Tag Archives: mental health

I Won’t Be Back For A While

saudi

I’m gonna take a holiday,
Be somewhere far away,
I won’t be back for a while,
For a long long time.

— Hanoi Rocks, “Oriental Beat”

Topaz has been doing better. Back in July, his supervisor (who is also his friend), challenged him to remember this single word: believe. Topaz made a poster with that single word for his office wall at work.

In autumn of this year, Topaz volunteered and was selected at his job for a very long business trip to the Middle East. He can’t be any more specific than this. This has shown that Topaz has been growing and overcoming his mental health issues (with the help of medication of course).

Topaz isn’t healed, nor has he “arrived.” He is simply trying harder and doing better than he has in years. He praises God for this. Through His help, Topaz has become more self-reliant and confident in his abilities.

Will this very long assignment halfway around the world change him more? Perhaps. We will just have to check in later and find out.

Today happens to be the third Sunday in Advent. Topaz was especially struck by this reading. It is Philippians 4:4-7:

Brothers and sisters:
Rejoice in the Lord always.
I shall say it again: rejoice!
Your kindness should be known to all.
The Lord is near.
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Topaz has a long, exciting journey ahead of him. He will keep you updated (he doesn’t post very often though).

~t


Unchained: Fear of Going Ballistic in a Public Place

 Here I am in a well-visited bookstore. I sit with a book on one knee (The Name of God is Mercy by Pope Francis) and my smart phone on my other, typing this.

I don’t know if it’s from my Starbucks mocha that I’m still nursing, or if it’s from losing my temper with my two little boys this morning after my younger one’s basketball game.

But I’m suddenly having flashbacks of the mental ward and how I was kept in there against my will — a prisoner cut off from the real world.

I recall pushing my face against the barred window, straining to get a glimpse of some trees or grass.

The feeling of helplessness. Madness. Panic in being trapped.

Now here I am. I’m free. My body. I can go wherever I wish. I can sit here at a bookstore and read while the old, the young, the obese, the hot eye candy, the children pass by, consumed by their Saturday afternoon.

A staff member walks past me, unaware of my thoughts. My feelings. My darkness.

I can simply lash out at anyone — anything — in an instant and ruin lives. Ruin my own. Forever.

The thought scare me. They cut through the medicated complacency that I enjoy.

This book could help me. The entire religion section could. The self help section could. Even the half-nude women on the car mags, on the literary mags, on the _______ mags.

Oh well, just my thoughts. Don’t mind me.

Or should you?

~t

Photo by Topaz


15 Things that Introverts Would Never Tell You

Wikimedia Commons

I came across this article on the Internet recently. Anything containing the word “introvert” catches my attention like nothing else.

Why? Well, for one, articles about introverts help me to learn about myself. After years and years of hearing people say, You think too much, or, You need to talk more, it’s refreshing to find out that I’m not necessarily alone; in fact, there are scores of people who are just like me.

I think the hardest part for me is trying to fit in and pretend to be “normal” when I’m around a large number of individuals whom I don’t know too well. It freaks me out.

Another difficult thing for me is to network in my professional life. I just can’t bring myself to be a social butterfly at meetings and get-togethers, shaking hands with and flashing a fake smile to everyone who looks important enough to benefit me. I’m sure I’ve missed out on some job opportunities in my life, but I can’t do it. Sure, maybe I need to make more of an effort, but, after all, I’ve always done things the hard way.

Anyway, I would like to share the following article written by Maryann Reid, an award-winning author. If you’re quiet and “anti-social” like I am, perhaps it will help you. Here it is:

 


 

 

Introverts get a bad rap in a world that celebrates extroversion and “people-persons.” There are things introverts wish you knew about them that would help any relationship or situation. For instance, we are not anti-social or depressed, we’re just different. In fact, many envy us for our self-contained, cool manner that keeps others calm, focused, and safe. People love us, in secret. As introverts, we have many “ways” that only our closest friends understand. Here are several things about introverts you may not know.

 

1. We don’t care about your birthday.

Any introvert who works in an office knows how it feels to be hustled for birthday cake money. It makes us squirm when a random office person cheerily volunteers that it happens to be their birthday. We think they expect us to respond with like enthusiasm and interest, and maybe even accept their invitation to join them for drinks with a group of about 300 other random people to celebrate. Three hundred is a bit of an exaggeration, but it feels that way to an introvert who just wants to go home. If you don’t invite us, we’re not offended. We’re relieved.

 

2. We don’t need you to care about our birthday.

Yeah, we don’t. We have friends who genuinely know us and care, if we care. However, an interesting thing about introverts is that some don’t need to celebrate it. We’re okay with quietly honoring the day on our own or with a group of friends we’ve carefully selected. We don’t have to let the world know.

 

3. We are not really listening as you recount your weekend.

Unless you are part of our circle of friends, we don’t care what you did last weekend. We are of the mind that everyone has a right to privacy, and if you chose to spend it in a drunken stupor or beating down the door of your ex, then that is up to you. We don’t judge, and we find it takes too much energy to give it to people we don’t know. Just because we work with you doesn’t mean we know you.

 

4. We hate crowds.

Large groups of people make us tired. All the stimulation of having so many different types from all walks of life can make us a little woozy. Some introverts are empaths, so they tend to take on the energy of others easily. We sometimes feel like we “know” everyone in the room and get easily overwhelmed with the swirl of activity.

 

5. We don’t really like networking events.

This is especially hard for introverts who run a business. Networking makes us feel like we have to perform. We struggle to say the right thing and listen attentively. We don’t really care since we don’t know you. Even in business, we have to feel connected to someone on another level to get the most out of a networking type of event. This takes time to choose the right event and come up with a plan to offer value to others while getting some for ourselves.

 

6. We force ourselves to act like we like you.

This is the nasty truth. We know who we like and don’t. It can stem from many reasons that can have its roots in childhood to what we ate for breakfast this morning. Don’t take it personally. We appreciate honesty, and sometimes it hurts. To survive, we have to supersede these feelings and be nice. Nice can be harder than being real.

 

7. We know how to get stuff done.

We pack our alone time with activities – projects, phone calls, emails, rough drafts and blueprints for world takeover of our next big idea (which we have lots of). We value solitude because it lets us experiment with new concepts, plan, and stretch our imagination. Anything is possible when we spend time alone, and what we create may change our lives, and yours, too.

 

8. We like to write things out.

We love email because it helps us get what we need without interruptions. Interruptions throw us off course, and we need to expend more energy to get back on track. So, please don’t call unless it is a close-ended question.

 

9. We feel safe with the right people.

When we have the right people in our lives, we give our all. We give our best selves. We become protective warriors who will fight almost any cause for someone we love. Just ask our friends. We blossom in the right company and shine. It takes us time to find the right people, and when we do, we don’t hold back.

 

10. We do have friends, who really like us.

Introverts like people, and people like us. Most introverts have no issue with hanging out in groups and spending time with others. If we have friends, it’s because we consciously chose them. We’ve put effort into the relationship, and our friends know that. We go to bars, parties, and meet new people. The difference is that not everyone we meet becomes a friend.

 

11. We can do the extrovert thing… for a while.

We have to do that to get along. We can be the life of the party, host the networking event, and be the chairperson of the charity. We do this willingly, knowing that at the end of the day we can go home. When we get there, it may take days or weeks to replenish ourselves and feel ready to do that again.

 

12. We are not shy, rude, or uptight.

At first, we may seem that way. Get to know us, and we can actually make you laugh and hold a conversation that lasts more than 15 minutes. The thing is, we don’t share this with everyone. Being “social” or “sociable” is an option, not a way of being. We can’t fake happy or excited really well, and we show what we think on our face, not as much in our words.

 

13. We are okay alone.

We have lots going on in our heads and don’t need more. Unlike our extrovert counterparts, we don’t need others for stimulation. We’re constantly working out life in our heads. We entertain ourselves with creative projects and know how to take ourselves out for a good time. More people means more stuff to deal with, and we’ve got enough of our own energy to hold.

 

14. We hate small talk.

We’re thinkers, and we relish conversations about big ideas, theories and ideals. We rarely get into small talk and do so comfortably.

 

15. We make a choice to be with you — appreciate it.

We value our alone time and are picky about who we let in. Letting in the wrong person will drain us, leaving nothing for ourselves. We tend to attract extroverts who suck our energy and search out like-minded introverts for our groundedness, deep thinking and sense of control. We appreciate our time with other introverts and have an understanding of each other’s limits and boundaries.

 

 

Source: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/15-things-that-introverts-would-never-tell-you.html

~t

 


I Should Be Happy

I should be happy with my life because I’ve found God and His Church, but I’m not.

I should be happy with my life because I have two healthy, happy sons, but I’m not.

I should be happy with my life because I have a wife who is honest and loves our family, but I’m not.

I should be happy with my life because I have a full-time job, but I’m not.

I should be happy with my life because I am healthy, but I’m not.

I should be happy with my life because my family and I aren’t homeless or starving, but I’m not.

I should be happy with my life because I can just change my thinking and be positive, but I can’t.

I should be happy with my life because I can make changes and please my wife, but I can’t.

I shouldn’t be happy without my life because all my pain and suffering can end right here and now, but I am.

 


Bully

credit: morguefile

Don’t tell me that you’re doing it for me! Stop being a wimp! Be a man! You haven’t amounted to anything during the eleven years that we’ve been married!

I dream of you walking across the stage to get your diploma. Your Ph.D. I imagine you in your gown, throwing your hat up in the air while you’re on stage.

Yes, you made it to the final interview phase for this teaching position that pays double your current salary. But you’ll be stuck there, just like you’re stuck at this community college! You’re lazy! You’re unmotivated. You’re pathetic!

Just look at you sitting there! In the twelve years that I’ve known you, you’ve done nothing at all to better yourself! After this job is over, you’ll end up back at the #$@& community college! This job opportunity isn’t a stepping stone! You’ll waste even more of your life jumping from stone to stone without going higher!

Yes, you’ll be a private tutor for a filthy-rich family, but you’re too lazy and unmotivated to take classes and get your second Master’s degree! It’ll never happen! You won’t do it!

Yes, you’ve changed and become a better father, but you are a loser professionally! You think I want to hear you whining?! ‘Oh, but I’m doing it for you. Oh, I want to make more money for you and make you happy.’ Just shut up! Take action!

Yes, I’ve wanted you to make more money, but in a career that you can settle in! You’re a loser and you won’t get this job! You’ll be stuck forever in your current situation and nothing will ever change!

I don’t care that things are happening now!

Then why didn’t you take action five, six, ten years ago! All you did was complain!

Oh, yes, you are lazy and have no drive! Wasting your time at church and going to all those #%@& Knights meetings! It’s time to start thinking of your family!

No, you haven’t been! This job opportunity isn’t going to help us.

Nope. It won’t. You’ll never see my point because you’re too stupid. You’re not gonna get the job anyway because you’re a loser! You’re lazy and all you do is sit around and expect things to happen.

But they aren’t happening!

No, this doesn’t count! What will you do after all four of their kids graduate? You won’t have a job and you’ll end up back at a community college.

I don’t care that you’ll have mornings available to take Ph.D. classes. It won’t happen.

Then why hasn’t it happened?! Huh?! Why didn’t you start five years ago? You never follow through! You’ll end up divorced, fat, lazy, and mad at the world just like your dad.

Being just like my mother has nothing to do with it! We’re talking about you! The man in the family! Stop wearing the #$@& skirt and wear the pants.

It doesn’t matter that you’re the only breadwinner in this family. Don’t drag the kids and me down into your miserable life. Do it for the kids! You’re not doing it for me!! Stop saying that!

No, you are not!

Yes, it’s great money, but it’s a dead end! Who cares that it’s in the field of education!

You’ll never amount to anything. I’m going to bed.

~t


Me(n)tal Health: Christianity, Depression, and Metal Music

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Before I finished my intensive outpatient program at the psychiatric hospital, I had to fill out a worksheet that was sort of a plan of action: list three individuals whom I would contact if suicidal ideation came back, list ten coping mechanisms for me to implement when I have problems, and list all things that would act as triggers for me.

Some triggers that I listed included people (the lady who I used to be infatuated with), places (the bar where I had carried out my plan), and things (music).

“Music?” the counselor had asked, perusing my worksheet.

“Yes. Certain kinds.”

“Such as…?” He lowered his glasses a bit and peered at me from the top of them, eyebrows raised.

“Just some types of metal.” I didn’t want him to know exactly. I needed my music. It was a coping mechanism!

“Scott. Spill it.” The counselor was a former drill sergeant in the army, so the next step probably would have involved shouting.

“Okay. Black metal.” There it was, out in the open. People unfamiliar with this subgenre usually assume it involves the musicians’ skin color.

The counselor continued staring at me. Explain! his eyes were saying.

“It’s, uh, dark, gloomy, and anti-Christian.” I averted my eyes from his.

“Scott, you are Catholic. Why would you listen to that?”

I wanted to tell him that black metal lyrics were usually written in Norwegian or Swedish, so I couldn’t understand them anyway. I wanted to tell him that I connected with the raspy vocals, insane drum beats and eerie walls of guitar noise. I wanted to tell him that the inverted crosses and pentagrams were purely for shock value. But I didn’t.

After I was released from the outpatient program, I quickly lost all desire to listen to black metal. Is it truly satanic? Is it anti-Christian? Is it steeped in pre-Christian Scandinavian paganism? Yes, yes, and yes.

Am I being judgmental like the fundamentalists who burn virtually all kinds of records in bonfires? No.

Sounds like it to me.

Well, then here would be my (hypothetical) response: In any search engine, enter the term ‘black metal,’ then look at the satanic imagery, scan some of the lyrics, and read about the beliefs, practices, and/or criminal acts of a lot of these bands.

It’s not judgmental if it’s fact.

Anyway, last night I received a brief text from a friend with whom I have had zero contact with for the past year. He’s extremely intelligent, has a high-paying job in the IT industry, and is a loving husband and father of two.

Besides the latter point, we also have had one other thing in common: We both loved extreme metal including black and death — and other sub-subgenres that I’d rather not get into.

Hey, Scott. How are you doing?

It was good to hear from him, so I happily replied.

Then another text from him: Do you want to meet me at the Slayer* show next month?

Uh-oh. One of my all-time favorite metal bands (up until 12 months ago) was touring again?! Then I tried reasoning with myself: Slayer has been around forever. The members are all fathers, and the band has become so commercialized. They sell Christmas ornaments with the band logo on them, for cryin’ out loud!

Looking back, I can’t believe that I had considered it. Commercial or not, stage theatrics or not, stepping into the world of Slayer, even for just a few hours, would take me back to that dark, miserable place inside my head.

Not to mention the fact that the band still uses satanic imagery:

Credit: slayer.net

I politely declined, and we mentioned that it would be good to meet up again at some point. I felt a bit guilty, though.

There are two reasons why I stopped listening to certain types of metal:

1. It damages my relationship with God.

Being a Christian means dying to self and living for Christ. He has a special plan for each of us (Jeremiah 29:11). In order for God’s will to be done in our lives, we have to give ourselves over to Him.

Black metal — and other types of extreme metal — has turned me off because it goes against everything that God desires for me.

I don’t want to befriend someone who is constantly talking bad about my wife. When a person begins to know the joy and riches of the Lord’s grace, worldly desires pale in comparison.

2. It damages me.

In my very first computer class back in college, one of the first things we learned was GIGO (garbage in, garbage out). I used to be so confused as to believe that the darker the music, the more it would make me stronger. That was a lie straight from the depths of hell. The music and the live shows were feeding my negative thinking, and I didn’t even realize it.

The forces of evil are powerful indeed. Don’t open yourself up to its influence. Personally, I don’t want to be antisocial and depressed anymore. Believe it or not, some people actually do want to be miserable; I know because I used to hang out with them.

In closing, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Bible passages:

…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus… (Hebrews 12: 1-2)

~t

* Slayer is considered a thrash metal band.


Yet Another Psychiatrist

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

I found a new psychiatrist, and I was able to see him this past Friday. Initially I wasn’t going to write about the experience, but some of my readers have been asking how it went. (It’s great to know that people read this thing.)

If you’ve been following my blog, perhaps you remember my experiences with the first two doctors that I had after leaving the psych ward late last year. Both doctors were from the same part of the globe, and I felt like they didn’t relate to me very well. The first one threw a hissy fit when I came to see her after my second suicide attempt. She ended up kicking me out. Like, literally.

The second doctor would freak out and start massaging his temples whenever I responded to his greeting with anything other than “I’m great.” He essentially let me be my own doctor by letting me choose my medication and dosages. I stayed with him because I was tired of shrink searching. God knocked me out of my comfort zone, however, when that doctor suddenly informed me that he would no longer accept my insurance.

There are a lot of foreign-born doctors practicing in the U.S. Apparently not enough Americans are choosing/able to pursue the medical field, and I have no problem seeing a foreign-born doctor for an annual physical exam or to treat my flu symptoms. When it comes to my mental health, however, I need someone who is patient, understanding, and who can empathize with my illness and not be scared away when my condition fluctuates.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying foreign-born shrinks are all bad and that you should avoid them. It’s just that I’m seeing a negative pattern starting to form.

I went to my insurance website to get a list of psychiatrists within a ten-mile radius of where I live. The list was short because there were only two.

The first one was the psycho lady who kicked me out. The other one was Dr. Ariston Korhonen. Great.

I called the office to find out more information about the doctor. The conversation went something like this:

Receptionist: Good afternoon, Dr. Korhonen’s office.  (Good. She pronounced the name for me.)

Me: Um… Hi. I’d like to see the doctor.  (My verbal skills are not so eloquent.)

Receptionist: OK. How about tomorrow morning?  (Dang. No wait? Is he that bad?)

Me: Uh, how about Friday?

Receptionist: Sure. Is 9:00 okay?

Me: Yeah. Um, can I ask you a question? (I’m sure she was used to weird questions. After all, she works for a shrink.) Is the doctor, uh, is the doctor… from here?

Receptionist: Yes. He’s a white guy with a funny name.

Me: I, uh, didn’t mean anything bad by that. It’s just that… well… I mean…

Receptionist: I understand. See you Friday.

She also told me to show up 30 minutes before my appointment to fill out paperwork. I was used to crowded waiting rooms, so, out of habit, I arrived 45 minutes early.

The waiting room was desolate. I half-expected to see tumbleweeds blowing past me.

The “paperwork” consisted of a one-page personal information sheet. It took me all of five minutes to complete and turn in. I was about to go back to my car and get my phone before the receptionist happily informed me that the doctor was ready.

As I passed by the lady’s desk, I saw a tall, lanky guy surfing the ‘net with his back to me. It looked like he was browsing through the celebrity news on Yahoo.

Without turning around, the guy said, “First door on the right. I’ll be right there.”

Okay. It looks like I’m second to Miley Cyrus. Wonderful.

The rest of the visit was pretty mundane. He asked me a whole bunch of questions, and, by the end, I had spilled my guts about everything related to my illness.

It was traumatic enough to relive everything. The doctor’s exclamations weren’t necessary, though. I mean, did the psychiatrist really have to blurt out “Oh my gosh!” after I mentioned each suicide attempt?!

At the end of our session, I commented on one of the three framed diplomas on the wall. “Oh, you did your residency at the same psych ward where I was. When was that?” It was an innocent enough question I thought.

“Umm, last year. SO, I will see you in about a month, okay?”

Last year?

Stay positive. Stay positive…

~t