for the removal of guns from law-abiding citizens. That’s not what this debate is about. And first of all, if you’re a law-abiding citizen, what are you worried about? Continue to abide by the law and you’ll be fine. But, buying a gun should not be so simple. There NEEDS TO BE more tests to determine if someone can handle it. This needs to be universal.

This is not about race or religion. Although, it’s obvious that some pundits try to turn it a discussion about that. I’ve heard people bring up inner-city violence. I’ve heard them talk about “black on black” crime as evidence that minorities are more likely to use guns. That’s a load of garbage. It’s a distraction method used by people that don’t want to discuss what the real issues are.

I can go on and on about how this isn’t just about an abundance of guns, it’s not just about a mental health issue, how (in some cases) it’s about economics, but what am I doing other than ranting? What good will come of it? Well, that depends on you. It depends on me. What are we going to do about it to make sure the mass shootings stop?

We talk about protection. How about we focus on prevention. No more empty talk. No more “thoughts and prayers.” It’s time for action. It’s time for us to realize causes. It’s time for us to realize that there’s more than one factor. It’s time for us to do something. Innocent people, sometimes children, are being killed. They’re being killed by people that society has failed. They’re being killed by outcasts that have been pushed too far without getting help. Instead of saying that someone is acting out because he or she “just wants attention,” how about we GIVE THEM SOME ATTENTION. Just sitting with someone for a few minutes and listening to what they have to say can make a world of difference.

Yes, I know this entry has gone in various directions. And I know that what I’ve written in a bit of a ramble. I was going to write about this topic a few days ago, but I wanted to clear my head and not be too emotional when I wrote it. That concept didn’t work. I’m full of emotions as I’m writing this. This is a serious topic. Actually, it’s various serious topics. We’re not doing enough to talk about them. And we’re definitely not doing enough to address them.

If you think it’s only a mental health issue, there’s nothing I can do to change your mind. But, I do implore you to do something about it. Do whatever you can to make healthcare more available and affordable to those that need it.

If you think it’s only a gun issue, then doing something about it.

If you think it’s both, do something about it.

“Thoughts and prayers” are meaningless without action.

And no actual action is killing us…

in mass.

Because, the next time something happens in my town (or yours), maybe we won’t be so lucky.