Day 3259 – Thoughts On Addiction, Mental Illness, And Society

I want to start this by saying I have never been diagnosed with depression, alcoholism, or a mental illness by a professional (lol, or a non-professional, come to think of it). But I think that my life experiences have given me some room to speak about these things.

Reading a post on Facebook, made me want to share some of my thoughts. I loved how the author compared how our society is totally ok talking about cancer but not the brain. The full post is definitely worth a read.

I never really paid attention to how the media portrayed alcoholics, addiction, mental illness, etc, until I got sober. Even I didn’t think I had been an alcoholic until AFTER I hopped on the wagon. The alcoholics portrayed in shows and movies were living on the street or coming back to the hospital again and again to get more meds. They never looked like me. When the leads in the show or the movie drank, it tended to be glorified. Even when they get drunk, it’s seen as fun or a way to blow off steam. Yet, without my beer goggles, I can count how many glasses they drink. I can see how binge drinking or their “functional alcoholism” majorly shakes up their lives.

As I’ve spent a good deal of the last few years working on my own personal growth, I’ve read a lot about taking care of yourself and how so many things impact our lives. I know for me, if I don’t get 7-8+ hours of sleep, I am much more susceptible to discouragement, beating myself up, poor work, and a decrease in creativity and productivity. There have been several times where nothing was getting done, I was exhausted, but I kept putting off a nap. “It’s fine, I can handle this” but I really couldn’t. Every time I’ve taken a nap when I’m lacking sleep, it makes a difference.

I also have recognized that even things that don’t seem like a big deal, have huge implications. Facebook is a big drain on my brain and my mood. There is so much negativity. Even if I’m only on Facebook for a few minutes, if I’m looking at my full feed, later I’m irritable or down. I have to take care of myself and severely limit my time on Facebook to work-related things or looking at things that build me up, not down.

I think a good comparison (which I am absolutely not the first to make) of mental health, specifically depression, is a migraine. If you’ve never had a migraine, you have no idea the debilitating power it can have over a person. To folks who haven’t had one, it’s just a headache…”just take a pill, you’ll be fine.” But to those of us who have experienced it, we know it exists in a category all its own. I think depression is the same. I do think there is a mental/chemical aspect to it, to a certain extent genetic as well as due to environmental influences. But if you haven’t experienced depression, it’s easy to think “just be happy! Think of all the things you have! You don’t have anything to be sad about!” But again, those of us who have experienced it know it’s not that simple. I do also believe we can have some control over it. But I think at the end of the day, it’s something to talk about, to try and understand.

Sharing about my alcoholism has been one of the greatest things that I’ve done. It has opened up so many doors of conversation and made me think about things differently. But, I can also attest, it’s scary, it’s not the normal thing to do. Then again, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I am so grateful for the experiences I’ve had that have opened my eyes to think about things differently.

It’s a huge topic, way outside the scope of this blog. But I wanted to take a minute to share some of the things I’ve been thinking about…and really, encourage more conversations about it. It’s not easy by any stretch, but it’s worth the work.

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Day 2034 – Suffering And Joy – or – How Depression Is Like A Migraine

First, thank you to everyone who voted for Bret’s Guinness World Record story post (take a minute to vote if you haven’t yet! We hope to get it posted in a few days!)

Today, I had a wonderful experience. I’m feeling somewhat better, even though I’m still coughing up a lung every ten minutes. I got some work done early this morning after Bret left for work but hit a wall around 11. So I took a break, walked away from the computer and sat down to read/play games. I ended up starting a few fantastic books….I find it fascinating that you can get so excited about a book just from the introduction or preface.

Anyways, after I finished reading, I thought, WOW, I have missed this excitement when it comes to reading. Whenever I’m in a reading slump, I always get mad at myself because I KNOW how much I love to read and how good it is for my soul, so I want to hit myself over the head to remember that. Then it hit me, wow, I’m writing a book that I hope will get people just as excited. I know that will happen only because I know God will speak through me and HIS words will shine through.

So I got up and stapled my butt to the chair and FINALLY went through all of the typed notes I have for my book and condensed them down into one document! Woo! I have about 21 pages of organized notes and entries. I still have 65 pages of typed up notes from my journals to go through, but it is sooooo much farther than I was even a few hours ago.

As I was going through, I found an entry that I wanted to share with you. Even if only as a reminder that there’s someone else out there that has gone through what you’re going through.

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As I’ve grown, I’ve come to realize a broken heart is not just one from the love of a couple. Sometimes, it can come from someone’s choice…someone’s sin that rips apart the fabric of the life created between the two of you. Something at first that is a small choice, but as the consequences of the choice come to light, as it grows, you realize that small moment has changed everything.

It can tear your heart in two. It can cause you to break down into a thousand pieces on the floor. Unable to hold your body together, your heart leaks through your eyes to escape.

Oh no, a broken heart can come from the most unlikely of sources.

Depression seems to be something that some people just can’t understand. I think of it like a migraine. By common knowledge, a migraine is a headache. Everyone gets headaches. But those who experience a migraine, know this is rubbish. It is so much more than a headache. It’s the same with depression. How can you explain to someone who has never experienced it? How can you describe what it’s like to have the pressure on top of you, weighing down so much it’s hard to breathe? That just moving from one spot to another requires as much energy and resolve as putting one foot in front of the other to climb a mountain peak? How can you use words to make them understand what it’s like to have your heart bleed, with no visible damage?

I suppose it will always be the same. I guess those who haven’t felt the utter lose of self and desire to go on, will never understand as much as those who have never felt their skull ripped in two by a migraine.

It’s funny that I’ve always almost embraced suffering. From so young, I’ve felt the awfulness of loss. The terrible aches of burying someone younger than yourself. And yet, again and again in scripture, we see that our lives will be filled with suffering. Christ himself knew suffering. It’s even more odd that once you embrace this truth, you are filled with a joy beyond comparison. Is knowing that life will be hard help you to see the small joys? Or is it the reminder that life is utterly terrible that causes us to long even more for our heavenly home?

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