Mental Illness Happy Hour: Volume 2

 

There were a lot of heavy conversations today. I spent the afternoon with my mom discussing things that would be helpful to her given that she is confined to her house. We talked about setting up a cleaning service. We talked about getting help mowing the lawn. We talked about getting groceries delivered. All of these things being a part of the new normal.

I have felt ashamed many times that I cannot due more for my mom as her son. I want to do the cleaning that needs done. I want to mulch and mow the lawn and weed the grass. I want to get the groceries.

I can’t do all those things and help my mom get to her appointments and be her confidant through all of this and keep my sanity. When my family is not in town, it’s just me. I am the first and last line of defense. There’s a part of me that really wants to help, but there’s a bigger part of me that wants to be seen by my community as “the great helper.”

This part is a matter of pride.

I don’t necessarily want to do what it takes to be a good person, I just want the glory that comes with being seen that way. I want people to think so, so highly of me. It is a toxic situation that I know a lot of people can relate with. I’m working on it, that’s what I’ll say for now.

My mom has been devastated by the neglect that my father has shown her since they got divorced. He doesn’t return her calls, or emails, or texts and that crushes her. She has struggled to understand why the man that married her has abandoned her. She feels that he doesn’t care whether she lives or dies.

She has said that line many times in the last 6 years, but now the “or dies” part seems more real as she stares down death with her chemo treatments and radiation as a result of her diagnosis of stage 4 cancer.

I understand that my mom is hurting. She is hurting more than I’ve ever seen a person hurt, but sometimes I can’t handle the conversations about my dad. I am my parent’s son. I have their blood coursing through my veins and hearing about my dad’s shortcomings drudges up a lot of pain for me.

Those were hard conversations today between my mother and I.

When I came home, I went to dinner with my best friends, Stephen and Michaelah. We talked and we laughed and watched SNL clips after we got back home. But then the conversation got heavy when we started talking about my mom. Sometimes I don’t want to make conversations heavy, but there always seems to be heavy things happening to me so, I guess it just kinda comes out. I talked about how I didn’t want to have to go through the things I was dealing with. I talked about how, if I could choose, I would wish for just about any other situation.

I am selfish.

I want the easy way, the way that affords me the most comfort and relaxation and joy. I think most people, given the choice, would choose the easy way too most of the time. I don’t want these things to be happening to my mom. I don’t want to live in a world filled with cancer and brokenness and pain and suffering.

But here I am. And here we all are.

Stephen told me to stop viewing myself as a victim in this whole situation, which was a hard pill to swallow. I am a victim, but I understand what he is getting at. I have to choose hard things to help my mom because I love her even when I want to just relax. I have to fight for her even when we argue about my dad because we are both tremendously hurt by the divorce.

I have to. There is no other choice in my mind.

Even though I want the easy way so bad, that’s not what I have in front of me. Instead I have a road that twists and turns and might be dangerous just around the bend.

Every single day so far, in my entire life, I have gotten out of bed. I am going to continue this trend even when I want to curl up and die. I say all this because we are all going through a lot and sometimes we need to know someone else has been there. Keep Pressing On!

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Mental Illness Happy Hour: Volume 1

I feel alright for the first time in a couple months. There is an ease to my mind currently and the big things that bother me all the time, don’t feel so big right in this moment.

My mom is going through brain cancer treatments. It is hard to watch her on her bad days and in her growing weakness and uneasiness, because I don’t want her to hurt or feel depressed because of the loss of independence.

My aunt and uncle and my sister came to town last week and helped take my mom to her appointments and cook food for her and tend to the dogs and the house. It was a huge help for my mom and it was a huge help for me.

During the last week, I have had time to spend by myself and not feel guilty about doing so. I went to guitar shops and played open mics, it has been really nice.

I had a dream a few nights ago where I felt, what I believe to be, the presence of God. I felt close to God and like his spirit was wrapped around me. In the dream, I saw the kingdom of God – which was every kind of person together – and I got a sense of what each person’s significance is in the kingdom.

If you are like me, you want to be famous. You want to be known for that thing that you are good at. You want to be well received by everyone you meet. I think I want fame more than I realize sometimes.

Well, in the dream, I got this sense of being famous, but I also got the sense that everyone in God’s Kingdom shared that fame with me. It wasn’t so much like I was idolized for who I am or what I can do, but that I was well known by everyone around me and ultimately, well known by God.

I want to be important. I want to feel that my life has a great significance and matters a lot. In the dream, where I felt God close to me, I felt important and felt respected for who I was and I also felt a deep respect for everyone around me in the dream.

This all seems great, right?

But I always get worried when I start to “feel” the presence of God and my mood shifts dramatically. I struggle with mental illness and my disorder comes with periods of dangerous euphoria. I fear that period might be coming once again like it has so many times in the past 7 years.

I write all this to say, I really wish that feeling a sudden uptick in my mood wasn’t cause for alarm or concern. I will have to “ride the wave” and hopefully it will level out before it gets out of hand.

I also write this in case anyone reading deals with similar fears and unpredictable emotions. I can’t say much other than you are not alone and to lean on people that you trust and who build you up. Keep pressing on!

Crushed a 1960s Gibson

I have been doing nothing over the past few days other than filling my head with information about guitars. I’ve been researching what guitar is the best band for your buck. I have looked high and low. Virtually and in the store for my perfect guitar…my baby.

I’ve played $5,000 Gibson Hummingbirds. I’ve played $3,000 Martin D-28s with Indian Rosewood back and sides, sitka spruce tops, and mahogany necks. I’ve played 50 year old instruments with more character than an old, smokey-lady’s face.

I’ve talked to salesman from big chain stores, I’ve talked to techs from small mom and pop shops at great length and learned everything I could from their expertise. I really want to find a guitar that speaks to me and I’m doing my due diligence.

You might look at the guitar pictured above and think that I’ve found the one. But I haven’t. The Martin Streetmaster above is an all-mahogany guitar with a “distressed” finish, which makes it look bad ass in my opinion. I might still pick it up one day, but I haven’t yet and this is why.

I got the idea, as I headed to my 4th guitar shop during my quest, to bring my Yamaha FG-203 along with me to compare its sound with the other guitars in the store. To give you an idea, my Yamaha acoustic is currently selling different places online for about $150. Thats $150 for a basically brand new acoustic.

Well, I got to the shop and set up all these beautiful (and expensive) guitars all around me. I played my Yamaha first and played a simple chord progression rather loud. Then I tuned one of the instruments next to me and played the exact same chord progression and compared. I repeated this process with all the acoustics in the room and it was quite a big room.

You know what I found out? I liked my $150 Yamaha’s sound as much, or in some cases, more than I liked the supposed grander and definitely more expensive guitars. I had a thick wad of cash in my pocket when I entered the store – burning a hole like you might expect. I wanted so badly to throw my money on the table and buy a superior instrument.

But that didn’t happen.

I came downstairs at the shop feeling a little dejected. The guy at the front desk looked at me and said, “Your guitar won didn’t it?” He was right, my little Japanese acoustic beat all those flashy name brands.

I might still get a new guitar, but not right now it seems.

I have so much knowledge in my head about body sizes and wood tones it’s coming out my ears. But it doesn’t matter what experts tell you. It doesn’t matter how much better a guitar is supposed to sound. All that matters is what YOU like. What YOU think sounds the best and fits what you’re trying to play. Don’t let anyone bully you into thinking because its got a name brand and flashy inlays that it’s a better sounding instrument.

I got so caught up in having the Martin name across the headstock of my guitar that I almost made a rash decision.

I’m a person who has never been up on the latest trends, but I remember in school wanting the new black Nikes or a Easton baseball bat with the big barrel or getting older and envying the kid down the street’s BMW M3. I want to pay attention to the bullshit of brand names and remember when my $150 Yamaha crushed a 60s Gibson.

Funk face

The funk is turned all the way up
The blues are turned all the way down
The colors of all this sound
Are dripping down the walls
And out onto the street
Ain’t that just sweet?
That place where you and I
Meet
In the park, so complete
I could sing!
In fact I will, but just a couple bars
Maybe a couple more
Maybe a couple of more bars
For this lady I have just met
And I’ll bet we’ll have the date set
Before we leave,
PLEASE
Say ya will, baby
Do ya need me, baby?
The way I need you?
Forgot all my blue
But I ain’t never gon’ forget you!
That’s what is true
I don’t mind thinkin’ bout you
Long as you’re thinking bout me!
OOOHHHWEEEEE!
What’s that smell?
Somethin’ sweet as hell!
Oh, damn!
I’m sorry y’all that’s just my baby!
Just my sweet as hell baby!
It’s ok to be jealous
I was
But I ain’t no more!
Cause she’s mine
She’s all mine
I ain’t gon’ leave ya none
Not a drop
Not a drip
Sorry
I never learned to share
Any bits of my baby
Swept up all the crumbs
Ain’t givin you shit!
Quit!

For John and Maya

For John and Maya
At the Royal Palms Resort
In Phoenix, Arizona
On May 27th 2018

Patience is waiting before you climb to the top.
It is reaching that point together.
It’s looking down at the tree line with a complete perspective.

Kindness is as gentle as spring’s first flower.
It is as soft as morning rain.
It’s a leaf holding up a clear raindrop with impossible strength.

Perseverance is a will that does not bend.
It is a quiet resolve in the middle of a heavy breath.
It’s pushing against the easy anger and relying on present hope.

Trust might not be on time, but it is never too late.
It might be surprised, but it will rise to the occasion.
It may make mistakes, but it won’t let you down.

Hope springs forth.
It comes in waves that ring life.
It is the joy of a new marriage.

Protection is sacrificing self.
It is putting your safety between a bullet and a target.
It’s a call to service and a lifetime pursuit.

Love never fails.
It never gives up.
Remember that Love brought us all here for this ceremony.

May we, your friends and family,
stand with you and be for you.
May we be a testament to the life you start together today.

Congratulations!

William Butler Yeats – Never give all the heart

“Never give all the heart, for love
Will hardly seem worth thinking of
To passionate women if it seem
Certain, and they never dream
That it fades out from kiss to kiss;
For everything that’s lovely is
But a brief, dreamy, kind delight.
O never give the heart outright,
For they, for all smooth lips can say,
Have given their hearts up to the play.
And who could play it well enough
If deaf and dumb and blind with love?
He that made this knows all the cost,
For he gave all his heart and lost.”