Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘overcoming depression

One Thing

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Or another. I was thinking about writing “The Thing” for the title of this post in a riff off the idiom, “Here’s the thing.” My software indicated I’d already used that title once before on Relative Something. I try not to reuse titles if possible. Seriously, though, I was thinking, “Here’s the thing…”

Did you know Alec Baldwin hosted a public radio show and podcast interview series by the title, “Here’s the Thing?” I didn’t.

Makes sense though. That’s a great title. I tried a couple other pairs of words and found I’d already used them, too.

I prefer the pattern of holding my titles to two words, but after more than ten years of blogging, it gets hard to come up with a unique pair.

Whether it’s one thing or another, here’s the thing… I never expected that one day, I would live in Wisconsin.

Maybe I should have titled this post, “Never Expected.”

There are innumerable things I never expected to experience in my lifetime. I never expected I would witness stupidity being proudly espoused as publicly as is common in this day and age.

I never expected the burgeoning of private military companies into global powerhouses offering services to nation-states.

I never expected that I would be alive during a years-long global pandemic that would cause the amount of death COVID-19 has, even though I had read books and watched movies about similar biohazardous calamities.

I never expected private companies would create space crafts with reusable propulsion modules that make pinpoint landings on floating platforms in the ocean, especially modules with video capture abilities allowing public viewing of the feat from multiple angles.

I never expected to find out microplastics are everywhere, including inside both animals and humans.

I didn’t expect that so many things imagined for science fiction stories would become realities, ala Star Trek communicators and today’s smartphones. I never imagined that mobile phones would be able to rival cameras to the level of making professional-quality movies.

I remember thinking touch screens would never work. Folding screens? Not possible.

I don’t want to think of how many other things I deem not possible will become reality in my lifetime.

During my technical career in industry, I was on a development team that designed a custom machine for making coated optical discs that the customer boasted would be able to fit an entire volume of encyclopedia for viewing on a computer screen. Even as I worked on the electronics and vacuum chambers of the machine that would make this possible, I struggled to fathom the enormity of digitizing all the information in those books.

I never expected to come to the realization about how much human suffering results from religious conflict when simply loving others solves conflicts, heals wounded souls, and sows peace for all.

I never expected so many of you to read the words I write.

Here’s the thing, overcoming depression opens a world of possibilities.

This I know: It’s always one thing or another, whether you expect it or not.

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Depth Perception

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Whether it’s a movie or a particular song, or sometimes a tragedy reported on the news, messages with impact can hit us in the gut. I watched a program last night that touched a personal nerve in its depiction of a powerful memory I have about my experience of depression. It involves the illogical behavior of pushing someone away when what you actually want is just the opposite.

I would shun connection when all I wanted was to be connected. It’s dysfunctional, to say the least.

The healthy alternative to that involves reaching an authenticity that brings behavior and desires into renewed alignment. Say what you mean, mean what you say, then act that way.

It is a function of becoming perceptive to the full depth of what we are truly feeling. Learning to be entirely honest with ourselves and observant enough to direct our thoughts toward a healthy interpretation of reality.

There is also a valuable component of becoming aware to avoid fabricating perceptions that lack any evidence of truth. Don’t make shit up.

I am happy to proclaim the incalculable reward of profound joy and blessed peace of mind available to a person who learns how to treat their depression and do away with dysfunctional thinking. I owe a debt of gratitude to the medical community that contributed to my recovery over two decades ago.

Yesterday, Cyndie discovered the depth of our chickens’ disdain for carrots after tossing them some mixed vegetable leftovers.

A little while later there wasn’t a single scrap of anything other than carrots remaining. I suppose the overnight scrounging critters will be happy to clean up after them.

We’ve noticed that the processed chicken feed we put out gets passed over by pretty much all the wild birds along with our chickens in favor of anything else we make available. The chickens LOVE the cracked corn and mealworm snacks, so there is never any of that left lying around, but leftover or spilled chicken feed even gets passed over by the overnight scavengers like raccoons, stray cats, possums, and a fox that have shown up on the trail cam.

I had no idea they would have such a discerning palate.

I should give them more credit for the depth of their perceptions.

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Deepening Self-Awareness

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At this very moment, take note of what muscle(s) you are unconsciously clenching in whatever position you find yourself. One aspect of deepening self-awareness involves moving our unconscious activity closer to our consciousness. This doesn’t mean we have to be thinking about every single breath or heartbeat, but you can become more “aware” while not being exclusively focused on each one.

Sometimes, awareness occurs within a split second, too. That’s all the time it takes to notice where your posture might be clenched. Then it’s on to the next attention-getter.

Maybe the rapid-fire jump of attention is the thing to notice. Slow a mind down and the body will happily follow.

The most valuable reward I have discovered with my growing self-awareness (a term I actually have an aversion to due to the unappealing aura associated with over-indulgence of said behavior) is an equal increase of awareness for those around me.

Coming from the perspective of the self-centered focus of depression to any increase in balance toward healthier attention for others has been a very positive boost for me in my journey toward optimal health.

In contrast, an unanticipated flare-up in nerve discomfort from the bulging of a degenerating disc in my lower back snaps my attention dramatically back to self over all others. Try as I might to avoid the onset of self-pity, the pull is stronger than gravity and almost as relentless.

Mind and body are engaged in a battle of wits at this point. Should I refrain from moving? Should I clench all the other back muscles to prevent my moving into a position where the mild discomfort becomes a jolt of stabbing pain? Will excruciating pain actually happen, or is that just an archived memory from when it did happen one other time years ago?

I’ve been treated with traction and therapeutic exercise over the years to ameliorate the impact of the worst symptoms. These days the impact is much more subdued. But the memories remain.

The daily planking exercises and yoga stretching I have been doing for the last few years have provided me with better core strength in my body than ever before, but that doesn’t stop degeneration. At this point, I credit the muscle-building effort with softening the blow of the failing discs and allowing me to continue to function, albeit a little stiffly, through occasional periods of decline.

I am slowed, not incapacitated.

There is another fella around these parts who is forging onward despite an uncomfortable affliction. The extent of frostbite our rooster Rocky suffered on his wattle and comb is clearly obvious.

It’s hard to tell if his growing orneriness is due to that or simply a function of his continuing maturation into the valiant protector of his brood of hens. For some reason, he has chosen to single out the Buff Orpington for ex-communication from the group. I’m guessing she was the previous dominant hen and he feels a need to go overboard in making the point he is now the one in charge.

Both Cyndie and I have needed to demonstrate our dominance over him lately to assure he understands the ultimate pecking order around here.

Rocky needs to improve his self-awareness to become a better leader who recognizes how everyone around him is feeling about his actions and behaviors.

Now check to see if those muscles you noticed being clenched a few minutes ago unconsciously tightened up again.

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Written by johnwhays

March 13, 2021 at 10:45 am

Virtual Hugs

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Flip the calendar. It’s another year. And here I sit, isolated from all but my wife. This doesn’t feel any different than the year that ended two days ago. Our cat, Pequenita just gave out a yowl of objection from the other room and Cyndie immediately responded with an admonishment to Delilah, sight unseen.

Once again, the dog was trying to play with the cat in the manner that dogs like playing. Pequenita has not once shown the least bit of interest in playing like dogs, including this morning. I wonder if I can teach Delilah to give virtual hugs.

Stuck in continued isolation for the unknown future, I am feeling inclined toward practicing increased focus on nurturing my metaphysical energies to travel the universe so I can mingle with the essences of all those whose vibrations resonate with mine. My heart loves others and I want to send that out in a virtual hug of your energies, all over the world.

But that is not all. I also want to send that love to those whose vibrations don’t resonate with mine. Like it or not, you just might get hugged.

Like the arms of my favorite tree, the reach is up and out in every direction, branching out in too many separate forks and arms to count.

We are all connected. Our thoughts and energies infectious. I don’t know if my love and wishes for peaceful feelings hold the power to eliminate anxieties and emotional pain in others, but maybe they can give a moment of pause. Provide a window of opportunity to choose a preferred alternative.

This may sound all too sanctimoniously philanthropic, but consider the possibility that there is a fair amount of selfish interest in my intentions.

I am seeking this path as a way of helping myself evade a tendency for doom and gloom. I don’t suffer so much from anxieties, but I tend toward a despondency of disheartened hopelessness.

I strive to love others as a means of avoiding a slide into my self-centered depression.

It’s what I can do from wherever I am, whenever I need. It’s choosing to make the world a better place no matter what virus or corruption or neglect is wreaking havoc at the time. It’s allowing myself to be happy in the face of misery.

In that, I see this as a win-win situation. Loving you helps me.

<virtually hugging you right now>

May you feel peace into this new year. May dogs and cats find a way to love each other, at a comfortable distance.

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Allowing Happiness

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We did it! We have arrived at the last day of 2020, bowing respectively for the sad number of others for whom the year would become their last.

There you have it, right there in the opening lines, my perpetual dilemma. It is time to celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of a new one, but how can we celebrate in the depths of this disastrous pandemic? How did the people of downtown Nashville celebrate Christmas when the morning dawned with a terrorizing suicide bombing?

It’s not easy. But I’ve come to value the challenge of allowing for happiness amid a world of sorrow. Doing so is more worthy than the alternative of not cultivating joy simply because of all the things that continue to be wrong in the world.

I weep for those who are in pain, poverty-stricken, devoid of love, homeless, country-less, hungry, lost, forsaken, oppressed, unjustly imprisoned, or ill of health. Would that there comes a time when all people are free of the worst of possible situations.

It is reality that for every grand success of accomplishment worthy of celebration throughout history, someone, somewhere, was simultaneously suffering. For far too long in my life, I couldn’t reconcile the complicated mental gymnastics of untangling the two opposite realities that coexisted.

It has taken me a lot of practice to reach a place where I feel okay about allowing myself to be happy in the midst of an unhappy world. I don’t have any concise trick to offer toward how I achieve this milestone. I would say the primary factor is probably my developing a tenacity to repeatedly remind myself I am allowed to feel happy. Our happiness doesn’t automatically devalue the sorrow of others.

Maybe there is a trick. I would say it has to do with love. There I go again about loving others. If I am cultivating love for all people, my joy is not callously disregarding others who are hurting. I can feel their pain while experiencing my happiness. We are complex organisms, able to do more than one thing at a time.

We can celebrate the end of a difficult year, feel joy for our blessings, revel in the mysterious greatness of the universe, bask in the love of family and friends, and spread love to those who aren’t feeling it.

Bring on the new year. May it provide oodles and oodles more happiness for all!

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Written by johnwhays

December 31, 2020 at 7:00 am

Figuring Out

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The human race has made it this far. Maybe things will change for the better if enough people overcome fear, selfish greed, and exclusionary dogma to embrace love for all others equally. Think about it.

In the meantime, rational thinking must tolerate the rampant distribution of disinformation and innumerable groups of gullible people who allow themselves to believe any narrative that aligns with their versions of reality.

Long ago I became disturbed by ever-increasing reports of atrocities enacted by individuals who had themselves been abused. It was very obvious that those who had been harmed were eventually becoming offenders. Generations of this pattern were creating an expanding pyramid of misery.

This led me to visualize inverting that pyramid of dysfunction by breaking the patterns in some who could raise healthier children. With each generation, there would be fewer abusers and from the top down, the cone of an inverted dysfunction pyramid would be getting smaller with time. A reverse-pyramid scheme.

Of course, the opposite of that is the wonderful perspective of a pyramid of healthy loving people expanding with every generation.

I sought to break the chain of depression that I had inherited from my family tree and provide the knowledge and support for my children to recognize depression in themselves and those they love.

With the innovations of a world-wide internet and social media applications, the less rational portions of the human population have found a method to consolidate their numbers in frightening ways. I’m finding myself stumped for ideas to invert the pyramid of fear-based philosophies.

How much of my loving them will influence a change of thought? Why doesn’t rational logic override conspiratorial fears? How will non-religious spirituality ever compete with entrenched dogma of so many rival sects?

Will our dog and our cat ever figure out how to peaceably get along?

From history, we know that civilizations collapse. There is no assurance that there will come a day when all people eventually come together into a healthy, compassionate, inclusive, and loving society. Maybe if robots are programmed to take over our governance. Although, I saw a curious report that an AI (artificial intelligence) controlled camera mistook a referee’s bald head for a soccer ball and followed it for the remainder of a match.

Based on the last four years of backlash to the US having elected a person of color to the highest office for the eight years previous, our democracy doesn’t appear to be the beacon of hope it was once purported to be. Capitalism doesn’t deserve very high marks either, given the insane disparity of wealth distribution and environmental destruction it has achieved.

If the US survives the outcome of our election on Tuesday, we will have a lot of work ahead of us to overcome animosities and nurture more love for others than ever before. Freedom may ring, but the world will be a much better place if it rings with due respect for all others.

Let’s expand love to more people in the world than any generation before us ever achieved.

Amen.

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RS Interview 3

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Yes, there was more. The Relative Something interview with *The* John W. Hays meandered into the subjects of climate change and mental health. Are they related?…

RS: That’s enough of the namby-pamby rambling about pandemics and pets.

JWH: Uh-oh.

RS: What is it about your fascination with the weather every day?

JWH: You tell me?
I know, I know, I talk about the weather a lot. Doesn’t everybody? I mean, it SNOWED here yesterday! How can you avoid talking about that?

RS: Reading what you write, one might get the sense you are not a climate change denier.

JWH: [sarcastically] Well, it still gets really cold here and snows, so global warming might just be a hoax.
Some things in this world change gradually. I have been witnessing the constant increasing trend of fossil-fuel-emission-induced impact for my entire life. There were predictions made 30 years ago about the calamities the world is experiencing. Melting polar regions, rising seas, high-temperature records increasing, droughts, fires, floods, increasing intensity of storms. Honestly, simply seeing a graphic display of the atmospheric carbon dioxide levels during the industrial age compared to hundreds of thousands of years before should be enough for anyone to comprehend the reality. Human influence is changing the planet earth. What is the motivation to claim otherwise? At the highest levels of governance, corporations, and wealthy investors, I propose the motivation is financial. I can’t get my head around how anyone would be willing to risk our space ship for their greed to have more for themselves.

RS: Almost sounds like a mental health problem.

JWH: You brought it up. Dysfunctions of mental health could probably be viewed as the root cause of the majority of world problems. Wait… is stupidity classified as a mental illness? Sorry. Although, for me, education was a huge part of my success in dealing with my depression. My years of dysfunctional thinking were turned around in months after learning what was going on in my mind. Obviously, mental health issues are complex. In terms of addictions, we can educate someone about the harmful effects of smoking, but how many times has that knowledge been useless in getting someone to quit? Same challenge for every other mental affliction, I suppose. There are factors that go much deeper than just knowing. Maybe, more than simply having knowledge, there is an aspect of enlightenment involved.
Our thinking is intertwined with our physical chemistry. Our bodies are manufacturing and distributing mood-altering drugs. Our physical bodies are influenced by invisible forces around us. Moods are contagious. A well-educated person can be intelligent about a lot of subjects, yet be oblivious to how their anger is triggering chemicals in their body and how their angst is triggering people around them. That gap in perception can be narrowed by becoming more enlightened. More self-aware.
Increased self-awareness helps to open up the capacity to become more globally aware. An enlightened view would encompass equal cognizance of both self and others.
I don’t know if it’s obvious where I am going with this, but it has to do with love.

RS: Love seems like a worthy topic!

to be continued…

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Written by johnwhays

October 17, 2020 at 10:26 am

Flowing Again

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Problem solved. A full day in operation and the water level is holding. It was indeed the orientation of the waterfall that was contributing to the surprising loss of water every day.

The peaceful meditations of splashing water have returned to grace our idyllic surroundings once again.

Pretty good timing, given the visceral angst boiling over in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers in the middle of a global pandemic that had seriously derailed the economy while killing vulnerable people with abandon.

With such a wallop of bad vibes unceasingly resonating far and wide, people understandingly are reacting with a protective perspective of wondering what more awful situation could be around the next corner. If we expect the worst, maybe it won’t hurt so much when it arrives. I remember that mindset from my years of depression.

Thinking like that may come across as protective on the surface, but it doesn’t actually work as well as the alternative. We can hold space for best possibilities.

Neither method can entirely control outcomes, but it is hard to argue that they don’t have some influence. Consider how strongly people feel about the power of prayer.

I no longer brace myself for the next possible calamity to befall us. I have grown more inclined to visualize the best possible outcome humankind can achieve. It is easier for me now that I have narrowed my focus to the power of love. Love is the answer. Love can heal all wounds.

It is time to get love flowing again, equally among all races, all income levels, all orientations.

Let the love flow and splash down over everything and everyone.

Amen.

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