Category Archives: Mental Health

Loneliness as Gift

The Christian way of life does not take away our loneliness; it protects and cherishes it as a precious gift.

Sometimes it seems as if we do everything possible to avoid the painful confrontation with our basic human loneliness, and allow ourselves to be trapped by false gods promising immediate satisfaction and quick relief. But perhaps the painful awareness of loneliness is an invitation to transcend our limitations and look beyond the boundaries of our existence.

The awareness of loneliness might be a gift we must protect and guard, because our loneliness reveals to us an inner emptiness that can be destructive when misunderstood, but filled with promise for those who can tolerate its sweet pain.

#HenriNouwen

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Anyway

Earlier this week I took some old windows to the dump. The bed of the truck was full and after arriving I began to unload. A man who needed to use the same dumpster pulled in and waited for me to finish. He got out of his truck, walked over and asked if I needed any help. I told him; “No, thank you,” and kept working. He jumped in the dumpster and helped anyway. At first I was aggravated but it was a lot of windows and by helping me he also helped himself. We finished and I told him thank you and asked if I could help him. He said; “That’s okay.” I told him thanks again and headed to an appointment, appreciative of the help even if at first it was unwanted.

There are moments, days, seasons, in our lives when we have enough or more than enough junk to handle. It can be overwhelming but we don’t ask for or desire help because we feel the burden is ours to bear alone. There are those family members, friends, even strangers, however, that see our struggle and insist on assisting us anyway. We may at first resist but when the burden is finally lifted we are thankful and humbled by the grace extended.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

Brave

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@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

Understanding Suffering

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@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

The Stories

blessings,

@BrianLoging

thewannabesaint.com

Ashes

The last two weeks I’ve been cleaning out the big shed and the workshop. Lots of things stored, projects started but not finished, items never used. Some of it went to Goodwill, some will be sold, and the useless stuff I burned in the firepit.

Today, I was cleaning out the pit and came across pieces of wood, shards of metal, and other unidentifiable remains. Most of it I couldn’t tell what it was originally. I was unable to recognize what was by looking at what remained. The fire had twisted, reshaped, destroyed, and remade.

Life is hard. What it does to us, the people we love, makes it almost impossible to endure at times. The fire of distruction, the flames of chaos, the intense heat of accidents and choices, reshape us into someone we don’t recognize, and can’t remember what our life was like before.

Perhaps what emerges from the ashes will be beautiful. However, when we are in the fire, all we know is life will never be the same again.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

Spunky and Sarcastic

I was called; “Spunky!” and “Wonderfully sarcastic” in our monthly staff meeting today by different people. These are two adjectives that aren’t typically used when referring to me. My anxiety has spiked the last couple of weeks and one of the lessons I’ve learned in therapy is when my anxiousness and worry are at their peaks the chinks and cracks in my socially acceptable, presentable, self are revealed.

Similar to a kettle of water letting off steam my anxiety shows itself as excitable and irritable. I mask it in spunkiness (hyperactivity) and sarcastic remarks (combative). As soon as I left the meeting today I could tell what was happening and went somewhere to walk around and burn off the pent-up energy.

One of the questions I’ve been taught to ask clients is; “What’s happening?” instead of; “Why are you this way?” The inquiry gives insight into a person’s internal world instead of focusing on the external. It also allows for a suspension of judgment and diagnosis allowing the specialist and the client to see beyond the symptoms.

Instead of labeling someone as difficult, challenging, a troublemaker, or disgruntled we need an understanding of who they are not just what they do.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

A Whisper

blessings,

@BrianLoging

thewannabesaint.com

Peaceful

Our little Beagle/Walker named Scooby is an excitable dog. When I hop on the treadmill he stops whatever he’s doing and stares. He’s trying to figure out why I’m moving but not going anywhere. He’s wondering where all the belt, motor, and fan noises are coming from. All of this is stimulating and before you know it he goes digging into his toy basket and takes out one or ten! He paces back and forth. He hops on his bed and off. He comes in the room and exits many times. The energy I’m expending makes him anxious. Only when I’m finished with the workout does he settle down.

I know what he’s going through. When I’m in a room of people who are loud talking or laughing, gathered in a small space with lots of chit chat and moving around, or someone giving off negative or anxious vibes, I feel my own anxiety and energy starting to rise.

My first instinct is to exit. If that’s not possible then find a place that feels secure (a corner, a wall, a restroom) where I can collect my thoughts and calm my mind, body, and spirit.

Physical escapes may not always be accessible but finding a quiet place in my head, my soul, can bring peace and positivity.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

Be Still

A Christmas card came in the mail last week from Beth’s cousin. The Bible verse on the outside cover was Psalm 46:10; “Be still and know that I am God.” This has been my favorite Psalm for longer than I can remember.

Before I was diagnosed with a Chronic Major Depressive Disorder and a Severe Anxiety Disorder I knew there was a lot of chatter in my head. Regrets about the past, being unworthy in the present, and fear of the unknown and uncontrollable. Combined with incessant negative self-talk and panic in many situations, this verse was a plea, a prayer, a reminder.

I still pray this verse every day. My mind, despite therapy and medication, still swirls. Filled with unwelcome thoughts and ruminations this verse can anchor me sometimes. Other moments it’s a desperate hope that maybe one day the verse will be one of of thankfulness.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

No Traction

No Traction

Yesterday I evening I went out to mow grass. I was hoping to have enough time and begin early enough to finish before the thunderstorms that were forecasted started. I wrote about the steering mower being able to turn only right so it’s tricky to get the yard mowed and looking nice. As the sun began to set I finished the front and moved to the back. Unfortunately, it began to lightly rain. Not enough to make me stop but enough to get the grass wet. This caused me to begin to lose traction on the small hill that makes up our backyard. I’d start up the incline only being able to turn right and would come to a standstill. I could only steer right when I needed to go left and began sliding down the incline. Over and over this happened and it was exasperating!

A few weeks ago my medical therapist changed one of my prescriptions. As someone who lives with Chronic Depression and Severe Anxiety, this happens sometimes when certain symptoms aren’t being dealt with effectively. The worse part of switching meds is you have to come off one slowly while beginning the other one the same way. Even with tapering down and up I’ve had difficulty with withdrawal. Depression and Anxiety are mental illnesses so when your brain is used to one medicine and you change it your brain goes through a transition. Since the recommended change I am struggling to find traction. It won’t be like this forever but when you feel like you can’t get to where you want to go it can be frustrating and exhausting.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

The Smell of a Tuna Fish Sandwich

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The Smell of a Tuna Fish Sandwich

My wife came home early from work on Friday. She wasn’t feeling well and had a stomach bug. I’m not a natural caretaker but was able to get her settled in the bed and bring her something to drink with saltine-crackers. She slept most of Friday and Saturday was feeling better. She still wasn’t eating much and when I asked if she would like lunch she opted for a bland bowl of cereal. I, on the other hand, fixed myself a fresh can of tuna, with mayo and pickles. When Beth fixed her cereal I noted she was on the far side of the counter. “What are you doing over there?” I asked. “The smell of your tuna is not helping my stomach!” she replied and told me it was the last thing she ate Friday before getting sick. The smell of my Tuna Fish sandwich was threatening to make her sick again.

Scientists tell us that smell is one of the greatest memory triggers. However, all our senses, particular situations, certain people, can trigger pain, shame, emotional, mental and even physical reactions in us or others. This is why it’s so important making sure we don’t judge or label others who may react differently to events and experiences. The path of their life, which intersects ours, could be fraught with challenges and difficulties we’ve never encountered. Knowing each person has a unique path helps us be aware, accepting, adaptable, and non-judgemental toward each other.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

For more posts, reflections and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

 

Common Thread

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Common Thread

Yesterday I told my therapist three distinct experiences that have happened to me since our last appointment. I do my best to remember or jot down events or emotional moments I encounter and relay them to her. I talk about how I felt, why I think I felt it, why I did something, what I thought would be the outcome, what happened to me and the result. I tell her these things because many times I’m not able to see the big picture because I’m so close to the events and experiences.

When I finished telling her my three stories she then asked a series of questions that gave me the ability to look at each one from a different point of view. I thought they were three separate, non-related moments but she was able to see a common thread and we discussed how and why I reacted in a certain way and the possible reasons they imprinted on me. It was an; “Aha!” moment that I was unable to see without the benefit of a pair of unbiased, professionally trained, eyes.

I don’t love therapy. I tolerate it. I know it’s an invaluable part of my treatment plan for chronic severe depression and a severe anxiety disorder. There are times I walk out wondering what was accomplished and there are; “Aha!” days. I don’t always like what I am shown or discover but I hope that every; “Aha!” helps my journey on this path called; “my life” be easier and worth the struggle.

blessings,
@BrianLoging

For most posts, reflections and other writings, please visit; http://www.thewannabesaint.com

What Do You Feel?

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What Do You Feel?

Identifying feelings can be hard. One doesn’t usually experience just one feeling but a myriad of them. When we ask someone; “What do you feel? or How do you feel?” what is our honest expected answer. There are many events I attend, running into acquaintances and they ask; “How are you?” I wonder what they’d do if a person told them their feelings. If someone actually laid our their emotions, the good, bad and in between, what would be the response? I think most of us wouldn’t know how to handle it. When we ask; “How are you?” there is an unspoken code that says; “Fine, good, or okay” is the appropriate comebacks.  We get used to this and even when someone we love and loves us inquires about feelings we give the easy answers.

Therapy was today. My talk therapist doesn’t let me get away with; “Fine, good, okay.” She digs deeper, wanting to know what I’m feeling, why these feelings, what happened to produce these feelings. She’s big on feelings and questions about feelings! I’m not big on answering them. Honestly, I squirm, become animated and agitated, but she’s persistent and eventually, we dig down deep enough where there’s no longer pleasantries but raw emotion.

I realize we can’t do that with everyone but there are times if we’re focused and aware of the person we are talking with we notice the answer doesn’t match the facial expressions, the tone of voice, the hollow eyes or body language. Are we willing to set aside our schedule to dig deeper, offer a listening ear, reach out to help? Feelings and emotions are messy. However, if someone opens up to you be sure not to let this amazing moment pass by.

For more posts, reflections and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannebsaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

Color Blind?

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Color Blind?

This morning our staff attended a lecture on the Understanding Your Implicit Bias. The takeaway is that we all have biases, ways of looking at the world, groups of people, each other. These biases come from our parents, other role models we had as kids, extended families, the neighborhoods we grew up in, friends we hung around, and countless other influences. It wasn’t a lecture on “if” but “why” we developed biases and how they impact your interactions with people you encounter each day, what you think when you hear certain words, see certain images, and how deep these biases are rooted within us.

One of the more interesting topics the lecturer spoke about was the idea of being “color blind.” In other words not seeing a person’s skin color but their character. On the surface, this seems like a great way to connect with each other. The challenge with this way of thinking, according to the speaker, was that you strip a person of part of their identity. As a Christian, white, middle class, middle-aged, southern, heterosexual, male, each of these traits are part me. Along with the unique experiences of my life they make me who I am.

I found this a wonderful and a too often overlooked idea. Sometimes, in order to make everyone “equal”, we take away parts of their identity or neutralize them. When we do this we are doing a disservice to them and ourselves. People, fully known, recognized and loved, connects us in a balanced way that honors the breadth of humanity and the amazing uniqueness present in all of us.

For more posts, reflections, and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

Triggered

“The sign of a wise mind is the ability to think a thought without necessarily believing it is true.” #Aristotle

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-C_7OuhXh50)

 

Bad News

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Bad News

A new pastor, on his first Sunday, preached the sermon and following the dismissal prayer, greeted people at the door as they were leaving. A man in a bright red sports jacket was next in line and before the preacher could say anything he blurted out; “That was a terrible sermon!” Taken aback the pastor tried to figure out his next words but the man left before he could reply. After a while, he noticed the man in the bright red sports jacket in line again. This time he said; “You could not have possibly studied for that message. It was a mess!” Again the pastor was at a loss for words and the man was gone. As the line to meet the new pastor was ending he couldn’t believe the last person in line was the guy in the red sports jacket! “I don’t know if I’ll come back if that’s the best you can do!” Abruptly he walked out the door and this time the pastor watched him get into his car and drive away. The new reverend, obviously shaken by this man’s constant critique saw a group of folks in the foyer, wandered over, and asked’ “What is the deal with the man in the red sports jacket?” “Oh, don’t worry about him replied a parishioner. He only repeats what he hears other people saying.

Bad news. Sometimes we expect it other times it takes us by surprise. No matter who we are, what we do, sooner or later we get bad news. It may be from our spouse, boss, doctor, friend, co-worker, or stranger. The challenge isn’t what to do if bad news comes but when it shows up. Our choices following an announcement of bad tidings are often more important, and have a greater impact, than the news itself. The space in between the news and the choices we make are critical. This is why wisdom, knowledge, peace, acceptance, clarity should be discovered now. When bad news comes chances are you will do what you know and many times the battle is won before the soldier takes the field.

For more posts, reflections, poems, and other writings, please visit:
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

Rainfall

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Rainfall

We need rain! Our grass is turning brown from intense heat and barely any rain the last several weeks. The grass was a beautiful green most of the summer, with showers almost daily, and then not much since mid-July. I have a friend who keeps me informed of their weather and they said its raining almost every day. I asked them to send some our way but that didn’t work. I mowed patches of grass and dirt last Friday and the lack of moisture was noticeable.

I’m curious how in some places they’ve had too much rain and its flooding, in other places like California forest fires rage and they are desperate for it. My friend who’s been getting rain almost every day reminded me of the Biblical statement; “The rain falls on the just and the unjust.” That didn’t help because I don’t know if I’m doing something right or wrong but I’d be happy to change to receive the needed rain.

Like summer droughts our souls are at times parched, cracked from dryness, and we need nourishment to replenish us. A person facing a difficult time asked a question yesterday about burnout and I told them some of my symptoms a few years ago and pointed them to my writings from the last several years as one person’s experience of spiritual drought and emotional barrenness. I hope a post or a poem helps remind them what I have learned; the mountaintop highs and the valley lows are all part of this journey of life. Rain does indeed fall on the just and unjust. Don’t let your desperation for rain, for nourishment, convince you the healing will be quick or easy. Rest. Find peace in the dust and dirt. Trust that it will not be like this forever.

For more posts, reflections, poems and other writings, please visit:
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

Falling

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Falling

Last night I had a dream about falling down a bottomless pit. My speed kept increasing and I was doing my best not to hit the walls of the pit and hurt myself. However, as my eyes adjusted to the darkness I could see there were ladders attached to the walls and if I timed it right I could catch a rung and begin climbing out of the pit. I woke up before I had decided to try and catch myself on a ladder or keep falling.

I have a lot of dreams like this one. Dreams of being late to a meeting and not being able to get there. Dreams of having to take a test and never have been in class, the teacher, the other students, the room are all unrecognizable but it’s time for the test. Dreams of being stuck, lost, and a sense of impending doom. I often wake up from these dreams and have no idea where I am. For a fleeting moment, my own home is unfamiliar. It’s always frightening but slowly I remember and things come into focus.

I’ve spoken with my talk therapist about it and it’s not unusual. Having a mental illness that includes a severe anxiety disorder is, in part, living scared. The key is finding my center, relocating my balance and allowing the fear to sometimes leave but most times settle so I can get out of bed and refuse to let it win.

In my dream, I didn’t grab the ladder but right now, at this moment, I know that I am reaching out and that has to be good enough.

For more posts, reflections, poems, and other writings, please visit
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging

Sharp

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Sharp

This morning the pastor began his sermon by quoting my favorite Psalm;

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

He had my attention. Then the reverend told the story of a logger challenging another to a contest of chopping down trees. “The one with the most chopped wood at the end is the winner.” The challenged accepted and they met the following morning at dawn. The challenger yelled; “Go!” and began swinging his axe with all his might and at great speed. The challenged swung his axe at a steady, but slower, rate. The challenger went as hard as he could all morning, ate a short lunch, and then resumed his feverish pace until the sunset. He knew he had won. How could he not? His speed, strength, and stamina were unmatched by the challenged. In fact, during the day, when he’d stop to wipe his brow, it seemed every time he looked the other logger was sitting down and resting. However, when both men looked at the two piles the challenger was flabbergasted and admitted his opponent’s pile of wood was bigger than his. “How could that be?” he asked. “I worked longer, stronger and faster!” “True,’ said the winner; but when I rested I was sharpening my axe.

A simple but important lesson. Sometimes we are so fixated on “what we have to do!” that we forget to rest. We are overworked and overwhelmed. What we need is rest. Rest restores the body, mind, and spirit. In our culture, resting is frowned upon. This is because we’ve forgotten the difference between being at rest and being lazy.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Shake it Off

Shake it Off

Being the owner of a Siberian Husky is a challenge in many ways, not least of which is keeping the hair cast-off in check. Huskies “cast” their fur twice a year which is when they get rid of their entire under-coating. However, they shed year round. Brushing, sweeping, vacuuming, are part of the deal when dealing with this breed. One of the first acts Trooper does when going outside is rolling over on his back trying to get rid of loose hair that’s been itching and bothering him. Following this, he has grass clippings, small limbs, and leaves all over his back. So, we have taught him to “shake off” before coming into the house. We give him the command and most times he’ll give a good shake before coming inside.

Watching him do this is a good reminder that life can be burdensome. There are people, places, and things which annoy us. If we aren’t careful we can carry difficulties and challenges with us instead of letting them go. I don’t think we need to roll around on the ground or have a fit before walking inside our homes, but mentally we can shed our minds, emotions, and spirits of the negative bothersome issues of life.

Shake it off. Find relief and peace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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