Tag Archives: depression

Dr. Feelgood

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We called it the doctor

not knowing it would prove

to be the prescription for your demise.

Gentle violence, smoldering anger

tearing into your soul, shattering all hope.

Yet another victim

of wicked choices made in youth.

You more than paid the price David.

Stoic solitude

wisdom gained from the streets.

Imperfect prophet,

not a saint but no devil either.

Who can know your final thoughts

mysteries taken to a watery grave.

Swan dive into oblivion, fade to black.

There were moments

where salvation seemed possible

but in the end

the bony hand of death pulled you

beneath the surface.

Rest in Peace my friend.

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Confidence to Spare (change)

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Image courtesy of BrainyQuote.com

When I am feeling a bit out of sorts about life I need a sense of perspective. There is much to be thankful for in life but occasionally we all need a reminder about what truly matters and where we all fit into the greater scheme of things. My self worth has taken a few beatings of late and it is easy to lose confidence.

Confidence has never been a strong suit for me. This, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Saying this because at times in my life I have put up a facade that fooled many into believing that I had my shit together and that I was confident, if not cocky. People have been drawn to me at times and on the surface I seem to be fine. People like me.

Lies, all lies I tell you. Over the past year therapy uncorked the bottle that contained my true emotions and the stench that has bubbled out is a true testament to the lack of confidence that I have lived with.

The human mind plays terrible tricks at times. Fooling us into believing that we have no ability, when we are able. Or that we are unlovable when we are in fact loved.

Confidence falls prey to these cognitive slights of hand as well and if you were never given confidence from a young age it can be a hard belief to instill later on.

One method I am using to combat this tendency of mine to lack confidence is a process called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT. This is the act of logging your negative thoughts and emotions using a process called a thought record.

After your negative thoughts are recorded, the process calls for going back and examining them. Providing facts to support and refute. You start to realize how much your thinking can become skewed and how far from truth that perceptions can stray.

Another method I use to combat my lack of confidence is to volunteer as well as to give to the less fortunate. This works for me because I get that crucial perspective about how much I have going for me.

Even when I feel inadequate I am not only worthy but able to effect positivity in others through my actions.

As an example, the other day I was getting some vegetables at the produce market down the block. As I was walking home with my bag full of food a homeless woman with a worn paper cup asked if I could spare some change. I knew I had some coins from the change from my purchases so I stopped and started digging them out.

During this time, she mentioned that she was begging in order that she could raise a few dollars for something that she needed. I stopped and listened to her and empathized with her. Telling her I understood that times are tough and then I gave her the money she needed which was not a big deal.

What happened next was, however. She looked at me with surprise at my gift to her and smiled wide. She said:

“I like you, you are good. Can I give you a hug?”

And hug we did. It was a lovely exchange and I got the feeling she got as much from the human touch and interaction with me as she did the money that I gave her.Her spirits were uplifted and so were mine. Immediately I felt better about myself and about my place in the world.

That homeless woman and her hug not only gave me confidence in myself, it let me know that I had confidence to spare.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Power Of A Smile

There is much that I don’t know but I do know about the power of a smile. My journey for truth and balance in life has taken many twists and turns. Struggles often outnumber achievements over the past few years. Bouts of depression and periods social isolation have taken their toll and the results have bubbled up to the surface of my psyche. My forays down the rabbit hole have led to some strange days and strains on my relationships. Some really tough lessons have been learned, and some really difficult experiences have been my life coach.

Honestly I am still a very flawed individual and at times it is difficult for me to love myself enough to overcome some of my hang ups. The identified problem is that I know that my self worth issues are holding me back from even greater progression as an person and as a soul. My challenge is to find effective ways to mitigate and lessen my tendency to be self destructive.

That is not to say that I am not actively working on my personal development, because I am. Between individual therapy sessions, group classes in behavioral therapy, weekly volunteer efforts, a renewed exercise regimen and a recently acquired part time job with a not for profit organization, I have been making progress in overcoming some of my bad habits and recurring self destructive tendencies.

Sometimes however the simplest therapy is often times the most effective. To over think can be to cloud the truth behind layers of unnecessary complexity. One of the greatest and quickest ways that I am able to uplift not only myself and also those around me to greet the world with a smile.

You would be amazed at how well this works if you don’t do this already. All that you need to do is to make eye contact with people and once you have that connection all you need to do is to smile. A nice wave and “hi there” or “hello” is great as well although it is not necessary if your smile comes from your heart.

You see, to smile is not enough in my opinion. If you want to make your smile impacting you need to feel love for the person that you are smiling at. Even if they are a complete stranger you can feel love for them. This is the same love that you can feel for a beautiful sunset, or for a warm evening breeze, or for the wafting smell of barbeque. The love I am talking about is just a simple love of what is. A love of the fact that we exist. The love of the wonder and beauty of the universe.

One of the greatest things about this simple exercise is the immediate feedback you receive. The reaction that refracts back to you from the individual that you greet with your love is instant and usually revealing and gratifying. Often times I get the distinct impression that I have made the day of that person by letting them realize that they are not alone in the world. They are part of a community of people and that they are loved and noticed. They are valued for existing.

The “Smile Game”

This is powerful medicine for both parties. For me, this feedback uplifts my spirit and soul. It puts me in a great frame of mind and encourages me to continue to engage and interact with people on a spiritual level. The great thing about this exercise (I prefer to call it “the smile game”) is how you can play it at any time. For example my favorite time to play the smile game is when I am out for a run in my neighborhood.

As I am running I invariably run into folks such as the garbage collectors, or the postman, or the UPS driver that has his route in my area. These folks get a smile and a wave from me and now they smile and wave back as well. They know me and I know them now. Random strangers walking children in strollers, or the elderly man out for a walk that I always seem to see on a certain street have become less than complete strangers because we have connected and are now aware of each other.

My sense of community and my sense of the rhythms of the neighborhood have increased. My connection with those around me has grown and my sense of isolation has diminished. Spiritually the smile game creates an immediate mood enhancement since it is hard to be unhappy if you feel love for your fellow man.

The flip side to this is that when you are feeling down the tendency is to keep your head down and maintain the isolation. Some days I just don’t feel much like playing the smile game. Those are the EXACT days that I get the most benefit from forcing myself to play. If you can flip the switch and make yourself get past your own sadness and realize how great it feels to just love a stranger unconditionally and give them a smile from your heart then your own mood will lift as well and you are well on your way to turning your day around for the better.

In conclusion, please understand that I have not conquered my demons and am not some enlightened man. My flaws are still very much a part of who I am. That does not mean that I don’t have insights and that there is not a pure expression of love inside of me (as there is in everybody). The more that you can tap into that love the happier that you can become and the greater this vibration can spread to others in your world.

Try playing the smile game the next time you are feeling a bit down and watch the magic happen for you and for those around you. It is the power of a smile!

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As a postscript I wanted to mention that as of last week I had gained over 50 followers to this blog. While some of you big accounts probably get that many followers per week, this is a big deal to me and I am proud of the achievement. More importantly, I am heartened by the support and appreciate all of those who read my words, like my posts and who take the time to comment and interact with me.

A hearty THANK YOU to all of you fine folks and know that I am smiling at each and every one of you.

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Tsunami

Tsunami

A stranger in familiar environs

words only make things worse.

Causing hurt and misunderstanding,

leaving in their wake pain and destruction

as the tides recede.

 

Stench of death, rotting bodies.

Things will never be as they were.

 

A baby cries, looking for mother.

Nothing can bring her back.

Life is forever changed.

 

Irreparable, irreconcilable. 

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Retweet

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I did the unthinkable the other day. I deactivated my Twitter account.

Truth be told, I had been spending far too much time on something with far too little redeeming value to my life. It was getting me into trouble in my marriage and it was fucking my head up too. Twitter gives me a 30 day grace period to change my mind before I lose my account permanently and I will use the time to reflect on things and decide if I want to log back in and reclaim my online identity again or let it all just fade into the electronic ether.

Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook can be very addicting in a strange way, especially if like me, you are using them to try to fill an empty hole in your life. What started as a way to promote this blog (don’t worry, I no longer hold any aspirations of this amounting to anything other than my incoherent ramblings) Twitter became something else to me. An identity, a place to feel less lonely, to post my thoughts in bite sized 140 character segments.

For a while it felt good, and my following grew. I became emboldened and my ego swelled with my follower count. I learned how and how not to play the Twitter game. Yes, that’s right, just like everywhere in life there are codes of conduct and rules to the road. If you play nice in the sandbox you gain stature and wield more power in the Twittersphere. If you go your own direction you get smacked and lose your sheen.

Operant Conditioning is alive and well on Twitter in the form of “favs” and “retweets”. Favs are when somebody likes what you tweeted and gives you a little gold star. Retweets are when they actually take your tweet and put it on their timeline, thus exposing their followers to your words and this can gain you additional followers from outside your immediate circle. Retweets can be powerful if gaining follows is your game. You learn early on as a Twitter guppy that one of the quickest ways to get a larger account to notice you and possibly follow you back is to retweet their material.

The point of this post is not really to go into the intricate details of Twitter etiquette however but to explore what meaning it held to me and why I spent so much time doing it eventually.  I have been battling demons over the past few years and depression crept into my life and took hold of me. I felt empty at times, lonely often, and I used Twitter to try to fill a void. It failed miserably.

Others with a less compulsive personality and with less addictive tendencies find Twitter to be an entertaining diversion and there are many talented and amazing twerps out there. I call them Twitterati and I followed many of them, and over time have come to think highly of their intellect and mastery of the format. At times I longed to be considered in their class and to be put in the upper echelon of Twitter users.

Unfortunately I don’t have the mental makeup to deal with what that entails. It takes a certain type of individual to play top class Twitter. I am far too frail, flawed, and thin skinned to be a Twitterati. That is not to say that I sucked at the game, I was decent. I had fans, followers. I brought a certain flair to my posts and was a bit different than some. Over time my style changed a bit but I was not the worst or the best. I was decent.

But what price did I pay for my mere mediocrity? After all, spending hours at something you are not paid for when you are unemployed is not the best idea. It certainly did not help my marriage, or my self image, or my mental state. Spending hours in a virtual reality is not a great idea if you are suffering from depression. I fully realize this. That does not mean that it is easy to pull the plug. Far from it. There is a tug from Twitter that is maddening and even after only mere days I find myself longing for the attention, to bathe myself in the stars and the retweets and the ego of it all.

That Twitter has that effect on me makes me even more cautious about going back. There is something not right here. Before I can even consider logging back in I need to think long and hard about my reasons. After all, if you are a recovering heroin addict, do you just casually take another pop to the vein because it feels good?

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