Restart

As a kid I remember starting my gaming days on multiple video game consoles. My favorite out of all of them was the Nintendo GameCube, and to this day it’s still a favorite system of mine for so many reasons. Something that all gamers are known for is the frantic saving that occurs when you’re about to turn off your system. Sometimes you only hit save once, and then other days you hit it three or four times because honestly, did it actually save?

It’s odd to relate life to a video game console but it’s the honest truth. Because recently and unexpectedly the “restart” button on life was hit for me. I didn’t have a choice, and everything that I thought I saved was gone. And as devastating as it is to a teenager when their friend accidentally deletes their Final Fantasy VII save file from a memory card, this deletion was much more serious. It mean finding different housing, new friends, and adjusting to life being single again, someplace I didn’t see myself ever being again.

Healing takes place where you least expect it. I learned quickly who my true and valuable friends were and are. I learned and am learning from silence and noise alike, appreciating the little things. Oddly enough people would say the exact things I needed to hear without even knowing what I was thinking or feeling.

Part of the restart that happened was an old injury from years ago fired up again. Learning patience and self control from excruciating pain is not exactly how I wanted to spend my time, but when do things actually come when we want them to?

All in all, what I want to convey is keep challenging yourself, don’t give up when giving up is the easiest, cheapest thing on the menu, and probably tastes the best too. There’s more to everything than just that.

Restarting isn’t always bad. It’s never easy and sometimes it isn’t wanted or expected, but you have to make the most of where you’re at with the time given. Life on earth is short and temporary. Are we going to wallow in the mud? Or are we going to stand up and realize the ordeals going on around us are only knee deep?

I apologize for going off grid during this season, but it was needed. As I’m learning and moving forward I’ll be writing more, and restarting this blog, so stay tuned to hear from your local, long haired hippy again.

So Long and Goodnight

This has been a very hard post to write. A couple months ago when I decided to start a blog, I knew I wanted to write about suicide and depression. I’ve kept and added to a list of different topics I’ve wanted to address, some are just harder than others. This is the hardest one for me. It exposes me and is a vulnerable side of me.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. They also state that 44,965 Americans take their own lives every year, meaning 123 suicides a day. Those numbers are only involving the United States.

Six years ago to this month, my uncle Steve took his own life. I was 15 years old, I had just gone to bed for the night, I don’t even remember what time it was, but my dad came into my room and told me that my uncle had just shot himself in the head and that he and my mom were going to the hospital. I called my pastor and told him what happened while I waited on my brother in law and sister to come pick me up from my parent’s house. When they arrived, I had to tell my sister. In my life, to this day, that has been the hardest thing I have ever done.

The rest of the night is a blur, to be honest. I don’t remember a lot of it. My brother in law took care of the two of us once we got to their apartment. We watched some TV, we played some video games, and eventually we fell asleep. I don’t remember falling asleep, I just remember hearing in my head “Uncle Steve shot himself” over and over and over. In the morning, my brother in law woke me up gently and told me my uncle passed away sometime early that morning. Andrew wasn’t the guy my sister married anymore, he became my brother in my eyes, as he held me while I cried. Trauma is a powerful force. It can create thicker bonds, tear apart a family, cause depression, and many other things.

My family entered the stages of grief. Which sounds like a great name for the next big roller coaster at Cedar Point, but really is just a roller coaster of emotion that no one really wants. If you’re unfamiliar with the stages of grief, they are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and then acceptance, in that order. These stages are normal, it’s okay to feel any of them. Don’t be afraid to feel.

Every stage hit me, but anger and depression hit like a tidal wave. It takes a lot to make me angry. Very few people have ever seen me fully angry. I don’t enjoy feeling that way so I try not to let it happen. But when you lose someone it’s hard not to hold those feelings back. I was angry at every little thing. It scared me how angry I’d get over the stupidest, smallest problem. I feel like it drove people away, I didn’t know how or who to talk with about what I was going through. I didn’t feel like I could talk with my dad about it, because I knew he was feeling the same things I was. My mom was taking care of my dad so I didn’t want to talk to her about anything because I knew my dad would be talking to her. I couldn’t talk to my sister about it. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s seeing my sister upset or hurt. It crushed me to have to tell her what happened, to have to bring it up again wasn’t an option. So I bottled it, and I was a very angry person for a time before I found safe people to talk it out with.

In that time, something good came of it. I took my anger out on playing guitar. I taught myself how to play the guitar, and my anger pushed me because I could feel the music, I could feel the emotion in it, driving the chords I played. I didn’t realize that the times I would spend crying over that guitar, or playing until my fingers bled, was when I was starting to cope and move towards acceptance.

There are a few points I’d like to make in telling you this story. First off, suicide and depression are real things. They’re as real as the underwear you hopefully wear every day, and unfortunately they also tend to go hand in hand. Don’t brush anybody off as being dramatic because they’re depressed. If someone is exposing their most vulnerable emotions to you, don’t crush them or turn them away. You don’t know when the last moments you could have with someone could be. Don’t take your friends and family for granted. We all do at one point or another. Be mindful. Be aware.

Another point I want to make clear, that acceptance may take a lifetime. I’m still accepting that I lost one of my closest family members. I still get angry sometimes. I still cry. I still try to bargain with God. I still get depressed. But I know I need to keep going.

If you’ve dealt with depression or grief, make a goal. Have something you will uphold and look forward to. Something that you will chase after and strive for. As for me, I strive to be a better musician for my uncle. I push myself to play more, to play better, to play often. Because I know it would’ve made him proud.

Surround yourself with people who will be there for you when the rain starts to pour. If it wasn’t for a very select group of people in my life who have stood beside me to this day and have been the closest friends and family I ever could have imagined, I would be worse off than I am. If you don’t have a good support system you won’t heal as quickly. You need people. I know you want to shut yourself in a dark room and just lie there. But don’t, let good people help you. Thank you, to the people who have listened to me and helped me. I appreciate you.

In conclusion, I want to make anyone reading this aware that I am a safe person. If you need someone to talk to, to vent to, someone to just have a cup of coffee with and shoot the breeze with. It’s okay to not be okay. I’m here. I’ve been there. I’m willing to listen. I want how you’re feeling to be heard so you can get it off your chest. I want you to open up in your own time. I understand. Don’t be afraid to seek help. You are loved. You are needed. Everything will be okay eventually.

This post is dedicated to Steven Warford. I love you. I miss you. I’ll carry on, your memory will carry on. Peace be the journey till we meet again.  

Uncle Steve

Opening Up

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year. Also, anxiety and depression go hand in hand together. Most people don’t seek treatment. The causes can be specific or unknown, that’s a bunny trail of thought all in itself.

I didn’t think about the possibility of having anxiety issues until the past year. One of the hardest things is opening up about it, because there’s a fear of what people think. What if someone thinks I’m crazy and need help? That question lingers at the back of my mind more often than I wish it did. Narrowing down some of the causes was difficult and very personal, I would rather not go into those, but everything began to seem a little clearer the more I observed the past and some symptoms I experience.

Every person can feel different symptoms with their case of anxiety. There are mornings where I wake up, and while getting ready for work I look in the mirror and have to tell myself, “this is me”. Other times, I feel like I’m having an out of body experience. In those moments I feel as though I’m watching myself do whatever I’m doing, but I don’t feel like I’m doing it. The easiest way to describe it is as if you were watching a movie in a first person view. I find feeling like that has lasted minutes, hours, or even up to a day. Of all the things I’ve felt, that’s the most uncomfortable and the hardest to talk about.

There are other things I’ve personally felt that are “smaller” symptoms. For instance, irritability, sensory overloads, panic/anxiety attacks, worry, and depression.

“Our anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strengths.” – Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Truthfully, the message I want to convey is that it’s okay to have anxiety. What you’re feeling isn’t okay, it sucks, it’s hard. Some days it’s hard to find the good in anything, or it’s hard to feel like you’re loved, or missed, or even wanted. Other days you’re just finding that you’re uneasy and anxious about dumb little things or important matters, and you don’t even  know why you’re feeling the intensity of it all in those moments. But it’s okay.

Firstly, before anything else, just breathe. Believe me, it will help. If you’re in the middle of feeling anxious or if you’ve had an anxiety attack you may find that you’ve forgotten to breathe as much as you should. So just take a few deep breaths.

You have to find what calms you, what encourages peace and promotes your well-being. That can be someplace where you’re alone and can just sit somewhere quiet or comforting until you calm down or can get your mind to settle down.

You have to surround yourself with people who you can talk to about what’s going on. That was something that helped me the most, my girlfriend and my sister are my go-to people when I need to talk about what’s going on. They understand, they listen, they know that it’s my battle but I just need to talk it out. Support is huge.

Which brings me to my next point: talk it out. Sometimes you just have to express how you’re feeling out loud. You may find that what you were anxious about was something so small and dumb you can laugh about it once you’re hearing your thoughts out loud. Other times it can help you process whatever is going on.

If you don’t want to talk about it to someone or if you’re alone and afraid of someone hearing you, write about what’s going on in your head. Have a journal or diary just to express yourself freely. It may sound like such a “teenager thing” to do, but whenever I’m writing about what I’m feeling, no matter what I’m feeling, it helps. You never have to look at what you wrote again, either. You can just turn to a new page when you need to vent again.

No matter what your mind is saying, always try to remember that you’re loved. Someone loves you and cares about you.

If you’re someone who doesn’t have anxiety issues and you’re reading this and wondering how you can help someone with anxiety, the best thing you can do is to be there for them. Whether it’s someone to sit with, someone to talk to, someone to hug, someone to remind others to breathe, your presence is important. No one wants to struggle alone, even if their mind is telling them they do. With that being said, be willing to give whoever you’re with space if they need it, everyone is different, be sensitive.

One final thought, if you need someone to talk to, I’m here to listen and help the best I can. Don’t push it aside, your mental health is important. It’s easy to forget that sometimes, and even I do still. You are important, and having anxiety is okay.

 

 

 

About Me

The past year has been a year of self discovery, challenges, and new experiences. As I’ve started this journey, I want to talk about topics that are difficult to talk about and some common sense topics that seem to be overlooked. So here’s to stepping out of our comfort zones, and to new things.

“One’s destination is never a place, but always a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

 

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