Some words of encouragement

I want you to know that you’re worth something.

I want you to realize that, whatever problems you may be dealing with, you are never alone.

I want you to understand that people, even those you may not realize or talk to every day, are here for you.

I want you to know that whatever may have happened yesterday, last month, last year, last decade, doesn’t affect how wonderful you can make the future.

I want you to realize that you can overcome anything that comes your way, no matter who or what tells you otherwise, including your own mind.

need you to understand that there are good people in this world, around every corner, who won’t judge you, or abuse you, or put you in a place you have no desire to be in.

need you to understand that you are stronger than any self-deprecating thought that crosses your mind.

I want you to know that I know being strong isn’t easy, but nothing worth doing ever is.

I want you to know that no outside opinion of you matters, only the light you view yourself in.

need you to know that people care. I need you to know that I care. He cares. She cares. They care.

I want you to know that there are people out there who, when they look at you, see the sun.

Stay strong.

– Ryan

I hope you never understand, I hope you never forget

I don’t want you to understand what it’s like to be physically crippled by your own mind.

I don’t want you to understand what it’s like to wake up and not be able to get out of bed. Not because you physically can’t – your legs are working just fine. I don’t want you to understand what it’s like to not be able to move, simply because your own mind is preventing you from doing so. Glued to the bed, battling your own mind. Move your foot, take a step. Pick your head off the pillow. Get out of bed.

I don’t want you to understand what it feels like to nearly be overcome with anxiety just getting through your morning routine. I don’t want you to be filled with dread at the simple prospect of what the day might bring. Even if nothing has given any indication that the day ahead may bring bad things. The mere possibility that terrible things may happen can be enough to make you want to run and hide.

I don’t want you to understand the feeling that everyone in the world has it better than you. You obviously have it better than so many people, but it doesn’t matter, at least not to your mind. You can’t even pull yourself out of bed in the morning, remember?

I don’t want you to understand the feeling of a hopeless future leading nowhere.

I don’t want you to understand the feeling that the best place to spill your feelings is on a blog, because those people can’t see your face. They can’t judge a faceless writer, hundreds (or thousands) of miles away.

do want you to understand that it’s okay not to understand.

I do want you to understand that understanding isn’t necessary to support people, and love people, and have faith in people, even if those people don’t have faith in themselves.

I do want you to understand that nobody, mental health issues or not, can fix everything. I do want you to understand that nobody expects you to be able to, either.

I do want you to understand that everyone has their own stories and their own battles, regardless of whether they let other people actually see those things.

I do want you to understand that people shouldn’t expect to be loved by all, or worshiped, or the center of attention at all times. People just want to be accepted for who they are, not forced to change to suit society’s whims and expectations. In fact, I bet you already do understand that.

I don’t want you to understand my mind, just be content with that fact that you never will. I truly don’t want you to feel any of this for yourself. So just talk with me. Support me, if you can. Be there for me when I need you, and hell, even when I don’t need you to. I will do my best to be there for you. Protect me from my own mind, because ironically enough, that’s what I’m most afraid of.

I hope you find happiness to the best of your ability, and I hope that you wish the same for me. I hope you’re able to remember that you aren’t alone, you have people here for you, whether you realize it or not. I hope you understand that there are others who understand. I hope you understand that there are others who feel the same things you do, in good moments and in bad.

I hope you know that people care about you, and what happens to you, and your happiness. I hope you never forget that.

I hope you stay strong, regardless of what your own mind says to you, because you can overcome it.

  • Ryan

You’re good enough.

So my day is kind of crappy so far. My depression has decided to make itself front and center in my mind today, and I’m feeling it.

It’s trying to tell me that I’m not good enough. But I am. As are you.

So I’m taking a super short post to say just that – you’re good enough. Whether it’s another person or your own mind trying to tell you otherwise, the fact still stands that you’re deserving of happiness.

No matter what mistakes you made today, or yesterday, or last year, you’re deserving of contentment. Your life isn’t defined by the ‘whats’ or ‘whos,’ it’s defined by the ‘whys.’ Your intentions.

Even as I write this, my mind is screaming at me that I’m full of crap. But I know better. I’m worth something, and you’re worth a hell of a lot, too.

Stay strong.

  • Ryan

 

Life isn’t a straight line

So, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve done a post on here – coming close to a month since my last one. It’s been a hectic past few weeks, what with the obvious stress of the holidays, work (as per usual) and a certain family situation arising.But it’s quite alright, because, good or bad, everything passes eventually. I mean, I’m still working, but if I couldn’t balance my work time with my writing time I never would have started this blog in the first place. Anyway…

Something that DID happen over the holiday season was my five-year high school reunion. I didn’t go to it; it was perilously close to Christmastime and in a completely different state from where I live + where I traveled for Christmas, but it happened. It got me thinking why people  get so excited for their class reunions, and what it would have been like if I had went to this one. Ask a few people and I’m sure many would say they go to their reunion for just that – reuniting. With old friends, old flames, old teammates…and I don’t doubt that. If I had gone to my reunion, it would have been to see people I’ve barely (or not at all) kept in contact with, mostly via Facebook and mutual friends. On that note, reunions are great, and I’m glad they’re, well, a thing.

But anyone who has read my Comparison, the Enemy of Joy post knows how I feel about comparing myself to others, whether it be money, looks, occupation…the list goes on. The big thing that would scare me about a reunion is just that: comparison would be inevitable between former classmates. Basically a “who has gotten farthest, or made the most money, or had the happiest marriage in the past five years.” I don’t believe that this type of comparison is something people do with the intention of harm – I feel that those who are going to compare themselves to others are: A. People who are quite happy with their life, or B. People who are unhappy with their life.

Here’s why I say that: For people who fall into group A, looking at other people who haven’t been as “successful” as you (in whatever one of those categories mentioned beforehand) makes it easier to pat yourself on the back and say, “Good job, me. I’ve done things right for the past five years.” On the flip side, people who fall into group B would most likely compare themselves with others to either motivate themselves, or pity themselves. To be completely honest, if I had gone to my reunion, I would have been in group B, no doubt. As I’ve said a thousand times before, my depression makes it so that I see the worst in any scenario. If I’m in a room of people who have all been successful in their careers, or have been happily married, or whatever, instead of being happy for them and embracing their happiness, I instead beat myself up mentally, asking myself again and again why the hell I’m not at that point yet.

I know, I know, me having that mindset goes against everything I argued for in my Comparison post. I truly believe what I wrote in that post, that comparing yourself to others is an unhealthy mindset, but the truth of the matter is I still fall prey to that way of thinking sometimes. I’m by no means “unhappy” with where I am in my life right now – I have a job that I enjoy, friends and family who support me, and I’m rapidly saving up money so that soon I’ll be able to get my own place and establish my independence even more. I’m content, but to say that I feel incredibly perfect with where I am right now would be a lie. I don’t want to sound like I’m not grateful for what I have, I truly am. When I talk about “where I am in my life” in this case, however, I’m more so talking about things that can affect through my own actions (mostly career and independence).

So even if I did have a chance to make it to my five-year reunion, I’m not entirely sure that I would have even gone, simply because of the danger of me falling into that mindset of me vs. other. It’s fairly tragic, because I’m always a little heartbroken when my own anxiety and depression tries to stop me from experiencing what life has to offer.

My mother and father are both wonderful people. I’ve mentioned my mother briefly before and how she also struggles with depression and anxiety, but my father doesn’t have either one. While I can talk with my mother to an extent not many people can because I understand the way her mind works and vice versa, my father sees my thought processes with these mental illnesses from an outside perspective. This is where I give him so much credit, though – he makes an active effort to try and understand why I think the way I do. While we’ve both accepted the fact that he will never 100% understand the way my mind gets to its conclusions, he refuses to sit down in the back of the auditorium and let my life play itself out. From the little things, such as making sure my medication is full enough, to the big things, like helping me find and apply for outpatient counseling a few years ago, when I felt at one of my lowest points, he helps me. He’s a great man.

My father is a smart guy and has lots of sage advice, but one of my favorite things he’s ever told me is this: life isn’t a straight line. He told me this at my lowest point, soon after my depression and anxiety had surfaced and basically flipped my life on its head. Long story short, I was out of college, out of money, and was staying in bed half the day, doing nothing to make my life more productive. Since I wasn’t in school and not on some job-to-career path, I was, well, depressed. I was convinced that at the rate I was going I was never going to make anything of myself. I was convinced that in a few years I would be living in a friend’s basement, eating Ramen for half of my meals and working 9-5 at some dead-end day job. My father saw my despair, and after a long talk he told me – life isn’t a straight line. What he meant by that is basically things don’t always go as planned. In fact, they rarely do. Life takes sharp corners and turns unexpectedly and slows down and speeds up, but it always reaches the end. Life goes on, and us with it. It may seem obvious to some, but to me at the time, there wasn’t anything better for me to hear. We may not be able to control the “line” completely, but we can plot its course, its general path in the direction of where we want to be someday. Is it easy? Again, rarely. But it’s possible.

So going back to the whole comparison thing – there’s another reason we shouldn’t do it. Nobody’s life takes the same path as another’s – we’ll all be at different points at different times than others. But as long as we know where we want to go, we can get there. It may not be when we want or how we want, but it’s possible. Am I being super cheesy right now? Yeah, probably. But I don’t care, I genuinely believe what I’m saying, and you should too. Nobody, I repeat, nobody is a lost cause, no matter how far past rock bottom they seem to have gone. The zigzaggy, curvy, angled line of life continues. We all continue.

  • Ryan

This too shall pass

The light truly is at the end of the tunnel, you just need to keep walking.

I don’t think I could live without my Spotify account. To say that music is a means of release for me would be a massive understatement – whether it’s listening to a song that describes exactly what I’m feeling, or listening to one that just says what I need to hear at that point in time, music is such a universal outlet. I don’t play any instruments or sing, but I know that many would agree with me saying just listening to music is therapy in itself.

For those who don’t know, Spotify is like a better version of iTunes where, instead of paying for each song individually, you pay a monthly subscription fee for unlimited access to all music. Through my job, I get a free Spotify subscription, but even if I didn’t I’d be more than willing to pay the $7.99/month or so for it. Spotify even has a free subscription, where you can’t download songs, but you can listen to (I believe) anything as long as you have an internet connection.

But I digress – this isn’t an advertisement for Spotify. This is where I mean to go with this – Spotify has this thing called Discover Weekly where, based on the songs already in your library, it gives you a list of 30 songs each week that it thinks you might like. My music taste is super varied – I’ll listen to a great many things. As such, my Discover Weekly is quite a grab bag when it comes to genre. Once in a while, though, the program will come through and give me a gem. This happened last night as I was listening to the songs it gave me for this week.

The song was simply entitled “This Too Shall Pass,” by an artist I’d never heard of before, Sinclair. To be completely honest, it isn’t the type of song I’d normally listen to – a simple, almost quirky song (what I’d consider a Zooey Deschanel-type song), but this one hit me for whatever reason. I didn’t have a particularly bad day or anything yesterday, but my anxiety makes it so that each day has, to at least some degree, some form of worrying.

The song itself doesn’t mention anxiety in any form, but it doesn’t have to. As the title suggests, the song basically sets the scene for someone in an unspecified bad situation worrying about what comes next. The chorus is simply: “I don’t know when, but I do know that, this too shall pass.”

Obvious? Yeah, probably. Nothing, whether it be good or bad, lasts forever. But I know I speak for many when I say that it’s easier to forget that than many others might think. In the heat of a situation which spikes anxiety, many of us quite simply don’t care that “this too shall pass” in time, we just want to be out of the anxiety-inducing situation ASAP. It’s easy to talk about patience and not panicking when we aren’t in a situation that requires patience or calm. It’s a hell of a lot harder to reassure ourselves in the heat of the moment, though.

It’s quite often difficult to see that light at the end of the tunnel. All we care about then is that we’re in the dark, alone with our harmful thoughts, and for many of us that is simply terrifying. For those of us suffering from it, anxiety loves to make us picture the worst situation possible – in the present or future. Even if you “make it through” this, what’s to say that I won’t bring it up again in your head? With anxiety, it feels like we’re never entirely free from these thoughts, even on our best days. The gnawing bite of anxiety threatens to sneak up on us at anytime, anywhere.

So how exactly do we combat this type of thinking? For me, anxiety is, I genuinely feel, the hardest thing to deal with. As someone who suffers from both anxiety and depression, I’d snap them away in a heartbeat if I could. But, if I could only choose one to vanquish, it’d be anxiety, every time. Yeah, depression is bad. Really bad. Low self-esteem and a sense of overarching worthlessness is terrible. But I still have my good days, where I can push my depression aside and focus on the silver linings in my life. Anxiety though….it’s always there. Even in the most inane, illogical situations my anxiety will find a way to worm into my head and make me think of things I never thought possible. To an outsider, how I come up with these worries must seem as random as grabbing names out of a hat – hell, for all I know they basically are. But the fact of the matter is I do worry about these inane things. I can tell myself that my worries are completely unfounded over and over and over again, but it still doesn’t help me stop worrying about them.

I’m not a hateful person. I was taught growing up to never use the word hate unless I truly meant hate, and to this day I still very rarely use the word, outwardly or internally. But it’s safe to say that I have never come so close to hating something as I do my anxiety. I despise it. Some days I just want to bang my fists against the wall, asking why I can’t just have one damn day where my anxiety doesn’t crawl around in my head. I’ve accepted the fact that I have anxiety and I always will, but still. For me, it doesn’t make it any easier.

If I could list some definitive methods here for pushing anxiety aside on a daily basis I would. I’ve taken medication for anxiety, gone to therapy, tried multiple outlets to release my worries…and these things helped. Truly, they did. But I’m not going to lie to you or myself by saying that these made my anxious thoughts disappear. However weak they may have been, they were still there. As I’ve mentioned in one of my previous posts, I cannot stress how important I believe it is to find an outlet to begin to release these fears. I guarantee you, there is something out there that will trump that anxiety, because in the end, your mind knows that it needs to concentrate on something good, as opposed to all the bad. For me, that “thing” is nature. Just going for a 30 minute walk in the woods does wonders for combatting my anxiety. The trees and dirt and streams don’t care about my stress at work or my anxiety over some presentation I have to make, and that’s strangely comforting to me.

I may be calling the kettle black here, but if you suffer from anxiety and haven’t found that outlet quite yet, the best thing you can do whilst looking for it is remember: this too shall pass. Yes, I did say earlier that it doesn’t help cure my anxiety – nothing likely will. But if you’re struggling like I am, trying to find that something to hold on to that, in the end, remember everything will be okay. Don’t be afraid to ask people for help, therapists or otherwise. Music truly is therapy in itself – turn on a good tune. Take a day for yourself.

I know that anxiety is running rampant this time of year, being in the midst of the holidays. I feel it too, believe me. But I’ll pull through. You’ll pull through. This too shall pass. Stay strong.

  • Ryan

 

You’re worth so much

Despite what society feels fit to tell you

I use the word ‘worth’ a lot in my posts. It’s one of my favorite, but at the same time, least favorite words. It’s one of my favorite words because worth is something everyone has, whether they realize it or not. There are no varying degrees of worth, there is simply worth. You are a god-given human life, you have a soul, a conscious, and no one thing or other person can replace you. Whether you realize it or not, you have inherent value simply because you have a beating heart.

So why is a word that describes something so beautiful also one of my least favorite words? Simply put, the definition of ‘worth’ has been so incredibly skewered by human society that we’ve lost the true meaning of the word. When we talk about society as a whole seeing your worth, what exactly are they searching for? Money, career, social status, living conditions, clothes…the list goes on. Your “usefulness” to society is seen by what you can contribute to it, whether it be through your career, your money, your connections. In far too many people’s eyes, worth is nearly nonexistent if it doesn’t directly affect people other than yourselves. People jump to America as being the prime culprit of this mindset, but in reality most first-world countries subscribe to this way of thinking. Society doesn’t see worth as inherent value present in everyone regardless of their personal situation, but instead sees it as a tool; a ranking system for determing who is the more important individual.

I’m sure that many of you have heard this spiel before, but in my personal experience it’s one of the hardest to actually take to heart. You can tell somebody that they’re worth something a hundred times over, but when a large chunk of (generally fairly prevelant) society tells you your worth is based on matching or beating the status quo, then who is prone to have the larger voice? The multi-billionaire sitting in his high rise with all the luxuries of the modern world, who society sees as more worth their time, or the average person in their 1-2 bedroom apartment, just making enough to pay rent?

It’s not often that I’ll come straight out and say that something so engrained in our society is wrong, but this is absolutely one of those times. Society’s definition of worth sets the bar the same height for nearly everybody, not taking into account familial, monetary, or health situations. What does that mean for somebody who grew up in a slum, whose family is so poor that they can’t even afford community college? Even though that person doesn’t physically have the materials needed to get simple access to the same opportunities as someone else, it makes no difference. You have money, or your don’t. Worth vs. worthlessness. You have a PhD, or you don’t. Worth vs. worthlessness. You have a spacious house, or you don’t. I repeat, worth vs. worthlessness.

That. Is. Bullshit. Worth is inherent to every human being on this earth; a poverty-stricken individual has just as much capacity for good as a person with millions of dollars does. Is that ‘easy’ to see? I don’t know. Maybe not. But it’s there. That worth is there, whether or not they choose to accept it. It’s so damn tragic that so, so many people will go through this life without realizing they had even the slightest bit of worth, simply because a brainwashed society told them they didn’t. I know it isn’t as easy as snapping your fingers and then seeing the light that is your inherent value appear before your eyes. It’s especially easy to forget that value when something bad happens to us or someone we care about – a death, a breakup, being fired from a job – even something as simple as having a nasty thing said to you. But, in the same way society cannot take away your worth just by saying you don’t have any, no one action or failed relationship can take it away either.

In your darkest times, please try and remember that. Unless you stop being a human being, you will never stop having worth. To yourself, to others, and even to society (even if they don’t realize or accept it). 

So…whenever I talk about worth, that’s what I mean. Not your social status, not your bank account or education, but your value as a human life. Oh, and if you don’t buy my spiel? Too bad! You have worth just by being, and even if you deny that, it’s still there. If you can’t point it out to yourself, then let someone else do it with you. Talk to your friends, your family, your significant other, spend time with your pets, do something you’re really good at. I say this in nearly every post, but don’t be afraid to reach out to me, either. Send me an email or write a comment on here and I’ll get back to you. 

Like I mentioned before, I know it isn’t easy. There are times when I mentally break down because I feel like I have no value, to others or the world around me. But I jump back from that mindset, because I do have worth. Despite what happened to me on a crappy work day, or what stupid thing I might’ve said in the heat of the moment, I’m a person. I remember that, and so should you.

Stay strong.

– Ryan