Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The decline of societal cohesion and the hope that God promises

I am really getting sick of living in this world. I don't mean that in a "I'm depressed" kind of way though. I mean it in a "the world has become so bad I can't stand living in it" way. Thank the Lord that I found my way back to God in the last year because without him I would be completely lost. The rapid decline in the morality and attitudes of people globally is astounding to me. The internet has become a facilitator of this decline, being an intangible, essentially uncontrollable entity. Even the fact that I am able to write this blog post speaks to that fact. No one is regulating me. I can say whatever I want here. I could lie, I could mislead people (to be fair I must say that I have no intention of misleading anyone but rather to help them find the hope in this dark world.) I could post copyrighted material and claim it as my own. I could pretend I'm somebody else. I could post illegal material. I could post harmful material. I could pretty much do whatever I want and have a readily available audience to do so.

Now, there are people out there who use this ability for good rather than bad (I like to believe I am one of them). But the sheer increase in selfishness makes a person question everyone and their motives. The trust is eroding. We are moving away from a physical world into a "digital world". We are voyeurs, we are consumers. Personal relationships are going by the wayside, favored by "digital" communication. The internet has become our world. We say what we want, do what we want. And if anyone tries to stop us from doing what we want, we feel justified in hurting, maligning, or punishing them in some fashion. Everyone must accept everyone and everything they do, because if we don't, we are bigots or uneducated or small minded or fascist. We sympathize with the perpetrators of crimes rather than victims. We glorify violence, we pay to see people stabbed and shot and mutilated, abused and raped and tortured. Our fellow human beings have become mere objects - objects of hatred or objects of pleasure, objects of manipulation and objects to discard. Objects, Things, Commodities. We sacrifice our relationships, our families, for sex with a stranger, for the promise of fame, for a few dollars. We sell others out, we sell ourselves out. We "make a deal with the devil". Just a little more...a little more...a little more. No one will notice, it is gradual.

Days become weeks become months become years. The world of 50 years ago is non-existent. The world of my childhood, a mere 20 years ago, is unrecognizable to me. The teenagers of this world have no idea of a life outside these digital walls.. it has become normal, habitual, ingrained. The concept of love is gone. It has been replaced with a hollow front. Behind it lie ugly things. The ugliness was once held behind the doors. Now it is creeping out, seeping underneath, permeating the structure, little by little, little by little, until we have become so accustomed to the heinous things that happen that we take no notice at all. It is in our faces, daily. The bad has become the good. And do not dare to speak the words I do, for fall in line and join in or you will be annihilated. Don't not speak truth, do not speak love, do not speak justice to a world that is blind, deaf and dumb. You will be trampled underfoot like a piece of refuse. You will be shamed into silence for not condoning the wickedness. Yet I take that risk. I am willing to be trampled for the sake of goodness. I am willing to be the lone dissenter if I have to. I am willing to stand up and say, NO MORE. No more selfishness, no more greed, no more arrogance, no more exploitation. No more of the attitudes that saturate this world, 2014. I am willing to take the bullet and endure the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune".

Whenever I look at the world, and I feel this horrible crushing weight, when the badness of mankind is so glaring I cannot escape from it (which is often) I think of God. I pray, I turn to him, I read his word. I turn away from the bad, I seek the good. There is nothing lasting at all in this world that man has formed.

"The world and its desires are fading away, but the person who does God's will remains forever." I John 2:19 (International Standard Version)

The world wants you to believe it, the world wants to sell you the lie. They tell you to trust in them. They want you to stop believing in God, to give up. They want you to give up.

Corruption is rampant in this world, everywhere we turn. It is getting harder to find light as the world turns black. I understand this must all come to pass as it is written in his word.

"But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men." 2 Timothy 3:1-9 (English Standard Version)

Several people I know have noted the level of corruption and atrocities occurring on a world wide scale now. They, like me, have noted they must pray daily to keep strength against the terrible messages in this world.

“For this reason take up the complete suit of armor from God, so that you may be able to resist in the wicked day and, after you have accomplished everything, to stand firm. Stand firm, therefore, with the belt of truth fastened around your waist, wearing the breastplate of righteousness  and having your feet shod in readiness to declare the good news of peace. Besides all of this, take up the large shield of faith, with which you will be able to extinguish all the wicked one’s burning arrows. Also, accept the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, that is, God’s word,  while with every form of prayer and supplication you carry on prayer on every occasion in spirit.” Ephesians 6:13-18 (NWT)

The internet spreads its vines out everywhere, touches everyone. Anyone trying to put out a voice of hope and encouragement above the din of hedonistic chaos is drowned out. But here I am anyway, doing the best I can to implore the people in this world to turn around. STOP. Assess. CARE. Don't do the wrong thing because "everyone else is doing it." Care about your mind, about your soul. Safeguard it, because it is precious. Don't throw away your soul, don't sell out your fellow human brothers for a few dollars, for a few minutes of pleasure.

"Tell them, ‘“As surely as I am alive,” declares the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that someone wicked changes his way and keeps living." Ezekiel 33:11 (New World Translation)

I will hold onto God's hope, to the hope given by the selfless sacrifice of his son, Jesus Christ. The only hope that carries a certain promise of happiness and everlasting life, free from the turmoil of this wicked world.

"In the final part of the days, The mountain of the house of Jehovah Will become firmly established above the top of the mountains, And it will be raised up above the hills, And to it peoples will stream.  And many nations will go and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah And to the house of the God of Jacob. He will instruct us about his ways, And we will walk in his paths.” For law will go out of Zion, And the word of Jehovah out of Jerusalem.    He will render judgment among many peoples And set matters straight respecting mighty nations far away. They will beat their swords into plowshares And their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, Nor will they learn war anymore. They will sit, each one under his vine and under his fig tree, And no one will make them afraid, For the mouth of Jehovah of armies has spoken." Micah 4:1-4 (New World Translation)

" And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”" Revelation 21:3,4 (English Standard Version)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Depression, sensitivity, and Kurt Cobain

“I’m so happy, because today I found my friends…they’re in my head…”

Alright so I’ve never been a Nirvana fan. In fact I never really liked their music at all, especially with people just idolizing Kurt Cobain and making the band out to be these superhuman rock Gods. Then again, I’ve never been someone who is particularly star struck. They’re just people after all.

I wasn’t even going to write anything tonight but as I revised one of my old blog pages, this line came into my head so I felt compelled to write. I actually have a new respect for Kurt now. Let me explain. A few months back, I was driving to one of my university classes, it was raining, I was in my own mind, in a mood, driving on autopilot (nothing new for me – driving is a great way for me to zone out since a lot of it is long uninterrupted stretches). This song came on the radio and I actually listened to all the lyrics. It’s not like I hadn’t heard them before but I guess my particular mood on that day made the words go ZING! Into my brain and ruminate there. I saw all this meaning in his lyrics I never did before.

Obviously, he was depressed. A lot of his songs are dark and morose or just ambivilent. But on that particular day, I felt his great pain, the pain he felt when he wrote the words to the song and God knows, how he must have felt half the time when he sang them. Ironically, the song title is Lithium.

So I (being me) got it in my head, this desire to know all about Kurt Cobain. I looked up bunches of his song lyrics and pored over hidden meanings and BAM I suddenly just got him. Old Kurt who I held in disregard for so long, I got him and I totally related and felt terrible for his sad end.

Maybe a day later, I was walking through a store to get to the bank in the back and I passed the magazine aisle. There was this HUGE cover with Kurt on it, some special edition on his life and the band. I got distracted from the bank and stood there leafing through it. Just quickly reading captions and what not, and he was portrayed again as this sort of crazy, depressed, addicted rock star dude. I thought, wow, poor Kurt. I bet he hated the way he got portrayed in the media even when he was alive. He seemed to really have a disliking for being in the limelight a lot of the time.

Then later when I mentioned it to someone else, they told me that his suicide letter was public and anyone could read it. First I thought, how terrible! Then in my quest for understanding I had to read it, see if it had any deeper clues other than what everyone says, “Kurt was depressed” (ok, that is obvious.)

So I read the letter, and felt this profound sorrow and intimate kinship with him. I felt everything he said like it was me who wrote it. I GOT IT. I remember the website saying something about the letter being “mysterious”. I thought, how? Here are a couple of excerpts  that really hit home to me (I post with complete respect to Kurt and in no unflattering terms whatsoever.)

He talks about his touring with his band a bit, and then writes, “I'm too sensitive. I need to be slightly numb in order to regain the enthusiasms I once had as a child.
On our last 3 tours, I've had a much better appreciation for all the people I've known personally, and as fans of our music, but I still can't get over the frustration, the guilt and empathy I have for everyone. There's good in all of us and I think I simply love people too much, so much that it makes me feel too fucking sad.”

Then a bit later he says, “I have it good, very good, and I'm grateful, but since the age of seven, I've become hateful towards all humans in general. Only because it seems so easy for people to get along that have empathy. Only because I love and feel sorry for people too much I guess.
Thank you all from the pit of my burning, nauseous stomach for your letters and concern during the past years. I'm too much of an erratic, moody baby!”

WOW. I had been feeling every bit of that. The love/hate dichotomy I’ve struggled with often myself. I love people intensely just like Kurt, yet they always seem to be hurting, either hurting themselves or bad things just befall them. I empathize and internalize others pain so much sometimes that I cannot function. Then I start seeing these bad things in the world and start hating people for causing their own demise and I start withdrawing. Then my real love and caring overrides and I try to help. I go on that way for a while, doing my best to help, to make things better for others. But then I get to the point where I am overloaded with their feelings and I’ve taken in so much that the energy is overpowering and sucks the life from me and I become down and depressed. It’s a weird back and forth cycle. Caring, empathizing, helping, absorbing energy…then upset, sad, depressed, depleting energy…And so, gosh, Kurt, my kindred spirit, I so understand you and I feel so sad that you died. I didn’t know you other than a song on a radio I perceived as ramblings from a disaffected drug addict. But I was wrong. I’m sure that your drug issues stemmed from the fact that your head was always spinning, and not the other way around. I’m sure it was a way for you to numb the pain and the unceasing words and feelings plaguing you. I wish I could tell all these magazine producers that they don’t have a clue about who you were. I wish I could tell people that there is nothing odd or mysterious about your description, and that they simply don’t have the capacity to understand because they haven’t felt that way. Well, I suppose I am telling them all now, in this post.

Sensitivity is such a two edged sword. It is both a gift and a curse. Too many people take their lives because of their intense inner pain and turmoil. Often these people are smart, talented, with much to offer the world. But they become overwhelmed to a point they can’t see it. I don’t think it is because they are “selfish” as some claim. I think it is because, like Kurt, they care so much, and that can cause intense pain. As someone who has struggled with the suicidal ideation much of my own life, and had one failed suicide attempt, I can speak from experience. It’s a huge jumble of emotions, very intense emotions.

I didn’t intend to write this long and ramble on about my personal internal experience with Kurt Cobain’s words. But it made me think, sometimes, all we have are our words. So here I am now, putting out my own words, hoping to bring understanding and a little more empathy from the masses. And to say, I’m sorry Kurt.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The formation of our belief systems

Let’s get into the idea of beliefs, and belief systems, and how we form our beliefs.

People always think their own beliefs are correct. After all, they wouldn’t hold those beliefs if they didn’t, well, BELIEVE them, would they??? We all BELIEVE our way is right, we BELIEVE our way makes sense. We discount others who don’t agree with us as na├»ve, unintelligent or simply without the facts. Because after all, if they had the facts, were intelligent and wise, they would be just like us! And that would make them correct!

The funny thing is, people never stop to think that EVERY SINGLE PERSON feels the exact same way about their own beliefs. That’s why there is so much division when it comes to beliefs, especially the BIG ones (politics, religion, medicine, etc.)  Each person believes they are right and they fail to have the ability to step into someone else’s shoes and actually see where they are coming from.

For awhile, I went through a very heightened period of enlightenment where I could see every point of view of everyone simultaneously. It was glorious on the one hand, to have such complete knowledge and understanding. Yet after some time (weeks) of going on this way it began to wear on me. It was as if I were standing in the center of a fun house surrounded by mirrors. Each view was in clear sight, but all different, and all converging at one point in the middle. I started to lose footing. My mind became a little TOO open. All the possibilities of everything became aware to me. And it was then that I realized, a person’s mind CAN be too open. In fact, we have to root ourselves in some type of belief, because if we don’t, the sheer volume of permutations and possibilities will overwhelm us to the point we cannot process any information at all. Not good. Not good.

Now, not everyone has probably had such experiences as mine with the extreme “open mind” but I know I am not alone in the ability to be able to step outside myself and see someone else’s view, just in general. I think we all have that ability. I think it is a skill that can be honed. But, sadly, many people today do not have the desire nor the will to cultivate such a skill or an understanding of others. In the world of “me, me, me, meeeeeee!!!!” it is easier to just do what you want and not care about anyone else. They will still insist their way is right and that you are an idiot if you don’t agree.

That doesn’t mean we have to agree with them. We don’t. I personally believe in God. There is nothing that would make me not believe in God. I believe in him so strongly I’d be willing to lay down my life this very moment. But do I understand why some others don’t believe in him? Yes, I understand. Most of the time, I do not engage in debates with people on these type of heated topics anymore because I see it as pointless. A person cannot be argued into a way of thinking. It is something they must come to on their own. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. I acknowledge everyone’s ability and choice to decide their own beliefs.

Now, we get into the really interesting parts that people never really realize about beliefs. 

     1)    Our beliefs aren’t actually OUR beliefs.

Human beings are social creatures. Like it or not, we are influenced by things around us, people around us. We aren’t born with a set of beliefs. We acquire them over time and they are very much socially constructed. Not to say we don’t have an inherent understanding of “right” vs. “wrong” or “good” vs. “bad”. But each person’s interpretation of what is “good” and what is “bad” varies. Why? Our beliefs are shaped by so many things. Our upbringing. The relationships and friendships we have had in life. Our religion, or lack of religion. Our country, our culture, our gender. We take all these things – our knowledge, our understanding, our observations, our personal experiences – and we assimilate them into one governing belief system from which all of our opinions stem from. Most people take this for granted. They assume everyone is just like them, thinks like them. Not the case. 
  2)    Our beliefs are not always logical (and that can be good).

Our society places so much importance on the idea of logic and reasoning. It can be traced back a long way, but a divide arose between the idea of the logical mind and the idea of the emotional mind. People believe that logic trumps emotion. If it is logical, it must be “right”. But our emotions play just as much of a part in our belief systems as our logical brains. If a person believes in capital punishment, likely it’s because they feel the criminal deserves it. Most people don’t discuss it “rationally” in the sense of justice for justice sake. It is a visceral response, an emotional feeling toward the criminal. If a person doesn’t agree with capital punishment, it’s likely because they feel it is morally wrong, or perhaps that the system is faulty. These again are emotional judgments, not logical. 

In fact, some beliefs are completely illogical all the way around!!! But we still hold them as valid. Why? Because we feel them. And that doesn’t necessarily make them wrong. If we have no money and too many children, “logically” it would make sense to get rid of one or more and not be financially taxed. But do most people do this? No. Why? Because emotionally, we know it is wrong. 

Reason and emotion go hand in hand in a perfectly balanced individual. Granted, no one is perfect. But to sacrifice one at the expense of the other generally has bad results.

     3)     Our belief systems influence our behavior.

This is huge and something people do not give credence to much if at all. If we believe something is good for us, we might be more likely to do it. If we believe that seeing a counselor will help our mental state, we are more likely to do it regularly. If we believe that bathing in salt water will give us an extra year of life, we might be more likely to do it. If we believe that our neighbor is untrustworthy, we might go to great lengths to avoid him. If we believe all dogs carry fleas, we might not ever pet a dog. See where I’m going with this? What we believe (or don’t believe) directly influences what we do (or don’t do.)

     4)   We can consciously CHANGE our belief systems.

Belief systems are notoriously resistant to change. I think this is because a lot of complex psychological processes are occurring that many times are unknown to us in a conscious state (far too much to get into here.) The old adage seems to ring true for many “A leopard never changes its spots.” I certainly used to believe this.  I thought I was doomed for life. I thought other people were all bad too so why waste time on them??? I carried on that way most of my life, until I had some pretty profound epiphanies, which I’m sharing with you now.

Change IS possible. But it involves many things. Acknowledgement, acceptance, movement (toward the change). A person cannot sit unmoving and expect that things will suddenly be different. Even if someone seemingly wins the lottery out of nowhere, they still had to 1) believe they had a chance of winning 2) think about getting a ticket 3) actually go and get the ticket. Generally, money doesn’t just fall onto a person’s head from the clear blue sky.

Essentially, a conscious change occurs in a person’s mindset when the risk of staying the SAME is HIGHER than the risk of undertaking change. Change is a risk. Sometimes we are forced into change, if our spouse leaves us or if we’re diagnosed with an illness. But what we BELIEVE about that is entirely within our power.

So what is all this telling us???

If we are stuck in patterns of negative behavior, negative thinking, negative life situations, we must examine our beliefs. Truly ask yourself…WHY do I believe this? Is it because someone else told me to? Is it because it “makes sense”? Is it because I just NEED to??? Once we begin to examine our motivations for those beliefs, we can begin the process of change.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Becoming trapped in the Mental Health System and Believing in myself

I have to get into a topic here that may be unsettling to some. I was about to discuss positive vs. vs. negative messages but realized I can’t without backing up just a little to talk about how I even realized the importance of this.

Let’s rewind to April 2010. I had just had a major mental episode. Hospitalized. Diagnosed bipolar. Started in counseling, meds, etc. (this was not my very first experience with the mental health field though. I had been in the system briefly as a teen, for depression and anxiety.) Anyhow, I remember seeing my psychiatrist and being so out of sorts and just wanting to get better. She prescribed me medication and over the next couple visits reiterated that bipolar is a lifelong condition. It will not go away or be cured. I would need to be on medication for the rest of my life. It was like a death sentence. Who can fathom, at the age of 27, having to be on medication for the rest of their lives??? I could not wrap my brain around it. Like many who are diagnosed, I struggled with the idea, for many reasons. It seemed so extreme. No one really knew what half these drugs did. Heck, half the people in the mental health field don’t even agree among themselves about diagnoses, treatments, etc. And I had to put blind trust in these people to direct my life. After the bad experience I had as a teen, I was wary. It caused me a great deal of cognitive dissonance.

Over the years, I came to rely on these people almost for my very life. I went to my psychiatrist for her to listen to my symptoms, diagnose me, give me medications, alter medications, and listen a little bit to my general life goings-on. I went to my counselor to talk about how I was dealing with bipolar disorder, to give me some advice, to monitor how I was doing on meds and in my social life. It became a routine thing, indefinite, without end. Much like the reliance on meds and on my psychiatrist, I became reliant on my counselor. At first because I genuinely needed help. But then, a different thing began to happen which is I began to develop trust and caring for these people. It sounds strange since we, as the patient, know little about them personally. They can’t undermine their authority by sharing those human details so in some ways, the “relationship” is one sided. It becomes one of reliance, one of dependence, one of need. Not one of genuine sharing and mutual caring that happens within the context of “outside” relationships and friendships.

When I felt bad, I would go to them, to tweak meds or to talk about problems. Ultimately, nothing was ever resolved. I’d sometimes come to new insight, just based on hearing myself talk and the things I would say and how it came together in my mind. It seems in the mental health field (in my experience) doctors/counselors/psychiatrists really talk very little. They listen, they try to relate, they try to sympathize. Then you walk on your way, having vented for that week, to return again in a week or two. It is a never ending merry-go-round. Not to say some don’t genuinely care, because I know they do. But to some, let’s face it, it’s just their job. And no one wants to “burden” someone with their problems when they don’t care.

So then I really began to define myself in terms of my disorder. How could I not? I was constantly going to appointments, constantly focusing on it. I was getting these messages constantly reinforced from everywhere in the mental health field. “You need medication.” “Going off medication is irresponsible.” “A counselor can help you.” “Call your counselor/psychiatrist/suicide hotline if you need help.” So the message I got was A) I NEED my psychiatrist/counselor/medication to be able to survive and B) If I didn’t rely on them I was irresponsible. I just wanted to function in my life, like most people in my situation. It was a great deal of pressure. I trusted them and so I did what I thought I should do. At times I can now see I succumbed to that very placbeo effect – that I wanted so badly to improve on these meds, that I sometimes thought I did. I thought at times that I was getting better. But I really wasn’t. I had scores of side effects from the meds I took, my moods were never “stable” more than a couple of months. I attributed every mood swing to bipolar disorder, everything that happened in my life to things outside my control. That meant monitoring more closely, more counselor visits, psychiatrist visits, meds. It consumed me. I did not foresee that happening at the start. But I see now it was sort of like a domino being pushed, and all the rest follow afterward in progression.

After 3 years of psychiatry, counseling and medication I was literally no better off than I was to start. My life was a shambles. I was suicidal constantly. I’m not saying that I got NOTHING out of the counseling and psychiatry and meds. I liked my original counselor a great deal. She was a caring person. In ways I went to her simply to have a caring person listen to me and to BELIEVE that she cared about me. My psychiatrist is also a nice lady. After seeing her for years I had this longevity with her. It was like a strange relationship, hard to break off after all that time. Its wasy, if you’re feeling lonely and sad, to go and have someone HAVE to listen to you! And the meds…well, as I said, the pressure was definitely there. All the medical literature stresses medication, doctors follow suit. Not all counselors agree but for the most part they do. The message is “In order to get better, do A, B, C just like we say.” Problem is, a lot of people don’t get better!!! And I was one of them. I would have done anything to get better, and I thought I was doing everything. I was angry that “nothing” seemed to work. I didn’t realize I was partially barking up the wrong tree, so to speak.

In the fall of 2013, I was in the worst place just about ever. I knew I had to do something. I diagnosed myself with BPD (to be fair, I had known about it for years and was quite knowledable about it) and talked to my psychiatrist. At first she questioned it but then agreed after she thought about it and said that “sometimes it takes time for all the pieces to fall into place and get the whole picture.” And I agreed.

By the grace of God I found the strength to seek out a counselor offering DBT. I began to see her regularly. She was different than any other counselor I’d seen and she probably isn’t someone I would have been friends with. She had sort of a tough love approach, but I got the feeling she genuinely wanted to help and did care. She WANTED me to get better, darn it. She was proactive in the therapy. I didn’t sit and vent and walk away. We had goals, schedules, work to do outside our sessions. It was interactive. She offered information, insight, new ways of thinking and behaving. She even shared some personal information with me so I could relate. She incorporated a lot of therapy approaches (DBT, Prolonged exposure therapy, traditional talk therapy). She threw a lot at me. But it was the best therapy I ever had. I remember her telling me “Therapy isn’t supposed to be forever. It’s supposed to give you the skills to function in your life. After a period of time, you can improve and do it on your own.” It was the first time I had heard such a message, in the mental health field no less. My whole belief set began to change.

Due to the strength of God’s spirit and the proactive movements I started taking in my life, I began to change things gradually. It wasn’t always easy but I knew it had to be done. They started to get better. It was a lot of backward and forward. But I never went alllll the way back to the place where I was.

Now, I am doing it on my own, functioning on my own for the first time since my diagnosis. I am “graduated” from therapy, as my therapist said. I am also no longer on medication for bipolar. I now feel that I have the skills I need to function in my life, where I did not before. I learned, I applied, I gained wisdom. My belief system is totally different now and that has changed everything. It didn’t happen overnight and was a combination of many things. My approaches probably wouldn’t work for everyone. But I would be remiss if I didn’t at least present the ideas.

One VERY important thing I learned is this – you don’t always have to listen to what other people say. Even if those people are the “authority” on the subject, or heck, just an “authority” in your life. You live your own life, no other human knows your mind and heart but you. I trusted people because I believed they had the answers. Yet the “answers” I got weren’t helpful. The only helpful thing was finally listening to my own gut and doing the things I knew would be good for me. Had I continued on in my old path, I would probably be 40 years old down the road, still in counseling, still nearly a slave to this “bipolar existence”. I don’t feel that way anymore. I don’t feel it rules me. I have a measure of control and power. Now, that doesn’t mean I made it go away! It just means, I wasn’t as helpless as I thought and as the (somewhat macabre) saying goes, “There is more than one way to skin a cat.” Examining my mind set, examining my life, making a dedication to do the best I could, finding God, these things have helped me the most. And now, something to get into in the next post.

I finally found HOPE

Hello everyone!!! Wow, it’s been a long time. I’ve been on quite a journey this year (well, the past 4 years really :P ) I realize now what a huge DOWNER I have been. Mainly it was because I was struggling all the time…struggling with my mental state, struggling with my personal relationships, struggling with LIFE. And you know, it wasn’t fun.

I’ll spare you all the long winded details of 2014 but suffice it to say I had about 100 epiphanies about life, about my beliefs, and about myself as a person. My whole world got flipped on its head because I realized the way I saw things was all wrong. ALLLLLLLL WRONG. And with the realization that it was wrong, I started trying to make it right.

Granted, I’m only a lowly human. I don’t have all the knowledge in the world or all the wisdom. But I like to think that I’m an intelligent enough person to put the pieces together eventually. It took me about, oh 32 years but here I am now! Better late than never?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am by no means saying that all my problems are gone. HA! I wish. My life is just as stressful as ever. It’s terribly stressful. Some days I just want to give up. But I don’t. I go to sleep, I pray for strength. I get up the next day and do my best. Some weeks are incredibly difficult. And some are easier. But the bottom line is, that is life. For most of it, I lacked confidence, was depressed, sad, feeling like a broken little doll, useless, a victim of the world. I no longer believe that anymore or feel that way. I feel like a caterpillar who is metamorphosing into a butterfly.

There are some in the mental health community who don’t seem to believe that lasting change can be had. That’s a whoooooooole other post unto itself. But for now, in the interest of brevity, I’m keeping this short just to say, I found hope. There are many things that contributed to that, and I will explore them all in more detail soon. As a preview, what are a few of those things? GOD. Personal understanding. LOVE. Love for others, and love for myself. It’s a heck of a lot to dig into but I’m going to do it. Because frankly, after all those years, I’m tired of wallowing. And I’m ready to put a positive footprint out into the world.

Take care everyone!!! And talk to you all soon. :)