Blog Archives

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

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

Stalking

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Stalking

Waiting on a hurricane is like being stalked by a homicidal turtle!” I read this statement the other day and thought it was humorous and true. My wife and I have friends up and down the east coast and they are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best with Hurricane Florence looming as she’s still deciding when and where to make landfall. The slow-moving storm has people on edge. There’s something to be said for a challenge or difficulty that comes out of nowhere to cause chaos in life and then goes as fast as it came. It’s hard but at least one doesn’t have the agony of waiting.

I was talking with a friend last night about depression and anxiety and the way they steal the joy out of life. It’s a dark storm that hovers filling you with dread as you prepare for the full brunt of the fury. You wait, you pray, you look for signs of the storm passing but it stays in one place and never gives you a true moment’s rest. Your strength is sapped by the anxiety of the approaching darkness and when the storm finally hits its wave and winds batter and beat you into submission. Rest is elusive when something is stalking you, wearing you out with threats and anticipation, and finally, when it strikes, you’re too weak to fight back.

Be kind to each other. You never know the storms that are brewing in each of us.

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

How do You Feel?

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How Do You Feel?

Yesterday was my three-month check-up with the doctor in charge of the medicinal portion of my mental health plan. As someone with Chronic Severe Depression and a Severe Anxiety Disorder, the psychology group I go to has doctors who specialize in medical therapy and others who specialize in talk therapy. Together with the patient a plan is developed and intended to help them as much as possible.

Yesterday’s appointment was; “Meh, okay.” The therapist asked standard questions; “Are you taking your meds? How do you feel? Have you noticed any changes in mood or behavior? Any major life changes?”  I answered all of them and told her I was following my plan except for one suggestion she’s made many times. We don’t agree and I don’t think it’s a big deal. She, the professional, thinks otherwise. I told her; “Yes, I am still…” she simply replied; “You know how I feel about that!” and we kept going with the conversation. I found it humorous that’s all she has to say and it’s enough. I either have to trust her and do it or not. She’s told me the benefits and even though I don’t see them I choose to fully follow the mental health plan or not. Sigh.

We’ve all been there with people we love and care for. We give them advice about life and after a point, we decide not to tell them again and again. We let them choose and deal with the results. I’ve done this with many of the people I work with but it’s interesting, and a little uncomfortable, to be on the other side.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Behind the Eyes

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Behind the Eyes

I saw a picture of me from several years ago today. As most people, I don’t care for my photo to be taken but when it is I “grin and bear it.” Looking at the picture today the smile was there but it wasn’t genuine. There was also something missing in the eyes. There was no light behind them. They were hollow and sad. I was surrounded by friends in the photo, good friends. It should’ve been a time of stories, thankfulness, and memories but I can tell in my eyes it wasn’t any of those for me, only a blank stare and pasted smile. This was about a year before I was diagnosed with a Chronic Major Depressive Disorder.

The journey over these last years has been a hard one and there is still far to go but looking back I can see where I’ve come from and this does bring me relief. I’m not stuck in the same place even though sometimes it feels that way.

I’ve been watching a documentary titled; “The Kingdom of Us.” (https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/oct/08/the-kingdom-of-us-review-netflix-teenagers-lucy-cohen) It is the story of a family recovering from their father’s suicide. They listen to recordings of his voice, often in song, and watch videos of him and the family. They ask each other repeatedly, “Look at him! He’s so sad. Why didn’t we see it?” I know the answer; “because he didn’t want it to be seen.” We’ve all been there and done that; plastered on a smile when our hearts are breaking inside. We’ve pushed on even though everything feels broken inside.

Too often we take people’s word when we ask; “How are you?” and they reply; “Fine’ or ‘Good.” The key to discovering the truth is asking more than once and keep at it until they feel you might actually want to know.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Enemy Within

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Enemy Within

I had a meeting with my talk therapist yesterday. It went well. She is professional, a good listener and has a way of pointing out things I miss in life experiences. We were talking about a certain subject, one I struggle with mightily at times, and asked a question that made me think in a completely different way. She didn’t say; “Think this way.” Like a good therapist should do, she allowed me to look inside and find my way out of dark corners.

As someone with a Chronic Severe Depression disorder the battle with ruminating thoughts, anger, doubt, confusion, and fear cover my mind, emotions, and spirit like a wet blanket. Some days I can shake the blanket off of me, other days it’s like a chill in my bones and I can’t get warm. Therapy helps remind me that many of the feelings, and non-feelings, which come with depression may not be gotten rid of completely but a new thought, a burst of light, a letting go of some of the negative, can make room for hope and a willingness to continue the journey.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

a Break

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a Break

Today was the first appointment with my therapist since my father passed. We kept coming back to the theme; “It’s been a long month!” We talked about a lot of things which have happened, are happening and will happen. Responsibilities, experiences, the new normal of living life without dad and how these are impacting my chronic depression and severe anxiety. As we were wrapping up the session her words, her prescription for me was; “Give yourself a break.” In other words, take it one day at a time, don’t fixate on certain challenges, try not to do everything at once and breathe, keep yourself centered.

On the way home I was driving behind a person with a bumper sticker which read; “Of course I love you! Why wouldn’t I?” I received the message and took it to heart. We put such a demand upon ourselves to get things done, live up to expectations, not let anyone down, be what we believe we should be instead of simply accepting ourselves for who we are; imperfect people trying to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God and with each other.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

A Little Higher

A Little Higher

A year and a few months ago I wrote about my major depressive disorder and my attempts to begin to run again after a two-year hiatus. I also wrote, a few weeks later, about major knee pain, a visit to an orthopedic and the diagnosis that running wasn’t in my future. I tried again earlier this year and knee pain came back.

For those with depressions and anxiety, the BIG 3 in treating them are medicine therapy, talk therapy, and exercise. There are a lot of other things as well but these three are the foundation to successfully living with the disease. Without running I’ve spent the last few months trying to find another effective and somewhat enjoyable way to work out. I’ve found a few cross training videos that seem to hit the intersection.

One of the instructors on a video says the following; “Watch your posture. Imagine two balloons tied to your ears lifting you high, keeping your body straight as you do this workout.” I’ve watched the video and heard this instructor say it so often I know when it’s coming and I’m already checking my body’s alignment.

I’ve also thought about the advice in other parts of my life. Too many times I’m looking down, hunched over, not seeing the light and feeling the heat of the sun because my face is looking at the ground. Depression has this type of impact on a person. However, if I would, even on my darkest days, put those balloons on I might be surprised how looking up can help when I’m feeling down.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Thinking

Thinking

One of the easiest lessons of wisdom to learn is you are what you repeatedly think or do. One of the hardest wisdom disciplines to practice is thinking and doing good things.

Aristotle said, paraphrased by Will Durant; “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” So what we keep thinking and keep doing reveals who we truly are, on the inside. We can say we are kind, loving, grace-giving, but if our thoughts and deeds betray us we must come to the reality of who we are if we desire to change or be at peace through acceptance.

For those like myself who live with depression, one of the cycles we can get into are negative thoughts about ourselves. We relive painful moments, negative events, over and over again. We get stuck with thoughts of how we could be better, how terrible we are, and how little we can offer the world and those closest to us.

Being caught in a cycle of negative thoughts, reliving mistakes and mishaps is called ruminating. For those battling depression the thoughts can literally go on for days, weeks, months. When we are doing well, on a plateau, we can catch ourselves and refuse to hop on these train of thoughts. When we are struggling our thoughts can take us down tracks from which we may never recover.

I like the Zen saying; “You can’t stop negative thoughts from coming but you don’t have to sit and serve them tea.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Fly Away

Fly Away

This morning I watched numerous birds flying around, landing on anything solid only to fly away again, seemingly without a care in the world. Birds are masters at looking as if there is nothing which tethers them to the ground, nothing that so burdens their minds they forget how to fly.

A depressive disorder has many symptoms but one of the most annoying and energy-consuming is; “ruminating.” Ruminating is thinking about something over and over. Turning it over in your mind. Looking at it from each and every possible angle and then doing the same thing again incessantly. It’s not being able to let a thought go whether it be a person, a situation (past, present, future) a fear or a source of anger. It is being tethered to and unable to allow the thought to fly away.

The quote (pictured) is a great reminder that we may be unable to stop a thought from landing in our minds but we can develop the discipline to let it go.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Safe

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It has begun!

Several weeks ago my wife and I hired someone to remodel our bathroom. Today, they started. I work at home and it wasn’t easy to focus on anything with the bathroom being demolished a few feet away.

A safe space is important for someone like me who’s battling a major depressive disorder and a severe anxiety disorder or another who deals with any mental health issues. We need a quiet, mostly uninterrupted space where we can collect our thoughts, process the day that was and prepare for the next day.  This week I don’t have that and it has me concerned.

In times and seasons when our rhythm is disrupted, our safe space invaded, what we use to cope is taken away, we need to remember that all outward places we look for protection are not always available. The safest space is in the arms of grace, a deep abiding peace which travels with you wherever you go.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Broke and Broken 

Broke or Broken

Someone asked me today what’s the difference between being broke and broken? It was a great question that I am still pondering.

I think being, believing, you are broke is resignation. To be broke spiritually or emotionally is to lose hope of being fixed, reset, used again. I have felt this way in the throes of an episode of major depression. When all is dark and being of any use our used again is lost to the shroud that settles, stifles and suffocates your soul.

To be broken, for me, is to still believe there is life and light to be found in the dark night of the soul. It’s not easy to find hope, purpose, any emotional or spiritual depth but somehow, someway, there’s a place in your inner most being that believes it’ll get better. These are my good days and, though they may seem disheartening to one who has not suffered from depression and anxiety, are worth celebrating.

Broke and broken. Two sides of the same coin where one is a sense of worthlessness and the other a chance for a life which is valued.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

The End

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The End

Today is the end of 2016. Fittingly it is a rainy, messy, lazy, stay inside type of day. 2016 has seemed to be filled with more bad than good, negative than positive, a seismic movement towards evil leaving good behind. Even as I write the last sentence images of natural disaster, murders, political theater in the absurd, and the death of people everyone knew and those who impacted lives on a less grand scale but no less important to the ones who still mourn their loss.

Also, as I blog this post it is my understanding that not everyone sees 2016 the same way. Some people had a worse year than what I’m describing and others a wonderful year full of blessings, answers to prayer and enjoyment.

My feeling of the year which has passed is a general feeling of woe for our country and world. Myopically 2016 wasn’t a bad year. Personally, I am still blessed with the most wonderful wife a man could be married to, a job that has seen a lot of changes but an enormous amount of good done for others, a house far from perfect but feels more like home each day, and cast of good people I consider my family and friends.

I continue to pray, hope and seek help for my Major Depressive Disorder and Anxiety Disorder. For the first time, I feel my meds, therapy, and personal recovery are headed in the right direction. The diseases I fight are not and will never be easy but having people who care enough to keep fighting with you makes the battles less scary and victory more likely.

So, here’s to 2016, may it rest in peace.  2017? Here’s hoping you’re better than I’m expecting.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Keep Walking

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Keep Walking

This morning, part of my devotions had this passage from Laurence Freeman, OSB;

“A brother came to his Abbott and said, ’Many distracting thoughts come into my mind and I am in danger because of them. I’m so distracted, my mind is all over the place.’  The elder took the monk out of the cell into the open air and said, ‘Open up the garments that you’re wearing and catch the wind.’  The monk replied, ’I cannot do this!’ and the Abba said to him, ‘If you cannot catch the wind, neither can you prevent distracting thoughts from coming into your head. Your job is to say not stop them from blowing in but letting your mind be open enough for the distracting thoughts to blow out as well.'”

One of the most difficult traits of having a Severe Anxiety Disorder is all of the thoughts that swirl in my mind almost every moment of every day. I believe this is one of the main reasons for my attraction to the contemplative, monastic lifestyle. I’ve read countless words of wisdom on how to still my thoughts, to try to corral them, and some work, sometimes but some days nothing does.

A picture in my Facebook feed this morning reminded me of the battle between what I desire; a calm interior with what is often anything but:

Tomorrow I go to a specialist who I’ve been seeing for almost a year. She is a nice woman, smart and understanding. She asks me how I’m feeling, how my meds are working, how I’m sleeping, how I’m doing socially, what my work schedule is like, and other, much harder, probing, deep, questions.

One of the hardest parts of seeing her is that I’m not significantly better, or better yet; cured. She knows this already, she knew this when I started seeing her. People with Chronic, Major Depressive Disorder, and Severe Anxiety Disorder don’t suddenly recover. It’s a long process and she is part of my journey, along with words of wisdom, my spirituality, meds and a host of other things.

So, I keep walking this path and enjoy the good days, endure the harder days and trust the folks who surround and support me.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Holding On

Holding On

The grass crunched underneath my feet as I opened the workshop doors to back the riding mower out. The weeds, bent over and wilted in the yard, were sparse but tall enough to need mowing. I turned on the blades and dust arose. This has been a long, hot, dry summer. What began in April and early May with plenty or rain and fast growing grass, beautiful blooms quickly retreated as the rain quit falling and the temperatures steadily climbed. The leaves are already dropping to the ground as trees can’t get enough of water to keep them healthy. There likely won’t be a colorful fall because the leaves will be dying or dead before the changing of the seasons.

I listened to someone talk today about depression. They described it as; “The want of nothing, the will to do nothing.” An apt description of my own struggle with chronic, severe depression. The speaker has dealt with this disease most of his life and accepts it may be a part of the journey until his death. 

Depression’s impact is like the drought’s upon the trees. The life giving sources of joy, purpose and the will to live, is lacking. What was once beautiful and growing is now dull and lifeless. Like the trees which cannot draw enough water to it’s leaves, to give them the strength to hang on, helplessly watches them let go and blow away.

The speaker commented; “the key to holding on is to possess a sliver of hope.” It can be hope in a myriad of things but hope reminds us that it gets better. Friends, family members, work, treatment, medication, therapy, community, relationships, hobbies, prayer, all can give us hope that who we are, what we do, matters. “As long as we see hope, we see a reason to keep going.”

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Come Out and Play

Come Out & Play

Ever feel life is similar to this poor Giant Panda Bear (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant_panda) staff member? You’re doing everything you can to keep your life neat and orderly, to do what you need to do, and forces beyond your control are conspiring against you to keep it from happening.

Watching this video I couldn’t help but feel sorry and empathize with the zoo keeper. I’ve been there. On good days, when my Clinical Depression and Severe Anxiety are kept at bay, I’m able to accomplish what I set my mind to do. However, on those days when my D&A decide to run wild it takes everything I’ve got to get the simplest project done or task completed.

Those days when Depression and Anxiety; “come out to play” and wreak havoc I do my best to remember tomorrow, or some day soon, they’ll stay away long enough for life to regain a semblance of order and serenity.

#DontBeAshamedofYourStory
#EndtheStigma of #MentalHealth
#StoptheStigma #MentalHealthAwareness

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Crawl. Walk. Run.

Crawl. Walk. Run.

A couple of weeks ago I shared; “My Depression and Anxiety Story” (https://thewannabesaint.com/2016/04/27/my-depression-and-anxiety-story/) after I had gone on my first run in over two years.

My goal was simple. I would run/walk as often as my physical and mental health would let me. Knowing it would take time to build strength and endurance I took days off and did my best to pace myself. It was important that I didn’t push too hard so I tried to be careful not to strain or sprain anything. However, after two weeks, I noticed both knees were beginning to hurt and by Wednesday of this week I couldn’t walk without severe pain and there were times I thought about crawling from my office to the truck or from the couch to the kitchen. On Friday I went to the doctor and she noticed there was swelling on both knees and we made the decision for me to receive one steroid injection in each leg. Following the shots the physical therapist told me; “Stay off your legs as much as possible until Sunday afternoon. The less you are on your feet the more potent the steroid will be to the injured areas.” So, on a beautiful weekend, I am stuck on the couch. “Ugh!

Long journeys never seem to abide with our plans. Doing my best to follow the doctor’s advice the last couple of days I’ve had time to reflect on this long journey with Depression and Anxiety. Much like dealing with knee difficulties there have been days with depression and anxiety when all I could do was sit despondently and watch the world go by. Other days I’ve crawled along the path. Most days I walk, albeit slowly, and one day I hope to be able to mentally run on my journey toward recovery.

Wisdom teaches us to crawl, walk then run. Whatever we do, wherever we go, there is a pace, a rhythm. One must be in sync to find and navigate the path towards wholeness and healing.

On my journey with these diseases I cannot dictate the speed. Instead I must accept that each day will be unique and sometimes stillness is the only way forward.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Darkness of the Mind

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Today has been a gloomy day. The gray clouds have hung low, the sun hidden from view and I’ve been tired since I got out of bed this morning. Days like this are long and it’s difficult to be in a positive frame of mind.

For some folks even when there’s not a cloud in the sky and the sun, like a Phoenix, rises high above the earth casting light on all it surveys their view is still obscured by the darkness of their mind. Depression, anxiety and other mental health issues keep them in a perpetual state of unease and uncertainty. It’s hard for them to become motivated to do anything for the darkness drains them, keeps them from seeing the use, the purpose, the reason for simply living.

Oftentimes these folks are the ones you’d least suspect are battling demons of darkness. They seem okay, well adjusted, walk amongst us without a sign that reads; “help“, or a dark cloud hanging over their heads but make no mistake they are present, trying to hang on one more day, searching for the courage to hope, looking for a light in the darkness.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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Needed

I haven’t seen the sun all day. I know it’s there but either its hiding behind the clouds or they are hiding it. I’m not sure if this is the reason but its been a hard day to accomplish anything. Overcast days have always drained me. They’re just so … “blah.”

I was talking with someone on Wednesday about how I was doing, the way life was treating me and I told her it was; “going okay.” We conversed about those times I didn’t have the energy to do much and how these days seemed to engender within me a sense of loss and shame for wasting my life. She told me; “some days you must give yourself permission to just be, not accomplishing, or getting through a task list, just being and letting that be enough.” “Easier said than done,’ I said, ‘for someone who struggles with severe anxiety.” “Maybe,’ she replied, ‘but that doesn’t mean you don’t try.Good words.

It almost seems like an oxymoron to try at not trying, be at simply being, allowing a moment to exist without making it into something more. Perhaps a cloudy, rainy day wasn’t what I wanted but exactly what I needed.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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What the New Year Holds

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If 2014 was the longest year of my life, and it seemed to be, then 2015 was one of the shortest. Trying to wrap my brain around it being the last day of the year is proving to be a difficult task.

I spent most of the year out of my comfort zone trying to forge new relationships, learning a new job, accepting the reality of the diagnosis of an illness and adjusting my life accordingly.

It was not a year of stillness and balance but rather of uncertainty and finding my footing. It wasn’t a bad year by any means but for someone who likes stability and predictability it was a challenge! Now, here I am, only a few hours of this quick moving year left and no sense of what the new one will bring.

Today has been a day of rest and reflection. A respite to catch my breath. Whatever 2016 holds it will be experienced, accepted and not too much to bear.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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Identifying with Others

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This morning I read about a Dad who had a tattoo of his daughter’s cochlear implant imprinted upon his head. Now whether you’re a tat person or not that’s pretty cool.

I was talking with my neighbor last night about a schizophrenic man in Nashville who was killed this week by police after he tried to shoot with a gun and maim with a hatchet a group of people in a movie theater. Fortunately no one else was seriously injured.

It’s hard to understand why a person would do such a thing!” He said to me. I knew this wasn’t the time to go into mental illness and it’s effect on individuals and families but I did tell him that often it’s the people who inflict the greatest amount of pain on others who are suffering the most themselves.

We may not comprehend the hurt and actions of others. We aren’t able to climb inside their minds and spirits to sort out motivations and intentions. However, what we can do is not judge, not dismiss, not shake our heads with condemnation and contempt.

Too often the struggles and difficulties of another separate us, especially when we can’t identify with the particular hell they’re going through. However, using our ignorance as an excuse eliminates our ability to hear their cry, help with their need, bring healing to their wounds.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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