What Makes You Happy?

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What Makes You Happy

 

I haven’t written in a long time, part of me felt like it was maybe because I’ve been doing better. I haven’t been feeling as depressed. My life had seemingly come together, even if just the slightest. I always told myself that when hockey ended, I was going to become an author, a literary wizard; I was going to write every day now that I had a bit more time. Well, hockey’s been over for about six weeks, and I am just starting to write at 10:56PM Easter Sunday.

Sure, I’ve been busy with things in the meantime, but if anyone knows me, busy, is not an excuse. If you want something bad enough, you’ll find the means to do it. Busy doesn’t exist in my world. It’s not because I don’t ever do anything, in fact, that’s probably quite the opposite. I probably have more going on than most folk. Actually, I could almost guarantee that. I just don’t feel the need to let everyone know how I preoccupied I am. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way. It makes me sick when people say they are too busy.

Why? I remember years ago, my sister tried to chat with me through Facebook, through simple Internet chat… and, I recall looking at the messages, the message read something along the lines of hey, call me when you got some time, want to know how college is going. I looked at it, thought, meh; I’ll call her later… I am busy. I never called her. And, I don’t know if I ever talked to her again. She committed suicide a couple of months after, and I’ve never been too busy since.   So when people tell me, they are too busy. It doesn’t sit well. At all.

So, to say that I haven’t been writing, because I have been doing well, or because I have been doing poorly… I don’t even know the answer. Sometimes life has a tendency to just happen, and just leave me trapped in the motions that I just can’t comprehend the appropriate emotions, and feelings.

I know that writing provides me with the single most joyous experiences of my life. So, you would think it’s easier to do so. But… for some reason, it’s been getting more difficult, and for the first time, I feel like my writing is actually good. In the past, all I did was write about how I felt. That’s it. There was no scientific method to it; there was no English specialty behind it. Simply, just how I felt. I have such a difficult time re-reading my pieces, for a variety of reasons… mainly because I feel such a huge disconnect with the person who wrote that very piece, but also because… I think it’s shit. I looked earlier, and I have posted 47 entries to GAB. This being 48. I can honestly say that 1 was of quality, Your Move Chief. So, as much gratification as writing brings me… I don’t know if it’s from the actual writing, or the feedback. As pathetic as this may be, I seek so much approval, and accreditation, from… whomever, predominantly from my mom, and from my fiancé…. It’s pathetic, if I don’t hear anything within a day or so, I am texting those two asking what they thought… It drives me crazy that I do this. But… I do. And, I can probably recap every single compliment, or piece of positive feedback I have received from my blog. There is truly nothing, and I mean NOTHING more gratifying than when I hear about people who have read my blog, and find comfort from reading. Whether, I know them or not. I spend so much time wanting to write, then I spend such little time actually writing, and I conclude with spending even more time looking for approval on my writing. From, my family… my fiancé… my best friends… my friends… strangers… When, I receive this, it’s pure happiness. Joy. Elation. You know that feeling where you just can’t wipe that smile off your face. This is the only time I’ll feel it. So you’d think I’d write more, with this being the case. But, truth is… I think I have become a bit scared. My unrelenting life standards have once again trapped me with failure. Where, I need simple accolades. However, that’s slowed down significantly. I don’t know if it’s because my writing has gotten stale, or the content has. Or maybe, I am just without the random viewers from Europe. Or, perhaps, the people who have already graciously patted my back don’t feel like they need to tell me good job every single fucking time. Though they shouldn’t. However, I feel like, unless I get that… I am failing. I want to know what every single person thinks of my writing, even if they think it’s complete crap. I just want to know… because; I think it is too, I can’t even find myself appreciative, and satisfied with my own work.

So, in getting to the point of this entry… the great folks at Mind Your Mind proposed the question, what makes you happy? I thought about it for a long, long time. There are so many things that I enjoy, so many. But, to label them as something that makes me completely happy would likely be false. I think at any point, doing makes me happy. Regardless, of what it is that I am doing. I think sometimes you can find temporary joy in that, and I do. But, I tried to really think of something that makes me truly happy. True joy. I almost couldn’t think of anything, till I thought about writing, then I thought about all of the positive feedback I have received over the two years, and the people I have been able to help, if even just to help them temporarily. This has brought me pure joy, and continues to do so. It’s the only thing that allows me to feel self-pride, and self worth. Regardless, of the success I have at work, or in coaching sports, or my daily life even. I always seem to be stuck wanting more, and eventually get a place where good just isn’t good enough. But, with writing, that’s different. Even, if I receive two notes about my latest post, to me it was a success, and it provides that feeling. That feeling where I can’t stop but smiling, even if it’s a random stranger at an arena that says, “hey, you’re the guy that writes that mental health blog” … Yes, I guess so. These are the things that keep me ticking, and continue to remind me just what it is to feel joy, and to feel good.

You just hope that somehow you can find a way to enjoy, accept and appreciate your own bravery and work. Sometimes there is just far too much pressure on writing purely for the audience, and hoping to help them find joy, and hope. I need to find my own first.

Rest easy, and rest happily Max. I hope you can still find some time to read my blog, and I hope that you’ve found true joy.   I know you and Jen are hanging out as we speak. Listening to music, watching over us, and laughing at us.

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Your Move, Chief

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Maybe this is too late.  Maybe this isn’t even relevant anymore.  But, last week we lost one of the finest individuals to grace this planet.  No, not just because he was a phenomenal actor, but because he battled for so long, to bring everyone else joy and laughter despite his own misery, and emptiness, despite his own mental obstruction. He was gifted, courageous, and beyond brave.

Upon hearing the news of Robin passing away, I was upbeat, driving home from engagement photos, and on the radio, as DJ whoever began playing his next techno beat, and the beats of this terrible song faded in, DJ whoever let us know that an icon had passed. But, that was all. Into the techno trance the song went. Instantly, I felt sick. I loved Robin Williams. First thing that came to my mind, was… Is this guy talking about the same Robin Williams that played Mrs. Doubtfire? Like… Patch Adams – Robin Williams? Surely, He’d have done more than just say “oh hey by the way folks before we get to this song…” But, after searching my mind for a few minutes for another Robin Williams, I came to the unfortunate conclusion. Yes. It was… Patch Adams. Typically though, as part of my own constant fight with mental illness, I feel nothing. That’s my usual reaction. Nothing. Emptiness. Even amongst the most tragic events. I don’t usually feel an overwhelming amount of sadness, or despair. I don’t…. usually feel anything. Empty. I try too, but I can’t for anymore than a moment.  But, I felt sad. Abnormally sad, I just had a bad feeling.  I felt connected.  Moments later, I got home… and I think I had already convinced myself I knew how Mr. Williams had passed. I turned on the TV, and it was confirmed. Suicide. My heart sunk, and my stomach twisted immediately. I don’t know how I knew. It just hit me close to home, right away. I just knew.  I felt it.

As sad as it were for me to learn about the news of Mr. Williams, I am not on a personal level with Mr. Williams, therefore, I couldn’t allow myself to be overtaken by the news. I can’t try and feel the same pain that his family and friends feel, I don’t want too. I’ve felt that. But, the hardest part for me in moving on from this one quickly, and not allowing myself to feel anything more than a few moments of sadness was… the rest of us.

I’m not one to follow along to celebrities’ personal troubles. I always believe they are humans alike the rest of us, they just happen to be good at their jobs, and the rest of us care way too much about what they’re doing, and put them under these encapsulated microscopes, and we wait for them to struggle, we wait for bad things to happen to them, and we pounce, we have opinions, comments, we have all the answers to the lives of these robots. As if that’s what they are.

As par for the course, when a celebrity struggles, fights, battles anything. It becomes a global issue for a mere 72 hours. Whether it’s racism, poverty, drugs, crime, physical health, and… Mental health. It’s unfortunate that all of the problems that plague our society are only really discussed at the “trending” level, when one of these robots we hold on a mile-high pedestal is identified with of these issues. Though, I notice this often, I am easily able to just shut off twitter, facebook, TV, radio…etc, and I don’t need to really associate myself with the opinons, and views of “us”… But, this time, I associated myself too close to the matter, and let it get to me.  It was too close to home.

Shortly after learning about the passing of Robin Williams, I posted this…

Devastated by the news of Robin Williams. Too close to home for me. An unfortunate reminder that we can all be victim to mental illnesses. No matter how rich, or how famous, we’re all just human. #RIP Robin Williams.

The response was tremendous, reassuring, almost like people understood this time.  I’ve been talking about mental illness through my social media feeds for a few years now, and I do it without any hesitation now, but I still often am thinking about what other people might be thinking when I do write the stuff.  But, Maybe, just hopefully we’ve had this discussion enough times that we have finally figured it out. We have finally learned that mental illness is real. It is real, it is happening, and it is happening to any kind of person, regardless of pedestal, fame, fortune and power. It does not discriminate, in any way, shape or form. And, Robin Williams is a sad, and unfortunate reminder of this. After posting this, and seeing the responses, I felt better, I felt like maybe we are actually making progress towards accepting mental illnesses, and accepting those who fight this as… normal.

A few days had come and gone, and for whatever reason, I just stayed off of social media. It’s almost as if I knew I was being naïve, and it was too good to be true, so I was avoiding what I was afraid I’d see, and what I knew I’d see.  We have not made any progress. Then, all in the same day, I was no longer able to avoid reality, and avoid society.

Around the same time, my mom had sent me a note that had passed along to her from one of my blogs readers, and she then mentioned to me one of these internet trolls had wrote something absurd about depression, mental illness and suicide being a choice. I just couldn’t fathom it.  Really? Someone could say that?  Really?  I didn’t even really respond, because I didn’t allow myself to believe it. My mom mentioned that she had tried to make this ignoramus aware of their own idiocy.   I remember then, debating with myself. Do I want to read what that troll wrote, and join my mom in letting her know my opinions too, or just leave it because it’ll drive me crazy, and ruin my day.  I went with the latter, but then I opened up my facebook page, and couldn’t believe the comments I saw. Albeit, from an individual that I, and many others hold in quite low esteem, but there behold comments like

“I am sick of the media responses about Robin Williams, he made a choice”

And then equally sized morons commenting

“He had all the fame, fortune, money he could imagine, how could he be sad”

“This isn’t the real Robin Williams we know “

“He made a choice, lets quit talking about him, and talk about the real Robin Williams we know!”

… Are you fucking kidding me? Are you seriously that stupid, and that ignorant? I immediately, had completely lost my faith, once again in our people. Again, the host of these comments, and this discussion is not someone I would trust to tell me the difference between grass and snow, but still, all the more reason he shouldn’t be commenting on these types of issues. I skimmed through the comments at the time, and those four I just typed stick out in my mind like a sore thumb, an engrained image. Nauseating,

  • What choice did he make? To live with an illness that he tried to tolerate, manage and fight for so long that it ultimately became intolerable?
  • Right, So famous people aren’t susceptible to mental illness, just all the other illnesses, they can’t be depressed, or have bi-polar disorder. Not Robin. Not Kurt. Not Wade Belak? Rick Rypien? Derek Boogard?
  • This is the one that really gets me. Who is the Robin Williams that we all know? Is it Patch Adams? Mrs. Doubtfire? Is it Sean Maguire? Those are the Robin Williams we’ve seen, that’s the Robin Williams we’ve come to know. Him in his professional life. Not his personal life. We don’t know the real Robin Williams, this is part of the problem.
  • Again, the problem. Let’s never quit talking about him, his legacy, or his demise. Maybe that will stop the next one.

You haven’t the faintest idea what you’re talking about

It amazes me that people can be so ignorant, and so oblivious to these things. These people that are writing these comments, are the exact reason that people like myself, or people like my sister, or Robin, or Kurt Cobain couldn’t feel like they had the power, or strength to talk about their mental illness. These are the people that make the rest of us feel trapped, feel powerless. These are the people contributing to the stigma that perceives mental illness as negative and shameful, something that isn’t real, something made up. The reason these illnesses get so intolerable that, suicide becomes the only thing left, are these people.  It doesn’t take many of them to eliminate any chance of a platform allowing us to comfortably talk about mental health issues.  If only Robin Williams, or Jen could talk about their fight without any fear or repercussion like these internet trolls, maybe they wouldn’t have felt so entrapped, felt so isolated, so scared, they wouldn’t have felt their illness was so intolerable, and then they’d still be hear making both of us laugh today.   But, instead we attack Robin Williams daughter Zelda on twitter, because we can. Because, we can hide behind our keyboards under our fictional internet name,  and our poor grammar, because it allows us a platform to say the cruelest of things without any worry of repercussion. it’s easy, and nothing will come of it. This is where we put our energy, instead of constructively talking about how we can make mental illness an acceptable illness, like anything else… and understand it is not a choice.

No one chooses to struggle with depression. I don’t remember a morning in my life where I decided I wanted to be depressed, I don’t remember a morning in my life where I thought about my afternoon, and thought, ya, around 2:00 after I have lunch, I’ll try kill myself, because I feel sad today.  This isn’t how it works. It’s not a choice, and it’s not just a shitty day where things aren’t going right, so you decide to mop around at home. It’s not just a crappy week at work.

It’s feeling absolutely nothing, feeling empty, it’s not feeling sad, it’s not feeling happy, it’s not feeling real. It’s failure, it’s feeling complete failure regardless of accomplishments, it’s anxiety, it’s denial, it’s worrying, it’s fear, it’s feeling minute, it’s irrelevance. It’s not a choice. It’s “you’re always afraid to take the first step, because all you see is every negative thing ten miles down the road” It’s real.

 

It’s not a choice

&

 

It’s not your fault

Rest in Peace Robin Williams.  Say hi to Jen for me.

Starting Over – My First Christmas

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Starting Over – My First Christmas

A lot has gone since we last spoke on this blog, Amanda and I moved out of Discovery Ridge early in December and into a brand new house in Mahogany.  We’ve been here a few weeks now, and are slowly beginning to get settled in, we have a few more boxes of I don’t even know what left to sort through, but we’ll get there.  The home is beautiful, I couldn’t be happier with it.  We have a lot of work to do in the spring with the yard, a deck and a fence but I am looking forward to all of that.  One of my favorite things about the new house is the office space/2nd spare bedroom upstairs, it’s the one space in the home I am allowed full control of, and I love it!  For those who have read this blog in the past, you know that writing for me is sort of like a ritual, I need music, I need dim lights, I need incense, I need a lot of stars to align to be creative. In a one-bedroom condo, it was difficult to do all of that without being a nuance to someone else.  Now, with the extra space, I am able to get away and do my writing pow-wow more often.  It sounds stupid, but the new home has been much more conducive to my writing.      …I hope I just used that word properly; “conducive” has become my favorite word lately.  My mom will let me know if I used that incorrectly I am sure, haha.

I hope everyone is prepared, and excited for the holidays coming up in a couple of days.  I am a little bit of everything, excited, scared, nervous, sad, the whole works… once again.  Springtime, leading up to the anniversary of Jen’s passing, and December are usually the hardest times of the year for myself, and my family.  This will be our sixth Christmas, and New Year’s without her, and it will be my first real Christmas without Jen.  Scratch that.  Now that I write it out.  I’m petrified.  The year Jen passed away, my mom, Brody and I set out to Cuba last minute, I believe we left Christmas day.  It was the best thing we could have done, cause I didn’t have to see Christmas really at all.  We flew home on New Years day.  Again, it was great cause I didn’t have to see traditional new years back at home.  Years since I’ve been in Hawaii, with Amanda and her family, and last year with both of ours.   That was also great, because you were completely distracted from the holidays here at home.  If we flew out on Xmas day, Terrific, I missed it all again.  If we didn’t, well, it wasn’t as bad cause you were usually so busy preparing for a 2-week trip to Hawaii that you didn’t really notice it as much.  And, in Hawaii, sure we still celebrated Christmas, we had dinner, exchanged gifts, said Merry Christmas.  But we did so in our shorts and flip flops, in 28 degree weather, at a Hawaiian pub.  It wasn’t real.  The people around were doing the same thing, nothing really changed.  It was wake up, coffee, newspaper, breakfast, and beach and then onto some activity, everyone did the same thing there, you never really saw Christmas, so to me it wasn’t really Christmas, it didn’t feel like it at all, new years the same thing.  I was able to avoid it, year after year, and I truly felt as I woke up on January 3rd, or 4th, after the dust had settled, I felt like I had won.  I beat the holidays.  The 3-4 weeks before the holidays, just like the 3-4 weeks before May 7th, you work yourself up so much wondering what it’s going to be like, that you almost psyche yourself out, and that becomes the most difficult part.  When it’s over, and you’re still breathing, you’re still alive… you feel like you’ve won, like you just beat someone in a battle that took nearly a month.  You came out on top.  Christmas and New Years has always been the same thing, Usually around Jan. 3, Jan 4 once it’s all done, I don’t feel like I have to hide from the holidays anymore, I realize that I survived, and maybe, just maybe it wasn’t all that bad.  I feel completely victorious, as you would after winning an exhausting battle, even though the battle is with yourself.

Amanda always calls me the Grinch, jokingly because I am so anti-holidays.  The truth is, I do hate them.  Absolutely.  You would too.  You would hate any time of the year that is as difficult for me as the Christmas holidays, and the spring.  We used to always spend every Christmas together, whether in Victoria, or Vegreville.  Our families would be together, and it was awesome.  Christmas was always one of the few times a year I would be able to see my sister when she lived in Victoria.  I looked forward to Christmas so much.  I can remember our last Christmas break together vividly.  We were going to Joey’s in Sherwood Park for dinner, my mom, my brother, Jen, Abbey and myself.  We were meeting my aunt and uncle for dinner.  I can remember the entire drive to Sherwood Park, I remember the conversations, I remember what everyone was wearing, I remember the weather, I even remember the damn road conditions, I remember bits and pieces of the dinner conversation.  I remember exactly where we sat in Joey’s.  The exact table, and I remember where everyone sat.  What I don’t remember, was really ever saying Happy Holidays to anyone, or saying goodbye to my sister.  I had no idea that would be our last Christmas, I had no idea that would be the last time I would ever have the opportunity to hug my sister.  I had no idea.  It was.  I’ll never go to that Joey’s again.

This is why I hate the holidays.  I’m afraid of them, I want to skip them all together, if not at the very least completely avoid them.  As I mentioned before, I’ve done a bang up job of doing the latter.  But, this year… There is no escaping.  I am here.  I am stuck, I have nowhere to go, I have nothing to distract myself.  I am going to have to finally face the holidays, and it’s already been a struggle.  I can tell since the beginning of December, I’ve just started to become a bit more stand-offish, I’ve been distant, I’ve been tired, not really motivated.  Just feel like you’re in a complete slump.  And it’s not really helping a whole lot at home when we have a tall task of moving going on.  There have been days where I’ve just come home, and I’ve been completely content sitting on the couch with the hockey game on, and doing nothing, saying nothing.  I’m just completely lost in myself, the hockey game is on, but I’m not even watching it.  I want too.  And, I want to help unpack, or organize things, but I just for whatever reason.  I can’t.  A serious case of the holidays blue’s, if you will… I guess.

A few times I’ve drove to work, or to hockey, or to wherever, and I can see Christmas tree’s in the windows of homes, or families building snowmen, or Christmas decorations.  Usually, I’d think that this should make a person happy, excited, or at the least feel good.  For me, it’s as difficult as can be.  Right away I have flashbacks to our Christmas’ together, whether it’s dinner at Joey’s, or we’re all sitting around the tree in Victoria.  Then, I think ahead to what will happen in a week when I am still here, and It’s Christmas, how the hell is that going to go.  Probably not well.  Then, I begin to psyche myself out all over again.

This is why I hate Christmas, Amanda is right.  It’s not because I just don’t like it, it’s because it’s an extremely devastating time of year.  It’s just… hard.

I’ve been thinking for the last month, what the hell am I going to do when the clock strikes 12, and its December 25th.  Now what.  I thought, well, I’ll go somewhere; I’ll go for a drive.  Nope, I can’t do that, because I’ll see it.  I’ll see Christmas, I’ll see families enjoying it, as they damn well should, I just can’t anymore.   I thought, maybe I’ll just hang out, and just write all day, and watch movies, but then I thought nope, I can’t do that cause I’ll put myself right back into that slumping feeling where I am incapable of doing anything else.  I thought, well, I’ll just sleep, I’ll just play xBox, I’ll go skate at the outdoor rink… I have no fucking idea.  I have no idea what I am going to do.  I thought maybe, I’d drive to Vegreville for the day, and just spend the day with my family there… But, nope, that’s far away.  Really, I just tried to avoid Christmas with the family because of 350 Kms?  … This is how far I am starting to go to try and avoid the whole thing.  I don’t want to leave Amanda at home by herself all day on Xmas day, and I certainly don’t think I want the hoopla of Christmas.

I don’t want to take Christmas away from anyone else.  I believe it’s something every family should celebrate if you can, like I said, it was my favorite time of the year. I’ve just lost that now, and I try myself to keep it all to myself without effecting those around me, in my “Grinch” ways.  Like, Amanda for instance.  She loves Christmas, and I want her too.  She want’s to do the gifts, and the decorations, and everything else, which I great but I just don’t.   But, I keep it to myself.

So this year, Christmas for us will be on Boxing day.  We are going to celebrate it, just a day late.  I laughed at that kind of, thought that’s Jen’s way of compromising with me.  Telling me, Kid, you gotta go through this, but I’ll throw you a bone.  Do it on boxing day, not Christmas day.  Have Christmas Day at your own pace.  I don’t know if it’s her compromising with me, or having a laugh, but either way… I am hoping it helps.

On Boxing Day, my mom, niece, and my mom’s boyfriend Alan will come over for dinner, gifts, and… Christmas.  As too will my good friend Geoff, who has been through it all with me from day one of this year never ending grieving process.  I have to admit, In a weird way,  I am kind of looking forward to it.  I am looking forward to Jan 3 more than anything else, and the days to come after.  This entire blog, I shared with my counsellor, told her why Christmas is so difficult.  She mentioned that maybe this is one of the last steps in my grieving process, and the last barricade of an extremely challenging year.   Christmas was always such a special time for me, then I lost that, then I avoided every one of them.  Now this year, I have nowhere to go, but I’ve had all the years in-between to grieve, and to prepare.  I can’t hide from Christmas forever, so maybe this year, is the year I go through it, and I become victorious on Jan 3 when it’s all over, and from there it’s uphill, Christmas is the last thing I need to conquer.

Maybe I am just being too much of an optimist these days… but this year has not really been conducive to my life.

Bring it on holidays, I guess.

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A Nasty, Nasty Lesson From Mother Nature.

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Honey! I’m Home!!!

Damn, that fucking feels good to say.

For those of you that missed it…  I guess, well, I don’t know where to start with you.  But, I hope your summers have been less dramatic & eventful than ours have been.

June 19th… I was sitting in my chair I always lounge in, Amanda on the couch & we were watching some TV show.  Meanwhile, Calgary was under complete torrential downpour like nothing I have ever seen.  While scanning twitter, and the news stations, I continued to read about this massive storm we were being hit with. Unconcerned as always having lived in Calgary long enough to know it’s summer and this is our every day. Storm warning. Storm warning.  I can remember reading a tweet from someone to CTV Weather Man – Paul Dunphy that said something along the lines of “Are we going to be okay in Calgary?”  Well…  My arrogant self had a blast with this one!  I think I replied something slightly abrasive along the lines of OMG NO! ANOTHER SUPERSTORM I THINK WE ARE COMPLETELY DOOMED! BOOM!…

… I thought I was being sarcastic at the time, and she was being a tad overzealous about another storm.

Well, fast-forward about 12 hours. At work I see on Twitter suddenly my community of Discovery Ridge is to be immediately evacuated.  Umm. Pardon?  No one really saw of what was about to come…coming. Evidently.  And it didn’t sink into to me immediately what was going on either.  I called my girlfriend who was at home, and she was completely blindsided by this as well. “I just took Kona out, it’s dry, we’re fine, it’s sunny here” … I’m more confused now! So, I got up from my desk at work and oddly somewhat boasted about us being evacuated, thought, hey cool maybe I get to go home early this Thursday.  Still, completely ignorant to what was truly about to occur.

So, I sauntered out of the office a few conversations later, headed home and sent a few sarcastic snaps to my friends about being evacuated. Chalk about reason for mother nature to completely fuck me. You’d think maybe this was the end of my ignorance?

Nope.  

Got home, and it was weird. There was a mile long line of cars heading into our community, but as I was already 20 minutes past evacuation time, I thought I was above all the other people racing home to get their shit and prepare for the Armageddon that I went right to the lights in the straight lane, turned on the left light, and vroom off I went.  See ya Lexus. Down the hill in Discovery Ridge, people were walking their dogs, laughing, stopping to chat with friends, others were in a complete fucking frenzy to get stuff jammed into their Mercedes.  I was still pretty cool.  I saw nothing to fret about.  Despite ravishing flood warnings.  However, As many Calgarians can likely attest too… This became a “Boy Who Cried Wolf” story. Every day nearly, every summer is “severe thunderstorm warning” “tornado watch” … etc. And, of course it’s never more then a storm.  Why should this be any different?  Other than I guess all surrounding communities had already been flooded, and this happened 8 years previous.  But… Nonetheless.  Parked the F150 underground. Take the elevator up. Come home. Turn on the TV. Make a few more jokes about this evacuation, and then declare that I’m content until I am told by someone “official” at our door we have to go.  As if the radio, social media and disgruntled megaphone warnings weren’t enough. Well, a pizza, a beer or 2, and a couple cycles of sportscenter later… My life completely changed.  Forever.

“YOU HAVE 5 MINUTES TO GET YOUR STUFF AND GET OUT OF HERE NOW! THE PARKADES ARE ALREADY FLOODING, THE PARKADE ACROSS IS ALREADY FLOODED 8 FEET”

Ummm… Fuck. I haven’t even really packed anything.  Shit.

Thankfully, Amanda as always was completely ready to go for this and had everything including the animals set up for instant departure. Not me. I had 5 minutes.  Fortunately, I am guy so it was ok. I made it down the stairs in time.  Got into my truck. And poof. Yep. The manhole cover had just popped off and water started coming in.

We made it out.  And I couldn’t believe the scene.  Water. Mud. Muddy Water. People. People Crying. Mobs of People. Cameras. Phones. Screaming. Ambulance. Police. Semi’s. Industrial Trucks. Security. Firemen. Vehicles. Water. Mud. Muddy Water… Devastation.

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… What is happening?  I had to park, get out and try and take in what was happening.  Guards were blocking the flooded parkade so people didn’t try going in. And you could just hear the water roaring, and I mean roaring. Combined with people screaming, and people crying. It was really incomprehensible what was happening.  I never want to hear those sounds again.

It took my about a half an hour to actually get out of Discovery Ridge.  If anyone has ever been fortunate enough to make it into Discovery Ridge, consider yourself a lucky one. It’s one of the most beautiful residential communities in the world. I can guarantee. Rarely do you ever see more then 5-6 cars moving at once. You see more bikes, more kids, families walking, and more dogs. It’s a very small, very active community. Well, There may have been 500 vehicles in Discovery Ridge when I finally left. People leaving and just parking along the street watching from the top of the hill. People from nearby coming in just to see what all the fuss is about. It was unbelievable.  And still. Some people remained calm. Some in small groups, laughing, almost normal.  Others looked afraid. Others completely hysterical. Others, like myself looked empty. Stund. Dumbfounded. 

We decided to drive back home to Vegreville and spend the weekend with family as we were told minimum 72 hours.  I didn’t think it’d be much more then this if even 72 hours. I can remember saying to a few buddies, ah yea 72 I think is just worst case.  Again. My arrogance. Strike 6? I drove the entire way home to Veg. 400-Ish KMs. Stayed with my Mom & Brother.  And still, it hadn’t really hit me what was going on.  By this point numerous communities were evacuated and the flood had ravished further, and devastated more.  I started to see the clippings on the news, and I grew sick. Nauseous. It was the feeling you get in your stomach when you’re just completely hung-over, and/or completely starving.  I almost threw up numerous times.  But, alike my normal self. I try to put up this stoic guard to show that I am doing fine.

…. I went to bed. Cried. I was scared. I didn’t know what the hell was going to happen. It didn’t seem real. I mean, a flood? Can this much damage happen from a flood? We’re on the fourth floor? We should be home soon right?

… I’m fine.

Fast-forward a few days. I stayed at one of my best friend’s parents place in Edmonton with his brother.  They were just completely awesome about taking me in. Just like my mom and brother were back home.  Fed me a great meal, gave me a great big bed to sleep in.  I’ve probably stayed over at the Cote’s house 2,000 times though growing up.  So this was nothing out of the norm for them other than the circumstances. (Thank you Kelly, Dean & Tarin) … Brett… Starbucks next time.

Nonetheless.  Sunday morning I woke up and saw that the community of Discovery Ridge had been restored of power & water.  Woooohoooo!! Off I went home. 8am. Going home! I knew this wouldn’t be so bad. 

I got home… I was wrong.  The parkades were still completely flooded. Garbage everywhere. The smell. Ugh. Can’t even explain.

A few days went by. My mom’s boyfriend (still ew) came with his vac trucks and started sucking out water at 11:30 on the Sunday night and he then his team must have went 40+ hours on their own helping us get back home. It was amazing. No one told him to come and do this. No one even really came and thanked him, or spoke to him from a condo management level.  The residents of Wedgewoods were phenomenal. Filled him up with cases and cases of beer, more and more food. It was pretty cool to see. But, nothing from our supposed leaders.  Beforehand, I tried to register him as a volunteer and no one would reply, or get back to me. Understandable that they were likely completely swamped with other areas.  But, our condo building kind of became lost in the shuffle for a few days.  Thankfully Alan and his team came out to do what they did.  And, still they’ve received no recognition.  All the updates from the alderman, condo board, and property managers say it was the group they hired to remove the water.  No. It wasn’t. But, anyway. Thank you Alan & RVI Vac Trucks.

A few days turned into a few more days and we still had no place to really go, and no answers. We snuck a few nights into our condo anyway. Despite no water nor power. We just had nowhere to go. Hotels were completely booked. Finally we got into one. They had ONE room left for ONE night. The disability room. Almost felt bad taking it… But, we had no choice.  Then, finally a friend of mine and his dad were beyond gracious enough to let us stay at their condo for the time he was gone on holidays till we left on our own.  10 days or so.  Man, oh Man was this heroic move in our journey from someone. So we hauled all our stuff down 4 stories and moved up another 4 into another condo for the next 10+ days. Started over buying groceries, as we had to completely scratch our fridge contents.

So many things happened over those next 10 days.  We had finally felt somewhat stable again.  I became angry & resentful towards Calgary and those trying to help. The mayor. The alderman. The workers. The property management. The condo board. I felt like we were completely forgotten about. We got very scarce updates. We had few questions answered. And, when I did challenge them on facebook where we were directed too… My comments, though never abrasive, foul or anything of the like were deleted, without answer. I was blocked.  This just further enraged me.  But, after being told at a high rise meeting couple weeks later it would be minimum 2 months till we got home.  I gave it up.  There was no point wasting my time & energy anymore trying to blame someone. It wasn’t anyone’s fault that this was happening. Could some people have communicated a little bit better? Probably. But such is life. It didn’t make sense for me to waste 2 months of energy trying to criticize those who were of higher power.

I left it alone. I accepted it. It was an amazing feeling actually. Typically, I am just unable to let things slide and accept it for what it is. But this I did. And, I was fine with it.  The 2 weeks prior I felt probably every emotion possible.  From arrogance too complete anger too just sadness, disappointment and frustration. Exhaustion.

After I finally accepted what was happening for what it was and there was little I was going to do to fix anything.  I was happy. I could go about my day. Still to this day… I wonder why I can’t just do this with my fucking self all the time and the things going on inside my damn head.  But anyway.

It was so nice to have a place to stay. A place to wake up in the same bed, brush your teeth with real tap water instead of a co-op bottle, and then turn the lights on.  You really take these things for granted in your own home.  Bottle water to brush your teeth and the flashlight app to find your way is no way to live.  It was just amazing having a stable place to rest our heads for the week and a bit till we left on our own holidays.  Thank you so much Hayduk family.

After staying there for a couple weeks.  Amanda & I were off on our own holidays.  Perfect timing. Just as the third week of our displacement started. We were gone to Abbotsford-Victoria-Seattle-Vancouver-Penticton for 10 days. What an absolutely amazing trip.  As this blog is already some kind of length. I’ll save this recap for another day. But, what a trip and what timing.

A couple days in, We were in Victoria.  I was saying goodnight to my grandma and had an email come in from our property management company stating we had gained conditional acceptance to our place.  Though, it was as most reports very vague. Very vague. In a couple days, more emails came and we were told we had a place to go home with water/power and air quality was restored despite no parkades & no elevators for some time.  Fine with me.

We could go home when we got home. What a relief. It was almost too good to be true, and I didn’t believe it. I mean, I had accepted 2 months. In my mind we were 2 months. Minimum. And I had accepted that.  And, parts of me think. In my own world. I just needed to do that. I needed to accept it for what it was. And then in a couple weeks. We were back. A nasty lesson from Mother Nature & her friends. But one I have forever learned.

By the time our holidays were done. We returned home on the 31st day of having no home. 31 days. 13 beds during our time being displaced (plus a bit of holidays ya ya) and when we got home I immediately moved everything in my truck back up the stairs. It was a horrible workout to have at 11:30 pm.  We were home. Amanda turned on the breakers, and we flicked on the lights and boom. We were back.  Her & I celebrated like we had just won the Stanley Cup in Overtime.  And, let me tell you.  It was easily one of the single most joyous moments of my entire life.  We had home. We were back. 31 days. & I was finally able to sleep in my own bed.

You really take for granted your own home.  I know now that I did. Just the little things. The smell. The comfort. Then, when it’s all ripped away from you.  It hurts. I’ll never be able to explain to you what it’s like to lose your sense of home unless you’ve truly experienced it.  But, it was hard.

I always laugh at these cheesy adages… But, now having been homeless for 31 days and unsure of any return time for much of it.

Home truly is where the heart is.

In 31 days of being flooded and being displaced. I learned so much more about myself. I think I grew up ten-fold in just those 31 days. Another traumatic life experience for me to learn some more from!                                                      I’m good for a while I think

But actually… I learned to accept things. This whole flood started with me being completely arrogant on the eve of. Making fun of people, till the joke was really on us.  In between I felt every single emotion one could possibly feel, and in only a couple long weeks.  Above all, I learned to accept things. Life isn’t always going to be the way I want it. I can’t control everything, especially the stuff around me that is out of my control.  My depression, I can try and control it.  Sometimes I think I do. Sometimes I think I have accepted that I may suffer from these things in my head forever.  But, other times.  I don’t think I have accepted that and I completely break down.  But this though is different.  The feeling of just accepting what was for what is was amazing.  The change for me emotionally that occurred after that, was unbelievable. It’s almost weird, funny maybe looking back at that single moment when I just said… You know what? 2 months. Fuck it. What am I going to do? I need to waste more time and energy on being there for my family, and finding options for us. Not trying to blame the aldermen. It changed me. It changed my entire experience. It’s the first time I have ever truly accepted something like that.

It was a nasty, nasty lesson to learn from Mother Nature. Though, one I needed.  Maybe in my own world, and my individual perspective, it’s her joke on me now after I called her bluff every time she stormed on us before and never quite took the lady serious.

Now Please.

On behalf of my city, the surrounding towns and myself. 

I’d like to call a truce. 

Please… No More. 

In Closing:

As terrible as my 31 days were, and my story in Discovery Ridge along with the experiences we went through and will continue to go through as we restore normalcy around here.  Still we live in a construction site, and need to sign in/sign out every time we go. 1500+ people have no parking so in a tiny community like so you can just imagine that problem.  Plus, no elevators makes things challenging and exhausting at times, especially on grocery day. 

However, the flood was much, much worse in others areas and affected so many more people. People lost family members. People completely lost their homes, their vehicles, and belongings.  We consider ourselves lucky at the end of the day.

 

If you haven’t already, or would like too, please donate anything you can to the Red Cross Flood Relief.  Trust me.  It will go a long way.

 

Thanks!

 http://www.redcross.ca/donate/donate-online/donate-to-the-alberta-floods

Fun & Active – Someone with depressions dream

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Up again, down again, out of your head.

Happy friday kids!

I’m happy to be back here writing. I gotta get some consistency going again.  I went to the Edson Slo-Pitch tournament last weekend with the boys.  And, if you have ever been to Edson, you’ll understand quite quickly why it took me so long to get it going again.  We left Edson monday at about 9 am. It took me till yesterday at noon till get back to feeling normal.  Whatever normal is for me.  But, physically, you know.

Edson Slo-Pitch is this massive tournament of 270+ teams.  Goes Fri-Mon – We usually show up thurs night to get the extra night in.  But, you camp in a field where your neighbours are maybe 6 inches to your other side. Its tight. We have a big 13 man tent where we throw about 8 of us to pass out.  Its quite funnny too see actually.  Just an assembly line of bodies.  Then, once you’ve gone to bed at probably 5 am after going to the “Hangar” (absolutely massive beer gardens) You’re up at 730 am to play ball, or to listen to everyone else getting up to play. And once you’re up. You’re up. Its hot out. And there’s 200 cold bud lights ready for work. so its on. Early.

Its easily the best weekend of the year, but its easily the biggest challenge, physically.  You have to be prepared for the toll you’re body takes.  And, like I said. Just now I am getting straightened away. Anyway, If you ever have the chance.  Check Edson out. Its a blast.

I am going to try something slightly different today, a little different pace.  After a pretty chill day at work today, came home, made myself a nice dinner; salmon and potatoes…. Unreal right!   But, I cheat. Big time. I bought salmon from Superstore that is already flavored, and already on the plank. So you throw it on the BBQ.  Haha. And potatoes, We got this “potatoe mitt” from Hawaii.  It looks like an oven mitt basically, and you cut little holes in your tate’s and then chuck them in this “mitt” throw it in the microwave and nuke the little suckers for about 7 minutes. So, no, my salmon dinner wasn’t amazing as you first thought. Haha, but for my standards. It was unreal.

I can’t cook worth a shit. literally. I can not cook. On the other hand, I have never really made a completely honest effort out of it either. I just don’t have the patience to do it. And, I think explaining the meal I just had today is evidence to that.  Whatever. I took the stuff out of the fridge/freezer and 20 minutes later was dummying it.  So take your extra half hour for a little more authenticity. Nah. I’ll take the extra half hour I saved, and write in my blog!

Next thing will be paper plates at home. Not kidding. Frig, I hate emptying that damn dishwasher.  I used to run it about 2 or 3 times before I’d empty it, and I’d make sure I ran it the second time when I knew I wasn’t going to be home for awhile, so depending on where I lived. My parents, roommates or girlfriend would do it.  Haha. If this is any of the people I listed that are reading this. You’re going Ah Ha! You little bastard.  The rest of you are thinking, wow.  Genius. And you’ll do it this week. Guaranteed.  But, be stealth.

Next thing I did today was rip over to buddies and grab my xbox controllers and the tiger woods game.  I thought I would do some gaming today, and buddies gone for the weekend so might as well get my stuff back and its the last night of me living bachelor life as the old lady gets home tomorrow.  But, on my way over there, I saw all these people riding there bikes with families, friends, etc and it just looked awesome. Smiles as wide as the street these kids had, parents too.  “Fun & active”.  A kid with depressions dream.  So, once I went to buddies, grabbed my gaming gear and headed home, I saw more of the same. Fun & Active. A depressive kids dream. And more of it. And as I got back into my community. More of it. Fun & Active. A depressive kids dream.  I parked underground, went upstairs, threw the stuff on the coffee table, and thought.. you know what.  No.  I’m not doing this. As much as I enjoy gaming, and so too does everyone. It’s different for me. It’s an avoidance mechanism.  Some people that struggle with depression, sleep all the time, some drink, do drugs, or whatever. Me, I game. And, I don’t even really enjoy it. I feel like such a slob after doing it and not having moved except to grab chips, or a beer. It’s fun gaming with buddies and stuff, that’s different.  But, for me to lay into 10 rounds of PGA Tour, not move, not talk to anyone. It’s me avoiding my problems. Sounds crazy. But that’s what I’d do. Sure, I could be doing worse things, like sleeping, drinking, having sex a million times, partying, whatever the hell else you can do so excessively its damaging, which pretty well anything. But, its the concept of it. I do it to avoid things, and not have to face reality.  Thus, in my self-realization week not long ago, around the birth of this blog. I promised not to do that to myself anymore.

BACK TO THE STORY.  I looked on the deck, and saw this beautiful red “Specialized RockHopper Comp” mountain bike I purchased about 2 months ago…  for a thousand dollars. Yikes.  The first 10 days I had that bike, I rode it 15 times. I felt unreal. Fun & Active. I was doing it. Living the dream. Then, I just stopped for 6 weeks. I think part of it was work got busy, but a lot of it was me making excuses for myself, “ohh im tired” and I’d game, or do whatever and just feel shitty and be down.  So today. I saw that thing, and said fuck it.  I am doing what those kids were doing that I saw on my way. But, its more than just ripping a bike for me. for anyone that knows how I feel.  I truly think it was Jen saying to me.. Hey kid, heres a test. I know what you’re doing, but look what you could be doing.  Do the right thing.  Make yourself better.  Depressed & Lazy V. Fun & Active.  I really think it was her kicking me in the ass again. So I proceeded to take the old Ferrari for a spin.  Thew on the iPod and just went.  And, what an enjoyable time.  For any of you that struggle with depression, you know that being active is one of the most important things for us.  It’s great for the mind, and body just to try and have an active lifestyle.  But, at the same time, when you’re struggling with depression.  It’s so hard to get yourself to do these “active lifestyle” things.  You always feel like the tank is empty, you have no energy. None. So you really have to work yourself up to do things sometimes, and I think that’s when you get yourself in trouble, and it makes it all the more difficult to enjoy it.  You’ve worked yourself up so much to go for a run, or play football, bike ride, whatever it is.  That when its over, its like “meh whatever, wasn’t great” and you won’t do it again, cause it took so much of you to just find some energy.

Well, I am trying to change that for myself. Trying damn hard.  I live in probably one of the most beautiful communities in the entire city of Calgary in Discovery Ridge.  Hell, nevermind. One of the most beautiful in Alberta I’d say….   Wait, well, If its one of the most beautiful in Calgary, clearly it is in Alberta cause I can’t imagine much better in Edmonton, Ft. Mac, GP, Lethbridge… Etc.  (kidding edmonton friends, that was for you)  But, seriously.  There’s so much greenery, parks, and trails, and just seemingly happy folk. If anyone has ever been through Discovery Ridge. You know what I am talking about.  It’s unbelievable here.

Right behind our house is Griffith Woods Park, which is astounding, filled with multiple bike/walking trails weaving through the woods, with little creeks and running waters.  It’s gorgeous. Have I said that yet ?  So going for a bike ride in this place is truly breathtaking, and it speaks to the shape I was in to not be able to go for a bike ride for 6 weeks. Cause, I didn’t touch that bike once in 6 weeks. When you’re struggling with depression, it’s just hard to do these things. so hard.

Off I went through discovery ridge on my Ferrari, through Griffith woods, which, sometimes can be quite frightening.  There’s so many people walking, running, biking, rollerblading, whatever through there and the paths aren’t highway sized paved roads, through these trees, if even paved. There are a lot of sharp, immediate corners that you need to be careful about.  So that proposes one hazard, before you run someone over.

Second hazard, is there are cougars everywhere, all the time… Yes, even the fuzzy cat-like kind.  So you have to watch for both of those!  Today I was riding, and in the woods ahead, I saw the golden thing, and of course, I am always thinking I am gonna see a cougar…(cat kind) so here’s this golden figure, I see. But, I am far away, so for all I know it could be a broken off tree base.  I get closer, the fucking thing moves! OMG I am shitting myself. I have finally seen this damn cougar! I instantly hammer the brakes, look for my phone… too take a picture haha.  realize, shit I left my phone at the condo.  No one is gonna believe this!  So I said screw it. I am gonna fly by this thing. I gotta see it.  So, I zoom by…….  It’s some damn golden retriever playing fetch with his/her owner.  Are you kidding me.  My heart is racing 9,000,000 beats per minute for Air Bud?  Come on.  One day, I will see the cougar.

Anyways.  It was nice to get out and enjoy the fresh air, and be active again.  The last 7 weeks I have been so up and down.  And when I was down, boy was I down.  But, now I am starting to feel better, and I think today was evidence of that.  I took the ferrari out, and enjoyed myself. I was able to enjoy “Fun & Active“, and like I said, that’s a mental heath-struggling kids dream.  And, even if it were something as simple as a hour long bike ride.  when you struggle with your brain like I do, and lot more of us.  You’ll understand.  Thats a lot. Its part of this start to “better-hood”

Tonight… Was a good night.

Thank you everyone!

Hope you enjoyed this read. I know it was a little different, and I hope you still read its entirety and had some smiles. And, if you’re ever through discovery ridge, let me know and we’ll go for one of those serene bike rides and hunt these cougars.  Either kind!

-Have a good weekend folks

Blair

“Ain’t it good to be back home” MG