Wednesday, July 25, 2018

I Stopped Fighting My Mental Illnesses.

 To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven.
A time of love, a time of hate.
A time of war, a time of peace.
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing.
              From the song: Turn Turn Turn
                                        By Pete Seeger

Most of my life, as long as I can remember Mental Illness has wreaked havoc on my life. Depression, Anxiety, Emotion Regulation, Mood stabilization issues, Black and White Thinking, Self Medication, Rage. All this led to an inferior quality of life, broken relationships and a trail of human wreckage that spilled back decades. In the late 00’s after another “breakdown” and Suicide attempt, I got, as they say, “sick and tired of being sick and tired." I was ready to do whatever it took to get better. I decided I was going to fight this Mental Illness until I defeated it leaving me victorious over it. So with determination, I slowly and deliberately trudged my way slowly out of despair. I gained the skills and tools to wage my war on the illness and symptoms. I started changing my mind and my values creating space for growth and change. My symptoms still raged at me. But I was getting better, stronger, I was learning to turn back my symptoms and resist my difficult feelings and emotions but I was still not winning my war, the fight raged on. I labeled my symptoms demons and monsters. I visualized them with skull faces, and I hated them. I pushed my body and my mind. I endured the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings the “demons” conjured in my head until I bearly budged a centimeter when they would try to claw at me and ruin me. I fought hard….
 A fight is a violent confrontation or struggle. It is synonymous with: brawl, fracas, melee, rumpus, skirmish, struggle, scuffle, altercation, clash, disturbance. You get the point.  A struggle is constant and ongoing. After time though I was in many cases better than I can ever remember being when it came to my mental health. I was happy, without waiting for the next breakdown. But I did break down again. And again. It was different now though. I would fight, until  I would get so weary that I would become exhausted. Fighting every day, all day, eventually, I would be fatigue and be overtaken by the effort of my daily struggles until I fell.
I couldn't figure out why I wasn't winning. I was metaphorically kicking my symptoms ass. I was diligent. I pushed back. I would get so tired of having to fight... It again became almost more than I could bear. Then I would "break down."  I was bewildered. I was winning the fight of the day to day battles, but it felt like I was loosing in the more protracted overarching war.
I thought about it. I thought hard about it. Did I need better tactics or more allies to win this war against the demons? Did I need to figure out how to amass more energy to spend in my struggle? Nothing gave me confidence or made me feel like an end was in sight to the campaign I was waging against my Mental Illness. Then slowly it dawned on me. The problem wasn't how I was going to win the fight. The problem was the fight itself. I was in an unsustainable battle with an unbeatable foe.

In my path to better Health and healing, I had learned a few facts about my illness and symptoms.  I am not like other people. I don't have the luxury of entertaining certain things in my life and still have an experience worth living. Extremes, judgment, prolonged anger,  lack of acceptance of my life as it is. I don't get those things in my life if I want a healthy experience. Period.  I don't get to have that. So why did I think that this one thing in my life could be different? This fight this war with my Illness. My Illness, I said it like it was separate from me. That is was an outside entity. I said it as if it wasn't me..... But It was me. My illness is just an aspect of who I am. A small part of the many elements that combine to complete me. How could I sustain or even win a war against my self? Where is the balance? How is that accepting of my life as it is?
I stopped fighting my mental illness. I quit, just like that. I opened my mind and my heart and my life. I made room for my symptoms, and I accepted them. I let them be a part of who and how I am. I was finally honest about my life and my lot in it. Accepting my illness doesn't mean I let my symptoms run roughshod over the good things in my life. It doesn't say that the unwanted thoughts or challenging feelings get to run free across the landscape of my life. But it does mean that I am no longer weary and tired day in and day out from waging wars against my self.
The war is over. I surrendered. This change has made the difference in my health and my life.
Accept who you are and your Illness and see if you can't find peace with it. It made the difference in my life.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Self love : From one extream to another.

Balance is good, because one extreme or the other leads to misery, and I've spent a lot of my life at one of those extremes. 
-Trent Reznor



Is loving yourself a thing? I mean really. I get the millennial need for hyperbolic sentiment and overstated importance. But loving yourself? The definition of Self-Love is Narcissism. It really is. I love my Mom. I love my sons and my partner. I love the cats that scamper around the apartment. I love my sisters and my friend Craig. I even love Pizza. But the Idea of loving myself, well that's just weird. I read Mental Health bloggers and YouTubers and Instagram accounts constantly talking Self-Love or love yourself. It creeps me out. Don't get shit twisted I don't expect to change any one's mind with this. If you are in the self love cult it's pretty hard to backpedal from something you have been preaching wholesale.
I know that you may have had challenges in the past reconciling your feelings about yourself and your value. If you're at all like me you have detested everything about yourself. Or you took care of everyone but yourself or you had/have good old-fashioned low self-esteem. I am very well acquainted with all of those feelings.
I have a problem maintaining middle ground. Extremes are easy. I'm Bipolar for Fucks sake. That is pretty self explanatory. I have Borderline Personality Disorder. Which is Black and White thinking. So as I said very little middle ground for me if left unattended. The middle ground is however where most of the quality in my life lies. It's in the balance. Right there in the middle.
So as damaging for me as hating myself can be the swing to the opposite side of the same coin loving myself is just as destructive. Both are extremes. Extremes leave zero room for growth compromise or balance.
It's just like the person who is always looking in the mirror and at their body and hating on their looks and weight and hair. If that person flips that around and are always looking in the mirror and at their bodies and gushing about their Beauty and the perfection of their flesh. That person still has the same problem. It's not the hate or the Narcissism. It is the preoccupation with self. It is the mirror they keep looking in. You don't drowned a man who has caught fire you remove the  flame. You don't dry a person's clothes by placing them on a pyre you put warmth near them to let them dry. I know life isn't that cut and dry. But the premises is sound. I think it also makes my basic point.
A healthy sense of Self Worth. Self esteem, Self respect, dignity, self regard, self assurance, confidence. None of those words can be replaced by conceit, they are not synonyms . They just don't mean the same thing. Big Headed conceited, self centered, vain. These words can be replaced with self love and still mean the same exact thing.
I don't buy that I can't love others if I don't love myself. I have searched for some authoritative study that says that this popular Idea is true. I couldn't find one. Not a single study that backs this seemingly plausible statement. I personally do not love myself. I just don’t . I am however completely capable of loving others. I think we often just accept things that sound good to our ears and take them for gospel even though there only church.
Modern Pop  Psychologist, have all perpetuated the Self-love concept and movement. So the current batch of Self-Lovers come by it honestly. But for me (and I'll bet I am not alone) Love is something that flows out from me for others,  and in to me from others. It is not something I have for myself. When I express love it is intense and it is fierce and it is for things outside of me. For myself I have respect, a healthy sense of Self-Worth and dignity. So there is no confusion to others or myself . Maybe you need to love yourself. If you do you I totally respect that and want you to Self-Love you're till you're blue in the face. I however I think words are important and have power and having a healthy sense of self worth will always be a healthier mindset than Loving yourself.

.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Running

When I am out running* and I see another runner.
I don't know how far they have run, or how far they have yet to go.
I don't know if they are experienced, or if they are a novice.
I don't know if they are running for distance, or speed.
I don't know if their effort is easy and manageable, or if they are struggling and the run is taking everything they got.
I don't know why they run.
So I just accept that they are also out running just like me.
That I should just cheer them on and wish them the best without judgement, as I myself keep plugging along with my run.


*Running is a metaphor for life.

Mythoughtsracing.com 5/18/18

Monday, July 2, 2018

The Mask

The Mask




That mask you wear. The lie on your face.
The one that you think protects you. The one you think keeps you safe.  That mask is poison.
That mask is the tool you use to lie to your family and friends.
That mask you use to hide the true you, and that's the problem.
You see what you think is helping keep the real you safe actually hides the real you from the light. It hides the real you from the truth. So the real you shrivels in the dark a wades in lies. The real you starts to buy the lie that the mask you wear is good and the real you needs to be hidden.
Until the real you that has been forced behind the mask so often for so long no longer feels valuable to you.
The mask is poison.
The real you needs light to grow.
The real you need light to heal.
The real you is authentic there for beautiful.
So I ask you. I beg you. Take the mask and break it. Throw it away and be you.
Show you. Let the real you feel the light on your face.
That mask you wear. Is killing you.

mythoughtsracing.com 5/25/18

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A recent Letter

I think everyone should get letters like this!


Dear Elliott,
I wanted to recognize the hard work you have been doing recently.  I know that what may seem like a simple task for most can be very challenging for you. I know You have been through times in your life that pressed you so hard you only thought suicide would give you relief.  I know that you used to dread participating in the human experience. You cursed your body mind and soul.
Now I see a new light in your face. You are fundamentally the same man, yet you smile now because you're happy not because you’re hiding.  Where you once looked at everything as a burden that had to be endured. Now you approach life as the amazing journey that is a reward in itself to live. Hope has replaced hopelessness. Courage has risen from the fear. The struggle has been met with determination. You have transformed the entire world the hidden and the seen. Congratulations!
I want to remind you that you got to where you are because you worked hard. You accepted your life as it is. You let go of the things you wish you had and you embrace what and how you are. You embraced the idea that you would never have an easy life but you could have a rewarding, even happy life. All this in essence set you free.
In parting, I want you to keep in mind that you will fall. You will fail. You will lose your temper. You might even lose your shit and make a royal mess of things. If this happens brush yourself off. Stand up and go back to doing what you know is effective. Learn what you can from your setbacks, but don’t beat yourself up. Just rest, regroup and drive on. I have all the faith in the world that you can continue to have the fulfilling life you have worked to cultivate for yourself. Thank you for all you have done for me.
Always forward,

Elliott Smith

Monday, September 4, 2017

I want to change but I don't know where to start? or What I learned from the Winter Warlock

Every journey starts with a stop at the convenience store for snacks. -Elliott C Smith


How does one get started? I don't care what it is. Changing your life. Starting a new routine. Whatever. I don't care what it is. How do we stop thinking and planning, and Start doing?
Well as a 5 year old I was shown the secret for starting anything for the first time. It is wise and it has served me well over and over and over. You may laugh but this is the secret to getting shit done. Simple but true. Watch it, then try it!






Always forward!
Elliott Smith 9/4/2017

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Goals, Goals, Goals!

Any person who knows where he’s going and what he’s doing is a success.
-Earl Nightengale





Contrary to popular belief, you can't just announce something about yourself create a Facebook page claiming the same thing and it's suddenly true. For years, I refused to make goals. For years, I was never positive if I was successful. People will misinform you and say “success means different things to different people”. That is not true. Success means “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose”. People have different goals. So people have different aims. But success is basically just doing what you set out to do. So what are your goals? They don't have to be huge, life transforming feats. It might just be getting out of bed or talking to a stranger. It could also be world domination or build the biggest Lego tower ever made. Your life, your goals. If you could give 0 fucks if you are successful (notice I didn't say that the world thinks you're successful) don't set goals.  Remember just because you say you don't give a fuck doesn't mean you don't give a fuck. We all want to feel some level of success in our lives. But by definition to do that you have to have goals.
Not sure how to set a goal?
  1. Start simple. Just because a goal is obtainable doesn't make it any less of a goal. This is about you, not others.
  2. Write them down somewhere and share them with others. Accountability is a great way to keep your eyes on the prize.
  3. Once you reach the goal, recognize the accomplishment. Make a new goal and move on.
  4. If at first, you don't succeed, try again! Don’t dwell on the setback, just keep reaching.
  5. Be positive. Believe in yourself!
  6. Start today!
If you want to exact change or improve your life use goals to get there.

Always Forward!

Elliott 9/2/2017

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

My Story

My Story was first shared on the Worth Living blog at worthliving.co

Drugs and Mental Illness go together like infants and loaded firearms!

Drugs are a waste of time. They destroy your memory and your self-respect and everything that goes along with your self-esteem. They're no good at all. -Kurt Cobain


I am not talking about medicines prescribed by a medical or mental health professional to treat or reduce physical or mental health symptoms. I am talking about Alcohol and Street Drugs. Don't get it twisted!

Okay, I am not a Doctor or a scientist. I am an experienced and well-traveled user of mood altering substances. You know Drugs! I am from the “Just Say No” generation. Nancy Reagan told me over and over all through my preteens and teens that saying no is the answer. PSA’s by McGruff the Crime Dog let me know that users were losers and losers were users almost every time I turned the TV on.



That was not a deterrent in the least. In fact, it probably fueled the specific flavor of rebellion that I cultivated for myself in my teens. You know fuck Nancy Reagan don't tell me what to do. I am not saying it was the best course of action. Just the course of action I took, since 1984 I have used (in no particular order)
Alcohol
Marijuana
Mushrooms
LSD
Mescaline
Valium
White Crosses
Cocaine
Oxycontin
Oxycodone
Ecstasy
Hash
Crank
Percocet
Codeine
Crack
Barbiturate
Heroine
And some shit this guy had at a party, and he gave me some!
(I never used needles. It never seemed necessary.)


The reaction and focus for years was, Oh he's a drug addict we will get him clean, and he will be fine so for a point in my life, I was an active and focused Member of AA I saw the Big Book of AA for what it was a textbook for getting and staying sober. A proven and tested method that worked for alcoholics and addicts. It didn't promise paradise it just offered relief from a hopeless state of mind and body. And for a time it did. But even with the rigorous action of the 12 steps (yes they are actions not words on a wall) I still had these Demons. The AA big book actually covers this. It clearly states that there are those we cannot help. It basically says that some people need a doctor's help for Mental Illness and that it isn't addiction at all (read the book. It's in there. I read it twice)
So after exploring addiction as the source of my “problem” I eventually came to grips with the fact that I did indeed suffer from Mental Illness. (Alcohol and Drugs were not helping though.)

It was not a mystery to me that I was self-medicating for years. I wanted a solution to the way I constantly felt. In lieu of a solution, I would accept relief or at least a reprieve. Enter drugs.
Arguing that drugs and Mental Illness are a good combination is about as fact based as arguing that climate change isn't a thing. But like I said I am not a doctor. I am a Mentally Ill man who has a shit load of experience with using drugs. This isn't a medically based opinion. Sure ask and an overwhelming number of Psychiatrist, Psychologist, and MD’s, and they will agree with me. But I am talking about effectiveness.
Using Alcohol and/or Drugs may feel good. It's quick it's easy to down and dirty. I really get the appeal. I went for it every time for years. But it's an Illusion. The relief, joy, happiness, oblivion. whatever the payoff comes immediately. Then fades. So it is not a solution. In fact, it starts to create more problems.  That's really the trap of drugs after all isn't it? They are a shortcut.
As usual, I am getting away from my point. The point the reason I started this rambling was this.
If you want your life to change with real meaningful change. That creates a quality of life you have to WORK. The kind of work that takes a clear mind. Sound judgment. Motivation and determination. In my experience, that combination is impossible to maintain while maintaining a high.  Furthermore, I believe that the things that bring true Quality to life are the exact opposite of how drugs and alcohol affect us. Drugs and alcohol immediately give us the euphoria the bliss the high. But over time the use of drugs and alcohol becomes more difficult. In other words, you get the payoff up front and the struggle comes later. But real Change that creates a quality life up front is difficult painful quite often a true struggle. But after time comes reward the high as it were and it lasts much longer. It is a real by-product of effective action in one's life as opposed to the result of a wake and bake consisting of a bong hit of Super Lemon Haze. Masking one's symptoms isn’t a long term solution. Reducing, coping and managing Symptoms is*

Obviously, people are going to do whatever it is that they are going to do. People believe what they want about their lives regardless of the facts. I didn’t just make this up to be a dick but if you have a Mental Illness Drugs and Alcohol are not a sustainable path to overcoming your iIlness. But what do I know?


*We are all doing the best we can with the tools we have. If this is how you cope and it gets you through the day then play on. I am not saying don’t do it. It would be hypocritical of me to even imply. What I am saying is if you are using this path and it is just getting you by and you want more. There is more but it’s on a different path.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

You cant take that away from me.

Happiness is an inside job
Don’t assign anyone else
That much power over your life  -Anonymous

People don't steal smiles from you.
They don't shame you.
They may act like a total fuck nugget towards you.
They may go out of their way to be unthoughtful or unkind. Maybe even downright mean.
But when you say they are making me _____ because they said I was ____. Or they called me _____ and they are shaming me.
I have to call bullshit. Here is why I say this.
(Feel free to disagree)

We are responsible for ourselves.

If someone calls me a mentally weak cuck piece of shit that can't hold a job that will never be loved by anyone.
If that was said to me I have not been shamed. Someone is merely sharing their opinion of me with me. That's it.
Taking my smile away. Nope. That is all me.
Shame? Nope. That would be me generating that feeling inside my self.
If shame were actually something that we could generate and then force inside others the U.S. military would have weaponized that shit years ago.
I know it is much easier to externalize our thoughts and feelings about ourselves.
It means we don't have to take real responsibility for our negative thoughts. It lets us focus on something else it's more comfortable that way if you can blame others for why we feel bad about ourselves.
In the end however the old saying “No matter where you go there you are.” holds true. You are the constant. You are the master that makes the grass green. You can steer the boat into Shame Harbor or you can head for the open Waters of Fuck em Bay. It's really up to you.


Fuck 'em Bay

I Stopped Fighting My Mental Illnesses.

 To everything (turn, turn, turn) There is a season (turn, turn, turn) And a time to every purpose, under heaven. A time of love, a time ...