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.

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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