Fierce Medicine

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I picked up a book from the library-the same mountain trip I chronicled 2 posts ago. The book has been a partial impetus of my previous post, as well. This thing is eddying and rippling across me, and doing more than disturbing the surface. I’m not very far in to the book, but I’ve already purchased it from Amazon. I’ve never done that, but I know Ana T. Forrest‘s Fierce Medicine will be a book I revisit and consult all the time.

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I can help

I consciously decided to not hide my struggles with anxiety and depression. I want mental health, in particular, seeking help for mental health issues, especially among men, to be destigmatized. I’m still fighting, but I might be one step ahead on my journey to wellness and resilience than some people-and thit might be enough to make a difference.

Of  course, me coming forward on my blog wouldn’t do as much as, say George Clooney or Randy Couture having the same conversation, but I’ll do what I can.

What I’ve learned is I can be of use, connecting people to resources, and listening. Do I want strangers to contact me and unload on me? Not really. It’s hard to listen to someone else’s suffering and not take it in. I’m not a trained professional, I don’t have the ability to both empathize and compartmentalize. For a friend, though, I’d go to the ends of the Earth.

A few friends have reached out to me-we talked about my struggles and theirs. In a few cases, our relationships didn’t really have this dynamic before. It was encouraging to discover I have become resilient enough to handle this, that I am a sort of mental illness warrior bodhisattva. I’m glad for it- I need dudes to talk to. We talk about career stress, fatherhood, depression. We talk about art and music and motorcycles and cagefighting. We attempt to close the distance that at first is a comforting insulation, and morphs into a dark and funky isolation.

Connect with someone, preferably someone you can meet face-to-face. Get professional help. Whatever you do, don’t to get through it on your own. It may be to handle, and you may not be thinking clearly. If you have no one, you can talk to me.

Today is Suicide Prevention day. Please take a moment to visit http://www.afsp.org/.

Robin Williams

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Robin Williams died on August 11th, 2014. It affected me deeply, to include being the catalyst which pushed me taking my mental health seriously.

It seems silly to be profoundly shaken by a stranger’s death, but it floored me. I had to work that day, a Monday. I cried at my desk. I closed the door and I cried. I would start crying at random moments. I wanted to dig a hole and lie down in it. I floated around in a grey, numb haze for a few days, haunting my own spaces. I eventually mustered enough fear I might perhaps go down a similar path to Robin’s, and called a mental health hotline. I was afraid to tell anyone how hurt I was, I was afraid of being dismissed, judged, or ostracized; I already felt so alone, unmoored and drifting.

I’d been a fan of his work as long as I could remember. I started being interested in comedy around age 11, when I’d listen to comedy albums from the library and soak up all the Evening at the Improv, SCTV, Kids I the Hall, and SNL I could. When I flipped channels, I’d stop every time I saw someone with a bad haircut and a worse suit before a brick wall. I’d stay up late on Friday to watch Leno or Letterman (when Johnny Carson was on the air I was too young to care or stay up that late). I got deep into The Simpsons and Conan, and went through a protracted “Monty Python” phase, which many label as “being a dude”.

Through it all was the work of Robin Williams.

Only recently I’ve been able to listen to his albums and watch his movies again. I had the pleasure of watching “Hook” with my kids, their first time seeing it. If I were to recommend any one piece of his work which summed up his essence, talent, and humanity, it would be his appearance on “Inside The Actor’s Studio”.

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Damn, he was funny. It seems could not be human if he wasn’t being funny. Also, James Beard’s makeup stopping abruptly at his chinstrap beard is kinda funny, yoo.

It feels funny to celebrate the life of someone who didn’t/couldn’t be alive. I’m not using “funny” so much because I am running out of words. It’s intentional; where I felt only a great deal of pain, I can now find a little ironic nugget of humor, which comes from a place of hope. It’s my slow-growing resilience showing up and flexing a little. I am stronger than I was a year ago, and in an odd way, have Robin Williams to thank for that.

Please get help if you are feeling signs of depression and having thoughts of hurting yourself or others. Do not take your light out of my or anyone else’s life.

RIP, Robin. And again, thank you for everything.

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Forward motion

Things are finally settling after our move- I feel like I’ve regained a sense of equilibrium and ritual.

In March, I got serious about wanting to live better. I sought professional help for my depression and PTSD. I’ve done a few counseling sessions and started medication, which has helped tremendously. I debated whether or not to share this, but I got help after being advised to do so by people who have shared their struggles with me. I feel I can do more help sharing, kind of like a mental health bodhisattva. I feel more resilient, but that is also due to getting more sleep at night and having better self-care habits.

We took a trip, driving to Portland and then flying to Hawaii. We started out trip to PDX the day after my blog post about communion. A friend posted a comment about the beauty of communion residing in the mystery. Right as I got the comment notification, we were driving through the rolling scrub hills of Eastern Idaho, and the song “Ride Captain Ride” by The Blues Image came on the radio. The refrain was:

“Ride, captain ride
Upon your mystery ship,
Be amazed at the friends
You have here on your trip.
Ride captain ride
Upon your mystery ship,
On your way to a world
That others might have missed.”

I enjoyed both destinations tremendously. I had not been home to Hawaii since 2007, so my dad had not met the youngest 2 of my little punks. We spent a lot of time with family. I wish we had done more with friends, but we were able to connect with a few people that are very important to us, and that was nice.It was a very restful trip for the most part, save for a little scare toward the end.

Iconic North Shore sign

Iconic North Shore sign

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