Tag Archives: mental-health

Survival of the Fittest or The Softer Side of Me

Note, the following was one of many started but not finished pieces of writing I seem to have accumulated over the years.  I merely finished it recently.  This one I started over one year ago on 12/5/15 and can only guess what it was a response to.

Survival of the Fittest:

I’m not gonna lie, or try fronting.  Today got a little emotional for me.  Out of nowhere, I started to uncontrollably sob, the hysterical kind where after a minute or so, you realize how ridiculous you must look to anyone and everyone else if they could see you at that moment, and that thought makes you laugh, and you spending the remainder of your diva moment alternating uncontrollably between the two, until eventually it just stops out of the blue, for no apparent reason, and with as much advance notice and fanfare as it first came on with, which is none.

Maybe it finally got that snickers bar.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have this nasty habit of never allowing myself to feel proud or to be excited or to admit fear or many of the other basic emotional responses to various environmental stimuli.  I don’t know why I do this, or what it is I’m afraid of to where my instinctual response is to downplay my interest level or to not ever let on just how much something truly means to me, but it must somehow be tied into my survival as all instincts naturally are.  The only thing I do know is it often has the opposite effect in my life, stunting my growth as a person and alienating me from people and situations that I would otherwise stand to benefit from in the long run.

Maybe I’m afraid that by letting on the fact I’m excited about something will in some way influence the universe in delivering it to me or me to it, because there are many times I feel like the universe and fate, (if there even is such a thing), is out to get me.  It’s because those times I do show any outward exuberance towards something all I’m ever left with is a sense of disappointment when it doesn’t measure up, or deliver in the end, which it never does. 

Just Who Do You Think You Are?

After allowing myself to feel dejected for a while, I start to think to myself, who do I think I am to  have the audacity to feel I deserve anything from this world, from this life, from the universe? 

Such Hubris.

I am nothing, and no-one.

Nothing’s guaranteed except THIS very moment you’re currently living in, and even then the only thing you know is that this too will end, though you know not when.  Time is not a linear thing in this regard, all moments were not created equal, some last only an instant and some moments go on for longer like the energizer bunny.   How much of that is dependent on the individual, how much is by design, and how much would have happened the same way irrespective of who it happened to?

I’m not fooling anyone, am I?

What is it that makes me think not letting on about whether there exists a softer side of myself in any way makes me less vulnerable?  A soft underbelly is a soft underbelly, just ask Churchill.  The immobility this fear and these questions leaves me with cripples me, and leaves me paralyzed, at least from the brain down because my mind is constantly racing and working in overdrive, which acts as a counterweight to everything else about me.

The more effort it exerts, the less I’m able to do.   Classic cookie cutter example showing the pitfalls and dangers of overthinking, purely textbook.  In extreme cases, if left untreated, for long enough, a death of sorts is possible, even likely.

A slow and painful death, arduous to reach,  immobilized with fear, laying at the bottom of a kiddie pool slowly being filled with Piranha from the Amazon which would be easy enough for you to escape from if not for being paralyzed from the brain down.  All you would have to do, is stand up, step out, and voilà, crisis averted.

Instead, you just lie there, slowly dying from the inside out, one tiny bite at a time.  I know no physical pain remotely comparable to the psychic pain this causes and I wouldn’t ever wish it on another human being because it’s a pain I’m all too familiar with, having experienced it to some degree for my entire life, or at least as much of it as I can remember.

That’s what I get, for thinking the universe owes me jack diddly shit when it doesn’t, or maybe it does which is why that’s what I get and that’s another thought that terrifies the shit out of me.  What if I’m not nearly so good, or so decent, as I thought I was?

What if the universe has long since moved off of the gold standard, and the dollar, and now paid it’s bills using nothing but Karma?  How fucked would I be, would you be, would we all be? I’d be in debt up to my eyeballs either way and maybe that’s why my life has taken such twists and such turns as to make “move over murphy” become my new mantra?

I’m sure I’m not the only one this change in cosmic currency would affect in such a way either, because the universe, by it’s very name and definition, is universal.

You wanna talk about a global economic crisis; try that shit on for size; then we’ll talk.

Karma, yeah it can be a real motherfucker and it always has a funny way of coming back around and biting you right in the ass when you least suspect it.  But if that truly is the case, by that logic, to have the string of shitty luck I’ve had I must have done something truly horrific.

My whole life I’ve felt singled out, picked on, targeted, taken advantage of, or had shit started with me because for some apparent reason, one I’m unfamiliar with, I look like I make for an easy target or something.  Sometimes I catch myself searching for the sign or the target that must rest right between my shoulder blades and paints a bullseye upon my back when I stretch my arms, which I do often on account of my bad shoulder, to no avail.

Nothings there.

Maybe it’s the fact I don’t feel the need to puff out my chest, mark my territory, inflate my ego, or brag about how I’m the man in bed, in the head, or anywhere else (save work), and that was only because work was more about effort than anything.  If you wanted to get better, you would, if you didn’t, you wouldn’t.  Simple enough concept really, or so I thought.

Maybe it was my general stature which is small, or my demeanor which is and always has been of a much larger variety because I always try to carry myself well through this world (and sometimes I fail at it miserably), because I’ve always believed that while it may not be about the destination, how you undertake the journey matters, the way in which you go about getting there really fucking matters in the end.

In this belief, as with many others, I’m left feeling all alone in sticking to my guns and my morals and in all those things which I believe develop ones character in the long run it always feels like I’m the sole person standing up for myself, or for others in a room full of people sitting down on those things.  The only sane person in a world of insane people…now doesn’t that sound crazy?

At which point do I stop being the sane one? 

But I know I’m not crazy and I feel it in my heart that I’m not wrong either, that a lot of things that go on which people have conditioned themselves to accept are in fact wrong, in such a blatant way, and with such wanton disregard for the very basic principles of human decency that it serves as a damning condemnation of society today and begs the question whether we humans still have any decency left within us.

We should all be ashamed of ourselves, and I say with intentionality because while I may not subscribe to it, there is more that I could be doing to change it as well and therefore my own inaction makes me just as guilty as anyone else.

The only recourse which prevents me from adopting the cold and callous attitude of my immediate surroundings, and not to have already said, “fuck it, I take what comes next”, flipped the switch and turned the lights off for good, which I’ve already tried to do once (though that’s a different story for another time), is to adopt a devil may care attitude, and give off a general aloofness to the happenings of the world, both of which are just as much evolutionary adaptation as they are a conscious choice.

How else could I exist in a world so filled with hate, and with such reckless disregard for the wellbeing of others when I have so much love in my own heart and care more about others than I do myself?    

A major complication this presents me with, is the extremely small number of people I allow to get close enough to see me past a very superficial conception which, on account of my aforementioned defense mechanisms, and natural tendencies is at odds with the real me, and with my true self.

Due to my poor track record with those I have allowed to get close enough to hurt me, this path has now become littered with booby traps and other hazards and one must overcome obstacles which are daunting if nothing else.

Anyone in their right mind would rather have a family picnic in the middle of Korea’s demilitarized zone during the height of the tensions between the North and South, or would prefer an honest answer to the question about whether that dress makes them look fat or not, I know I would.

Needless to say, more often than not, my dinner plans consist of a standing reservation for one followed by light drinks, some quality time with me, myself, and I; maybe even dessert, we’ll see how everyone plays their cards first.

Judging by what I’ve seen from this world, I’m content with that, though sometimes even I get lonely and feel hopeless, and even I can only do that whole me against the world routine, carrying the world’s woes upon my back like Atlas, before I’m eventually forced to either shrug or be crushed under the sheer weight of it all it’s just too much pressure.

   

Here’s some of my oldies but goodies

https://sammyscoops.wordpress.com/2012/06/21/the-passing-of-rodney-king-what-it-made-me-think/

https://sammyscoops.wordpress.com/2012/04/05/an-attempt-to-write-these-wrongs/

https://sammyscoops.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/modern-age-lynchingtrayvon-martin-emmitt-till-of-today/

Scattered

Scattered: How Attention Deficit Disorder Originates and What You Can Do About ItScattered: How Attention Deficit Disorder Originates and What You Can Do About It by Gabor Maté
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve never had a book hit so close to home as this one did; it felt almost as if Dr. Mate had looked into my innermost self and mirrored back at me many of the experiences and the feelings from my life that have gone unspoken of because I never quite knew how to explain them. I felt like he could have been talking about me in many of the scenarios he described.

I found this book to be really easy to read in the sense that it wasn’t overly technical. Dr. Mate’s moving and heartfelt narrative on ADD does a solid job of introducing a controversial topic in a way that is equally as appealing to someone completely unfamiliar with the condition as it would be to someone who has been living with it for their entire lives whether diagnosed or not; and he does so with empathy and compassion.

The examples he provides, including the example of himself, as an accomplished medical practitioner and author as well as an adult living with ADD, help to dispel many of the misconceptions concerning who can have ADD or what it may look like. I was also able to appreciate his balanced explanation that genetics and environment, are equally responsible for its existence; and found his assertion of the disproportionate role that the first several years of a child’s life, its relationship with its mother/caregiver, and the mental/emotional state of the mother/caregiver has in determining who will develop ADD, regardless of genetic predisposition to be fascinating.

Most importantly, Dr. Mate warns against placing too much emphasis on treating ADD with medication only and offers us his common sense recommendations for healing one’s relationship with their ADD child, or ADD selves, the most important of which being to create an environment of unconditional positive regard without which it is impossible for the person living with ADD to fully heal emotionally.

Without first beginning to heal their “self” first and foremost, the person living with ADD will find themselves continuing their present pattern of strained relationships lacking intimacy, tasks left undone, and unmet potential; regardless of whether they are being prescribed any sort of pharmacological treatment or not.

Do yourself a favor and read this book, you won’t regret it.

View all my reviews

The Key To Living Your Life Happily

If You Intend To Be Happy In Your Pursuits You Must;

Be True To Yourself
So true though. You just gotta be yourself.

Its impossible to exaggerate the importance and power of “self talk” in relation to your overall happiness. When you think of yourself as having worth, you challenge yourself more, accomplishing more in the process and begin truly believing in the untapped potential contained within. Believing in yourself and doing what makes you happy translates into added benefits in all areas of your life as well.

People tend to want to spend time with you when you’re positive, comfortable, and confident in your interactions. Honesty and authenticity in your words and actions is easily recognized by others. You’ll enjoy healthier relationships; rich and fulfilling in nature. Acting naturally ensures the people in your life appreciate you for who are.

They accept and like you because of your “flaws”, not in spite of them. Doing things you enjoy even makes work, and getting an education fun. If you don’t have passion for what you’re doing, you’ll find its hard do well or for very long. It won’t matter how much it pays, what it looks like on paper, or what it allows you to buy; you can’t buy happiness.

These are lessons I’ve forced myself to learn and re-learn throughout my life. Being injured and off work for a long time, forced me to begin applying myself to find things I found worth doing because they were meaningful instead of just easy, or comfortable. At the beginning of my experience with the injury and with workers compensation, I felt stripped of my life. In reality it had been returned to me. With nothing to do with my time aside from being miserable (of which I did plenty), it forced me to pursue things I find interesting to combat my feelings of depression; a major improvement over a dead end job. I found a way to turn this into a positive, developing more new skills and experience in new area’s than I had in the last 2yrs of my life.

In doing so, I interned with the Obama campaign which I didn’t enjoy as much as I thought I would. In the process of my campaign work I discovered a program doing writing workshops for incarcerated youth from a campaign volunteer who volunteered with them as well. Getting involved in the program made me realize how much I enjoy working with those kids we like to label as being “at risk” and I’m good at it as well.

Live Your Life With

Let Your Passion Shine Through
With passion is the only way to live your life! Everything else is irrelevant. Do what you love and love what you do.

I spent a good part of my life living with a single mother in a dysfunctional family, having little money and even less direction.  In efforts to fit in I began acting out of character for myself.  Getting in trouble, ditching class, experimenting with alcohol and other substances inevitably resulted in academic consequences.  I can remember in 9th grade we did a mock year book categories for our science class, I was voted most likely to go to jail…I think they were only half being funny….lightweight-hardcore.

That assessment hit closer to the mark than they could have thought.  I nearly didn’t graduate high school on time if at all, let alone make it into a 4 year college which had always been a personal goal of mine.  Despite feeling disappointed, and discouraged from this, I kept at it, working harder because I had to, always with my eye on the prize.

When I began Junior College, I used the new beginning as such, devoting myself to my studies and becoming active on campus.  Soon, building each goal upon another the transformation was clear.  Going from a chronic underachiever to gaining an Associates degree, and then transferring to UC Berkeley and gaining my Bachelors degree in History. As the first in my family to go to college and without anyone to really guide me ensuring I was on the right track or what to expect it was really difficult at times; but I appreciate it as a personal accomplishment so much more for it.

My growth and transformation in this process taught me a lot about myself and the limitless potential within each of us so long as we allow ourselves to believe in our ability. Its gratifying to come through the adversity in your life, reaching your goals, never losing sight of that light at the end of the tunnel. The act of re-fashioning yourself into a better person, reborn from the ashes of your mistakes and your failures is redemptive and empowering. The ability to become a phoenix resides within each of us, it just needs nourishment to flourish.

Having lost sight of this for a time despite my accomplishments; I sank back into feelings of depression and self-doubt making many of those poor decisions again.  This experience gives me a deeper appreciation for just how fine a line it is separating “I can’t” from the “I can”, and achievements from everything you were too scared to try.

Realizing this makes me understand how important it is to help others pick themselves up and dust themselves off when they have stumbled or fallen.  The ability to see and believe in your potential is a flame you must vigilantly fan and stoke in yourself and in others lest it go out; quickly striking a spark igniting it again in times its snuffed out.

Theres no doubt in my mind,  my journey is not a special one, the adversity not nearly as severe or as challenging as what inner city youth face today. Poverty and all of it’s manifestations is ugly and brutal enough here at home, let alone the rest of the world, but it was something important to me, and I did it. Having applied as a long shot, I’d already began making arrangements to go somewhere else when I found out I had been accepted.  The opportunity to go to college, and the one that I did for that matter, forever altered the course of my life with impact, in a major way.  A gift for which I”m eternally grateful.

Thinking back now, I remembering just how close I came to never experiencing any of it.  I almost never mailed in the application at all…  This makes me wonder how many others are out there at this very moment who find themselves now in  similar boat as I was then, “application packets”  hovering over the waste basket… Which in turn resolved me to share my passion for education and lifelong learning and my story as an inspiration to others, hoping to help at least one person to take that shot, even if it is an “oh what the hell, why not?” and in the dark.

As it stands now, I’ve begun the almighty litmus test of turning belief into action, interviewing soon for several programs similar to Teach for America, where I can try making an impact right out the door, as well as volunteering.

To be quite honest, I’ve never been happier or more comfortable with a decision in my life my eyes finally opened to whats important in my life, and it makes me wonder “what the hell took ya’ so long?”.
Using my story as a lesson for others, I offer up these few bits of advice

My Advice To You

  • Don’t dwell on your mistakes, treat them as transformative agents for change instead.
  • You should chase those dreams your mind is quickest to abandon or discredit;
  • Live your life happily and fully, being honest to yourself at all times, and in service of others when you’re able.
  • By doing so not only will you be happier for it, you never know how many lives you’ll touch, or people you’ll inspire.

 

An Army of One:

AN ARMY OF ONE:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Military Suicide
Too many soldiers have lost their lives to suicide.

 

At least 1 member of the United States Armed Forces will kill themselves per day through all of 2012. 

HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM:

For the last 4 yrs., the United States has lost more troops to suicide than to enemy combatants.  Despite the suicide rate growing at an alarming rate, the Pentagon has no decisive answer to why so many soldiers are taking their lives as of yet.  Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said it best, this issue has grown to epidemic proportions.

Funeral Suicide military
Funeral for a fallen soldier

Wars are ugly, they’re costly, and they’re brutal (especially modern ones).  Additionally, mass deception accompanies all wars, hiding its true motivations.  Couched in terms like “freedom” and “democracy” or the United States self espoused benevolent intentions thinly veil the fact it is economic expansion and exploitation in the interests of US corporations driving the vast war machine.  The United States has become war hungry having entered into at least 14 large scale military engagements since the conclusion of WWII.  These expansion efforts haven’t come cheaply.  Almost as devastating as the loss of life, which is enormous, is the damage done to both our soldiers and our societies psyche.

There is a serious statement being made when more soldiers die at their own hand, than that of the enemy, to the tune of 1 per day.  Not only has the rate been rising, its doubled within the last 5 years, the last 4 of which their total has been higher than those killed in service.  By some estimates, this past year saw an increase to 349 suicides from 2011’s total of 310.   These trends don’t just stand out; they serve as a glaring indictment; not just of the Pentagon, or the Military-Industrial Complex, but each of us for allowing this to happen.

Regardless of our feelings on the military, or warfare in general,  I feel that we can all appreciate the sacrifice being made by those serving in the armed forces, and that they deserve more than is being done for them.  It is our duty to make sure they are taken care of when they return; providing access to services such as counseling and job placement are essential to fulfilling this mandate.

 OUTBREAK OF AN EPIDEMIC

 INCUBATION:

Since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan in 2001, the rate of troops being treated for mental health related issues has skyrocketed up 65% with nearly 100,000 soldiers now diagnosed with at least one mental health ailment.  There are several explanations for this growth, the most prominent being the elimination of the universal draft after the conclusion of the unpopular Vietnam War.

With a growing workload placed upon an increasingly smaller standing military, many combat troops experience rapid deployments and extended separations from their families. In addition to the strain placed upon the “combat” troops, support troops also experience added operational stress associated with being asked to do more with less.

The effects of this are many and run deeply within society, however should come as no surprise, with one source so aptly pointing out;

We have chosen to ask and allow a few to shoulder voluntarily the burden once shared by all. We have chosen to permit our leaders to involve us in wars the majority of citizens do not support. These choices have consequences that may include the creation of a constellation of social, cultural, and political conditions which conspire to elevate the rate of suicide in the Army and Marine Corps

The fact that the burden of war is placed upon the shoulders of increasingly few hasn’t slowed the United States appetite for war any, having been at war for the past 11 yrs. straight, costing the lives of an en estimated upwards of 15,000 Afghan civilians and more than 6,000 service members by costsofwar.org’s count.

Many of those who survive to return home will bear invisible scars with them which have the potential to make it difficult for them to adjust to life following a deployment.

Relationship problems increase the likelihood of returning troops committing suicide, with single people being 24% less likely to commit suicide than those separated or divorced. According to one official in contact with veterans of both Iraq and Afghanistan, nearly 73% of the people they lose to suicide happened 6 months after they returned home.

The military’s archaic approach to mental health only further reinforces the already existing stigmas surrounding suicide, PTSD and depression.  Often, the commanding officer’s initial reaction to a soldier claiming or reporting combat stress related mental health related issues is to assume that they’re faking it. Not only was mental health not very high of a priority, the stance often taken regarding its associated issues was antagonistic in nature only further exacerbating the problem.

Many soldiers are afraid to talk about their feelings (regardless of their toxicity) within a military setting, leading many who suffer to do so silently.  The Department of Defense Suicide Event Report published annually, has the number of soldiers who don’t lead on about their intentions  as high as nearly 75%.  Those that did discuss them did so with loved ones outside of the military.

Often the motivations for not sharing the emotional turmoil they are experiencing, relate to job security and social standing within their peer group.  Many of the older soldiers have passed on faulty information that reporting mental health related issues is equivalent to committing “career suicide”, potentially resulting in the soldier being ousted from the military altogether. When soldiers finally do overcome those barriers of reluctance and fear, they are not met with a welcome sight.  The military’s mental health services are woefully lacking. Many get turned away altogether.  That was the case for Captain Morrison, whose tragic story a recent TIME article chronicled.  An ailing Morrison sought help 6 times in 3 days each time being turned away and told to return later;….later…later…Finally,  after the third day, rather than rescheduling, he took his own life.  I’m sure this is just one story of many highlighting service shortcomings;

military suicide one per day
An estimated one soldier per day will take his or her own life in 2012.

SPREAD:

The lack of services available to soldiers due to under-staffing is no breaking news to the Pentagon.  Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta confirmed, we are behind the curve in services for our troops, adding that “one barrier is that the military doesn’t have enough caregivers to address this shortfall”.  Whats interesting is the fact there has been plenty of fair warning for the Pentagon to fill that demand, like it does so many airstrikes.  With their head in the sand, military leadership has largely ignored PTSD, and the suicides it can potentially lead to.  Such was the case when in 2006 NPR went to Ft. Carson.

In 2006 NPR investigated how well troops returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan were able to access the mental health benefits promised to them by the military.  At Ft. Carson, they were able to witness the culture of the military surrounding mental health first hand.  Those they interviewed recalled regularly being denied permission to go to scheduled treatment sessions and punishment.  This was confirmed by the commanding officers; explaining that they felt they were “faking” it, and that kind of behavior took away from the objectives of the military for which they are responsible and wouldn’t be tolerated.

Many soldiers exhibiting signs of PTSD, were not referred to a mental health professional.  This is a recurring and widespread issue throughout the Armed Forces and is documented in a study.  The investigative arm of Congress, the GAO, took a look at the data from the screening process for PTSD, their findings are alarming.  Nearly 80% of the troops who showed potential symptoms of PTSD were ignored and not given a referral for a mental health follow-up.

As a result of NPR’s reporting, the military did take action; initiating court-martial proceedings against one of the soldiers participating in the story.  The negative media received from the story didn’t spur them into taking action, only retaliation.

This sums up the military’s approach to mental health fairly well, in a nutshell.

PTSD Military mental health data
PTSD rates in the military

 

SYMPTOMS:

Although suicide rates rose all year, July proved to be the worst month, ever, setting the record for suicides in one month at 38.  Complicating analysis is the fact less than half of military personnel who committed suicide had deployed for the Afghanistan or Iraq war and only 15% were involved in direct combat.  Military downsizing, operational stress, and poor civilian job prospects upon returning were among the stressors. Nor is the epidemic partial to those on ACTIVE duty.  It appears that the National Guard, Air Force, Navy, and Marines Reserves have also resorted to taking their own lives, although in smaller numbers.

Still full of surprises, the statistics also show veteran soldiers with a ranking of Sergeant or higher committing suicide more than junior enlisted men 54-46 respectively.  This statistic is not what you would expect, but then again nothing about these suicides has been easy to predict.

PRESCRIPTION:

Despite the Obama administration increasing funding for mental health/family counseling programs within the military, in his 2011 budget, the numbers continued to rise.  Underestimating the crisis severity, and failing to decisively target the culture within the military surrounding PTSD & mental health doomed the increased funding from the beginning.

What good is a budget when people are either too scared to use it, or their diagnosis is overlooked?

Following the record pace set this year, especially during the summer and the increased media coverage it received; The Pentagon was forced to act decisively to “get out in front” of this issue they’ve ignored for years, despite years of research.

Since the suicide rate has reached critical mass, the Pentagon and the White House have gone into red alert, launching into frenzied action.  Secretary of Defense Panetta issued a directive to all branches of the armed forces forbidding the punishment, hazing, or harassment of those seeking treatment for mental health related disorders.

All branches of the government have begun mandatory trainings on the topic, detailing signs to look for and rules to follow about approaching mental health.  Additionally, in further efforts to change the culture surrounding the issue;

President Obama has broken with a long-standing unspoken tradition of not recognizing the bodies of those killed by suicide among the dead and offering letters of condolence to loved ones.  A move that was not met without its fair share of controversy, especially during campaign season.

But will this be enough?

Suicide Statistics
Suicide Statistics

REMISSION?

All of these are steps in the right direction, but the Pentagon needs to take a more proactive approach to mental health treatment if they want to see any significant gains.  Treatment needs to be encouraged and not merely allowed, for all troops, not just those who see action.  Doing so would normalize this healthy coping mechanism over time, erasing any stigma attached.

Not surprisingly, in all the research I did, not a single mention did I hear made of the best method of combatting this issue.

We could stop going to war; Period. Scale back or outright end our global military engagements.

If the United States can’t afford the programs, or the facilities to treat its Vets for mental disorders, or if it is unwilling or unable to give those services promised when they signed the contract; then the United States has no business making war in the first place.

No new war fought, no new tank built, or bomb dropped, until we’ve made serious progress in this area and other areas here at home.

It is up to us to make sure this issue receives the proper attention, and that our nation fulfills it’s obligation to current soldiers and veterans, seeing this problem solved  This is important to me because I, like everyone else, have loved ones who serve.  Because I refuse to turn a blind eye, living blissfully ignorant to this growing problem.

With the rising Middle-East tensions, let us remember that we as a nation must do better by these men and women who have sacrificed so much through their service.  Let us make sure that on any given night an estimated  64,000 veterans do not go without food, or shelter; sinking deeper into cycles of substance abuse, despair and addiction leading to the staggering statistic that an estimated 14 veterans commit suicide each and every day (The V.A isn’t able to keep as accurate statistics as the military is for those still actively serving in the armed forces). Data surrounding PTSD treatment shows minimal recovery rates, meaning that many soldiers who develop PTSD will live with it for the rest of their lives.

Let us do whatever is necessary to improve the conditions of those soldiers we already have before we rush into war.

More importantly, lets make sure that we are never again manipulated into a war that’s not in our interests and let’s do it for our veterans; past, present and future, now that we know what the true cost is.  For all you out there who “support our troops”, Michael Moore said it best in his Op-Ed “the only way you can honestly say you support the troops is to work night and day to get them out of these hell holes they’ve been sent to.”

They deserve better; We deserve better.

Resources:

An Army report on suicide – Comprehensive Soldier Fitness – U.S. …

Training to Administer DoD Deployment Mental Health Assessments

The War Within – RAND Corporation

Reframing Suicide in the Military – US Army War College

Suicide and the United States Army: – Dana Foundation

Suicide Awareness Pamphlet for Leaders – MyArmyBenefits – U.S. …

Department of Defense Suicide Event Report (DoDSER) | t2health

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Im a Lover, Not a Fighter:

Isn’t it crazy how these old sayings still hold so true today, even in a modern world far different from what their creators could have possibly imagined. I have found this quote to be true on so many levels.  It is always the things you need most that you are the most reluctant to do, and applies equally well across almost all areas of your life.
  •  Relationships;  it is always the person you care the most about or have the deepest feelings for that can hurt you most. When you really care about somebody all your feelings and emotions intensify (even the bad ones).  Personally, I know that my girlfriend and I have had some doozies, but thats only because we both really care.
  • Fitness;  When I wasn’t basically a cripple, and could use my left arm without pain, I went to the gym regularly to stay in good health.  As I became more serious about my workout routines I noticed that I regularly found cause to avoid my leg day when lifting and cardio in general.  We enjoy doing the exercises that we’re good at because they make us feel good about ourselves, but we can’t truly push ourselves unless we make time for the ones that leave us burnin the next day.
  • Learning;  Personally, I effin hate sucking at something.  Like seriously, lightweight hardcore no joke major paralysing phobia of mine. This fear is what kept me from doing many things in my life until the time I finally did.  In each instance after doing it, I thought back to myself…..”What the fuck was I waiting for?”.  The things we avoid learning about most are probably the areas we are most lacking in understanding.
  • Putting Yourself Out There; I know I’m not alone on this one, but public speaking is a huge fear of mine, as is rejection. Starting this blog was a major step for me (and thank you all for being a part of it)!  This always surprises friends of mine because I am usually very outgoing and make friends easily; I am also very loud and usually end up being the life of the party through no intentions of my own.  To that all I can say is; I’m a complex guy what can I say [shrug] .
  • Applying Yourself;  Before you even try to say it; I know, I know, I know!  Its basically an extension of the last one.  That being said, I feel like it is one that I have struggled with for a long time.  I habitually dont push myself enough future wise.  I am (or was?) at a job I’ve had since I was 16.  I’m good at it, really good, like insanely good, but when I really think about it, I can’t deny the fact I know I am not only am capable of much more, but it should have happened a long time ago.  It is a job that has always been easy for me, even when switching between departments or stores, almost too easy, effortless in a way.  Because it is insanely easy for me I have always been able to come in after partying too hard, studying all night for a final, half asleep, half awake, you name it; the second I punched the time clock my brain was on hibernate mode.  Being completely serious, I think I use maybe 10% of my brain when I’m there; I may as well be asleep.  No matter how many times I told myself, or everyone else for that matter, “that was it”, or “I’ve had it”, or “I’m quitting”; I always stayed.  It was the fear of rejection, also the ever present fear of “suck”, that kept me from even applying at all in many cases.  You can’t get rejected if you never give it a shot right?  I can’t help thinking of the following poem when that thought crosses my mind because it is one of my favorites;

Our Greatest FearMarianne Williamson

it is our light not our darkness that most frightens us

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other

people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of
God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

—Marianne Williamson

I know I’m just barely scratching the surface on these & really the possibilities are endless, BUT; I don’t got all day and neither do you.  When looking at each of these, I realize that the temporary discomfort and anxiety is nothing compared to the long term rewards they each have given me.
On the flip side;  All the things that I do or have done without thought or concern have either given me nothing or gotten me in trouble.  It is always easy to make a negative choice, almost becoming compulsive once you’ve done it once or twice.  It is even easier to then turn around and deny any sort of responsibility or concern explaining everything away as ignorance, unintentional, or outright false.  But when its all said and done, it gets you nowhere, makes you miserable and takes up way more energy than you realize.  I personally have been guilty of looking back at my life and blaming others for my situation, building up resentment and even hate as a result (as are you I’m sure).  It is far more difficult to look back and forgive those who have wronged you, and take responsibility and control for your actions; past, present, and future.
And now its your turn!  I’d like to hear from you; Am I off base or more on point? Is your list similar to mine? Different? If so, how?  Did I leave anything off?  Please, share any personal experiences or examples you may have relating to this, I’m just generally curious if we are of the same mind, and I’m looking forward to seeing what you have to say!

This Takes Some Getting Used To

I don’t think that I have ever felt so worthless as I do now. I generally feel like a disgrace to humanity. This being off work is starting to seriously eat at me. I’ve began meaningful relationships with the spiders in my apartment, only to fatally stab them in the back in a fit of rage (more like a cleaning frenzy, but who’s counting?), re-enacting one of the daytime “programs”.  Ohhh the programs, you mustn’t forget the programs.  You know, the ones you love to hate and hate to love, like Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie frenemies to the bitter end.  A fatally depraved showing of one upmanship.
 You know it’s bad
when you in all seriousness refer to your apartment as the Batcave.

When bathing or getting dressed reaches that uncomfortable medium, somewhere in limbo between noteworthy event, and outright spectator sport.  Each cycle of lather rinse repeat is worthy of noting on your personal calendar or worse yet

SCRAPBOOK.—– Let’s CELEBRATE, ARRRRRIIIIBBBBA!!!

Im in deep with a bookie,

I recently took up a bet with myself.  A bet born the bastard child of boredom and depression, to see how long I could go without bathing. I topped out at three days or so, and I swear I could have gone more if it weren’t for the confounded humidity. It was all over as soon as I could smell my own balls when I sat down on the couch.

GAME OVER:

Apparently Even I Have to Draw the Line Somewhere. I can no longer say with conviction that my depravity holds no bounds.

to be continued…

Welcome to My House of Mirrors: A Smashing Good Time!

I can’t deny it any longer.  There is most certainly something wrong with me.  There must be.  That is the only explanation for everything.  There is absolutely nothing “right” about the way I feel, and act, or see myself.  Nothing normal with most times not feeling comfortable in your own skin, a stranger to yourself, like looking upon an unflattering reflection from a fun house mirror.  Allowing distortion to become your reality.  Believing yourself undeserving personal triumphs and acclaim irrespective of the hard work & time spent.  What few accomplishments I do have, I paid for.  The price-tag was not minutes, days, or years but in blood, sweat and tears.  Nothing in my life, and I mean nothing has come easily or cost cheap.  What lessons I have learned thus far on my journey have been hard-fought, even ill gained….Pyrhic victories….I wouldn’t wish on anyone else.  But I respect and appreciate the outlook and wisdom gained, refusing to give it up, even if that option existed in anything but children’s tales., or video games in the modern age.

 [RESET]

 better luck next time,

next life,

reset, restart, level up, press continue…..

Internally I know I am unfair to myself.  I’ve been aware of this for some time…..Aware and conscious but not awake…like a lucid dream I’m unable to awake from.

More like a nightmare, all I can think is,

they lied,

cuz the truth has not set me free.  I feel more bound, constrained by this guilty knowledge, that I not only can do more, but I should do more.    Despite feeling that I have reached my breaking point, now ready to heed my personal “call to action”,  the real action aspect of it still proves problematic.  Where do you start, when the system feels broken?  What can you do to find your path in the world?  How will I know that I’ve made the right choice?  As I struggle to find answers to these questions I am walking in place, frozen by fear….fear of what?  fear of failure?  fear of pain? or fear of success? and fear of what I may find within the depths of myself if forced in that direction?   Fear that I will have to pay up for a bet made against myself long ago that I have neither the ability or the justification to pay.

Made prisoner through my self-awareness, unable to return to my carefree and ignorant bliss. Aware of the fact that there are some things that eventually,

you just have to let go of,

The Incredible Hulk (2008 video game)
The Incredible Hulk (2008 video game) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I cling for a handle with every ounce of strength left in my tired, spent fingers despite their lack of feeling….Just reflexive knee jerk reactions running, synapses firing on pure instinct and latent memories, acting as they think they should….survival mode ….Fighting it tooth and nail….    At times, I don’t even recognize myself, perhaps displeased with the contour of a particular mirror, creating an unpleasant vision.  Either that or I legitimately scare myself, how quickly it can all change.  Like Bruce Banner into the Incredible Hulk, a switch gets flipped and all traces of my peaceful demeanor fades away like a bad paint job.  I have no love for the person I’m left with when it happens….No love for scaring or hurting people, especially those closest to me, when I wouldn’t hurt a fly.  Wishing I could rid myself of HIM, and carry on, all Jekyll and no Hyde.  That is the moment when you know its bad, when you can’t even recognize yourself.  When your image has become so distorted you couldn’t pick yourself out of a line-up.  Where did he go?  That idealistic version of myself,

Such infectious optimism,

childlike passion for life!

but so naive,  That kid is gone forever,

The Incredible Hulk (TV series)

Lost amidst the pain of depression, an ache from deep within, amplified by the emptiness felt inside.

Contents lost in my personal battle with self-esteem and addiction fought as a coming of age…….

debris strewn across my rent, tattered soul….Something of a sheltered youth, I made a misguided choice without giving it much thought.  I did it in search of acceptance, having just come through a very trying and lonely time in my life.  Uprooting in the middle of a school year, leaving the world  I knew and the people who populated it behind.  Despite not giving it my full attention, I still knew deep down that it was wrong, I shouldn’t do it.  A fact that I never forgot, reminding myself of it endlessly, every time I did it only further worsening my dilemma.  At times I feel that I traded my dignity for “friends”…  making the fatal mistake of assuming they were ones worth keeping in my life.  Too new to the world to have the wisdom necessary to tell important from filler… Unknown to me , this decision would proved to more expensive than anyone could ever believe, rife with un-foreseen cost and hidden fees.  This moment of weakness’ span would quietly stretch across entire  years of my life until it pervaded my very sense of being.  Allowing this to happen is something I’m yet to forgive of myself and only myself… Such fools we were, emulating some fabricated vision of cool.  An immature, reckless philosophy on life, centered around living fast and dying young.  I guess it seems easier when you havent had the time or opportunity to fall flat on your face & make an honest mistake.  Easier to ride the pine and think about what could have been than it is to hit the game winning shot.

It is unfortunate to have had to make such an immense decision so young. Handicapped by an understanding of the world constrained by my age.  I was still unaware how wide the spectrum of human behavior is…or how low some are willing to go.   My eyes still half-opened enough that I still believed everyone was basically good, things functioned as they should.  I wish I was a positive person again, or knew how to.  I wish that I knew how to even like myself again.  Alas, if that is a possibility it is not one that I am familiar with.  Google street view has yet to update that map, the one of myself…i heard its due out sometime after they finish with the one of the Amazon River.  Until that time, I’m left bushwhacking it, far from beaten path, on the road less travelled.  Making tentative swipes at the unknown when the situation calls for reckless abandon and wanton hacking away.

I wish I could pinpoint it…..the moment I lost my mojo, the good vibes, call it karma if you will.  Regardless of title, for the last few years I’ve been awkwardly moving my body.  An uncontrolled epileptic spasmodic jerking, like Elaine from Seinfeld.  Clearly unable to keep the rhythm, silently hoping, to one day do like Stella….

Get my groove back….

Once again moving in tune to the beat in my head.

full synchronization……body…mind….spirit….

all kept inline with a common purpose and underlying goal.

Judging by my recent actions, I wont hold my breath… this reality can only exist far in the future, if its reality at all…  For the moment, I would rather sabotage myself than give it a shot, and potentially fail.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are younot to be? …Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory … that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”  -Marianne Williamson

For the moment I must settle for the understanding that any action is better than inaction.  Unless you make a choice, take a stand, and potentially make a “mistake” you are unable to truly discover yourself.  Anything other than that isn’t fair to yourself… because its hardly living at all.