|Posted on June 4, 2017 at 1:00 AM|
A modest update yes, but a long and informative update for several important developments. First, since I blogged before the May Is Mental Health Month Conference I want to share how that went. While for my three speaking sessions I didn't have as many people as I would've liked, overall I think it went quite well. Before the Conference started, I got to talk with the legendary local newscaster Carolyn Donaldson. Recently, she took a position working for my alma mater Penn State University. Being an alumnus and former member of the local Alumni Society Board, I gave her my advocate card and explained all about my advocacy efforts since last year. To keep in mind, in the near future I do intend to pursue taking my mental health awareness journey to Penn State.
I was a little nervous for my first speaking session, but once the jitters went away I had no trouble at all speaking. I wasn't staring at my half-sheet pages of my speech and was able to emphasize all of the important details as well. No lack of confidence as well as making an impact with a number of audience members. In the first session, there were a couple of elderly women who loved the lighter moments in my speech, such as my fondness for desiring to find lasting companionship with the right woman. Nothing complicated about that pursuit. A third elderly woman came up to me after I finished and personally thanked me for what I had to share. For the second session, a mother and thirty one year old son approached me before my speaking time came up.
The son had Attention Deficit Disorder and other mental health issues similar to what I had explained when talking to them beforehand. At first, they were the only two who sat for the second session but several others came part way through. Afterwards during the question and answer segment, I was able to give additional information and positive hope to the son for pulling through what he had been dealing with to begin succeeding in his life. I applauded his mother coming and being quite acceptant of mental health awareness compared to my situation the week prior to the Conference. I told them both to keep the open-mindedness about these issues because it is important for any person to have someone to turn and talk to if things get rough. Having a parent who can be that in your life does help. If not, well, let's just say it is not as easy.
I also liked sharing the total of six sessions with my partner, Rebecca which allowed me to learn more about what she had been through up till now. Older than me in age and different symptoms plus coping mechanisms, she had much more success and experience seeking mental health professionals than my track of shying away because of stigma. Rebecca's detailed account of her experience with bipolar disorder was also very interesting. I do regret not being able to sit in on the other four speaker's sessions, particularly Kim and her three daughters who have autism. If everything works out with my situation, and it is a doozy, by next year I will likely participate as a speaker then too.
I will be pursuing speaking opportunities locally first, and hopefully from there word will get out about my advocacy work and interest others in hearing my story. As I said previously, I will not post the actual Conference speech because it is ideally suited for a live audience. So, even though no one I hoped to see at the Conference could make it, there will be other chances I assure you.
The next burning question on some of your minds probably is to know how my family has taken my first public speech. To paraphrase a way they said it, no I did not nor will I ever present myself as being mentally ill. That is an inaccurate term that only characterizes the negative about the specific mental health issues I have been dealing with. I prefer to show a more positive side. I will still say they are an unknown at this time but have indicated their dissatisfaction with my inability to find employment in general. In truth, I have not been looking as much as I could because I am trying to focus on volunteering, advocating, and searching for employment opportunities in the mental health field.
Around here though, specific areas of employment such as this are very hard to come by. I truly understand and take responsibility for not being employed right now. I am an adult, as I said in my Conference speech. I am thirty five years old. But in two days from now, on the sixth of June, it will be seventeen years since I graduated high school. Seventeen years of making weak or aimless career decisions and watching my will to live disappear before my very eyes. I have decided on working in mental health. The miserable fact is that once you are past twenty years of age, in my experience, it is very difficult to figure out and tap people in the community for career insight to make a decision. Imagine being thirty five. Yeah... It's rough, not to mention awkward as can be.
But there's always Walmart or McDonalds, right? The twisted thing about my career indecision and anxiety is that for reasons I haven't even begun to figure out my anxiety and depression worsen for menial jobs like those. Maybe it's because my Dad was a perfectionist and ended up raising me with the same traits to often be restless and unsettled. What I do know is that the day before I started blogging on here, on my thirty fifth birthday, I was at a crossroads. Allow my anxiety and depression to worsen to the point that I would probably, finally break, or do something about it and find my place in this life. Obviously, those of you reading this can see the choice I decided to make. The right choice. The choice not to give up.
For the last week since the Conference, my parents have been quiet about these topics following a contentious 'discussion' we'd had on our way home from eating dinner out. Their opinions of me talking openly like this, in an educated and mindful manner, particularly about my mental health is not something they support either way. Remember. Job, job, job. Maybe they, and one of my Aunts, will come around. All I know is that I am finally pursuing a future for my life since the summer of 1994 when I have done nothing but live in fear of where I belong in life as it is. Life is tough. Life is hard. Life's a you know what. That's life. I've heard plenty of excuses not to listen to someone who has legitimate and honest difficulty with their mental health.
Despite these difficult and stressful circumstances, I intend to continue pushing forward with my advocacy and to raise greater awareness about suicide, depression, and anxiety. One way I will soon do that will be by exploring and probably undertaking seeking case management and therapy. In a week and a half, I will pursue seeking proper and professional diagnosis of any mental health conditions I have from a psychiatrist. No, this does not mean I am crazy. No, this doesn't mean I have been self-diagnosing myself all this time. I am keenly aware of my symptoms and make sure with everything I have been sharing it has been while being mindful of the lack of a professional diagnosis.
This is an important and yes late step for me to take but very necessary in order to seek proper treatment with the issues I still suffer from. Although I am obviously late with this step in mental health, I encourage every one of all ages who do not know what they suffer from to seek the same professional diagnosis in order to know how to better deal with your symptoms. Knowing is half the battle, as the G.I. Joe mantra used to be. Find out for sure, seek the necessary treatment options best suited for you and or your family, and you will already be on a better path to a more stable living.
If this seems like a lot to process, don't feel bad. Definitely don't feel bad for me on my account. Contrary to some of the remarks my parents have made, practically every day I remind myself that there are other people out there in the world who have it worse, sometimes far worse than I do. I was practicing informal mindfulness before I knew that was what it was. I am here, now, and doing my best to do something about turning my life around. Not tomorrow or the next day. Yesterday.
This leads me to the final topic of discussion being an update on my writing project, "Just Before the Dawn"©. Where the bedevil am I with it, and the sixth final story "In Love & Fear"©? Well... The Friday after the May Is Mental Health Month Conference, which would've been May 26th, that contentious 'discussion' caused me to have a nervous breakdown. I was already behind at that point by almost two weeks, but managed to write a Prologue, Chapters One and Two, plus starting Chapter Three. After the drama passed, for the time being anyway, since Monday May 29th thank heavens I have been able to recover my ability to write again.
While I am seeking assistance with my mental health issues and professional diagnosis in a couple weeks, I have managed to finish Chapter Three and half of Chapter Four. I expect this to be the longest story of the six, only because I want the events and character development to come across naturally instead of being rushed. So far, this is paying off. Chapters Four and possibly Five will see the rich development of the main characters Rob Ilbay and Dani McGlynn, after which will begin the climax. The only singular detail I haven't yet quite figured out is how the climactic event occurs to Rob, but the rest is all set and begging to be written. The most important thing is that this writing project and later the book are still my top priority. When published it will fulfill the goals I have set about for it to achieve.
I know next to no one is supporting me, even if they don't know about this project, but I believe in the hard effort I've been putting into it. I have faith the hard work will pay off. Once I finish the writing I will then be free to pursue all kinds of career development and occupational ventures. This is just something deep from within my soul that I must do. So I will not give up on it. When you have the chance to read the book and each of the six magnificent stories I humbly believe higher powers of conscience have helped me create, you will believe in this too.
"Just Before the Dawn"©, will be a true call back to the good old tales from Aesop's Fables some of you may have read when you were growing up. The six stories will feature seven courageous yet challenged individuals who are faced with very realistic and difficult times in their lives. How they persevere through those hardships to the recoveries you will only discover when you eventually read them, will hopefully inspire you again and again. Have faith in me, in my advocacy efforts, and the goals I am working tirelessly to achieve. They will include employment, they will include an end to my career anxiety, and they will see me documenting this journey towards success for other people to believe in their own lives.
I am still here. And I am still very thankful for those of you who may read my writing here. The journey is not over. Not by a long shot. When I finish the writing project you will finally see what I have been working up to since October 11th. Thank you for tuning in. If I finish "In Love & Fear"© sooner than a two week blog update, I will post a brief blog announcing it as such. Until then, see you all on the 18th.