Getting Good Feedback


Today my wife and I attended an SCA event up in Temple. The event was a showcase of artisans in the Texas and Oklahoma group. Some 70 of them came to display their body of work for feedback from those artisans that have been recognized at the society’s highest level. I admit that I didn’t see anywhere near all the displays, but among the displays I did see were pottery, cooking, fiber arts, costuming, stained glass, cordials, performing arts, embroidery, calligraphy and illumination, poetry, and so much more. It was a great event and I’m very glad that I went.

I was not one of the artisans that displayed, however. It’s been years since I’ve done anything artistic and thus don’t really have a body of work for an event like this. My main goal in going was to support one of my local groups and to be sociable.

I got a lot of hugs today. There were so many people that I haven’t seen in such a long time, and everyone that I saw was glad to see me. On multiple occasions I heard that people were reading this blog, and I was – and am – very appreciative of that.

I write this blog mostly for my own reasons, but I like that others also get something out of my posts here. Once or twice I heard that my words inspire people, and I was a little surprised at that. It’s one thing to know that people are reading what you’re up to and keeping up with your life, but to inspire them just by doing whatever it is that I do is humbling.

To all of you that spoke to me today and wished me well as I embark on my educational journey, thank you very much. To those of you that do read my blog, even semi-regularly, thank you as well. It’s feedback like I received today that lets me know I’m doing the right thing by continuing this blog.

Roadblock Reframing


I got a lot of good advice about yesterday’s panicky, frantically written post on both WordPress and Twitter. I want to thank everyone that commented and tried to talk me down off the ledge; it eventually worked.

More than one person essentially said “this part of the book is not written about you.” I tend to disagree; the subject matter is relevant to my life. The problem that I had is that I saw one phrase and hyperfocused on that, to the point that the rest of the chapter wasn’t even a blip on my radar. I let that one little bit of cognitive dissonance run amok with the book and with my blog, and I apologize for not having better control of the situation.

It’s true, I am on the internet most all day. I only take a break when I’m doing chores around the house or on those rare occasions that I’m watching a movie. But the internet isn’t a situation that I can’t stand to be away from; if it were, I wouldn’t be able to go to SCA events and forget about my smartphone with the exception of it being my alarm for my medications and vitals throughout the day. The internet is my primary conduit for communication with others, and that’s what I crave, a lot more than the usual content. The things I do on the internet are just filler for the times between conversations.

So yesterday’s panic attack was over nothing, as they usually are. Thanks again to the folks that helped me reframe the situation in my mind into something much more manageable.

Post-Birthday Thoughts


Yesterday I celebrated my birthday. I was nervous about the whole affair since my wife had plans for me that she wasn’t telling me about. Throughout the week I was guessing little details here and there – what we were having for dinner and dessert, what we were going to be doing – the only thing that I didn’t know was who was going to be at the apartment to celebrate.

We have a small two-bedroom apartment. Our dining room table usually seats two, but can expand to seat six in a pinch. Trick is, we only have four chairs, the two that come with the dining room table and the two office chairs, so sitting six around the table is a little tricky. We also have the two mobile desks and a footstool that could be used as a chair in a pinch.

Visitors started arriving at around 7:00 pm. My first visitor stopped by for just a few minutes as she had a prior engagement during the evening, but it was great to see her. After she arrived, we had two more join us (they arrived at the same time), then two more (a married couple), and finally a friend who moved into the apartment complex a few months ago. So between the five visitors and the two of us, we had seven people in the apartment.

We extended the table and I was sat at the head of the table. One of our guests took my usual spot on the couch with my desk, and we had three more at the table in chairs and one who sat on the end of the chaise. My wife took the footstool and her desk, as it was closest to the kitchen.

It was pretty close quarters trying to maneuver around the table and chairs to do much of anything, but we managed to get everyone served. My wife made lasagna, her family recipe straight from southern Italy, and one of our guests brought a warm German potato salad. The married couple brought an expansive veggie tray and our friend and neighbor came down with a fruit tray and dip that we noshed on once we were done with dinner. Everyone was quite satisfied with the meal, I thought.

We settled for a little while and then had dessert, strawberries and bananas Romanoff served over angel food cake cups – one of my favorite desserts. My wife did her best Marilyn Monroe impression as she sang “Happy Birthday” to me. Everyone cheered and she was surprised to find her performance posted to Facebook not long afterward.

Once dessert was done, the two that arrived at the same time also left at the same time, and so the five of us that were left cleared the table, had a round of coffee, and settled in to play a game of Munchkin Legends.

Munchkin is a card game from Steve Jackson Games that initially poked fun at the fantasy/Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying genre. With monster and treasure cards that are full of fantastic puns, it’s a great game for most ages (younger kids may not get the puns, but they will appreciate the cartoony pictures on each card). There are now almost two dozen core games dealing with genres ranging from superheroes to zombies to westerns to sci-fi to steampunk, including several branded versions (Adventure Time, Axe Cop, Marvel, the Nightmare Before Christmas, etc.) and a half-dozen deluxe editions that include game boards and player tokens to track each player’s progress through the game. (Munchkin Legends, the version we were playing, deals with world mythology.) If this sounds interesting to you, you can learn more about Munchkin at its website.

Our neighbor had never played any version of Munchkin before, so we got to explain the game as we went along (something that’s easy to do, as many of the cards have their own rules that apply to them). At the end of the game – it was our neighbor who was victorious in her first game, continuing a long-standing household tradition that the rookie player somehow manages to win the game.

We put up the cards and conversations turned towards the mutual hobby that we all share, and finally at around 1:00 am the party broke up.

It’s the most socializing that I had done since my friend’s baby shower about three weeks ago. I had a great time and I handled the small crowd very well.

While I thanked my guests on Facebook by name, I also want to thank them again here for stopping by. It meant the world to me and it helped me to boot. I’d love to do more of these sorts of game nights in the future, since they help me to socialize where I wouldn’t otherwise do so.

I went to bed tired, but satisfied. It was a good birthday.

NaBloPoMo Day 30: Adulting is Overrated


First off, before I get into the meat of today’s blog post, I would like to thank awriterbecoming for introducing me to the concept of National Blog Posting Month. I didn’t go register on the NaBloPoMo website, but according to their own rules, I met the criteria for a win – at least one blog post a day, every day, for a month, regardless of whether I register with them. I’ve tried National Novel Writing Month twice and I think at this point in my life I’m too intimidated by the concept of writing 50,000 words that tell a cohesive story. I wanted to try this first and prove to myself that I was capable of writing every day for a month. There were times that it was difficult coming up with something to write about, but it all worked out in the end. Now that I’ve done this, I think maybe next year I might try one of the Camp NaNoWriMo challenges. Camp happens twice a year, in April and July, and accepts word counts as small as 10,000 words to count as a winner. It’s more open ended, and I think challenging myself to a shorter story would be the next logical step in my progression to novel writing. Besides, April and July are considerably less hectic on me emotionally and logistically, and I’d be more prone to stick it out rather than let my outside environment take me out early.

Wow, that was almost a blog post in and of itself, wasn’t it? Okay, with that acknowledgment out of the way, time to get to the real post.

~ ~ ~

Today I adulted very hard.

I know it’s not an actual word. Urban Dictionary defines its use as a verb as “doing something grown-up and responsible.” I like its usage because it makes me feel less like an adult and more like a kid, which is very much how I want to feel at the end of a string of productive activities.

Today I made sure bills were paid after the snafu with the bank, took care of a long-standing problem with my wife’s tablet, cleaned house, made dinner, and cleaned up afterward. Today is the second day in a row that I’ve been outside the house to face other people, and I handled myself pretty well.

It seems like one of the most basic things to have to write: “I left the house and faced another human being for the second day in a row.” The last time that I did that was over a month ago, when I went camping for the weekend with a large group of my friends. That was the most concentrated socializing I’d done since a similar situation last May. Anxiety can render you very helpless in the face of some of what should be the most mundane situations imaginable.

I mentioned yesterday that I went out to purchase some filter packs for our Keurig. I did well in the store, in part because we were in and out in ten minutes, and that included a spot of window shopping. What I didn’t reveal was the fact that I almost had a panic attack in the traffic on the way to the store, even though I wasn’t driving, and the fact that I wasn’t alone. I haven’t driven to do anything but visit my therapist, make a doctor’s appointment, or drop my wife off or pick her up from work so I could have the car to do one of the two aforementioned things, in over a year. I have not willingly driven somewhere nor have I been the one to drive when my wife is in the car in almost two years.

I think I’m going to mention this to my therapist when I see her on Thursday, this crippling inability to drive unless it’s absolutely necessary for me to do so. I keep talking about wanting to get out and be more social, but if I’m unwilling to get in the car and drive somewhere, I’ve got bigger problems than being around people.

And sooner or later, I’m going to have to start working on the reasons I’m on disability in earnest. I don’t like being on it, but the stipend each month is absolutely vital to keeping us afloat financially, and if I can’t get in the car and drive anywhere, how can I expected to handle the stresses of the workplace?

So I adulted very hard today. I think the best thing I can do for myself at this point in the day is acknowledge what I’ve done, and take it easy for the rest of the evening. I can’t really say that I’ve earned it, but I certainly would welcome the mental and emotional break of a little leisure time.

And who knows, maybe there’ll be a reason for me to get out among people again tomorrow, and it’ll be three days in a row.

Baby steps, I keep telling myself, gotta start with baby steps.

NaBloPoMo Day 25: Giving Thanks


(This one’s long, but I would ask you be patient and read the whole thing. The best part is at the end, I promise.)

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States. Many families gather around the dinner table to spend five minutes expressing what they’re thankful for and an hour or more of small talk about one another’s lives while eating a meal that could feed an entire village in a Third World country before settling in to spend the rest of the day watching football on television in a tryptophan-induced haze or climbing in the car and getting a head start on the holiday shopping.

Please don’t misconstrue the above paragraph to mean that I’m not a thankful person; I am, as you’re about to read. I just think sometimes we put a bigger emphasis on the meal or the football or the sales and not as much thought into what we’re truly thankful for.

So with the day looming tomorrow, and with tomorrow’s blog post already outlined in my head, today I want to take a moment to talk about the things that I’m truly thankful and appreciative of every day.

I am thankful of our men and women who serve this country in uniform, to make sure that we are safe in our homelands. This country stands on the shoulders of those who defended our freedom and our way of life in the face of those who would take that away from us. All gave some. Some gave all. And for every sacrifice that was offered with the Oath of Enlistment, I am eternally grateful.

I am thankful of the men and women that serve this country during times of strife and crisis. Our police. Our fire departments. Our EMTs. Our ER doctors and nurses. They are the faces that we see whenever things go wrong in our lives and they often suffer right alongside of us when they do. Each of them plays a critically important role in our country’s infrastructure, and they very frequently receive neither the pay they are worth nor the appreciation.

I am thankful of the volunteer corps serving this country and around the world. Stop and think about the incredible things that are being done by volunteers around you. Houses are being built for the homeless. The hungry are being fed. Companion animals are being rescued, brought to health, and care for until they find their forever home. Villages are being provided basic needs like food and clean water and basic sanitation and healthcare. People are raising awareness and funds to fight diseases for which we have no known cure yet. There are millions of people working in their own way to make this world a better place to live in, with no more payment than the experience of a job well done and the thanks of those whose lives they touch. Without them, this world would be a much darker place.

I am thankful that my basic needs are met. I have a roof over my head. I have clean clothes on my back. I have food and clean water every day. I have doctors to tend to me when I am sick and to treat chronic illnesses that I suffer from. I have a method of transportation to be able to carry me from place to place. I have often noted that my financial struggles don’t allow for a lot of discretionary spending. I don’t note enough that my family is, for the most part, self-sufficient and not lacking in meeting basic needs.

I am thankful that I have a loving wife who knows me as well, and often better, than I know myself. She can point out that I have a headache often before I myself am aware of it. She sacrifices so much in order to make sure that I’m well-cared for. Above all, she is my very best friend in the world. There is no one on the planet in whose company I would rather be. She makes me laugh, makes me think, makes me cry at times, makes me smile even when I don’t want to, makes me see reason at times when I really can’t find it myself (although it admittedly takes some time for me to see it), makes me feel loved and special, and above all, makes me want to be a better person on a daily basis. I cannot thank her nor love her enough. I know she will be reading these words. Most of them are for you, the reading public, but these are just for her: I love you more than there are stars, and until they all go out.

I am thankful that I have a good relationship with my immediate family. My mother and I have a history of not getting along well from time to time, and I’m very glad that we’re growing tighter as time marches on. My daughter and I still have a blossoming relationship, as we’re still trying to get used to the idea of being in one another’s lives, but I am inordinately proud of the young woman that she’s become and cannot thank her enough for being willing to accept me into her life at age 23.

I am thankful that I have an astoundingly large support network of friends and acquaintances that encourage me, challenge me, and welcome me with open arms, faults and all. I can’t thank them enough for making me feel at home with them when I have spent so much of my life feeling like an outsider. If you are reading this and we’ve met one another in passing, even for a moment, know that I am including you in this and that I’m very grateful that you are a part of my life, even if my anxiety keeps most of you at a distance. I really wish that weren’t the case; I love your company and wish that we could spend more time getting to know one another. You have been there for me more often than I can count, and I want you to know I am here for you, no matter what, no matter when.

I am thankful that a small tuxedo cat wandered through our door one May morning. She left of her own free will that first day, came back, left again, and came back once more. She’s never left our home since. She has calmed me in times of stress, made me laugh at her antics, and given me a faithful companion during the many hours that I would be otherwise home alone. She has often been capable of pulling me out of a rough emotional spot just by offering her belly for rubs, something that is very frequently a genuine offer and not a bear trap in disguise. (I once spent almost an hour straight rubbing her belly. She fell asleep soon after I started and slept the rest of the time.) She is the sweetest, most adorable cat anyone could hope for, and there is a reason that some people swear they visit our home to see the cat and not the people.

I am thankful for the good days that I have. Regular readers of this blog, regular listeners of my radio program, and my followers in social media all know that I struggle from day to day, and that sometimes a bad day will come out of nowhere. Presently there are more neutral and good days than there are bad, even though there were some bad days of late. i am also thankful that I have the presence of mind to realize that I’m having a bad day and that I need to practice even more self-care on those days than I usually do.

I am thankful that I know when times are getting desperate and when I need help more intensive than can be provided by medication and therapy alone. I have never actively attempted suicide, despite having ideations for much of my life. I am so very grateful that I’m still here, and that I’ve beaten my mental illnesses up to this point, and that I’ve been strong enough to ask for help when I need it the most.

Lastly, I am thankful that, despite my struggles from day to day, I cannot remember the last time I had even a passive suicidal ideation. I’ve often wanted the pain and suffering of mental illness to go away. I’ve sometimes wished that a headache or backache would pass quickly. But I’ve never wished to be dead or even to disappear, as so many despondent people wish for. Given the saga that has been my year in mental health purgatory, I am genuinely surprised that the thought of suicide or of “not being here anymore” hasn’t crossed my mind at least once. That tells me that no matter how bad things are getting otherwise, I’m not ready to stop fighting, and I’m not getting bad enough that I need intensive help in doing so.

For these things, and for so very many other small ones too numerous to mention here, I give my unending and deepest thanks, today and every day.

NaBloPoMo Day 10: The First Year


Today marks the one year anniversary of, and so today I thought I’d take a look back on the previous year. WordPress provides a very good dashboard that tracks a lot of statistics automatically, and so here’s what the numbers are telling me about the blog. As of this writing …

I’ve had 3,061 views from 1,788 visitors, for an average of 1.71 views per visitor.

This is my 164th post. On average, I’ve posted something every 2.23 days.

The most popular post I’ve ever written was called Surrender, written on February 20, 2015. It has 68 views currently.

February 20th was also the single most popular day I had on my blog. I had 57 views that day.

February 20th was ALSO the last day I posted for over two months, posting again on May 6th. I had a similar dry spell between August 7th and September 21st. Both of these periods coincide with periods I wasn’t properly medicated, so it’s a good bet to say that if you don’t see me writing every few days or so, I’ve likely gone off my meds – not by choice, but by circumstance.

The most popular day to read my blog is Monday, with 24% of views coming that day.

The most popular time to read my blog is in the 4:00 pm hour. I presume that’s local to me. I’m in the Central US time zone, so that makes it the 10:00 pm hour UTC/GMT. Eleven percent of my views have come during that hour.

By far the most visitors to my site have been from the United States, but I’ve also been viewed in 33 other countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Réunion, Romania, Russia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam. (I have personally met people who live in Australia, Canada, Thailand, and the United Kingdom, so that leaves 29 countries in there that I don’t know a soul.)

To be fair, I know that these numbers are almost certainly padded by bots accessing my website, but I like to think that the majority of these numbers are from actual people sitting in front of an actual screen reading my actual words. I’d like to hope that hidden somewhere in the jumble of my thoughts over the last year I’ve given someone the inspiration to keep fighting and the knowledge that they aren’t alone.

YOU aren’t alone, if you suffer from mental illness.

Know that if you need someone to talk to, all you need to do is let me know in the comments and I’ll figure something out. I’ll be happy to listen. I won’t judge, I won’t give unsolicited advice, and I won’t tell anyone about your experiences, even under the guise of “this guy told me …”

This past year hasn’t been easy for me, and I wrote a whole blog post about this yesterday, but I want to thank you all again for reading this blog. Just as I hope I’ve inspired you, you’ve helped to give me the strength to keep fighting. Thank you for that.

NaBloPoMo Day 9: A Sincere Thank You


Tomorrow celebrates the one-year anniversary of the start of this blog. It’s not a really big going concern. I don’t have a lot of regular readers, I haven’t had anything go viral, and I’m not really competing to become the next cewebrity.

But over the past year, I’ve shared my thoughts about my physical and mental illnesses, my ups and downs, my fiction, my interests, and generally speaking my life with you. Some of you have been along for the ride since the beginning, others are more recent. But I want to thank each and every one of you for reading my words.

I’m not the best writer, especially when it comes to journaling. I don’t worry too much about sentence structure, I tend toward run-on sentences, and I can be a little verbose (though I do try to keep a careful eye on my spelling and grammar, cause I’m one of those people). But knowing that you’re there, even if you haven’t left me a comment, helps me immensely in sharing the story of my life. When I write, I write in much the same way as I would talk to you face-to-face. I imagine this being my part of a conversation between the two of us. Knowing you’re there inspires me to be a better writer.

You inspire me to want to be a better person as well. Writing to you holds me accountable on my journey to improve my life. Right now, my life isn’t really much to talk about. I stay at home most of the time, I hardly ever go out, and there’s only so many things that I can do in a two-bedroom apartment worth talking about. What I am doing, however, is trying to get past the issues that put me on disability in the first place, and get my head and my life back to a point that I can be a contributing member of society once more. It’s time I started taking that a lot more seriously than I have been. It’s one thing to be too ill to work for a week, but it’s coming up on four years I’ve been out of work dealing with my demons. And with the help of this blog, I feel like improving is a necessity and, hopefully, an eventuality.

I hope that next year will bring me progress on all of my illnesses and that I’ll have a lot more adventures to share with you. But for coming along on the journey that was my first year of blogging, thank you ever so much.