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2020+…We Aren’t Done Yet…I’m Still Standing

We get hit. We get knocked down. We have a choice. We can stay down for the ten count or we can get back up. We get back up. The fight isn’t over. There are still many more rounds to go. We have trained hard for this very moment. We have done what we need to do to get stronger. We have done what we need to do to increase our endurance, our stamina. We are ready.

We dodge and weave around the ring. We are looking for a weakness in our opponent. We have studied countless amounts of information as we ready for the fight, but in the moment we are figuring our opponent out. Each round we go we notice something different. We attack that weakness.

Our opponent continues to get in some impressive shots. We may get knocked back down, but we are far from done with this fight. Throwing the towel in is not an option. We get back up. The fight resumes. We start to wear our opponent down. We land some great punches. He looks weak. We keep fighting. We knock him out. We win. We win for now.

Another opponent will be calling. It’s what happens when we begin to win. As we rise in the rankings, other opponents vie for their shot at us. The opponents only get tougher. It is expected. We are tougher and we are ready.

Eventually, we get a shot at the title. We step up to fight our toughest opponent yet. I can tell you, for me, 2020+ (as I will call it) is this opponent for me. I will venture a guess and say I’m not alone in this thinking. It has hit a lot of us hard. How do we react to this barrage of punches 2020+ is throwing at us?

Today’s blog is going to take on a different feel. I really feel I need to jump in a little deeper. I believe everything I have written. I write it in hopes you see something within it and it can help you. It helps me. I feel I need to go a little deeper.

I have taken on kind of a rah-rah mentality. This mentality is not wrong, but I think I need to go a little deeper. Maybe throw more of the not-so-good in versus always pivoting to the good. Everything I have written, I believe in 100%. It will keep coming, but I want to go at it a little different today. I think I need to be a little more real with myself in order to be more effective for you.

A painting I did back in 2017. I feel it fits the 2020 mood perfectly.

2020+ has been a tough year. A very tough year. We have not experienced anything like this before. We really have no idea how to act. There has been a wide range of emotions. Go with the flow or resist in a way you feel protects what you are about and your rights and then there is everything in between these two ways of going about it. I am not going to discuss either of these. I’m not here to sway you one way or another.

Regardless, of where you sit. This year has been different for every single one of us. None of us have been able to go about life as we used to before all of this pandemic crap hit. This year has been tough. No doubt about it. It has tried even the most mentally strong person out there. How could it not?

I decided to change my life in July of 2019. I recognized I couldn’t do things on my own anymore and I did seek out help. I went into the hospital. When I got out, I took a different path and continued to seek help from outside of myself.

If you do the math, or really just an estimate, I was on this new path for about 7-8 months before the pandemic hit and changed everything. This is not a long time at all. I had been in a behavior for 20+ years. 7-8 months was nothing in comparison to the amount of time I was locked into this bad behavior. I was not fixed yet. I’m still not fixed to this day.

20+ years is a long time. It is going to take me much longer than the now year and a half to get out of this and re-wire my brain. Enter 2020. We get locked down. I am still trying to figure all of this out and then BOOM…now try and figure this out!

At the beginning, I was doing pretty good. I was in a pretty good place. In my mind, I felt I could deal with this for the month or so we are “sheltering in place”. I can do it. As we all know, it wasn’t a month or a couple of months ordeal. That was March 2020 and here we are now in January 2020+.

I have tried hard to keep my focus. It has been really hard. Not only did I have to do everything differently due to the pandemic, life decided to throw some other crap my way.

I had a therapist who I had gotten to know before all of the shut down happened. We ended up having to do phone and video appointments. It was OK, as we already had a rapport established. It wasn’t the same, but I was OK with it. She then moved. Another opportunity came about and, I get it, she had to go for it. I completely understand.

So I got another therapist within the same office. My previous therapist recommended him and so I went with her recommendation. Thankfully, by this time, I could actually go into the office and meet with him face to face. Well masked face to masked face.

I was nervous, going to see someone else, as it felt like I had to start over. I accepted it, as I had no choice, but it turned out to be OK. He then went on medical leave due to having surgery. I was OK with that. He has every right to take care of himself. This happened in the fall. So, I had some sort of coverage through a lot of the time we had spent in this alternate-universe-of-normal up to that time. And then I felt alone. I couldn’t just call and make an appointment if I needed it, so I waited. I’m still waiting. We’ll get to the still waiting part.

During all of this therapist mess, I was also dealing with a mess on the psychiatrist level of the game. My company switched health insurance carriers which meant my old, or current at that time, psychiatrist was no longer covered. I did get to go see him one more time. I was still able to get medication refills, as well, but eventually it didn’t make sense to see someone who is no longer covered. Out of pocket gets pricey. So I was on the search for a new psychiatrist. I felt alone.

I was able to get into the same office as my therapist and see one of their Nurse Practitioners. Great. I’m covered again on the psychiatrist side of things. I had to start over, but she was very thorough and I liked that about her. I felt like I was going to get somewhere, as through all of this, I was having to change med doses and try and manage all of this by the seat of my pants. I felt like we were making progress. And then out of the blue…she left the practice. I had no idea. I felt alone.

I still feel alone as I do not have another psychiatrist yet. The office is working on getting someone, so I’ve tried to wait. They now have all of my records, in this one office, so if I have to start over with now a third person, at least they have my information. So I wait. I am still waiting. The office is being great about my refills and have even approved changing my dose on the new medication the nurse practitioner put me on, but it is far from the same. I feel alone.

Enter back the whole 2020+ thing on top of all of this. I feel this would be tough to deal with in a normal year, let alone a year everything gets turned upside down. I have been struggling lately. I am sick and tired of the inconsistent medical coverage I have received. I feel I’ve been through enough, let alone having to start back over with now two therapists and what will be my third psychiatrist in get this…a year and a half. COME ON!

I have learned a lot on my journey. I’ve talked about a lot of it in my blogs. I’m not going to lie. I feel beat down. The pandemic has been tough. It’s been tough on every single one of us. I’m sure you could write a long blog about your dealings with it as well, but all I really know is me. And I’m beat down.

I have noticed that I’ve pulled away from so much. I barely like to leave the house. Some of it is I’m trying to do what I can for the safety of others, but some of it is because my motivation is shot. I’ve also discovered how introverted I really am, but some of this is way beyond that.

I have social anxiety, amongst other flavors of anxiety and obviously I deal with major depression. I have been scheduling and rescheduling general doctor appointments. My hair is probably longer than it needs to be, I don’t want to go see these people and have to do the small talk thing. I’ve gained a bunch of weight as anywhere will deliver you chicken wings and pizza. There is not enough salads coming to my door. I feel like I’m eating as bad as I can on purpose.

I have no idea if my therapist is back. I was supposed to be notified when he was back, but it’s been a couple months now. I haven’t called. I need to. The therapy sessions really help, but I don’t want to go or even call. My motivation is shot.

I have fallen back into a funk. A big funk. It is different than what it was when I hit rock bottom last July, but I know this isn’t normal or good. My thoughts about myself suck. I try not to think like that, but I don’t always have control over my mind. I want to just “knock it off” but it isn’t that easy.

Besides all of the inconsistencies I have been dealing with, as I crave consistent freaking mental health care, we are also deep deep into this pandemic thing. I also live in Central Illinois so there is this winter thing going on as well. There is so much coming at me. I am struggling to keep up. I’m not going to lie…I’ve wanted to give up. Just live out my life as best I can, basically going nowhere, and just accepting this is how it is going to be. This is me.

But I’m still here (enter rah-rah time). I am. As much as I want to give up I can’t. There is a reason I am still here. There is a reason I write all of these blogs. There is a reason for me. There is a reason why, deep down inside, I know I will not give up. I will get through these unprecedented times. God, I hope so.

I hate the fact that I’ve been chosen, and also that you have been chosen, to battle this insane ordeal. Battling mental illness alone without a pandemic is hard enough. Add in this pandemic crap and it is suffocating. But we are still here!

We are in the late rounds of this huge fight. My left eye is swollen shut and I’m breathing heavy. I am more slouched over than I was at the beginning of the fight. I’m tired. But damn it, I’m still here. This fight is not over. I will continue punching. It’s getting harder and harder the more worn down I get, but I didn’t go through all of this training to give up. I want to give up, but I know I can’t. Do. Not. Give. In. To. The. Enemy! Keep getting back up and keep fighting! By this time, your opponent is bewildered. What is this guy all about? I’ll tell you. Come and get some! Come on, buddy, I’m still standing!

I can do this! You can do this! We can do this! Let’s keep waking this journey together!

Now, lets go watch some Rocky movies😁

Have a great day,

Jason

Feel free to jump over to Facebook and join the group I’ve started:

Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

www.facebook.com/groups/rockingmentalhealth

This group is meant to focus on an “everybody in” type of focus. I share my music and also this blog there amongst other things. The music I share is instrumental (I am not a singer). I try and attach a positive message to each tune. I also encourage others to share their hobbies or anything that they like to do that makes them happy. Or share anything that is working for them. A place where we can get away from things for a while. A group approach to improving each others mental health!

I’ve also started a podcast in hopes that my desire to spread mental health awareness can reach more people.

Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

https://rockingmentalhealth.buzzsprout.com/

Also on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, Amazon Music, and Pandora

Please check it out and feel free to share it as well.

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Letting Go

I know I can’t be alone in this. I have a basement full of stuff. Some of this stuff we do still use. It is down there because we don’t need to use it everyday. We have a set of shelves that house some overflow kitchen stuff. Oversized stock pot, a waffle maker, a griddle, and items like that. We also have a lot of stuff in the basement we don’t use. We hold onto it for some reason, but we don’t use it. A few years ago we cleaned some of it out. My philosophy was “if it hadn’t been used in 2-3 years, we don’t need it anymore”. It was good to declutter some. We didn’t do the job fully. It’s hard to go through your belongings and decide what to keep and what to throw out. Of course, since that time, we have accumulated more stuff…junk. I’ve tried to be more mindful of some of the things down there and bring things up from time to time to get rid of. We are far from hoarders, but I would venture a guess we are not alone in this dilemma. Our houses are only so big and can only hold so many things. Occasionally, we need to get rid of stuff that no longer serves a purpose in our lives.

Our minds are very similar to my basement. We hold onto what we need to and want to. Thinking back on memories and experiences from the past is a lot of fun. We need to go down memory lane from time to time. We also have stuff stored in our minds we need to get rid of. Stop holding onto it. We need to let go of it. We need to clear out the un-needed things in our minds from time to time. Sometimes we need to clear some of this out, as some of these held- onto-thoughts or behaviors or whatever it may be, no longer serve a purpose in our lives. Some of these things are holding us back. Some of these things are preventing us from packing in new and better thoughts, memories, and experiences.

I really struggled with getting rid of some of my old thoughts, behaviors, and experiences, and beyond. I still struggle with this today. It is all part of change being a difficult thing to swallow. It’s hard to let go of our old selves. It’s hard to let go of our old selves in order to usher in a new era. A new self.

I really struggled with this change early on. I came out of the hospital on fire, but in the back of my mind I still wondered if this is really what I wanted to do. I knew my old self really well. I was used to all the old me stuff I had stored in my basement for years.

I knew it wasn’t healthy to be the old me. I knew it then, at least after I allowed myself to recognize it, but it didn’t change the fact it could be a lot easier to just go back to the me I knew. Keep holding onto all of the old junk. Chances are I would end up piling on more junk, as my view wouldn’t have changed. I wouldn’t be making the best choices on what to hold onto and what to bring in additionally, but it would feel like the easy way out. Passive. Seems like the easy way out, but is it really? Old me wasn’t getting it done before.

Part of the reason I like to go through our stuff every now and again and get rid of things versus just holding onto everything, is peace of mind. Peace of mind versus continuing to bring in more stuff on top of the old stuff. In my mind holding onto everything and continuing to bring in more and more on top of it creates a ton of chaos. Crap everywhere. The easy lazy road is to do nothing, but then the doing nothing part starts to eat at you. All the stuff you have you do nothing about, begins to eat at you.

It can be a lot of work to go through your things and actually decide what to keep and what to get rid of. In the same breath, it can be a lot of work to go through our minds and clear out what no longer serves us and no longer serves our vision of ourselves. Our changing vision of ourselves. It is not a passive activity. It is very active. It can get tiring as it does require a bunch of work. Thankfully, it’s work you don’t have to do all by yourself. There are folks who will help us with the heavy lifting.

In the end it is worth it. In the end, when you can make sense of everything, you feel good. It’s awesome going into the basement, after getting rid of some of the junk, and actually knowing where your things are.

I could have held onto all of my old stuff. The old ways of thinking and doing things. I could have held onto it. It was tempted to hold onto it. I knew this old stuff, this old way of living. There was chaos though. To much bad was held onto and needed to be gone through. I needed to purge the negative thoughts and actions I was using in my life. Sure I could have held onto the old me. I could have not gone through what I knew I needed to go through, but what saved me from going down this path is the fact I recognized how bad I was. I recognized how off the rails I was. I recognized the current path I was on was a destructive one.

So I decided to go the active change route. I decided to go through me, my inner basement of stuff, and get rid of what I didn’t need anymore. Sure, I kept some things. You always do. You keep the good, the things you know you will use again. And yes, you hold onto some bad as well. There is always that one thing you convince yourself you may still need even though, deep down inside, you know you don’t. It’s OK though.

I had gone through my old stuff, my old life stuff and got rid of as much of the chaos as I could. I decided to let go of the old me. I am still myself, I wondered if I would be and it scared me to be honest with you, but overall I am still me. I still have my interests. I still like my old hobbies. I still like to be with my family and friends. I still like to laugh. I kept some really awesome stuff.

I no longer drink. I no longer try and do everything myself. I no longer bottle everything up until it explodes. I try and have a more positive outlook versus thinking about only the negative. I’m trying to have a better self image. I have been able to get rid of a lot of the things that hindered me in the past. Thoughts and actions that have kept me down for too long.

Of course I’ve held onto some old-me-stuff that I probably should have gotten rid of. I’m a stubborn mule after all! These are the areas I continue to work on. When it comes to the mind, some of the things you have tried to get rid of do try and creep back in. Our mind is not full of material things that once you get rid of the material things, they are gone forever. This is not how our minds work. The idea of getting rid of the old-me-stuff, is what do we do to change how you do the new-me-stuff.

I for one am glad I decided to purge the basement of my mind. I had a lot of things that needed to be gone through. I still have things I need to go through as letting go isn’t an immediate occurrence. It happens over time. It happens as we recognize new areas where we need to grow, or new areas we need to let go of. It is a process. It is an active process. It is an active process that is worthwhile putting the work into. It is us after all. We owe it to ourselves to do the work. We owe it to ourselves to get rid of the old and usher in the new and improved. Why?

Because you are worth it! Because we are worth it!

We really are worth it. There is so much good waiting for us after we decide to let go of the things that have held us back. The things that were destroying who we are…who we were.

I am still figuring it all out myself. I find myself in the basement of my mind still throwing some old stuff out. Organizing what is left. I now have a place for the new and better things I want to bring in. They now have a place. The chaos is calming. I have a long way to go, as this journey really never ends, but I am actively on this journey.

I am not where I was before. Thankfully, I recognized I needed to do something about myself and my life before the old ways of doing things consumed me forever. I am glad I decided to let go of what was holding me back from truly experiencing and truly enjoying my life!

It is OK to let go. It is not an easy thing to do. It is easy to hold onto the old us as we know how to be that person. Is it really easy though? Allow yourself to step back and truly look at yourself and where you are. Are there some aspects of our life we need to let go of? Personally, I know I am way better off for having let go and throwing some stuff out. You can be too!

You got this! We got this! Let’s keep walking this journey together!

Have a great day!

Jason

Feel free to jump over to Facebook and join the group I’ve started:

Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

www.facebook.com/groups/rockingmentalhealth

This group is meant to focus on an “everybody in” type of focus. I share my music and also this blog there amongst other things. The music I share is instrumental (I am not a singer). I try and attach a positive message to each tune. I also encourage others to share their hobbies or anything that they like to do that makes them happy. Or share anything that is working for them. A place where we can get away from things for a while. A group approach to improving each others mental health!

I’ve also started a podcast in hopes that my desire to spread mental health awareness can reach more people.

Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

https://rockingmentalhealth.buzzsprout.com/

Also on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, Amazon Music, and Pandora

Please check it out and feel free to share it as well.

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Mental Health Therapy, With A Therapist, Is Therapeutic- And It Works

When you are sick or injured, you go see a doctor. At least, I hope you do! These folks are highly trained and studied in their field. We may not have a personal relationship with them, but we trust they will do the right thing and get us better. We trust the MD or DO behind their name means they are now able to put all of the years of school they spent, learning their craft, can now be put into action. Make us feel better. We don’t always know them, especially if what is going on has caused you to go to the ER, but we trust they will make good decisions and get us on our way to healing and feeling better.

In the mental health world, we have Psychiatrists. Do not confuse them with a Psychologist or a Therapist, the two professions Psychiatry and Psychology, practice what they have learned in a totally different way from the other. A Psychiatrist is a doctor of the mind. These folks are most similar to your General Doctor. They are the ones who will examine you and form a diagnosis based on your mental health symptoms. After forming a diagnosis, they will then prescribe the appropriate treatment you need, including starting you on medication if your situation calls for it. They may, also, implement other means of treatment as well.

They may recommend you to go see one of the biggest players in getting you and your mind back on track. The ones who will encourage you to make necessary changes in your life and help you figure out how you can go about implementing such changes. Help you see your strengths. These wonderful folks are Clinical Psychologists and Therapists. There is a difference between the two and how they go about studying to earn their degrees, but these are the people that really bridge the gap in the mental health game. I feel their overall goal is really the same. They want to help you get better and help you develop the tools you need to succeed in strengthening your mental health.

I mean no offense to anyone as I combine the two and go with the term therapist for my description throughout what I write. I have the upmost respect for what you do and how you got there!

While I was in the hospital, I was encouraged to seek out a therapist when I was discharged. They even helped me make the initial appointment, while I was still an inpatient. Seeing a therapist was a brand new concept to me. A concept I really had never thought about. I knew these people existed, but I never saw myself as someone who needed to utilize their services.

Of course this was the old me. The stubborn me. The old me who tried to do everything himself. Well, if you have been following along with my previous blogs, you know this old me method didn’t work out so well. Hence, why I was in the hospital and why they encouraged me and helped me to get set up with a therapist for me to start seeing upon discharge.

This was a major change for me. While in the hospital, I learned methods of reaching out to others and how to utilize others to get me back to a healthier and stronger mental health status. We talked about a lot, but it doesn’t mean the change in front of me was going to be any easier.

I have to admit, I was worried what people would think of me when they found out I was seeing a therapist. Enter the stigma we are trying to tear down here. I was worried about how I would look if I went down this path. I wasn’t one to hide anything from anyone, but it still gave me pause. I was insecure about seeing someone. I was insecure about what people would think of me when they find out what I was doing.

I knew I needed to do it. My brain at least was functioning more logically than it had been before my hospitalization, but I was still nervous about this change and I was nervous about my image to others.

I was nervous the first day I walked into the office to see this person who I had never met before. I’m not going to lie, it was nerve racking going in and seeing someone whose name I basically pulled out of a hat. Will we gel? Will I be able to open up? Will I like this person? Will I feel like I was truly being listened to? These were some of the questions going through my head as I walked into the office. Especially since this was a whole new world to me.

So, now I’m waiting to be called in. I had checked in at the front desk and was waiting for my turn. My turn came up. I got up and walked into her office with her. I sat down in one of the chairs. I was nervous. This was about to happen. She shut the door. Probably a good thing. The shutting of the door, solidified in my mind, I couldn’t run out and escape from this new situation.

We began to talk. The first visit was more of a “get to know you” kind of visit. I described a bit of my childhood in the sense it was a normal childhood. No abuse or anything out of the ordinary. I talked about what I did for a living. I talked about my wife and our relationship a little bit. Just “getting to know you” kind of stuff like that.

She described herself and what she did and told me a little bit about her profession. It was a two way street kind of conversation. Nothing too crazy was discussed. I did get a little bit into my story, but that wasn’t the point of this visit.

I feel, as I look back on it now, the point of the visit was, yes, get to know each other a little bit, but also to break the ice. Not rush into everything too fast. The point was to make me feel comfortable. I did feel comfortable. I was surprised how quickly the nervousness left me. This was going to be no big deal, as compared to the apprehensions I formed in my mind. I knew I could do this.

I kept going back. We dove into my story. We dove into some of my past. We talked a lot about how I feel now. As important as it was for me to talk about my past, it was important for me to talk about how I felt now. The topics of the past are important. It helped to give her a sense of what I needed to develop to aid the present me. It is an interesting process to be a part of.

She didn’t so much as tell me I had to do “this, this and this”, but she helped me form a plan on how to accomplish the “this, this and this”. It was never like I had to do this or I had to do that. Everything was very much a collaborative effort. She helped to guide me down certain roads, but I was always in control of what I needed to do to build myself back up.

I was being an active participant in my treatment. What good would it really do if you go into one of these sessions and just listen to your therapist talk to you the whole time? I know I would probably zone out. I would answer when I needed to, but I know I would zone out. Become passive in my treatment. Passive doesn’t work. Being passive, honestly, doesn’t work in any of the mental health game. We have to be active in helping ourselves!

These amazing people will not cure you. Curing really isn’t the goal and is an unrealistic expectation to put on anyone, especially your therapist. We are never cured from mental illness. We do what needs to be done to strengthen our resolve. Strengthen our mind. My therapist and I formed ways to strengthen my mind and develop the tools I need to ward off the bad times. The bad times come back, we don’t get rid of them, or “cure” ourselves from these thoughts.

What we do is form ways to battle these thoughts when they arise. Knock them back down before they can get out of control again. My therapist was and is pivotal in helping me develop the processes I have now, and what I will need down the road, for battling these demons that can and will try to rise back up.

I no longer see my original therapist as she moved away and had a new opportunity elsewhere. I respect that. I now see a new therapist, whom she recommended, and I have grown to like him as well. I liked her chill manner she used to go about things and he has a very similar chill manner as well. The chill manner works for me. It may not work for you.

Thankfully, there are all types of therapists out there, as far as finding someone that fits your style or fits what you need. You can find some are laid back and some are more in your face and everything in between. We all need a different style as long as it works for us. For some it does take a while to find the right fit. Please be patient with that part of the process and please continue seeking the right fit for you. I have been lucky in that I’ve had two people, the only two I’ve seen, that I like. It, unfortunately, doesn’t always work out this way. Be patient.

Seeing a therapist has been one of the best changes I have made in my life. Change is hard, but change can work. This is one of those changes I have made that has really worked.

Yes, I have days where I am not in the mood to go in and see my therapist. I sometimes have to force myself to go. I don’t go skipping in there every single time saying, “Let’s go!” I can tell you I’ve never left the office thinking it was a mistake to go or I should have listened to my brain and stayed home. No matter how I feel before I go, I leave the visit knowing it was the right thing to do.

It’s not like we have a super major breakthrough each visit. The good feeling comes from just talking to someone. Talking to someone different than who you talk to normally in your life. Keep talking to your core people. They are important, but I feel good after just talking to my therapist. Changing it up.

There is an added bonus with a therapist. They listen to you. They listen well. They also have studied a number of years to then be able to offer advice and steer you down the right path. This is what they do. This is the career, the living they have chosen.

I chose to be a nurse, because I care about people and I want to help them. You cannot fake it. It is not a profession you can “ho-hum” your way through. These people, these therapists of ours, the Clinical Psychologist or Therapist, have made the same decision. My guess it is nearly impossible to “ho-hum” your way through this chosen career path. What I am trying to say is these awesome people truly care about what you are saying. Truly want to hear about what you have to say and they truly want to help you get better.

Let’s also remember they are human like the rest of us. They have good days and they have bad days just like the rest of us. They hear a lot of stuff and they still have to make everything work in their regular being- human- life. They have to balance a lot. It is a big sacrifice to give so much energy to someone. The only way I can relate or try to relate to this is from my dealings being a nurse. It is taxing. But they do it. They do the job. They love what they do. They want to help you. I believe this. They want to help you.

So I encourage you. If you are on the fence about this, give it a shot. You don’t have to go back if you don’t want to. No one can make you do it. Just give it a shot. We need the different avenues they help us to navigate. We need the different points of view we don’t come up with ourselves or by talking to our loved ones.

I, for one, am glad I started to go. Seeing my therapist has been a game changer for me. Seeing them further drives home the fact I can’t do this alone. You have to go in and be honest with them. Be honest with yourself. They can’t help you fully, if you can’t be honest about what is going on in your life. You have to be active in your treatment and with the recommendations. I believe you will not regret going once you make the decision to go!

Therapy is wonderful. These therapists are wonderful. The power of mental healing you can achieve by working in tandem with these folks is wonderful. Remember, it is not a cure you are seeking. It won’t happen, but the abilities to further strengthen your mind is what you are seeking. The abilities, by being active, to ward off any attack that comes our way from our minds. The attacks will keep coming, but we don’t have to let them spin out of control anymore. We can change, and this particular change, has been a game changer for me and how I continue to fight. How I continue to get stronger. How I achieve better mental health.

You can do this! We can do this! It’s OK to not be OK! Let’s keep walking this path, this journey together.

Have a great day!

Jason

Feel free to jump over to Facebook and join the group I’ve started:

Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

www.facebook.com/groups/rockingmentalhealth

This group is meant to focus on an “everybody in” type of focus. I share my music and also this blog there amongst other things. The music I share is instrumental (I am not a singer). I try and attach a positive message to each tune. I also encourage others to share their hobbies or anything that they like to do that makes them happy. Or share anything that is working for them. A place where we can get away from things for a while. A group approach to improving each others mental health!

I’ve also started a podcast in hopes that my desire to spread mental health awareness can reach more people.

Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

https://rockingmentalhealth.buzzsprout.com/

Also on Apple Podcasts and Spotify

Please check it out!

Featured

It’s OK To Not Be OK…But Don’t Set Up Shop There

I was fortunate enough to have grown up in a small town. In my neighborhood there were a lot of kids around my age. I didn’t have any brothers. I have two younger sisters. Nothing wrong with it as my sisters are the best. There comes a time when a guy wants a brother though. Enter the neighborhood kids. I had brothers galore growing up thanks to all of the friends I made throughout my neighborhood. We played together all of the time. One of our favorite games to play and this involved the whole neighborhood and I’m not talking about all the neighborhood kids, but literally the game was played all over our neighborhood. In peoples back yards. Under their decks. Hopping fences if need be. The game we played was called Ditch’em. It’s basically a huge game of tag involving two teams. The ones who hide and the ones who find. We hid all over the neighborhood. Oh yeah, we played this game at night! Some hid and some liked to roam. Of course the idea was not to get caught. It basically was a huge game of tag the neighbors didn’t mind us playing throughout their yards and around their stuff. It was an awesome game!

Now, with the game of tag. You have someone or a group of someones who are “it”. They are supposed to go after the ones who are either hiding, the way we played it at least, or try to catch the ones running around. There also was a base. Base was safe and you couldn’t be tagged “it”. Now you could stay on base the whole time, if you wanted, always being out of harms way, or you could take your chances and run around always risking being caught. Some like to play it safe and it is OK to play the game this way, but how much fun do you really have playing the game by watching everyone else. Running away from base, putting yourself at greater risk or being caught, always had more appeal as you are really involved in the game. Therefore, with the greater involvement you can have a greater enjoyment of the game.

Enter the idea of “It’s OK to not be OK”. I talk and write about this a lot. I do it because it is true. It has to be true. This idea is a key foundation for mental health awareness and also for mental health growth. I will continue to repeat it for as long as I try and spread the mental health awareness message to as many people as I can. It is OK to not be OK. It really is, but we can’t just go there and set up shop and call it a day.

“It’s OK to not be OK” is basically base in the life game of tag. You can go there whenever you need to. If it is not OK to not be OK, then we have lost sight of the game. We have to be able to admit to ourselves and to others that we are not always at 100% or anywhere close to it. If we never admit it then we keep everything we are dealing with bottled up. It never gets out. Well, it will eventually get out, but it usually is an explosion and comes out not in the way it could have come out.

Bottling it up can lead to what we need to get out not coming out as smooth as it should or could come out. I know for me, when I bottle everything up and keep it all to myself, it usually comes out when I am angry or frustrated. The message gets lost in my blow up. What is meant to be a cry for help can get lost in the tone of the explosion. The cry is there, but the message is delivered and received differently than it was intended and isn’t effective in getting the message across.

But why do we bottle it up to the point of a possible explosion? I believe it is the stigma associated with mental health and talking about it. The stigma has been a part of our society for a long long time. It is felt society will look down on us if we admit to needing help. It is believed we are weak for seeking help and not just sucking it up and figuring it out ourselves. Just deal with it. Stop talking about your feelings. Don’t be in touch with your emotions. These beliefs are a load of crap!

I don’t believe society, as a whole, wants people to feel bad, but these beliefs have been allowed to build up through time. Walls built up through times long gone, but the beliefs remain present none the less. They are walls built up to prevent us from really getting to where we need to go. They are walls that need to be torn down! It is OK to WANT to tear down those walls. It is OK to TEAR down the walls. Leave these old beliefs in a pile of rubble. The walls are just a reminder of the past. A past that we can move on from. It is OK to not be OK…period.

Back to the game of tag and how this all fits in to what I have written above. It’s OK to not be OK. This idea is base. It is a safe place for us to go. It is an idea where we can actually admit to ourselves we need something and, it is OK to need something. I also believe it is a signal, once we believe the idea ourselves, to reach out to others and not go at the healing process alone. We just can’t set up shop on base.

We don’t have to be on our game all of the time. We can admit it when we are not. We can’t just sit on base though. We can sit on base the whole time, as no one can tell you or make you do different if you don’t want to, but how much fun is life if we just sit on base all of the time?

Go to base when you need to. Catch your breath. Stay as long as you want, but to really enjoy the game, we have to venture back off of base from time to time. You don’t have to take off sprinting the second you decide to leave base either. It is OK to take a few steps off at a time. Get comfortable. If you get uncomfortable, base is still right there and you can go back to it. Eventually, we can venture farther and farther off of base.

Now as we venture farther and farther off of base, we do risk being tagged it by life. Life is coming for you whether you want it to or not, but we still have to get out there and play. It’s OK to be tagged “it”. Maybe you won’t be. You will have more fun playing the game regardless of the different outcomes. Sometimes we win. Sometimes we lose, but we play the game no matter what. By playing the game, we become better at playing the game. We figure out how to avoid being tagged “it” the more and more we play the game and figure it out.

Base is always there. You can always go back to it. Catch your breath. You could stay on base if you want too. It can be fun watching the game being played, by the others, as you watch the game unfold from safety. Wouldn’t it be more fun to get out there and play the game as it’s meant to be played?

I really do love the phrase “It’s OK to not be OK”. It will continue to be a theme of mine as I continue to advocate for mental health awareness. It is OK to not be OK, but the concept isn’t meant to be a stopping point. It is not the finish line. It is only a rest stop. Somewhere we can go to. Spend time. Get our minds right. It is base. It is safe. We have to venture off the safety of base and grow from there after we catch our breath. Play the entire game. Admitting we are not OK is the first step to growth and to stronger mental health. Each time we catch our breath and then venture back out there, we learn, and by learning we can play the game better and better each time we venture off of base.

You got this! We got this! It’s OK to not be OK. Let’s continue to walk this journey together.

Have a great day!

Jason

Feel free to jump over to Facebook and join the group I’ve started:

Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

www.facebook.com/groups/rockingmentalhealth

This group is meant to focus on an “everybody in” type of focus. I share my music and also this blog there amongst other things. The music I share is instrumental (I am not a singer). I try and attach a positive message to each tune. I also encourage others to share their hobbies or anything that they like to do that makes them happy. Or share anything that is working for them. A place where we can get away from things for a while. A group approach to improving each others mental health!

I’ve also started a podcast in hopes that my desire to spread mental health awareness can reach more people.

Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

https://rockingmentalhealth.buzzsprout.com/

Also on Apple Podcasts and Spotify

Please check it out!

Featured

Take Time To Recognize The Change

One of the hardest things in life to do is change. We, as people, seemed to be wired to resist change. There are some who can go with the flow, but a lot of us have a hard time. Why is that? My guess is change means you are going from something you know to something you don’t yet know or understand. Maybe a fear of the unknown? A loss of control you once had in the old way of doing things? Both of these questions ring true. At least it does for me. I have, in a lot of areas in my life, accepted that change is inevitable. It doesn’t mean I embrace it all of the time. It is just a fact of life. Change will occur. Change has to occur. We need to take time to recognize these changes from time to time. Realize what we have changed has turned into a good thing.

Change is how we continue moving on down the road. Without change, there can be no discovery. Without change, we remain on the same path we have always been on. Some of these paths we are on need to be changed. They are destructive paths. Without change, these destructive paths will catch up with us.

The hardest part of my mental health journey was accepting the idea that I needed to change the way I was living my life. The way I was living was taking me down a destructive path. At times I was able to recognize this destructive path I was on, but I chose to ignore it. I chose to continue going about life the same way I always had. Unfortunately, the same way was bringing me down. By down, I mean way way down. Down to the point I began to think about not being here anymore. My old way of going about life was destructive to the point I felt I couldn’t handle it anymore and needed to get out.

I used the word “unfortunately” above, when referring to doing things the same way and how those same ways were bringing me down. I am not so sure it is the right word. Maybe “fortunately” is a better word. What in the heck do I mean? You can’t possibly think having been drug so low to the point you thought about ending your life is a fortunate thing.

In the moment, I mean the moment back in July 2019. Nothing about anything going on felt fortunate. Honestly, everything felt like nothing really. Besides the mental and emotional pain I was feeling, I was pretty numb to life.

The whole idea of the title of this blog is to be able to look back on where you were and be able to recognize the changes you have made. Recognize where you are now.

I had gotten to a point in my life where I could no longer do things the way I was doing them. I had to change. No question about it. Don’t think for a second it made it an easy decision. Even then, while at my rock bottom, I was afraid of the change I knew I had to make. I am so glad, and I thank God, that I decided to make a change. A huge change.

I decided to stop doing things on my own. Seek help. The toughest decision was the initial decision about change…allowing myself to be admitted to a mental health floor. The thought scared me, but I knew the other option was going home and falling back into my old ways. I decided to go in as I couldn’t convince myself I could continue surviving by going about my life in the same old way.

This initial decision to accept change led to an avalanche of change for me. I began talking more about what was going on instead of bottling everything up. I started seeing a therapist. I started seeing a psychiatrist. I decided to quit drinking. I began exercising again. I was journaling at least everyday. I was channeling my time and energy into work and also hobbies I enjoyed doing. Now I’m far from perfect and some of these have slipped up from time to time, but the point is I decided to do things different from what I knew and start attempting new ways to go about my life. I decided to change.

I am very hard on myself. I don’t always take the time to reflect on my change and realize how far I have come. Some days I just don’t feel awesome. Those days I feel like nothing is working and why am I doing all of these things. Why did I change all of these things about me when I still feel crappy. What is the point of expending all of this time and energy for something that isn’t working?

I’ll tell you what the point is. Regardless of how hard you are on yourself, the change has taken root. You are not the same person you were before you decided to accept the change. You have come a long way. You have to recognize the efforts you have put into changing and bettering yourself.

Really allow yourself to look at who you have become. What are you doing today? Would you have been doing these things, the things to better yourself, 2-3 to even 10 years ago if you had not decided to accept change? I think about this from time to time and where I was even 2 years ago and I am night and day different. Yes, I still have plenty of my down moments, but I am a different person. I like the person I am becoming or at least the person I forgot about for some time. I really don’t miss the old me, maybe some aspects as all of this is still relatively new to me, but I am happy being this me. The me of the present. I am not the me of the past. Change has been a life changer for me and I have to recognize that.

Change can be a life changer for you as well. Some have already accepted change a long time ago and have been on the path for a while now. Some, like myself, are still just starting and getting used to it. Some may need to still accept change is needed in their life.

Change can be very scary. We don’t know what is on the other side always. Change can be great. By changing, I was able to take an “unfortunate” situation and now reflect on it as a “fortunate” occurrence. Without those moments in my life, I may not have recognized the need to change and continued down the same destructive path I was on.

You can change. It is OK to change. Change is needed for growth. We have to accept the change needed in our lives at times. We also need to take time and reflect back on those moments of change. We have to be able to pat ourselves on the back, from time to time, for the incredible change we implemented into our lives. I’m glad I decided to change and walk down a different path than I was on. I hope you can be happy too with the changes you have made in your life.

You got this! We got this! Let’s continue walking through this journey together. And remember, it is always OK to not be OK.

Have a great day!

Jason

Feel free to jump over to Facebook and join the group I’ve started:

Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

www.facebook.com/groups/rockingmentalhealth

This group is meant to focus on an “everybody in” type of focus. I share my music and also this blog there amongst other things. The music I share is instrumental (I am not a singer). I try and attach a positive message to each tune. I also encourage others to share their hobbies or anything that they like to do that makes them happy. Or share anything that is working for them. A place where we can get away from things for a while. A group approach to improving each others mental health!

I’ve also started a podcast in hopes that my desire to spread mental health awareness can reach more people.

Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

https://rockingmentalhealth.buzzsprout.com/

Please check it out!

Featured

A Desire To Escape

I used to have this reoccurring dream. It wouldn’t be the exact same every time, but it would follow the same theme. I haven’t had this dream in a long time. The dream always involves an old house. Not a run down house, but an old house. One with all the fancy wood work on the walls and up the stairs. Typically, the house would be a Victorian style house as I’ve always admired that type of home. Within this house, things would look normal to most. There would be people over. The house had a secret. Within this house that nobody could see, there were secret passages. These secret passages would lead to other parts of the house only I knew about. I could just go through a hidden door and be in this secret part of the house. I could escape for a while. I could get away from everyone for a while if I wanted. They never seemed to notice I was gone, but I was. I was away from an uncomfortable situation. My desire to escape was successful.

I have a strong desire to escape sometimes. It comes from a variety of reasons. I used to find escape in alcohol until it no longer became an escape, but became fuel for the fire. I no longer have this form of escape. I am faced with finding other ways to get away from it all, but I find it to be tough. At least with alcohol, I could stop thinking about what was bothering me at that time. It allowed an escape for a while. I mean it wasn’t a real form of escape as it provided it’s own problems, but it sure seemed like the right idea at the time.

I no longer have alcohol as my escape. Good. I don’t need it. It wasn’t working for me. It began to take on too much of a negative spin. What do I do now?

While dealing with my depression and anxiety, I spend a lot of time in my head. I think about what I need to do to better my situation. I try to read helpful things to aid my healing. I run through ways that help to alleviate a bad moment or thought. I constantly think about what is going on.

Some of this constant thinking is good. It helps to keep me on my toes. Sometimes the constant thinking is not so good.

I spend almost every waking moment thinking about my situation. Is it the worse situation? No, others out there have it worse than me, but this is my situation. The situation that I am faced with and have to deal with. Some moments, as I face all of this, are good. Some are not. I also have the gift of dwelling on things too much. I think and I think and I think. Why do I have to deal with this? What did I do wrong? Haven’t I dealt with enough already? What can I do to better my current way of feeling? And so on and so forth.

It gets old sometimes. I don’t like to constantly think about myself. It bothers me. I talk about me and I think about me…constantly, or so it seems. Sometimes it feels like it’s all of the time. I do not like feeling like I am being selfish. Always focusing on me. Again, it gets old. That is when my desire to escape begins to grow.

Is it a physical escape? Like jumping in my car and heading south just to see the ocean for a moment? It has certainly crossed my mind. Is it a feeling I need to keep myself busy by doing something I enjoy? It does work a lot of the time…at least temporarily. Is it just being alone to the point where I can’t bother anybody else with my problems? You bet, but I also know too much alone time isn’t always fruitful.

I don’t always feel like escaping. Some days are really good, but when that feeling comes about it is suffocating.

Back to the question of “what do I do now?”. I have to continue to find ways to escape. Healthy ways to escape. I really enjoy music. I like to create music. I enjoy art. I’ve enjoyed writing this blog. I’m in the process of remodeling my office. I feel these are all good things along with other things I like to do. I have to admit, sometimes it all feels like fillers. Not as much of an escape, but a temporary distraction. I am working on allowing it to be an escape. An enjoyable escape.

This is why I continue to work on my depression and anxiety. I’ve needed to work on it a lot lately. Whether it is seeing my psychiatrist and/or therapist, or continuing to do what I can do on my own. I’m working on truly enjoying things again. The day will come where some of these things are less of a temporary distraction and more of an enjoyable healthy escape. I believe this to be true.

I really enjoyed those dreams that I had about the house. It was cool exploring the secret areas and discovering more and more. I liked the feeling of being able to escape when I wanted to. The desire to escape is OK. We all do it. We all need it. The plan needs to be about implementing healthy escape. It’s OK to want to get away from it all for a while. Especially getting away from our thoughts. We just need to keep working on the positive forms of escape and less on the negative forms of escape.

We got this! It is OK to not be OK, but know you are not alone. Let’s keep walking this journey together.

Have a great day!

Jason

Feel free to jump over to Facebook and join the group I’ve started:

Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

www.facebook.com/groups/rockingmentalhealth

This group is meant to focus on an “everybody in” type of focus. I share my music and also this blog there amongst other things. The music I share is instrumental (I am not a singer). I try and attach a positive message to each tune. I also encourage others to share their hobbies or anything that they like to do that makes them happy. Or share anything that is working for them. A place where we can get away from things for a while. A group approach to improving each others mental health!

Featured

A Mask For Any Occasion

Who didn’t, or for that matter doesn’t, like to put on a scary mask and try and scare your siblings or friends around halloween time? Remember those masks? The old ones. I’m talking about the ones that you would put on and, instantly, your skin reacted to the humidity of your breath and the heat started to build. The ones that had little eye slits and a hole in the mouth, about the size of a large straw, making visibility and breathing basically an unattainable task. The ones that your buddy would end up carrying around most the night more than actually wearing it. I’m sure those very ones are still around. I haven’t been in the market for some time now.

This is just one example of the many types of masks out there. They can be a lot of fun. You basically can be someone or something else for a while. Keep people guessing who might be behind the mask.

Even in the superhero world there are masks. Masks to hide their true identity. I have always found it kind of funny at how minimal some of these masks are and people have no idea who they are. That’s just the way it is in those worlds. The idea of the mask is still there though. Keep people guessing and, well, protect the ones that you love. The successful playboy billionaire by day. Crime fighting mask wearing vigilante by night. Bruce Wayne becomes something different, but we know it is still him behind the mask.

In life, we all like to hide behind a mask from time to time. We don’t always want to let our true self be seen or known. It is a natural defense mechanism. It is meant to protect us from harm, maybe embarrassment. Maybe we just aren’t comfortable in our own skin. We all throw on a mask from time to time.

Sometimes our mask wearing gets out of control. That is not meant to be judgmental in any way. It happens. Sometimes we get caught up in protecting ourselves so much that we forget to take our mask off. Or we forget how to take it off.

Do you know how I know it happens? I became really good at wearing my mask. I was, and still am, prone to keeping it on. Prone to keeping it on so long I forget how to remove it. I struggle with this. At one point, I had almost forgotten my true identity. Wearing my mask, or learning how to take it off, has been one of the most difficult aspects of my journey to improved mental health.

When my mask is on, the biggest thing I have noticed now that I have done some reflection, I wear my mask so I don’t let people in to see the real me. I find that I have a hard time having a serious conversation sometimes. Not that I can’t have one, but I choose to not a lot of the time. I tend to try and joke and entertain more than have a meaningful conversation. I would rather do that than talk about life and what it means to me. I don’t know exactly what leads me to be this way, but I’m sure that a major insecurity about myself exists.

I find that it really comes out when hanging out with friends and family. I try to lighten everything up. Almost like it is a mission. Don’t get me wrong, real unmasked me will make an appearance from time too time, but it isn’t often. Or should I say it used to not happen often. I am working on it.

Do you want to have the feeling of being exposed and vulnerable more than you’ve ever felt before in your life? Take away a substance that you used frequently, alcohol for me, and try and figure yourself out. Alcohol was a huge crutch for me. It was my medicine. I took this medicine to “feel better”. It really seemed to work…until it didn’t. It provided the material for my mask. I hid behind my mask of alcohol for many many years. I wore that particular mask so well that I forgot I was even putting it on. It was just there. Always there. It was even there when I wasn’t drinking, creeping into all aspects of my life.

Loud music was always on. Conversation was fun. I was throwing my masked self out there as the real me and trying to be entertaining. I will even venture in as far to say that I was trying to be funny. Get a laugh out of people. Anytime something serious was brought up, I’d basically zone out. Maybe throw a few things out into the conversation, but not really engaged. I was lying in wait to change the subject. I wanted to avoid the serious. I was not comfortable throwing my whole self out to people. My mask was fitting really well.

Why do I struggle at exposing my real self to people? Honestly, as I think back on all the years that I masked up with alcohol, I completely forgot who I was. I didn’t know how to engage with others as my true self because I had forgotten that part of me. Drowned it out. So it became easier to avoid it than face it. Easier to avoid it until you are forced one day to face it.

The alcohol was out of control. I wasn’t even really aware that I now was dealing with severe depression and anxiety. Everything was a blur by this point. I became very aware one particular night when the dark thoughts I had been having for some time came to a breaking point. Either I keep wearing this mask and possibly not be here much longer, or make the leap to take it off and face myself.

Either choice really scared me!

I decided to get help. The help that I was seeking was for the severe depression and anxiety that I was experiencing. I sought help to take away the dark thoughts that I was beginning to have about maybe ending my life if things kept going the way they were. While in the hospital, I decided that I had to quit drinking. I don’t feel the drinking was the cause of my depression, but it stoked the fire to an out of control inferno. I decided to take the mask off and face my true identity. My true self. A self that I had forgotten even existed sometimes.

I am locked in a no holds barred wrestling match with myself on the mask issue. Hiding behind it is so easy, but hiding behind it just doesn’t get it done. I am working on not hiding behind it anymore. Trying to remember how to take it off. I feel completely exposed without my mask. It isn’t comfortable at all, but I have to do it. Removing the mask is part of my growth. Part of my journey. The uncomfortable feeling has begun to lessen some the more I walk.

My mask absolutely finds its way back onto my face. How could it not, I wore that thing for years and years. It was a habit. I’m not going to sit here and say that it doesn’t happen and that all is well because I made this decision. This, as are a lot of other things, is a work in progress, but again I have to do this. I have to be…gulp…patient (refer to previous blog on patience) let the process work. By learning to take my mask off and remembering my true self, I can now grow.

This process will only work if I continue to do things differently than I used to. Talk to people, I mean really talk to people. See my psychiatrist. See my therapist. Be engaged in improving my own mental health. I no longer can sit back and wait for it to go away. Mental illness and mental health doesn’t work that way. You have to be actively engaged.

I do still wear my mask from time to time. Probably more than I would like to sometimes. After all, this is still a very new process for me. I’m changing years and years of wiring and mask wearing. It doesn’t happen overnight. What is cool is the fact that I don’t wear my mask as much. These blogs are one way that I try and take it off for a while. The longer I get used to taking it off, the more likely the habit of wearing it will go away.

So let’s leave the mask wearing to halloween time and to the superheroes that we have grown up with. We will still find ourselves wearing them at times. That is inevitable. We really just need to be more conscious of taking them off more. People do want to see the real us. I have seen it in action as I put this into practice!

Man, it is a long journey. It’s a difficult journey at times, but we can do it. I use the word “I” a lot as I tell the story of me, but the story or the journey that we are on is really about the “we”. You are not alone in this. We can do this. It is OK to not be OK, but we can get back to OK together. We do that by walking together.

Have a great day!

Jason

Feel free to jump over to Facebook and join the group I’ve started:

Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

www.facebook.com/groups/rockingmentalhealth

This group is meant to focus on an “everybody in” type of focus. I share my music and also this blog there. The music I share is instrumental (I am not a singer). I try and attach a positive message to each tune. I also encourage others to share their hobbies or anything that they like to do that makes them happy. Or share anything that is working for them. A place where we can get away from things for a while. A group approach to improving each others mental health!

Featured

My Thanksgiving Reflection

Today is Thanksgiving. In the year 2020, nothing has been normal. Today will be no different. The holidays will be different this year, but the feeling of the holidays doesn’t have to be. There will just be a different spin. Maybe it is a good thing for us to shake things up a bit. Learn to really appreciate how things were and work for making things better for what will come.

This year has been an interesting one. I used to be someone that craved having people around me. My house was always open and friends would stop by. I knew that I could text or call someone and people would show up. We would hang out, have drinks, listen to music and laugh. It was so much fun.

Everything has changed this year. Is it bad? Is it good? It’s all in how you look at it.

We don’t have the house where everyone would stop by anymore. This year has not allowed it to happen like it did. Yes, we still have people come by, but not like we used to. I struggled with that at the beginning. Had to remind myself of the circumstances. It wasn’t that my friends didn’t want to come by, the occurrences of 2020 forced us to do things different.

What have these changes done for me? I have learned to deal with myself. My wife and I have grown closer as we are each others company. I have learned to appreciate the company my wife gives me and have recognized that I took that togetherness for granted sometimes.

Back to what it has done for me. I have had many struggles this year. All personal. Dealing with depression and anxiety during a pandemic has not been a fun endeavor. I could have folded my cards, but instead I’ve chosen to keep on playing.

With the additional alone time, I have been forced to take a closer look at myself. Get to know me again in a way that I haven’t known in a very long time. Some of this self reflection has been very difficult. Who really wants to focus on the bad things or the not desirable aspects of ourselves?

Even though the reflection has been difficult, the reflection has been good. It was needed. Maybe 2020 was needed in some ways (minus all of the loss). It has led me to get to know myself again. My true self. Not the self that hid behind alcohol and denial of my mental issues, but someone who wants to tackle my problems head on.

I have learned that it is OK to be by myself. It is OK to not have a house full of friends all of the time. I have learned to not take my relationship with my wife, in a just us setting, for granted. It is OK to be what I want to become. It is OK to be a work in progress.

I have learned the meaning of quality over quantity. Too much of a good thing allows that good thing to lose its shine. I love my wife. I love my family. I love my friends. I love that we are not always together as much, but the times we do get together are that much better.

I am loving my life again.

So, as much as I am ready for 2020 to exit right out the door. 2020 has been a learning process. A growing process. One that I have to recognize and really tip my hat to (sounds weird I know). Does that mean that I want all this craziness to continue? NO. I am ready for some normalcy to come back into our lives. That does not mean that I don’t respect what has been allowed to happen to me…to us.

This year I am thankful for each and everyone of you. I am thankful for the loving people that surround me. I am thankful for a period of time where I could step back and refocus on my priorities. I am thankful that I did not give up. I am thankful for the fight (what?). I am thankful for new found strength.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! Thank you for checking out my blog. I hope that you can find some of the same things to be thankful for, as I have, during this crazy year that continues around us. Enjoy your day!

Have a great day!

Jason

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Mental Health: Maintenance Required

I once owned a boat. I had this boat for many years. We had a lot of fun on the boat. So many great memories created while being out on the water. I do miss it as I think back on those times. Boats out on the water are awesome. While they are out of the water, well, not as much fun. Nice to look at, but it really just sits there. Sits there and requires a lot of maintenance to keep the fun going. There is an acronym for boat: bail out another thousand. I found this to be extremely accurate. It required constant care. Here in Illinois, the boating season is only a short amount of months. The rest of the time, the boat sits in storage unused. Due to the unuse, things come up that need your attention. If you want enjoy the fun part of the boat, you take care of the never ending stuff that arises. Well, I was very good at maintaining the boat…for a while at least. I did get lazy and neglect some very important steps that need to be taken to keep my boat running. I may have waited to long to winterize it one year…well ended up being the last year. Engines that play in the water do not like water in them they will freeze. The engine will express its displeasure by breaking. And when it breaks, I mean it really breaks. Like it does not run anymore kind of breaks. This was embarrassing to admit. Definitely, not one of my finer moments. The end of an era was here. Now, if I had just done what I knew that I should have done. Perform the proper maintenance, as was needed, I would have been able to enjoy the boat for a long time to come. Due to my lack of maintenance, the boat would not run.

Our minds are very similar to a boat. We need to provide it with constant maintenance or it will break down. This is something that everyone of us needs to do in order to continue functioning as we want to function. This is mental health. We all do something, whether we are consciously aware of it, to keep our minds built up. Every one of us.

Mental health and mental illness walk hand in hand. The idea of mental health does not necessarily mean you are dealing with a mental illness. Some of us have dealt with the nasty blows of mental illness. It happens. It has happened to me. It’s not awesome, but these blows are reversible. Everyone of us does deal with our mental health maintenance. It is a part of life.

You may not realize that you are doing different things to insure strong mental health, but you are doing it. No one is exempt. What is your favorite hobby? Do you like to exercise? Do you try and eat well? Do you enjoy socializing? I enjoy camping! These are just a few examples of things that we do in our every day lives to promote strong mental health. We all are doing something.

Some of the activities promote good physical fitness. Some of our activities promote emotional support. Nothing that we do has to be done under the “strong mental health” mantra, but all of these things support each other. Including mental health.

Whether we know we are performing these tasks for any specific reason or not, as we like to run on autopilot sometimes, we are all doing something. These tasks have to be done to aid in strong mental health. If we do not take care of our mind, it will break down.

I’m not saying that the mind breaking down is going to automatically lead you to a mental health crisis. I’m also not trying to imply that those of us with mental illness are not doing what we can to support our mental health. What I am trying to say is that we need to always practice what we can, what we can control, to promote good mental health. By sitting back on idle, we cannot expect to achieve better mental health. We need to actively do what we can, perform the maintenance, so our break downs are much less.

Those of us that are dealing with some form of mental illness have dealt with some type of breakdown. We may have been doing everything that we could do for ourselves and then…wham!… we find ourselves hitting our rock bottom. There are many aspects of mental illness that we cannot control. Genetics is a huge one for example, but we must do what we can to pull ourselves out of a low and also do what we can to minimize the crashes.

Breakdowns happen. That is the reality of mental health and mental illness. Unfortunately, we cannot avoid these breakdowns. What we can do is practice what we can to minimize the breakdowns. Keep ourselves as strong as we possibly can. The maintenance, is a mandatory requirement for all of us. Every single one of us. Without it, the breakdown, whether it’s big or small, will occur. Not a matter of “if”, but a matter of “when”.

Had I continued to practice proper maintenance on my boat, I probably could have enjoyed many more years on it. My lack of proper maintenance led to the inevitable breakdown. We must continue doing everything that we can to promote strong mental health and prevent, or at least lessen, the breakdowns. So get out there, do what you love to do! It doesn’t matter what it is, but it is essential that you do it. Somedays we don’t feel like it, but we need to push ourselves to prevent the breakdowns. We can do this! You can do this! It is always OK to not be OK…it really is. Bumps in the road happen. It is all part of our journey. Let’s keep walking together!

Have a great day!

Jason

Feel free to visit my music page over on Facebook:

Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

http://www.facebook.com/JasonKehl13

Instrumental music that I add a positive message to aid in promoting mental health awareness

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The Patience Is Not Strong In This One

I must come clean. I, Jason Kehl, am a Star Wars nut. There…I said it. I feel so much better😁. I’ve been a Star Wars fan since I was young. Born in 1976, I was basically born into the franchise. Well…I was 1 when the first movie came out. I used to pride myself in how annoying I could be watching the movies. At one time, I was able to quote pretty much every word in the first three movies. I’m sure it really made people want to watch them with me.

In Return of the Jedi, the Rebel Alliance is on Endor. The mission is to blow up the shield generator that protects the new Death Star. I won’t give up what happens so you can watch for yourself😉. There is a scene that occurs in the Ewok village. The Rebel Alliance has just been accepted as part of the Ewok tribe and a celebration is occurring. While C-3PO was telling a story of one of their many battles, we see Luke Skywalker duck out of the hut they are in. Princess Leia follows him. Outside, she asks Luke what is wrong. Through the exchange, Luke talks about how the force is strong in his family. Luke says, “The force is strong in my family. My father has it. I have it. My sister has it”. Again, you need to watch the movie to see what happens next. I’m not going to spoil it.

How does this all relate to our mental health journey? So, let’s pretend that I walked up as Luke and Leia are talking. I stand back as not to interrupt what looks like a serious conversation between the two of them. We are going to substitute in the word “patience” in the place of “force”. Here goes… Luke says, “Patience is strong in my family. My father has it. I have it. My sister has it”. Now, Luke notices me standing in the background. He looks my way and points and says to Leia, ” The patience is not strong in this one”.

It’s true. I am not the most patient person you could ever meet. I am one that makes a quick decision. More apt to make an impulsive purchase versus thinking about it first. I’m not prone to wanting to let things work out, as they should, over time. I am guilty of wanting immediate gratification. This isn’t true in every aspect of my life, but it is true in a lot of it. Guilty as charged.

How does this tie into our mental health and working on bettering ourselves and our situations. The mental health journey is just that…a journey. To me a journey is something that takes a while to get to where you want to go. You can’t just snap your fingers and, bam, you end up instantly on the other side. The process takes time.

After I got out of the hospital, for my worsening depression and anxiety, I was on fire! I felt like I could take on the world! After being in the hospital, I was ready to use the tools that I learned in the group sessions. I was ready to stop doing things on my own. Start seeing a psychiatrist. Start seeing a therapist. Continue taking my medication. Continue loving myself again.

By no means was I cured. I felt great, but little did I know, I had a long way to go. I now see that time in my life as “the honeymoon period” of dealing with my mental illness. I felt so good, but it didn’t last. I was still having the ups, but the downs began to creep back in.

I was still trying to use the tools that I learned in the hospital. I was meditating on positive thoughts when feeling anxious to help calm myself down. I was journaling regularly. I was reaching out more to friends and family. I was sharing more and more with my wife. I was going to see my psychiatrist. I was seeing my therapist. I was taking my medications as directed. I was learning and putting into action a plan to stop doing everything myself. I was including other practices into my life. It really felt good. I felt like I was progressing well. And then the “honeymoon period” came to an end.

The real world was around me again. The high that I was on was beginning to fade. The depression and anxiety was beginning to torment me again. Well crap! What is this about? I started to get frustrated. Really frustrated. This is all supposed to be over. I’m supposed to be able to walk through life a changed and happy man. I was fixed!

Well, I was wrong. There were so many more aspects that I had to figure out while on my journey. Over the next, at least, six months to a year. I had to make some changes to my plan. The original medication that I started in the hospital was not really working. I didn’t feel great. Honestly, it made me feel tired all the time. That didn’t work for me. I started a new medication. These medications take time to work. Nothing is immediate with them. That is just how it goes.

I had to change therapists as my past therapist moved. I was feeling kind of exposed through that time. Unprotected. Felt like one of my huge safety blankets had been ripped out from underneath me. I liked my therapist. Now I have to enter into the unknown with someone new.

I was having good days and bad days. The bad days began to outnumber the good days. What is going on here? The frustration really began to build. I am sick and tired of all of this!

I must admit something. I wasn’t being the most patient guy through all of this. As a nurse I was used to the medical world, outside of the mental health world, and how things sometimes work there. You get diagnosed with something. You throw a pill at it. The pain goes away. I was approaching my journey with this mindset. I didn’t want to give my treatment time. I wanted it to work right away. I was frustrated. I was angry. I was wrong!

I wanted to feel like I did after I got out of the hospital. I felt so good. That time period, the “honeymoon period”, is more like living in a fairy tale versus living in the real world. That time was great, but it was gone. I now needed to deal with everything in the real world setting. Everything isn’t going to be sunshine and rainbows all of the time.

I have really struggled with this. I am really trying. Patience isn’t my thing, but it has to be my thing. I do not get better without patience. I have to work at it. I have to fight for it. I have to want to get better.

Patience, with mental health, I am finding is the key. I am now on another medicine, as I talked about in my last blog. I am still in the beginning phases of taking it. I have a new therapist. I really like him. What a relief! But I still need to be patient during these new developments. I am trying to learn and practice patience. It is not easy, but I again am trying.

During my successful runs with being patient, I can tell that I have my biggest gains. It is when I let frustration and anger creep in that I notice everything slows to a crawl. Sometimes, I feel like I head backwards. The frustration and anger is going to always happen. It is human nature. We cannot let it win though! We can defeat it! We are never going backwards no matter what it seems like. Each and every step we take, in our journey, is a move forwards. I believe the patience is building inside of me.

I’m sure that a level of impatience will creep back in at times, but I would like to be someone who can learn how to exercise patience, better, in many aspects of my life. The mental health journey is one of those times that I need to exercise patience. I have to. It is the only way that I will be successful. It is the only way that I will move on down the road. We can all beat this! We have to give the journey a chance and be patient!

In the Star Wars world, no one can just work at gaining the force and then all of a sudden have it. In that world, you are either born with it or you are not born with it. Thankfully in our world, patience doesn’t work like the force. We may not be good at it, initially, but we can work at it and our patience will grow stronger. That stronger level of patience will be the force that we need to conquer these struggles in our life. I urge you to keep going! Don’t ever give up! Patience through all of our trials will help us get through the journey!

Have a great day and may the patience be with you!!

Jason

Please check out my music page over on Facebook:

Jason Kehl’s Basement of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

My goal is to create rock style instrumentals that I attach a positive message to.

http://www.facebook.com/JasonKehl13

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The Fog Is Finally Lifting

My job involves a lot of driving. I can put on some serious miles in a day. I have a lot of time to spend by myself. I tend to listen to music or an occasional podcast. I also drive in all types of weather. A good sunny day is uplifting. The rain and snow bring about caution and a heightened sense of awareness. Some mornings are foggy.

These foggy days make me slow down. A heavy fog is tough to see through. It becomes difficult to see what lies ahead. But, I keep going. I have a job to do and I have to get there in order to do it. Of course there is the alternative. I could turn around and head home. I could stop and just wait for the fog lift. Could I do these things? Yes. Would it benefit me? No. People on the other end of my drive are depending on me to get there. Would they be fine without me? In some cases, yes. In some cases, no. I am needed for the support that I lend to help everything go smooth in what they are doing.

Typically, as I drive the fog begins to lift. The sun begins to shine through and it becomes easier to see in front of me. That is a good feeling when driving😊. I become more comfortable driving on. There is no need to turn around and head back to the safety of my home. I continue on. The road becomes clearer. My mood about the drive becomes better. Driving in the sunshine is so much easier!

Recently, I have started a new medication. I did not stop the previous medication, but added on the new one to assist what I was already on. One medication works better on some receptors and the new one hits on others. The goal, that my psychiatrist and I have, is that the rounding out of the two medications will help bring me out of my latest funk that I have been in and lead to long term effectiveness.

Before the change, I was feeling like my mind was in a fog. I was having trouble thinking clearly. I was tired. My eyes felt heavy. My mind just felt like it was operating at half speed. Like trudging through mud. Like driving through fog…

I was finding myself laying in bed more and more. Sleeping multiple hours of the day. I was still able to go do my job, when I needed to, but I wasn’t enjoying it. Wasn’t really feeling anything at all, to be honest. This feeling was creeping into all aspects of my life. I knew I didn’t like it, but I didn’t have the motivation to change it. So I laid in bed. The fog was settling in.

My bed is my safety net, so to speak. It is where I go when I’m not feeling well. It is a place to go where I know no one can get to me. It is my place to escape everything. I would sleep multiple hours of the day. Another form of escape. After a while, a very negative effect of this behavior sets in. One…it becomes habitual. Am I laying here because I’m depressed or am I laying here because it is easy? Two…all the negative and dark thoughts begin to come back. I would literally do nothing but think. The thoughts would not be uplifting. Not even close. So then I would sleep. Sometimes multiple hours a day. It became another escape. Another way of not dealing with what I was feeling. After a while, my dreams would become negative. Always something going on in them that would tear me down. Or, I was always trying to escape something. I could barely see my hand in front of me as the fog was getting thick.

Well, this behavior had been going on for some time. Months, if I had to venture a guess. How many months? I had no idea anymore. Everything was running together. As everything began to run together, I was doing nothing about it besides succumbing to my thoughts. My everyday behaviors began to change. I ate like garbage. I stopped exercising. I gained a bunch of weight. I began to tear myself down. My self-esteem was not high. I didn’t want to leave the house. I had to drag myself out of bed to go to work. When I got to work, I would feel like everybody could see right through me. I tried my best to hide it. I have no idea if my attempts to hide it were working. As far as I was concerned, they weren’t.

I felt thin. Not the body type of thin, but more like the see through transparent type of thin. A shadow of myself. I began to have thoughts of not wanting to be alive anymore. What was the point? I wasn’t enjoying life anymore. If you can’t enjoy life anymore, why do it? I was stuck in this rut. A deep rut. I didn’t like it. My wife didn’t like it. People I would talk to, family and friends, didn’t like it. I was getting too good at ignoring it all, though. It certainly was dark down here. I could turn around and go home or just wait out the fog. All I knew was that continuing on was beginning to sound like a bad idea or just too difficult to deal with.

During this time that I was dealing with all of this, I was in between psychiatrists. My medical insurance changed and I no longer could see my old doctor. I had made an appointment with a new one, she really is a Nurse Practitioner with a degree in psychiatry, but that is too long to type out each time😊. I had to wait a while to get in to see her. This added on a whole new element to what I was feeling. I was seeing my therapist still, but he was out due to a medical procedure. All that together compounded and was really making me feel lonely. I felt as though I had no one to reach out to for help. At least no one to reach out to professionally. I felt stuck. I was on the side of the road waiting for the fog to clear…waiting for something…anything.

Finally, the day arrived for my appointment. I was excited…not really. I was, but I wasn’t. Why change. I was basically done. This is where your support center gets even more important. My wife pushed me. She was very gentle about it, but she pushed me. I wanted to go to the appointment, but I didn’t want to go. I knew I needed to change something, but I just didn’t have the motivation to do it. My wife pushed me. Thank God she did! Keep a trusted core of people around you, as this was definitely a time that I could not do it on my own.

I went into my appointment fully expecting a change. In this culture we live in, I was fully expecting a medication change. My appointment lasted around an hour. She asked me all kinds of questions. Getting to know my situation. Extremely thorough. It got very personal, but it needed to. Impossible to make changes without my psychiatrist knowing the full story.

My wife was instrumental in this appointment. She was present for the first 10 minutes. She really laid it all out there. She laid it out there in a way that I wasn’t or maybe wouldn’t. She laid it out there about as real as it could get. Tears and all. It made me really uncomfortable, but what isn’t uncomfortable about depression. It needed to be done. I love her for what she did and what she continues to do. Where some people run, she gets up and fights!

I was and am really impressed with my new psychiatrist/Nurse Practitioner. She was thorough beyond my imagination. The weird thing was…I didn’t leave there with a new medication. What? This can’t be! We throw a pill at anything and everything in this culture.

What I left with was a plan. A plan that involved a long term goal. Medication changes can be for the long term, but at the time, you are really looking for a short term fix. Get me out of this rut and blow all this fog away…now! I went home. I had to come up with the top three things that I wanted to focus on with my depression. She mailed me some surveys. Everything that is needed to make the right changes and changes to help accomplish the long term goal…feeling better! One thing she recommended was a gene test. It would aid in either future selection of antidepressants or adjustments to what I am already taking. I was all for it. Especially since it wasn’t a blood draw, but a swab of the inside of my mouth.

The results came back by the time of my next appointment. We went over the results. I had no idea what to expect. The results said that my current medication was basically too high. Easy enough…she recommended we lower it. It also said that other medications might be better, but my current medication fell in the “it can work” category. The plan was…let’s start by lowering my existing medication first and see what happens. She also stated that she had an idea for what a next medication looks like for me.

So, I lowered my medication. As we all know, it takes a while to get the full effect of an antidepressant medication change. During the first few days, I felt no different. I was still stuck in the fog. My activities, or lack thereof, were the same. I was determined to go with this for a while and see. My wife had different ideas. Why not call and see what a new medication would do? You have been on this current one for a while and we see what it is doing to you.

I called later that day and the new medication was approved. I was to take the medication I was already on and start the new one to fill in the gaps, so to speak. I started it the next day. Again, these medications take some time to work. At least a couple of weeks. I did notice some effects within the first day or so, or at least I thought I did. My depression hadn’t necessarily lessened, but my energy level had changed. It was increasing. I still felt bad, but I also felt a bit of motivation building. My head began to clear. My brain didn’t feel as heavy as it did before.

The fog was finally lifting! It felt good. Now I must be real for a second… was this an immediate effect of the medication and the best is yet to come? Or is this some psychological phenomenon happening in my brain? You know what? I don’t care. Not in the “I have no motivation” type of I don’t care, but in the “fog is clearing and I am liking how I’m feeling right now” version.

I am just over a week into this regimen. I still notice the depression. I do believe it is not as bad. I am not laying in my bed as much as I was. Is it the antidepressant part of the medication or the “activation” part this particular medication possesses? I lean to the latter right now, as it is still early. Either way, I am feeling better and better. It feels great to feel something different than bad. The fog is clearing and I can see my path starting to be clear in front of me. I want to drive on and reach my destination. I still have a long way to go, but I am more OK with it than I was before. I still have my moments. Of course I do at this point, but I’m not giving in to the retreat like I was before. I like where this is headed.

The drive through all of this can be a long journey. The journey is really never over. The fog likes to set in thick around us. It is easy to feel like we want to either turn around and go back home or just wait for the fog to clear. Be patient with yourself. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. The fog always clears. The fog will lift. The sun shines through and melts it away. We have to stay the course. We must. There are people at the end of the road, and along it, who are depending on us to reach them. We have a job to do. Life does need us and I believe in my heart that we need it. The path is not always clear, but it is always there none the less. Stay strong, but in those times of weakness lean on your support system. They will help get you through the fog and to your destination once the fog lifts! It is never a question of “if” the fog clears, but “when” the fog clears. It will. The sun is meant to shine!

Let’s keep walking!

Have a great day!

Jason

Feel free to check out my music pages on Facebook and YouTube:

Jason Kehl’s Basement of Jams Original uplifting rock instrumentals with a real world message attached to them. Furthering mental health awareness through music.

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Welcome To My Blog!

Hello! I hope you are doing well, but if that is not the case I hope you find some comfort in knowing that you are not alone. It is OK to not be OK! I decided to start this blog as a way to get my thoughts out there. Even though some days we feel alone, I feel that the thoughts and topics that I write about are thoughts and feelings that other people are having. We are all on our own journey, but I feel there is some similarities. I may not understand everything that you are going through and I don’t expect you to understand everything that I am going through. I do hope that we can find a common ground through different experiences and that through relating experiences, maybe you will feel brave enough to seek out help. Maybe get back into some of the hobbies that you enjoy. Just maybe start enjoying life again as we walk this path together! Again, you are not alone. I have witnessed this to be the case as I walk my journey.

I have been on my journey now for almost 1 1/2 years. Not a long time. I am still figuring myself out. I also feel led to spell out my experiences for you as I continue to deal with my own depression and anxiety. I will try and be as candid as I can be as I feel this is the only way to be of benefit to anyone. A bit nerve racking, throwing myself out there, but I will do it anyway!

I by no means am a writer, but I will do my best! Thankfully, my wife was a speech and communications major, so she may help me edit through things (little does she know) 😆. I am a Registered Nurse. I have been an RN for about 22ish years. For the last 10 years of my 22 years as a nurse, I have been working in the Medical Device sales industry as a Clinical Specialist. I have zero experience, though, in the mental health side of the equation. I am literally a client!

Thank you very much for checking out my blog. You are not alone and remember that It is OK to Not be OK! My goal is that we can grow together and together we can walk our journeys as one strong community!

Have a great day!

Jason

Surround Yourself With Love

As a guy who is a nurse, I have always gotten a kick out of the movie “Meet the Fockers”. I think the whole idea and the movie itself is hilarious. Obviously, it goes to the extreme, but that’s what a comedy can get away with. To be honest, my father-in-law does not play the Robert De Niro part. I was immediately accepted into the family without having to prove myself in a family pool volleyball match or other rites of passage. Big sigh of relief there! After all of the laughter and the craziness that ensues in the movie takes place, the one big takeaway is the idea of a “circle of trust”. Now, it gets totally blown out of proportion in the movie, but the basic premise is there. Outside of everything else in life, we all need our own “circle of trust”. I like to call it my core or my inner circle.

My core consists of my wife, my family, and my absolute closest friends. These are the people that I know that I can rely on when I am not at my best. These individuals have my back no matter what.

My wife, oh my wife! She is awesome. She is my rock. She has been nothing short of amazing throughout this process. I could not have gotten where I am today without her. From the day that I was laying in our bed, scared and crying. Scared for my life. Afraid of what might come next if I kept going the way I was going. She was the voice of reason when I had lost mine. I was lost, but she picked up the lantern and helped me to see the way that I needed to go. She took me to the hospital. She me called while I was in. She came and visited everyday. After I got out of the hospital, she was still there. Ready to help me deal with whatever I needed to deal with next. She was all in and I was amazed at her grace. It couldn’t have been easy and I know that it hasn’t been easy, but she stands right by me.

My family. My family as been more supportive of this journey than I could have ever imagined. While I was in the hospital, my mom and dad came and visited everyday. My sisters called me everyday. I was comforted knowing that they would never leave me and will always be there. No matter what. To some degree, they have all been down this road that I was on and the experience and wisdom that they provided me was and is priceless.

My friends…my brothers. These guys are awesome. These guys I’ve known for most of my life and am still blessed to have them in my life today. Let’s just say, a couple of these guys I’ve know since I was very young. I mean, longer than my memory will even allow me to remember! These brothers are the ones that stick by you no matter what is going on. We celebrate the highs and we pull each other through the lows. My core brothers live all over, but that doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t be there in a second if it was needed. These guys are my front line and I am beyond thankful for them being there for me. I would do the same for them in a heartbeat.

I have many other friends in my life, that I know I can count on, and have called on before. They must be recognized as well and I do not mean to lessen their impact on my life. I am equally thankful for each of you.

Now, let’s get real for a moment. The above sounds pretty darn perfect. Unfortunately, we all know life isn’t perfect. I am a stubborn person. As much as I have done things different and not on my own, there is still a part of me that wants to do it on my own. I don’t always want to ask for help. It’s very hard to just drop the way you have been for most of your life and do things differently.

I have learned to share more and more with people, especially my wife. However, there are times I don’t want to share every little thing going on in my head. I do still clamp up and hold some of the thoughts in. I am learning to deal differently with everything, but the old me still holds on.

I could be better at reaching out to my friends (and family as well). My core brothers. I will admit that I am not great at reaching out. As much as I’m trying to blow the mental health stigma out of the water with these blogs, I find that the stigma still has a hold on me. I don’t want to bother other people with my problems. It’s true. Maybe I’m too proud. Maybe there is a bit of me that is afraid to share some aspects of what is going on. Maybe I feel like that all I talk about is gloomy things (it’s not true, but it is easy to feel that way). These guys never disappoint me when I do talk to them about what is going on. So why the hesitation? THE STIGMA. I believe that is a lot of the hold up. I am still working on getting though the stigma. I know that I am going to keep writing about it. It really does help me on a personal level. I also know I have to drop my guard and reach out more to these guys I know are good with me no matter if I feel broken or on top of the world or anything in between.

We absolutely need an inner circle. A core group. Everyone of us needs it. Not everyone of us feels like we have it though. I know not everyone reading this has the same thing that I have. I know it is true. I have witnessed it.

The core needs to come from somewhere else. That sounds a whole lot easier than it really is. Maybe this core can come from a group that you belong to. Group therapy even. Maybe a page that you are following on social media. Maybe a group of people that you game with on whatever system you game on. Maybe an exercise group. Church? Church is a good place to connect to all types of people. So many walks of life can be found in so many different places.

These are all just examples. I know there are so many other examples out there. What I am getting at is really breaking down what a core looks like. What an inner circle looks like. The idea of a core, to me, is a group of people that make you feel like you belong. Make you feel like you matter.

Please, go find that. I encourage you. I am still working on using my core better, but I am fortunate enough to have one. I know not everyone does. It doesn’t mean that you don’t matter. You do matter. I don’t know you, well some I do, but you matter to me none the less. This blog that I am doing is not meant to isolate, but to hopefully bring people together. It is a journey, but one that we can walk together.

Go out and find your “circle of trust”. Many of you have that circle already. Use it! I know that I need to be better at it. Those that may not, it is out there. It can be here. Please don’t give up. The mental health journey can be a long hard journey, but use those that are around you to help. You’d be surprised, I know I was, at how willing they were to accept me as I was and truly want to help me get better. I thankfully don’t have the tough father-in-law De Niro character guy making me prove my worth in joining a circle of trust. I already have that circle with my wife, family, and friends. I hope you have this or can find this as well. It makes all the difference.

Let’s Keep Walking together and have a great day!

Jason

Please, feel free to check out my Facebook group and page:

Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

On my page, I share instrumental music that I have created along with a positive message promoting mental health: http://www.facebook.com/JasonKehl13

The group is more interactive and the goal is for myself and others to share our creative expressions to aid in strengthening each others mental well-being: http://www.facebook.com/groups/rockingmentalhealth/