Please Remember This ... I am NOT a Doctor nor do I play one on TV, on the radio, on the Internet, Etc.


Hi. My name is Ken and am a man in his 40's that has fought severe depression for 5 years. Only a few have known about this because
I am very good at putting on my mask of smiles and happiness.

So why this blog? Besides this being a way of sticking it to my depression, a couple of reasons come to mind. I want people that are fighting
depression or any other mental illness know that they are NOT ALONE in this fight. I want people to know that have depression that I get it.
I have been there ... I am still there, but I hope that sharing my take on it, my struggles and my small victories may help. I want people to
know that it is okay to say "I have depression" and not feel ashamed!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Suicide

I, Ken Morgan, fight suicidal thoughts all the time! Wait for it ... and I just made a lot of folks very uncomfortable. Before you go, thanks for stopping by ... and they are gone. I don't blame them, it can make many so uncomfortable. Why? I think a lot of it is not really understanding it. I know, what is there to understand, right? The thought comes to kill yourself. How hard can that be to understand?

I read a quote the other day that may shed some light on it. Forgive me for the terrible paraphrase, but it goes something like this, "Depression is when your body is fighting to live and your mind is trying to kill you." You see, the bottom line for me, is that I really don't want to die. I want to live! I want to live fighting to feel hope and joy. I have felt them before, so I know that I can feel them again. Not sure how long it will be, but it's worth the fight!

I can't tell you why my brain strives to convince me to just end it all. I can tell you that for me it is the farthest thing from being a selfish act. It's not when life is just too hard that I just want to give up. It's really not that at all. For me, the thoughts come that all would be better off without me. Let me open the doors wide open to my soul and share a thought. Before I do, I want to state just how difficult this will be because being open and vulnerable is like me bending over yelling, "Thank you sir! May I have another!" Waiting for the hard swat of a wooden paddle. If it helps someone suffering, it will be worth it.

Life for me is a struggling roller coaster. I've learned what triggers cause the spiral effect of depression, anxiety and even ocd. Seems like there are always new triggers I'm learning though. When a bad moment or day hits, I'm quiet. I'm not mad at anyone or anything, I'm literally fighting for my life at times using coping techniques I've learned from my psychologist. Or just fighting to find a place I can hold on to waiting for the dark storm to pass. How long do these dark storms last? Some an hour or two, some a day and some several days.

When I'm quiet "working through things" as I call it at times, which really means I'm not doing so hot, I tend to not handle "life" situations well. I tend to get upset or not deal with the situation at all. When I get upset, things aren't the best in the household. Dad, husband, family member ... you name the title, is getting mad again. When I get mad or don't handle things well I see how it effects others. How it effects family. How it effects relationships. How it effects folks I deal with just in passing. Needless to say, it's not the most happy times in my eyes. How I'm not measuring up to who I want and need to be to others and really causing them more pain than anything. See how the brain can kick my tail. These are the times that the suicidal thoughts are constant body blows, beating the life out of me. These are the darkest of times.

So, why don't I just reach out for help or tell people how I'm really doing? I feel like painting a scenario here. I see a "friend" and they say, "hey you good looking dude, how ya been?" I have a choice here to either say, "Pretty horrible! The thoughts of suicide are consuming me and I'm not sure how much more of a beating I can take. I can't feel hope or any sense of purpose. I'm trying, but I just can't." Or I can say, "Great man! Thanks for asking!" Any guesses which one I pick. Confession time. I'm the biggest liar of all! I have actually answered honestly a couple of times though and it freaked them out. They didn't know what to say and were scared that if they said something wrong it would be the thing that would put me "over the edge" and I would take my life. First of all, if I'm still trying to figure this out I don't expect someone to know what to say. A bit of advice though. Don't try to give advice, just put your arms around them and tell you that you love them. Second of all, and this sounds bad, but if anything is going to put me over the edge it's my dark mind not something said wrong by someone. There are only two folks that I talk wide open and honestly and that's my psychologist and psychiatrist. And really there are times that I just don't want to be open with them. It's dark and painful.

Will the suicidal thoughts ever end? I sure hope so, but who really knows. I'm trying to use anything that I can to quiet them at least. Like I mentioned, I meet with a psychologist and talk about how things are going and how to strive to handle things. I meet with a psychiatrist who has me on meds. In fact, we are changing up the med concoction, which is always a treat. My favorite line by him is "let me know if any interesting side effects kick in." I do all I can to lean on divinity. That my be another post some time. I'm trying though.

I'm sad when I hear of those that came to the point that they felt life would be better off with out them. That they lost feeling any sense of value, of being important to someone, of having purpose. They felt they brought more pain than good. I completely understand those feelings though.

The point is I have to tell myself that I'm important even if I don't believe it. I have to tell my self over and over even though I'm not sure how, but I am, even though I feel like I'm my only friend most of the time. I'm important. I'm important.

Understanding brings clarity of how to help. So if mental illness is so misunderstood that speaks volumes.

Friday, April 14, 2017

When The Bombs Fall

When I was a lad I really looked up to those in my family ... my awesome siblings and my incredible mom. My dad died when I was quite young, but I will call him incredible as well! Being the youngest, I had all sorts of examples to follow ... mostly good of course! Now, this doesn't mean that we didn't fight or have times when we didn't see eye to eye. I sure didn't see eye to eye with my older siblings as they tried to see if I would fit down the laundry chute. I definitely know my sister didn't see eye to eye with me when she came to know how I found out some of her nail polish was flammable! It was awesome! The bottom line though is that my family was my world. That's all I knew when I was young. When times were rough, I still had my family to hang on to .. to be my strength.

As the teenager years came, I began to surround myself with those that I felt comfortable with. That were friends and would be there for me when times were rough. My family was still there, but with my finite teenage understanding that looked through know it all glasses, my clarity of who really had my best interest in me at times was clear as mud. Thankfully I made it through the young teenage years.

With years passing getting me closer to adulthood, I had friends that were good solid people. I had my family to give me strength, but there came times that my friends gave me strength as well. Strength and support that I will never forget about. I throw credit their way for partially being who I am today. You can thank them or curse them.

As I began to embrace that mental illness was something I was going to deal with and fight with, I leaned so much on my wife ... my rock. I know how badly she wanted to help me, yet I knew if I was trying to figure out this whole mental illness thing, she was struggling just as much. That and is a struggle for me because I want to lean on her so much, which I can, but there are some things she just can't help me with and that's okay.

While fighting the feelings of not being good enough, not having any value, not being important enough, will never amount to anything and so much more, I tend to reach out to those that fight the same horror and lock arms with them. I lock arms with them to have more strength to fight the daily battles. Some of these friends are close and that I know and others are miles away and don't even know me, yet I gain strength from them seeing them fight the fight! Some days the fight goes well while other days I wonder if there is enough strength left. And then there are those days when the bombs fall. When I find myself on my hands and knees looking around dazed to see what the hell happened. I shake my head hoping I can figure things out while I look around in the fog around me looking for those that I had locked arms with. Like a surprise punch to the face I find that some of those that gave me strength are gone. They lost the fight. Too many bombs have been falling and too many people have been losing the fight. My heart bleeds for their close ones and their family. I feel selfish for focusing more of how it has impacted me. How I crawl around looking for someone to lock up arms with again and hope that the bombs will stop long enough for me to find the strength. Too many are losing the fight.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

And the dancing elephant falls, landing on the ...

When I was a lad I had a difficult time talking to girls, especially ones that I thought were quite cute. Throw having a crush on them and the chances of me chatting with them was not too good! I may cough out a "hey" or "hi" and if they would respond "what?", I would just explain that I had coughed.

Now see, when I was around 10 years old I had a HUGE crush on a girl that lived in my neighborhood and went to the same church I did. Oh, and went to the same school too. So needless to say I would see her a lot, which was fine by me! I simply just couldn't talk to her! The crush was pretty strong, so I wasn't going to let something like not being able to talk with her get in the way. I had to be creative! My little 10 year old mind came up with an awesome plan! I had an older sister that loved to get jewelry, so I figured my crush would as well. But where would I get the money to buy jewelry? And then the epiphany hit me! My sister had tons of jewelry, so if I just took something small from her room she would never notice. Sadly, I did this several times. But how would I give it to my crush? I couldn't give it to her in person. That would mean I would have to talk with her and that wasn't going to happen. So I would take a nice decorated box with the jewelry in it and leave it on the porch and run like the wind after I rang the doorbell. This plan was going well until my sister started to notice missing jewelry. I could simply deny knowing anything, but it got very difficult when my crush began wearing the jewelry to church. Needless to say my sister wasn't too happy and all that hard work went for not with my crush.

Now that I'm "old man Morgan", which will have to be another day to explain that, I love playing "play list" with my oldest. It's quite simple, I get to play a song off of my play list and she gets a chance to name the artist and vice versa. I have to say I'm quite proud that my oldest can recognize the Who, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Journey, Styx ... I could go on. She usually ends up winning too because yep, a lot of the artists sound the same. I never thought I would say that. I will have to admit though that she has introduced some amazing artists to me.

I've been on meds for three years or so to help with my mental illness, primarily for depression and anxiety. I'm on some meds for bipolar as well even though I haven't been diagnosed of it. It's supposed to even the peaks and valleys as much as possible. I have to say though that I fought taking meds for quite a while. I was terrified of side effects and I didn't want to become numb to the world. No one pushed me one way or the other. My psychologist was supportive either way as we talked about what the outcomes may be with each decision. I got to the point though of being so frustrated for what I was dealing with. Mental illness had turned my world upside down while spinning carelessly this way and that way. I came to the point that I wanted to do anything that would help me handle it better. I remember the day of  holding the meds in my hand thinking, "here goes nothing." I was waiting to wake up with six fingers on one hand or losing my appetite for my favorite food. That never happened, but I will admit that I had some side effects. One was that I would hum or sing and not know it. Not the best when you're in an environment where you're supposed to be quiet. A hoot for those around you though. The other dealt with something a bit more private. Nothing that I'm embarrassed to talk about, but for the sake of this writing venue I'll just say it simply went away after adjusting the meds. If you absolutely need to know, reach out to me and we'll chat. The interesting point is that meds taken for mental illness can actually take three to four weeks to completely take effect and may take a couple of tries of different combinations before finding the ones that work best for you. Bottom line, do I regret taking meds? Nope. It's important to understand though that taking meds isn't the end all answer. Taking them doesn't automatically make you "healed." Like I mentioned, they even the peaks and valleys that allow you to cope and handle the mental illness better.

"Great info Ken, and kind of boring, but now I have no desire to take meds," one may say that is trying to decide if it's the best thing for them. I actually came across and heard of some recently that were trying to make that choice of meds or not so much with the meds. I can simply tell my story and let them make the choice that is best for them, but to me it's important to be completely honest. I could easily say something about how awesome they are and I had no side effects. Butt that's like saying, "enjoy your ex-lax! It's great with no side effects." And yes, I did intentionally put two t's on the last but I used. Seemed appropriate!

Lately I have had a new side effect hit me. Does it make me question taking meds? Nope. It's a frustrating side effect, but I've chatted with my psychiatrist and we will be making some adjustments soon. I've learned that is just what happens. So what's the newest side effect? I struggle at times remembering the simplest words. I can be looking at an every day object and I just can't come up with the name. Or I'm in the midst of a sentence and draw a blank. It's cool when it's with my family, but a bit of a struggle when talking with other folks. I even at times draw away from folks lately because I'm nervous I'll make a fool out of myself, kind of like my fear of the ladies when I was younger. You can only imagine how the game of "play list" goes with my oldest too! Oh, and try telling a joke and forgetting the punch line about some dancing elephant that falls and lands ...

Thursday, October 20, 2016

20 Items or Less!

I enjoy grocery shopping. Heck, I will even whistle every now and then and even do it while trying to find an elusive product. I even stick to the list, unless I want something that calls out to me. I'm even okay with waiting in the check-out line if needs be. But you know, every now and then I just want to get a box of twinkies and a Frank Sinatra cd and get in and out. That's why I have a friend, I like to call the "Fast Lane" or "Express Lane" or even "20 Items or Less." Now let's address my pet peeve ... and I'm not talking about my pet, if I owned one! I have my box of twinkies in one hand and good old Frankie in the other while I walk up to the "20 Items or Less" check out with a big old grin. Most cases my friend and I get along, but then there's the time I walk up and someone is there with a cart full of groceries. I pretend to smile and start counting all the items in their cart. I'm cool with some overage. That can be expected. Yet, when double or triple the count of twenty occurs I find myself looking at the clerk, still with my huge fake smile now. Don't worry, I get it. There was probably no one in line and the clerk let the customer with the plethora of groceries come on over to them. If that's the case, it should be called the "20 Items or Less, Maybe or Maybe Not" line! Don't worry, I get it. I can hear the calls now of needing to be patient or taking the opportunity to be patient. Just a thought though, what if I did the "Express Lane" because that's what I needed or simply could do? What if there is man out in the parking lot with a fever and a cowbell isn't working, so the next best thing was twinkies and Frank? Ah, but just take a deep breath and you can handle it. Right?

I'm not a big fan of having a cold or some type of sickness that kicks me in the backyard and keeps me in bed for a couple of days. I like to be up doing things, accomplishing things ... just getting them done with. Every now and then I will try to get up, but the strength is gone. Even making it to the bathroom can be the mission of all missions, because there is no energy! Then that glorious day comes when the sickness has done its thing and it is gone! It's like hearing angels sing!

One area in my life that I let define me far too often is simply getting things done. Cleaning around the house, projects, the to do list (that I've created), even finishing orders for the little company my sweet wife and I have going. The list could go on and on. What I see me do, is usually how I define my value. Then the rollercoaster of mental illness kicks in. There are days when I just sit around thinking or bonding with my bed letting the hours slip away watching show after show on TV. Why? Because I'm lazy? Imagine walking around the house looking at every little thing that has to be done and you just can't do it. Thinking about every little thing that needs to be done and you just can't do it! I can tell you that sitting around just thinking or watching TV all day is like trying to take a shower because you've had the stank for four days, and all you get is a drip here and there of cold water. Some may look up at the shower head and say, "hey, work!" I bet that would do the trick.

For me, there isn't the feeling of weakness or no energy when you're ill. Or when you have that lovely sweaty feeling of pain. My energy level is up, it's just the will that has taken the blow. Will Power! Will Power! Is all I can hear when I search for any will to do anything. It's hard to suck it up and increase the level or power of "will" if it's simply not there. How demeaning and destructive when you want to do something so bad, but your mind tells you nope! Add to that the defining of me is by what I accomplish. Not a fun game to play! It may seem hard to grasp. I know it was for me at first, but now that I live it I can tell you it is real and is awful!

I'm still alive though and I plan to be! I'm learning and have learned to redefine what I call accomplishments and acknowledge what each day is looking like of what I can do. There are days that I get a lot done and I feel good about every simple one. There are days that I get a few things done and that's okay! Even though the judgement of society may label me as lazy on some days, I give them the finger (the pinky of course) and know sometimes it's twenty items or less and I'm fighting for that to be not only okay, but awesome!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Wait for it! Wait for it ... and Christmas is gone!

Putting up the Christmas tree with the smell of pine in the air. Having a rare fire in the fire place with stockings hung. Baking and decorating sugar cookies getting clever and competitive. Eating all the cookies my sister made for someone else and feeling the consequence. Listening to Christmas music as much as possible. Going to the mall and doing some shopping. Watching mom putting the final touches of Christmas around the house as she hums with a big grin. The first drink of Egg Nog. The second drink of Egg Nog. The third drink of Egg Nog and so it goes. Christmas Candy including chocolate kisses. Laying under the lit tree with all the other lights off in the house. Flying Lego Space ships around the tree pretending the tree lights were blasters. Listening to the "Christmas Fairy" record in the living room with all the lights off except the tree lights, on Christmas Eve with hopes of getting tired and sleepy ... knowing it won't happen. Laying in the bottom bunk watching the alarm clock, the old kind where the numbers aren't digital but flip when the minute or hour is up. Counting backwards from 500 to 1 hoping to fall asleep, but no chance. Hearing mom walking from her room down stairs and back up stairs doing that over and over wondering why she is tidying up at this hour. Seeing a red light in the sky not moving but swearing it's Rudolph. The anticipation growing and growing! Waking up realizing you had fallen asleep looking at the clock radio and only 13 minutes has past. The night that felt like 20 years. The anticipation almost beginning to hurt. Then miracles of all miracles, 6 am is here. Mom is awakened. Sister takes what feels like 7 hours in the bathroom. Youngest to oldest heads down to the living room. The anticipation is the strongest, but will be over soon. Presents are opened and thanks is given. No more presents are under the tree ... it's over. The anticipation ends and begins to be filled with sadness that Christmas is over ... it's gone. Back to "regular" life. The magic is over.

When I began this journey of mental illness, I was asked a lot how I felt. I had no answer for that question. I know I felt different in a dark way and really wasn't fond of it. Answering "sad" or "dark"just didn't seem to put it right. When talking about suicidal thoughts I was asked to rank the thoughts from 1 -10, 1 being the weakest and 10 being the strongest. I was always curious what the difference was between 6 and 7 or 9 and 10. How was I supposed to know? Oh, and then the meds. They can take 2 to 3 weeks of taking before any difference. So when it came to 2 to 3 weeks, I began to be asked if I had noticed any difference? And of course, I would be searching for that right answer because it's not like a pain killer, where BOOM you start quickly feeling better. I learned the best way to see if it was making a difference was to ask those around me. I remember trying several different medications to find that right mix to help me and one I took apparently influenced me enough to hum all the time when I really didn't know it was happening. That was kind of fun, but it had to go away. Finally, the "right mix" was found. Then I was beginning to be asked to think about my week and determine if I had more bad days than good days. Most of the time there were far more bad days than good days. More days than I want to admit me and my bed bonded and bonded and bonded wondering if the good days were gone. I can't recall if it was a year or two that I began to have more good days than bad. I liked those weeks, but they were few. As the years went by I continued to measure my weeks by bad days vs good days and it really went back and forth, but the constant was the dread and fear knowing the good would be over soon and would be back to the "regular" darkness. 

I was talking with a good man and friend the other day that has gone through what I am and he shared a thought with me. When fighting mental illness, your brain and the darkest of demons strive to convince you that life is all about the bad and dark days ... that is the norm. The good days are the anomaly. Hearing that reminded me of all the times I have had good days, but "knew" they would be coming to an end quickly or that they were numbered. Not a fun time! Back to "regular" life of suffering. Why even work on coping or fighting demons for just a little feeling of goodness knowing it would go away? Why? For me because it's worth it. If I can fight and have a victory of enjoying a good day that is a memory I can keep and no one can take that away! If I fight again and have another good day ... more in the memory. I'm not a big fan of saying, "just focus on the positive and all will be well." That luxury of life is either greatly weakened or gone with mental illness. Just saying to focus on the positive is really ignoring the illness and believe me, if you ignore it eventually it will get to the point you can't ignore it any more. Build the memory of good days!

I love Christmas and you bet I put my Christmas tree up before Thanksgiving! I love the Season and everything it offers and gives! I do remember as a kid being sad that Christmas was gone, but my mom was/is awesome! She had an incredible way of making Christmas more than that. As I grew older, Christmas was about every magical thing during the season and not just the day. Being older, when my siblings and I talk about Christmas memories it isn't recounting the sadness when presents were done, it is all about everything else we enjoyed and the crazy stories ... maybe another day I'll share some of those.

I really don't keep track of good days vs bad days any more. I fight to keep the memories of the good days and when the good days come I personally label them the norm and tell my illness and darkness to suck lemons ... you bet, lets stick with that, "suck lemons." When the darkness does come and fight me hard and kick my butt at times, I won't let that be the norm. I simply won't let it be the norm. One last time. I simply won't let it be the norm! The darkness will go away and the norm of a good day will come back. Another good day to build my memory of good days!    

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Force Doesn't Work Jerk! Next?!

I remember learning about faith in church when I was a young boy. To me and what my awesome little brain took in was quite simple; if you have enough belief in something it will happen. I thought this was the coolest thing in the world! It was like the force from Star Wars. Yep, I am honored to have been old enough to see those incredible movies when they first came out. Well, I remember sitting in the congregation as a meeting was getting ready to begin. I figured it was time for me to try this faith thing. Thinking about it I really can't tell you why I didn't try my new "faith" magic power at home. Anyway, the time was here. A song had been sung and a nice lady was getting ready to say the opening prayer. I bowed my head and closed my eyes preparing for this first great experience of faith. I closed my eyes tighter and began to repeat something over and over, "she will fall down the stairs. She will fall down the stairs." Yep, my first act of this great power was to make a lady fall down some stairs. I'm thankful the man upstairs is very forgiving. Now, I'm not sure if it was the anticipation or this kind lady was saying a lot, but the prayer went on FOREVER! Finally, she closed the prayer and graciously walked over to the stairs preparing to walk down back into the congregation. I watched on kind of nervous, but excited. She finally took the first step and nothing happened except walking graciously down the stairs. I was shocked! I was stunned! I was greatly disappointed! I looked around for another little minute and figured that was that and moved on to something else.

I have read numerous articles, blogs, thoughts, quotes, etc about mental health. I have experienced an epiphany here and there, have been frustrated, have been angered, have laughed til I about wet myself, and the list goes on. The point about mental health is that it is different in so many ways and so different from individual to individual. There are A LOT of opinions out there, and of course the lovely stigma that goes with it. At times, it's like I don't even want to read or study about it. Usually, I will just shake my head thinking, "wrong!" when I come across something so left field. And of course, it's my opinion on that. I get that. Every now and then I come across a line of thinking that actually makes me cringe when I read it. I actually feel compelled to comment about it every time I read it. Usually I don't, but then .... there is now. So the line of thought goes like this, "If you had enough Faith, you simply wouldn't suffer from Anxiety." Or, "If you had enough faith, your depression would be far less extreme." There are other variations out there, but I think you get the gist.

First, let me step aside for a moment and spit out some thoughts. IF and only IF, one is defining "Anxiety" in this line of thought as a little fear of something, or, IF and only IF, one is defining "Depression" as a little sadness, then I can give a little head nod here. However, and oh man do I mean however; if one is talking about mental health Anxiety and Depression they are carelessly bringing harm to many!! Why? Let me shed a little light here. Those that fight anxiety and depression and really any mental health problems think they really aren't worth that much. You may think I'm exaggerating, but the mind simply tells you over and over that you aren't worth much at all ... even a burden. It doesn't take much at all to explode any self worth that one has mustered up and fought for. Also, those that fight mental health problems have spiritual side effects. What do I mean? Imagine not being able to find a heavenly peace at all doing all the things you have done in the past to find it. "Man, God must be mad or must think I'm not worth anything at all as well" is the darkness of depressions biggest tool. So, if I'm told the reason I have these mental health problems is because my lack of faith ... boom! The impact is devastating to say the least!

Some other thoughts here. My take on this life is that we have hurdles, walls, skyscrapers to over come or even deal with the rest of our lives and having faith helps. Yep, that learn and grow thing. If it was all about just having enough faith though to make them simply go away there really wouldn't be a lot of growing going on. To me, faith is actually an act of love that we do. See, I simply can't close my eyes believing for something to happen, hopefully better than falling ladies, and do nothing. There has to be an act and it's an act of love because the faith is in the one with the greatest love, which is God. Making it through another day for the mentally ill is a huge act of faith! In fact, making it through a dark lonely moment is a huge act of faith! Saying one suffers from mental illness because of a lack of faith is simply a slap in the face from someone that simply doesn't understand. So, those that know someone with mental illness, remind them they are taking great acts of faith everyday! Remind them that over and over! And those out there that are fighting mental illness, you are awesome! You have an immense of amount of faith! I know it sure doesn't feel like it, but you do! You do! And that alone, makes you have infinite worth!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Hot Green Lava

There was a period of time when I was a young one that I simply couldn't wait to get up on Sunday mornings. My mom would like to think it was because of my excitement to go to church, but that would come later ... how much later I will leave a mystery. Now mother nature played a crucial role if Sunday mornings were awesome or merely an "oh man" moment. If you know me, you may think I would be leaning to a snowy morning. I would roll the dice on that one too; however, not so much on this one. You see, if mother nature was playing nice letting the sun do its thing, the sun would shine through a narrow window by the front door creating a long line of light about a foot or two wide on the living room carpet. Of course the carpet was a shaggy carpet and in this case green. As the sun would shine on the carpet the Hot Green Lava came to life. My older siblings and I would do all we could to stay away from the lava not wanting to get burned. In fact, my older siblings would help me ... yep, I said they would help me. After a while, like 5 minutes, we would begin to get careless walking closer to the lava, even pretending like we were going to step in it; yet, we would not go passed the invisible barrier. Now when the sun came through the big front window and pretty much lit up all the carpet, all bets were off as we danced on the furniture striving to deal with the Hot Green Lava chaos!

Through these past five years as I have met with my psychologist and psychiatrist spending a lot of time on the lovely leather couch, I have started and am still working on what I call my trigger map. My fine docs are really big about journalizing and when your done with that, journalize a little more. Why? Well, when the severe depression or anxiety kicks in you are able to write down what has been going on to see if something triggered it. Basically, you are finding the landmine of triggers out there and when you find one you know what to avoid. See, when one touches a hot burner, and I'm not talking about a cute person doing drugs in the 80's I'm talking about those things that get hot on the stove, you know that you don't want to touch that ever again. In fact, loved ones teach and help with knowing not to touch it. It will do damage. It's that simple! You don't hear a loved one encouraging one to work through the pain of the burn or will yourself through it. They tell you to stay away! So, for the past five years I have been building this map of triggers. Some that I simply have to stay away from and others that hurt, but am working hard on learning to cope. I have built huge barriers and or boundaries striving to protect me. Sadly, I wish that I could say that I have learned all my triggers, but I have found that is not the case. One example of my triggers is a quick change of plans. Sounds weird I know, but if something is planned and is changed the last minute or something just comes out of the blue I've learned ... well, let me just say that is like putting firecrackers in the fire. Imagine living a lifestyle or vacation like that. BOOM! 

I've also learned that these triggers don't play nice at all! What happens if they start showing up at places that you enjoy like church, movies, sports events etc. Nothing like going to church and having a trigger show up out of no where. You think Fight or Flight, right? 99% of the time is getting the heck out of dodge. Makes for a great conversation with your kids about the importance of going to church while you haven't gone for a bit and when Saturday rolls around the anxiety, depression, guilt ... you name it, starts coming in the game. What do you do? Survive and strive to learn how to cope understanding there is no time table. 

One last thought that I've been thinking about over and over. Lately I've come across the, "he's just acting like that because of his mental illness and he must be in a valley of his peaks and valleys." This comes after someone has carelessly knocked down a barrier or boundary. So, let me see if I have this correct. Someone has carelessly handled one's trust, which is GOLD to those that have mental illness, and their reaction is due to their mental illness. Apparently, their feelings have no meaning or value? "Oh, your acting like that because of your mental illness." So, if I like you is that due to my mental illness?  

Okay, so maybe one more last thought. Finding happiness while fighting mental illness is ... I'm really not sure of the word. I wanted to say tricky, but that just doesn't feel right. See, if you rely on people reaching out to you or letting you know they are thinking of you to make you happy, you never will be. Not because people are bad, but because you are relying on other's actions to make you happy. It will never be enough. This is an illness that no one can step in and do for you. You have the help of the docs and the meds, but they are there to support. You have to take the steps though and it's okay if a step takes a week, month or months. It's your battle, let no else give you advice they know nothing about. I know all this because it is what I have fought and am fighting through. I fight, but the support is not only nice, but important. Too many fall in "not doing anything because they don't know what to do." Does that mean the onus is on them for my success or getting better? Nope. Loneliness is a heavy burden for those with mental illness and feeling love and support can make a huge difference. Simply honor their boundaries. Let them know they are loved.