Content Warning!

This blog on occasion addresses depression, death, suicide and other sensitive themes. Continue at your own discretion in reading the content.

Sunday, June 16, 2024

I Wrote A Letter

In all my years, I have never written a letter to another author but that changed yesterday morning. I had started to hand-write my letter but realized quickly that my handwriting has gotten worse as I've gotten older. 

I put my thoughts to keyboard and wrote a thank-you letter, not a note or a card but a letter to Jason "Foxy" Fox. Yes, the guy probably mostly known best for his appearance on the UK TV show SAS: Who Dares Wins. There is an Amercian version of the show Special Forces: World's Toughest Test. As mentioned in my last couple of posts, I read his first book Battle Scars. I finished his 2nd book this morning while his 3rd book sits on my table amongst a pile of other books to read.

I wrote my letter and expressed my gratitude as his story allowed me to make a life course correction. I learned that I had become disconnected from myself and had unknowingly forgotten how resilient I am and that I have persevered before. I had forgotten my battle scars which I'm still trying to figure out how I managed to let that happen.  

Regardless, I wrote my letter and with a bit of fear and hesitation I mailed it. Whether he actually gets it is another thing, but I did my part and sent my appreciation out into the world, more precisely to his publisher. I will admit I hesitated in sending the letter because I allowed myself to be vulnerable to him. He had the courage to be that way in his book, the least I could do was be vulnerable in kind. There was no way I was going to thank him by an email message or some post.  Given the subject matter of the letter, it was the best path to take.

It's the best path for all of us to take.  Seriously, we need to write thank-you letters more often to each other. We need to let people know we are thinking of them. I've been doing that since COVID started, sending cards or postcards to my friends randomly, it's my way of checking in on them and letting them know I'm thinking of them. I thought about stopping and told a few friends I was going to stop, and they asked that I didn't.  I decided to cut my mailing list down which was a compromise.

Everyone is struggling, hurting, surviving - even me. I'm not struggling as much as before but we are all going to have a few hiccups from time to time. It's life and some days are better than others, but we can strive to find a good balance.  Getting a random card or postcard in the mail with a few words does make a difference. I didn't think it was making a difference but then my friends spoke up about it.

Go forth and spread joy my friends. Send a random card to one friend, a few friends or all of your friends.  As long as it comes from a good place you can't go wrong. When I say, 'good place', I mean from the heart. Your intentions must be good. Don't half ass it. 

Today, I leave you with "Letters from Home" by John Michael Montgomery. 

Rock on!


Sunday, May 12, 2024

The Hero Lives with Battle Scars and Survives

I don’t know if it’s the weather and the trees blossoming or the universe doing its thing to help me out, but this has been the most upbeat week I’ve had in A LONG TIME!  I decided to do a different take on a mind-map and decided to map my journey since last July of my interest in the military. It has been an interesting journey. I set out drawing lines to each item that connects to another and before I knew it my journey had shown me things that I had not seen.  Things started to shift when I finished reading “Battle Scars: A Story of War and All That Follows” by Jason Fox.  I then dived into Ollie Ollerton’s “Break Point” followed by Sean J. Rogers book "Better Broken: The Hidden Advantage of a Challenging Life".  After Sean's book I then moved on to Mark "Billy" Billingham's book "The Hard Way: Adapt, Survive and Win" and lastly, “Hero Living: Seven Strides to Awaken Your Infinite Power” by Rudy Reyes.

These books called out to me and have resonated with me in different ways. I have been nourished, accepted, redeemed, validated, forgiven and a whole lot of other adjectives. I feel centered and in a good headspace which is often fleeting given that I am a high-functioning depressive.  I can’t really put into words what has happened or what changed, I’m not sure I know, but something happened and I’m going to enjoy this feeling for a long as I can. When the universe puts something in your path, pay attention as it may be something to lend you an assist in this crazy world.

Jason's book caused me to reflect on my past, freezing me in my tracks to recall my last suicide attempt. I have spent my life learning about myself, trying to understand my pain, and learn from others along the way.  That's why when reading about Jason's pain as he met that dark door of whether or not to make an attempt, I understood the pain he was wrestling with for I had been there myself.

Ollie's book allowed me to reflect even more but not in the same way that Jason's book did. The world is clearer when you aren't drowning in alcohol. Something I ditched long ago.  Alcohol didn't impact me to the point I was using to medicate but it simply was not good for me and my headspace.  It brought the darkness closer, allowing it to entwine me, taking me hostage. I had to fight to keep it away.

I have to admit that Sean's book, out of all the books, didn't resonate strongly but I walked away with something. Same with Billy's book.  It's not to say these books are bad, they are quite good, and I wholly recommend reading them.  What I realized is that the things they spoke of I had been through in my own way and dealt with.  I welcomed learning about their journeys because it's so important to learn from other paths, but their paths were ones I recognized in myself. 

That is what these books, these stories from these vulnerably strong men showed me. They reflected my life journey in various ways. These are men with stories to tell and share. It is their pain, the journey of learning about self that matters. Like I said, I felt validated and nourished by their tales of perseverance and resiliency. 

I was drawn to all these books, the universe putting them in my path for a reason.  Lastly, I picked up Rudy Reyes' book and so began another journey. Our lives very different but the journey to finding self and who you are, was a journey I knew.  Rudy had presented the journey I had been on in a different way. I appreciated this because I was reminded of things I had forgotten and then it was like everything showed itself to me again. All my life lessons, all the things I know about myself woke up. 

My brain started chewing on craft project ideas again, I started writing more in my journal, started purging things. In some ways, I was spring cleaning my inner self and my environment. It really has been a great feeling.  A weight, lifting off of me allowing me to feel free but I also realized that while my world is mostly dark, along the way I learned to keep the light on within myself. 

I learned that Ollie and Jason have written other books and those are on their way.  I was watching SAS Australia; they have an American on the show - a former member of SEAL Team Six and had the recruits on the show read his bracelet.  The show was on in the background while I was processing data for work when my attention was grabbed by the phrase - "The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday."

I was not familiar with this quote and had to look it up. I did not know that this was part of the ethos of Navy SEALS.  I read a couple of articles about it, learning that it serves as a reminder that every day brings new challenges as well as opportunities for us to grow. As we tackle these challenges and opportunities, working hard every day, then yesterday was easy.

I am thankful for these books.  I am thankful for these stories.  While these stories are of Jason, Ollie, Sean, Mark and Rudy, they are also OUR stories. Stories of trauma, of loss, pain, redemption, acceptance, courage, perseverance, resiliency, and most of all...forgiveness. These men reminded me that I am still here. I AM STILL HERE! I have been battling for a long-time, but a uniform was never needed to fight.  All that was needed was me. 

For today's musical treat, I leave you with Queen's "Who Wants to Live Forever". It feels like the appropriate song for today.  To Jason, Ollie, Sean, Mark and Rudy, thank-you for your courage on and off the battlefield. 

Rock on!


Saturday, April 20, 2024

Battle Scars and the 3rd Path

It has been a while since I have posted on here. I do apologize for that as the past few months have been not so great. It is no secret that I share my struggles with my dysthymia but always trying to move forward and understand, always trying to discover myself. 

One day, in the most random of ways I had thought about the famous poem by Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken. Most of us are familiar with this poem in one form or another as it talks about taking the road less traveled by and how that has made a difference. I got to thinking, what if neither road - the one everyone takes, or the one less traveled by are the right path? What if there is a third path that no one has touched? Each step is a new discovery of some kind, you simply don't know what will greet you after four steps or 10,000 steps. You have to take a step to see what is next. 

What you discover won't always make sense up front either. That is where I find myself as I have been delving into military-themed YouTube channels. I've stuck to just a small few. I think I am drawn to the hosts in these videos as there is something there for me.  It is the struggle of finding light in the darkness. Something I know a lot about.  I am fully aware that my battles with suicide and depression cannot come close to the battles that military personnel have endured but I think I can find some common ground with them. 

My pull to the military has resulted in me buying five books. I cracked the first one called Battle Scars: A Story of War and All That Follows by Jason Fox. It talks about his depression and PTSD. At one point in the book, he talks about jumping off a cliff, deciding whether or not to end his life.  That hit me hard and for good reason as I thought about jumping from a roof for one of my attempts. Admittedly, I read his words and had to stop. I couldn't put the book down and simply sat on the page. I was frozen, lost in my own memory only to resume the chapter, each word eerily reflecting my own moment of despair.  A part of me felt like I was standing with him on that cliff, but I was not filled with despair but calmness. I wanted to talk to him and tell him - this is not our path, it seems like it, the darkness so inviting but this isn't our path, it's not our way.

I have three chapters to go in the book, but it has been a good read. I am glad I went with his book first.  The other books in my pile are by Ollie Ollerton, Mark "Billy" Billingham and Sean Rogers. 

I am way behind in watching movies and completely forgot that there was a Matrix 4 - Matrix: Resurrections. It was a decent movie even if I didn't quite follow all of the storyline.  There is a scene where Thomas Anderson/Neo is in a meeting with his therapist/The Analyst and the therapist makes a comment how he's a suicide survivor and talks about how Tom tried to jump off a building.  I was like, "finally", some recognition to call someone who has made an attempt not an attempted suicide survivor (ass), but simply suicide survivor.  Hallelujah!  The only thing about the movie that bummed me out, and not really the movie itself but the damn trailer for the movie had an incredible version of White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane but yet the damn song is NOT on the movie soundtrack unless they renamed it.  The orchestration for it in the movie trailer is awesome. It has such a full rich sound, with texture and colors. The way it slow burns is awesome and it's a shame that the version in the trailer doesn't seem to be available.

This has been my life recently, swimming around in other people's trauma - real or fictionalized, finding things that resonate with me. Admittedly, I have been struggling, trying to understand my pull to the military and finding my path again. For a while now I have felt lost, unsure of what it is that I should be doing. I have sought nourishment from those around me only to be ignored so I am pulling back and focusing on those that actually stay in touch with me. For four years I have been trying to feed myself with something I like doing but it is hard to keep going when there is nothing to show for it. It's a one-way relationship and it's time to cut my losses.

I need to create a world for me, answering desires to do something even if I don't understand the "why" fully such as my recent project of sending items for care packages for military personnel. I felt like I needed to and so I did. I even sent an 8-page letter to be put in a care package so some lucky or un-lucky solider will get 8 pages of me rambling. I did put a couple of humorous stories in there for a good chuckle. 

Today's music treat, I went digging a bit, all the way back to 1986 - I was still in high school when this song game out. Enjoy GTR - When the Heart Rules the Mind.

Rock On!


Saturday, February 24, 2024

Winter Blah

 It's been a while, huh?

I have a lot of catching up to do with this blog and apologize for the absence.  It is no secret given the title of my blog that I deal with dysthymia. This can be a pain in the ass as I haven't felt motivated to do much of anything these past few months.

In my quest to be more active I bought a walking pad that I had to return.  False advertising and the thing was horrible to adjust.  So, I returned the walking pad and bought an exercise bike. Honestly, I should have bought that first. I have been on it every other day so while not great, it's better than nothing. Plus, I'm not training for the Tour de France, so I'm fine with slowly working up my time spent on it. 

I recently tried a book nook kit, which was fun. I opted to try another kit, so we'll see how it goes. The newer kit is more complex so it will take longer to put together but I'm okay with that. 

My day job is okay. Some days it drives me nuts, not so much the work but my co-workers. Honestly, I don't know what it is with 20 somethings not knowing how to problem solve. They want you to give them the answers instead of finding them on their own. There are videos, guides, so many resources that the company provides to help someone do their job, but do they look things up? No. It's much easier to ask your co-worker who has been around for 20+ years.  When started with the company, there were no guides, no videos. The woman who trained me gave me a half page document with the basics and that was it. I had to figure the rest of my job out on my own.

I try not to write about work here but while I'm at it, if anyone reading this blog is looking for work - do yourself a favor and put your contact information on your resume!!!  I can't stress this enough.  It does not matter if you filled out an online form or submitted a cover letter.  Your resume will get passed around to others who don't have access to your application submission.  I could give more advice given the amount of resumes I've processed through the years but contact information is the big one. 

My project in my spare room moves slowly and at times not at all. Like I said, motivation to do anything while dealing with dysthymia is a tricky thing.  I do have moments where I can chip away for 30 minutes and then my motivation vanishes. 

I guess you could say I dabble in things. I do a little of this and a little of that all the time. I have been doing brain games to entertain myself and other little projects.  Trying new things is a nice change of pace.

Even listening to music is a welcome change of pace. I have added new albums to my collection, in genres that I normally wouldn't listen too.  I have turned back to bands that I listened to a lot in years past such as Megadeth.  It's interesting when you put an old album and reconnect with it.  When you listen to older songs, they may sound dated and then there are other songs or albums that have stood the test of time. You might find a hidden gem or a song you forgot about. 

I leave you not with a hidden gem but a song I forgot about but was happy to rediscover. For your music treat I leave you with "Almost Honest" by Megadeth from their Cryptic Writings album which came out in 1997.  Can't believe it's been that long!

Rock on!


Thursday, November 23, 2023

Walking and Writing

It's been a while since I wrote. First off, I did meet my walking challenge back in September for Mission 22. I walked 48+ miles. I finished before the end of the month and was happy that I was able to meet the goal. I did donate and write them a letter for which I received a very unexpected surprise. I did not expect this at all, but it brought me to tears. When your heart is in the right place, good things do happen.

With it being November, NaNoWriMo is here! I am happy to say that I hit the 50,000-word count. I actually went over the limit - 75,000+ and hit a bigger target of 1 million words.  Now that I have hit the 1 million plus word count, I will retire from doing this challenge. I started participating in 2005 and so it is fitting to end on a high note.

I don't have much else to report. I have been buying more vinyl albums, adding to my collection and expanding into genres I normally wouldn't listen to. I have also found things that have struck up memories from my childhood.  I recently bought albums from Electric Light Orchestra, Cozy Cole, and George Benson. 

As a matter of fact, your musical treat is George Benson's guitar masterpiece "On Broadway".

Rock On!