Can’t you see? All circuits are busy. Please try back again.

I had a blog entry ready to go. I just had to put the finishing touches on it. That usually means I would scrap it and start over, but keep with the theme. But instead, I’m saving it for later and writing this one. This will be a jumbled mess of random thoughts. I know that already. It’s just the mood I’m in.

Originally, I was going to write an entire entry about the three 5k races I ran this year and while I completed all of them, I was disappointed in the race results. The last one I did this year was the fastest of the three, but the 2nd one was my 2nd slowest ever. Somehow I thought I could stretch that story out into an entire blog. It was too whiny and that’s not the tone I wanted.

Then I thought about writing about the slew of sexual harassment allegations coming from Hollywood and TV. I was going to say how incredibly normal this type of thing seems to be in their bubble. How things that are being alleged now had apparently been talked about behind closed doors within their community for years and nobody did anything about it.

Maybe I would write a full entry about gun violence and how every single time a mass shooting happens we (as a society) say “now isn’t the time to discuss the issue of gun control” and it then fades from our memory until it happens again and we say “now isn’t the time to discuss the issue of gun control.”

I could talk about how the President of the United States says outrageous, slanderous, childish, and often untrue statements on Twitter on a daily basis. I was going to say how I’m not surprised, shocked, or even phased by that any more. I could have stated how I’m really bothered that this has become our normal.

I considered writing a blog about how bad my blogs had become, in my view. I felt even stronger about that one after reading one I published on year ago today, which you can read by clicking HERE if you want to. That one was actually one of my better ones.

As I’m living paycheck to paycheck, I thought about another financial rant. But what’s the point of that? Writing about that again isn’t going to help my financial situation. Well, maybe it could if someone with influence reads it and publishes my work and I get to be a famous author. Wouldn’t that be nice?

I almost wrote a blog about complacency and depression and I thought I was straddling the line between the two. At one point in that entry I was going to say that I was depressed about how complacent I am about certain aspects of my life, but also how the complacency almost keeps me away from a full depression, so maybe it’s good.

There was also a chance of me talking about relationships. I haven’t been in one for a few months. When the last one ended I didn’t get nearly as depressed as I thought I would. I was bothered by that. I was also bothered by being bothered by it. It didn’t make sense to me. None of that does. But, it made perfect sense to me at the same time. How messed up is my head that a lack of depression upsets me? Seriously. Think about that. Was it because my expectations weren’t met?

As far as relationships go, I could talk about how I’m cautiously optimistic about things right now. Maybe something is going well, maybe I’m delusional, maybe nothing is there.  Maybe I’m working myself up worrying about it as I’m writing this paragraph.

I could write about the news in Manhattan today. There was a mass murder. I don’t know more details, because they aren’t available yet. However, I’ve already seen a drastic difference in how it’s being covered depending on the ideology of who is talking about it.

Or maybe, just maybe I could tie all of these unrelated topics into a tight little knot. I could say if we took better care of each other, if we provided for each other, if we made sure that people on the lower end of the economic system were helped up, maybe just maybe a lot of the issues I could have talked about today wouldn’t exist.

I could write about that, but who would read it? My audience is small. Who among the few readers I have would, or could, do something that can truly help the world? Could I be the one by writing this? Could you be the one that reads this and gets inspired? Of course, that all depends on if you can navigate your way through this maze of randomness.

It’s possible I could just write about how I doubt myself so much that I don’t know how to end this entry. It really bothers me that I don’t know how to end on a high note. I’m almost comforted by knowing that I don’t expect this entry to be read by that many people. What does that say?

 

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A Roman Candle in the Wind

On October 5, 1997 I was at Madison Square Garden watching the New York Rangers in the in their first home game of the season against the Los Angeles Kings. The game ended in a tie. When I got back to my house that night, my sister was waiting for me at the door. She asked if I had heard about Brian Pillman. I said “No, what did he do now?” She said “he’s dead.” I questioned what she was talking about before she repeated it and assured me that it wasn’t a play on words. I stood there totally stunned before I just sat on the floor for a few minutes trying to process what I was just told.

There’s a good chance that many of you don’t know who Brian Pillman was. He was a Professional Wrestler. His death obviously had an impact on me. I wouldn’t have had such a strong reaction to such news and I wouldn’t be writing about it if it didn’t. But, it wasn’t just his death that had an impact on me, it was his life.

From the first time I saw in him 1989, I was a fan. He was a great performer and in many ways, ahead of his time. When he became a villain in 1992, I wasn’t sure he could pull it off, but did he ever. He was great in the role. Not long after that, he was placed into a tag team with “Stunning” Steve Austin. They were the “Hollywood Blondes.” The two had instant chemistry and remain one of my favorite teams to this day.

In 1995, Pillman started to act weird on TV. His character started to “snap” and it got to the point where you never knew what he was going to say or do. He managed to convince his then employer, WCW to let him go. The plan was for him to go to ECW for a while, become a bigger star while being “nuts” and then return. He ended up signing with WWE and became a bigger star that way. For various reasons, including a horrific car accident, his WWE career never took off like it was expected (or hoped). But, this entry isn’t about Brian Pillman’s career. You can go to Wikipedia to read all about that. This is about how  Brian Pullman understood the power of Internet way before anyone else. This is about how Brian Pillman took a bunch of fans under his wing online in the days when it wasn’t easy to interact with fans. This is about the bond that was created with those fans and how what it means to me (and us) today.

In 1995, there was no Facebook. There was no Twitter. Interaction with celebrities online was basically unheard of. But, hidden in a sports themed area of America Online was the Grandstand. There was an area specifically dedicated to Professional Wrestling there. A few of us that had already become bored with the official WWE area on AOL would post our thoughts on the product in that area. Also in the Grandstand were folders dedicated to specific wrestlers. Brian Pillman was one of them. He showed up and posted in those folders more than any of the other wrestlers. While “in character” he would sometimes go to the WWE chat room and start trouble and often get his account suspended. His wife, Melanie, often had to plead her case to AOL to get the account reinstated since her name was the “master account” and Brian was just using a name on her account.

Brian was Professional Wrestling’s “Loose Cannon” and a few of us were his “Cannon Cult.” We were the ones he would sometimes ask to start trouble in a folder. Those folders would usually belong to another wrestler that he just wanted to mess with. He would usually pick up where we left off. All of this was in good fun, as we got to interact with one of our favorite personalities, and he got to help increase the awareness of his character and got more attention on himself, even in the days when most people didn’t know what the Internet was.

From time to time, Brian and Melanie would talk to us on AOL Instant Messenger and we became close. As close as possible on the Internet. Another wrestler that was on AOL at the time was “Diamond” Dallas Page. DDP and I would also talk online from time to time. I remember one day in late Summer of 1996 when DDP signed on and I asked him if he had heard from Brian recently. He said no, and that Brian hadn’t returned his calls for a while. I asked him for a deal, I said “if Brian signs on, I’ll tell him to call you. If you talk to him first, tell him his AOL friends miss him.” DDP agreed.

A few weeks later, one of the most controversial episodes of WWE Monday Night Raw ever happened. It’s known as “Pillman’s Got a Gun” and the premise was that Steve Austin was going to break into Brian’s house to injure him more than he recently had. Brian had a gun. Just watch the clip HERE.

I watched the show live that night and I went on AOL when the show was over. Not long after I signed on, Brian’s name showed up on my buddy list. I sent him a message letting him know how great I thought the episode was. We talked briefly and he said he had to go. I didn’t get to deliver the message.

Just a few minutes later, Melanie Pillman signed on. I chatted with her for a few minutes. She wanted to know if her hair looked good. I asked her where Steve Austin was and she told me that he and Brian were downstairs on the couch enjoying some beer. I loved that answer considering I had just seen Brian pull a gun on him. She said she had to get going, but before she did I told her that DDP said Brian hadn’t returned his calls. She said she would get on him about it. I emailed DDP about it. A few days later, he replied letting me know that Brian had called him.

I got to meet Dallas Page in 2013 and I told him that story. He laughed about and told me that he remembered that happening. I’m proud that I played a part in those two reconnecting.

Brian’s WWE career never really took off, for various reasons. Mostly due to nagging injuries. But we didn’t know about his alleged issues with pain killers and other substances. Unfortunately, it all caught up to him on October 5th, 1997. He was found dead in his hotel room. The official cause of death was ruled as heart failure due to an undetected condition.

I have no doubt in my mind that if Brian Pillman was healthy and substance free that he would have been one of the biggest stars in Professional Wrestling during its boom period of 1997-2001. In many ways, much of what happened in the business since his death is due to doors he’s opened online and how seriously he took his character.

To me, his legacy is complex. His in ring work was great. His personality was ahead of it’s time. But, what he did in 1995 and 1996 on AOL is what’s most personal for me. He talked to fans before it was cool to do that. He treated us with respect. He also taught me very early on how much somebody can use the Internet to communicate. He showed me the importance of words and, when used carefully and intelligently, just how powerful they can be.

This post isn’t doing justice to Brian Pillman’s career and influence. I’m not trying to recap his highlights here. I know this entry may make me seem like a “Mark” or a “fanboy,” but so what? Access to someone you thought so highly of was not common in 1995 and I was thrilled to have such access.

He was a big part of what made a few of us lifelong friends. Yes, I still talk to some members of the “Cannon Cult” to this day. It’s something I’m very grateful for.

To some, his death is just another death in a long string of Professional Wrestling deaths. And I understand that. But, as I’ve tried to explain here, this one was personal. He had a profound impact on me and many others. I hope he knew that and I hope he understood that.

CLPTLESS, MFLCannon, IamTheJer, and EcMFW were all proud members of the “Cannon Cult” and 20 years later, we still are.

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Brian William Pillman aka “Flyin'” Brian aka “the Loose Cannon.”
May 22, 1962 – October 5, 1997

#CannonCult4Life

Proud to Serve the Country that Served him Weak.

Just a little bit more than one year ago, I was having a conversation with a celebrity. He had just finished talking to a group about some of his issues with depression. I thanked him for speaking out and told him that his voice holds a lot of weight because of his fame. I also told him about my blog and how I don’t believe my voice is as impactful as his. He made it a point to let me know how I was underestimating myself and even if I’m not reaching as many people as he may be, I may still be reaching somebody. I thanked him again for speaking out and for saying that to me. It stuck with me.

While, the celebrity was right, I may reach someone, the power of a celebrity voice IS powerful. As of the time I’m writing this, I have 225 followers on Twitter. I have barely more followers/friends on another site. The amount of people that could see my writing is not that large, and the amount that actually do read it is pretty small. But, that doesn’t stop me from sitting down (at least) once per month and writing something. I have something to say and if ONE person gets something from it, I’ve done well.

Celebrities often get criticized for expressing their opinions on social issues. I don’t understand why. As I said, their voice has more relative weight than mine based on the size of the audience they can reach. And that is exactly why I’m proud of the players in the NFL and MLB that took a knee during the National Anthem recently. This goes back to last year and Colin Kaepernick not standing during the anthem. I wrote something about it then, and I’m writing about it again because the issue is quite newsworthy and it needs to be discussed.

Kaepernick started kneeling during the national anthem to draw attention to social injustice. At no point was his protest designed to do anything but that. That’s what the issue was about and that’s what it is still about. It was never a protest of America or a protest of the anthem. It’s a Constitutionally allowed gesture that he did to get attention on himself so he could get attention an issue he felt strongly about.

A flag is just a flag. An anthem is just a song. Saluting them is not a mandatory thing in a country that prides itself on freedom. It’s not a mandatory thing in a country that allows freedom of expression and assembly. It’s not a mandatory thing in a country that was founded on and prides itself on peaceful protest. It will never be a mandatory thing as long as the founding documents are upheld.

The NFL stars that did not stand are not protesting the United States. They are not anti-America. They are not anti-police. They are not anti-soldier. They are anti-injustice. I’ve seen pictures go around recently of Rosa Parks with the caption “Thinking NFL players are ‘protesting the flag’ is like thinking Rosa Parks was protesting public transportation.” I’m not going to explain to you who Rosa Parks was. Quite frankly, you’re a lost cause if you don’t know already. But, I brought up the thing about her because of how relevant it is. Don’t let the story be something it isn’t. This is about social and racial injustice. It always has been and it shows how while we’ve made some progress, we still have miles to go.

Some critics of the NFL protests are saying that the players should be proud of the flag and what it stands for. I agree, they should be. But the flag is just a symbol of the country. It’s a symbol of a country that brags about being #1. It’s a symbol of a country that says it’s the “land of the free and home of the brave.” It’s also the symbol of a country is which minorities are treated like they don’t matter. The middle class is treated like they don’t matter. The poor are treated like a burden. The flag represents those people being held down. It doesn’t currently represent them being lifted up.

Donald Trump ran his campaign last year talking about the “forgotten men and women” in the United States. What about the people that aren’t forgotten, but barely acknowledged? What about the ones that are ignored? What about the ones that don’t have a fighting chance? What about the ones in which the American Dream is just that, only a dream? That is what the protests are about.

People need to be more offended by policies that allow the Middle Class and minorities to be driven into poverty. People need to be more offended by government officials that won’t properly condemn true racism. People need to be more offended by racial and ethnic profiling that exists in the country. People need to be more offended by people being oppressed and suppressed by a system that isn’t designed for them to succeed.

I’m a 41 year old white male. Some of you think I’ve had all the chances in the world to make something for myself. But have I? I’m a 41 year old white male that lives paycheck to paycheck. Any time I come close to getting ahead financially, I face a setback. I admit that I made a lot of mistakes along the way, and yes I am aware that I do have certain advantages because I’m white. That isn’t a good thing, by the way. It’s part of the problem. Why should the color of my skin matter? But, this entry is not about me. I’m not trying to make it about me. I’m going to keep struggling, but I’m going to keep fighting. If you’ve read my other entries, you know I’m a survivor. But, I digress…

The main point of this entry is this: The celebrities and athletes speaking out are the voices of the voiceless.

I know some people stopped reading this entry the second they saw Colin Kaepernick’s name. They have their pre-conceived notions about him, his protest, and his reasons. They won’t pay attention to any facts about the protests. They just believe what they’re told to believe about who and what the protest is offending.

But, a song is just a song and a flag is just a flag. They both stand for something, but until every single one of the citizen of this country are given truly equal rights, equal freedoms, and equal opportunities, the flag and song don’t stand for much. And if I were a celebrity with a bigger audience then the small amount I reach, I wouldn’t stand for the anthem either. I don’t stand for injustice. I don’t stand for inequality.
You shouldn’t stand for it either.

They Tried to Teach the World to Sing in Perfect Harmony, but it was Way Off Key.

“All your beliefs, they’re just that. They’re nothing. They’re how you were taught and raised. That doesn’t make ’em real.”

That quote is from comedian and philosopher, Bill Hicks. I couldn’t possibly agree with him more. We’re living in a strange time when facts don’t matter as much as what people believe to be true. Evidence doesn’t seem to matter.

When we’re children, we’re told of certain fairy tales, myths, and fictional characters. We believe all of them to be true. But at one point or another, we stop believing those stories. We know they were made up. We know the characters aren’t true. We stop believing, for lack of better words, the lies.

So, why is it, that as adults, we don’t have the same truth filter anymore? There are so many false narratives and stories out there. People still believe them. Lies are proven to be lies over and over again, but it doesn’t change the way some people feel about the stories or people included in them.

Without getting into specific lies, I pose these questions to everyone:
How can we grow as a society if we can’t learn? How can we stop all of the in-fighting if we can’t even agree on what is true or not? How can people get better at deciphering misinformation if they’re not informed enough to know it’s not true?

I really believe this to be a problem. This goes beyond just politics. It’s about science. It’s about culture. It’s about life, in general.

I know that I don’t believe the same things I believed when I was a child. I don’t believe in the same things I believed in 10 years ago. I’ve grown. I’ve educated myself. I’ve stepped out beyond what was taught to me and learned things on my own. I needed to do that to become who I am today and to stand for what I stand for. And I had to filter my way through lies, propaganda, and misinformation along the way. I know that there’s a tremendous amount of news sources online that make things up. They’re proven to be lies again and again, and those stories still get regarded as truths.

If we’re going to just focus on politics, we have the Right Wing Media news sites and sources and the Left Wing Media news sites and sources. Not only do they put out almost completely opposite views of things happening right in front of our eyes, but it seems that whatever one’s pre-existing ideology is will determine whether one believes it or not. There’s no room for debate in people’s minds either. No FACTS can sway them.

The topic of political news manipulation is something I could go on and on and on and on about for days. Maybe one day I’ll get deeper into that. But, I don’t think there’s a point to doing here and now. If I said something that people didn’t agree with, even if I had concrete evidence, they wouldn’t believe it anyway.

In other posts, completely unrelated to this topic, I’ve said that we need to be better. We really do need to be better. We just need to be better at filtering the garbage and believing truth. Facts matter. Not alternative facts. Not conjecture, not theories, but FACTS. I’ve written something about that in the past, which you can read here if you want.

Are we so gullible as a society that facts don’t matter? I would like to hope not, but evidence says otherwise. And I believe in evidence. And I believe that if we don’t agree on evidence and facts, it may be impossible for our society to come together. We need to let go of much of what we were taught. Just because a parent or teacher said something to you doesn’t make it right or true. It just means they believed it.

How much prejudice that someone has is strictly because someone told them something about someone else? How many wars have raged for generations because of a simple misinterpretation of a story? How many wars have gone on for so long that people don’t even know why they dislike the other side, they just know they dislike them?

We will not come together as one. We will not grow together. We will not improve the lives of many people that need our help. We will not do any of that until we agree on the reasons they need the help.

We need to think for ourselves. We need to let evidence dictate our beliefs more than hearsay. I don’t think the concept is that difficult.

I Will Feel Great Without My Weight Pulling Me Down.

This entry is an amalgamation of two of three that I’ve been thinking about writing and even one or two that I didn’t want to write. There’s just A LOT going on in my head right now and after writing an initial draft of a blog, I realized how connected all of the topics I’ve been thinking of are. I was going to write just about how tired I am and I have no time for anything. Then I was thinking about how my finances aren’t good. Then I was thinking about how I’m just stressed out about other factors in my life. Then I realized, it’s all connected.

I’m 41 years old. I’ve never moved out on my own. I can’t afford to do it. I can’t even afford to take that chance. I make more than $5 over my state’s minimum per hour wage, I make over $8 less per hour than the minimum needed to live in an apartment in my area. And by live, I mean LIVE. Not just survive. Not eat rice and beans every day. I am well aware of how my living and financial situation very likely hinders my social life. I know how unappealing it makes me in the dating world. I just don’t know what to do about it.

Our time here is very limited. I want to make the best of my time, but I don’t know if I have enough time to do that. I barely have the time to write this entry.  My free time on a day to day basis seems to be even more limited now. I feel lots of pressure to get stuff done in that limited time. But, I have so much that I NEED to get done that I sometimes have trouble deciding where my focus should be. It doesn’t help that I probably suffer from some kind of un-diagnosed Attention Deficit Disorder. I don’t know where to begin, as this entry may really indicate.

I believe that I’m surviving in an economic system that isn’t designed for me to succeed in. The pressure that adds to me (and so many others) is very intense. I work a full-time office job. It’s 40 hours per week, but due to the distance I have to travel, it takes up 50 hours of my time each week. That’s a lot of time. No, getting a new job closer to my house that pays better isn’t necessarily an option. There’s a reason I have that job. It’s what was available to me. And it’s still a better situation for me than I was in at this time last year when I was working multiple jobs for about the same money with only only one guaranteed day off per week.

I worked in the retail world for 20 years. There isn’t a lot of money there. For the most part, I enjoyed what I did. But, I never made a lot of money doing it. Nobody makes a lot of money in that world without a lot of sacrifice. In order to make a good living there, you need to be a salaried manager. That also means you’ll probably be working 50-60 hours per week and get paid for 40. It means you’ll work holidays. It means you’ll have no time for friends or family. I don’t know if I could do that, even if I was given the chance.

As it stands now, I don’t have much time for socializing and I don’t have much money for it either. But, I still do what I can. I go to concerts. I go to some wrestling shows. I try to entertain myself as much as I can. I need the relief. But, every single thing I do stresses me out. I’m stressed when I lounge. I stress over making leisure time for myself. And when I’m in that leisure time, I’m stressed about how much it’s costing me or how I could be doing something else or how little time I have for any of it.

Part of why I have so little money available to me now is that everything I do is paid for out of my pocket. I have not used a credit card in well over seven years. I got into a lot of trouble with those before and even though I paid off ALL of my credit card debt, in some ways I’m still paying for it. And I fear I always will. I see irony here. I can’t afford to take a chance on debts because credit card debt cost me so much more than just money. It cost me time and I can’t ever get that back.

Would I be less burdened if I had more money? That’s very possible. Maybe I could move out. Maybe I wouldn’t move out and I would just fix up my house. And trust me, it’s in dire need of a lot of work. I’m the only one willing to do anything about it, but I don’t have the money and I certainly don’t have much time to do it. Being in this house is another serious source of my stress. I don’t like what this place has turned into. I don’t like what it represents in my life. I don’t like that I can’t fix it. And the word “can’t” is one I’ve tried not to use in my life. But, this house is a world of “can’t.”

If I had my own place, I would be free of the stress that my house brings me. But, my financial burden would be so much greater. It’s a trade off that I don’t have the option of making. There’s literally nothing I can do about it at the moment and that alone sometimes and unbearable burden on me.

I work so I can afford to get to work. That’s what it seems like to me. I got my car in 2000. It now has over 200,000 miles on it. If it stops working I won’t be able to get to work. If I can’t get to work, I won’t make any money. If I don’t make money, I won’t be able to fix the car or get a new one. But, if I could afford to get a new one now, I probably would. This problem is a source of so much stress for me and so many other people in my generation. I read a book that went into a lot of details about that a while back and have referenced it before, but read “Hand to Mouth” by Linda Tirado and you’ll see how serious it is and how there’s so many people in my situation. And so many of those people feel completely helpless and hopeless.

If I had more money and time, maybe I would go back to school. Maybe I would go for something beyond my associates degree. But, unfortunately, I have neither the money nor the time to even consider it. And I certainly don’t currently have the mental space available to think about adding that burden.

I stated that I’m in an economic system that isn’t designed for me to succeed in, and I believe that with all of my being. I’ve read so much about the subject and I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that the situation I’m in, and the situation that so many others of my generation is in, is due to the policies enacted in the 1980s that have never truly been reversed and have failed EVERY SINGLE TIME they’ve been in place. I don’t think it’s possible for anyone in the Middle Class in America to thrive until there’s a massive change there. I really don’t want to get very political in this entry, but this needs to be said. We need a NEW New Deal. We need to go back to the system that we had in place after the Great Depression. It allowed the Middle Class not just to survive, but thrive. It allowed business to thrive.

I’m not an economic expert, but I understand the simple rules of “supply and demand.” Many people in power today believe if you create a supply there will be a demand. But it’s not that simple. Many retail chains are failing because we can’t afford their supply. Therefore, there isn’t a demand. If there were less financial burdens on Middle Class people, such as myself, we would have money to freely spend without worrying about we could afford to buy more than just Ramen noodles for lunch. Give us access to more money and we’ll create the demand for the supply that the demand makes necessary. Then the demand for supply would create a demand for jobs. And all of that should allow businesses to have enough money to pay more than they have been. It seems simple enough to me.

Lessen the burdens on people like me and you won’t see me so stressed about my time. You’ll see so many people less stressed about how their compensation doesn’t live up their productivity. You’ll see so many people less worried about whether or not they can provide for their family and kids. You’ll see people not needing to work multiple jobs just to stay financially afloat. You’ll see a much healthier world.

I’ve sometimes given thought to jumping into the world of politics. I have good ideas. They could be useful. I’ve been asked about running for local office. The answer I usually give as to why I won’t do it is that I don’t have the time to do it. That’s true, unfortunately. I don’t have the time to commit to things that could improve my life and possibly others. That last sentence is actually pretty sad.

I’m scared. I’m afraid that nothing will change. I’m afraid that this is how my life is going to be. I’m afraid that all of the effort I put in will make no difference. I’m afraid that I’ll be forced to do NOTHING socially just to have a few more dollars in the bank account. I’m afraid of the stress that would cause me. I’m stressed out about possible future stresses. I’m scared and stressed about how I’ve been programmed to not have confidence in myself and the stress of the situation I’m dealing with amplifies that. I barely have enough time to get a good night’s sleep and all of this stress is preventing me from sleeping well. I scared that this cycle won’t break. My depression is keeping my energy levels down and it makes it more difficult to do any of the things I want to do, and since I know how limited my available time is, it adds to all of the stress.

I want to be able to enjoy myself. I want to be able to travel. I want to go to local historic sites and take pictures. I want to be able to be in a healthy relationship without having to worry about travel and expense. I want to be more available to my friends, which I feel I haven’t been lately. I want to be able to do all of these things without worrying about how much it’s costing me financially or how much time it’s taking away from other things. I just want to stop worrying. I want the choices I make to not weigh so heavily on me. I want less burdens. I want to stop surviving day to day. I want to truly live. But, I don’t know what I can do to make that happen. I don’t know what options are available. I just know that a lot needs to change. But, I don’t even know who or what can make that happen.

I guess the point of this post is that I’m really feeling the pressure right now. There aren’t any new reasons for it. Nothing has changed for me since my last entry, but for some reason, the burdens feel heavier. The weight of them is getting to me and I’m starting to feel the way I described in a recent entry, but it’s more prominent.

I will definitely revisit this entry and its topics later. Because, while my struggles continue, so do I. I have no interest in quitting, regardless of how much stress, anxiety, or other issues it causes me. Of course, that adds to the stress and anxiety, but well…anyway…

I Don’t Catch My Breath Until the End of the Day.

From reading my entries, you may have come to the conclusion that I do a lot of reflecting on my past. Well, you’re right, I do. And I usually do that even more so towards the end of the year and right before my birthday, which happens to be just about in the middle of the year. My year is broken up pretty evenly by that. This entry is another of those reflections and somewhat of a response to something I wrote a few ago when I was discussing what I felt to be the lack of progress in my life. I said I would write a follow up to it and with my birthday just days from now, it’s as good of a time as any to do it.

I feel very overwhelmed by life at times and very underwhelmed by results. Many things that I have enjoyed doing have become more a burden than a joy. I struggle with getting the motivation to do things that I know I should do. I think it’s a bigger issue than just being depressed. And I don’t know what the issue is.

I’ve written a few times about running races and how good those experiences were for me. Often I would be doing a practice run on a treadmill and think I couldn’t go any more, but I would will myself to do it. Nowadays, there’s so much doubt in my head about running that stopping a lot earlier than I originally planned is a relief for me. I don’t like that, but there’s a mental block that I haven’t been able to break through.

I felt that my social life was better over the last year than it had been in a very long time. I was in a relationship that really enjoyed being in. I felt it was easy for me. Many of the negative issues I had with previous relationships weren’t there. This one was just good. It was fun. I felt that it was good for me too. However, it wasn’t sustainable and it recently ended. Unlike other splits, I’ve had, there are no hard feelings here. For reasons on both of our ends, it just wasn’t able to be keep going as it was. Even without the animosity, there was definitely an emotional setback for me. I think my job was good for me there. It distracted me from the split, but I also think that distraction from emotions isn’t good sometimes. I think you need to feel the emotions you’re supposed to feel when you’re supposed to feel them and I don’t know if I did.

Much to the surprise of many of my co-workers, I genuinely like my job. It’s a desk job, but after working various forms of retail jobs for over 20 years, a desk job is beyond a pleasant change of  pace. In many ways, it’s actually ideal for me. I’m paid more per hour than I have been in many years. I work 40 hours per week. I’m still not able to make progress. The bills and expenses keep adding up. They keep coming. If I make more, the expenses increase. It’s a vicious cycle. This topic will most definitely be revisited at some point, but maybe not in this entry.

Getting back to what I said about being overwhelmed and underwhelmed at the same time. I’m still searching for that elusive balance. I want to just be whelmed. And honestly, I don’t even know if that’s an actual word, and if it is, if it fits this context. But, if overwhelmed and underwhelmed are things, why isn’t whelmed. Anyway, I digress…

I want the results of my life to match the effort I put in. But wait a minute, I just said that I’m having trouble finding motivation to do things. There’s likely a correlation there that I haven’t really put together yet. Unfortunately, the effort and the malaise aren’t in the same areas of my life. I work hard and get nowhere. I lose motivation to do things, but I still work hard. I do what I need to do, but I often wonder if it’s enough.

Where exactly am I supposed to be? Where exactly should I be? Are they the same? Am I there now? Who gets to decide these things?
Those questions are somewhat rhetorical and not rhetorical at the same time.
As I typed that last part, I was reminded of the first entry I did on this site. I guess not much as changed after all.

I’m sure anyone that reads this will think that I just need to change things in my life. Well, what are they? I said I was going to plan things out more to make sure I get things done, but I don’t even know how much time I have to do things. HOWEVER…
I’m going to plan things. Over the next few weeks and months, I’m going to do all I can to get myself into better physical shape. I will do my best to break through whatever mental barriers I have in front of me. Maybe this alone will be a big catalyst for me. Who knows?

I said earlier that I think it’s important to feel what you’re supposed to feel when you’re supposed to feel it. Sometimes that’s actually difficult and that leads to more stress. Last month, I touched on what it’s like for me to know a depression is coming on. Not being able to properly express myself at times can lead to that stress. It’s not good, and I have to work on that as well.

I write one entry per month right now. Maybe I won’t limit myself to just one. I have ideas for entries, so maybe I’ll just go with it when an idea comes to me. Although, I don’t want these entries to be less meaningful and thought out. I do my best to be constructive and to vent my frustrations in a somewhat positive manner. I have baggage to unpack and the more I unpack, the better off I should be.

I want to attempt to keep this particular entry as short as possible and not have it go into too many topics, so I’ll wrap it up now. I started my 40s very content. A few things have changed since one year ago and I’m not as sure about my direction. Malaise or not, depression or not, stress or not, I’m not done yet. I have absolutely no idea what 41 and on will bring me. I don’t know where it will bring me. I just know I need to get there.

To Weigh One’s Heart Against the Oncoming Dark.

Do I know when something bad is about to happen to me or do I just expect it? Have I been happy for too long? Was my happiness real? Was my happiness a delusion? These are questions I often deal with. And this isn’t necessarily about any one thing in particular.

I wanted to write this entry, which is almost a follow up to one I wrote just a few months back, because this is the last day of Mental Health Awareness Month, and also because the thoughts and worries described in that opening paragraph often show up, with no warning. But, instead of rehashing the exact same entry, I want to dig a little bit deeper into what it does to me when I feel a depression coming on. Especially if I fear it could be a big one.

The first and most prominent feeling is anxiety. I get so anxious and my focus drifts. I’ll feel completely empty inside, and I’m not talking about being hungry, that comes later. I’ll start to just feel afraid of everything around me. My heart will start racing, and that will make me more afraid.

At night, I won’t be able to sleep because I can’t shut my brain off. I’ll lay in bed in deafening silence. During the day, I’ll doze off because I hadn’t slept at night. But, that happens at times when I’m not supposed to be sleeping, like when I’m work or maybe when I’m driving. I’ll yawn a lot, and each time it feels like a breath taken during hyperventilation.

As I said earlier, my focus will drift. My attention span will vanish. If I’m listening to a podcast, I may have to rewind a certain portion two or three times because I won’t remember what they said just seconds later…
Ironically, it’s been about 15 minutes since I wrote that last sentence.
Anyway…

I’ll feel a need to talk to someone about my problems, but I’ll have the desire and instinct to shut down and and overwhelming urge to leave everything. I’ll want to go back to my bedroom, turn off the lights, and just sit there. I may have the TV on, but it may only be YouTube clips because there isn’t any way I would be able to watch anything longer than five minutes. If it’s the summer time, I’ll make sure the air conditioning is off. I’ll sit there in the uncomfortable heat and humidity because I’ll feel a need to suffer, because my brain tells me that I deserve it. I may have my phone off during this time to avoid anyone contacting me, even though I started off by saying I may have a need to talk to someone.

My instincts will be to quit things I’m involved in. I guess that if I have less to do or if I’m in involved with less things, it’ll somehow lessen my burdens and lessen the figurative weight holding me down. And once my mind is set to actually quit something, it does feel like a relief, unless I need to talk to someone about it, then I get very anxious about it.

I’ll want to do absolutely nothing. Every day tasks become a complete and sometimes overwhelming challenge. So much mental strength will be used us just to get out of bed, shower, and leave my house. Getting through a day at work, even if I’m enjoying what I do there, is still a challenge because I know whatever the problem is will still be there when work is done.

But while doing nothing I’ll wonder if doing nothing is actually hiding from my problems? Why am I not confronting them? Or is it just doing what I need to do at that time to deal with them? But, what exactly is it that I need to do about the problems? I don’t know the answers to these questions, and that makes it all worse.

Recent memories will start to feel distant while distant memories starting being prominent.

The emptiness I spoke of earlier will grow and grow until it’s a loneliness that can’t be subdued by talking to just anyone. It just lingers there until it goes away, but that could be hours, minutes, days, weeks…
It’s never consistent.

I could be in a situation where none of the blame lies with me, but my instinct is to feel guilty. I will accept blame for things that aren’t my doing. That weighs me down too.

I want you keep all of this mind right now when I say that all of the symptoms I’ve discussed so far are how I feel before the depression really kicks in.

If I’m truly going through a depressive episode, you can take everything I’ve talked about, multiply it a few times, add a total loss of appetite, the non-stop taste of bile in my mouth, and a constant fatigue. You’ll also notice that I may have no ability to communicate with you since I’ll lose focus during a conversation and forget what you’ve said, if I heard it at all. I’ll have the desire to find a corner, and sit in it, curled up in a ball. It’s a feeling similar to what people with claustrophobia feel, because it’s like everything is caving in on me, even if I’m in a wide open space. And the fact that I’m using so much mental and emotional strength to push away feelings, situations, and people during that time is exhausting.

I’ve done so much to avoid getting to that point. It’s been A LONG time since I’ve been there. I fight it off as much as I can, and it takes a lot out of me. I do what I can to distract myself from getting there. And sometimes, fighting it off can be such an arduous task. Sometimes, it just seems easier to let it happen and embrace the suffering than trying to fight it, but I don’t want to do that. I’ve been there and I don’t want to do back.

If I do get to that point, socializing is more difficult for me than it normally is. I will withdraw a bit, but if I have to be in a social setting, I’ll do my best, but what will that look like? I wrote something a while back that you can look at if you want to. That entry went into some of my social anxieties. If I remember correctly, the gathering I was about to attend around the time that I wrote that one had my so anxious and nervous that I actually lost track of where I was while I was driving there and made a few wrong turns, and it wasn’t intentional.

This entry is a bit more manic than others I’ve written. The thoughts aren’t nearly as fluid as I would normally like them to be, but I want it that way. I want anyone reading this to be able to see what my mind goes through during these times. I want to somehow convey the chaos that goes on in my mind.

I’ve read about mental illness and I know that not everyone experiences the same things. I know that how I handle, process, and deal with my depression may not work for others. I’m not even sure how well it works for me. But, for now, I have a sense of control of it. I’ve been through it enough times to know how to not let it get too far gone.

I don’t know how much control I have over certain aspects of my life and I certainly don’t know if I have that much control over my mind, but I can do my best to control how the two interact. There’s no choice in that matter. If things get bad for me, I will fight. I will get through it, and I will be wiser.

Maybe I’m not much wiser than I was a few minutes ago, but maybe you have a better understanding of what it’s like in my head at times. It can be a roller coaster with a lot more declines than inclines and getting out of there can be difficult.

Winston Churchill famously said “If you’re going through Hell, keep going.” I’m not quite in a Hell now, but where ever I am, I’m still going.