One Day I Was

One week ago today, I was in the process of working an 11-hour day. The next day, I played basketball in my driveway. The day after that, I went to church that morning and attended a Super Bowl party that evening.

Since that time, I have worked a day-and-a-half. I found out I have the beginnings of arthritis and bone spurs in my lower back and been to the chiropractor twice. I’ve also visited my family doctor twice, had two strep tests and one flu test (none of which came back positive), and received a new prescription today, bringing my total for the week to three.

I have no plans for this weekend, save for lying around the house, resting, sleeping, and, hopefully, healing up enough that I can return to work Monday.

What happened?

I mean, last week, I was a picture of health. I was running around everywhere, picking up portable tables (which sort of got me into some of the back trouble I mentioned earlier), playing guitar, blogging every day, eating whatever I wanted (to an extent), going wherever I wanted to go. I worked a full day yesterday, came home, and spent an hour in the bathroom sitting in front of a space heater to get warm.

What a difference a week makes.

I’m going to get over whatever this sickness is, and my back is going to improve. I don’t mean that to sound arrogant; I just know that sicknesses go away, and my back has been messed up like this before and gotten better. What all this has reminded me, though, is how quickly life can change. In this case, the changes have been purely physical. In other instances, though, they can be mental. And heartbreaking.

One of the stories that broke while I’ve been laid up this week was the one concerning Randy Quaid. As I watched 635586404474725712-Randy-Quaidhim bizarrely rant against Rupert Murdoch and Warner Bros., sporting that long white beard but still speaking like the Cousin Eddie I remember, I thought of all the people I’ve known who have done things I never expected them to. I don’t just mean they were mean when I didn’t expect them to be or they had some type of moral failure; I mean they went freaking nuts.

They changed. One day they were normal; the next thing I knew, they weren’t.

What happened?

Life and health are precious things. They have to be guarded and protected. Mental health is no different, though. Just as whatever sickness I had developed in my body and my back trouble accumulated over time, falling from healthy thought into mental illness or struggle is not something that just happens in an instant, no matter how sudden it may seem to us. Just as I couldn’t see any of the physical problems I’ve experienced this week coming, however, we rarely see mental difficulties setting upon us. One day, we’re just there, and then we have to figure out how to get back.

I’ve never become ill and not believed I would get better, but the day will eventually come when that happens. It’s not today, though. I have lived under the impression I would be depressed forever, and that is faulty thinking I have to battle every day. One day I was healthy; next day I wasn’t. I will be again, though. Whether you have suddenly awakened to the fact you are depressed or anxious or addicted, you can be okay again.

One day you were well. I want you to be well again.

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Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

If you’re a follower of this blog, you probably noticed there wasn’t any “Tuneful Tuesdays” post here yesterday. In fact, there wasn’t any post at all here yesterday. The explanation for this is pretty simple.

Yesterday sucked.

External factors were certainly involved. My mom is in the hospital right now with the symptoms of what is likely chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). My youngest daughter had a case of strep throat this week. My two oldest daughters are still playing basketball for a local Christian private school, practicing three days a week, and my oldest son has started Upward Basketball now as well. And, of course, as with any job, there has been no shortage of workplace drama to occupy my time.

Certainly a list such as this could cause a day to not go so well. The real problems, though, were internal, with me. I threw the day away. I stayed on the internet too much. I didn’t get enough work done. I was irritable with those around me. I did morally disappointing things I won’t discuss here. All of this put me in a state of agitation, guilt, shame, and depression. In short, I found some mud, and I wallowed in it.

Identity-ChrisYM-Blog-4-In the midst of all this, I began taking a new antidepressant yesterday. Most antidepressants don’t really start showing any effects until after a few weeks of use, so there is obviously going to be an adjustment period. I was discussing this with someone yesterday when they gave me a somewhat unexpected admonition: Be very careful to not to start identifying yourself too closely with what you’re dealing with. In other words, just because you struggle with depression, don’t let your whole life be about that.

So yesterday was a train wreck, today was me coping with the fallout of everything that happened the day before, and tomorrow will be … what? Well, I know what it could be. It could be another day of me filtering everything through the lens of a person who is struggling with depression. Someone who is going to do the best he can to cope with the struggles he faces. Someone who has to fight back the various temptations that have dogged him for years, temptations that will never go away.

Or…

Instead of focusing on the symptoms of my depression, maybe I could focus on ways to alleviate those symptoms. Better yet, I could start living as someone who has figured out what was going on with himself mentally and has taken strides to improve himself. I could put safeguards in place to avoid those temptations and realize I am someone who can overcome them. I could stop dwelling on all the things I’ve done wrong in the past and start living in the present instead. I could take one step at a time instead of attempting to review the past 20 years and map out a strategy for the next 20.

I started this blog to offer encouragement for those struggling with depression or mental issues. I wanted to let people know they weren’t alone, that someone else out there knew how they were feeling. Somewhere along the way, though, I became more focused on problems than solutions. I never want to pretend I have all the answers. In fact, I generally don’t like bloggers who claim to. If I don’t begin to think like an overcomer again, though, I am doomed to just keep repeating the same miserable days over and over again. When I went in for counseling over a year ago and began taking medication, I didn’t do it so I could remain the same. I did it so my days would get better.

So, to summarize… Yesterday, bad. Today, rebuilding. Tomorrow, hopeful. All I can do is move on. I haven’t been doing very much of that lately. Tomorrow would be a good day to start again.

The Sad Internet

Call it my pessimistic nature, but I’ve grown a little wary of distributing advice here after the last couple of blog posts. Maybe that’s because I don’t want to seem like I think I’m an expert on recovering from depression, because I am far from it. Maybe that’s because I feel as if the first day of the new year today actually took me even further away from where I want to eventually be mentally. Or maybe that’s because I’ve just run out of good ideas to write about this week.

Whatever the cause, this post will not attempt to address my own personal journey with depression, but will instead focus on something which is universal to everyone – failure. More specifically, I want to examine epic failures, how they are often played for laughs, how they must affect the person or persons who are failing, and how some people can bounce back from them while others never will.

sadinternetThe inspiration for all this comes from an article I read this morning on Yahoo! Tech titled “The Sad Internet: 2014 in Review,” written by Rob Walker. In the article, Walker describes “The Sad Internet” as “a place full of unwatched videos, unliked photographs, unheard music, tweets that no one cared about, and crowdfunding projects that nobody backed.” He goes on to describe several websites which define the spirit of this somewhat morose side of the internet today.

For example, the website Forgotify randomly presents songs featured on Spotify that have never received any listens whatsoever. Petit Tube is a French website which features YouTube videos that have never been viewed by you or anyone else, for that matter. Perhaps the saddest of all the sites mentioned in the article is Kickended, a site which features Kickstarter projects that failed to attract even a single backer.

Walker’s article sort of plays all this for laughs, and it is difficult to deny there is something funny about the idea of forgotifysomething being terrible enough it is unable to attract any attention whatsoever. Then again, maybe it’s not so difficult to deny the supposed humor of the situation. I checked out Forgotify this afternoon, and while 99 percent of the song selections that popped up featured cover art so dismal I was afraid to listen to the actual songs themselves, I felt a tinge of sympathy for these musicians and singers. As atrocious as their offerings may have been, I’m sure none of them believed while they were making their projects that they would be ignored by everyone.

This is a sad internet, indeed. Hopeful entrepreneurs who can’t get a dime to fund their projects; merry jokesters who can’t even garner a single viewing of their best video offerings; and people who are cruel enough to set up entire websites dedicated to pointing out the failures of others. The Sad Internet, though, is really just a reflection of the sometimes sad state of life. People who give it their best shots fail every day, and every day there are other people waiting to rub their noses in their failures. It may as well be called “The Real Life Internet.”

This principle of real life, however, is what makes me not quite as sad for these victims of The Sad Internet as I might have been. Because a large majority of those people who fail in life every day somehow manage to dust themselves off and get right back on the horse again. And even though some of them never produce anything much better than their last failure, I have a certain admiration for their fighting spirit. I tend to let my failures cling to me, causing me to be afraid to try again. At least these “sad” people took their shots.

Of course, the psychology of The Sad Internet could be endlessly explored. For instance, while the internet has been touted as a place to connect people and bring the world closer together, it very often causes feelings of isolation, inadequacy, and bitterness. All of that is a discussion best left for another time, however. I’m going to look for some hidden gems on Forgotify. You never know what prize someone else might have passed over.