Bye Bye Social Media

Is anyone else just as furious with the blatant hypocrisy in the world today? I find I am constantly surrounded by double standards and willful ignorance, not just in the political world, but even in my own everyday life. It just suffocates my good nature soul and leaves me to wonder if there is no redemption for humanity.

The closer the moment of transition of executive power approached, the more dread entered my heart. Fear surrounds me. Hopelessness blocks out the light. A Trump presidency makes me feel depressed.

But there is one key difference between my experience with clinical depression and what I am currently feeling from this upcoming administration: the lack of energy. A person suffering from depression normally would feel lethargic and have no desire to do things they once enjoyed. That’s not the case this time. While there is an overwhelming anxiety to the current state of the United States, and in general, the world, I do still doing things, but also, I’m bubbling with energy from the anger. The hatred, hypocrisy, and total lack of compassion and regard for our fellow man make me irate.

The anti-elitism, anti-intellectualism, isolationist, populist mentality that has grown of the past few years has caused tremendous pain in my heart and soul. The growth of misinformation, deception, manipulation propagates through the information highway like an invisible virus contaminating our water supplies. Facts, no matter how inconvenient or true, have become obsolete and treated as a red herring to the “actual reality.” What is to become of a person who holds the ideals of Truth above all else?

The microcosms’ riptides have dragged society into these terrible feedback loops that isolate us from outside thought and reinforce our natural biases and prejudices. This only produces selfishness and resentment. And once our actions towards others become selfish or full of unprovoked resentment, all we provide to others is pain and suppression.

So when I see majority of social media feeds dedicated to these extremes, it adds to my desire to leave behind these avenues of interconnectivity.

Therefore, I have decided to remove myself from social media starting February 1st, 2017. This has something I’ve been considering for quite long time.  This decision has not come easily. I have fretted about it even before my suicide attempt. But the time has come to part ways with what was once a promising medium for sharing and promoting ideas.

shia-le-bouf

On top of the aforementioned reason, social media produces a desire to both be obsessed with our digital personas, and with consuming the digital reality of others on a public forum. We have become more concerned with flicking through our news feeds and digesting our digital friends’ portrayed lives than actually embracing our very real and tangible lives.

Too often do I see selfies of others doing things just as a means to inflate their endorphins and anticipate each like or comment as if they signify a personal statement about oneself. I understand the desire to take photos to capture moments and memories, but I no longer understand how that translates to also wanting everyone else to know about that memory. Perhaps it is just easier for people to live a digital life they can form and edit than living in the moment and accepting what reality has to offer, good and bad.

So instead of the continual impulse to read my feeds and feed my anxieties, I’m going use those precious minutes I’m gaining back to do other things, like reading a book or writing more thoughtful blog posts. I could even write a letter to a friend. Maybe I’ll even be more active in making meaningful and positive change in my community. Shit, I might actually sit down and listen to music so I can actively listen to it. Nevertheless, I’m done with social media. I’m done living a digital life that’s constantly being subconsciously scrutinized.

Adventures full of all the Cracks, Stuff, and Things

If I was asked a year ago who would have the must influence in my life and my recovery with my major depression, the answers would be significantly different.

Last year I would have responded with my two closest friends. One of them ended up abandoning me after being mentally abusive and showcased absolutely no compassion or concern for my wellbeing. The other one ended up holding a significant resentment towards me over our interactions relating to the extremely complex dynamic of the first friend mentioned.

I also would have never thought it would be a person I have never met yet or a dog when adopting a dog wasn’t even on my radar. But here I am a year later. I have adopted a very loving rescue dog, Nala, which I have written about before. She is still amazing even if she can be a little overwhelming with her strong personality.

Then there is Dana. I never thought I would have the emotional and social energy to meet new people or make meaningful connections, but here was this woman whom just recently started her first full-time job and moved a totally unfamiliar place whom became one of my closest friends and a significant influence in overcoming my depression.

I first was introduced to Dana at the climbing gym (+100 points for first impression being at the climbing gym) by a mutual friend that works with Dana. At the time, I wasn’t looking to make new friends. I was heavily focused on climbing as it is still my one way of escape. Plus, she was a little overwhelmed that day and was introduced to dozens of people.

We spent easily a month of climbing on the same days without saying anything to each other and had that awkward eye contact saying “I know you, but…” Eventually, conversation was struck up. I don’t recall who initiated it. My guess it was probably Dana. Of course the topic of discussion was climbing. We talked about routes and gave each other beta. It was a friendly climber acquaintance.  I expected nothing less from the amazing community at River Rock.

Eventually conversations became about climbing outside which also required communication and interaction beyond our routine gym climbing days. That quickly escalated our interaction and we discovered we had plenty in common and plenty to talk about beyond just beta.  We would have ourselves Gif wars (which I still claim absolute victory), embraced our natural awkwardness, played board games, and most importantly became each other’s support.

I notice early on in the friendship that I was extremely comfortable around Dana. That comfortableness defused any hesitation about my past. I didn’t feel like I needed to hide my depression and my suicide attempt. Therefore, I didn’t. And guess what! She didn’t hold it against me or view me any differently thereafter. Her friendship didn’t come with conditions. Nothing is more liberating than when you realize a friend is a friend because they want to be your friend.

This mutual understanding really allowed our friendship to flourish in a manner I don’t think I have ever felt. We’re very open with each other. No topic seems to be off limits. And this openness also allows us to be upfront about when something does become out of bounds. There are no hard feelings because of the respect we have for each other.

I guess I’ve just never met a person who connects and communicates on my level like she has.

That makes her departure hard for me. Dana job requires her to move soon, and honestly, I didn’t want to think about or talk about it or really accept it because I won’t just be sad, I’ll be heartbroken. I won’t have that goofy person on the other end of the rope mischievously not letting me down so she can swing around and even though it was really to see my disapproving face as I hang helplessly under her control. I won’t have that person to go on stupid and odd adventures where others would give me that weird look. I won’t have that person who will let me express myself about a situation regardless if she agrees. Nor will I have that person who lets me be me.

I’m excited for her. She’s off to a new place with new opportunities to grow and improve her career. Her feathers are too bright to be caged in a single place. I find rejoice in knowing she’ll be out there bringing life and joy to someone else. But still, this place will be that much more drab and empty that she’s gone. I guess I just know I’m going to miss my friend.

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Thank you, Dana, for being my friend.

 

 

21st Century Depression Part 2: IV of Dopamine

One of the greatest cinematic moments in my experience is when Lieutenant Kaffee calls Colonel Jessup to the stand in A Few Good Men. The scene is great for a multitude of reason. Rob Reiner’s direction and the outstanding performance of two powerful actors, Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, made that moment in the film so iconic. What is often missed in that scene is what is actually being questioned.

Lieutenant Kaffee’s main objective from calling Colonel Jessup is to try to get the Colonel to confess to ordering the “code red.” When  a contradiction in Jessup’s testimony is brought up, Colonel Jessup goes on a giant rant about what he calls the truth which is where we get “You can’t handle the truth!” speech that Jessup uses to defend that the end justifies the means.

Did Private Santiago’s death save lives and help provided America’s freedom? Luckily, Private Santiago is a fictional character and such hypotheticals don’t have such dire consequences. Unfortunately, the mindset that the end is all that matters squeezes the silent majority in this country. This is a byproduct of America’s addiction to achieve happiness, the internet, and an ever growing decline in community.

Addiction is a dangerous mental illness. It can take a simple activity and make it compulsive which only continues to interfere and erode a person’s life. Most people won’t acknowledge a person’s addiction until it directly and adversely affects their own lives.  I’m guilty of this too. I wish I had the courage to intervene in friends’ lives and help them see their destructive behavior, but at the time it wasn’t affect me. So I did nothing and continued my own dopamine addiction which was just as dangerous. The worse part of addiction is that it always skews the mind into believing the end justifies the means.

All of this applies to society’s dopamine addiction.

In today’s modern society currently engulfed in the information age, the idealist would argue that smart phones and the internet would widen our minds and expand our perspectives. Sadly, humanity often disappoints us. Instead of enlightening the world, the internet has only provided a means to create further diversion and partisan lines among people. No one enjoys the sensation of being informed that their view or idea is wrong, but having them validated is wonderful. With so much access to un-vetted and unfiltered information out there, it is easy to find others who agree and confirm our own biases. Because that confirmation feels good, we are quick to go back and quick to ignore others. It’s hard to break off that dopamine.

This digital mentally seeps into reality. My pervious social circle embodied this to the core. Before my fall into depression and suicidal tendencies, everyone included me in their lives. I was considered part of the gang. Why wouldn’t I be? I reinforced their ideas and reaffirmed the behaviors. My friendship and presences either provided them with that dopamine kick or didn’t interfere with their addiction.

That was until my disease and overwhelming desire to end my existence became too real. I physically became the antithesis to their entire existence. First, my presence didn’t allow a person to continue with only surrounding themselves with people that validation their beliefs. I wasn’t happy and one can’t avoid knowing that after a suicide attempt. And because I wasn’t happy even though I had no real solid reason not to be happy, it challenged the idea of happiness being an objective. Here stood a person whose happiness and mood was dependent upon brain chemistry and not upon trying to achieve and demonstrate happiness. It exposes the fallacies of beliefs to be the rabbit hole it is. And once that rabbit hole is exposed, you can’t hide in it anymore and all of those insecurities, fears, and pain that the dopamine drip masks surfaces.

Sadly, because so much effort is put in avoiding pain and maintaining happiness, we have no experience in handling the pain. Trust me; I discovered this reality the hard way. Society’s inability to properly handle and coop with these troubles and pains makes it easy to quickly try to divert and dodge the experience. It is significantly easier to project and blame someone one else for one’s failures in order to keep that dopamine high, therefore in the process destroying someone else because the addiction deems it justifiable. Private Santiago would disagree.

That is exactly what happened to me especially once I decided not to get back in line and file. I see happiness as an emotion, not as a state of being to try to achieve because I know life isn’t going to be a happy journey. Tragedy is unavoidable. People are mistake prone, and some individuals are just down right evil. These are variables that can be mitigated, but never outright prevented.

Fortunately, we can manage and coop with the pains of life. We have the ability and skillsets to do it, but we run away from that too.

Part 1: Objectification of Happiness
Part 3: Dissolving Communities (coming soon)

I choose…

The parallels between the current dynamic of the electorate and my own quest to overcome the burden of major depression are often frightening. I’ve been going to therapy nearly weekly or bimonthly for nearly a year. During that time, self-discovery and observation of my surrounds and the company I keep have forced me to question what I believe, and what I am.

While the ballot box might have you choose between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, your vote is actually a testament to what you believe in. My current blog series, 21st Century Depression (Part 1: Objectification of Happiness) is a very broad critic of the information age culture and the existential crisis of living and partaking in that culture as a person with Major Depression Disorder, but it is relevant to everything happening in this election. Therefore I have decided the following:

I choose…

Accountability over Resentment,
Community over fraternity,
Diligence over instant gratification,
Equality over privilege,
Acceptance over denial,
Compassion over malevolent,
Benevolent over selfishness.

I believe we are stronger together. This is why I’m with her.

21st Century Depression Part 1: Objectification of Happiness

My life swirls around in a paradoxical existence varying between the ebbs and flows of individuality and community, of consumption and creation, of digital and tangible, of validation and mindfulness, of idealism and realism. The constant struggle causes a lack of identity and self-esteem.  Major depression forces me to confront myself and all that it encompasses. While there has always been a quiet whisper in my mind questioning who I am, I am finally in a position to acknowledge and accept the fact that I do not know who I am and what I stand for. All I do know is that my thoughts and personality are in a constant state of flux.

But I am not alone.

The IV dopamine drip of instant gratification of the 21st century has made modern society addicts. I am no exemption but rather an exhibit of our addiction in action. Humanity is naturally drawn to attention and validation. It provides us with a sense of self-worth in our existence.  So it should be no surprise that in the age of the internet, smart phones, social media, and hot takes, that we are so dependent on reading our Facebook Feed, retweeting our favorite tweeters, taking selfies at every major and minor event occurring in our lives. People are so attached to their phones (especially my generation) that the only thing prevents us from being cyborgs are that the phone isn’t surgically attached to our bodies.

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your perspective, I was violently ripped away from instant gratification addiction by my mental illness and people intervening. While I was removed from civilization for a week, I failed to see the addiction. I was depressed and far from happy, and what was worse is everyone one knew. Hiding behind the façade of happiness, was no longer an option. I could no longer live up to the standards of American obsession with happiness. I was a fraud.

I wasn’t happy before, during, and after, but I still needed that dopamine kick from having someone liking a photo or status on Facebook which provided a brief sense of validation and also felt obligated to pretend to be trying to be happy and better. Any resistance was futile. I needed to be connected.

The longer this went on the harder to maintain the illusion of happiness and the return of dopamine was lackluster at best. The situation only got worse. As I continued to cling on to these illusions of happiness and seeing others around me share their lives online, the more I felt I was never going to fulfill the expectation to be loved and to be happy. Too often I would see friends post about their cool activities, enjoying each other’s company just to feel inadequate, forgotten, and a failure. My digital life which was once a savor had become a Balrog. In reality, I had been ostracized by majority of my social group while simultaneously suffering and combating major depression and clinging to destructive cultural beliefs.

It wasn’t until when I starting accepting the fact that I was no longer part of the social circle and was forced to observe from afar that I started noticing the flaws. From group dynamics to willful ignorance to cultural beliefs, people were and still are living lies around these false platitudes.  I was deliberately ignored, excluded, and blamed by people, not because my actions where wrong, but because I was no longer abiding to and believing in the unwritten rules of the group.  This is ironic coming from a young, middle-class white male, but I was being discriminated not because I was depressed, but because I was no longer objectifying happiness.

Wait. What?

First, I like to say I don’t blame my friends for thinking this way. America’s objectification of happiness is so deeply ingrained in our society that it is literally written into the founding documents of this nation. I’m guilty of believing in it too. We judged our lives as American’s around being happy. Finical success, social status, family, religions, friendships, relationships, are all focus on making our lives happy. How often do you think about if you had more ____ you’ll would be happier or if that person would just do ___ they would be happy? Every thought and action surrounding our lives is based on trying to be happy to the point that people much rather pretend to be happy just so others will judge them accordingly.

Let me tell you as a person with major depression and have been suicidal on more than one occasion, happiness is no longer an objective. Imagine having a 200 ton diesel train engine of emotion rumbling towards your fragile scull as you lie their paralyzed on the railroad iron every day for months. Your thoughts are no longer about being happy. It becomes getting through that pain that day, hour, minute, and even second. I didn’t care about being happy after being released from the hospital. I just wanted to be okay. Therefore I stopped trying to be happy because I wasn’t. Also, I didn’t have the energy to try to please others by pretending to be happy. Happiness to me was no longer an objective, but rather just an emotion.

But why would I be ostracized for not being happy?  Well that has to do with society’s addiction to their IV drip of dopamine.

Part 2: IV of Dopamine

Alcohol: Social Necessity or Self-abuse?

Let’s talk about alcohol.

Alcohol has been a cultural staple in Western European counties and was brought over to North America during colonization. American’s kept up that tradition with significant consumption of rum and ciders, and then whiskey after the revolutionary war. A jug of rum or cider was often preferred over water because disease and contamination of water supplies. Alcohol was consumed by all ages, even toddlers.

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The Tipping Point

I keep finding myself watching Gohan transform into Super Sayian 2 against Cell. When I get into a repetitive action, there is some unconscious meaning behind it.

That fight is nearly a direct metaphor of my internal struggle with BPD and MDD. From the major players, to the location, to how Cell is created all related to this constant dichotomy in my head.

For those who aren’t familiar with this particular moment in Dragon Ball Z, let me set the scene for you.

The Villain

Cell is a genetically created monster that has certain genes taken from the best Z-fighters in order to make the ultimate being in the world of Dragon Ball Z. He gains strength from consuming other life forms until he emerges in his ultimate form. At that point, all Cell cares about is testing his fighting prowess and challenges the entire world to fight him.

There is no doubt that Cell is evil and very dangerous. He even murders his own creator because he could.

Now how is Cell comparable to the villain in my head? First, it is of my own creation made of what I thought was traits that could shield me from my own fears. Little did I know it would grow out of my control and nearly kill me too.  It is dangerous, and possesses way more influence and power over me than I am willing to admit. All it cares about is beating me down and keeping me down on the ground. That’s my Cell.

The location

The fight occurs on a remote island in the middle of the ocean, far away from any civilization. The isolation of the fight was on purpose to avoid any collateral damage. This is same as me internalizing all of my BPD. I know by containing it within myself, I can reduce the damage down to others significantly. I’m a quiet BPD. No doubt about that, but this also makes it hard for people to see the struggle or know what is really going on with my internal fight.

The Z-Fighters

The Z-fighters are the good guys in the world of DBZ and represent the greatest fighters Earth has to offer and often come to save the day against existential threats to the planet. In my metaphor, the z-fighters represent different aspects of my personality.

You have Goku, the main hero of the series. He is the arrogant and care-free personality that is capable of rising to the occasion when required.

Next you have Veggeta, a very prideful fighter often jealous of Goku for out preforming him. He also is very dedicated to his craft and trains constantly. Veggeta is my own sense of pride and work ethic.

Trunks is the serious and righteous member of the z-fighters. He is quick to help and try to resolve the problem and believes he has to take on the responsibility himself to reduce the burden on others.

Krillian is the fun side kick who is always there willing to be the support and friend you need. He is always loyal to his friends and goes to great sacrifices to help as best as he can even when he knows it is out of his league.

Piccilo is the wise and very untrusting member. He has the experience and skills to be a competent fighter and is a great tactician, but he doesn’t trust others to do what they must and often interferes with a situation because he thinks it is going badly.

Then there is Gohan, the child of the group. Gohan is a naturally talented fighter with plenty of latent potential, but he doesn’t really enjoy fighting and also doesn’t believe in himself. His father, Goku does and puts the faith of the world in his hands against Cell because none of the other z-fighters can match Cell’s incredible strength.

The On-lookers

Mr. Satan and the camera crew at this point of the fight are basically bystanders. More importantly they are helpless. They have no idea what is really going on between Cell and the z-fighters and are unable to help in any significant way.

The on-lookers in my fight are my friends. Most want to help, but don’t know how because they bought a pocket knife to a laser gun fight. Some have no comprehension of what is actually happening or are completely denying the situation is happening.

The Fight up to Gohan’s transforming

The fight doesn’t go well for the z-fighters initially. Goku gets beat quickly. Trunks tries over powering but fails and ends up dead. That leads to Veggeta going on a rampage which ends up being futile. The rest of the group knows they have no chance if all the Sayain fighters are falling, but Goku is confident that Gohan can reach a level greater than Cell, but Gohan quickly lets down the group because he doesn’t believe he can reach that level.

Cell being Cell decides to push the limits of the boy by making miniature copies of him to attack the rest of the z-fighters to see if Gohan would react. The mini Cells outmatch the z-fighters without breaking a sweat. Gohan is paralyzed by his own disappoint of himself and doesn’t do anything to help.

The Tipping Point

That is until Android 16 convinces Mr. Satan to throw his head to Gohan so he can talk to him. Mr. Satan manages the courage to though the head which allows Android 16 to tell Gohan that it is okay to let go and fight back. Cell hears this little impromptu speak by 16 and smash the head into parts. This somehow flips a switch in Gohan to tap into his potential and become what the DBZ universe calls Super Sayain II.

Once Gohan reaches this point, he quickly handles the mini Cells and turns his attention to Cell and demonstrates that Cell vastly underestimated Gohan’s powers and quickly realizes he is out matched. There are some additional plot points after the transformation that adds drama to the show, but eventually Gohan does defeat Cell.

My Fight

Basically, I’m between the Gohan’s tipping point and the Mini cells reckoning havoc on the z-fighters. I feel like Gohan right now, unable to muster the courage and confidence required to rid me of my create pest. I’m just letting my Cell do what it wants.

I’m afraid I can’t do it. I’m afraid I won’t be able to control myself if I do try. I’m afraid I won’t know what I will become. I’m afraid of myself.

The sensation is there below the surface just wanting to be released. Two decades of self-torture has produced a lot of self-hate. Can I muster up the courage to fight back one last time? What is holding me back?

 

A Custom User Manual for You

Trevor Dane’s user Manual

Congrats on your recent purchase of the one-of-a-kind Trevor Dane! The wonderful thing about Trevor’s are there is only one. But with this glorious product comes some natural and unavoidable design flaws. Therefore, we are providing you with a custom user manual to help you navigate and get the most out of your Trevor.

  1. Know the Flaws

First and foremost, for you to really enjoy Trevor you must first understand the product’s flaw. Trevor comes with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Yes, these are co-occurring mental illness. We suggest you do some research on both of these mental illnesses and become familiar with their symptoms and traits. There are plenty of resources online that discuss both.

  1. The Wonderful thing about Trevor is Trevor is a wonderful Thing! 

What does this even mean?!? Basically Trevor is unique. He has a personality, dreams, goals, and fears. Trevor is a person just like you. Don’t forget that. He makes mistakes. He has feelings. Therefore view him like the person he is.

  1. Don’t attempt to remedy the flaws 

Unfortunately, mental illnesses are also invisible illnesses that don’t have cures in the medicine cabinet which means you can’t cure the problem. That is for Trevor to address.  Be supportive and help how you can but because of the emotional instability and overbearing sense of dread and hopelessness, trying to provide advice or criticism at times when Trevor is vulnerable or already unhinged will not turn out well for anyone.

  1. Separate the behavior from Trevor

Sometimes you will want to address something with your Trevor about some type of interaction or behavior you’ve observed because it has made you upset. First don’t take the behavior personally. Remember that Trevor’s behavior isn’t always under his control. Secondly, make sure you are upset with the behavior and not with who Trevor is. Trevor already comes with the deposition that he is a bad person and feels guilty about it. So try not to reinforce this by separating the person and the behavior.

  1. Abandonment, “splitting”, emotional intensity 

Trevor has a serious fear of abandonment. This fear is so strong it will drive Trevor to do irrational and impulsive things. It can also lead to panicking, depression and bitterness because of the black and white nature Trevor views people. Trevor will quickly “split” a person into either idealization or devaluation. He will believe you are everything or nothing and it could happen at any moment. On top of that, Trevor will then become irrationally terrified of you abandoning him and has been known to go to great lengths to prevent it.

  1. Impulsive Behaviors

Unbeknownst to you, Trevor comes with lots of impulsive and potentially harmful behaviors that he will keep secret out of fear of you judging him, leaving him, or stopping him. The impulsivity is a coping mechanism for Trevor to release emotional energy when he feels he can’t cope with them in a healthy manner.

  1. Deescalate 

Sometimes you may feel a conversation is starting to escalate and could potentially lead to nowhere good for you or Trevor. You will need to step away from the situation to allow you an opportunity to calm down and collect your thoughts, and to give Trevor time to do the same. (much much more time. Remember Trevor experiences emotions on a much larger scale than most. So it takes more time and effort to come back to a normal emotional baseline.) First affirm the emotions Trevor is feeling and don’t feed into the problem. Then try to delay or distract Trevor from the conversation. (We understand board games are a solid nearly guarantee distraction.) Come back to the conversation later once heads are more level.

  1. Validation is Key 

Trevor was raised in an invalidating environment which treated emotions as worthless. Therefore he will view his emotions as bad and fake. When he reaches out, he is looking for validation. He wants someone to tell him that his emotions are real. You might not agree the emotions are the appropriate emotions, but you can still validate they are real because they are very real to him.

  1. Boundaries are everyone’s friend 

Because Trevor is unable to regulate his emotions, they will often control him. Therefore you will need to set boundaries with what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior with respect to you. Most importantly, you have to stick to them. Trevor will notice when you let them down or when you cross them and interrupt this as you removing the boundary.

  1. It’s okay not to understand or know what to do 

Mental illnesses are hard to understand if you don’t experience the illness yourself. Often times it may feel you’re helpless in helping or handling Trevor because you have no idea what to say or do to help. That’s okay. Most of the time Trevor won’t know either, but the one thing you can’t do is ignore the problem. Validating his emotion and acknowledging you don’t know what to do is way more beneficial than ignoring his behavior and avoiding him. This only isolates Trevor and reinforces the self-image of being terrible and unlovable.

  1. You come first 

Remember you can’t save or control your Trevor, but he can remove yourself from a situation and continue living your own life. You can’t provide the support and help Trevor will need if you aren’t mentally and physically healthy yourself.

  1. Remember, Trevor doesn’t like it either 

Don’t forget that Trevor is the one struggling and he doesn’t enjoy it one bit. He rather not require a custom user manual to address the faulty design and be normal. Sadly that is not the case and Trevor has to continue with the struggle of MDD and BPD.

 

We hope that this manual will help you to better enjoy your unique Trevor Dane and discover a very loyal, loving, and caring friend. While these are guidelines, do know that individual interactions with Trevor will vary and if you have any additional questions or concerns please feel free to address those directly with Trevor.

Thanks,
Saas Corp.

When the Rock Comes Down

As I start fighting back for control of my mind, I develop certain habits and activities to help.

For them to be useful they must achieve two things. The first is producing a challenge. Having that challenge provides purpose and forces me to focus on how to achieve that challenge. The second requirement is allowing me to escape myself. This is much more difficult to fulfill.

One of the most successful activities for me is rock climbing. Not only is it a physical outlet but it requires a mental fortitude and problem solving skills. On top of that, it is one of the few sports my body is built for. Most importantly it forces me to be in the moment.

I feel in love with the sport immediately. I invested in basic equipment, got a membership, and was dedicated to going all the time. Even before the suicidal behavior, the climbing gym was still a place for me to be free. I even convinced the emergency staff at the hospital during my first ER visit in November to not institutionalize me because I didn’t want to miss my first climbing competition even though I had only just started climbing. (I did win my division too.)

What also helps with the climbing gym is the amazing staff and the nonjudgmental atmosphere. I didn’t feel pressure there. My depression wasn’t in control when I had my hands on the walls.

When I did get out St. Albans, the first things I did was play a board game that night and the next morning I went to the climbing gym. It was all I wanted to do. Just climb. The euphoria and sense of freedom from climbing is addicting. I even thought about liquidating my assets, paying off my car, quit my job and travel from crag to crag. Obviously I didn’t. My sense of duty and responsibility our often party poopers.

Climbing became my passion, and the local climbing gym became my sanctuary, my safe zone. It was the place where I went to be free of everything. Nothing matters while I’m there other than courage to get on the rock wall and push my limits to new heights. No worries. No fears. No guilt. No shame. No nothing. Just me.

But due to recent developments, my safe space was violated. For those following my story, the friend I keep referring to was there. (I don’t know why I continue to use the word friend. This person has directly told me that my friendship has no value to them and they no longer want to be my friend. Great things to say to someone who suffers from MDD especially when I trust and love that person.) This discovery put me into a panic. My anxiety doesn’t often rear its head, but when it does it is all consuming. I freaked out internally. The one place I could just be me and climb without fear was taken from me. I left the gym without even putting on my climbing shoes. What’s worse is now I’m afraid to go back. That sense of safety is gone.

Suddenly I feel lost. Alone. Scared. Plus all the typical symptoms of depression. I ran from the situation because I had no expectations of ever having to deal with that scenario. How does one plan for thier one safe zone to be destroyed like that? What’s even worse is it drained me of all my motivations for the day, and possibly the weekend. People don’t see this side of my depression because this is the side we hide. Right now all I want to do is curl into a ball on my couch and cry (which I already did) then sleep (already did) and repeat.

All the work and progress I made in the past few months (which most people don’t see because they don’t interact with me) just came crashing down. The effort and energy put into that progress was already exhausting, and having to do it again sounds miserable.

The Dangers of Dancing on Glass

A common symptom of depression is a sense of hopelessness. It feeds your mind an idea that nothing has a point. Life is futile. No matter what you do, that hopelessness anchors your outlook which only destroys any desire to make goals and pursue dreams.

So how does one find that hope again? Is hope really the solution to beat the despair?

As a naturally optimistic person who does like to daydream about the possibilities of the future, I tend to gravitate towards hopefulness. It used to be the only thing keeping me afloat, but over time I’ve noticed having hope is like dancing on glass.

Hope is a powerful attitude that can really drive people. The optimism and expectations of positive outcomes can truly push people to do amazing things and achieve their goals. So why is hope like dancing on glass? Simply put hope involves expectations and anticipation. Hope is wishful. So when your dreams and goals bear fruit, the sensation of hope isn’t just satisfying. It is exhilarating, just like seeing through the dance floor.

But what happens when your goals and dreams don’t come to fruition? You put all that energy into hope for an outcome just to see it fail. Once that glass dance floor cracks, those cracks will propagate and with each additional let down, only become wider and longer until eventually the brittle floor breaks beneath you leaving you with nothing but the fall.

That is why dancing on glass is dangerous.

The best way to tackle that dread and despair isn’t by being hopeful, but rather with courage. To have the bravado to take on and push forward through the pain and knowing there is uncertainty in the outcome provides the same motivation as hope, but without the pitfalls of expectations for desired outcomes. Courage allows you to fail, and it’s totally okay to fail.

The power of courage comes from the fact that the sense of optimism isn’t dependent upon outcome but rather from the act of trying. Just by acknowledging you attempted even though you might have failed provides realization that you can do it again. And when you do accomplish your goal, you can take pride in knowing you had the guts to fight through the pain and overcome all those obstacles in your way.

While hope is often a talking point to combating depression and other mental illnesses, keep in mind it isn’t hope that is actually needed, but rather the courage to make a change and to stand up and fight back knowing adversity and pain will be there every step of the way. Even on the toughest of days where the depression just looms over you and the will to get up is absent even though you thought about it, take solace in the fact you at least thought about getting up out of bed even though you didn’t. Eventually you will build up that courage and each failure along the way is just another small victory to overcoming that sense of hopelessness and despair.