More Turkeys

I don’t have much to say because I don’t feel qualified to blog lately. I’ve tried to maintain a realistic yet positive blog since December; however, some of you may have noticed that in the last month or so, my posts have taking a slightly more depressing turn. This makes sense because (and of course I didn’t realize this fully until about a week ago) I am depressed! Lol. It’s hard to not feel stupid that I, Maney, self-proclaimed “girl of depression and anxiety” did not recognize the signs. It’s more than a little embarrassing. So for those of you who are nodding knowingly right now, “I thought she might be taking a downhill turn,” you were right. Next time feel free to call me out on it.

I am currently attending a university I have heard called “Mormon Harvard.” I hate to actually write out the name because if you know, you know, and if you don’t, it really doesn’t matter. One university degree is about as good as the next, and frankly I still miss my old school. But anyway, the point of this is that at my university we do these weekly things called devotionals. Probably a few thousand students gather in a huge building and we get to listen to a great speaker for an hour. My experience of devotionals has been positive thus far. But today our speaker (Dan Clark) really struck a chord. He made me realize that I have been setting my personal expectations pretty low.

To be fair, I have an imbalance of chemicals in my brain. That’s real. But it’s more than that. Since I realized that I have been really low for the last little while, I have a footing. Like when you sink too deep in a body of water and you’re almost out of breath, but once your feet touch the ground, you find the strength to push up. Or like that story my dad used to tell me (which he denies telling me) about the donkey that fell into a pit and the farmer gave up trying to get him out and started burying it. Shovelful and shovelful of dirt went in, trying to give the donkey a proper burial. But the donkey wouldn’t have it. Every time a shovelful of dirt fell on its back, it shook it off and stepped up. By the end of the day, the donkey was able to walk out of the pit.

You’d never think a donkey would be smart enough to get itself out of a pit, would you? Okay, I can’t pretend to know your predisposed beliefs about donkeys, sorry. They don’t have the best reputation of the animal kingdom, at least in my opinion. Except for maybe the donkey that carried Mary to Bethlehem, but he/she was the exception. And speaking of animals, I actually wrote a similarly inspirational post about turkeys a while back. (I finally figured out how to put a URL into a word! #smileyface)

Well, anyway, sorry for how rambling this post is. In my defense, I can literally feel my brain straining to have complex thoughts since most of my energy lately has been spent trying to survive and hopefully find some kind of happiness.

The point: I really believe that you are a beloved child of God, Reader. Don’t set your expectations low because you think you’re a donkey or a turkey, because even they have really awesome potential. And here’s to me and you feeling happier in the future, eh?

 

Assignments for YouSpeak.

Hey, so, WOW. Awesome, Incresity.

IncresitySpeaks

Look up Carrie Rudzinski’s work and write a poem based on the structure of on of hers:

Looking at the sky you’ll see nothing, but by listening you can hear the soft sigh.

I could tell you that walking in the dark is only delightful in the right company as if everything you feel can synergise with the lovely feeling across your face. The veil of the night perpetuated love– unseen by my eyes.

Slowly and alone I contemplate my flight, the feeling uplifting me I drift in the warm breeze. Swept away, I come to think of thinking itself. As if I’m addicted to the moments I’m not in: Always being distracted by the past and this past is the only image that seems clear to me.

All the summers I spent inviting different people to my night-walks. All I wanted to show them was how imperfect I was…

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He Makes Fish Less Dead

I got another email today that made me feel a little less alone in the barren landscape of depression. One of my friends wrote how she’s had a hard week but knows God is there and will comfort us if we are faithful and patient. Depression is a challenge for her and she rocks life in spite of it. This is the same girl who created the YouTube channel TransparentClouds, with all the movies and music videos that entails. (I provided links to four of her videos in this post, https://maneysmilesback.wordpress.com/2014/05/16/credits/ ) Would that all of us could be even half as strong as this human.

I’ll share the email with you because it’s awesome, but let me first make something clear. It’s easy to plaster someone else’s story on this blog and point at it in agreement, especially when their words end on such a positive and hopeful note. But you should know that the main reason I like and share these emails is because lots of times I can’t summon the courage to go spouting joy and rainbows everywhere. Lots of times my “hope” ends up sounding like a sad attempt at parroting church leaders or family members. When I mean it, I write it. But when I don’t mean it, sometimes I just have to keep reading, keep breathing, keep dragging one foot behind the other–how do I even describe it? It’s hard. And it’s what others take for granted.

Ugh, mental illness just sucks! And people don’t get it, or accept it, like they do other diseases like cancer. I know that cancer is the go-to comparison for mental illness, but right now I don’t care about cliches. The best piece I have ever found on this was Freshly Pressed a few months ago, written by Allie Brosh on her blog Hyperbole and a Half. I still think back to it in frustration when people tell me to change my attitude. “MY FISH ARE DEAD!” I want to scream at them. But I don’t. I smile, “Mm-hm, mm-hm.” (But warning, if you read it, brace yourself for I’m pretty sure a few F-bombs. These are the breaks, folks. You should read it anyway.)

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2013/05/depression-part-two.html

Anyway, I’ll give you the email now. I’m grateful for her optimism, and for her honesty in this challenge. And I really hope the world gets better at accepting that not everyone can feel happy. Stop making it about you and please just figure out how to love better.

This is what she (coincidentally another ginger) wrote:

“It really has been a fun week. Of course there were down moments. You know, I am going to be real with all of you right now. This week I had moments when my depression came on hard. Real hard. At times it felt like I was on a roller coaster and I was holding on for dear life as there were many ups and downs during the week. It really seemed like the depression did a sneak attack on me. I really don’t know the cause of it because I can’t seem to pinpoint where exactly it started coming up again. I really think the biggest miracle for me this week was when the depression vanished. At the beginning of this week, I didn’t feel quite like myself – it seemed like “other me” was taking over. I just didn’t seem to be able to shake it off – I really was beginning to wonder if I would be able to overcome it. Satan was putting a lot of doubts in my mind whether I could finish my mission. I knew I wouldn’t go home, but I knew that my mission was going to be a living hell if I had to do it this way. Then Friday came, I don’t know how it happened, but in the middle of the day, the depression was gone. Just like that. I can’t explain it. It was like God turned off the “depression light switch”. I finally felt like myself again. The Atonement is real. During those dark moments it felt like I was stuck being the “other Sister [Jones]” – but that is not true. Because of the Atonement, everyone can change. I tell you this because – well, I don’t know. Usually I leave out things like this because I like to focus on the good. But for some reason I felt like I needed to include this. Maybe it is to let someone know that missionary life is not a super easy thing where every single day is walking on cloud 9, but it is worth it. Maybe someone needs to know that the trial you are going through WILL PASS. There could be many reasons. Just because I am a missionary doesn’t mean I am perfect. It doesn’t all the sudden make me a different person. No, things take time. We have to do something about it. Be patient and God will provide.- maybe not in the way you think – but He always does. Now that is the greatest news ever.”

I would argue that most times the “depression light switch” doesn’t get turned off, and we’re left feeling quite alone and possibly even unloved by our Creator. Having depression doesn’t mean that you are alone, or that you are unloved. Keep holding on, Reader. She’s right about things taking time, and also about trials passing. Hold on.

Maybe I’m just reaching into the darkness and trying to touch something better than the present.

And if any of you, like me, need to hear something chill and beautiful, I recommend “To Build a Home” by The Cinematic Orchestra. Plus I really like the music video.

Say Something

I write a lot and I tend to be pretty open about my problems and feelings when I write. You guys get a glimpse into the Maney Universe every so often, understanding pieces of me that I guess probably 99.99% of the world’s population never will. That’s kind of cool, right? Or maybe it’s not cool–I’m okay with that. I’m gonna keep writing.

Today at school I was thinking about if one of my close friends ever asked me directly about my depression or suicidal thoughts. If I thought they were serious, or maybe if I realized that they were going through the same struggles, what would I tell them? And suddenly I was like, “Wait a minute! There are probably at least one or two people who read Maney (as my dad refers to it) who actually feel this way.”

I mean, you’re not reading this for the stellar writing or original thought processes.

I feel like for a lot of people, “suicide” is a no-no word. If you don’t say it, that makes everything better. FALSE. These people do not get it. And that’s great for them! It would be awesome if no one ever had to deal with this trial, because to quote Buffy, “My life happens to, on occasion, suck beyond the telling of it.”

This is what I would tell a loved one if they confessed to me that they were dealing with this crap, and wanted to know how I handle it:

Tell someone, tell someone, tell someone. Figure out who cares, and tell them. Network. You need to look around at the people you socialize with and decide who can help you. You can’t do this alone, because it will be you and your brain sitting in a dimly lit room discussing a very dark topic and it will end badly.

“Uh, hey, brain. I want to die.”

“Hm. Well, due to the terrible situation we’re in and the imbalance of chemicals that is me, I can’t think of a better or more logical alternative. Go for it.”

“Sounds good, thanks.”

NO! This is not true! YOU HAVE BETTER OPTIONS. And you need to figure out who is going to be the one to tell you this when times get especially hard. For me, it’s my parents, a friend or two, and God. For you, it could be a close friend, an employer, a significant other, a family member, a religious leader, a kind-looking woman at the bus stop, someone on a suicide hotline, a counselor, a doctor, a teacher or professor–figure it out. If one doesn’t work, just keep trying. Move down your support list until someone is ready to do back-flips to keep you alive. Make it their problem. And if they really love you, the back-flips will begin.

If you think that you don’t have anyone who cares if you live or die, you are wrong. If any such unloved person exists in the world, you are not them, Reader, because I love you. I want you to keep going. And I know that God, your loving Heavenly Father, wants you to keep going, too. He loves us so much, more than we’ll ever understand.

As my sweet counselor texted me, “You are a very important person and deserve life to a be a little less hard and much happier!”

Do you believe it? Well, we’d better.

Better Than Your Father

Many of you know that virtually all of my friends left on missions within the last year, excluding two or three that I haven’t kept in contact with very well. I’ve been getting most of their weekly missionary emails since they left home, and it’s been really fun and eyeopening to watch them grow and mature.

Anyway, yesterday I got an email from my ginger missionary (serving in South Korea), one of my very closest friends for most of high school (before life blew up). His thoughts were just so… I don’t even know. It was just really beautiful writing coming from him, a human who isn’t really a writer but more an artist and a musician and a really loyal friend. I let his spelling and grammar be, but I threw in some paragraphs because honestly, his stylistic blocks of writing are just so discouraging to look at, haha.

From a ginger to you:

“So I’ve been thinking a lot about the Christlike attribute of humility lately, especially in connection with the mission presidnets rencouragement to us to be more deditacted and concecrated missionaries. As i thought of this my mind went back to something Grant said to me in an email when I was still in the MTC. He quoted something his own mom said to him during his mission talking about how two of his cousins when they came home from their missions. She said something along the lines of “I have seen many boys leave for their missiions and return as men, but your cousins returned as men of God.”

I’ve thought about that over an over. What makes the differnce from a misionary that returns as a man, and a missionary that returns as a man of God? I’ve come to the conclusion that the answer is atleast in part humility. Humility is more than modesty, wich is how i often tend to think of it for some reason. That is only a very small part of it. Humility is doing the will of God in all things. And being humble enough to do especially the things you may not want to. Joyfully and eagerly obeying mission rules, not begrudgingly, but constantly relying on the Lord through prayer and study with a spirit of urgency. The attitude we have as we do things is just as important as actully doing it. So being able to be not only humble enough to obey with ecaxtness, but being humble enough to honestly want to.

This applys to more than just missionary work of course. Humble submittance to the Lord should be a pattern we live through our entire lives. And if we have humility. True, pure, humility, we will do all the other things we are supposed to, because God will be our source of action, not ourselves.”

I’m impressed if you read through all of that and you’re still going. I just wanted to throw in one last thing. As I was reading this, I was reminded of a Greek phrase mentioned several times in my favorite TV show, Fringe: “Na eínai kalýtero ánthropo apó ton patéra tou.

“Be a better man than your father.”

So whatever it takes you to accomplish this, Reader, I hope you do it. We owe it to the world–this place we don’t remember asking to come to–to improve ourselves, one generation at a time. It’s so we can all return home not just as men and women, but as men and women of God.

Gold Feelings, Silver Glass

Something strange happened in class today. One of my professors was going off about when the term “and/or” is appropriate. Well, that’s not fair. I really like this professor. Anything she “goes off on” is usually either funny or pertinent to our lives/grades. Anyway, she wrote on the board: “You can have apple and/or oranges.” I was listening more or less intently, waiting for the bell to ring and excuse me for lunch, when she brought pineapples into the picture. And that’s when it happened: I was filled with this sweet, gold feeling, streaking across my mind and settling comfortably in my mouth. As if hearing the word “pineapple” took me to some magical mind palace (oh, Sherlock) where everything was warm and yellow. And it was nice.

Really it all got me thinking about how there are tiny things in life that are just so good. Like laughing. Or for me, washing dishes while watching Fringe, Buffy, or Veronica Mars. Raspberries right out of the garden. Being with close friends. Eyelashes. Brown paper packages tied up with string–what?

You get the picture.

Sometimes my life is a mind game. And I have to convince myself that things are going to get better. To quote the band Mates of State, “Everything’s gonna get lighter, even if it never gets better.” I write that to myself in my journal sometimes. Or I sign off at the end with “still shining.” Because I really think life is what you make it. And all mental illness aside, I really am a positive person. I’ve been messed up and I don’t know if I’ll ever get totally back to normal, but deep down, I’ve got a lot of hope. Hope for my future. Hope for the world. Hope in some kind of peace when everything ends.

And because this quote has been on my mind lately (thank you, guy driving with Olan Rogers), I’m throwing it in here. Credit to Goodreads as my source.

Gandalf the White: “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it… White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.”

My dear Readers, make like Pippin and just believe.

(In honor of a couple of friends’ kind advice, I am going to try and reduce my number of tags in future posts. I believe the conversations included algorithms and the term “cutesy,” but I don’t know. Here’s to new ways of writing.)

Battlefield

Today is a battle and I am going to win.

If you think I’m going to fall, you are wrong wrong wrong. I have fought too hard to get to this place, this point on my mountain, and I will not move one step down.

You may think you know me, or own me, or understand what I’ve been through and where I’m going, but you don’t know the half of it.

I have felt pain to a degree that I didn’t know was humanly possible. I have survived what other people would call Hell but I wouldn’t call it that. Because I know how much harder life can be.

I have lost friends. I have lost family. I have lost myself.

But I have never let go.

Every day I wake up and I face the sun, and even if it pains me beyond words, I have not yet given up.

On days when I wanted it to end and I had the means and the desire, I held on. Because I told myself it would eventually be worth it. Honestly, sometimes I still have to remind myself this.

If you could see my strength, it would astound you.

I am so full of words and beliefs and values and potential that if you could really see it all, it would blind you.

Don’t you think that you can put me in a box, labeling me, marking me. I am above what you think you know.

And today is just another battle.

A battle for life.

A battle for liberty.

A battle for the pursuit of happiness.

A battle to be who I am and to love every piece of me.

A battle to take God’s hand and make myself believe Him, even if it doesn’t make sense.

I’m going to keep on fighting.

So you had better keep fighting, too.