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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

Time To Shine!

I was looking through my Notes app, the other day, on my phone. I stumbled onto something that I wrote back in January 2020. I read it and it has now been on my mind the last couple of days. Here it is…

Are the changes that I made worth it now that I feel alone or should I go back to my old ways where others will be around to see my demise

Man, this has me thinking.  I often feel as though I am alone.  Yes there is people around me and yes these people are the type that support me.  The alone feeling arises from the activities that are going on around me.

I decided to quit drinking in July 2019.  I was dealing with some serious depression and anxiety issues.  My distraction from all of this was alcohol. A lot of alcohol.  I wasn’t recognizing that what had been going on inside of me had been going on for a long time.  Alcohol became my blinder.  My way of not having to deal with anything.  Something that allowed me to push these issues aside “for maybe another day”.  

The alcohol began to become less of a distraction and more of a fuel for the fire, so to speak.  I was beginning to have thoughts of hurting myself.  Not excluding ending my life.  I had a plan, but no real intention of carrying it through…at this point.  Late at night, after everyone had left, these thoughts would begin to creep into my head.  Scared the drunk daylights out of me!  I would often make myself go to bed as I was frightened by what this could turn into if I stayed awake.  Awake and dwelling on these very dark thoughts about myself.  

One morning in July.  After an exceptional night of drinking that ended in me having these dark thoughts, I woke up that next morning unable to shake these thoughts.  I was afraid.  Fear and anxiety had their intense grip on me.  I didn’t know what to do.  I called my wife, who had left for work.  

It was with her help that I decided to do something completely different.  I needed to get some help.  Stop doing things the way that I was used to doing things.  Stop ignoring the problem.  I was out of control.  The train was well off the tracks.  I went to Bromenn Medical Center and was admitted to the Mental Health floor there.  It ended up being the best thing that I could have ever done for myself.  I was reaching out, beyond myself, for help from others.  It was there that I decided to stop drinking.

I don’t regret the decision to stop drinking.  Well, not really.  Of course I think about it…daily.  Where I am now is better than where I was then.  Without a doubt.  Still, you think about it.  How can you not?  It was a part of you for so long.  Your brain is wired to that and now you take a huge thing away from it.  The brain kind of freaks out.

I am now well within the re-wiring process.  Some things are getting better.  It’s taking some time, but I feel better now than what I did almost a year and a half ago.

I do find that there are times, though, where I feel alone.  Not much has changed around me except for me.  I spend time with the same people, but these people have not changed with me.  Didn’t they get the memo? 🙂 😃.  I am changing, but so much is the same outside of the internal changes that I make.  That is OK, as everyone can do what they want.  This isn’t meant to make people do what I am doing.  I do enjoy hanging out with people, but it is hard sometimes.

I find that, if friends are over, that I will hang out for a while, but then I go inside or away from where people are.  I continue my sober path while everyone else is altering themselves.  It’s good for a while, but something always seems to change and then I am ready to remove myself from the group.  

I am sure that people have thought that about me.  I would start drinking and then it was almost like a switch was turned on, well maybe off, and I was out of my mind intoxicated.  I imagine that people wanted to get away from me.  Not everyone, but some.  I wasn’t in control of the tour bus anymore.  It is a strange thing when you witness the other side of that equation.

So, I often find that I don’t want to do much with people.  I would definitely call myself an introvert now.  In the past I would not have, but I now think that I was still an introvert that extroverted with alcohol.  Or at least I think that I did.  

The sober life is weird. I will admit that it is strange sometimes.  I went so many years doing one thing and then just slammed on the breaks and did a complete 180 degree turn around.  Dizzying sometimes really.  

With all that said, I do not want to go back to that way of life.  I like being in control of my life and actions, well what I can control that is.  I, overall, like what I am becoming.  I still have a long way to go as everything is a journey, but I’m glad I decided to take this journey.  I also enjoy waking up in the morning not feeling like I got run over by a Mac truck.

Sometimes though, I think about how things were and what it would be like if I had not gone and gotten help.  Would I be here?  Would I lose friends over my continued actions?  Would I be able to “escape” my thoughts with alcohol like I used to? Even though by the end it stopped being an escape.  Would I recapture that?

And then I stumbled upon the quote I wrote at the beginning of this.  It has me thinking.  It is something to ponder as you take a different journey than what you were on before.  I don’t want to go back, but it is difficult feeling “alone”. 

So do I continue feeling alone and re-wiring myself into something better or do I go back to my old ways and have people around me to witness my demise?  I know the answer for me, but it doesn’t make it any easier.  The one thing I can do is to keep going. Keep leaning on God.  Keep seeking help.  Keep listening to my doctor.  Keep going to therapy.  Keep writing about my thoughts.  Just keep going and in the end I will have people around my to witness me SHINE!!

Have a great day!

Jason