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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

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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

Gently

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Gently

Yesterday I stepped out on to our front screened in porch to let the dog have some alone time in the yard. Immediately a frantic movement caught my eye. Inside the screen porch, trapped in a corner was a Yellow Monarch Butterfly. Big, beautiful and needing to be free. I don’t know if butterflies know when they aren’t free but I knew and was determined to do something about it. I took my hands and gently tried to close my fingers around it. Several times it fluttered away but I was finally able to catch it, gently take it outside and then cautiously open my hands and watch it fly away.

I thought about my journey with mental illness and people in my life who have struggles of their own. We might not know we are trapped or at least not see a way out. We need help, assistance that doesn’t force, grab, clutch, and drag us to where someone else thinks we ought to be. We need gentleness, someone who won’t break our wings or our spirits but show us there is life, there is freedom.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Defenses

Defenses

Earlier today I was mowing and weeding the yard. While doing so I came across a three to four-foot King Snake hanging out in the grass. I didn’t want to hurt it so I nudged it with the wheel of my push mower and it didn’t move. I bumped it again and the snake curled up into a ball. I was hoping the third time was the charm and tried to get it moving but it wasn’t going anywhere. I then went and grabbed a wooden stake, found the snake still rolled up and not willing to budge. As a last result, I pushed the stake through the center of the ball, picked it up and placed it in another part of the yard where it would be safe. “Sheesh!” I thought to myself. It just had to be difficult.

After getting back to my mowing I thought about the defensive behavior of the snake. It wasn’t helpful for it or me. I reflected on my defensive behaviors and unhelpful coping skills. As someone who deals with mental illness, I know first hand what a sense of being in danger, uncertain, threatened can do. It can cause me to make a bad decision, seize up, pull myself into an emotional ball and try to keep the danger out. Most times it doesn’t work but, like the snake, its instinct.

I know if I would’ve been able to communicate with the reptile I would’ve explained it needed to move for its own safety. If it was left alone eventually the snake would relax and be able to go on its way. When people fight, flight or freeze when we try to help our intention doesn’t matter. What matters is understanding and adapting our help to meet the needs of the 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

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

Carry Us in their Hearts

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Carry Us in their Hearts

“What everyone needs to know is
that someone carries us in their hearts.”

This was a line from a lecture I heard today. The subject was people who have and those who do not have a sense of being worthy and loved. It was an interesting webinar and after it was over the words above found a place in my spirit. Each of us long to be loved by someone. We want to know we’re cared for, not because someone “has to” but because someone wants to.

In my battle with a major depressive disorder, the lie the disease tells me which hurts the most is that I am unlovable. It doesn’t whisper to me that no one loves me for I know that is not true but its propaganda is far more sinister. It plants the untruth in my spirit that I am not worthy of another’s love, that people only love me because they don’t see the darkness within. If they knew the struggle to return their love, the doubts, the fears, the impulses, they would find someone more worthy of their affection and devotion.

Even those who do not grapple with an illness such as depression need to know the tenderness and intimacy of another. We all desire to “know that we are carried in the heart of others.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabsaint.com

Enough?

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Enough?

Today is my birthday. I celebrated by getting up early this morning and going to therapy. The specialist I see is about 45 minutes from our house heading into Nashville. Depending on the amount of traffic it can take twice as long on a bad day. My gas gauge was sitting on about a quarter of a tank when I pulled out of the driveway and, running a little late, I didn’t stop to get gas. I figured it was enough to at least get me there. Then about half way through my trip on a stretch of interstate, I spied brake lights and all of a sudden I was at a full stop and stuck in traffic. That’s when the panic set in. “How long will I sit here? Will I have enough gas to make it when moving slowly or not at all?” It ended up fine and I made it to my appointment on time and put some gas in the truck before heading home.

Driving home I reflected on my therapy session and some of the issues addressed. Being my birthday I also thought about another year gone. As a person with a Major Depressive Disorder and a Severe Anxiety Disorder birthdays is a mixed bag. There is the blessing of getting through another year with the realization you have another year to get through. I am thankful for specialists and therapists, friends who encourage and understand, a family who does their best to stay beside me as I battle a disease that is incredibly difficult to understand and a wife who loves me, unconditionally and without whom I’d be lost deep in the darkest of places.

One more year on the path and enough fuel to keep going. On this birthday, I couldn’t ask for more.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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The Mask

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The Mask

One of the most difficult truths about mental illnesses is knowing you have no control over when and where your’s will show itself. This morning mine decided to visit just before going to church. I felt; “edgy” and distracted thoughts swirled around in my head. When I got to church the mask of; “everything is OK, nothing to see here, pleasantries for everyone” was put on before I walked in the doors and stayed before, during and after service. Like a duck on a pond, smiles and easiness on top, churning and just trying to stay afloat beneath the surface.

Having a severe anxiety disorder and clinical, chronic depression often means wearing masks. You know what’s socially acceptable, what won’t make other people uneasy, what keeps everyone balanced. You understand that when someone asks; “How are you?” You can’t unload on the unexpecting. It’s not fair to them.

So, the mask goes on, you say; “Hi.”, shake a hand, exchange a few banal words which don’t require follow-up conversation, and move on. About 3/4 through the service I noticed my arms, legs were crossed and I was hunched over a little. I thought to myself; “You’re trying to become as small as possible to avoid being seen, judged, called on, noticed.” Not that any of these things were going to happen but your emotions in the midst of an anxiety episode can be a powerful motivator. I was this way the rest of the service and when it was over I exited, wishing for invisibility.

This isn’t an isolated incident. Severe anxiety is one of many mental illnesses people live with, some more successful than others. It’s part of our lives similar to anyone with a chronic disease. You do your best to enjoy the better days, endure the hard ones and hope the meds, therapy, hobbies and other treatments prescribed mean that one day the mask is no longer wanted or needed.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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More than Enough

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A while ago my wife read me a list of food and drink items which can help contribute to anxiety. As someone who struggles with the Big A it was an article she thought I needed to hear. I listened as she continued to read and then paused when she mentioned; “caffeinated coffee.”

Coffee has long been a staple of my morning routine but I decided to cut my Java intake in half and try to gauge the impact, if any, on my battle with anxiety. So far I haven’t noticed much of a difference in my stress level but I have noticed that I’m still filling up the coffee pot with water to the level I used to drink before I cut back. It’s a habit and a waste so I’m trying to remember I don’t need as much as I used to.

Life goes best when lived simply and lightly. As we travel our path we begin to drop, let go of the things we don’t need. Wisdom teaches us that our lives become full when we’ve learned to limit our desires and empty ourselves of things no longer needed.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Between Thankfulness and Grace 

The other day I heard someone tell a group they were an anxious person. They then spoke of a recent meeting with a friend who prayed for them stating; “their anxiety wasn’t from God, to believe His word (Bible) and replace the anxious thoughts with ‘God’s truth.'” The person telling the story then declared she was thrilled with this revelatory prayer and her belief in the power of God and His word.

I was thankful for the woman’s relief from anxiousness and a friend who cared enough to listen, empathize and pray for her. I also thought about people I know who suffer from anxiety disorders, clinical depression, post traumatic disorder and other mental health issues. They pray, believe, hope, trust in the promises of their faith and scripture but permanent relief seems elusive.

For those who carry the burden of persistent mental health issues, stories of quick, permanent healing can be discouraging. Others who speak to them of; “having more faith, claiming the victory, believing God’s Word, praying until healing comes, be stronger, don’t let yourself be a victim of the devil/satan,” may be trying to help but often this type of advice does the opposite.

People with long term mental health issues often struggle with feelings of loneliness, doubt, self worth and long to be free of the struggle of dealing with basic existence. They may wonder; “Why have others received release and not me? Am I doing something wrong, being punished? Does God hear or care?

Some of the hardest places and groups for people to share their struggle with mental illness can be churches, other faith communities, or with believing friends. Whether it’s a fear of being judged as weak willed or lacking faith, a misunderstanding of the reasons and causes of mental illness, or the stigma mental health issues sometimes engender in people, it’s a risky move to share such a deep, intimate issue.

Finding the balance of rejoicing with those who’ve experienced healing and relief while being mindful of those who continue to struggle is the middle way of grace and thankfulness.

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

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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A Sudden Stop 

My grass mowing yesterday came to a sudden and painful stop!
A few weeks ago I had tried to remove some unsightly bushes and was able to dig up almost all of them but a stubborn, rather large stump, refused to go. I sawed off as much as I could and hoped to get back to it at another time. I made a mental note to mow around it but had managed to erase it from my mind.

Lost in thought…”WHAM!” the deck of the lawn tractor hit the stump and I lurched forward, banging my knee, stomach and wrenching my neck. At first I had no idea what happened but then I realized that concealed under the grass was that unseen roadblock. OW! After making sure there were no broken bones I put the mower in reverse, navigated around it and began mowing again.

While shaking off the sudden stop I reflected upon those whose lives are affected by depression, anxiety, panic attacks, bipolar, other mental health illnesses, and how quickly their personal journeys can be brought to a stop. They are moving along when an unforseen obstacle in their path brings their lives to a painful and confusing impasse. Most times, for those with hidden struggles, there is no warning and the downward spiral is debilitating and disheartening.

People who live with these illnesses, and the ones who love them, it’s important they remember that the way forward may be impeded, the world may come to a sudden stop but support, understanding and acceptance will never cease from those who care and love them most.

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

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