Gratitude Update

It’s been a while since I’ve done a gratitude challenge, and while I don’t really feel the need to do another at the moment, I though I might do something different. I’m just going to make a list of people and things I’m grateful for at the moment, and why; obviously it won’t be complete, because there are a number of people I am grateful to who choose to maintain anonymity here. But I will try to make a list of those who aren’t anonymous, and try to express my gratitude for those who are anonymous in my own way.

First, I am grateful to my parents. They have done so much for me; they supported my coming down to Menninger, they went along with my decision to move to Houston, they have provided valuable support, emotional, physical, and financial, and they have helped me to figure out where I am going. This is, of course, in addition to the support they gave me raising me, educating me, and supporting me even thought they might not have understood what was going on in my head. Without them, none of this is possible.

Second, I am grateful to my sister. It was her recommendation that I come to Menninger, and her education in social work has provided some valuable insights. This is in addition to the support she has given me as a family member; even though I haven’t seen her in months, she’s been a strong presence in my life. I don’t tell her how grateful I am to her enough.

Third, the rest of my family. While many of them may not be aware of the full extent of what has happened with me in the last year, they have all proven to be supportive, and I’m glad that, unlike some people I know, I haven’t been shut out of family support.

Fourth, Calla. She became a very close friend – and possibly more – in a short period of time, and I can only hope to provide the kind of joy to her that she has to me. I look forward to hearing from her, and every time I do it lifts my spirits.

Next, to Laurel. Though we may not always see things the same way, she has been a supportive friend and has helped me to shake myself out of some pretty unpleasant times. I know she’s been having a rough time, but I hope she knows that I’m always here as a support.

After that, Alicia and her husband. They are old friends – my oldest – and they were great supports to me even before I came down to Houston. Even though we don’t talk as often as we used to, I still value their friendship extremely highly; I don’t know when I’ll see them again, but I hope it will be soon.

On to AV and his wife. After Alicia and her husband, they are my next oldest friends, and have stood by me even in my darkest moments. Though we’ve moved to very different areas – both mental and physical – and our lives are very different, they’ve been a great help to me.

To my other friends, you are all very dear to me. While some of you may not be in as much contact with me as others, and many of you may never read this, I owe you more than I can say. You are all amazing people, and I’m honored to be a part of your lives.

To my therapist, you have been invaluable in helping me to realize where I am, where I’ve been, and where I want to go. You listen to all my problems, even the ones that seem trivial and stupid, but you help me to work through a lot of things – and lead me in directions – I wouldn’t go myself. I wouldn’t be where I am now without your help.

To my doctors – both psychiatric and internal – you have helped to keep me physically healthy – something which is invaluable in treating my mental health. Being mentally healthy doesn’t mean much if I can’t also keep my body going. Your work keeps me going.

To my fellow patients, peers, support group members, and class participants – your help and understanding have been invaluable in helping me to where I am. The things I have heard, and the things I have told you, and the confidence they have all been kept in, have helped to build my understanding of both myself and other people, and my knowledge of all kinds of mental illness. I only hope that I have been helpful to you.

To my co-workers, getting to know you has been a breath of fresh air; it’s one of the few areas of my life that really has little or nothing to do with mental illness. Your knowledge of books and the way bookstores work is fascinating to me, and I am glad to be able to spend time with you. My back may not appreciate standing at the cash register, but talking with you has been great.

To my followers here, and on Twitter, and other social networks – your interaction with my words may be silent, but it is nonetheless there. I don’t know if what I say here helps anyone, or provides any insight into the kind of experiences in mental health care and mental illness, but I hope it does. I’m glad you take the time to read what I write.

I’m certain I am leaving some people out, and for that I apologize. These people are all the ones that come to mind, but bear in mind that it is late and I may not cover all my bases. I just felt the need to try and do this, and it feels like a weight off my chest to have this out.


Gratitude Challenge 2 Epilogue

So, this is the post-game review of my second gratitude challenge. The purpose of the challenge is, of course, to become more grateful and positive in everyday life. Now, I know that I felt a noticeable difference after the first iteration of the challenge, but I don’t know that I necessarily felt one the second time around.

Part of that may be because of the way I’ve generally been feeling for the last month or so – in large part due to Calla’s influence. Even on days when she is feeling miserable, I still somehow feel better just knowing she’s there. On days like today, when she’s productive, making plans, laughing, teasing and joking, I feel a lot better – maybe not walking on air, but maybe a little hovering.

It’s a good thing to try, but I think if I do this again in the future, I’ll wait longer between tries. I think part of not really feeling a change is also doing this so close, temporally, to the first iteration. I don’t know that this is something that really needs doing, even for a guy with depression like me, more than once every 6 months to a year.

In general, though, I just feel….good. Better than I have in years good. I’m interviewing for jobs, I have close friends, both here and around the country, who care deeply for me (and I for them), I have my own apartment, I have support groups and a therapist and a psychiatrist. I’m slowly learning to cook, I’m working out regularly, I get plenty of things to work my mind, and in general, I think things are going really well.

In short, I have hope. I have hope that my current state of mind, while not permanent, can be handled even when it gets worse. I know that there will be times when I will feel worse, but I have hope that things won’t stay bad. I have hope for the future, that there will be a future I can look forward to and enjoy. There are things I hope for that I won’t mention here, though I am sure they won’t be hard to guess for some people. Hope is a pretty powerful force, so I’ll close with a phrase that I haven’t used in a while:

Dum spiro, spero.

Gratitude Season 2, Cliffhanger Finale!

Now that I’ve gotten your attention, I will sadly probably end up disappointing, since I don’t actually have anything fantastically exciting to be grateful about. But, as this is the last day of the gratitude challenge, I suppose I should get to it.

First, I am grateful for /whatchamacallit candy bars; the local 24-hour Walgreen’s that my friend and I go to for late-night candy runs finally got their Whatchamacallits restocked. I am also grateful, for now, to be done with job interviews; even though I think they went well, they were just draining in a way that actual work won’t be. Finally, I am grateful for all the support I’ve gotten on these interviews; hopefully it will result in me actually having a job.

As a positive experience in the last 24 hours, I think I’ll go with my last job interview, which was earlier today. It was short, and seemed kind of like a formality, just to make sure I was actually interested in the job. It was a short interview, maybe 15 minutes, and it seemed like it went pretty well. Now I’m just waiting for a while until they go through all the other interviews they have to see if I end up getting a job, either job I have interviewed for. In any case, it’s a relief to be done for now; after I was done today, I came back, made lunch, and then collapsed into blissful naptime for three hours.

Exercise today has been pretty light, mostly because I’m tired and sore from yesterday. Plus it’s my own reward for getting through with these interviews without passing out, throwing up, or otherwise embarrassing myself. As for meditation, that has been somewhat easier, since it involves basically the absence of thought.

As for someone I am grateful to, that’s where the cliffhanger ending comes in! Well, not really, but I thought it would be a good way to end this final entry. I’ll see about doing a post-game report tomorrow.

(Almost) Final Gratitude Two-Parter!

Yesterday and today have been busy days, so I’ll try to sum them up in my gratitude goals.

I am grateful to Barnes & Noble, for letting me interview with them yesterday. I’m grateful to Rice University, for having me in to interview today. I’m grateful to Lois McMaster Bujold, for writing some great books – Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls, specifically (I’m rereading them now). I’m grateful to have a hard copy of the Cooking Comically cookbook, because it has some good-looking and simple recipes. I’m grateful for Halloween, even if I’m not in costume, because I like the vibe. And finally, I am grateful for Calla’s progress, because today is the first time she’s said she might be feeling hopeful in a long time.

That’s actually my positive moment, too. I went to go visit her for dinner tonight, and over chicken enchiladas and creamed spinach, we talked about a lot of things – the Menninger staff, how her treatment is going, how she is feeling. We made some jokes, we both laughed, and it was good to see her smiling and laughing and not feeling like it was forced. We kept talking, about things we are afraid of, things we think about, and she said that she wasn’t sure about what she was feeling. She went on to say that she wasn’t sure, but she might be feeling hope, though it had been so long since feeling it that she didn’t remember how it felt. I think it is a big step for her to even think she was feeling it, and I think it’s a big moment in her treatment. Hearing that she might be feeling hope made me feel better than I have since she went into treatment again.

As for exercise, after I peeled myself out of my interview clothes, I went through my Convict Conditioning exercises, though my arms still burn from the inverted pullups the other day. I got some meditation time in just a little bit ago, after coming back from seeing Calla, and so I am feeling nice and relaxed.

As for gratitude, I got to tell several of the staff at Menninger that I was grateful for them while I had been in Menninger, and I was glad they were still there to help Calla (among other people). They seemed pretty happy about that, and giving messages to several people at once cleared out my backlog.

Tomorrow comes the stunning season conclusion of the gratitude challenge – tune in to see how it ends!

Grateful for Argon

Not really, I don’t really know what argon is. But the atomic number of argon is 18, and I was feeling particularly obscure today.

Today, I am grateful for job applications, because they netted me not one, but two interviews – one tomorrow, and one Thursday. I am grateful for my fancy new pullup bar, because now I can do the next step of one of the Convict Conditioning exercises. Finally, I am grateful for The Marvel Avengers Alliance Facebook game, because I’m kind of obsessed with it; I’d also like to grab the Marvel Lego Xbox game.

For a positive experience from the last 24 hours, I think I have to go with earlier today when I got a couple of surprising phone calls about twenty minutes apart. First was a call from a nearby Barnes & Noble, and then came the Rice University HR department about the temp pool. They had both, apparently, decided to check their list of online job applications, and both decided I was worth calling. Neither is really a permanent position, or even a long-term one, but either would work to both keep me busy and structured as well as add something recent to my resume.

For exercise today, I went through the Convict Conditioning exercises, making sure to make use of my new pullup bar – though it’s only at about waist height, because the step I’m on is kind of a reverse pushup. I did a little meditation after I got my interview calls, so I’m all caught up there.

As for messages of gratitude, I’m still working on that; I am still open to suggestions. If you think I should be grateful to you, and I haven’t said anything to you, tell me – I am pretty forgetful, and I don’t mean to be insulting. I just want to know if there are people who feel left out.

Discordian Gratitude

Yeah, I’m stretching a little with my titles, I’m mostly just looking up numbers on Wikipedia and seeing what corresponds with them. As for today, I suppose I ought to get to that, seeing as how we’re nearing the end of this iteration of the challenge.

Today, I am grateful for eggs, because without them I could not have made scrambled eggs with cheese and bacon, and it was good. I am also grateful to hear that Calla is doing better today than she has been the last few days, because her well-being is very important to me. Finally, I am grateful to know that, because I have a Ford Fusion and one of my old friends just purchased a Ford Fusion, we are now car-brothers.

As a positive experience in the last 24 hours, I have to go with cooking again. It’s a solo experience, true, but I find it oddly soothing to be focused on something like food. Also, this way I get to see exactly what goes into my food, and while my food isn’t super-healthy, using no-fat milk and low-fat butter and turkey bacon is probably better than the Canadian Classic pizza from Sarpino’s. It is quite tasty, though. Both my eggs and the pizza.

For exercise today, it is the night for Convict Conditioning exercises, which I thankfully did before my brinner (that is breakfast for dinner), because otherwise my stomach would be going nuts. It seems to be going well so far. Meditation is pretty easy on a slightly fuller stomach, though.

As for a message of gratitude, I’m still working on that, but I am all for suggestions if you think I haven’t been properly grateful to you. No, really, I’m serious.

16, Minimum Age of Gratitude

Today was kind of a slow day, but it did result in some discoveries.

First, I am grateful for the website Cooking Comically, because it is fun to read and provides me with some interesting recipes to try out. Second, I am grateful for spinach-jacks, the first recipe from Cooking Comically that I tried out and had be successful (I also tried the meatloaf, but it turned out not so well). Finally, I am grateful today for the Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes cartoon, because I like the way it portrays the characters , both hero and villain, in Avengers continuity.

As for a positive experience in the last 24 hours, I got to spend some time working in the kitchen today, and i was kinda fun. I’m not a master chef by any means – I’m barely a beginner – but it is fun to try and cook new things. Ultimately, I’d like to be able to cook some good stuff; maybe the favorite meals of some good friends, or maybe just find some stuff that works really well and is less terrible for me than pizza (don’t get me wrong, I love pizza, but more pizza means more exercise). I like the honey wasabi sauce I’ve managed to whip up.

For exercise today, I just walked around, because I am really sore from yesterday; it turns out that a frustration-fueled workout tends to push me past where I would normally go, and the results are predictable. Meditation was relatively simple, and I had plenty of time to work it in.

As for gratitude, I got to pass some on to a friend, and it was nice to do over the phone as opposed to by e-mail. That’s what I’ve been up to today. 

Now I just wish I could get the smell of meatloaf and failure out of the apartment. Well, really just failed meatloaf.