Mental Health Month #27

All right, Friends, we’ve reached the end of Mental Health Month, but the conversation is nowhere close to over.
In an ideal world, mental health would just become health, and there would be no stigma, and we could speak openly and freely about how we feel without judgement, but unfortunately we’re not there yet. I believe we can get there, though, if we keep the conversation going.

I quoted Josh Ramsay of Marianas Trench when I started this series at the beginning of the month, and I feel like it’s an appropriate way to end the month, too.

“I dunno, I guess if you have a problem, I find that keeping it a secret keeps it so much stronger.”

Don’t ever be afraid to speak up about the things you’re going through, and if the first person you talk to doesn’t listen, don’t hesitate to speak to someone else. I know it’s scary, and I know it’s frustrating, but keep speaking louder until you’re heard. Someone will eventually listen to you and someone will care. You matter, and you deserve to get the help you need.

Able – NEEDTOBREATHE. None of us are able to get by in this life by ourselves. We were meant to interact with each other, it’s in our nature (even introverts!), and some of us just need a little more help than others. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

I won’t be blogging every day in June, and I do have a few different topics planned outside of mental health, but I assure you, this is not the end.

The Words We Speak (Part 2) — Mental Health Post #26

Hello, hello Friends 🙂 Yesterday I rewrote that awful “addiction recovery” commercial (check out that post here. Link opens in new window), but today I wanted to help rewrite some everyday situations.

Here are a few things not to say about (and DO NOT say these things directly TO) someone with a mental illness, and some things you could say and/or do instead.

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The Words We Speak (Part 1) — Mental Health Post #25

All right, Friends, I had a few different ideas about what I wanted to post today but none of them were really working out when I sat down to write them, and then I saw a commercial and I found my topic.

Let me start by clarifying, this is more of a rant than anything, but I am both disappointed and disgusted by the way people talk about mental health in general, especially the ones involved in “helping” in the recovery process.

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Creative Writing: The Path — Mental Health Post #24

The day begins as I pack my bag of burdens full of all of my Mistakes, my Fears and Anxieties, all of the Lies I’ve Told and Lies I’ve Been Told, my Depression, and all of the Sins I’ve Committed. I don’t go anywhere without them, but today is different, as this will be the last journey I ever embark on.

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The Thing about Concerts (+ My Identity Crisis) — Mental Health Post #23

Hello again Friend!

As I’ve mentioned in the past, music means a lot to me. It’s one of the only things in my life that has stayed fairly consistent, and it’s one of the few things that make sense to me in this whirlwind we call life.
For as long as I can remember, concerts have been the equivalent of real life magic to me. It doesn’t matter what I feel like beforehand, as soon as I get in line everything changes for me. My adrenaline kicks in, and my heart picks up its pace, and everything feels all right for a few hours. I don’t have to worry what anybody thinks about me, I don’t have to worry about anything going on in my life, and I can just focus on the music, the band, the atmosphere, and the people around me who feel the same way as I do about music.
Anyone that knows me probably knows that I am usually a quiet person in public and I tend to keep to myself as much as possible, but stick me in the middle of a mosh pit and I am THERE. Concerts and church are the only places I am one hundred percent present and comfortable (CONFESSION TIME: this isn’t entirely true because I’m not always one hundred percent present in church. Everybody knows me there, and I get anxious about that sometimes, and I forget that God is the only one that matters).
I get this weightless feeling in my bones, and all of the switches in my head that are usually stuck on negative thoughts and hardships turn themselves off and let me breathe for once, and it seems like nothing can touch me at concerts. I refer to this feeling as “The Thing”.
Even though I have been punched in the face (unintentionally, someone was fist-pumping too hard and I found myself acquainted with his knuckles), scratched, sweat on, spit on, had alcohol spilled on me, and probably other things I’m forgetting, I can honestly say at least eighty percent of the time, it hasn’t even fazed me because I still felt The Thing and everything was okay.
So, when I saw Marianas Trench in March of this year and I didn’t feel The Thing, I was terrified, because if I couldn’t feel The Thing at concerts, I wondered if I’d ever be able to feel it again? Sometimes concerts are the only place I feel anything at all, let alone something as incredible as The Thing, so not being able to feel it in a place I had always felt it before it scared me more than I can put into words.
“Concert Fanatic/Music Nerd” had been my identity for so long, I didn’t know who I was outside of that and it almost sent me over the edge. I told my mom if I didn’t feel The Thing when I saw VOTA (a few weeks after Marianas Trench), I might need to go to the hospital because the only emotion I was able to feel at the time was pure terror, like being lost in a metaphorical dark forest at midnight with no flashlight while suffering from a bad case of amnesia. I was so lost and confused, I was almost ready to lie down and put my face in the dirt and refuse to go any further.
My counsellor at the time (I’ve recently stopped seeing her because we had very different view points on mental health, but I still think she’s a lovely person) suggested that maybe God had taken The Thing from me to show me that He wanted to be the most important thing in my life, and I rejected the idea completely at first, because surely God knew that I needed The Thing. Interestingly enough, though, I didn’t tell my mom that my counsellor said that and she said the same thing, so I started to wonder if it could be a possibility, even though I hated it. Mom’s other suggestion was that I was getting older, and maybe my feelings had changed, but I was fairly confident that wasn’t my problem.
Thankfully, I did feel The Thing for the first half of VOTA’s set, but other things happened that night during the second half of the set that made me question my identity further. I wondered who I was as a fan, as a Christian, and even as a human being. For weeks, all I wanted to do was cry because everything I thought I knew about myself was suddenly crumbling around me. I didn’t know who to trust anymore, and then God stepped in.
In the midst of my self-crisis, my church started a series called Only One, and we started talking about how idols aren’t usually golden calves and clay statues anymore, and I realized that music and concerts had become idols for me, and within those first few weeks of the series it became apparent to me that I had some serious re-evaluating to do.

And anything I put before my God is an idol,

And anything I want with all my heart is an idol,

And anything I can’t stop thinking of is an idol,

And anything that I give all my love is an idol. 

‘Cause I can sing all I want to, yes I can, sing I want to, and we can sing all we want to and we can sing all we want to, we can sing all we want to and still get it wrong,

Worship is more than a song. – “Clear The Stage” by Jimmy Needham, this section is 3:03-4:26

Before the Only One series, it was easy to say, “Oh, yeah, of course God is number one in my life” but He wasn’t, it was just something I said. Don’t get me wrong, I always wanted Him to be, but music was easier for me to understand, so I put most of my attention and devotion into it without ever noticing that I had done so.
Music is still incredibly important to me, and I imagine it always will be, but I’m learning to put God first, and love music second. It’s a process, though.
Music, bands, and everything else on earth always run the risk of changing and possibly letting me down, but they were never meant to save me, and they don’t have the power to do so. If I don’t put my trust in them, they can’t hurt me. God never changes, and He will never let me down.
I haven’t been to a concert since I saw VOTA, so I don’t know if I’ll feel The Thing or not, but I’m hoping by the time I go to my next concert that it won’t undo me again if I don’t.

(Concerts are fantastic, though, I’m not going to pretend for a second that they’re not!)

Compulsive Skin Picking — Mental Health Post #22

Hello again Friends!

This is another one of those “I don’t see people talk about this often but I know other people suffer with it” kind of posts, and I’m posting it for that reason alone. I can’t offer solutions, but I can share my experiences, and hopefully make people more aware that this is a real thing and it sucks.

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My Best Friend and my Mental Health — Mental Health Post #21

So no one told you life was gonna be this way, your job’s a joke, you’re broke, your love life’s D.O.A, it’s like you’re always stuck in second gear, when it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year. I’ll be there for you, when the rain starts to pour, I’ll be there for you, like I’ve been there before, I’ll be there for you, ‘cause you’re there for me too. – I’ll Be There For You by The Rembrandts (AKA: The FRIENDS theme song)

All right, so I should make the disclaimer that this post isn’t actually about FRIENDS the TV show, although I make a few references to it.

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UR Worth More — Mental Health Post #20

I dropped the ball, Friends, this post was meant for May 24th. 

Hello again Friends!

Not sure how to start this post, so I’m just going to dive right in.
My church puts on this amazing event called UR Worth More every year [You can visit their website here & check them out on Facebook, too], and the best way to describe it would probably be an anti-suicide rally, though it’s far more than that. There’s music, and someone speaks, and some of the youth do skits and it’s a ton of fun (both to attend and to participate in), but it also deals with some serious topics like suicide and depression, and last October we covered anxiety and self hate as well, and today’s topic is something else we talked about that I had never really heard of until UR Worth More: Escapism.

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The Box — Mental Health Post #19

Most of the time, it doesn’t matter whether I’m with ten people or a hundred, I still feel disconnected somehow, as if there’s a thick glass box between us.
It takes time for their messages to reach me and by then they’ve moved on, and my words bubble into the empty space around me.
I slouch against the hard wall of my box and wait for the event to be over, frustrated with my inability to change the fact that everything is happening without me, but the truth is, people are exhausting and I’m too tired to care. Even if I could get out, I’m not sure that I would.
Despite the fact that I curse the glass for making me miss out on things that seem to make others so happy, I’m grateful for its presence, too, because in exchange for my isolation it offers protection. Inside its walls, I cannot make a fool of myself, and I don’t have to worry about getting hurt.
Occasionally a passerby will tap on my glass and try to break through to me, but I wave and smile, pretend I’m fine so they walk by to meet someone who is actually here.