Category: Uncategorized

August 8, 2017 auticus 1 comment

The skipped song. I felt for the theme I was going for, it worked better at the end rather than where it falls in the album.

I think a mistake that is often made is that the second we get through a difficult time, things magically get better and there is no more work has to be done. But that’s not the case. Dealing with the fall out and aftermath is an important part of getting through and living a happier and healthier life.

At first glance, this song sounds depressing. It kind of has a “there is no point in continuing, everything is lost” sound to it. But that’s not how I see it. I hear it more as a sobering song, and one that has honest hope. The song opens with some fairly melancholy lyrics “There’s no more wind to be found, in the sails / Hands full of fallen stars and comet tails”. Doesn’t really seem to be the embodiment of hope. But as I said, it’s an honest hope.

What I mean by honest hope is this. It’s realising where you are, and where things are going to go. It’s a sort of realist view. But it’s not looking at things without any wish for things to get better. “I don’t want to pretend” is repeated through the chorus, which ties into that honest hope. It’s a desire to get through it, with the understand it won’t be easy. There isn’t a magical gust of wind that fills our sails, or a star to wish on that’ll bring us unlimited joy.

But it’s also, in a sense, a realisation of your own mortality. At some point, we all die, it’s just the way life is. To me, this song acts as a reminder to use the time we have. Each day we spend defeated is one less day we have. It’s important to remember that and live each day to it’s fullest, and strive as much as you can to overcome.

The chorus is full of that same hope. As I mentioned earlier “I don’t want to pretend” is repeated. It’s so easy to think of life like it is in the movies or books. Where seemingly right after the climax, the characters live happily ever after with little or no adversity. We don’t see that daily struggle. But it’s important to remember, and understand, you don’t have to be stronger right after. You don’t have to be the happiest person on Earth. The important part is make sure you are back on solid ground, and that you have a real, lasting peace, not just a pretend face you are putting on for others.

There is no secret sauce, magic wand, genie in a bottle, or any other sort of magical way to get through that. It’s getting up each day, and slowly working on it. Which the third verse sums up perfectly “There’s no respite to be found in the waves / Each rise and retreat will scrub the blood away.” The world doesn’t back off because we’ve been through a difficult time. It keeps coming wave after wave. But, if we keep getting up every day, keep working on bettering ourselves every day, the blood eventually is scrubbed away.

A friend of mine recently talked about habits and why they are important. Even though it’s mainly focused on writing, the truths are universal. It’s the same way when dealing with the aftermath of a difficult time. One habit that I’ve formed after going through a rather difficult time is journaling daily. I have formed a habit of writing in my journal every day at 7PM. It helps me to process the day and make sure that my headspace is ok. I’ve also had to set reminders to form habits to eat, talk with friends, go on walks, do homework, or whatever else I might want to form a habit on. It doesn’t matter how big or small that habit is. It’s one of the most important parts of getting back on track.

The important thing to remember, it doesn’t stop once the foundation is laid and the house is built. You still have daily cleaning to do, and storms that come to take you out. But, if you have an understanding of the reality of the situation, and put in the hard work, form habits, and strive every day to better yourself, you’ll be prepared for the next storm. You’ll gain the strength that the fair tale characters get right off the bat. The sadness of the experiences may never fade entirely, but they get easier to deal with, because you develop healthy coping mechanisms. Set an end goal, but start small. Form one small habit “I’m going to wake up at X time every day” or whatever else it might be. Once you have that habit/goal formed and accomplished, build from there.

Whenever I’m going through a difficult time, my dad loves to ask me a question: “How do you eat an Elephant?” He’s been asking me that question for years. He knows I tend to look at the bigger picture, and that question acts as a reminder to chunk things out into smaller, more manageable pieces. Which is what I want to leave off this series with. Take it slow, take it in as small of pieces as you need. But work at it each day. At least take one step every day. Eventually, you’ll get to your goal. You will get through it, you will rebuild, but it takes time, and that is ok.

July 31, 2017 auticus No comments exist

Once we start digging ourselves out and working towards bettering our lives, that doesn’t mean we are free and clear forever. Old issues still come back, and we still have to deal with it. But, when looking at Wisteria compared to songs earlier in the album dealing with the same issues, there’s a stark contrast.

At the start of the album, we see a lot of hopelessness, relying on friends, and not knowing where to go. There isn’t a whole lot going on personally. Which isn’t wrong, as I’ve mentioned multiple times before, it’s important to have a strong support group and be able to rely on them on times of need. But, it’s also important that they don’t become a crutch.

What makes this song different, he’s not waiting for them to come to him and help him out. In the chorus “Mary, Mary, tell me how your garden grows.” He’s taking the first step, he’s asking how to get out of the spot he’s in.

The theme of plants, gardens, and growing is throughout the entire song. The name of the song, Wisteria, is a vine plant. Like most of the songs in this album, I find two different meanings in this song. One of them, is a sort of seasonal depression. Near the end of the song, the lyrics “But then September swept the overcast aside / dusted off the winter’s curse, and she cut me through like knives.” The band is from Australia, so their winter ends at the end of August (thus the use of September). But it gives the impression of being too depressed to do much, and being still long enough that the ground around started to grow around you, which just further gave way to the feeling of hopelessness. The difference between this and earlier in the album, this time he takes steps right away, starts asking how to get out of it and through this session.

The other way, is new life. The chorus “Tell me what it takes to come alive, to see what you have sown / because I’ve grown into the ground and there are branches in my bones / I am overgrown.” It has a sense to me after taking ownership of his life, he’s started to grow and blossom into his new self. In a sense, almost too quickly and doesn’t know how to handle it.

I think both of these themes can be seen in the song, and I don’t think either one is wrong. Both are important. It’s important to know how to get yourself out of depression, and also important to make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew.

I also love the last line of the song before the final chorus starts. “She whistled proudly her season’s song, and showed me that I was alive all along.” It not only goes back to the importance of a support system and friends surrounding you, but it also shows something important. Often when dealing with depression, we feel dead inside, and that our life isn’t worth much. It’s easy to forget that we are alive. It’s so important to have reminds of that.

July 24, 2017 auticus No comments exist

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This is probably the saddest song in the album. It's the only one that doesn't have some sort of positive resolve in it. But that doesn't mean it's a bad song, or any less for that. If anything, I think the fact that it doesn't get that positive resolve gives it another level of meaning.

The song is from the perspective of a bear that is losing it's home due to the urbanization just outside of the forest it lives in. The song is riddled with helplessness, anxiety, and desperation.

When I listen to this song, It reminds me of the destructive nature of anxiety and depression. The chorus poses a question: "Is our skin to keep the world out, or our bodies in?" The character in this song, isn't willing to be open to those around him, to the change. Which is something I'm constantly battling. I want to keep the world out, not let them in. But it goes beyond that "I'll tear apart the town then sleep, and sleep alone." If left unchecked, anxiety and depression can turn into anger and rage, leading to destroying those around us.

As the song progresses, the bear becomes more and more agitated, wanting to destroy the town, eventually claiming he will destroy the town "stone by stone." To me it is an important reminder of the damage we can do to ourselves. It's so easy to tell those who are trying to help that "You don't understand," or "you don't know what I've been through!" To push them out and destroy that friendship.

This type of actions and thoughts eventually lead to depression spiraling out of control. The bridge, "I've lost faith, the forest changed." Looking at this from a strictly metaphorical sense, not at a "deforestation is destroying wildlife" sense. The bear refused to move, or change his surroundings. So often it's the same way with depression. We refuse to move. We see the world around us getting more and more toxic, but all we tell ourselves is "I've lost faith," "I've lost heart," and "I've lost faith" and repeating over and over that "the forest changed." Eventually leaving us with, in our minds, one choice "Each breath rattles like dice in my chest / each breath gambled, unwinding till death."

It's so easy to fall into this trap, and once you are in there, it's so hard to climb back out. It's so easy to yell and push away those who are trying to help you. It's easy to put the blame on them, to say it's their fault for not being more helpful, or being there when we needed. Because we've blinded ourselves to the truth, that it was us who pushed them away, and us who refused to change.

In no way am I implying this is easy. Getting out of that spiral is one of the hardest things to do. You can ask any of my friends who have watched me go through it. It's hard, but worth it. It's something we have to do. While being so wrapped up in our current situation changing and becoming to toxic to live in, we ignore the vast forest just behind us that is full of life.

July 10, 2017 auticus 2 comments

 

The second song in the album has a bit of a different feel to it. It’s right in the title of the song “Introduced Species” and reinforced by the first line “we don’t belong here.” Growing up in a military family, this was almost literally my life. I would pick up and move every 3 or 4 years, having to learn a new social structure, a new life, and fit to new people. Over time, I lost the identity of who I was, and just became whoever was around me.

To me, this song is about realising that and coming to the conclusion that I’m not suppose to be where I am. It’s easy enough to take this as a negative, and the lyrics do seem to reinforce those thoughts on the surface. But the more I listen to it, the more I see the song as a positive and as a fight to be yourself and who you are regardless of where you are.

It’s not so much a song about giving up, but of starting a journey to figure out who you are. You can almost hear the cognitive dissonance between him wanting to fit in, and be himself. “In a way we are all connected/ threaded together / In a way we are all suspended / bound going nowhere.” To me, it’s a cry out of seeing that we are all human, all sharing a common bond, but not knowing how to connect to that, and feeling lost.

What speaks to me the most about fighting to fit into a place that isn’t your home is the section after he repeats “will you run?” If you listen closely, you can hear a faint screaming voice shouting “It’s no longer survival of the fittest, now that everyone survives. But we don’t want to survive, we want to live.” Fitting in, and being whatever everyone else is, that’s just survival. It’s doing just enough to skate by. But that’s not what I want, I want to live. That requires being myself.

But old habits don’t go away. Every time you take a step forward, you can hear that voice in the back of your head screaming “we don’t belong here” over and over. Which can get extremely tiring to fight. But the bridge, to me, is those friends from “Developments” it’s them reminding me that even though the night was long and hard, we can’t give up now. Reminding me what’s at stake, my life. But also, that you can’t start off running, at first, they are asking if I can walk, and after that point, that’s when they help me to run.

A common theme through this album is that it’s a journey, there are ups and down. It’s not just a continual improvement. There are downfalls, times you want to give up and stop trying. But, the important thing, you keep moving forward. Pick yourself up and go. When you can’t do it on your own, it’s ok to ask friends for help.

July 9, 2017 auticus No comments exist

If you know me, you know that music is a huge part of who I am. Through the years, music has been there to help me through dark times, and help me to express myself. That really hasn’t changed as I’ve grown up.

Recently, a particular album has really rose to be something that has helped me through some dark times. About two years ago, a friend of mine showed me this song. Not because of the lyrics, but because of the music video. The song was “A fire on a hill” by Hands like Houses. The music video is fantastic and I would highly recommend watching it.

I never really paid much attention to the rest of the album, or anything else the band had put out. But recently, I’ve been wanting to write a post about that song, and decided to listen to the entire album and see if it had a similar theme, and found out that it did. I decided to convert my one post into a series of posts going through the entire album and paralleling it with my life story.

I’ve written about various aspects of my life in previous posts, and I’m hoping the content of these isn’t just a repeat. I’m going to be focusing on the emotions and feelings during the different times of my life, and not so much on the events that took place.

I will say, these are not the artist’s depictions of the songs. These are my own thoughts on them and how I’ve come to interpret them. The album is “Unimagine” by Hands Like Houses.

The first song of the album sets the mood of the rest of it fairly well for me. The opening words “we get in our own way, tripping on our feet / filling up our heads too much with words too hard to speak” sums up perfectly what it often feels like inside my head. I have a huge problem with staying inside my head and letting things spin out of control.

But the song goes so much deeper. It’s the start of a journey of self awareness, of learning who you are and how to get there. It’s so hard at first. You just see darkness and a blank page. The song takes it’s inspiration from a darkroom for photography development. Which I found to be a fantastic analogy.

When I first started looking at my mental health and decided to make that change. I felt alone. I was in a dark room, looking at a bunch of blank pictures, afraid of what I was going to find when I started to develop them and see what they hold. To the point, where I stopped. I was too afraid to look at them.

But then I met some friends who came alongside me and showed me that I wasn’t alone, and I didn’t have to go through this scary thing on my own. To me, this song is from their perspective. They validated the way I felt, but also loved me enough not to let me stay in that spot. The lines “I can’t explain enough, and I won’t let it last the night / I’ll show you that the image is still there unseen.” Is an entire conversation in just two lines. Countless times my friends have come to me and not let me sit in my depression.

They would sit with me through the proverbial night and continually remind me that even though I couldn’t see the happiness and joy in some of the pictures I was uncovering, that it was there. They were determined to sit with me as long as it took until I could see the joy. That phrase being repeated throughout the song is just a reminder that it’s not just one time and then your done. It happens over and over.

We’d often go back to that place, and they would always, without complaint, sit with me and help me through it. They often had to remind me that it’s “Darkest before the light” But not only did they sit with me and help, they put themselves in my shoes. They took on my pain and carried it with me.

They could have easily said “You get in your own way, tripping on your feet” but instead, they carried it with me. “We get in our own way.” They became a part of the struggle. Because of that, they experienced the pain and hurt I felt, but also they got to experience the joys I had as well. They walked along with me as equals, not as superiors.

That is one of the most important things through my walk. Having people walk with me as equals and treat me as if I have worth and as if I’m not broken, damaged, or hurt. They never pushed me further than I was willing to go, and never put me down if I canceled on plans because it was a bad day.

They were my rock during those early years (and in many cases still are) and to me, this song is their expression of support. They were going to do everything in their power to show me the light I had lost, and they weren’t going to rest until that task was accomplished.

June 13, 2017 auticus No comments exist

Years ago I started to tell myself a lie, this lie became the very core of who I was, and I believed it hook, line, and sinker. Only recently have I started to realise how deeply that lie affected me. The lie that I was broken. The lie had taken hold of me to such a degree that I ruined friendships over it.

When you believe that you are broken beyond repair, living life doesn’t seem to matter. You become a shell. It doesn’t matter how strong that outer shell is, it doesn’t change what’s on the inside. It wasn’t just a lie that I told myself, but one that was told to me. When I first told myself this lie, I saw it for what it was, and I reached out for help. But those I reached out to confirmed my lie instead of helping me out of it.

Eventually, I learned to live with it. I was broken, and there was nothing I could do about it. Along with that brokenness, I began to believe that I didn’t deserve happiness, I didn’t deserve friends, and I didn’t deserve to live.

For so many people, the story ends there. Never realising that they aren’t broken beyond repair. They never find the peace they are looking for because when you feel broken, all you see is the world telling you to be perfect or to get out.

But the truth is, you aren’t broken. You aren’t “damaged goods”. whether it’s rape, abuse, mental illness, or anything else that causes you to believe that, know that it’s a lie. It’s a lie that we, as a culture, have become very good at telling. You also aren’t stuck in that place forever. You are lost, and you don’t have a map to help you out. You weren’t equipped to handle the situation, and blame yourself for that. In reality, it’s not your fault.

I can’t give you a step by step detailed instruction on how to get out and find your path again. All I can do is give advice, and say what worked for me. I found my way again by going to counselling, which lead to going back to school. I would highly encourage anyone to at least try out counselling. It’s a great starting point that would hopefully point you in the right direction and at least get you started on the path.

But, the most important thing, stop believing the lie. You aren’t broken, you aren’t forgotten. Above all else, it’s not your fault. You are loved, and it is my hope that you will rediscover the path that was taken from you and be able to carry on with your life. My e-mail is here on my site, and I would love nothing more than to give you further encouragement and support if you need it.

February 3, 2017 auticus No comments exist

Breaking The Habit

This semester I’m in a Counselling Theory and Practice class. The entire class is learning about different Theories, and putting them into practice (so you know, aptly named). We do a lot of activities during the class that might be done in a counselling session.

This past week we all had to take a rock, while we are in class, we have to hold onto our rock. We can’t put it on the floor or table. At a minimal, it has to be on our lap. The rock is to represent a burden, and how we carry it around with us. In counselling, the counsellor would have the client take the rock with them outside of the sessions. But for class purposes, we just have them during the class period (which is a three-hour class).

If at any point during the semester we want to get rid of the rock, we have to announce in front of the whole class that we are getting rid of our burden. We then have to announce what our burden is and what steps we’ve taken/are taking to get rid of the burden. So it can’t just be something like “My burden is finance and I’m getting rid of it” then leaving it at that.

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December 15, 2016 auticus No comments exist

Natchez Trace – Friendly Savages

I am a Christian. It’s not a fact I try and hide. That does not mean that I wholeheartedly agree with the church or what it does. I had opened up to member of my previous church about my mental illness, and was informed that I was “faking it” and needed to “get over it.” Which was a huge issue with me, and ended up being one of the major reasons I stopped going to church for a few years.

 

When I moved up to North Dakota to be close to my family, I decided to go back to church. Mostly because I didn’t want to deal with being constantly hounded to go on Sundays. I gradually started helping out with the church, doing worship on Sundays, going to a small group, and helping out with the youth. Eventually, I decided to open up to the assistant pastor about my mental illness. It went a lot better than my previous church, and we started meeting once a week. I was impressed and surprised by how I was treated and not looked down on.

 

However, it turned out to be a lot of talk, and not a lot of action. At the start of the month, I lost my job. I still haven’t been paid for the hours I’ve worked, and am now down to my last $4. When I informed my former boss that I was going to file paperwork to the department of labor against him for failure to pay me, I was told that I logged excess hours, and that if I threaten him, I won’t get very far. Which I took as a personal threat against me, and also as a sign that I would never be getting paid. On top of this, my car can’t make it in the winters up here. I don’t have a heater in it, and it’s frozen and undrivable.

 

I’ve taken these problems to my church, and explained to them the situation I’m in. It’s gotten to a point where I have to ration the food I have, to keep from completely running out. I’m currently unable to get a job, because I don’t have reliable transportation. I’m also moving at the end of the month, so getting a job this late would be all but pointless.

 

The response I’ve gotten from the church multiple times is “don’t worry, God will provide.” or that by worrying, I’m sinning. But, when I ask for practical advice on how to get out of this, or what to do, it always goes back to trusting God. My faith in God is not in question. I believe that he does provide a way, however, my faith is lacking in people. The church is suppose to be God’s instrument, but instead, they are turning me away with no practical help. When I leave the church, I’m still hungry, still have no car, still don’t have the clothing I need, or anything else that might come up.

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November 11, 2016 auticus No comments exist

Gorillaz – 19-2000 (Soulchild remix)

Music is very important to me. Which is why I put a song in front of each post. I also have a huge variety of music that I listen to. I’ve been asked to write a post about my music choices and a bit about what music means to me.

 

I’ve probably got some type of music that’ll fit your needs, do you like Math? I’ve got Mandelbrot Set or PI. But maybe math isn’t your thing. No worries, maybe you like a bit of art in your music? Check out A Fire On A Hill. Maybe you just like really long songs, if so Shine On You Crazy Dimond is for you.

 

Jokes aside though. Music is an important part of my life. I started piano lessons when I was 13, after two years of lessons, I switched to guitar. Since then, I’ve taught myself, Banjo and Ukulele. I also play around with a chiptune program I have on my old Gameboy. Music isn’t just an escape from the pains of this world, it’s an outlet to express myself. Even if I’m not writing the music myself. So often I find that an artist has said exactly how I feel better than I ever could.

 

When my grandpa suddenly passed away, Bruddah Iz was there for me. When I feel like I have nowhere to go, Madina Lake has the perfect song for me, multiple songs in fact. When I struggle with my identity, MC Lars and Dr. Awkward have it covered. Sometimes though, you just need music to drown out everything else, which is when I turn to Thousand Foot Krutch and The Glitch Mob.

 

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October 18, 2016 auticus No comments exist

The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots

 

If you know me, you know I have an obsession with Rubik’s Cubes. I wasn’t the most popular guy in Highschool, so I spent my free time locked up in my room, learning how to solve the puzzle. I filled notebooks full of different things I tried until I came to the solution. It’s a good indication of my personality as well. When I set my mind to something, I’m going to do my best to finish it, and put my all into it.

 

After I got to a point where I could easily solve the cube based on my own algorithms that I had written down, I then turned to the internet on how to solve it faster. But I’ve approached every Rubik’s puzzle the same way. Before I look online for more efficient solutions, I get to a point where I can consistently solve them.

 

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