Crying for help.

In the wake of the national tragedies that have been sweeping the nation these past days, the subject of mental health has come back to the surface. These terrible acts are committed by cowards, as we are told about how they cried out for help but were denied. They were shown the door too many times and the mental health professionals were unable to treat them. We collectively are at fault for not understanding.

I am tired of it.

Why is it the debate only comes up in a tragedy? Why is it that we are unable to show the care and affection that is needed in the moment and not after the fact? How can there be this much failure from so many people? Is it because we are not listening in the moments that matter? Are we not judging so many people that try and get help? I have seen too many people bullied for seeking the help that they need and it is not even second guessed. We have failed as a society twice.

First, we deny or attack those who need our help. Would you slap a child’s hand away from the railing as it struggled to stand up? Would you deny a diabetic who needs their insulin? Would you attack the person missing the leg that they don’t need the crutch and just need to suck it up and learn how to walk like the rest of us? How terrible it is that we do this to those who need help in their darkest times. When we tell the mom who needs an antidepressant, because she can’t understand why she can’t be happy with 2 kids, that she is failing as a mom. We look at the teen who cannot concentrate, because the neurons in the brain are firing too much, that he just is a lazy child who will be worthless. When someone needs therapy, the whole room gasps in shock and horror. Everyone whispers to themselves in secret at how horrible that person must be. The is the social normalcy we have created. We do not accept our failure as a society that has created this innate fear of speaking up that you need help.

Second, we blindly deny judgment that we could have done something to help them. We blame anything else, objects, movies, video games, technology, generational gaps, lack of family structure.  Has perfectionism reach this highest level that if you don’t get the perfect SAT score, ace that university exam, get the best paying job, it is just not worth living this life, or even I need to bring everything else down because that is all I have left. Anything less than perfection is not accepted. We blame politics and groups of people and everything else. The first part about fixing a problem is admitting we have a problem. However, everyone needs to admit that we are all at fault. Instead we are stuck shifting the blames from one another in an attempt to make ourselves not feel guilty.

Too much hurt has been caused in this environment that we live in. Accountability is at an all time low. Yours, mine, everyone. We need to make a change. Sometimes it can be a small act of kindness. Maybe you turn the other cheek and not say that snarky comeback. What are you doing to break the chain?

#hugapony my friends

Tumbling through the Fog

There has been an amazing amount of activities going in in my brain lately.  Few things fascinate me as much as the human brain does. It regulates the body and all the functions. It makes sure to self protect from danger. It creates entire worlds in an imagination. It runs 24 hours a day, everyday for our entire lives. The brain is truly an incredible thing. But, as much as we don’t want to believe as a society, it can be sick.

Its easy to spot the sick brain when it has cancer, the skull is cracked, or if there is a hemorrhage. These are readily identified and show the causes as such. Treatments are fairly known and while it is terrible when these things happen, it is clear what is the problem When it comes to mental health, it becomes much more murky.

The few tests done are for chemical imbalances. It shows the nutrients and lacking minerals in the body, blood sugars, and toxin screenings. The next one goes through the history of your mental health, changes shown, what is being down to help. We are listed as a Risk/Non-risk to ourselves and we are shuffled on to the next set of testing.

This endless cycle of not knowing, being criticized by friends, family, and even the doctors themselves. It becomes almost unbearable. Going day in and day out fighting your own brain and having to argue with yourself that you do matter, and that there is something wrong with you. You have to convince yourself that, Yes you are sick and you need help. This constant wear strains the already weary brain.

Now we add in a physical illness. Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, or Crohn’s decease. Illnesses that are not an immediate threat but cause all kinds of havoc in the daily lives of sufferers. Lack of sleep, fighting pain and nerve medications, and the conditions themselves slowing and sometimes stopping us in our tracks. I have used over half my vacation time for sick time this last year. It wears through you at a steady rate and shows the problems that are evident in your body.

All these things make up for a depressive episode. Times when reason and rational go out the window and show that even when you are intelligent and even aware of all the answers and conditions, you still stumble and cannot make your brain see that it is wrong. You spiral down the drain and you argue with yourself 10 times over more than you usually do in an attempt to find peace. It is this peace that you seek. A peace that is the calm center in this hurricane.

It takes every bit of effort and help to find it.

And, like a hurricane, when you find this peace in the eye of the storm, you brace for the back half of the storm. You see the storm clouds, you feel the winds and you cringe as you know how much it is going to hurt. This is were I am at today. I have been through the wringer and am just trying to catch my breath. I feel the second half about to hit.

I am extremely grateful for those kind people who have helped me through this time. My life has been in pure turmoil for the last year. I have struggled and fought for each and every inch I have gained in my life. I have been finding my way through this fog and have done well from the outside. Inside, I am not sure if I have done enough to recover/

I will continue to fight and write and tell my store of how I feel and what it is like for you to read. I will continue to fight my brain and try to find the peace in my head to be able to relax. I hope, pray, and beg that I will be taken seriously. I will continue to buy and give away stuffed animals and plushies to help others and myself.

#hugaplushie my friends

Depression vs One good day

Depression is a constant thing. It wraps around you like a cloak. It is an unwanted house guest that you cant get to leave. You are made constantly aware of it when you wake up in the morning and you never forget it when you lay down for the evening. It is not something that is gotten rid of because of a mood change.

Most people are surprised at finding out people that we thought were the happiest are actually depressed. Seeing people who are smiling the most or acting the happiest who suddenly have an episode shocks and scares people. One of the many problems facing people who are suffering from depression is the lack of recognition of the signs. Having someone who has to help everyone else through the hardest times because they know how hard it is to be going through.

Being depressed is not mood or attitude, it is a condition. Telling someone to be happy or to do something fun will not help the person in the long run. “Living life for you!” or any of the thousand pick me ups that can be said will not change the underlying issue that could be causing this bout of depression.

However, people who have depression can have good moments, days and even longer periods of time. It is odd or hard to see someone who goes through awful times and then manages to find happiness in a book they haven’t read in years. They can go to beach and have a wonderful day with many pleasant memories. They are allowed good days.

The ridicule from those good days often makes things worse.

In being told that we are not really depressed if we can have a good day illegitimatizes what is being experienced. This false narrative that we do not know what is happening in our own bodies and mind, teaches us that we do not know what we should feel and furthermore makes us fulled with guilt from being allowed a good day. Only imagine, after having found the energy to go and experience something happy and fun to be told we should never have felt bad in the first place and if we really were depressed, we should feel guilty about making others feel bad.

We wonder why we have a mental health crisis in today’s world.

You can be depressed and go to Disney world. You can have depression and enjoy food or movies. That doesn’t cure it but we are allowed to be happy. Helping people understand that instant cures do not exist and that just because we are smiling doesn’t mean we are not still hurting. Having a happy moment doesn’t stop the chemical imbalance that is present in our bodies and minds. Laughing with a puppy does not cure the years of mental and physical abuse that has been done to someone. Please stop judging people on one good day.

Holiday happiness fighting

One thing I have noticed during the holidays this year is the treatment of people and employees. Having a chronic illness has made me very aware of people and the feelings they give off. I can sense more of when a person is having a bad day or the tension in the room. I always try and make mention of asking how someone is doing or listening and responding to people.

Every time I go into the gas station or grocery store, I greet the clerk and ask how they are doing. I try and hold a small brief conversation with them. The smiles I and nods I get are overwhelming. Just by the simple act of talking to them has made a difference in my life not to mention what happens after I leave.

I try and hold open the door or elevator for people behind me. Simple things that people get amazed over. The surprised look on people’s faces are shocking. I have even had a few ask why I would hold open the door for longer than two seconds. These very simple acts are so easy to do but it seems that more and more people are abandoning these acts of service.

I find this also translates into modern society in the fact that we have lost the art of finding the good in people. In this day and age of politics that seem to be dividing everyone, I have seen more people abandon being nice and courteous to one another in favor of treating people like a punching bag. I truly believe this stems from the lack of trying to find the good in people.

Finding the good in people can be difficult. I can hear the arguments in my head of why I should not try or bother to find it. “People are just to evil” or “You can’t fix the world” echo in my head but in honesty, I am not trying to change the world. I am just trying to change the world around me. If I surround myself with positive reinforcement, does that not change my own world?

In doing this, what else would change? By just trying to find a positive chord in a person, you are changing the way your brain thinks. Instead of going into a conversation with an attitude of “I don’t like ‘this’ about a person”, you remember they are a good parent, they take care of their elderly neighbor, or they stop and pet each animal they find. You start looking for the good things in this world. You try and find commonality with a person. What would change in this world if more people did it?

Don’t go out and change the world. Start small and change yourself and let that change your world.

#hugaplushie my friends

The little things.

One of the hardest issues facing someone with a chronic illness is facing what you cannot do anymore. There is a mourning and grieving process that so many of us face. You go through the Five Stages of Grief.  Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance all rush through you as you mourn the lose of some dear to you. Yourself.

It has taken away my ability to be Jason Bourne. All the action/super hero movies that I watch, I no longer look at and say to myself “I could do that.” I look at trampoline parks that my daughters want to go to for a party and cringe. I feel my body ache prematurely as my wife wants to do a marathon. You dread looking at yard work because you know you will be down for days and not be able to do anything.

Denial sets in when you see life starting to pass you by. You tell yourself to suck it up and do things. You believe what others tell you that you don’t look sick. You listen to what people say when they shout “Why can’t you just be normal.” You push and push to be normal and this makes your condition worse.

Anger sets in because you cannot keep up. You lash out at others who are frustrated with you at not being the person they remember. You scream in your mind that you should be normal and why is this happening to you. The anger rolls off of you in waves, pushing those who try to help you away.

Bargaining comes when you see people walking away who used to be close to you. You start to plead with people to stay. You cling to those last few people so hard it crushes them. You try to keep up and make deals. You try every supplement, exercise, and diet known to man in an effort to make things better. You bargain with yourself that it can’t get worse, but it does.

Depression sets in hard. You see no way out. In the deep hole you have dug, you see what you believe to be your only options. You find yourself trapped and weighed down by your illness. Loneliness, regret, and suffering. You see the bottle, pills or worse as your only way out. You thought at the beginning of all this it would never be this bad. In the general population, suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 15-24.

If you are at this stage, please reach out.

Call 1-800-273-8255
Available 24 hours everyday

Acceptance is the hardest to achieve. You have to fight your body, your mind, doubters, and all the other stages to get here. You have to accept that you cannot do what you could before. You have to grieve the loss of your old self. It can feel a very hollow victory when you still have a life chronic illness ahead of you. I look at these stages and milestones at how far I have personally fought to get over. You have to accept what you are now and that is OK. It is OK that you are sick.

I may never be Jason Bourne, but he is not real. I am. And I am still here.

#hugapony my friends

Gathering happiness

A HUGE shoutout to two of my Patreons for helping support me, Charles and Ed! Thank you for supporting me and making this possible! You two are truly amazing people! If you had not checked it out, Check out my Patreon page for early blog posts and more!  Patreon-My Stuffed Little Therapy

I had a recent social media post that was quite touching. I has been a rough time with pain lately and I was needing a boost. I posted a simple question.31281389_10215970592927716_4009656226335121420_n.jpg

This sparked a wonderfully long post with friends and family commenting from all over. I was flooded with memories from childhood, college, present day, all warm fuzzy feelings.

It was fantastic.

As some who has suffered from depression in the past and who continues to struggle with anxiety even now, it was an amazing feeling. The self worth went through the roof. Seeing people post, some I had not talked to in years, was amazing. The love and care that was shared was immeasurable. This got me thinking of what this could do for people who are struggling? I know I pull up the post and have read it a few times since. Seeing the kind, wonderful words brings back the same self-worth growth and warms me inside.

I have seen a lot of suicides in the news lately. A lot of people who are depressed and decide that ending the pain and personal suffering is the best choice. Having been at that end twice now, I know what runs through someones mind. You don’t look upon yourself as a person. You are a burden. You don’t see what other actually think about you. You see a drag on all your friends and family. Your brain tells you that you are not and will not be good enough for anyone.

We need to break that cycle of self doubt.

I challenge you to post this to your social media. Make the post and see what happens. Save the answers you get. Use it as another weapon to fight back the hard times. See what others took the time out of their day to say to you. Smile in the memories shared but not only you but others. Have a written document were people see the value in you. Have yet another tool, like stuffed therapy, to fight back. Even if it is against your own mind.

I will do my best to comment my memory as well.

#hugapony everyone.

Pleasant Company.

Over the past few weeks I have been introduced to many people who suffer from chronic illnesses and disabilities. Some online through blog posts, some through video games, and others in real life. I have gotten to talk and help quite a few people who are suffering. I have seen people in so much worse situations and see them powering through with a strength that makes me ashamed of myself.

In my opinion, everyone who suffers like this goes through a period of time when they question themselves on how much suffering they go through. I have been hit hard this last week. I have question how bad am I, what level pain should I admit too, and what right do I have to suffer in all my suffering. One of my issues with invisible illnesses is that I am in constant stress over being judged on how I look. “You don’t look sick” “Are you sure you aren’t feeling well” “It can’t be that bad if you are still able to walk around your house” Words ring in my ears and brain, reminding me that it must all be in my head. Famous words for anyone suffering from fibromyalgia as most doctors are quick to through them out.

I have had personal events happen that reinforce this. I have been denied disability. I submitted to the 8 month long process that took place and have seen more doctors and nurse than I care to admit. Being weighed and measured, poked and prodded has been an absolute nightmare. I suffered through it and in the end I was deemed too fit to be on disability. In the end letter, it was determined that I did suffer from fibromyalgia, insomnia, anxiety disorder, nerve pain, muscle pain and more. A total of 9 severe problems with my health. They did not find these severe enough to warrant me disabled. My final icing on the cake was reading on of the last lines in my letter saying: “If your job is too difficult for your condition, find an easier job.” My mind’s sarcastic response was “Sure I’ll go to the job tree and pick a new job straight off the branch.”

I have also had to fight with new insurance and new medications. I have been prescribed Lyrica. This is the first drug that I have seen that is specifically made for fibromyalgia sufferers. Being new, it is expensive. The classification it has been giving by insurance is that unless every other test and drug has been used and found not to work, then they will not pay for it. Fighting to get help is one of the most common themes I see in chronic illness patients. As if we didn’t suffer enough.

In my recent post that has been published, I have been able to interact with many people that have a myriad of different conditions. I have wept over reading the stories of those who have suffered. I have talked and comforted those who asked. I have been praised for helping raise our voice so others can see. In all of this, I look back at myself and ask “Am I really that sick?” Do I have the right to be a voice if I am not suffering as much as those around me. I am constantly questioned on how bad my pain and condition is that I am beginning to question myself. Yes, I have pain but is it bad enough.

I read an article recently that brought it to light for me. Erin from The Mighty.com posted on how Doctors are Advocating on Pain Acceptance. Doctors are now looking into “pain acceptance” as a treatment philosophy. It is an eye opening to see the direction this is going. As someone who suffers, I find it interesting to see that not believing chronic pain sufferers is a new direction to go. To be told that we should learn to live with the pain is insulting. To be told that my opinion, the patient’s opinion is not considered and the doctor’s view of my pain and condition makes me all the more fearful of doctors who don’t listen. Being told that I should just accept and live in pain, which is something I do every day, makes my and so many other voices sound like we are complainers.

It is infuriating.

If anything I have seen over these past few weeks is how many there are of us. It has shown me that we need a voice. It has shown that I matter. It has shown me more kind and compassionate people who, suffering like me, agree that we are not being heard. We have to fight our illness. We have to fight for our diagnosis. We have to sometimes fight our doctors and pharmacies and lawmakers. We have to fight to make our voices heard.

Thank you all for the pleasant company.

#hugapony my friends.

As my world turns.

It has been more than an interesting couple of weeks here in my life. Seems the world is turning a closer eye upon me and is creating some interesting drama (both good and bad). I have started working overnights for a big box retailer as you know if you have read the blog so far and my body has slowly been fighting me more and more. Sleep does not come easily and when it finally takes over I end up in bed for 16 straight hours and miss out on my family and friends.

Depression, it seems, has returned to mess with me.

One of the more pressing issues in my life is the fact I am having to cut out my main medication for pain/depression. The side effects have been rough and growing and I was informed of the possible of seizures. Considering I have been taking this medication 3 times a day for 2.5 years makes me a bit concerned. I am slowly cutting back on the doses until I am able to get off of it fully but my body is already rebelling against me. Pain, it seems, has returned and brought friends.

I am just coming off of Nightmare Nights in Dallas, a personal favorite convention of mine. I have been involved in helping train some of the security staff there and the head of security, whom I work for at this convention, showed how much he has grown. I stood back and observed more than I had in many years working a convention and I couldn’t have been prouder of what he has accomplished. He and his team worked their tales off (pun intended) and handled things in such a professional manner. My security Lead thank me for the time and training I had put into him but he more than earned what he did. I know people who have worked for years and not had the poise to handle the stress nor the calming attitude it takes. Pride is not an emotion that comes often to me but in this case I was beaming with it.

I am also beaming with pride at my wonderful daughters. They have been so joyous in the upcoming baby and looking at new things to get when the baby arrives. We have had quite a few times of lost tempers and late nights with them, but they have been open and receptive. They have brought much joy to me and my wife.

My wife has been progressing at her new job and making leaps and bounds in advancing her career. She has jumped in with two feet and is making a difference. She is pushing forward with new training and helping and working all while growing a person inside of her. She is my life and my joy and I cannot imagine life without her.

As I continue on in life, I have decided to expand upon an idea that I have held in my mind for quite a while. I have always had the belief in taking time to personally thank people, send a message of encouragement, or just to be there for them. I have had a few opportunities pop up for these events to occur and I have tried to pounce upon them when they do. One of my faiths biggest commandments is to love one another and I hold fast to that. Loving people.

Simple concept, difficult to execute.

I hope to make a difference in peoples lives and to show them that they matter. Everyone needs love, including myself, and I can only hope for opportunity to bring it to them.

#hugapony my friends.

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

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