Category: Mental Health

August 5, 2017 auticus No comments exist

Man, I could go on and on about this song. It’s the song that sparked this entire series, and has become a sort of Anthem for me. It’s touched me in a way that few songs have, also one of the few songs that I actually like the music video for.

This entire series we’ve covered so many different topics, from what happiness is, how depression affects our lives, and so many different things in between. This song is where that all comes together.

A topic we’ve discussed is how to build a solid house. But, there’s one problem with building that new, stronger house. The old one is still standing. Before you can build the stronger house, you have to tear down the old one. Not an easy task at all, it’s probably one of the hardest things to do. It requires you to be at your most vulnerable. However, don’t confuse this with self destructing in a negative way. It’s not destruction for the sake of destruction. But it’s with a purpose. it’s to strengthen and build yourself up.

I love the analogy of a house for a multitude of reasons. We’ve talked about the foundation built on your own self worth, not on the backs of others, and your friends being pillars. Both are equally important to building a solid house. I also love the house analogy because houses have rooms. We often keep certain areas of our homes clean. The living room, entry way, bathroom, and other places that guests might see. But we close the doors to the bedrooms, make sure the blankets on the bed hang down to hide what’s shoved underneath.

We put on a show to those who enter. We do the same thing in our relationships with people. We only allow them into our entry way and living room. We hide all the filth and dirt from them, showing them the best we have to offer. It’s what society teaches us to do. Over time though, that house gets packed full of junk, and it’s overwhelming to try and deal with it. We don’t know where to start, or how to go about it.

Sometimes, the best answer is to start over, from the ground up. That doesn’t mean to forget everything in the past and pretend it didn’t happen. It’s not a “get out of jail free” card. It’s taking the best of what you were, and turning it into something better. It’s learning from those past mistakes and turning them into strengths. When you burn down your old life, and start to build the new one, you can learn just as much from your mistakes as you can from your successes.

But, burning down your old house isn’t just to clear space for rebuilding. It’s also exposing yourself. Showing off all your vulnerabilities. To me, it’s a proclamation to the world that you aren’t ashamed of who you are. It’s a show that you aren’t ashamed of who you are. The thing about a fire, once it takes hold, you can’t hide it. People notice. People will see your insecurities, your darkest secrets, you’ll be exposed and naked.

But luckily, that’s not where it ends. Because as I said before, it’s not destruction for the sake of destruction. Once the fire fades, and the old house is gone, you’ve got the starting point ready for you. You can start to rebuild your life in the direction that you want, not weighed down by all the baggage that you’ve had stuffed in the various cracks.

It’s important to note, that this type of rebuilding can only be done if you’ve got that solid foundation of self worth. If you don’t have that foundation, this type of exposure could lead to more harm than good. There’s a reason that this isn’t the first song, because you have to build up to it, and be prepared for it. You have to learn where your happiness lies, and how to find it. This is the last step, not the first. This is when everything comes together.

This also isn’t to say that by rebuilding your house that Mental Illness is defeated and you’ll never worry about it again. There will still be times of depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. But, now you’ve got a house that can withstand those things. Think of Mental Health as a hurricane. If you’ve got a shaky house, it’s not going to fair too well during that storm. But, if you’ve built a solid house, on a solid foundation, it will probably still need some work when the storm passes, but not nearly as much as the previous house.

Which is what I want to impart on you. You are rebuilding to be stronger, and more effective. This house is meant to be one that doesn’t require months of work after each storm, one where you don’t feel safe. This house is meant to be one that you know you are safe in. One that when you invite guests over, you don’t have to close the bedroom door, or other places to hide the filth.

I don’t want to ramble on too long with this post, so I will leave with this thought. If you’ve come to a point where you’ve realised the house you’ve built isn’t strong enough to get you through the storms in your life, don’t give up. Don’t feel like you are alone in your struggle. Lean on your friends, and trust that they will help you. Don’t be afraid to admit you aren’t strong enough on your own. Talk to a mental health care provider, take the steps you need to take. But it is not weakness to ask for help.

July 30, 2017 auticus No comments exist

One of the most important things about mental health is learning to love yourself. As mentioned in the Shapeshifters post, it’s so important to have a strong foundation. That’s what Fountainhead is all about. Taking your life back from others and making it your own.

It’s really easy, especially when dealing with emotional trauma, to forget about yourself and just focus on others. Either that, or allowing others to rule your life, depending on them to lift you up, tell you what to do. But that’s not how you live life. In the last song, No Parallels, we got a glimpse of living life outside of monetary gain, breaking free from that cycle and focusing on yourself.

Now we see that same idea being built upon. The song opens up with “In a murmuring room full of critics and fakers” and in the next verse “Waiting on a single word / that could spill from my mouth / that would give them a reason / to take me for all I’m worth”. I love these lines because he’s not passively backing down. He realises what he’s up against, and faces it head on.

But this song goes so much deeper than just standing up for yourself after living a life that was in their shadows. It also explores the idea of those who have gotten use to you being passive and doing whatever it is that they said not liking you standing up for yourself. Which can be one of the hardest obstacles to overcome.

We can sit here and have a discussion on toxic friendships and how it’s better to get out of them, which if your friends don’t like you standing up for yourself and being your own person, that’s not a healthy relationship. But that’s a completely different topic. When you are working on rebuilding yourself after a difficult time, even more when it’s from the ground up, it’s not as easy as just “cutting them loose.”

This song is an anthem for those who have overcome that hardship and taken back who they are. I love the part in the song where he questions where they got the idea they can control his life.
“I don’t use your lungs to breath, your feet can’t walk for me. / So tell me where you take your right to my mind.” Then just a few lines later “So tell me where you take your right to my freedom, my cause for creation, my mind, my direction, my life.” It fits so perfectly in with finding your own happiness and not letting others make that choice for you.

One of my favorite sections in this entire album is in this song. Near the end, right before the last chorus, “I’m the one who wears the consequence / I’m the one who will stay true to myself.” He’s not looking for a way out, or an excuse. He’s taking 100% ownership of his life and his actions. I think it’s so important. Because once we take ownership of ourselves, it becomes easier to change who we are. We can break ourselves down (in a healthy way) and rebuild ourselves stronger and healthier when we know who we are and believe in ourselves.

July 29, 2017 auticus No comments exist

spotify:track:1L5xqXPNTA7s1nkzgJX0xU

 

If you've listened to the album, you'll notice that I've skipped "oceandust." There's a reason for this, and I will be coming back to this song.

 

So far, the album has been fairly downbeat in terms of what the songs are about. A lot about depression, feeling beaten down, and not knowing where to go. True, each song, except for "A Tale of Outer Suburbia" has resolved positively. But that doesn't change the content of the songs.

That changes the second half of the album. The message is still the same, things still resolve, but it's no longer focused on the darker sides of the mind, but start to focus on improvement.

Often times when we look at our life, we think "if I had more I'd be happy." Whether that be money, a better car, better job, education, a romantic partner, or something else. We often base our happiness on our outside circumstances. But, when we do that, we wind up in the places that are repeated over and over in the first half of this album.

A long time ago I was given some advice that has stuck with me. "Love is a choice." That isn't to discount the feeling and emotion of love, but that it goes so much deeper than just the emotion. Throughout my life, I've tried to apply that same concept to happiness. It's a choice. Regardless of where we are in life, we can choose to be happy.

From a young age, we are taught how to fit in, how to be what the world wants. We are taught to conform, to be a cog in the machine. Which the song conveys in two lines "Our path a prison, bound to walk where countless feet already fell. / But there's a wildness in our hearts, that we've forgotten in our march"

It's at this point in the album where I look at the walk of Mental Illness that things start turning around. No longer giving into the fears that are holding them down, and no longer letting it consume them. The tagline for this blog is "The Past Doesn't Define you." Which I believe this song emulates. "run free, run wild and leave behind what holds you down."

 

That's not to say to forget the past, and not take it's lessons moving forward. But don't be weighed down by it so much that it stops you from happiness. But instead, take the lessons of your past, learn from them, and move forward. It's not an easy task at all. It's a mindset that is contrary to the one we are taught to believe. It's one of the things we see all the time in movies and aspire to, changing our "fate" and being someone we aren't meant to be.

To me, this song embodies the idea that each one of us can choose who we want to be. It's never too late to go back to school and get that degree, learn a new skill, or just try something new. My dad is a great example of this. After spending 23 years in the navy as a cryptologist, he retired. But, he wasn't ready to be fully retired. He decided to do something completely different, he went into the oil field, and put as much distance between him and anything computer related. He put himself to this new job and learned it. He forged his own happiness and molded himself until he was happy.

Don't be someone you aren't because that's what's expected. Find what makes you happy, make a break for it, and go after it at full speed. Regardless of where you are in life, happiness is your choice, not someone else's.

July 20, 2017 auticus 2 comments

 

This is a beautiful song. From start to finish I find a lot encouragement from it. For me, this song has a double meaning. On one hand, it’s a broken house trying to find your place among parents who don’t seem to show you love, but through the song, the family becomes stronger.

The other meaning this song holds for me, and the one I’ll be focusing on, the child doesn’t believe that her family loves her. As a child, she is unable to understand or comprehend the ins and outs of life.

I grew up in a young family. My dad joined the military right out of highschool, so his idea of love was very harsh and cold. My mom, marrying my dad out of highschool, learned that love and affection was only shown on birthdays and holidays. Everything else was business as usual. This is the type of home I was born into, and spent the first ten years of my life in.

I was convinced my parents didn’t love me, that I was a burden to them, and they’d be better off without me. I wasn’t able to understand that my dad had to learn how to be an adult in a cruel world, or that when I was born, my parents were still kids themselves learning their place in this world.

To me, this song is my older self talking to my younger self. At first, I’m talking to myself where I am at that moment, “Don’t look down / Even though they’re looking down on you/”. Because I was too young to really understand anything else, and I needed someone to meet me where I was, and tell me how I was feeling was ok.

Not only that, but there is a sense of frustration, “If only I could show your future you would light up like the sun.” Looking back at that time of my life, I wish I could have told myself where I’d be now. Given myself the encouragement I needed at the time to make it through. It’s one of the reasons I’ve gone into this field, to be that voice to others in similar positions I was in, and hopefully help them not walk it alone.

But, the song doesn’t end there, eventually, the character in the song starts to grow up, and starts to learn some of the intricacies of life and their parents story, they learn that “there’s no-one looking down on you.” But it’s not just the child who grew.

The child “Little light” starts to gain self confidence, the mom “Mrs. Might” learns how to express her belief in her child. The dad “Mr. Beaten Down” learns how to love and express that. Not only that, but the dad goes on to give their child what they can to help their “little light” make something of their life.

This right there is such a beautiful image of a family making it through a dark time together and coming out stronger for it. It also mirrors my own walk with my family very closely, which makes it close to my heart. There was a time I wouldn’t acknowledge my dad was even home, and would only go to my mom if I needed something. But today, I talk to my parents all the time, and consider them best friends who I can confide in.

 

July 13, 2017 auticus 2 comments

 

 

At some point, I came to the realisation that I needed to either embrace my mental state, or be consumed by it. But not only my mental state, but my entire self. I had to learn how to love who I was. To me, that’s what this song represents. If I wanted to have enjoyment in life, I couldn’t keep living in the shadows and keeping what I was going through silent. I was ashamed and afraid.

But then something clicked. I started to understand what it meant to love myself and where I was. The song opens up with a great reminder, “To know your every detail is a lifetime.” It’s not an overnight thing to understand who you are, it takes your entire life.

I made the mistake for a long time of putting my hopes, dreams, and life in the hands of someone else. But that was doomed to failure, because I was ignoring myself. The idea isn’t to find someone else to complete you, but to be a complete person yourself. This song, is me talking to myself. I needed to learn to be my own muse, my own masterpiece, and my own canvas. If I relied on others for those things, I would eventually fail.

That’s not to say that other people aren’t important, and finding inspiration in others is bad. But if that’s your starting point, and where you build yourself upon, you set yourself up for failure. I think I’ve mentioned my reliance on my friends enough to convey that I am not against leaning on others. But, I found them to be the most helpful when I broke off from them being what I built myself around.

Let me put it this way. For a long time, the foundation I built my house on was my friends and loved ones. Everything else was built on top of them, so when I lost that foundation, everything else came crashing down, because there was nothing left to stand on. Instead, my friends are now pillars within the house. They are vital to keeping that house standing, but if I were to lose that friendship and love, I still have my foundation to build on.

So to bring it back to the song, it’s a love song, but not directed towards someone else, but towards myself. Learning to love myself and be my own person, relaying on my friends as support and not the foundation, has lead to stronger and deeper friendships. By making that simple shift, I went from having an ever changing foundation to a solid floor that is unbreakable.

July 11, 2017 auticus No comments exist

 

The third song in the album “Weight” is a great representation of what depression looks like. It’s so much more than just being sad, which I know I’ve talked about before in earlier blog posts. This song starts off with a feeling of defeat. Not only that but that “they’re all too familiar, I’ve been here before.” It’s not the first time, and part of the overbearing weight of depression, is knowing that it won’t be the last.

This is also the first song in the album that mentions a house, which is a theme that comes up in other songs. We’ve all built a house around our lives. Our actions have helped to shape the house we live in. When dealing with depression, your life choices, the house that you’ve built, seems to betray you.

In this song, there is also no “we” statements, only “I”. One of the hardest things is to remember and relay on your friends, you feel like it’s you verses the world. Often, as the chorus states, feeling empty, uninspired, feeling the weight of the world coming crashing down. But not only those feelings, but also just a generally feeling of being unsure of where to go.

Another difficult part about depression, it’s familiar. It’s a place I know and understand. It’s “silent and it’s safe.” Often knowing the way out, and how to get there, but it seems impossible to get there, it always feels like “there’s everything, but just out of reach.”

However, eventually there comes a “sink or swim” moment. Realising that “I’m not helpless, I’m not hopeless, but I don’t believe in hope on its own, no spine and no substance.” It’s the realisation that you have something to live for, and things ahead of you, and they are worth fighting for. It’s not time to give up just yet.

Coming out of a depression stent is something that I’ve always had to do on my own. That isn’t to say that my friends aren’t helpful. That moment where I start to realise that I have things worth fighting for are often because of my friends not giving up on me. But they can’t pull me out. I have to push myself out “with my two bare hands.” That isn’t to say the role of my friends isn’t important. I will say it every chance I get that they are a huge reason as to why I am where I am today.

Often times when we see friends suffering, we feel hopeless, and feel like what we offer is so little and means nothing. But that’s not the case. Those simple “how are you?” or “let’s do something together.” Those little statements, little shows that you care, those can make all the difference in giving the strength needed. My two best friends have been that support for me. I might feel alone during times of depression, but when I stand back up and look around, I see all those around me who have been there the whole time.

June 27, 2017 auticus No comments exist

It might be cliche, but I love you. I mean every world of that. I would gladly drop everything in order to help anyone who asked for it. It doesn’t matter to me if we have a past or not. If you need my help, I will help you, because I believe in unconditional love.

I recently saw a forum post about this topic, which was a debate of the validity of unconditional love, and if it does actually exist. As I’ve stated, I believe that yes, it does. But this post isn’t about trying to win you over to my side of thinking, or to change what you may already believe on this subject. If you don’t believe in unconditional love, that is fine. If you would rather refer to it as something else, I’m not going to fight you on it. I don’t think it matters what it’s called, as long as, in some form or another, it exists.

Unconditional love, to me, is just that, unconditional. I don’t expect anything back from you for what I offer. I don’t do what I do for anything other than to try and give you the best life I possibly can. I’ve recently started working in the mental health field, and I’ve already seen both sides of the spectrum in terms of gratitude. I’ve worked with people who are extremely grateful, and those who see you merely as a tool.

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February 28, 2017 auticus No comments exist

Have you ever woken up at the bottom of a pit? No clue how you got there, who put you there, or how to get out?

It’s a deep pit, not something that is easily able to be climbed out of. It’s not very big, maybe twice your height. The ground is covered in loose stones, but the walls are smooth, with nothing to grab onto. Throwing one of the stones, you can barely make it high enough to reach the lip of the pit. You know that your basic needs need to be met. You can go about a month without food, but water, you need that.

Luckily, there’s a pool of water coming in from one of the edges of the pit. The water looks clean, and it seems to taste fine. So at least you have that covered. Using one of the small stones on the ground, you scratch a tick mark on the wall.

The next morning, you do a quick inventory check. Realizing it’s not a dream, you really are here, and there is still no way out. You do a thorough look through the bottom of the pit, seeing if there is anything that you can use to get out, but there’s nothing. Besides the pool of water, the wall seems to have no defects in it. You take one of the bigger rocks, seeing if maybe it’s possible to create foot holes in the wall, but quickly find that’s not going to be possible.

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January 19, 2017 auticus 1 comment

St. Elmo’s Fire – John Parr

 

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, and I apologize for that. It’s been a long and stressful past few months. But I figured it’s a new year, so I would have my first post of the year be a sort of recap of last year, where I was, and where I am now.

I think an important part of dealing with mental illness is being able to look at progress over a large period of time. For example, I can look at the amount of changed from yesterday to today, and I might see failure. On a day to day scale, it’s heavily distorted. We might see that today was a bad day, but yesterday was a good day, and come to the conclusion that our lives as a whole must be a failure then.

But, looking at things from a large scale, we can more easily see what things have changed, and the positive aspects of our lives. It’s important to take time every so often and make sure that these things are being seen, and even more important to make sure that we keep a note of those things. I’ve mentioned before a notebook I keep of the important people in my life to make sure that they stay fresh and real in my mind. I’ve also been keeping a journal to note down things that are happening. I wasn’t the best at keeping up with it daily last year, but I at least wrote in it once a week. To start off this year, I reread the entries I made over the year.

At the start of last year, I was in a happy relationship that, at the time, I expected to be my last relationship. I was working as a manager at a Papa John’s, and working towards getting my own store. Everything seemed to be falling into place, and if you would have asked me where I’d be in a year, I would not have said “Back in school at North Dakota.”

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November 10, 2016 auticus No comments exist

Jimmy Eat Word – Hear you Me

It’s been a lot longer than I would have liked to make this post. I’ve been struggling with it for over a week, trying to decide what I need to write, and what needs to remain silent. This is one of the hardest topics for me to talk about, but it’s needed.

When I lived in Georgia, I rode my bike a lot. I was somewhere between the age of 14-16 at the time, but that didn’t stop me from riding 5-6 miles at a time. There was one loop I particularly liked to go around because it was four miles long, so I didn’t have to keep going by the same scenery the entire time.

It was during one of these bike rides that I was greeted by two other people. They were also riding their bikes, and after seeing me ride around for a few days, decided to say hi. These two people went on to shape my life in more ways than they’ll ever know. Their names were Susan and Justin.

A lot of this area of my life is pretty fuzzy, or just straight up blacked out. So I don’t remember exactly how it all happened. But somehow we got involved in some pretty shady stuff. We would keep an eye out for any unwanted people within the area, and report to those we needed to if we saw anyone. This was before the age of cell phones, so we used our bikes to get around quickly.

I saw pretty get beat up pretty badly, saw people get shot at (as far as I can recall, I never saw someone get shot). I don’t really remember the full details of it all. But there are two parts of all this that I remember very clearly.

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