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.

Akon Panel #1

I am just now being able to update my blog and I thank all of you for being patient with me in my time away from the computer. I am still in the process of moving and I am hoping and praying it is this weekend. I am quite excited. I am looking forward to having a place to my own with my family and being able to be settled.

I had a wonderful time at my first panel at A-kon 27. It was Middle of Nowhere, Smashed and Thanksgiving (Featuring Two men walk into a Bar). I was joined by my good friends Nick (from Knightengale Music Advising) and Ronin (From The Gigalounge) with special guest voice actor Kyle Herbert (From DragonBall Z and a lot more!).

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^Ronin and Kyle

And what a time we had!

We always have wonderful giveaways and prizes at our panel. This year we had a “beer” pong table for the attendees to fight over great things and had some awesome matches. I was given Surge (thanks Nick) which I had not had in 10 years or more. We also gave away this year’s poster to those attending.
image

We had a dynamic conversation with great chats about the state of video game consoles to the introduction of VR into mainstream. Kyle got to try VR for the very first time!!

After the panel while we gave out the posters, the strangest thing happened. We had several people come up and ask us to sign the posters.

Wow.

Not gonna lie, I felt almost famous. I had never been asked to autograph something. I was flabbergasted at first and had the thought of “they don’t want mine”. Then a gentleman came up and said “Sign this please”. I told him the artist was next to me and he corrected me, asking me to sign on my character. I stumbled around and found a sharpie and then 4 more people lined up!

Holy crap!

All told it was some of the most fun I had ever had at a panel. I want to thank everyone there for coming and I look forward to more with my crew.

I will have my second (and much more serious panel) written in a few days, as I move again.

#hugapony my friends
image

Poetry session

I started writing when I was about 8 years old. It all started with a poem about tree frogs. It was not the greatest or most earth shattering poem but it was mine and I was proud of it. Poetry is not my main form of writing (though I have been known to crank out a time Limerick or two).

So I found a poem that I wrote a few years ago that came across my Facebook feed. It is again not the greatest buy it is mine and I thought I would share.

-Sleeping-

Hide hide, eyes behind the lids of ever night
Drifting in the sea of peace, away from any fright
Sleep sleep so tenderly, away from all my tears
Sleep sleep so sweetly here, beyond man’s petty fears
Away away to peaceful land, of joy evermore
Tis joy just to stay right here, resting to my core
Hide hide from the night, in blankets warm and snug
Away away from the day, in this hole i have dug
Safe safe from troubles here, beyond the devil’s reach
Rest Rest for you and me, protected from any breach
Mellow Mellow my soul so dear against life’s horrid quake
Stay stay against the chance, that you might ever wake
No no you slowly slip, from this gentle grace
Goodbye goodbye you fall away, to the world now you face

#hugapony
#stuffedtherapy

Post A-kon Report

I had a time. It was grand and terrifying. I worked longer and hard than at any other convention I had ever attended. I worked with some of the most amazing people. I cannot thank them enough.

I had a chance to be a part of two fantastic panels. I plan on sharing my thoughts on those in my next post. There was so much fun to be had and many a tear shed in one.

I even gave away something very dear to me.

I am trying to recuperate and get rest while getting ready to move again. I want to thank all of you who read this and follow me on this journey. I checked my twitter and I had over 95,000 impressions in 28 days with a one day of 33,000 impressions as a top day for me. I am humbled beyond reason.

Thank you and love to you all.

Picking up a med pack.

I am doing better. Thank you all who were concerned. I was running a fever into the 100s and as for the 2 worse days, I don’t have any memory of them. Brain stopped working and my whole body was aching. It was a REALLY high fever. Still, I am on the mend and picking back up on life.

There was some big news that came out. I GOT A JOB!! (cue fanfare). I am now a website evaluator for companies like Google, Bing and Yahoo. It is part-time and work from home. It is a perfect fit for me and my family. Thank you all for your prayers and concerns

I will hopefully in the next few weeks be able to get some things in order and be able to commit to writing bigger better longer pieces. Also stay tuned for some upcoming guest appearances at conventions!

Peace and love to you all.

#hugapony

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

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