A few days ago I had a regular doctor's appointment. Technically I saw a PA (Physicians Assistant) but Bill is one of the most sympathetic, understanding people I know.
He was very concerned about my health and chronic issues, but we talked a lot about my depression issues and, for lack of a better term, my spiritual and intellectual health.
I left feeling energized. I really felt like it's time to look at things and really start doing something about how I spend my time and energy.
But here I am, three days later, and I'm still sitting on the bed, computer in my lap, wasting time on facebook and twitter and really not doing anything with myself.
I've been dealing with my pain and headaches and all the rest for about 12 years now. 12. Years. Things are in a place where the symptoms aren't getting worse - or at least not getting worse as rapidly they were. We seem to have things somewhat controlled. So it seems to be a perfect time to work on the intellectual and spiritual things.
So why can't I get out of this rut?
Over the course of the last 12 years I've started many little projects along the way. This blog, for one. Several other blogs, too, for that matter. Photography, videos, a youtube thing, trying to play guitar again, I started a book, a few coding project that I could never get to work, a box full of electronic parts and worn out computers waiting to be turned into something.....
I need to take these things out, dust them off, and see if any or it is worth working on or if it's time to dump them in the trash. Then maybe start something new. Or not. I don't know.
But I'm still here. in this rut.
And while on the one hand I feel a little energized to do something, I also feel really really TIRED. So freaking tired. And all the while my kids have to see me just sitting here, apparently stuck on the bed, struggling with the pain, yes, but also struggling to find meaning and purpose. And all the while being a failure as a father and person.
But I WANT to be better. I NEED to be better. I want to be a PERSON again.
I just can't move.
A few days ago I had a regular doctor's appointment. Technically I saw a PA (Physicians Assistant) but Bill is one of the most sympathetic, understanding people I know.
I haven't written here in some time. Since October 2014. I don't know why. I love writing. I really do. I don't pretend I''m good at it, but typing is easier than talking or any other form of communication. Rather than one on one I just throw things out there and see if people respond. If not, swell. If so, I hope it starts an interesting interaction - in written form of course.
Today I am depressed. I've shared in this blog and other places about my struggles with depression. It's been a life-long struggle, but it's harder at times than others. A lot of people still misunderstand what it is. I'm not sad. I'm not lonely. I'm not angry. I'm depressed. In my case that means I feel nothing. Just empty. Dark. Black. It's a pit of.... empty.
If I feel anything it's tired. Always just so tired. I know part of that is the other neurological things I have going on and, not least of all, my weight.
And overwhelmed. I feel overwhelmed. Which is odd because I don't work (can't work... not allowed to work a traditional job... on disability due to chronic pain) but I do a lot of volunteer stuff and I have a lot of self-created 'work' with social networking stuff. None of it is life-critical. I could just quit doing all of it, someone else would pick it up and I could just.... not do it. Who would notice? Or care?
It's summer. The kids are home. They overwhelm me. I always feel like I'm letting them down. Like I need to do more with them and for them. They don't lack for anything. But we don't go to parks or pools or much anymore because of me. Because of stuff I can't do anymore. Because at any moment a headache is going to melt my brain.
Is this a pity party? Yes. It is. It's my blog. I can be as pitiful as I choose. Don't like it? Don't read it. I'm allowed. Not because I'm better than you. Not because I'm worse than you. But because this is my struggle. Your's may be worse. Your's may be much worse. And I'm sorry. But this is mine. I'll help you with your's if I can. But right now no one is helping with mine.
Because there's not much to do. I can get around OK, with a cane. My kids are old enough to help with the dishes and the laundry and stuff - in fact they do most of the dishes and laundry and cooking. Maybe that's unfair to some, but it's not hard work and we don't ask them to do anything complicated. Do they do more than what some might call their fair share? Probably, especially other kids. But we're a large family. In a large family, everyone works. And, personally, I think it's good for them. It teaches them skills they need later in life. (Bash me if you want on this, but I stand by it.)
But still... there's not much anyone can do to help that isn't already being done. I appreciate the sympathy, so long as it's not pity (I pity myself enough), and I appreciate offers to help, but there's nothing to do. My lovely wife is the breadwinner now. Oh, I still get a little from social security, but she is making more than enough now to provide our needs. She's a teacher, so we don't have excess, but we have enough. And enough is all I really want.
Well, that's not entirely true. I want mobility. I want to be able to run to the store and do other little things. But it's too far to walk (at least for me - 3 miles) and I lost the ability to drive a while ago. Oh, I could still operate a vehicle, but there are the disorientation and vertigo and all the other terrible things that make it terribly unsafe for me to drive. I've tried to talk to my wife about maybe getting an adult tricycle and then working my way up to being able to ride into town. There's still risks with the disorientation and vertigo and all the other terrible things, but they are greatly diminished when I'm on a vehicle that weighs only 50 pounds or so and going only 4 miles an hour or so rather than a multi-ton vehicle of steel and fiberglass. I don't think my wife takes me seriously, though. Or maybe it's the thought of how I'd look on an adult trike. Or... I don't know... could be anything because she doesn't really talk to me about it.
So here I am. Generally stuck in the house. It's a nice house. Small. It's a trailer. But it's ours. I know it doesn't have any real resale value. And we don't own the land it's on. But it's ours. It's a little cluttered... well, a lot cluttered... at the moment because of all the stuff my lovely teacher wife just brought home from school. I'm encouraging her to get a storage unit, at least until she can sort it and/or take it back to school in the fall. But for now, this is where I am with all the stuff.
And I'm tired.So tired. And overwhelmed. And peering into the darkness that is depression.
But Allen, what about your faith? How can you be tired and overwhelmed and worst of all depressed while claiming to be a Christian?
Well, what of it? Like belief in something is an instant cure? Yes, I believe in God. Yes, I believe in Christ. Yes, I believe that God can cure me. And I pray, every day, for healing of my body and mind and soul. Yet it doesn't come. To many that would be enough to stop believing. But my belief is not based on what prayers of mine are answered or not. Maybe He will someday, but for now those particular prayers aren't answered.
Anyone that tells you that a real Christian isn't plagued by illness and pain and depression is lying. Lying a lot. Especially if they tell you that you just need to "pray the right way" or "name it and claim it" or do some kind of ridiculous laying on of hands from particular people or "repent of your unknown sins". I never got that one. How can you repent (literally "turn 180 degrees away from) a sin that is unknown? You can generally ask for forgiveness, but for a sin that is damaging to you (like addiction) you need to turn away from it. If you don't know you're doing it, how can you turn away? And then there's the demons and "God is punishing you because of your faithlessness" and all that other nonsense. Give me a break. Sometimes things are just what they are. In the Bible, the apostle Paul had a "thorn in his side" and prayed for it to be removed. God answered "no" and "My grace is enough". I'm not Paul, nor am I really comparing myself to him, except in this one thing. I've prayed, and maybe the answer is "grace is enough". And I can live with that, even though it's hard to live with the pain sometimes.
I'm about ranted out for now. I'm feeling a little better. My head still hurts, but then again it always does. Onward...
I've been looking at a lot of my old posts and realized that I usually only posted when I was angry or felt like I had to prove a point.
So why haven't I posted in a while? I guess I'm learning not to be as angry as I used to be.
Some things just aren't worth fighting about anymore. Things like religion. Who cares? I mean, I care about MY religion, but who cares what anyone else thinks about what I believe? Do I really care that you don't agree with me? Even when we share the same belief, do I really care that my interpretation of our Bible is different from yours? Or that you don't like my interpretation? Why did it ever matter to me that you didn't like my supporting the legality of same-sex marriage or abortion? Why did I ever let that make me angry? Did it change your mind? Did you change my mind? No. So much wasted energy.
And to be honest, I have been too angry for too long. And the problem, for me, isn't the fact that I got angry about things - some things you should get angry about, like school shootings and child molesters - it was that I let the anger CONTROL me rather than me controlling it. I would let it overwhelm me and consume me and lead to an explosion most times.
I have never ever been violent to my wife or kids. Once or twice I let lose a slap, and I regret it greatly, but for the most part my anger was never violent toward people. That's not a brag, that's... well I don't know what it is because many times I feared that it would go to that place. Many windows, doors, walls, and other things however were not so lucky, neither were my hands.
But by far the victim most often of my rage was the internet. Some friends, but more often random strangers. I had to prove to everyone that my idea was right and their's was wrong, even if I was the one that was, in fact, wrong. On and on I'd rant and rave. Sometimes in this blog, but more often, facebook or twitter.
Man I was ugly.
But I've been working on it.
Not to get all religiousy, but I am a religious person, Our church started a great program called Celebrate Recovery. I won't bore you with all the ins and outs of it, you can look it up. But it's a 12 step program like AA and others. Unlike AA, however, the program is flexible enough to reach out to people that struggle with all kinds of things and not just booze or drugs. In my case, anger control.
And it works. I'm learning to get a grip.
So you'll forgive me not sharing my angry rants as much as I used to. I'd really like to get back to writing for the sake of writing and not just angry ranting.
Maybe now that the fog is lifting I'll be able to think more clearly and actually write something creative.
My blogs have been dead as of late. I really have no excuse other than laziness and depression. But if you're here and reading this, thank you.
Today I am angry. Angier than angry. And I've had enough pussy footing around this topic out of fear I will offend someone or tread on their rights or some other such crap.
First, let me preface this by saying that much of what I am about to say is out of emotion. I do not have facts to back anything up, this is just my feelings and if you don't like it, too bad. My blog, my rules.
Ok, back to the rant.
Guns. I am angry about guns. Specifically I am angry that yet another gun has been used to kill yet another child. If you have seen the unfolding story (at the time of this writing), a teenager went into a high school, killed a student and himself (I don't currently know if said shooter was a student at that school or not. A teacher also sustained non-threatening injuries.)
How many dead children is it going to take for this country to wake up and DO something about it?
Ok, I know what some of you are going to say. "Well, if a teacher had been armed only the gunman would have died. More guns makes us safe. If he didn't have a gun he would have used a knife, just as many were killed with a knife by that one guy as with a gun. Good guys with guns. Blah blah blah blah blah."
So don't even tell me those. I've heard them all. And I honestly don't give a flying flipping crap about what you think about any of that. Guns kill people. No, not people killing people, guns. (If guns are safe, then let your toddler play with your's, go ahead. I'll wait. No? You see my point.) And yes, if you leave a gun on a table it's safe, but they never are, are they? Guns have infiltrated our entertainment, our media, our culture, and worst of all, our MINDS. There are some that practically worship them. Guns are more important to some than their family, their church, or their own health.
Why? Because it gives a sense of POWER, of god-like ability over life and death. And the illusion of safety. You have a gun to protect your family? That's swell. I'll just cut your gas line and wait for you house to blow up.See? Didn't really protect you, did it?
I'm so angry right now I can't even stay on track. My point is NO MORE DEAD KIDS!!
The President, Congress, and the courts need to stand up to the NRA and gun lobbyists and end this. Now. We are the only developed nation that this happens in. No other places in the world, even with similar gun rights, do we see kids killing other kids in schools. No where. The best time to act is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.
If it were up to me I would say ban them all. Get the National Guard, go door to door and just take them, all of them. All the guns. Every pistol, hunting rifle, antique, bb gun, all of them. Put them in a big pile and burn them. Then burn the factories. Institute the death penalty for anyone that has one.
But it's not. And I don't hold any fantasy that that will actually happen. The real world is too messy and like Pandora's box the demons are already lose. (Plus guns are actually useful tools when used that way.)
In spite of that, there are real things we can do. For starters, someone please tell the Open Carry idiots to put their toys away and grow up. Second, shut down the NRA. It is a terrorist organization that can no longer be allowed to exist. It's only purpose is to protect the so-called rights of those that continue to kill our children and that cannot be allowed in this or any other civilized place in the world.
Third, extremely harsh penalties to gun owners whose guns are used in a crime either by them or by others in their homes or those who stole them. If you own a gun, do everything possible to keep it from killing another person, not even in self defence. If it kills someone, even if another person did it, it's your fault. And you should be tried and convicted on the level equal to the crime. Death penalty. Period, the end. Your toddler gets a hold of it and accidentally shoots himself? That's not an accident, that's murder. Someone steals the gun you got to protect your possessions? Then why didn't you use it to stop them from stealing it? They used it in a crime? Too bad, that's on you.
Yes, I know. I'm a stupid hippy liberal that hates America. You know what? If love of guns equals love of America, then fine, I hate America. It's no longer "land of the free home of the brave". It's "land of the terrorized, home of the gun". That is not the America I was taught in school. That is not the country that Jefferson wrote about, nor the country Lincoln spoke of. It's degrading into "he who has the guns is in control" and I am not OK with my kids growing up in that country.
Dead children trumps gun rights. It just does. I don't care what Joe the (fake) Plumber or Sarah Palin or anyone else says. Dead kids trump all. We have seat belt laws, drunk driving laws, education laws, and even crossing the freaking street laws all designed to keep kids safe. But why aren't we doing something about GUNS? And no, the laws we have are not good enough. Don't tell me they just need to be enforced. The reason they aren't enforced is that when they were they were not effective. They are toothless. Real laws with real consequences to real people for every single bullet fired at a person. Period, the end.
Not one more. Not one more dead child from a gun. Not. One. More. No more excuses, no more "it's my right". NO.
If you want to argue, don't bother. I won't respond. Call me names if you wish. Send me hate mail. I don't care. I won't change my mind either. And yes, I vote.
I don't post here much, just kind of lost the gumption for it. But every once in a while something comes to my attention and I need to write it out.
Now, granted, there are two sides, sometimes more, to every story, and there may be more that comes to light in the next few days. But for now, here is the information we have:
Boy Reportedly Told Not To Wear My Little Pony Backpack To Class
The basics of the story are this: Little guy, likes a cartoon show. Mom bought him a backpack that had characters from the show. Boy uses backpack at school, gets bullied. Administrators tell him he can't use said backpack because it was a "trigger for bullies". The backpack happened to be My Little Pony themed.
If this is indeed the case, shame on them.
Now some of you might say "well, that's a show for girls, of course he's going to get bullied".
And if that's you, shame on you.
The problem is not what one person likes or doesn't like, it's not a question of what characters on the backpack or not, the problem is bullies.
Bullies are nothing new. They've been with us forever, and they will be with us forever. Especially in public school. Everyone has a bully story from school.
What makes this story stand out is that instead of taking a stand and protecting the victim's right to free expression, they shame him, blame him, for using a backpack that is a "trigger for bullies".
To a degree, in my opinion, children do need to be taught to stand up to the bullies. But in this case they are neither helping the victim nor stopping the bullying. If anything, they took the thing that he loved, a thing that would have been worth fighting for, they took a part of his identity. And worse, they enabled the bullies to just punish the victim even more, and others because they proved they rule the school, not the administrators.
I will defend, to the death, my children. I will defend their right to free expression, their right to 'like what they like' and to be who they are. I don't know the details of the parents in this situation or what they are doing (that information doesn't seem to be available at this time) so what I am saying here is in no way a reflection on them, but if this were my kid I would camp out in that principal's office until either my child was allowed to have his backpack or the rule was changed to apply to all kids and their backpacks or, and this is what I would really want, a zero bullying policy is put in place.
Victim blaming and shaming in all forms must end. Are we to make kids with glasses leave their glasses at home? Kids in wheelchairs leave their chairs at home? Kids with red hair dye their hair or cut it off? These are parts of their identity. And you might argue that liking something and using a backpack with that thing on it is a choice, it is no less part o someone's identity. Especially in grade school. Some kids like football, but since that's "accepted" we don't ask them not to wear their team jerseys to school.
Let kids like what they like. Don't allow bullies to make school policy.