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.

 

 

 

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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.

Time is not on your side.

This month as been one of the busiest of my life. I have never tried to cram so much into a month before and I don’t think I ever want to try it again.

I moved from my friends house the first week.

I had the convention A-kon in the second week.

I moved to my new place the third week. So much unpacking.

My wife is gone on a trip with our church’s youth group this last week.

Busy busy busy.

Sometimes that is what you have to do to keep moving.

Time is a terrible thing when you are fighting depression and anxiety. Time that is unfilled is then injected with your mind going crazy and irrational. Anxiety takes those moments and fills them with every possibility of what is going on, everything you should be doing better, and who is talking about you and your failures.

Depression then takes that moment, as you fight the thousand thoughts of anxiety, and hits you in the back. It reinforces your anxiety with the thoughts of you really ARE a failure. It is the rebar of your prison of concrete. It helps make your cell that much stronger.

Anxiety is about everything going on around you.

Depression is what your mind thinks of yourself.

Together they form a one-two punch that knocks you out.

So what do you do?

You keep moving.

You fill the time up in your day so that you never have a moments rest. You keep running away. If you can fill the gaps, the breaks of your day, it doesn’t give your mind the ability to pounce. You have one main thought. Don’t think, just keep swimming.

It is why we are so tired.

We can’t stop running or we have to fight. Or we stopped and let the guard down. We are fighting so much, we can’t focus on anything else until we drop from exhaustion. We have all our muscles tense from waiting for anxiety to drop the other shoe, or the depression to drag us down with chains, or for us to pass out in bed.

I can’t stop running. I can’t stop doing. I can’t stop. I must stay busy.

And so I fill my month with an unbelievable amount of things to do. God help me if I miss one or mess up on one. I just have one thought.

Don’t think, just keep swimming.

#hugapony my friends

The quicker picker upper post.

Yesterday was a really rough day. Some personal things fell through, I was overly stressed taking my final test for the job (still no idea if I passed) and then I ended the day with a migraine.

It was not my favorite.

I had a close friend of mine give me some encouragement. I will refer to her as the Tea friend. Tea was so amazing and helpful because she goes through hell and back and still manages to take time to help me and others. She is one I look at and question my own pain and it makes me realize that I have no place to complain at times. She has been a wonderful friend for years and I love her dearly. She was also one of the friends that help me meet my wife.

I cannot thank her enough.

I am thinking, because life is about to be crazy for the next month, I am going to do a series on thanking people in my life. I hope it encourages you to remember to thank everyone around you.

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Failure

It is 3 am and I cannot sleep. Thoughts flowing through my head as I think back at what today was. I started today hopeful, yet it crashed.

Hard.

I had an amazing job opportunity. It was a contract run for a subsidiary for Google. It was parttime, work at home, with some amazing pay. I could stay with my girls, still watch the kid that I babysit, keep the house clean, and Gail would be still able to do her job.

Unfortunately it was not to be.

The application process was pretty straightforward. I had quite a few verification checks on my credentials as far as the position. It required tons of social media experience and website design experience which, while I did not have schooling, this blog is more than helped me be able to say I have experience running a website and knowing what to look for in one. And of course this blog is helping me with social media connections that I have made.

I then had a test that I was required to take with three parts. With this test came a large training manual that I was supposed to study. I was given a week to be able to go through the study materials and take the exams. Two of the major warnings about the test. First, once you begin the test you were not able to stop. Second, if you failed any single part of the test you could not move on to the next part of the test and you would be removed from the program and not able to reapply.

Ever.

But it seemed fate was not on my side this day.

I spent most of the day studying a good 8 hours or so. I did all the right things. I made sure to have Alpha brain wave study music going. I made sure to study when there were minimal distractions. And it’s been quite a while since college so I have not used to study as much as I used to be. Still, I did all I could to ensure a proper study regime.

As I was finishing this first day of study in the training material they had a “Here’s the website you’re going to be using for your work and to take the test button. Click on it to check it out.” When I clicked on it and inspected the website as they had instructed me to do so, everything decided to make a turn for the worse.

The website decided to go ahead and launch this test, with me only being less than a day prepared for a 7-Day examination. My heart raced as I realize that I just started a test I could not stop. I started working through the test and to my surprise, I felt I was doing well. I understood the material that been given to me. The questions were true/false questions, not my personal favorite but they still were not as difficult as any essay questions that I had taken.

At the end of the test I hit submit and thought I had done the best I possibly could have and felt pretty good about it.

I had a 15-minute wait for an email would be sent to me to inform me that I could start the next part of the exam which should have taken another day or two to prepare and go through it. As I was reviewing the material and going through my information for the next step I received the email.

I had failed.

For the life of me, I don’t understand what questions I had missed. It was an open book exam and the answers that I had given were taken straight from the textbook. Even thinking back on it now I still don’t know what questions I got wrong and unfortunately the test providers would not give me the answers I sought. I was informed that due to security reasons, I could not be told my result other than a pass/fail.

For someone with anxiety, failing a test I think is one of the worst possible things that you can experience. Especially one that you studied and think you’re going to do well. When you’ve studied and you have prepared yourself and you feel a little bit confident (a rare thing for me) that you know the material. It gives you a sense of pride because you’ve done the best you could possible. It is a rare feeling for someone with anxiety because so rarely do we experience pride or that feeling of preparation. For me to fail this test felt like someone had taken the rug that I was standing on and pulled it out from underneath me.

And then came the guilt.

This has been the best opportunity I’ve had in quite a while to be able to support my family in this fashion. I even had the great opportunity of it being in a field that I am currently in with blog writing and the like. This is also was to be a great boon as my family looks for a new place to live and having a nice consistent paycheck with a decent pay was going to be a particular godsend for us. As my mind slowly turned against me I thought about how much I failed my wife and my kids.

This horrific side effect of anxiety is the one that just deeply troubles me the most. It’s where your brain uses all its resources to convince you, you are your worst fear. Most people think that depression and anxiety can be the same thing at times. Depression is the absence of feelings inside you, emptiness. Anxiety is the feeling of everything wrong with you and it’s your fault.

Having both of them as hell.

I went through my regular progression of dealing with my anxiety. I grabbed one blanket I grabbed my pony and I curled up on my bed and just tried to block out everything. I did not have anyone to distract me because everyone had gone to church to leave me to study. Being alone was probably the best thing for me at that moment. Tears welled up in my eyes as I thought of how stupid of a person I was then I couldn’t pass an open book exam. My brain continued the mutiny against me.

My wife came home concerned because I had turned off my phone and she couldn’t reach me. She always does the best she can when I’m in anxiety fit. She got my daughter’s ready for bed made sure I was left alone and make sure that if I need anything just to ask. My roommate at this time came in and saw that I had failed the test on Facebook. He took a moment to pray over me and I really do thank him for taking the time to think of me.

It just takes a few small moments with loving people to break you out.

It’s been a hard day my friends. I hope you have better news soon. All I know is that I have to keep trying and I plan to continue to do so.

Hug a pony my friends.

#stuffedtherapy

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El quick posting.

I had a 9 pain pain day yesterday. For those who don’t know, here is the pain chart.

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11 was when I had kidney stones for 3 days.

Ow.

I am trying to recover today (the aftermath). I spent most of the day on a heating pad, then iced it down. Needless to say I am back to my normal 4-6 that I am every day. Pain, the non welcome friend who never goes home.

#hugapony
#stuffedtherapy

On the mark.

I come across stories and pieces that hit close to home or near the mark when it comes to depression and anxiety. The past few days I have been taking my meds with clockwork timing as my mind has not had a moments rest tormenting me.

The little man in my head has been clawing at the walls.

I came across a story on Facebook (something I believe is a boon and a curse) and wow it hit the mark.

Hard.

I almost felt I was reading a story about my self. The words and feelings used were on point.

And they were sharp enough to cut me.

The article which is commented here, http://themighty.com/2016/03/when-youre-suicidal-but-you-dont-want-to-die/ , tells about living with those suicical thoughts and what you face day in and out. I applaud the bravery it took to write this. Telling people your thoughts like this makes people worry about you to the point of locking you up. But even if we don’t say what we are thinking, does that make it go away, or does it make those around us feel better about themselves?

Is it better to ignore the thoughts so they don’t mess up someone else’s day?

I feel that being open and honest about these things does several great things. First, you are being honest with yourself, a great way to admit there are issues to deal with. Second, it lets other people know what is going on. Now that has a side effect of being either an attention grabber or someone to stress and worry about. However, I feel that if I am publicly talking about it, its me admitting my flaws and faults. I am saying, “Yes there is a problem and I am recognizing it”. Third, it brings out support and help from others. Building that support group is critical in saving yourself from anything that someone might do to themselves. Again, this isn’t the “Lock them in a rubber room.” but a “I understand and this helped me” type of support. Last, it brings out your humanity. The one thing that is lacking in most depression/anxiety people is just that, they do not look at themselves as people. They see themselves as burdens, and too broken to fix. By saying or writing (better because it is a solid evidence that can be brought up later) that you are feeling this way is a way to humanize yourself to the point to save yourself. It is a gateway to seeing that you are a real person and not just a shadow.

http://themighty.com/2016/03/when-youre-suicidal-but-you-dont-want-to-die/

Well written, well said.

#hugaplushie

A hard Dad’s life, for us.

It was, as we say in parentville, a long full day. It is 11:15 pm at the time of this writing and I am exhausted. This was a day for a Dad.

And I hope I was a good one.

I woke up to kids being awoken by the baby I watch during the day arriving. I made my coffee and Got the kids kids settled in for the morning. My dearest wife was up and out early with working (still an odd switch for me being home) and I prepared to start to the day. I was trying to get the coffee flowing in my veins but I could not get get motivated. I was sluggish and let the kids play and watching cooking shows as I struggled to get my rear in gear.

We have since moved into a new friends house. A lot of stress and pressure from were we were staying at was relieved. This brought with it a whole new stress. A stress that has made empires rise and fall. It has ended more than one marriage in my personal knowledge and is the one thing I have come to hate.

Money.

A dear friend who saved us from a difficult living situation has let us stay with him at no cost, and it has helped in more ways than I can count. The unfortunate side effect is that half our weekly income was also taken away in this move and we had to step up other bills. Medicine and medical bills have been due and past due. The shovel of paper is endless in the never ceasing tide in search of the green monster that I am to hold.

But it is not there for me to give.

I have been blessed by more people than I can name here who have come forward to help, and please don’t let me say that this is the most desperate I have been. I have lived in a time and place were I was trying not to steal a roll of toilet paper from work because I knew I had none at home. I have counted the pennies to go get a dollar burger from McDonald’s for lunch during a 12 hour work day and knew I had to make it last as my only meal. Hard times were every time.  I am truly blessed with dear friends and wonderful family who have helped me in every turn.

Help was also due today in the form of “tax return”. Tax time is a wonderful time for me as I have dear friends who I go to for my taxes and I get money to pay those horrid bills that stack against me. It seems odd to look forward to doing your taxes, but in my case I rejoice.

My dearest wife and I set out to do taxes and other errands. We had just managed to put money in the bank to pull us out of the overdraft scare that comes when automatic billing comes at the wrong time when we realized that it was late in the day and my wife had a work event going on soon. I also had been invited with my girls to go see Kung Fu Panda 3 and this was to be a time of joy with my daughters.

We went to the theater with friends and we settled in for a good time. I got us a Sprite to drink as it was going to run late and I did not want caffeine for the girls. My eldest daughter, however, did not appreciate the drink choice I bought. She sat there and refused my offers of drink to the point of tears. I asked in hush whispers what was the matter and she let me know she hated Sprite and all she wanted was water. I told her I would go and get her some when she burst into more tears and told no in full body horror. I sat shocked at the way she said it and asked why not and I was met with a “I don’t want to tell you.” I told her again to let me just go and get her some water and the look of horror filled her eyes and she begged for me not too.

I sat in my chair confused to what was going on when my daughter leaned in and said I didn’t need to spend the money on her. It clicked. I told her not to worry about it and I would go and get her some water so she could have a drink. She was crying so hard at this point, I wasn’t sure I could stop her. She said I didn’t need to spend money on her like this and she would be fine. I told her that she didn’t need to worry about that and I would go buy her a drink. She finally broke and let me go buy it for her but was still extremely upset that I did it. I told her we would talk more about it when we got home.

We left the theater in much better spirits as the movie was excellent (I will talk more about it in my vblog this week). We came home to my dearest wife returned and we all sat in our room for a nice chat. Both my daughters explained (in great detail for the ages of 6 and 8) that they knew how tight money had been and how their mom and I were so stressed about money that they were scared to ask for anything because they didn’t want to cause us stress.

My heart aches just writing about it.

Tears came to my eyes as I explained that I wouldn’t spend money I didn’t have on them. I told them I would never be upset at them for asking for things. I said the only time I would be upset is when I told them “no” to something and they kept asking or crying about wanting it. I explained there was a time and place to spend money and I would keep track of that. I explained that it was my job to worry about it, not them.

Oh dear hearts of children.

I realize that my stress had bled over to them and it angered me. It had disgusted me to my core. Oh little pitchers with big ears, what do you hear? I felt a failure as a parent. And then they did something magical.

I stood there beating myself up inside when they said they understood and that they would do their best to better. They said they loved me and mom and they would do what they could to help.

Out of the mouth of babies came redemption.

I still feel pride as well at how they reacted and handled it. I feel I have much work to do to be better, but they were with me with a second chance. Who hasn’t made a mistake?

I have.

And I will do better next time.

Hug a pony my friends.

Finding joy.

I know I m an odd duck. I tend to run against the grain. I like a show about ponies, I dress like a furry, I make friends of all races and backgrounds. I enjoy helping people to the point of giving away anything I have if they need it. I will put myself in the line of suffering if it means lessening that of others. I will hurt myself to help someone else. I am not that eloquent a speaker (except with enough preparedness, at least that is what I am told). I feel my writing is good. I like to hold my plushie when I am sad. So why am I saying all this?

I am trying to ground myself.

I am trying to give myself a place at which I can write, from so I can clear some junk out of my soul.

Cause people are upset with me.

I have several people upset with me. I spoke my heart and they got upset. They took what I said and sharpened the points and threw the words back like a spear.

It always hurts when it comes from someone who is close to you. All of mine came from close people.

It is the new year and I have been asked how long I am going to keep up my “charades”? I must be doing this for the shock factor. My life cannot be like this. Why am I so childish? Why don’t I grow up?

Oh to be in London now the ” haters” are here.

Is it true that you don’t “make it” unless you have hate mail?

I will admit, I have not been a strong person in this area. I am not one that can easily roll things off my back. Part of me caring so much is I get to personally involved. It is easy to get to me.

I happen to think it is one of the reasons I am so lovable, but that’s just me.

I have been under attack for what I like and believe in. I understand that people wont understand everything about me. If people did, then I am just a yes man.

I am just here to say, I am determined to find Joy this year. I was told that happiness is in the moment and that, with my personality, I tend to look toward the time when happiness ends. Joy is something you have to look for and find. It last longer and keeps you going. It is a driving force instead of being in moment. It is ALL the moments because you look for it in each moment.

Now I know that my Joy comes from my faith. I have never been pushy about it, but it is something that I celebrate when it comes time. I give thanks to my God for my Joy.

And I find Joy in my ponies, plushies, and nice furry ears and tail.

Hug a pony my friends.