Tag Archives: mental health

Inch by Inch

One of the things that marked my two years of hell was an overwhelming sorrow that I almost always felt. I mean, the sorrow wasn’t new — I knew it was there. But when my brain finally gave up the ghost, the floor that had separated me from that sorrow seemingly disappeared and I was dragged into the sorrow-filled depths below. I have no clue if its accurate, but I feel as though I’d been stuffing all of my sadness into this big ol’ hole in my head, and then disassociating myself away from it as not to let it effect me. Likely, this is due to the fact that my family doesn’t deal well with emotions. Crying is just not something you’re really allowed to do, and so I did everything in my power to never cry and never show any emotion that could be used against me.

But when the floor disappears and you’re drowning in it 24/7, there is no real way to escape it. It becomes an all-consuming totality that is your waking existence.

As such, we tried to address this in therapy. We didn’t talk about the Ocean of sorrow very often, but whenever I’d brush up against it, I’d tell her that my sadness was too large to handle or figure out what to do with. And whenever I got too close to it, it became too overwhelming and Too Much for me to even maintain any semblance of control or ability to even do anything with the feelings that were consuming me.

During one of our last sessions together, I went into a place that existed astrally, but had seemingly been inaccessible to me since 2016. I navigated through these dark hallways and came to a large sphere where my ocean of sadness was seemingly held (don’t ask me, that’s just how it goes with this stuff.) I told me therapist that it hurt to look at it, hurt to touch it. That there was no way I could do anything with such a large sphere. It was too big and too precarious to move, and any attempts to make it smaller were not producing anything.

But because in EMDR-styled therapy we’re bypassing a lot of your conscious brain and letting the subconscious bits do the work, my mind showed me that we could poke a bunch of small holes into the sphere. And that slowly the water would drain, making it more manageable for me to handle. I remember the therapist asking me why I didn’t do these smaller things that would help with the sadness, and I told her that I didn’t fee like it was actually doing anything. She reminded me that Rome wasn’t built in a day and that each journey is made of a bunch of small individual steps. That if I wanted to make progress, sometimes that progress has to be made one tiny little inch at a time. But reminded me that it’s still progress.

I spent years not handling the sadness, partially because I didn’t know how and partially because I didn’t want to, and by the time it came to a point where I needed to do something about it, lest it end me, I found myself expecting to be able to do one or two “somethings” that would make huge dents in this sorrow, and therefore bring me relief.

If there is something that I think many of us do that ultimately hinders our progress in life, it’s that so many of us seem to walk around with the idea that we just need to perform one or two Big Actions to make a Thing happen for us. We lose track of the fact that all of our decisions matter. Every single one of them. And if we want to make the most progress, we shouldn’t only place an importance or emphasis on one or two choices, but on each and every choice we make.

Not to make my segue too harsh, but I saw a couple of posts a few weeks back that were spawned from a series of tweets that Ed Butler had put out into the world. For those who don’t want to click on the link, here is a copy of the tweets in question:

Someone says they want a relationship with the Gods. Tell them to wander out into the desert and nearly die, or to take an entheogen that will have them puking and hallucinating for hours, and they will do it. Tell them to put a little food in front of an icon and they will not. This is because the former, as hard as they are, are easier insofar as they support the person’s vanity, whereas the simple acknowledgment of the reality of the God embodied in the offering of food to an image is like a mortification. One could say that this is because the sinfulness of idolatry has been peculiarly thoroughly indoctrinated into people, but I think that the strangely stubborn aversion in those otherwise nominally inclined points instead to a resistance based in narcissism. Or perhaps a person feels too self-conscious making offerings to an icon; after all, one can hardly feel self-conscious while dying of thirst in the desert or imagining insects swarming over one’s body. But how interesting it is that they fear the one more than the others.

When I read these tweets, I had so many thoughts as to why someone might choose to do something big and grandiose but not something simple and basic or mundane. And while I do think that Butler is correct in that there is a percentage of us who only want to do things that don’t make us uncomfortable or speak to our vanity (or are, for all intents and purposes, performative), as sat talked about in their post, I think another factor of it comes down to the notion I was talking about above (which is similar to the take that this post over here took.)

Which is that so many of us seem to think that one or two Big Things is better than regular/daily smaller inane “useless” things.

I can give you countless examples where I’ve seen this play out in so many different ways across various communities. Where people discount things that appear to be too simple, too small, too mundane. We’re waiting for the One Important Thing that we have to do that will kick off the middle-of-the-movie montage that will rocket us towards our future Selves that we were always supposed to be.

And in that context, I feel its less about appealing to vanity, and more that we’re waiting for one or two major decisions to balance out all of the smaller decisions that we neglected to own or make–for a multitude of reasons (giving up power is another post.) Just like my younger self choosing to tuck those emotions away instead of handling them, I gave up the chance to work through that sadness while it was still small and manageable, up until I had no choice but to face it in its overwhelming totality. And even then, I thought that the idea of letting out a little bit of sadness here or a little bit there was never going to amount to anything of note. I wasn’t trying to turn it into a big production for my ego, I was simply underestimating how much power can be found in these smaller bouts of release.

Now, I want to add a caveat for all of my spoonie readers out there — please keep in mind that this isn’t a post about running yourself into the ground. This isn’t about doing all of the things all the time, nor is it about bludgeoning people in the head with ideas about how gods won’t ever possibly like people don’t do “enough work” in their religious lives or anything like that.

If anything, I am urging everyone reading to remember that every decision has weight. That we can all accomplish more in our lives if we do the tiny things that seem insignificant now, but will ultimately bear fruit later on. That there is no shame in making a practice or life of small, simple things, because those things may lead to amazing places if you let them.

I have found that handling my sorrow a little bit at a time, scratching out some notes here or there, drawing a picture or two, writing a blog post… that these little things slowly allow me to let my sadness out, and allow me to heal a little bit at a time. I don’t feel healed or 100% better yet, but I can tell that it’s getting easier because I keep working at it little by little.

Even if it seems too simple, remember that there is power in simple things. Just because its small doesn’t mean its insignificant.

What role does simple acts play in your practice or life? How often do you consider the weight of these simple acts?


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The Room

One of the last things that I worked on before I had to leave therapy is getting back in contact with a relative of mine that I hadn’t spoken with for years. You see, back in sixth grade, my great grandmother on my father’s side decided to suddenly get in contact with me, and I spent the next few years visiting her regularly. Only after life got away with me after college did I eventually drift away from her, and subsequently, her from me. I hadn’t heard anything from anyone in the family for years until one year my aunt decided to send me a letter out of the blue. I had every intention of writing to her, but never got around to it. My grandmother had been nagging me about it for years, about how I didn’t even know if my great grandmother was even alive anymore. About how I lost my only connection to my father’s side of the family.

And after years of putting it off, I decided that I might as well look into it. Back in 2016. I know this because my aunt’s address is written in that planner that I mentioned last week. I had every intention of reaching out to her then.

But then my health fell apart and I never got around to it.

Cue the end of 2017, and it’s Christmas day and I’m sitting in a Denny’s with my grandparents because none of their children decided they were worth spending Christmas with. And my grandmother asks me if I’ve bothered to send that letter I always talk about. Telling me that I should just bypass the letter and call her. I told her that I hadn’t, and she gives me that disapproving look that she always has, and I knew I needed to actually act on this sometime soon. I sat and struggled with it for a while, and my therapist told me that I should just send a small, short card to her, and leave my phone number and address and let her make the next move. So I did.

It was one of the last things I got to tell my grandmother. That I had finally moved forward on this.

And at first, it was really amazing. I got to hear from someone that I hadn’t heard from in ages. I was hopeful that we could reconnect, and I was so happy to find that she didn’t hate me for falling off of the face of the planet. A part of me felt silly for waiting as long as I had to finally go through with this. In many ways, I wanted this to be one of those situations where I could report back to everyone that “see, when you put yourself out there, good things happen.” Or to perhaps be able to say that sometimes our fears are inaccurate, that we fear things that aren’t there.

But that’s not the message this post carries. Not even in the slightest.

Shortly after I began talking to her again, the tone in our conversations shifted. She became demeaning towards me. She refused to understand what I was trying to convey to her in certain situations and circumstances. And when she decided that she really wanted to have a meetup including a recently-discovered niece and my absentee father, I really began to feel my hackles raise. I tried to explain to both her and this recently-discovered niece that my father had never been present, that I had virtually no means to contact him, that I felt that he had made it that way on purpose, that our issues were bigger than us needing to “just hash it out and move on.” But they persisted, and they harangued him until he reached out to me through Facebook (which, as a side note, its very telling that he’s been very social and responsive to them, and yet had to be prodded and pushed by them to even give me the time of day.)

Within a matter of minutes, I realized that he hadn’t grown. That he still refused to acknowledge that he played a role in my mental and physical health being as it is, that his absentee-ism has had a rippling and prolific impact on my life. That this made me less than thrilled to act as if everything was swell between us.

And when I decided I no longer wanted to see him ever again, my aunt lowkey lost it. She kept pushing and asking and re-asking if I would reconsider. It became very obvious very quickly that she didn’t believe anything I was telling her about him, to the point that her last message to me literally called my hatred of him a “hatred of convenience.” She believed that I would push my father away until I was frustrated with my mother, and that I’d crawl back to him in times of need, and reject him as soon as I had what I wanted. She called me selfish. She called me petty. How dare I not want to put my needs aside so that she can have this beautiful family reunion.

All of this while dealing with death, moving, and becoming a caretaker. She gave me absolutely no leeway and no quarter. And when she finally sent me the wall of text that called me everything awful under the sun, I decided that I would no longer tolerate her in my life. I never responded, I removed the other relatives that were feeding her information from my social media feeds, and I moved on with my life.

I think that on the surface this story feels very sad or disappointing or unfulfilling, and at first I felt myself slipping into that mindset. We all want it to be like it is in the movies, where we go out on a limb and we walk away more successful or enriched for having attempted something, but often times life isn’t like that. But as I kept working through what I had experienced, I began to feel as if this story isn’t inherently negative, and its for that reason that I wanted to share it with all of you.

I’ve called this experience “walking into the room.” Last year I knew that the room existed, and that inside of the room was a section of my family I knew existed, but had no idea what state they were in. Others wanted me to check inside of this room to see what was going on, and honestly, I was a bit curious, too. I could remember there being really great things inside of the room, and part of me hoped that those great things might still be in there. Eventually I got around to checking inside of the room, only to find that it was filled with junk that I had no interest in. And when I realized that, I felt that slight pang of disappointment as I closed the door and walked away, but at least now I knew what was in it.

In other words, because I finally got off my duff and reconnected with my aunt, I now know what happened with my great grandmother. I know what all I had missed these past six or so years. By extension, I learned that part of the reason I ended up drifting away from them was because my brain was picking up on the subtle abuse that never fully reared its head in the past, but came full-force earlier this year. Because I had opened the door, I got to really learn that sometimes our bodies pick up on those little micro slices way faster than our consciousness does. That some part of me was likely trying to keep me safe.

Sometimes taking the effort to look in the room pays off, and sometimes it doesn’t. Even when it doesn’t, there is power in knowing that it’s not a place for you. There is power in knowing that there are certain things we need not waste our energy on.

By looking in the room and realizing that I didn’t want anything inside of it, I found that nothing inside of it held power over me anymore. Because it no longer held power over me, it made it so much easier to walk away from what I no longer needed or wanted that in my life.

And sometimes letting things go will set you free.


Posted by on September 18, 2018 in Astral, Crack, Hypnosis & Inner Work, Rambles


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Adventures in Anxiety, Pt 1

Disclaimer: this post discusses the legal usage of medical marijuana (MMJ). If you have any problems with this, please use your discretion in reading this post. All comments will be heavily moderated.

This whole adventure started with a Facebook post. It was late January and I was still bleeding my wounds from the Mysteries and I really really really needed a break. I was venting on my wall about how I really wanted to be able to find a way to zonk my brain out for a few weeks straight as a means to get my anxiety and depression under control. And out of the blue, my uncle posts on my wall that I should get some cannabis.

Yep. My 50 year old republican uncle had suggested I get myself some pot. I don’t even think he was talking about legally getting pot, either. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

But as it turns out, my state is a legal state for medical marijuana (MMJ) and after talking with a friend of mine who has an MMJ card, I figured I’d give it a shot. 18 years of having chronic pain in my shoulder was more than enough to get me a card, and I figured that it couldn’t hurt to see how it would effect not only my pain, but my mental health as well.

I decided to document some of the things I had learned about my anxiety while trying to address it through self-care and MMJ use, and post it for others to consider. It is my hope that some of my experiences may help others to better understand their own anxiety, and possibly find ways to ease the anxiety in their life. This will be an ongoing series as I move forward and learn more about my anxiety and depression.

Anxiety by Mariana Zanatta via Flickr

Lesson One: Anxiety is a Learned Pattern

The first night that I decided to try smoking I just so happened to decide to sit down and talk with Set and Osiris. It was one of my first discussions with them after having returned from the Mysteries, and I was dieing to get some answers out of them. We met in one of the larger halls at O’s place, and they sat there patiently while I tried to get my brain together. The conversation was less difficult than it had been in recent months. I was able to sit there calmly and listen to what they had to say and I wasn’t breaking down due to the words being exchanged. But part way through the conversation, a weird thing happened- someone had said something that would have normally caused an emotional response. And as soon as I heard what was said, I went to grab at my hair (a thing I do when stressed) and prepared to freak out and cry.

But then I realized nothing was happening.

My body was so used to having anxiety attacks that I instantly moved into that place without even thinking about it. It’s kinda like in cartoons when someone thinks they’re drowning, and they flail around only to find out they’re in about 3 feet of water? It’s kinda like that.

I felt incredibly stupid but I was incredibly surprised to find this out. It makes enough sense when you think about it- almost everything you do is a learned pattern- from how you get dressed to how you wash your hair. However, I never really thought about how my brain had dug these patterns into my skull in terms of anxiety- and what that might look like when the connection was interrupted.

Lesson Two: Anger is Quick to Follow

One of the first things I noticed after I began to work with MMJ (through smoking and edibles, in case you’re wondering) is that I was hella angry. Like o.m.g. angry. My MMJ friend had told me that pot makes her not care about things as much. In the sense that she doesn’t worry about things that don’t really matter. I found out, however, that addressing the anxiety meant I didn’t care…. about what anyone else thought. I noticed that my interactions became shorter online. I had phases where I literally wanted to scream at people in all caps and tell them how stupid they were/are. I wanted to tell everyone off and tell everyone where to shove it, and due to whatever I was doing to my brain chemistry- I didn’t care at all about the consequences of such an outburst.

It was not pretty.

I reached out to some people online to see what on earth could cause this. Another person who works in psychology told me that many times when you begin to work on things like depression and anxiety, one of the first emotions to come bubbling to the surface is anger. And upon re-reading Hyperbole and a Half’s depression post I realized that she, too, became angry upon working with her mental health.

So if you decide you want to work on your depression and/or anxiety, be prepared to be angry. Really angry. Be prepared to take a lot of time away from people and the internet, and be prepared to potentially stick your foot in your mouth a few times.

Lesson Three: Don’t Expect a Straight Line

The first few weeks that I was using MMJ, I felt soooooo much better mentally. I felt calmer. I felt like I wasn’t dieing all the time. I felt better.

But that didn’t last very long. Within a month I was in the anger streak I mentioned above, and I was so tired from all of the MMJ that I could barely bother to sit online and write anything. My ability to write blog posts plummeted and I plowed through my entire drafts bin during that time. I felt like I had gone from ‘on the mend’ to ‘completely fucked’. I lamented that I couldn’t function this way. I wouldn’t be able to do the Kemetic thing if I couldn’t keep up the pace with my writing. I worried that I’d become a failure and have to choose between having sanity and peace of mind or my community thing. I worried to the point that I went into another depressive state.

And it went like that off and on for quite a while. Depression still happened. Anxiety still happened. I had days that were good and I had days that were bad. However, the more I got used to the MMJ, the easier it was to function while under its influences. I found that my anger was less and less, and that I could slowly start to write more and more even while high. My pain was going down and my sleep was more restful. I found that there were some good things happening- I just couldn’t expect them to happen over night.

I would imagine this is the case for anyone who is working on, well, anything. Don’t expect a straight line. You’ll likely have ups and downs and set backs as you try to move forward. Don’t give up even if it seems pointless from time to time (which I had many of those moments over the past 6 months).

Lesson Four: Sometimes You Don’t Notice When You’re Getting Better

I have spent a lot of my time during this whole thing questioning if I was actually making any progress. There is a rather hefty financial requirement to use MMJ regularly, and I didn’t want to be wasting my money if it wasn’t actually improving anything. However, just because my brain still feels like it’s always messed up doesn’t mean that everyone else does.

One of the first indications I got that the MMJ was doing its job occurred when I was working at my company’s largest convention of the year. One of my coworkers that works out of the office asked if I was on sedatives. I was so de-stressed compared to normal (to him) that he thought I was on something that made me calm down (he was partially right).

I sometimes think it’s like losing weight. You see yourself every day, and you often times don’t think you’re actually losing the weight because the shift is so gradual that the daily looks in the mirror hide what is actually going on. However, people who don’t see you all the time certainly notice- and that seems to be how it is with this. I’m neck deep in my own thoughts and problems that I don’t even realize when I’m actually doing better day to day.

I even recently sat down with my SO to discuss whether the MMJ was posing any benefit for me, and he agreed that there were beneficial changes in me- I just don’t seem to see them yet. I’ve become calmer, easier to talk to, more open with my speech, and my meltdowns are less frequent and less potent in strength. To him, the change in attitude and demeanor has been significant, even if I don’t really see it yet.

Mind you, that is not to say that I haven’t seen at least some changes, but I guess I was hoping for night and day shifts and I think that’s probably unrealistic. So anyone out there that is looking to address their anxiety should probably find some other people they trust to help gauge their improvement. Find people who can be honest with you and tell you where you’re at. Having objective input can help you figure out if your methods are working or not. I also recommend keeping a journal of where you’re at mentally each day so that you can look back over time and notice any potential patterns. Being able to confirm that you are making progress can be the difference between sticking it out and succeeding, or giving up and failing.

Lesson Five: Recovery is a Full Package Deal

I think this has been the hardest lesson for me to learn, and I’m still struggling with it. I learned quickly that if I really wanted to work on my anxiety, I needed to be prepared to give up other things that were important to me, and to focus purely on myself. That meant giving up working on things all the time. That meant spending more time performing self-care. That mean doing Unseen work less often. That meant sometimes spending more time doing absolutely nothing in the name of healing.

I think it’s a challenge for us to let go and do nothing but rest for a while. I know that I often felt like a failure when I couldn’t bring myself to write or paint or do anything. However, it is a necessary part of the healing process. You can’t run full steam ahead all the time and expect to heal. You simply can’t. So anyone who is considering working on such things, be prepared to cut some stuff out of your life for a while until you get a better footing with your health.

I am only getting started with the healing process, and I imagine that there will still be more to learn and more to discover about what it takes to get a better handle on my mental health. Despite some of the setbacks I have experienced during this process, I think it has been well worth the effort, and look forward to seeing where it leads me in the future.


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