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.

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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It’s May 7th. It’s 5 years. Time For Something Different – Cheers Jen.

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The world’s stopping but we keep going

And we’re ruthless and we’re cunning
And I’m heir to it all

Days like these you’ve gotta find it in some other way
It’s all or nothing baby

Avalanche, start inside of me
Avalanche, down through the trees
Avalanche, start inside of me
Avalanche, hell down through the trees

– Matthew Good –

The day that I have feared for… well, since last May 7th, has arrived.  But, in particular the day that I have loathed for the last few weeks.  5 years since Jen found peace.  It’s been a weird few weeks.  Last time I wrote in this blog, I wasn’t doing well.  Whatsoever.  It didn’t look like I was going to make it this far to be completely honest.  It’s almost like completing a marathon when you do actually get here.  It feels like a mental accomplishment, you’re relieved and you’re exhausted.  But, in the days and week following when I last wrote in the blog, things got better.  Much better.  I felt true happiness, for the first time in a long time.  I felt a lot of things I never have before. Things I didn’t know were possible for me to even feel again, as I was quite sure I had gone completely numb.  It was weird.  It was like Jen knew where I was and just reinstalled all these emotions and feelings back into me. Everything that I was pretty sure I had become incapable of.  Making me feel like a human again.  I think she knew there was no way I was going to get through the next few weeks on my own. She was probably right.  Just the people that have been put into my life, the opportunities I’ve had, and the good friends and family I have been able to spend some time with over the last few weeks that have really helped me get to here in one piece.  Even if it were just for a short while, it was a longing impact.  I’m quite sure all of it was her lending yet another hand to push me through another difficult time.  The playoffs & weather don’t hurt either.  Thanks Jen.  Can you help MA Fleury make a save now, please? Haha.

I’ve spent the last few weeks gearing up for May 7th, and now that we’ve arrived to this day.  It’s… kind of a bittersweet day.  There is nothing sweet about it.  But, you’ve thought about this very day for the last 30, and you’ve made it.  Like I said, it’s as if I just finished a marathon of sorts.  An emotional marathon, if you will.  But now what? Well, if I ever can shut my brain off and go to sleep…  I am going to drive to Edmonton to spend time with my mom, and some other friends and family and just have a few Stella beers, and celebrate a life that was of Jennifer’s.  It’s been 5 years.  And that’s not to say it’s time to get over it.  Because I never will, but the last 5 years I’ve been miserable, and have been completely sad on the couple weeks leading up to, and May 7th and the day itself.  But, this year… I wanted to try something different, gather a group of people and head to the pub where I last had a beer with my mom and Jen, and just enjoy the day.  Enjoy the sun. Enjoy the company. Enjoy the memories, and just enjoy Jen’s legacy.  Last time I was at O’Byrnes, it was my mom, Jen and myself crushing beers in the sun.  I am ready to do the same tomorrow, with the same 2 people and the rest of our supporting cast.

I am fearful, and nervous that I won’t be able to handle this tomorrow, and that it will be a heartbreaking experience.  And, I am sure it will.  But, its time we do what Jen would want on May 7th.  Celebrate her life. Stop crying, stop lamenting and just have a fucking beer with her.

Plus, I owe her one after she helped get me to this day.

See you at O’Byrnes @ 2:00 pm Jen!

– Cheers –

 

 


I don’t know what it is lately, but the best company is myself, alone.  Which is ironic cause I know right now I am not my best self.  I don’t know what that even really looks like actually, good question… what does my best self look like.  Personally.  I don’t know. Does anyone?

It’s been awhile since I wrote in this blog… It’s been months, I don’t know why.  I want to say the reason is because I have been so much better…  I have conquered my depression, I am happy now. I am O.K.  But, in being completely honest to my self now.  That’d be horribly false.   It was a hectic month of March.  Hockey ended and I left my old job, thankfully and started a new one.  Which has been absolutely amazing.  The people at the new job have been nothing short of phenomenal; the job itself has been much the same.  So that’s been a significant change…for the better.  It’s been a big change, especially mood wise. I am happy with my new job. I am happy at work… And, while I am happier, when I am happy, that down, empty, withdrawn emotion has not really left.   As people who also suffer from depression can attest too, we can make these changes, like a new job for example and we can be happier when we are happy, but we can still be depressed, and still be down, empty, or sad.  And, I still am.  It sometimes can create a challenge, in that it’s misleading.  Sometimes, including the entire month of March, and more so beginning of this month, I’d think I am doing great… because, I am happier when I am happy, but, I am still going through these lows, and lulls but its easier to waiver them because, the highs are high.  Which, in the moment seems like all we need.

Do I think I’ve been doing better? Yes. I do.  But, am I 100% removed of my illness?  No, and I don’t know that I will ever be.  There are days where I have accepted that, and then days where I am afraid of that.  Days where I don’t think I’ll ever make it to see if I can ever rid myself of this illness.  Then some days, most days, the thought is… It’s ok.  I can manage it, I am happy right now….  Those are the thoughts when I am doing ok…. Which, is for the most part, more then I am sad, down or empty.  Which… right now, that’s how I keep score in this battle, and the winner is frequently changing.  No one can keep a damn lead.

Part of the problem I think of late has been that it’s that difficult time of the year for myself, and my family.  It’s nearing May 7th…  May 7th will be the 5-year anniversary of my sister passing away.  Every year, it seems that a few weeks leading up to this day is extremely difficult.  As my mom put it today… It’s the “pre-anniversary depression” And, that’s exactly what it is.  I’ve slowly started to notice it take over.  Daily, I think about May 7th.  I think about the May 7th five years ago, and I think about the May 7th coming up in 3 weeks.  I am afraid of it. I am nervous.  I just have no idea what to expect from myself.  Every year it’s the same thing. Am I going to be ok? Am I going to be sad? Am I going to miss it? Am I going to do things the right way? Am I?… Am I?… Am I?… I just work myself up so much for the day, overthinking and overanalyzing just about everything.  I try to just let it be another day. But, it’s not. So how can I. How can I even bother pretending, and I just hate that suggestion.  There have been years in the past where May 7th seemed like a manageable day itself, and when it’s over I’m almost relieved… but feeling slightly guilty because I thought it was maybe easier then it should have been?  Then, there have been some years where May 7th is a completely overbearing and emotionally fucking exhausting day.  What I fear the most is I don’t know which one of these two days it’s going to be.  And, I think about it. Hourly, making the lead up to May 7th… almost worse then the actual day itself.  Last year, it was manageable because I was able to avoid the build up.  One day I was Venice, then I was in Bari, then I was in Corfu, then Santorini, then Katakolon, then Kusadasi, then Zurich… Avoiding the lead up to May 7th was a breeze.  The actual day itself, I remember it still being difficult.  I was in Zurich. I was my other self.  Quiet. Empty. Withdrawn.  But nothing out of what is normal for me. I was still Ok.  I think.  It’s easy to look back and say that now.  But, I was in Europe. I was with people.  For some reason, on that day, alike the others I almost always want to be alone.  Which, in turn is likely the worst idea possible.  I feel like, because it’s such a challenging day for me, I don’t want to bring other people into my misery.  Into my world.  But, I think that’s exactly what I need is to lean on my support group of friends, and family that day… At least that’s what they tell me anyways.  But for me, I feel as though, as much as I maybe wish it to be “just another day” for me like it is for all else, it just isn’t and I shouldn’t nuance someone else to become involved.   I can remember in previous years though, it’s almost like I’ve been upset, or annoyed at people not knowing that it’s May 7th.  And, what that means for me.  I have a hard time remembering that IT IS just another day for everyone else.  Why should they act, or say something differently to me… and if they did act differently, I’d probably hate that equally as much, if not more!

It’s just like, as I’ve wrote about before… When my sister passed away and I thought the world would stop. I thought it did.  It certainly did for me…But, people still walked and got the mail, they still cut their grass and they still took their dogs for walks.  I couldn’t believe it. It didn’t seem right.  That’s almost how I feel about every May 7th now.  The world stops for me.  It’s almost as if it should stop entirely.  People will still go to work, they will still walk their dogs and get the mail and in 3 weeks that will astound me.  It’s doesn’t emotionally make sense for me!

Nonetheless, this year, right now.  I am no question deep into the “pre-anniversary depression” There is no doubt it is hitting me hard right now.  I won’t deny that.  That’s what started this entire blog, was not denying my depression… right! … And, to be honest, I have been denying it to myself the last few weeks.  But, right now… given the extenuating mental, and emotional circumstances… I’d be lying to that self to say I am at my best right now, and don’t take it personally, or to heart if I come across a tad withdrawn… It’s just that season for me. It’s a challenging time.

It’s coming on five years, and I feel like it’s just the other day Jen & I were with mom on Whyte Ave at O’Byrnes in Edmonton enjoying a Stella.  I can remember even the exact spot I had parked my car.  I can remember what everyone was wearing…

Here is a picture of us having a beer at O Byrnes.  Last beer I had with her.

Here is a picture of us having a beer at O Byrnes. Last beer I had with her.

This would be the last time I ever enjoyed a beer with my sister.  It felt like it was last weekend.

I miss her.  And days like these, and weeks coming… I think about her more then ever, and more then anything…and in part I work myself up more then is healthy.

… Bare with me

 

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