It Has Begun

If you weren’t paying attention to the rest of the world last night, here’s your heads-up: Hanukkah started at sundown last night. Enjoy this festive picture of menorah doggies.

image nabbed from the interwebz

image nabbed from the interwebz

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Find a Way to Make Friends

There are so many reasons to have a support group. Friends, neighbors, spiritual leaders, gaming groups, you name it, having people in your life will mean you have more life (to a point). Even if you have a small number of friends, never fear reaching out to someone new. It is always possible to connect with another soul, if you give them the chance.

I’m too tired to think of an amazing list of ways to make friends, but I have an adorable video from SoulPancake I think could get you started. Have a good day. I’m going back to sleep.

 

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Good for a Cry

Every once in a while, I like coming across something that makes me cry. It’s a special feeling when something touches me deeply enough to let me drop my guard in that way. My friend Zooey pointed a video out, and it made me cry.

A YouTuber shared a video of himself giving homeless people presents for Christmas. Having been homeless (more than once), this kind of kindness hits really close to home. I shed a small tear, and decided to share with you guys.

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Too Much, Too Much

booksI have been working multiple jobs outside of the house for a while now. Between getting married, revitalizing my career, and educating myself, I have a busy life right now. Additionally, I’m writing on my websites and books. It all seems like it’s a little too much sometimes.

Then I remember why I’m doing it all. I have a wife and two kids. They are my world. I will never stop trying to help them. I love them too much to quit. Life is about balance, and I’m doing okay at that, I think.

If your load is too heavy, remember to consider why you do the things you do. It can help you keep your perspective, and to prioritize things that will make your life better.

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I Don’t Need Your Help

 

I guess my mind must be on Dirk lately, because I keep replaying a scene from my childhood. The Cistern Event was something I’ll never forget.

In the winter of 2001, my parents decided to become squatters, rather than spend their money on rent. We moved into an abandoned home five miles outside of town. This place was a wreck, with many problems. One of the most pressing issues was that the stove was plain old garbage. Mostly because it ran on gas, and my parents didn’t want to have to pay for another utility.

When my parents came up with a new stove (probably a cast off, or from a dump), the old stove had to go. I was 13, and super weak (I’ve always had terrible upper body strength, even when I played sports). Nevertheless, Oak and I were drafted to help. Dirk took one side, and we took the other. We got it out the back door (which I regularly forget that house had, because the room it connected to was defunct right away).

By the time it was outside, Dirk was already pissed. He had terrible patience, and was a meth addict, so in retrospect I realize I had done nothing wrong. That didn’t change the fact that in the moment, I only understood the contempt that was coming out of Dirk. He took hold of the stove and told us to fuck off. “I don’t need your help.” I can still feel the crushing humiliation as his disgust and hate settled on my shoulders. Fighting off tears, I watched as Dirk began to half-carry, half-drag the stove across the no-longer-used concrete topped cistern.

Dirk was about halfway across the cistern when I heard a terrifying sound. The sound of frozen concrete cracking beneath a too-heavy load. Dirk didn’t seem to notice. He set the stove down, reset his grip, and pulled. The concrete broke beneath him, and he was near-instantly pinned between two huge chunks of concrete and a huge gas stove. Luckily, the water inside the cistern was frozen, so he couldn’t go all the way down. He likely would have drowned before we could get him out if he had gone into the water.

In the end, we were able to drag the stove off of him, and he was able to climb out. No lasting damage, but he was definitely worse for the wear. That stove never did come out of the cistern, which became a pit for garbage over time.

The lesson? Don’t ignore help when you need it, even if it’s not as much help as you’d like. You can avoid a lot of trouble by accepting the little bit of help you can get, especially when you know you can’t do it all by yourself.

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Top 10 Reasons to Not Commit Suicide

Image: Rory

Image: Rory

Many of us have faced this problem: Will it even make a difference in the world if I die? Would it be a net loss for the world? If I commit suicide, will I be missed?

I’ve had this internal conversation more times than I can count. In the end, each time I came back to the decision to keep going forward. There are hundreds of reasons to keep living, but I’m going to share the 10 I come back to most often.

1: Your story is not done.
Sometimes I felt that I was out of options, and that there was no reason to keep trying. Each time, I held on, and my story continued. Every tiny little victory has been worth it. Every time somebody laughs at a joke, or smiles because I randomly waved at them on the street, I know I have furthered my story, and that it is worth it.

2: You are the only you.
A person is nothing more or less than their total experiences in the world. Nobody shares your experiences. They are perfectly unique. As a twin, I often despaired that my life didn’t matter, because my twin could make up the difference. The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve realized how wrong I was. Even if I don’t know why, my experiences are building towards something, and nobody else in the world will have my exact perspective.

3: You can help.
Coming out on the other side of a mental health crisis is a trial. I know better than many. It hurts to come back to real life, especially if people know what happened. As I’ve gone through this a few times, I have learned that most people struggle. Nobody is exempt from the difficulties of mental health. By knowing that you have come through, people can take solace in knowing they aren’t alone.

4: You aren’t alone either.
The world is built on the successes of the crazies. From Edgar Allen Poe to Mary Lambert, crazy people have a constant effect on the world. Whether you have Bipolar Disorder, or you are suicidal, there are literally billions of people who know. They can’t possibly know every detail, but they don’t need to. They have literally been there, and can understand your struggles.

5: You can make somebody else’s life better. / The world is better because you are in it.
Whether it’s being there for somebody you know personally, or writing articles, or even your own blog, you have the ability to help others feel less alone. You can be a member of a peer group, or volunteer at a local behavioral health facility. You can also make somebody’s life better. Every time you make someone laugh, you have made their life better. Every time you express your gratitude, you make that person feel special.

6: You are on somebody’s top 10.
I’ve practiced writing down my top 10s many times. The top 10 people who changed my life. The top 10 people who I am thankful for. The top 10 people I would miss if I died. Well, guess what? You are on someone else’s top 10. Whether it’s because you make them feel special, or because you share a unique friendship with someone, somebody out there has you on their top 10 list(s). When I started making my lists, I realized that many of those people weren’t in contact with me anymore. They had no way of knowing they were on my top 10, because I didn’t treat them that way. Just because somebody hasn’t told you that you are on their top 10, doesn’t mean you aren’t on there. It just means they haven’t told you.

7: You deserve to live.
So many times, I have felt that I didn’t deserve to live. This is a downright lie. Depression, anxiety, hallucinations, they all lie. You are worth every second of your life. Every emotion you feel now, or will feel later, is potential that you can only unlock by living to feel them.

8: There is more to learn.
The greatest thing about this life is learning. There are an infinite number of things to learn. Whether you are taking classes, watching television, reading, or just talking to someone, you can and will learn something every minute of every day. Each time you learn something, you add to yourself. You make yourself bigger, better, stronger. You will never be done becoming better.

9: You are not the sum of your failings.
I have spent hundreds of hours beating myself up for my mistakes. I decided at one point to make my mistakes right, no matter what. I learned a hilarious thing about mistakes: Nobody remembers them like you do. I’ve apologized for inappropriate actions, mostly to find out that the person I’m apologizing to has no idea what I’m talking about. This isn’t 100% true, and isn’t an excuse to behave irresponsibly. But it is something to remember in the dark. We are truly our own worst critic. No matter how much you feel like nobody cares, nobody truly feels that you should die.

10: You have your own reasons.
Your passions, your loves, your friendships—they are yours, and nobody else’s. If you don’t know your own reasons for living, search yourself. Meditate, pray, or talk to someone (even yourself) to help you figure it out. Somewhere inside of you, you have reasons to keep living. Nobody can take those away. Nothing is worth giving those reasons up, and nothing negates them. Your reasons to live are a sacred part of who you truly are.

This list is not perfect, and it is not complete. Remember that you are not alone, and that the world will be diminished without you. If you feel like nobody cares, remember that you are reading an article written by a broken, sad, and desperate person. And I care, God damn-it. I pray for your heart, for your compassion, and for you to keep making the right decision. If you need to know I am thinking of you in particular, leave me a comment. It can be anything. When I see that comment, I am thinking of nothing more or less than you. You are loved. Don’t give up. You’ve got this.

Posted in Anxiety, Depression, Mental Illness, Self Harm, Suicide | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Hand Me the Gasoline

chicks-44726_640

When I was a teenager, I raised chickens and such. Considering it’s the popular season for eating birds, I thought I’d share one of my favorite bar-be-que stories.

One summer, I was sick, and took some of my favorite medications to help me sleep: single-malt whiskey.  After I tanked myself, I slept better than normal. Too well. I slept through our family dog (named D.O.G. because my parents are idiots) tearing through the chicken coop. Of my entire flock, only about six were left alive. This meant that a half dozen dead birds were left in shreds, all over my lawn.

When I got out of bed to feed them, I found D.O.G. covered in blood, dragging around half of a chicken corpse. At a loss as to what I should do, I took a big risk, and woke up my step-dad. Dirk was a drunk, and a violent terror. It was always a crap-shoot when inconveniencing his was on the table. Especially when you have to tell him that his favorite living thing (yes this includes all people, too) had to be put down.

I don’t remember everything, mostly because I was hung over. I do remember gathering trash, bird corpses, and a barrel. Dirk had us pile the corpses and other detritus into the barrel. I remember thinking that this was a bad, bad idea. I know how small bombs are made. I know how bad an idea it is to compact flammables into a small space, and add combustion.

I also remember Dirk saying “Hand me the gasoline.” I obeyed, and backed way the hell up. Dirk alternated piling trash, corpses and gas in the barrel, and then flung a match into it.

FLOOM!

That shit went up like the bomb it was trying to be. The barrel remained intact. The corpses? They shot upward, in a mushroom-cloud of flash-fried poultry, trash, and a flaming plume of gasoline. I remember hitting the ground, and covering my head. Half a second later, I hear the funniest sound in my memory. A nice meaty slap. A chicken corpse had flown into the air, done a flaming somersault, and smashed back down onto Dirks nasty head.

The best part? I didn’t have to directly do diddly, and I got to see Dirk smacked in the gob with a huge chunk of raw, rotten, smokey, and grossly blacked poultry. It’s funny how sometimes, stupid is its own reward. It’s also a great mental image, and one I will always remember with glee. Even if I thought my head was going to split open from the pain of the noise.

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