Another Battle.

[…continued…]

Quiet the raging dragon
Full of fire
Hot headed
Of singular purpose

You are the monster slayer
Armour and weapon equipped
Intimate knowledge of
Its weakness and strengths

The manoeuvres of battle
Are in your blood
Muscle memory
And instinct

This long conflict
Is yours, but not alone
Gain strength
From cheering supporters

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Acknowledgement is Half the Battle.

Acknowledging a problem
Is difficult when
Your brain chemistry
Is messed up

You know something is wrong
But you don’t want to admit
To what you see
As a health failure

Blaming yourself
Thinking others will
Blame you too
Not good enough

Trying to trick yourself
To bypass stuck thoughts
Getting to – “It’s ok
to feel this way”

When you shout back
“It’s not!
What’s wrong with me
That I can’t get better?”

(Understandable anger
Tired and run down
From all – This
internal fighting)

Breath.
Be kind to yourself
and
Do what nobody else can

[…to be continued…]

Image: JENNI HOLMA/Getty Images

Depression Is NOT a Mental Illness (reblog)

[ this is a great short article that a friend shared on FB. It explains something complex so well that I needed to also share it here. Written by Jamie Flexman http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/jamie-flexman/depression-mental-illness_b_3931629.html ]

It’s physical
This is a short article that I wish to get out there because it constantly irritates me about the many misconceptions regarding depression, what it is and who gets it. I want to begin by asking a simple question.

What is the difference between depression and food poisoning?

I’ll tell you.

With food poisoning you can phone in sick to work and your boss will allow you to have a day or two off with no questions asked. Have you ever tried to phone in sick with depression? I bet most of you haven’t, mainly because you just KNOW that your boss won’t believe you, let alone be ok with it.

So you make up a ‘real’ illness – you know, one that everyone can relate to
How about when your friend asks you how you are feeling today? With food poisoning you can straight out tell them what is wrong and you will get sympathy in return. Tell them you are feeling down and all you’ll probably get is a ‘well cheer up, it can’t be that bad’.

It’s at this point you fantasise about punching them in the face.

The media, bless ’em, do their best to paint any form of mental illness in a positive light. Explaining that depression, anxiety, addiction and anything related to those three are now legitimate diseases that deserve the same respect and attention as anything physical.

Well thanks but the last I heard, the brain was a part of the body, and a damn important one at that.

As long as we treat an illness of the brain as something different from the rest of the body then it will never receive the same amount of attention.

Unless you have experienced it, you can never truly understand
How many of you have a tail? You know, like a monkey. If you haven’t (which I hope is everyone), can you imagine what it is like to grip a branch or maybe just swing it back and forth? It’s impossible isn’t it?

We’ve never had one so that’s not surprising.

Depression is similar to that. If it’s something that you have never experienced then you can try as hard as you want, but you will never truly know what it feels like.

Are you having a bad day? Nope that’s not depression.

Are you bummed out because that girl/guy you like has just rejected your advances? Nope that’s not depression.

Have you spent all week in a foul mood because your favourite team has lost a cup final? Nope that’s not depression either.

It isn’t a change in mood related to a trivial life event. If your whole world is slowly being turned upside down because of what is happening inside your mind then you may well be depressed. If these thoughts have been present for several weeks or months then yes, you may be depressed.

There is a big difference between feeling down and having depression and this brings me to my next point.

You cannot just ‘snap out of it’ or ‘pull yourself together’
I like analogies so steady your hats because here comes another one.

Depression is like trying to run through water and being told to get over it is akin to suddenly being able to move like you can on dry land. It’s impossible. You can grit your teeth and attempt to get some momentum going but ultimately the density will prevent you from moving quickly.

When depression has its grip on you, life becomes water. The air around you becomes water, crushing you with its weight and even the simplest tasks become difficult. You feel sluggish, both mentally and physically and nothing can snap you out of it.

You have essentially become trapped inside your own prison and true access to your brain lies behind that locked door. Sometimes, briefly, you are allowed outside to stretch your legs but you know this is temporary. Eventually you will have to return to your cell and wait patiently for a time when you are given another opportunity to function like a normal member of society.

There is no choice in the matter. All we can do is take advantage of our good days and try to minimise the effect our bad days have on us.

Here is what I want you to do
If you have ever experienced any form of depression, anxiety or addiction then please share this article via your social media. The more people that understand, the less stressful and easier our lives will become.

How I started writing

Cogitating after writing my last poem, I realised this week I had already been thinking about my writing development and where it got started. I’m sharing here to let you know about one person’s journey and perhaps you will pick up some pointers for your own journey.

I remember enjoying some writing or poetry exercises in primary school. I don’t remember anything outside of the education stream. Although my best friend through primary and early high school used to write very short stories and share with me so it’s possible I also dabbled a little.

I realised that I started writing out my thoughts from a training exercise in teacher’s college, over 25 years ago! (I suspect there is no record of anything other than very occasional school writings before then.) We were required to write daily journal entries for at least 4 weeks and here I found my conversational style of writing (with frequent use of layering bracketed asides (just like this)).

At some point after I dropped out of that course, I discovered the need to keep writing. To distil the thoughts in my head into something manageable, and sometimes just to clear it out. I grew a fondness of writing on lined pads with 2mm nib coloured felt tip pens (I think the American term is Sharpie, from the brandname). Water-based, in red, blue, black and maybe a green as well. This let me get words down on the page rapidly using broad strokes of big letters taking up double lines on the page. At times my mood would be quieter and I would use finer felt tip pens, or a ball-point pen, within single lines of the page, but the preference always remained for boldness.

My writing became influenced by some books I came across. They were paraphrased contemporary versions of the Psalms from the Christian Bible. Psalms are essentially songs of old, so I felt very connected with the style which came similarly within my more poetic writing at times.

Fast forward through the years, lots of writing to clear intense emotion.
For something new I started writing a blog in 2004, similar to this one, but less refined, more a place to put down my thoughts and occasional poem. Though it does contain a few gems which I may repost here.
A five year break in my writing records. I was doing a lot of personal development work. Some weekend and day courses with others. Writing focussed on very specific goals or outcomes. A lot of insight. Some breakthroughs, but not enough. Monthly discussion meetings. Generally good times.

Then last year, some personal crisis while travelling overseas, and I connected with a recent friend (who then became the one person I can talk about anything with) and after some very deep discussions, they suggested to start blogging again, and so it began here.

I started writing as I felt the need, when it was all just bursting below the surface, needing expression. I searched for other writers, looking for connections, finding them, growing them, but especially being inspired by what others wrote around here. And that continues now in even more exciting ways. I see people collaborating across the globe and timezones. They share their own journeys and ideas, promoting more writing. But always with an authenticity from focussing deep within, and a fair serving of vulnerability. Just as I always strive for.

I find my writing now comes out when I confine my focus to my personal space, shutting out the rest of the world for a time. Usually at home in a quiet loungeroom. In these days of technology, I achieve this typing away in the Notes app, on a virtual ipad keyboard, or more often, on a portable bluetooth keyboard connected to my phone. Small, focussed, writing. Instantly saved and shared across devices, just how I like it.

How did you get started? What are your favourite writing techniques or places? Do share.

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The Struggle

Struggling mind
Lost motivation
Where am I now?
Looking back where I’ve been
So much traveling
So little progress
Or so it seems.
Why do I hurt
(deep inside)?
Why do I cry out
(while desperate to hide)?
Am I blind
To what exists here?
Or is that all the reason
I crumble in despair?
Just what would it take
to turn this around
to just feel good
for some extended time?
I know
that it wears me down
mind, body, emotions
create, the hurt, the frown.
Searching how
to turn my life around
Searching now
My life needs turning around.

Monday Meme – Vancouver Lights (Response)


Vancouver city lights
Shining so bright
All through the night
To my heart’s delight
As I look from this height
Oh what a sight
Emotions take flight
And soar like a kite
With the wind just right
I forget my plight
And feel no fright
This moment just right
This moment I write.

-=-

my response to Shawn’s Monday Meme photo prompt over at http://shawnbird.com/2013/11/25/monday-meme-vancouver-lights/

One more thing

One thing nobody knows about me.

I grew up in a reasonably musical family. I started learning piano when I was 7 or 8. Apparently I really wanted to and pestered my parents for a time until they were certain it wasn’t some passing wish. I don’t remember any of that. My teacher lived about 5km away. I would have been driven there initially but then rode my bicycle most of the time. I must have enjoyed it as I kept up with lessons and examinations for the next 8 years.

But I remember the frustration.

It was learning something new that involved intricate coordination between the mind and fingers.
I had always been very smart at school, something to do with having two older brothers and wanting to do what they did, read what they did, enjoy what they did (my curiosity coming into play), so I guess I stretched myself ahead as much as possible. But with this piano playing there was no other goal to focus on. I was on my own, stumbling and fumbling (maybe perfectionism coming into play) frustrated at my lack of skill. Expecting to be able to do this as easily as everything else in life came to me.

I remember days where my frustration at practicing and “getting it wrong” led me to tears at the piano. (Crying for myself at a time when that was still possible.) Hating the difficulty. Wanting to just be able to get it right. Wanting to give up. Not wanting to go to lessons because I felt like I was so bad at it. I was probably made to go sometimes. I just remember feeling like a failure unless I got it (mostly) perfect.

I generally did well at exams.
The theory tests weren’t a concern, it wasn’t difficult to learn those details just as learning at school was quite easy. The practical tests: playing set pieces; sight-reading; and general musicianship,  generally received high marks. My ear and understanding of music were excellent. So incentive to practice and do better were not high, I probably did the minimum I could to get through. I wonder what might have been had I practiced more, but that was never where my head was at, so it is just another “what if” thought.

Somewhere early in there I think depression crept in. I now realise I have always had food intolerances that have at times left me very sick. As a child such things were not understood by myself nor anyone around me. What must have started back then is what I now know – that low health creates a very negative mental situation that also feeds back into reducing my physical health.
Not a traditional mental health depression treatable with cognitive behavioural therapy. More of a body & brain chemistry is haywire,  “normal” thought patterns are not possible depression.
Intertwined with a delayed social understanding that created much awkwardness interacting with anybody outside my siblings, although I always got on with “older” people such as my brothers’ friends or family friends that took an interest in me.

Consequently I struggled at High School. Other people’s smarts catching up with mine. Some-sort-of-depression and frequent physical-incapacitation holding me back from fitting in socially and learning as quickly as I used to. I would hang out with the geeks, because we always had something in common, and personal computers were just starting to arrive (Apple IIs in school and then Commodore 64s at home).

I remember being sent to some sort of day group with other boys from around the city. Some counsellor would spend time in a quiet room asking me questions and I don’t think I ever said a word – I just didn’t know what to say. Socialising with the others at the centre and at some other locations, I witnessed them acting out and being upset at what I considered strange little things, I started to recognise witheld anger. One day I learnt how privileged I was, when one of the boys arrived without any shoes on even though we were going out crabbing that day. He said he just forgot to put them on, but later I heard that he had  jumped out his bedroom window and run over without them because his dad was drunk or angry that morning and he was too scared to stay any longer.

-=-

So maybe not just one thing. But it started with wanting to share the story about my piano learning and the cries of frustration therein. Because that ties in with some other comments shared with other ‘pressers this morning, as well as how I am currently approaching my growing creative output. I also lied, I think one other person knows all this – albeit in a more scattered framework – but they don’t count at the moment.
So if you, my ‘pressing friends, have managed to reach this point on the page, you deserve congratulations, and my sincere thanks for persisting reading.
No poetry. No philosophy. Just something I need to write out. And, just, maybe, to let it go.

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creative Summer ideas

Every time my thoughts go there
My heart cries out in longing and despair
Dragging me back to the present and past
Pain and Hurt
That I must work around
Or leave behind me
Somehow.
Scary thoughts of life changing
For the better
Or some other.
Proceed with positive focus
Just let the rest fall away
a dry snake skin shed
revealing new life beneath

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Photograph taken 6 October 2013.