Our daily choice.

I read an article that had something that struck a cord with me. I have heard the saying “just be happy and you will be happy” or “why don’t you just feel happy” or my favorite “you are choosing to be depressed”. I read the following and I was taken back. It fits so well.

If I told someone who was happy right now to be sad, they would likely have a hard time doing so. The opposite is quite true. 

I do want to give credit to the writer. The rest of the article is here.

https://themighty.com/2016/04/happiness-as-a-choice-meme-feeds-stigma-around-mental-illness/
I think we need to shout this out more for the people in the back to hear.

#hugapony my friends

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Tired tired tired everywhere.

I have been so tired in the most recent weeks. Going back to work has taken its toll on me. My wife and kids have felt it as well. Starting school and keeping up with all the different jobs has been exhausting. I barely have time to function.

I came across a meme that help summarize how I have been feeling. I do feel that fibromyalgia could be changed to almost any chronic disease. I would be very presumptuous to think we have the corner on pain.

I am pressing forward. I am doing my best not to let this hold me back.

Any prayers would be most appreciated.

#hugapony

Helping hands.

I had a solo panel at Anime Overload in Austin, Texas this past weekend. I managed to speak clearly, not break down crying, and I hope I change some lives.

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It might not show it here, but it was an almost full panel with most of the chairs filled (including my thumb at the bottom right corner of the screen!). One of the things I do at this type of panel is close the door and make it a safe room. We keep what happens behind those doors safe and secure. Stories that are shared and experiences that happen are locked for only those in the room to hear.

I enjoy the help it brings to others. I have been asked to continue this type of panel for at least two other shows. It shows the growing need to talk openly about things like depression and other mental illnesses and give support to those who need it. I have been blessed to have people support me on this adventure and I am humbled to have been put in this position.

One thing I notice in this panel is the raw emotion that comes from the room. Being able to handle that and to deal with it has never been easy. I spent the first hour after this panel trying to keep to myself and deal with all the emotional energy that comes from talking/venting/sharing. I have yet to see a panel where at least 50% of the attendees did not cry (myself included).

Now this is not just a panel about openly talking about our lives but also how to help others and ways to deal with problems. I always invite people to share their lives and experiences with others to show what works and doesn’t work. I share my life and ways to help others. I push them to form a community of individuals to bond together and to build support groups.

At the end of the day I was able to talk to several people closely and give them some guidance in their lives. I was approached by the directors toward the end of the convention because someone (or more than one I am not sure) spoke out at a meeting requesting me to continue to do the panel. Again, humbled was just the first thing I felt.

I am drained at the moment but happy. I enjoy helping people and it makes me want to do more. It takes a lot out of me to speak like this but I hope to get better at it. If you were at the panel and want to leave a comment OR you would like to request a panel for a convention, leave a comment.

Leave a comment to just say hey if you want, I will respond.

Thank you all for your love and support.

#hugapony my friends

Panelling the walls.

I am on my way to a convention called Anime Overload to work, like I do at most conventions. I am also doing Another invisible disability panel. 

Fun times. 

I believe this will be a solo run, not that I haven’t done that before, so this will be interesting to say the least. Also, working and panels don’t always mix so again interesting. 

My, what an interesting life I live. 

Hope to see you out here.

The Great Unknown.

It has not been a good day/week/month/year mentally. I have undergone many a issue. I have worked harder on finding out more about myself and what is going on. I have worked harder on myself and my illness. I have tried to make things change. I have pushed to have more control over my life.

And I feel back behind square one.

Square Zero.

I am tired of being tired. I am tired of being sick. I am tired of hurting every single day. I am tired of being a mess.

I decided to write what I feel and what goes through my head when I am having a bad day. I wanted to show what goes through my head and what my mind is telling me. I wanted to see on paper and hold my issues in my hand. Try and see the tangible evidence of my mind spiraling out of control. I only wrote for about a minute, but it was not pretty.

I AM SELF-CENTERED. I am an idiot. I am a horrid person. I am a failure. I bring everyone down around me. No one wants me. No one actually cares for me. No one wants to give me anything. No one wants to do something for me without wanting something in return. I always feel guilty, even when sitting and reading. I don’t take care of the kids. I don’t fulfill anyone’s hopes, dreams, desires. I am not attractive. 

I am trying to sort through just went through my head what my mind tells me.

I know I am not a complete failure. (But you fail at so much)

I know I take care of my kids. (You don’t do enough)

I know people care for me. (They are just faking or feeling sorry for you out of pity)

I know my wife and kids love me. (They have to, they don’t have a choice)

I should not feel guilty about sitting and reading. (You are lazy for taking time for yourself and need to be helping others or cleaning or anything but what you want to do)

My mind is a battleground. I wanted share this with everyone. Not for pity or help. But to show that I suffer as well. I fight each day. I have people fighting with me. I am seeking new ideas and ways to help/sort/better myself.

You are not alone, dear reader.

Even holding the card in my hand, I see myself and almost want to take pity on me. I have to write things down to get them out of my head? Worthless. Even now I struggle to be free of my mind.

Even now I hug a pony.

 

 

 

I wish I had Cancer

Cancer is a disease that people can relate to and under. The causal head nod, followed by the “I’m so sorry” makes it so people understand that something serious is going on. People hear it and recognize that a person is going through one of the most difficult things to go through. One of our closest family friends is a cancer survivor. Eight years ago she got a terminal diagnosis. She says her first thought was “Thank God it’s cancer and not depression.”

Depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses don’t carry that same weight. People don’t understand and cannot see the changes. Family, friends, and even doctors all look at you and say “It is all in your head”. While they are not false, this makes it seem like I have the ability to change my illness and “Just feel and act better and you will BE better”. It is easy to forget that these illnesses can be just as deadly.

Here are some statistics on depression/suicide.

  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US for all ages. (CDC)
  • The suicide rates decreased from 1990-2000 from 12.5 suicides per 100,000 to 10.4 per 100,000.  Over the past decade, however, the rate has again increased to 12.1 per 100,000. Every day, approximately 105 Americans die by suicide. (CDC)
  • There is one death by suicide in the US every 12.3 minutes. (CDC)
  • Depression affects 20-25% of Americans ages 18+ in a given year. (CDC)
  • Suicide takes the lives of over 38,000 Americans every year. (CDC)
  • Only half of all Americans experiencing an episode of major depression receive treatment. (NAMI)
  • 80% -90% of adolescents that seek treatment for depression are treated successfully using therapy and/or medication. (TADS)
  • An estimated quarter million people each year become suicide survivors (AAS).
  • There is one suicide for every estimated 25 suicide attempts. (CDC)
  • There is one suicide for every estimated 4 suicide attempts in the elderly. (CDC)

With all this data, why is there such a stigma around mental and neurological disorders? Why are people so quick to judge? Why is it so hard to believe it IS all in my head due to my head having an illness.

It is frustrating trying to explain why you can’t focus on the happy. Your mind looks and seeks the flaws. You go and find thinks to fill the gaps in your day so the anxiety doesn’t catch up to you. You just try to stay ahead of the wave that is threatening to drown you.

And people stare at you.

They wonder why you are so different. They wonder why you can’t just feel better. They just want you to be normal. They are tired of you and all the baggage that you carry. They get tired of you and how you act.

Believe me, if I could just “Man up” and be a better person, I would have done it years ago.

No, I would never want or wish on anyone cancer. It is a terrible disease and I am glad so much time and research goes into it. I just want people to understand that mental health issues can be just as dangerous and deadly. Keeping people’s mental state in order so they can live better lives should be a focus for everyone.

I’ll step off my soapbox now.

#hugapony

A-kon panel #2

My second A-kon panel was not an easy one. I was part of a group that spoke on invisible diseases and disabilities. I was asked several months before, if I wanted to be a part of it. I jumped at the opportunity to speak. Unusual for a introvert like me. I, however, know that I have a way with words and thoughts and feelings. I know I can help people.

That I have, indeed, helped people.

We all gathered in a panel room, all unsure of what to expect. The room was almost filled. We sat down and our head panelist called everyone’s attention.

And we talked.

We, as the panelists, gave our stories. We gave our backgrounds and our illnesses. We gave our experiences. As our stories were told, I ended up passing some of the ponies I carry on me (my talisman against the evils of depression and anxiety) up and down the panel line to help every get through their stories. We gave a piece of ourselves to the crowd.

And they responded.

I do not believe there was a dry eye in the room. I saw some people get up and leave, only to come back with tissues.

Some cried for us. I had a close friend who said they could only see us as people she couldn’t help and wept. She had me in tears when I talked to her afterward. This kind and loving soul said she just wanted to give us all a big hug and make everything better.

Some cried with us. Some in the audience stood up to thank us. They were amazed that we had the courage to speak. They said they didn’t feel alone any more. We all were in a room that was a safe place, and the audience opened up.

It was awe inspiring.

After the panel the crowd came up to talk to each of us. Some wanted to know more of what we do to work through our illnesses. Others to reach out with encouragement. One will forever stick in my mind.

I have a wonderful young lady come up to me and thank me for speaking. She told me she had been fighting her own anxiety that day and had almost left several times, but she wanted to attend our panel. She said she was so glad she did. I thanked her for coming and started talking about what she had been through. She started to cry as I could see her beating herself up for having the anxiety but she didn’t know what else to do. She had nothing to help her.

She didn’t have a talisman against the dark.

I pulled out my mini Fluttershy and handed it to her. She took it as she wiped away tears. As she started to calm down, I asked her if she had heard of stuffed therapy. She said she had during my presentation but didn’t know much more than that. I told her that the plushie she held was the first step in helping. I showed her how much she had calmed down just by holding it and petting it. I showed her a weapon to fight with.

And I gave her my talisman.

The room stopped. Many there knew my symbol of stuffed therapy. Some knew it was my first plushie in this adventure. They knew it was my mini Fluttershy, and how special it was to me. Tears started to flow from my friends who were still in shock.

This wonderful person who clutched at the plushie started crying and hugged me tight. She thanked me over and over. She took a step back and looked at Fluttershy again. As she looked, I explained that that was my first plushie. I told her that I had it when I first went to the doctor. She look on in shock as I explained how much love and help that mini had given me. Shock then spread to the rest of the room as everyone saw me tell her that I wanted this dear girl, who was suffering, that I wanted her to take care of Fluttershy.

She broke down crying and hugged me again even tighter.

I said a quiet goodbye to one of my dearest friend who brought me so much strength and love. I passed her on to the next person to take care of her. I strengthen someone else to help them through life. I started to cry myself.

Everyone started to cry.

I am tearing up thinking about it now. I wonder how she is doing? I wonder how her mini Fluttershy is doing? I wonder if I helped enough?

I believe I did.

Goodbye once more, my dear friend. May you bring happiness and peace and love and joy to another as you did me. You were there for countless panic attacks. You were with me at my first doctors visit. You were there in the hospital when I was sick. You were there in the lowest times of my life. May you do well and do the same for her.

#hugapony my friends.

Updating life, please stand by.

I have been busy. I have been stressed out. I look at Bilbo Baggins talking about butter being scraped over too much bread with deep set envy. I long for days of “normal”.

I have hit a very rough patch. My meds are fickle at best at the moment. I have been sick for 2 weeks because my anxiety has shut down my immune system. My stress keeps me up nights. I stay up till 3 or 4 in the morning but still manage to wake up at 9 am or earlier because stress and heartburn from my stress wake me up. I stumble out to pills and coffee and spend the next 2 hours trying to find energy or the will power to do anything but just sit.

But it is in very short supply.

People don’t understand that anxiety makes you focus on everything and you can’t stop. You are hyper sensitive to you, those around you, outside events that you have no control over. You can’t push them to the back of your mind. You can’t “just act better”. “Just go make a difference in your life” is not an available option.

Depression then feeds on you as you slide down the hole which anxiety beats you down into.

I am beat up. I will keep fighting. I hope to feel better soon. I hope life returns to normal.

Resetting life is fun.

#hugapony my friends.

Pride, meet Fall.

The the human race is a very prideful race. You can take pride in your job. You take pride in your house and care. You take pride in your health, wealth, and everything. You take pride in helping others. Cosplayers take pride in costumes. Gamers take pride in their skill. Writers take pride in their words.

It is hard to accept help because that means you cannot hold to your pride of doing it yourself.

It be very humbling to sit there and accept help from others. I’ve been blessed beyond measure with friends and family who helped me in my life. I have seen more generosity and grace in the past few years then the rest of my life combined.

I am beginning to think humble is not a strong enough word for me anymore.

I humbled by the acts of my wife. She has carried the burden of children. She has stood by my side through fire and danger, poverty and wealth. She amazes me every single day.

I am humbled by the acts of my daughters. When they just come into my room to say that they love me. When they ask if I am having a bad day due to my mental issues. When they bring me a blanket and plushie because they heard me have a bad phone call. “Oh ye little pitchers with big ears.”

I am blessed beyond measure.

There are difficulties admitting that there’s something wrong or that you need help. Even if it’s meeting that means admitting it to ourselves. I have been put into many situations in the last few years that has made me ask, beg at times, for help. There is no pride in begging. Only someone broken on their knees.

I have had to ask, and still ask, for patience in my anxiety and depression. Being overwhelmed is never something you want to go through. These are issues I would not wish on anyone.

Last but certainly not least, I want to say “Thank you”.

To you reading this, you give me hope and inspiration that I can maybe help you understand my life. Maybe I bring entertainment and funny stories. I might even bring a small amount of joy to you. I thank you.

Thank you everyone who has been there for me personally, financially, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. If I had time, and I want to make time, I would write each one of you and thank you personally. Let this be a statement, no, a declaration of thank you on this, my small part of the internet.

Thank you all who read this.

I don’t believe we say thank you enough in society. I want to change that. I will do it to any and everyone. Thank you for being here, on this earth. I challenge everyone to say thank you more.

One person at a time.

#hugapony my friends

#stuffedtherapy

Riding that long train.

Life has been a mixed bag for me here lately. I’ve been doing my best to find more positive things to think about when I’m so negative. I have not forgotten a dose of my medication in a while so my body’s been responding well. There’s only one big fear for me at the moment.

I’m moving in 30 days.

I’ve been beyond grateful for the past 8 months that people have been giving us a place to stay but now that is coming to a close. I personally can’t wait to have my own space and to be able to have a place that I can call my own not to worry or stress about anything that I do. All places I’ve stayed I have not made me feel unwelcome by any means, there’s always a certain level of stress of being able to be yourself and not be afraid to get in trouble for it.

It’s also going to be nice to have have all my stuff out of storage.

My wife went and bought me a couple books that I already own because she could not find them at the library. It’s tapped into a part of me that I’d forgotten. Just about forgotten how much I love to read. My nightstand in my old apartment was filled with 12 to 15 books at a time of all sorts of subjects. There is fantasy, sci-fi, historical books, devotions, comics, my Bible. All these half hazardly laid on my nightstand where I could pick them up at a moment’s notice and be able to dive into it Adventure or to find out more information about historical event that just fascinates me.

It was my escape at times.

I could stop worrying about me and worry about a fictional character. I knew most of the endings as I had read and reread most of the books in my library. And all these books have been locked away in storage. Leaving a hole in me.

One that I had not known I had been missing.

I have lost myself in those three books (The Dresden Files for those interested) for the last 2 days. I have not been that content with having something besides worry and stress occupy my mind.

I have a passion for reading.

And writing I suppose as I continue to write to you.

#hugapony my friends

#stuffedtherapy