Slow day? Thank you…

I’m getting a few hours of alone time today, and for the first time in my life it isn’t terrifying.

Don’t get me wrong…I’ve always preferred to be alone. Growing up, I had a rather large number of friends and our neighborhood gang met every single day, without fail, usually on skateboards. When we weren’t skating (or biking, or walking), we were usually trespassing on some landowner’s property…particularly the landowner that owned the long dead drive-in movie theater. We would usually climb to the top of the building that used to house the projection equipment, and there we would sit for hours, doing all the things we were told we shouldn’t do. You know…like smoke cigarettes, drink beer we’d stolen from my uncle and hide when the man that owned the property came out to check on his cows. Yeah, it was glorious.

When I wasn’t doing that, I was alone. I was usually in my room and I was almost always listening to music and/or making music. My dad was great about letting me borrow a guitar or two now and then, and my mom was wonderful about letting me play it. This was back before I took an insane interest in the acoustic guitar, when my only idea of playing well was playing as loud as my amp would allow, and I can never thank her (or my father enough) for allowing me the freedom to be the musician I wanted to be.

At any rate, those days weren’t lonely but at times they certainly felt that way. I didn’t have many friends that shared the same interest in being alone so I guess they couldn’t understand why sometimes I had to just shut the door and keep the rest of the world out. They didn’t get that I just didn’t feel like I was a part of them, or that they were a part of me, or that I was somehow a part of the greater human scene.

These days, however, simply are lonely. Without my children here, and without my guitar, and without any of the things I used to rely on to keep me from being lonely, I find myself exceptionally lonely even when I’m not actually alone. This isn’t me complaining, though it may seem that way. This is me thanking God for the opportunity to learn how to be alone without all the things I thought I needed.

It gives me the chance to rely on Him to make me feel better. It doesn’t change the fact that I really want to hug my children, and it certainly doesn’t take away the itch that begins in the center of my palms when I think about a guitar (any guitar, it doesn’t even have to be mine, but at this point it is particularly this amazing 1939 Gibson acoustic I found at Guitar Center for the reasonable price of only $3900…but whatever), but knowing that I don’t have to feel lonely is something. Knowing that, regardless of what anyone else believes, I do honestly believe I’m never alone. Take that as proof of my insanity if you’d like, because you really won’t hurt my feelings.

Learning to trust Him has been the hardest part of my entire life. I can honestly say that I’m not very good at it. But, I’m trying. That has to count for something.

I guess the point of this whole post is to remind myself, and anyone else that needs it, that no matter how lonely you feel, there is probably a reason. It’s also to ask you…is being alone really such a bad thing? It has taken me nearly three decades to figure out that being alone is kind of a blessing. It’s my chance to be exactly who I am and not have to worry what the rest of the world thinks about it. Not that I care so very much what people think of me. I never have, and I probably never will, care much for the opinions others have of me, and I think that’s mostly because I know what He thinks of me.

So, I’ll take this slow day, all alone, and use it to thank Him. I’ll use it to thank Him for waking me up another day, giving me the strength to crawl from the bed, and blessing me with the peace that I didn’t have yesterday because my own fears and insecurities began to creep in again. I’ll take this day and make it something worth living.

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Reflecting on the nature of independence…

As I sit here today, contemplating independence and thanking (internally more than verbally) all the men and women I know, and the ones I don’t and never will know, that made this day possible…it strikes me that for the first time in my life I stand a decent chance at understanding freedom. I have the shot to understand independence. I’ve been given the opportunity to experience independence on a brand new level. It’s something I didn’t know I wanted until I got it. Of course, it’s tainted with more than a little sadness–for reasons I don’t care to discuss, and let’s face it…I have the freedom to choose not to speak about it–but I’m happy to say that I’m happy to be free.

 

I have the choice to go into the world and make the impact that I’ve always wanted to make. I have the choice to sit here, tapping out words that maybe someone will read and maybe someone won’t read. I have the choice to sit around in my pajamas all day, eating toasted cinnamon raisin bread smothered in honey. If I choose to, I can sit and cry for the rest of my life. If I want, I can go rob a bank. The point is…freedom has never felt more real, more valid, or more within reach than it does this year.

 

So, I’ve made up my mind to make the most out of my freedom. Independence means we’re free, but if we truly want to experience that freedom…well, we have to make the choice to be free. We have to make the conscious decision to do something with that gift we’ve been given. And quite honestly, we owe it to the men and women that fought for that freedom to do something with it.

 

Thank you, to all the people that gave me this wonderful gift. Watch me make you proud.

Changing minds

Can your mind be changed?

Delusions Of Candour

This post is one I’ve been meaning to write for a while, but I’ve finally got round to it today after seeing the #ChangingMinds tag on Twitter. The question posed was what do you wish more people understood about mental illness – so here’s what I wish more of my friends and family understood.

We all have mental health, just as we all have physical health. Some of us just aren’t as healthy as others.

1 in 4 people will have a mental illness during their lifetime. It’s that common.

If you ask how I am and I say I’m fine, I’m probably lying. But don’t push it because if I really want you to know I will tell you.

Just because you know someone else with the same diagnosis as me doesn’t mean that I’m capable of the same things. Your friend with anxiety and depression can go to…

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Depression (otherwise known as…life)

There have been too many blog posts, Facebook status messages, Tweets, etc., to give us the general idea that the term “depression” is used too often, many times in cases where it is not true depression. I won’t bore you with another one of those. I will, however, tell you about my struggle with depression. I will tell you about the life I lead in spite of the depression. I will tell you about how I’ve watched others deal with depression. I will probably tell you some other things I hadn’t planned to tell you.

 

Sometimes, I look at my life and think, Wow…it really is kind of screwed up right now. Anyone would assume that it is in those moments that I feel the most “depressed.” Unfortunately, it usually isn’t. In moments like those, I almost feel empowered. I see my life as it stands, and I know that there is a way out. I just have to work towards digging myself out of the screwed up parts, and provide a better future for myself and my children. It’s really very simple. I don’t feel depressed then, because a solution is at hand, and I have faith that the solution (even if I can’t see it right away) will make things better.

 

Then, there are times when–despite the screwed up parts–I really am happy. I’m happy with my current situation as long as I’m making progress towards something better. I’m okay with not having all the answers, and I’m fine with things looking terrible for a while. It really isn’t all that bad. And then, it hits me. No matter how happy I am with the current daily life I lead, there are times when it just isn’t enough.

 

I had enough money to cover my bills, and I had food in my belly. I had a place to sleep, clean clothes to wear, and I got to spend time with people I love. I was able to do a lot of things I wanted to do, and see a lot of things I wanted to see. I was blessed with more than that, and even that wasn’t enough to keep that monster away. Even smiling, I could feel it creeping in. That depression monster just kept coming.

 

That, for me anyway, is depression. It’s that monster that creeps in whether you’re happy or not. It’s that terrible feeling of…Well, who really cares? Oh well, I don’t…regardless of the actual climate of my soul. It’s that thing that keeps me awake, even when I had an amazing day. It’s that thing that makes the bad times worse, and makes the good times pale somehow. It’s that part of me that I just want gone. I want to fight it. It’s just too big. How do you fight a monster you can’t see?

 

Worst of all, I’m watching someone else struggle with it, too. Like a mirror reflecting my own demons back at me, I’m watching the monster slowly eat away at the happy times of another human being. I’m watching, daily, as that monster grows. I’m watching as nobody but me cares. I can’t fight that monster because my own monster won’t get off my back. Like these two monsters are feeding off of each other, it goes back and forth. One day, my monster is stronger. The next day, the other monster is stronger. Sometimes, they’re both as strong as they can get and we’re left feeling empty from the struggle.

 

My family watched it destroy their lives…over and over. My grandmother watched it destroy her marriage. My mother and her siblings watched it take their father away from them. Other families watch as this monster takes people away too soon. Sometimes they know it’s happening, and sometimes they have no idea that the monster even exists. Again, how do you fight a monster you can’t see?

 

What do you do when the medication doesn’t work? What are you supposed to say when medication isn’t even an option? How do you cope when the monster grows stronger than you? What plan can be made for the day when it finally wins out and rips you apart? There are no easy answers. For each person, that monster has to be starved a different way. Combat strategies will vary because people vary. Their demons vary. The struggles they face aren’t the same as the struggles others face, regardless of what others would have you believe. We’ve all been on this, “We’re all human and dealing with the same issues,” kick lately…and that’s simply a lie. Even if you’re dealing with the same thing I’m facing, our struggle is different. Our experiences are different, and our feelings are different, therefore our reactions will be different.

 

The point? There isn’t one. That’s kind of how depression feels in the lives of those that suffer from it. There is no point. There is no reason it should be happening. There’s no reason to be unwell, and yet you clearly feel unwell. You know there’s something “wrong,” and yet…you get up for another day and fight another battle.