Day 4/21

Today,

I am grateful for…

  1. the fact that I can see the Fisher Building from my bedroom
  2. that the weather is finally turning (wrote it at five a.m. how was I supposed to know it was going to be a shit day? Sue me.)
  3. that my boss likes me and tells me often

3) I never knew how much I needed approval. We used to joke about it: about why I thought everyone was making fun of me all of the damn time.

As it turns out it is one more symptom. Just another example of my brain playing tricks on me and going with a negative as opposed to a positive bias. That’s what this challenge is all about. Retraining that bias and hopefully overcoming it. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Point being, I started a new job recently. I  am in a customer service job, something in which I excel.

However, I am constantly afraid I am disappointing people. Therefore, i shut down OR I work harder and disappoint people when I call out sick or quit before my two weeks because they didn’t know I was firing on more cylinders than I had. Not their fault, my fault. But, it isn’t my fault I’m sick. So whose fault is it?

But, now? For now, I have great bosses who let me know on a daily basis how pleased they are that I am with the company, applauding my initiative, paying special attention to my ideas and my work progress.

There are still times when I think they hate me because that is how my illness creeps up on me, but! because they come back so quick with compliments I can usually shrug it off real quick.

So I’m just really, really, really grateful for that.

Day 3/21

Today,

I am grateful for…

  1. working heaters
  2. getting up this early
  3. friends who care to drive out & see me

Points 1. & 2. sort of go hand in hand, but I have to pick one…2. I guess…

Getting up this early is significant. It is a big deal.

When you are in a rut–physically/mentally, it is very difficult to overcome, particularly if it rubs up against your sickness in any way.

Depression usually has a quality of lethargy to it. You get tired a lot because your brain can’t seem to distinguish between the threats whether they are real or perceived. You just go and go and go and go and go until you stop and when you stop…you stop hard.

So what does any of this have to do with getting up early?

I have been trying to get up early since I was 18 and I heard that it was common practice for the Dalai Lama. He went to bed at midnight and was up four hours later practicing and praying for loving kindness and healing the world through his example. It is unreal how much compassion this guy has. He blows me away.

I idolize the guy, but I could not for the life of me get up early. At least I couldn’t.

Because of my handicap. Because of my mental illness. See, I spend the majority of my day constantly correcting my social behavior, constantly en garde and on the look out for possible threats. I am constantly afraid that people are going to leave me based on my behavior so I am always policing myself. This becomes infinitely worse in crisis, which usually has to do with my finances or living arrangements. This causes no small amount of anxiety as you may imagine. So I stay up until 3am and don’t wake up until 9am.

This is (relatively speaking) early. I used to wake up at 2pm in the afternoon on weekends or during the summer. My family called it laziness.

But, when I set alarms at 6, 7, 8 & 9 and still somehow manage to sleep till 10/11…well I’m no longer so sure.

A rut is a rut for a reason and when you are unwell, it is difficult to see any way out of it, but some days you wake up at 5:30 with your alarm and remember that everything comes with practice. 

Sea Foam Breasts

Sea foam breasts
Cupping tightly.
Bubbles form
Between my fingers,
Laughing lightly,
Coming sweetly.

Seaweed hair
Framing faces,
Necks, and shoulders,
Washing over us.
Washing us over–
In the ocean
In the sea-green sea,
In my sea-green goddess.

Worship my goddess
In the ocean.

Ocean squalls
Float above me
As I swell
Beneath the swell;
Falling beneath
Watery depths,
Sinking tonight,
Even as day
Passes away.

Sea-green goddess
Carries me home
To the ocean floor
Hallowed halls
Sit forevermore
In coraled stone
Aging never
Mortal no more
High priest & consort
To my sea-green goddess.

Lunar Love

She has a name
Known only to her.
She shares it with travelers,
Poets, playwrights, adventurers
Who come and stay a night with her.

They laugh and love and sing an age away.
Away, where mortals cannot die and heroes
Become what they always were.
She calls to us,
She beckons us.

To her home, she says
A tavern in the briny way of taverns
More salt than beer, more revel than bar.
She calls us home
Shows us randy wayfarers
Just what it means to be celestial.

The laughs are deeper, more bass than tenor,
More song than sonnet,
& Every single layer
Of my encrusted, barnacled hide
Sloughs away, away again to better years.
To the soul my friend,
Down, down to the bottom of my soul
Goes the cheer, goes the beer.
That is her gift.

The Lunar Tavern:
Run by the moon,
Whose name we call Luna,
But her true name?
Well, that she freely shares with all her guests
But, alas, alas, not a one, to a man,
Remembers it come dawn.
We know its beauty, it makes us weep.
I think I know it in my dreams:

The name of the moon.

Day 2/21

Today,

I am grateful for…

  1. game nights
  2. having people to send letters to
  3. books to get rid of

# 3: This is an odd one for me. I always assumed happiness was additive.

You see, my father buys everything. “We don’t rent, we own,” which is why my allowance/paychecks always, always, always went to Barnes & Noble not to library fees. I thought I had to own things to be happy. That is why I currently own some 2,000 books. When I was living with other bibliophiles I had that nearly doubled. That still doesn’t account for all of the books still living with my parents. So I have books to burn.

But, if I look at my library, if I really think about how much space it takes up and what a pain it has been to move it (ten times in the last five years alone), I have to say, I was never happier than when I lived on the West Coast and had access to the best libraries. The libraries out on the West Coast are easily the best that I have ever seen. Just floors of stunning art work and mountains of books. All the newest releases, stacks of back catalogs, just dripping with availability. I had two library cards based on where I was living and had access to something like a million titles.

I preferred living on campus without any of my books. When I was in undergrad and living in my dormitory, all I had room for was a tiny little book shelf, which could only hold a handful of items (all of them spiritual in nature) and a bed, which I put on the floor, and a desk, which I eventually got rid of.  Instead of having access to my ever-expanding library, I read whatever I came across. Having moved a bunch, the need for books has substantially dwindled. I get demoralized thinking about packing them up and moving those heavy ass boxes.

However, having access to books is sheer joy. I love and need books and stories, but I think I prefer libraries. Having access to books through libraries is one of the single greatest inventions of mankind. Whenever I hear that a library is closing or needs funds, I get rationally angry. Because they provide so many useful services. They are the benchmark for every great civilization all the way to Alexandria.

If you pressed me, I must say, Detroit does not have good libraries. I strongly consider moving somewhere that has really nice libraries on an almost daily basis. So long as I live in Detroit, I fear that I won’t be able to get rid of my books simply because my library is so much nicer.

But, that means that I have lots that I can give away. Sure, I can be mad about the “wasted” money that could have gone into an IRA or 401k, but I also had a lot of adventure and became the best at what I do thanks to those purchases. So I’m grateful. Does anyone want a book?

Day 1/21

I am grateful for…

  1. the extra hours & money I am making today
  2. the letter my little sister wrote me
  3. my typewriter

Today, I choose point 1: the extra hours & money I am making today:

I am on this journey in the hopes of rewiring my brain for happiness.

I am a person living with depression. It sucks. Like a lot. Most days I just fumble the ball. I met a girl months ago. We had a lot of fun. I haven’t called in weeks because I am so anxious at the prospect of explaining why I haven’t called in weeks. Catch-22. It missed him by inches. The point is, I can’t think of a better way to explain this to anyone than what happened today.

I received an email from my boss. We had a cancellation at the front desk. Happens all the time. Can anybody come in

Hours: 11am-6pm.

Any amount of time. We just need somebody. Who is available?

I am. I was. I was available.

I want to be that guy. You know? The guy who fixes things, who solves problems, who helps people.

I felt happy that I could help. And then I was almost immediately upset.

Why?

Because I couldn’t stay for the full 7 hours. I had errands to run. So I mean, I could stay, but I wanted to honor my schedule (another practice in happiness for the mentally ill). So I thought:

Well, then I’m making $30 instead of $70.

$30 < &70, which is worse because it is less. $30-$70= -$40

In my mind I was losing $40 as opposed to the truth:

I helped out. I stepped up, I stepped in, I immediately called my boss, let them know that I could work for a few hours, but would have to leave in a bit.

made $30!

I do not live in scarcity and want, but a world of plenty and happy. 

So thank you whoever you are, reading this.

Thank you.