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

Anxiety over everything

Anxiety takes what good there is in life and overrules it. It is a breath never released, a clenching feeling in the deepest pits of your stomach. It takes a match and lights fire to your insides, a raging fire that, when quenched, will leave nothing but ash and the memory of what tortured you so.

Anxiety is the buckle in your knees at any given moment, the rug that threatens to be swept out from underneath your feet. The unlocked front door, your safe that should be locked, swung open for all to take as they please. All that you value, all that you love, out in the open, vulnerable. The butterflies in your stomach, the shivers down your spine, the cat who has your tongue.

Anxiety is the splinter in your finger, a source of pain that so many say is easy to remove, but the tweezers are nowhere to be found. Anxiety is a fire fed by fuel, all we need to do is stop feeding it to stop it. But that fuel is fear and desperation, that which we have in abundance, and into the fire it goes.

Anxiety is the bully at school we avoid – if we don’t acknowledge him, he can’t hurt us. But others see our so-called cowardice, instead of facing our fears, we run from them. Other people have fears too, we’re told. Ours aren’t any worse than theirs, we’re told. Shame on us for worrying about these mundane things, we’re told. More fuel for the fire.
Anxiety is the ghost of the dark room, the unknown spirit that could lurk around the next corner. Anxiety’s favorite words. Could. Might. Possibly. Probably. Definitely. It’s almost always definitely.

Anxiety is the worst outcome of any possible situation; whatever parallel universe exists to bring us the most pain and despair. It is the pickpocket of your happiness, your contentment, threatening to strike even as you walk through wonderland.

Anxiety has no method to its madness – it runs rampant through our consciousness, no end goal in mind, but causing destruction nonetheless. It is a boulder rolling down a hill – no set path, but crushing whatever lies in front of it.

Anxiety wants us to hate ourselves for existing. It wants us to feel like we shouldn’t exist. But we do exist, and for that reason, we’re already one step ahead of it.

Stay strong.

  • Ryan

 

 

 

Being single works just fine

To all of the couples and the single people, happy Valentine’s Day! Whether you’re getting some expensive piece of jewelry from the one you love, or you’re sitting at home alone having a hot date with Netflix, I hope your day is fantastic.

So naturally, with it being Valentine’s Day, I was genuinely considering putting some snarky post on here, something entitled along the lines of “Singles Awareness Day” (super original, I know), but I thought better of it. I have single friends who hate today for the same reason so many people love it – it promotes romantic connections, those of which they do not have. I’m single as well, but I’m in no way bitter or resentful towards the holiday. From my point of view, Valentine’s Day doesn’t berate people who don’t have a significant other, rather, it is meant for celebrating the joy of those who do. 

Now, I understand the bitterness towards seeing others happy with their significant other, and wishing you had that for yourself. There isn’t anything wrong with feeling sad about that – I fall prey to that mindset myself. But thinking that you can’t be as happy without some “other half” that you haven’t found yet isn’t true. We can receive love from other places – friends, family, pets. I know this isn’t “romantic” love, but it’s love all the same, isn’t it?

Having someone in your life who loves you romantically is wonderful, I don’t deny that. But life isn’t all about romantic love, though today does a pretty good job of making many forget that small fact. Love makes the world go ’round, yes, that includes romance, but all the other types of love still apply. I’m absolutely convinced that, before anyone enters into a relationship, they have to make sure they love themselves first. Self-love. I’ve had opportunities to enter into relationships, but I didn’t take those opportunities, because the way I see it, asking someone to love and accept me for who I am, when I have trouble doing that on a daily basis, isn’t right. Romantic relationships can do wonders for those with depression, but believe me when I say they are in no way a substitute for loving yourself.

So, if it comes around to February 14th next year and you’re single, that’s okay. Same with the next year. And the next. Love is so important, but it comes in many different forms. Familial, friendship, compassion, and yes, romantic. That being said, if you are in a relationship, don’t take it for granted. Just having someone there for you romantically is something so many people wish they could have every single day.

You’re amazing. You’re fantastic. You’re worth so much, you have so much potential, and you are worthy of romantic love, whether you’re in a relationship right now or not. Life is about so much more than boyfriends or girlfriends, husbands or wives – happiness can come from so many places, including within. Don’t forget that.

Stay strong.

  • Ryan

 

P.S. You know you like that Han Solo pun in the cover image. Admit it.

Yes, your emotions matter

Whether we like it or not, emotions are very clearly an integral part of our lives as human beings. I say it like that because I’m certain there are some individuals out there who are convinced our existence would be easier if we were all emotionless, unfeeling blobs. I suppose, on my crappiest of crap days, I can sort of see where these people are coming from. But emotion is a two-sided coin. If there’s sadness, there is also happiness. If there’s anger, there’s also serenity. The darkest shadows wouldn’t exist if light didn’t shine. I sound like I’m reciting the Jedi Code from Star Wars, but I digress…

My vote is in favor of emotions, and I’m willing to bet most people feel the same, most of the time. How we feel is directly linked, obviously, to what happens to us, around us, and from us. Very rarely can we control what happens to us, but with discipline we can control how we react to it. It’s called mindfulness. I’ve mentioned it briefly in a prior post, as it seems to be a growing practice among many who suffer from depression and/or anxiety. In short, mindfulness is putting our emotions aside during our initial reaction to a situation, and viewing that situation from a purely logical standpoint. Mindfulness does not ask us to become those aforementioned unfeeling drones, but instead to only take our emotions into initial consideration of a situation when absolutely necessary (which it rarely is). By avoiding passionate emotions such as anger, jealousy, and rage when reacting to a situation, we save ourselves the trouble of jumping to conclusions or doing things we later regret. After we’ve given ourselves time to view that situation from an unclouded mind, only then do we let our emotions run through us. It takes constant practice and dedication, but a mindful view of the world has done wonders for people.

Mindfulness teaches us to acknowledge our emotions, just not when initially reacting to a situation. The emotions are still there, though. They’re real. They mean something. With that in mind, I think about a little reverse psychology trick depression loves to play on people – telling us that our emotions don’t mean something.

The word itself, depression, recalls all sorts of terrible emotions: sadness, hurt, guilt…the list goes on. Depression is an expert at bringing these feelings into the forefront of our minds and letting them rule out any positive emotion that tries to come in. Here’s the irony – sometimes that same illness will try to tell us that those emotions we’re feeling, the ones it invited to the party in the first place, are wrong. Invalid. Undeserving of our attention.

Cunning depression tells us there are those out there who have it much, much worse than you.

 

“I barely have enough money to make rent this month…”

“So? There are parents with families who can’t even afford meals each night.”

 

“I feel like absolute crap, but my boss says I have to come into work today anyway…”

“So? There are people with illnesses so terminal they have only months to live.”

 

“I want to hang out with my friends, but I have more important obligations…”

“Ha! Don’t even get me started!”

 

It’s like…your boss at work telling you to do something. You do what they ask to the letter, but then they get mad at you for it afterwards. “I did everything you wanted, depression! I let these negative emotions lord themselves over me, and now you say ‘shame on you for feeling those things.’” What even…?

It may seem that through this, depression is convincing us to be thankful for our blessings instead of our inconveniences. Indirectly, maybe. But what it’s really trying to accomplish is make your head go in circles; telling you that your emotions aren’t valid, so you feel even crappier that you felt that way in the first place, and the cycle starts anew. It’s the job of a depression-addled mind to make you feel hopeless. It rubs salt in the wound – not only do you not deserve to feel happy, but you aren’t even worth it to feel sad, or angry, or livid.

Like most of the things depression tells us, this isn’t true. Through mindfulness, we can put our emotions aside, but there is not one person on this planet who can “turn off” their emotions permanently. Again, whether we want them to exist or not, emotions are there. To deny their existence or validity only does harm to us. Your emotions matter.

I watched a YouTube video yesterday of someone talking about mental illnesses and the stigma surrounding them. So many people who are uninformed about what someone with a mental illness goes through say that we shouldn’t pay attention to our emotions. “If your depression makes you sad, just push the sadness away! You aren’t actually sad, it’s just your depression telling you that!” No. No. NO. You ARE sad. You’re upset, you’re ecstatic, you’re giddy, you’re guilt-ridden. Any emotion you feel is real, no matter if it’s brought on by a mental illness. In that YouTube video, the girl used the word “valid” a lot, and I think that’s a fantastic way to put it. Even mindfulness, the very technique that teaches us to put aside our emotions, doesn’t deny that they’re real. You have every right to feel the way you feel, at any given moment.

I feel like this post is quite scattered, so I apologize for that. The video I watched yesterday made me think about it all last night and early today, so I figured I’d put my thoughts to (digital) paper and make sense of this myself. Regardless, I stand firm on what I said. Even in the moments where we may not want them to be, emotions are real.

Stay strong.

  • 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

 

A quick thought…

Violence for its own sake is bad. Generally, leaders, be they of countries, federations, armies, etc., take steps to avoid violence against their own.

At what point in history did human society decide that the best way to counter violence is with violence? Fire with fire? If I punch you, your initial reaction may be to punch me back. Which in response causes me to hit you again, and the cycle repeats until there’s an all-out fistfight. If history and human nature has taught us anything, it’s that a violent act will often lead to a retaliation of violence.

Human society has been around for thousands of years. We’ve evolved, gotten smarter and wiser, so why haven’t a vast majority of us realized that violence in response to violence solves nothing? So many leaders are convinced that brute force is the answer to ending what plagues their people, and as such, they become so blinded that they don’t realize the problem lies more so in their own actions than those they are fighting against.

If I punch you, you should put up yours hands to defend yourself, absolutely. But instead of hitting back, figure out why I punched you. What caused it? How can we solve this problem without another punch to the face? With the least amount of collateral damage. Maybe you’re still a little sore (physically and mentally) from my punch, but we’re avoiding a lot of future soreness if we take a less physical approach to things. Right?

I’m not really sure what prompted this thought, honestly. The U.S. is pretty divided right now, between what approach we take to solve our problems. I hope we see that force isn’t always the answer.

  • Ryan