Thoughts, Philosophy, Life and Love

Tag: Philosophy

Organ donation…


This message is more of a call out to all of you who read this, for you to spread the word.

I have a friend that is in need of a Kidney.  This is not something that is down the line or at her leisure, but something whose need is immediate.

Please follow this link to her Facebook location.   Holly Prior

What is important to understand is that you do not even have to be a match for the person in need anymore.  There is a program at UCLA called the Kidney Exchange Program.  This is a program where you go in and donate your healthy Kidney and it is placed in queue for someone in need; and remember… if you are healthy and in good shape, you can live a perfectly normal life with one kidney.

While this does not guaranty that the person you know, like Holly in this case, will get your kidney, spreading the word and getting more people in the system will make the likelihood of someone like Holly finding a compatible match.

As with anything like this, you should discuss this with your doctor before you contact the UCLA program.  But if you can, imagine the life-changing gift you will be sharing with someone out there?

The art of being nice.

Being nice.

It’s not as hard as it sounds, really.  But if you watch people today, many of them would seem like either they do not remember how to, or chose not to be nice to others.

Where I see the best examples of this is in the retail arena.  Working retail is hard enough, I know, I spent the about twelve years in retail and had the pleasure of seeing almost every type of personality.  The good, the bad and the ugly, they are all people that crossed my path through the course of my retail career, thus giving me a point of view that not everyone has.

I try to be nice to most people, even those that are rude to me.  Granted, I do have my breaking point where when a person is continuously rude or hateful to me, I will crack and return the feelings.  The problem with that, when you reach that point, you have lost.  You are no longer controlling the situation and there is no way to truly recover the control.

More often than not, anymore, I will try and counter the situation with humor or irony.  Most of the time those are invaluable weapons to use against a person that is obviously in a bad or bitter mood, but unlike anger, it will sometimes cause the other person to see their own problem as being a little less important or, maybe, cause them to laugh at themselves.

I like to talk to people that are having a bad day, it is almost as though I see them as a challenge that needs to be won.  A good example of this is a time I was going through drive through at a local Burger King.  When I got to the window, the lady was in a very sour mood.  After I got my food and change, I decided to try something, so I sat there.  She came back to the window and asked if there was something else that I needed.  I said “I know you are having a bad day, so if I give you a smile, will you share it with others?”  She looked at me funny, then I told her a joke… “A horse walks into a bar and up to the counter.  The Bar Tender look at him and asked ‘What’s with the long face?'”

She gave me a genuine laugh and thanked me.  This was the first time I tried something like that, and it worked.  I am not normally that outward, but I taught myself a lesson and I helped someones day get a little better.

To be fair, it is hard to be nice to people that are in a bad mood.  It is hard to be nice to people that are having a bad day or are in the funks.  I know this from personal experience.  That is why I think that the BEING nice part is an art.  You have to learn to be nice in situations that you normally would not be.

So… the next time you are out there, and someone has an attitude… try something new… try and make them laugh at themselves or at you.

Gone but…………

Not forgotten……………………..

When is the moment you realize that you will never forget those who have gone from your life. You can’t really pinpoint it or plan for it, it just happens. Whether it’s sitting watching a movie, seeing an old t.v. show, reading a book, a news clip, a blog. What brings those memories flooding back….. Is it something that happened recently, something you saw or heard, a moment replicated to almost the exact way it happened when you lost someone. And when you react, is your initial reaction, to what you just read or saw, to the story or a moment in your own past, or both, one coming right after the other. Which also begs the question, which memories are the most important ones, the milestones or major events, or the little ones, or funny ones, or frustrating ones, or ones you should have laughed at, at the time, but instead felt anger or frustration.

For me, it was something I hadn’t really prepared for, to understand you will have to see the movie Marley and Me. If there is book written I usually read the book before I go see the movie, in this case though, I didn’t, so other than seeing the previews and having read the cover of the book several years ago, I didn’t really know what to expect. And I have to admit during the movie I was starting to become disappointed, as the movie seemed to shift more and more from the main character Marley, a rather rowdy, but lovable Labrador retriever. While not having read the book I am sure something was lost in translation to the big screen, from the lesson’s learned by the writer, as Marley and Me was a true story, not a fictional account. You can’t really blame the producers of the movie either, after all they need to appeal to wide audience, and based on the packed theatre on a Saturday with kids and parents and grandparents I would say they did what they needed to do. Some of you at this point maybe wondering what the point of this thing is, don’t worry I haven’t lost my mind completely yet, it is coming, but like some things you have to wait for it.

I don’t know if words can describe it adequately, but here goes……. As the movie progresses, it dawns on you that the movie is leading up to what some would consider an inevitable conclusion. Marley’s heart wrenching passing, as the family that loved him looks on helpless. Not wanting to be caught of guard, I could see what was happening and prepared myself, even though it did bring up thoughts of several of my own Marley’s passing. So when, it happened I was prepared for it and steeled myself for it, while at the same time, wanting to make what was happening easier for the family, knowing that besides the family on screen, this scene had played itself out in real life with Marley’s family. So, it was not that scene, that got me…..In the beginning of the movie something happens that for those of us looking on, is funny, but to those actually experiencing was I am sure frustrating. Without giving it away, they remind us of that incident at the end of the movie, while the family is saying goodbye to Marley, and that is what got me. It was an involuntary reaction and caught me completely of guard. One of those rare moments at least for me, when emotions come out, without being stopped or self managed. A grown man, sitting in the theatre with tears in his eyes, wondering why he was reacting this way, when moments before, the scene that should have had most people crying there eyes out, had not brought up anything other than memories of having been lucky to have known, my own Marley’s. Sandy(and no, not that one), Ming, Scotch and Smudge, Dudley, Irish, Jake and Saunchin. Each unique in their own way, each teaching you something, each touching you in ways you never imagined, each with their own personality, each so much a part of your life, and each leaving it way too soon, But leaving you better for having known and loved them. Each moment whether it’s a fond memory, a funny, although sometimes not at the moment occurrence, is important and can and will come back to you at unexpected times and in unexpected places……….


We can all think of them… our first (enter subject here.)

Obviously, in order to keep this site family oriented, I am going to NOT share CERTAIN firsts in my life, and I would ask that you be so kind to do the same if you chose to join in on the fun.  This will be one of the few times I will invoke my right to edit your posts… if you post one that is great, but has a part that may push this site into the R rating, then I will remove or alter that one part with a note to the reader that I did so.

My first “first” that stand out the most is, of course, my first kiss (that was not under duress).  I am going to go out on a limb and embarrass the lady who gave me my kiss by telling you her name is Tonya Buck, or at least it was back then, she has long since married and had kids.  The kiss was in 1981 when I was 13 and my hormones were already screwed up.  We were at the dining room table and she was over for dinner.  My mom said something that embarrassed me and Tonya laughed at me and leaned over and kissed my on the cheek next to my lips.  To this day I cannot recall such a feeling.  I was dizzy, sweating, could not speak and my hands were shaking.  Looking back on it now, there was never another feeling like that again.

I think that of all our firsts… our first kiss it the most potent of all the experiences.  It is the catalyst that starts you into understanding, for a boy, what women are all about.  You learn right then and there that they will always have a certain level on control over you.

The second important “first” in my life, chronologically, is my wife, Naty.  That moment when we were sitting in the little restaurant in Solvang and I looked at her and like a flash, I no longer saw her as just a girlfriend.  I saw the woman that I loved and knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, and with that same giddy, heart-thumping joy that I felt with the first kiss, I remember taking Naty’s hand and telling her I loved her.  I had uttered it a few times in passing before, but this time I knew I meant it will all my heart and soul.  The beautiful thing about it is that I still do today.

Other, less important “firsts” I can think of:

  • The first time I got in a fight.  November 1986 – Got my ass kicked and was also the first time I tasted my own blood, my first black eye and the first time I remember pure visceral rage.
  • September 1986 – First time I remember that I swam.  Drill Instructor pushed me into the pool with my pack and rifle.  I do not remember the swimming part, but I remember climbing out of the pool sputtering and coughing.
  • The first time I thought I was going to die…  When I was learning how to climb and the rope I was using broke free and I slid thirty feet before the guy teaching me was able to stop me.  That was also my first talk with G-d, whomever I thought they might be.  😉
  • The first time I got kicked in the balls.  It was in 1976 on the playground at Plantation School in Bakersfield, Ca.  I cannot remember his name, but I remember his brother was named Lee.  Grrr…
  • My first “Crush”…  Jamie Maxwell.  We were in Second grade together.
  • The first time I realized I was smarter, in certain things, than my mother *sometime in 1980*…  The only reason that stands out is because I tried to prove in…  Parents do not like it when their twelve-year-old tried to make them look dumb.  🙂
  • The first (and last) time I told my mom to go F*** herself, when I was 16.  My jaw still hurts from that one.
  • The first time I felt true loss… when My Great Grandmother died in 1976.  I sat in the living room closet for hours.
  • The first girl I acted like an idiot to try and impress, that would be Christy, in… Grade school, Junior High and High School.  What can I say… hormones were not good to me.
  • The first true friend I ever made, Grant.  I called him “Laughing Boy” during Freshman lunch in 1982, he punched me in the chest and knocked the wind out of me.  Been friends ever since. Go figure.
  • The first time I realized how short life can be… February 27, 1991.  My Father Died at the age of 53, not a day goes be that I do not think of him.
  • The first time I realized that I turned out a lot better than many others I went to school with expected me to… July 2006… 20th South High School reunion.

There is no order of importance to the bulleted list above… they are things that I think of as being events in my life that made me who I am today.  We are all products of those events that shape and guide us.  The “Firsts” are the most important, though.  They happen to you and you learn through them.  Sometimes good things, sometimes bad things.  But they are the mosaic that makes us who we are.

I would like to encourage you, the readers, to share your firsts with me and the world.  Be as detailed or clandestine as you want.

If I have included your name in here and you wish for me to remove it.  Just say the word and I will.  If you see your name here and want to say hi… by all means, do so.

Making Friends…

As I grow older, I have started paying more attention to things that I used to take for granted… and that is making friends.

I have always been very critical of people… all people.  While some might say this is normal, I would go so far as to say my example would almost be to an unhealthy level.

When I meet a person for the first time, I immediately begin dissecting them.  Their mannerisms, movements, tone of speech, eye movements, etc.  I listen to the stories they tell and, in my mind, begin challenging them for potential realism, validity and probability.  All this in a matter of the first few moments that I have met a person.

Hindsight is always more clear than the vision before you at the time something is happening.  Thus, as I look back, I see many situations where I killed potential friendships before they ever started.  This attitude that I have towards people that I am meeting for the first time was and is unfair to them and to myself.

This has brought me to the point of this post.  A lesson learned, so to say.

  • Accept people for who and what they are.  People are not always going to be what you want them to be, and sometimes the best friendships can be borne from diversity.
  • Listen to what people have to say and take it for what it is worth.  If you do not think that it is the truth, keep that to yourself.  Over time, the truth always comes to the surface.
  • Once a friendship starts, just like a plant or any other life, it requires feeding and nurturing.  You need to make it work.  Don’t assume that “I called John this week, it is his turn to call me.”  That does not always work.  Friendship is a two-way street and takes both parties.
  • Don’t let little things get in the way, and in the case of good friends, nothing is more important.  With few exceptions, all other considerations are secondary to friends.

Making good friends is, in my opinion, not too much different than relationships with your family.  My closest friends ARE part of my family.  In my life, the few friends I have, and they know who they are, are every bit as much a part of my family as my Mom, Sister, Brothers and Wife.  There is little difference to me here.

Some friends you make will not be as close as others.  You will learn to keep them, without letting them KNOW this, at various distances from you, emotionally.  This is not to be callous or mean, but because there are times when you can feel that a person is responsible enough to handle that level of closeness.

There are times, also, that you need to let them go from your life because they become vexacious to your soul and your family.  There is one case where I have done this and the reason was because the path he had chosen led to the loss of his family and drove his friends away.  Even though it was his own fault, it was one of the harder things I have done in my life.  Telling a person to not be a part of your life when you have known them since high school is difficult.

All this being said, my newest goal is to teach myself to be less critical of people.  To try and make more friends and be a better friend to others.  To stop trying to find a reason to NOT make a person a friend, as I tend to do with my mental dissection of those I meet.  I do not expect this to come to me overnight, but I do want it to happen.

I hope that you appreciated my sharing this with you.  I hope that you have something to add, as your comments are always welcome.

The ghosts that haunt us…

Not a day goes by when I do not think of my Father.

Unfortunately, he passed away in 1991. When he passed, there were a great deal of things that I never got to say to him and I am sure, there were things that he never had a chance to say to me.

I do not dwell on his death, I can honestly say that I only did that for about the first year, but the times I think about him now are more or less in passing. Idle thoughts that come to me. Things like; “Dad would have liked that”, or “It would have been neat if my dad could have met my Father-in-law.”

If I were to look at the things that bother me the most about his death, it is the fact that I never told him everything I needed to tell him. But I was young and I listened to those that told me that it would hurt him if I talked to him about these things. So I did not, not knowing the ghosts that it would create for me all these years.

I think that we all carry ghosts like this with us through our lives.  Things that we put off doing, forgot to do or never seemed to find the time for.  Then one day you realize that your chances are gone, there is no way to get them back.  These can be as simple as a conversation you should have had with someone or as large as not taking the time to sit down and have a heart to heart with your father… as was the case with me.

The biggest thing to remember with most of these ghosts is that they do not have to be.  We each have control over whether they exist or not by the decisions we make.  We chose to, or not to, act on things.  Sometimes it is because we do not want to hurt someone, or because we do not want to take a chance.  But we must.

Since my issue with my father, I have used that as a learning point in my life.  Since then I try to speak my mind when I can.  I always make sure I say what needs to be said when I have the chance.  If that which I need to say might hurt the feelings of the person I am telling it to, then I do so with the greatest care and compassion.

I offer this as my personal experience in life.  Life itself is so very short when you think about it and even with that, you are not guaranteed the entirety of your life, you never know what may happen that might take it from you or those you love, prematurely.

I will close with this.  It is a small part of a poem I have kept near me for more years than I can remember called the Desiderata:

“…As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant… they too have their story.”

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Random acts of kindness… at gunpoint.

There are two movements in this country that seem to be pushing the whole “Random act of kindness” philosophy, at least that I have had direct, personal experience with. Those that just go out and profess that we should occasionally do it and then do it themselves to lead by example, and if you follow suit, then great. Then there seem to be the ones that are militant about it.

Like any militant group, I see these people as bad examples of the parent group. There is nothing wrong with doing random acts of kindness, I think that it follows that whole “pay it forward” program, whereby helping one person, they will help another and another. I honestly believe that something a simple as smiling and saying hello to someone you do not know, might help their day. Unless you live in New York, then you will get mugged.

It amuses me when I hear people come out, and granted, they are not common, at tell others that they need to go out and practice random acts of kindness, and they should try and do “x” number a day or week.

If you set a goal, or quota, does that not make it so it is no longer random? Isn’t that like a loan officer taking up a policy of at least one loan a day, or a car sales person treating it as novel to make one deal a week?

The point of the whole random act thing is like what happened to me once. I was in the drive thru at a Starbucks. I had already placed my order and gotten to the window to pay, when the “Barista” advised me that the car ahead of me paid for mine and the person behind me. That did two things. First, it floored me, since it was my first time being a recipient of one of these acts, and second, it had me in the mode to do the same for another. Face it, when someone does something like that for you, it generally has a tendency to put you in a good mood, in some cases makes you want to return the favor.

Forcing or shaming a person into doing a good deed or act really accomplishes nothing. People are more apt to give generously if they are doing it anonymously or just because they see a sudden need, and have the means to do it. Personally I like to give “voyeuristically”. I like to see the reaction on the person’s face, but not let them know who it was that did it for them. I get to see the joy, and I get to know it was me that caused it, without the embarrassment of the person thanking me, or the awkwardness for them of thinking that they NEED to thank me.

So the title of this was a little misleading… no one has, to my knowledge as of this writing, been forced to preform a “RAoK” at gunpoint, but I do wonder if there will ever be a time when the whole Robin Hood mentality comes back around.

Imagine… you are standing in line at your favorite store, and you feel something in your back. A whisper comes to your ear… “See that woman at register 10, the one fumbling for exact change?

You nod your head.

“You are going to slip this here cashier a c-note and tell her to go over an pay for that woman’s groceries, right?” and he jabs the gun in your ribs.

“Sure…” You hand the woman the bill and give her the details, and she walks off. You turn around and your new friend is gone. About that time you hear the woman yell… “Hey Billy! Go get us another three twenty-four packs of Coors!!!”

Seriously though. If you have the means, sometime, pay for the guy or gal’s coffee in the car behind you, or something like that. I will not hold a gun to you, I will just make it a suggestion that you try. No pressure.

Who am I?

Who am I?

This is not a hard question to ask, but a very hard question to answer. I do not care how self confident you are, if you look at the many ways to interpret the question, then you cannot come up with a “pat” answer to it that easily.

WHO am I?

Am I the sum of my own efforts and dreams, or am I the creation of the expectations that others have placed upon me, thus shaping who I have become? Is the person that I have become based on the people that I have met in my life or the people that my friends and family expect me to be because of their needs and desires? Likewise, have I, over the years, manipulated who I am, in order to mold to the types of person that my friends and family needed me to be, thus becoming a better friend to them through empathy, of sorts?

Is it important or healthy for a person to change themselves to be a better friend, love or companion to another person, when it is obvious that this will sometimes result in the loss of some individuality? or is it more important to be yourself, for yourself, regardless of the affect on those around you? This is not to say that you be yourself sheerly for the the affect of alienating others, but being your own person and letting others accept you that way, regardless of how it affects the closeness of the relationship.

When I think of who I am, I cannot do so without thinking about how much of who I am is based on the people I have met over the years, and both the positive and negative affects that they have had upon me in that time. It is hard, also, to not think of the struggles and successes that I have had in my life that have, also, lead to my being right here, right now, in this life.

Obviously some of this is obvious. If you look at your youth, you can see that you were shaped, in large part, by your parents and other close family. As you grew older, the other adults that you met and your teachers, added to the person you would one day become. As you grew, both mentally and physically, you saw things in those people that you decided you liked, or disliked, and added them to your own personality, creating a mulligan stew personality, of sorts. This, in turn and over time, lead to who you became as an adult. Like a good stew, it takes time for all the pieces to merge and become that one thing that is you.

I encourage you to try a little mental exercise. Look at your talents, traits, opinions and anything else about yourself, and follow it back. See if you can identify why you feel the way you do about something, and where you might have gotten that opinion.

It really is an interesting exercise in and of itself, because sometimes you may not realize how you came to some of your thoughts on certain things.

As I see it… We ARE all individuals. But we would not be who we are without the interaction and guidance of others. Whether we realize it at the time or not, every person that we meet or interact with, provides that little nudge that eventually leads us to who we are now and it does not stop there. We are constantly changing and growing. You may not have the same opinions and ideas ten years from now that you do today, this is just the way things work.

Who am I?

I am that which I have become, through the guidance of the Friends, Family, enemies, loved ones and strangers that have made up my life. Through my interaction with them, I have become the best person that I can be, and I am not done yet. This is a process I will go through until the day I take my final rest.

Where does the sky end?

When we are children, we ask some interesting questions of our parents. I am not certain why, but over this last weekend I remembered one that I asked my father. This was more years ago than I care to mention, but I must have been about six or so. I remember looking out the window and then asking him, “Dad… where does the sky end?”

I cannot recall what prompted the question or where I came up with the concept, though I suspect that it may have something to do with all the reports in the news at the time of the Apollo and Skylab missions. I always did seem to have my head in the stars as I child.

The question itself though, thinking about it now that I am older, and somewhat wiser, is one that could be both a philosophical and astronomical question, but for now, I would like to look beyond the science of the question and look at the meaning that I saw as a child.

We all know that the “sky”, or what we perceive as the sky is nothing more than the affect of the sun’s light being defused by the various components of the atmosphere… oxygen, nitrogen, argon, etc… But when you are a kid, you do not know or care about all that. The sky is something that you see as full of adventure, a place where planes fly to far off lands or battle against other planes, where rockets stab the heavens to go even farther into the sky (for me, as a kid, the sky stopped somewhere past the stars.)

It may sound a little “Norman Rockwellian” but I can recall watching the clouds in the sky and thinking of the shapes that the clouds made. Sometimes animals, sometimes structures, there were even a few times I can recall seeing faces in the clouds thinking that God was drawing pictures for everyone to see. Then there were the nights… Not so much in Taft, the town where I spent part of my childhood, but in Bakersfield, there was a large field behind the complex I lived in. We all called it the “Greenfield”, simply because it was green, and there where no houses or anything there. In reality, it was the corridor for the high voltage towers that fed part of Bakersfield and then went on south to another community. This was where most of my adventures took place until I was about fifteen years old.

I would go out and lay on the grass at night or early evening, and just watch the night sky for hours, sometimes not getting back in until late. This was at the time it was safe to do things like that for a person of my age and not have to worry about anything bad happening. The sky was still pretty clear in the area I lived, back then, and light pollution was still quite low. I would see so far that I started wondering what all was out there, so, like most kids, you start imagining. Because of my mother, I had no illusions about what was in the sky. I understood at a very early age what stars were, and how far away they were, and that there might be other planets just like earth near those stars, but as a child, it is still hard to imagine the sheer enormity of the universe, so in my minds eye, these were all still part of my sky. I would think of the creatures that might be on those planets, and the ships, cars, planes and spacecraft they probably had. Then I would think of what would happen if I ever got to meet one of them someday.

The fantasies I had were only fed further when shows like Space:1999, UFO, BattleStar Galactica and syndication of Star Trek came to television. They fed my desire to imagine what else was out there. Then came Close Encounters, Star Wars, and the Trek Movies. If you ask anyone who knew me at the time, you would probably get a pretty resounding “Sam’s head was always in the clouds” from all of them. It should be noted that I have not changed much… My head is still out there, somewhere. I think if I ever do become completely grounded, then that is about the time I will be pushing up daisies.

So… to the original question that I posed to my father so many years ago; “Where does the sky end?” Unfortunately, he did not have an answer for me. While I loved my father a great deal, he was not the most openly imaginative person. At least not to me… this is not to say he had no imagination, we all do. Sometime we just never find an outlet for, or a way to express it to others, especially our children, in many cases.

Looking back, I do not recall ever asking anyone else this same question, though, as kids, our thoughts are traveling so fast that our mouths can rarely keep pace, and thusly some of what we say or ask gets caught up in the tides of time and drowns. Why this one question stayed with me, I do not know. Maybe the answer that I was looking for was more in what was not said than what was said. Is it possible that, without speaking, and my being too young to understand, that my father DID answer the question? We will never know, I suppose.

Where does the sky end? Why should it? If we look at the question with science, then the sky, as we understand it, only changes from atmosphere to space, but does not really end. If we look at it from the point of imagination, then why should it end? Why can it not go on forever, and take us to other worlds that are only limited to our imagination? I read books like Narnia and the Golden Compass, and I think of what questions inspired those people to write such deep stories. It had to start with something, and maybe it was nothing more than a question to someone’s father or mother, answered or not.

Where does the sky end? It does not… as long as you do not let it end.

Depression – Reaching out from the dark.

Before I start, I need you, the reader, to understand that this is not a self help guide. It is not meant to be the key to help you out of your problem with depression. This is simply my story of how I cope and what I feel when I fall into my bouts of depression, and the paths I take to try and get out of them. If you do take something away from this that helps you, then I am happy for you and would like you to share your story with me, if you feel comfortable doing so. I just want to make it clear that I am not an expert on depression, nor am I a health professional. Please read this with the understanding that I am sharing my experience in the hope that others might take something from it for themselves.

This is also therapy for me. Talking about a problem I have suffered with for years in a way that others will see can be very liberating. I am sure that there are those out there that will read this and wonder why I am airing my issues, but if even one person out there reads this, and it touches them, then maybe it was worth it.

I cannot say for certain when I first started having depressive bouts, but I am pretty sure it goes all the way back to high school. That in itself should be no surprise to most people, since almost everyone can agree that high school is a harsh place, even for those that do well in school. It is where we first start really learning how popularity and money can divide people into groups. I think everyone experiences a little anxiety or depression in high school simply because they need to learn to fit in to certain cliques, or become outcast.

This is not going to be a “History of Me”, so I am going to concentrate more on the “here and now” and not the “there and then”. Looking at the past, at least in my case, has never been much of a help. Those are all things and times that can not be altered and should not be worried about. What is more important is how I face the future.

Many times when a person says that they are suffering from depression, the first thing people say about it, be it verbally or in their own minds, is “Oh… Get over it.” Too often people see it as just a person feeling sorry for themselves or wanting attention, and they are dismissed. I know this because there have been cases where I have talked to a person that was going through a depressive bout and I have thought that same way about them. When I go through the same bouts and I talk to people, I can see the same thing in their eyes or hear it in their voice. It is not their fault. People who do not suffer from this or who do not understand what it is to go through it, have no way of seeing the world as I do when I am experiencing a bout. In fact, I can say that I am just as guilty because I do not, and cannot, see things the way that another person might when they are going though an episode of depression.

Because, for me, depression is a personal experience, another person cannot understand my process of “going down.” When I am starting down into one of my funks I do not care what a person can tell me or what they try and do to cheer me up. In fact I really cannot see the positive in anything at that point, I just do not care. For me, if I were to use an analogy, it is a dark tunnel that leads nowhere, and only gets darker. That is what I feel when I am in a depressive mood, and the sad part about it is that I usually know when they are starting. This is as frustrating to me, as the person affected, as it is for the few people who know I suffer this problem. Talking is about the only cure or remedy that I know, but the people I talk to have to understand that I am not going to be responsive to their support at first, so all they can do is be there. Even though I may not be interested in what they have to say at the time, and I may not care for their efforts, in the moment, they do help in the long run. Another thing that helps is if they, your friends and family, understand that you suffer from depression in the first place.

I have never shared my problem with depression with my friends, at least not until this blog. I have never felt comfortable with sharing it because I have never wanted the whole “pity parade” that seems to follow people who suffer it. I also know that some of my friends would probably not understand it, especially the ones closer to my own age. This is not meant to offend them, but unless they, too, suffer it, then they would not understand what it is to go through.

In addition to the overall sense of loathing that I feel at the time, one of the hardest parts about depression, for me, is the state of reclusion that I fall into. I want nothing to do with anyone, friends, family, coworkers, etc… and I convince myself that no one wants anything to do with me. I close myself off into what I have termed my “Darkspace”. I cannot bring myself to care about anyone or anything, I have even treated friends and family rudely during these times, and only see the doom and gloom in life. My wife will try and motivate me, but she has learned what I have learned, and that is that I have to find a way out on my own. Reaching out from the dark, as I have titled this article. However, she has always been there when I come out of it.

Another thing about my episodes, is that I can see who I am during and after the attacks. I look back at my latest bout, and I know that it had a negative affect on my job and may have affected my relationships with my friends, and I know that… I also knew that at the time, but could not work my way out of it. You do not want to tell people what you are going through, because at the time, how to you explain it? Where do you start? Can you really, truly, explain what may appear to most as a state of mind? You really cannot tell a person, “Hey, I am depressed right now, I will call you back when I feel better… M’Kay?”

One of the problems with people sharing a problem like this with others, especially in my age group, is that I was raised being that taught you should not share your problems, as I am sure others were as well. You need to hide your troubles away and keep them to yourself and things like depression and openly expressing feelings were a sign of weakness or a liability. This is much like how my father was, at least to me, and many of the male figures in my life, as a child, were much the same. I have worked hard to not be like that over the last several years. Mostly because I knew that I had a problem with depression, and that the best way to help myself was to reach out to those around me.

Since depression affects everyone differently, there is nothing I can say that will be a magic bullet that will help others. What works for me, may not work for you, and you should not expect it to. If you feel that you are suffering from depression, you need to get in to see a doctor as soon as you can. While I choose not to take medicine for mine, because I understand the potential risks in doing so, you may not have that luxury. Depression should never be taken lightly.

In my case, the best thing for me to help me get out of the funk, is writing, woodworking and family. The writing gives me a release, a way to vent and share thoughts and feelings. The woodworking gives me a outlet of creativity and something to accomplish. Family… well that is self explanatory. Your family is potentially the strongest medicine you have, and is not confined to those that share your blood, but those who are close to you. I have several friends that I consider family, and in reality, they are just as much a part of my life as any brother or sister. I may not always express that with them, but I would like to think that they know.

For me… coming out of the funk and haze of depression is like walking into a well lit room after spending a while in a long dark tunnel. There is relief because I, once again, beat it down and took back control of my life. There is also sadness… because you look back, and see the person you were during that time, and the affect you had on others… those you do not know, and those you love.

If you are a religious person, that can help as well. As I have said in a couple of my past writings, there is a lot of good in your belief in god. It helps you find your center and to feel comforted that there is someone watching over you, something greater than you that you are accountable to in the end. If you find yourself in a depressive mood, and you have a Priest, Rabbi, Pastor, etc… that you can talk to, do so. That is another reason they are there, and sometimes it is just nice to talk to someone that is not part of your immediate family. I, personally, use meditation to help… it is like having a nice sit down and chat with yourself… but sometimes you may not like what you have to say, and that helps too. If you never get to know yourself, then you may never get over it.

In closing… depression is hard to get through. I will not lie to you about that, you sometimes feel like there is no way out and that nothing you do is worth anything. You may even get to the point were you are certain that no one is there for you, but none of that is true. You have to tell yourself to live above that, live above yourself. You can get through it and you can get back to being the person you, your family and other people like you to be. You just have to take it one step at a time… that is what I do. This is no different than what they teach you in a twelve-step program. One step at a time, one foot in front of the other, and one day at a time.

I hope that some of what I said can give someone a little guidance.

You are more than welcome to comment, but as I said toward the beginning of this… I am not a professional in this field. I will not offer any advice, other than to tell you that you should see a professional.

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