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Dreading An Event Which Ends Up Not Being Dreadful (How Is This Even Possible?)

Jump on a plane they said. Fly down to Orlando they said. Meet up with a couple hundred of your closest work peers over a couple of days they said. Eeeek! Eeeek is right! This is the reality I was faced with this past week. I have been dreading this moment ever since it appeared on my work calendar. It all sounded like a recipe for disaster in my mind. Have you ever dreaded something so much and in the end it ends up not being so dreadful? Well this is a tale of exactly that.

I haven’t flown since the pandemic started. I have tried to avoid huge gatherings (mostly, besides a couple of concerts I’ve gone to and wrote about) since the pandemic began. I have changed so much through the pandemic and in a way I thought some of these changes might be a bad thing when faced with this upcoming reality.

I would have to traverse the airports by myself. I would have to traverse the crowds of peers by myself. Well, not entirely by myself as there was a couple of friends there who know my story and what I am dealing with and this thought did provide me with some comfort. But really, all of this quite frankly terrified me. And there was plenty of time to build it all up in my mind as I knew about this event for a few months.

The day of travel arrived this past Thursday morning. I was left with no choice but to go. I guess I always have a choice, but it wasn’t like I could justify quitting my job to avoid the inevitable. So I told myself I would try and break it all down to one step at a time. Pack, drive to the airport, do the airport, get on the plane, get off of the plane, retrieve my bag, get a taxi to the hotel, and then worry about the actual event once I got there.

One step at a time.

It wasn’t always easy to just look at the one step before me. Our minds, especially mine lately, are geared to always worrying about the next three steps after the step in front of me. I had to remind myself that those steps do not happen until I take the step which was in front of me first.

Easier said than done, but I kept repeating it to myself and I was able to make my way through everything I was dreading. It wasn’t easy, but I knew I had to do it. I had to dig deep and will myself through it. I’ve been through this event before and I had to tell myself I would make it through this event as well.

On top of it all, I had a sense of peace about me. I have no idea where it came from (actually I do), but it felt good. I do believe in the power of prayer and I had some warriors praying for me and I could feel it and I embraced it. We have to lean on others, especially God, when faced with a daunting task. How else do we get through it? This definitely goes under the “I get by with a little help from my friends” category.

This peace helped to propel me and also kept me thinking about taking one step at a time. I did conquer the airport. I did conquer the cab ride. I did conquer getting to the hotel and now it was time for the biggest part of this event. The part I was dreading the most.

I arrived to the hotel nervous, but I was surprised my level of nervousness wasn’t higher. I had worked it all up in my head that I would arrive a mess and maybe not be able to even make it to the conference as I really thought I might shut down. It was such a welcomed relief when I didn’t shut down. My nerves ended up giving me strength instead of being a hinderance.

This was a new feeling I haven’t felt in a long time.

Nerves can be great when they are not out of control. I feel a certain level of nerves and anxiety, “normal anxiety”, keeps us on our toes and can be used for good versus bad. I used to possess this, in the pre-pandemic days, but I had led myself to believe I had lost this ability and I only swung from one extreme to the next.

As I took these first steps and got a little closer to what I dreaded, I began to believe the old more confident me was still there. It hadn’t burned out completely as I was making myself believe the last few years or so.

I tried to embrace this thought. I wanted to believe this thought could help me take each step I needed to take.

I arrived at the hotel and checked in. I started seeing people I knew as other co-workers. The reality of this event was no longer just a thought it was exactly that…a reality. Here I was…Holy Crap!

But I wasn’t freaking out like I thought I would. I was really pretty calm! Thank you Lord!

I took my stuff to my room and dropped it off. I had to go down and check in and become officially “there”. So I did just this and the game was on!

You begin at start and you end at “making it through these couple of days”. There are levels to obtain and rewards to collect.

I really dreaded all of this as I have really been struggling with my self-esteem and my self-confidence. I go through having to convince myself that I am not bad at life including my job. It’s been hard lately. I’m not going to lie. I have really had a ton of self-doubt lately as it pertains to my job and my performance. So, this meeting really was the face of “Jason, you do not belong here” and this is a hard thought for someone like me to deal with.

Thankfully, I have reconnected with my mental healthcare team before leaving on this potentially nightmare trip. I am about 3-4 weeks into my medication dosage adjustment. I hit some bumps throughout the adjustment, but I was beginning to feel better. Feeling really pretty damn good actually.

It felt and feels great and it couldn’t have happened at a better time.

I feel like I slayed that meeting. I really do. I was my, at least in my head, my usual awkward, nervous, and weird self but people didn’t seem to want to escape from me. I convince myself that people just want to get away from me and it was so good to experience that all of this was part of my chemically imbalanced brain and associated mental illnesses and really nothing else. I really was OK and maybe some of what I believed I was simply wasn’t true.

It really was an awesome feeling. It was so welcomed as I have felt like I have been leaning towards the negative so much lately before this occurred.

I had my moments of wanting to run to my room, but those thoughts and feelings did not win. I couldn’t let them win. I felt more equipped to not let them win, so I…well…didn’t let them win.

I proved to myself that I AM OK. I proved to myself that I am going to BE OK. I proved to myself that nerves and “normal anxiety” can be used for good and I welcomed it. I believed that “I Got This”!

We have to keep working. We have to keep moving forward. We can dig deep within ourselves, and we can find there, that we do still possess the ability to conquer what lies in front of us.

I’m not there yet. It is hard for me to get too excited even when I am pumped as there is a big part of me that “waits for the rug to be pulled out from under me”. I still have a lot of wiring which needs to be re-wired, but this round did feel good.

I defeated a potentially dreadful experience and it proved to me to not be so dreadful. Maybe I can do this!

You Got This! I Got This! We Got This! Let’s keep walking this journey together!

Have a great day!

Jason

Feel free to jump over to my website www.rockingmentalhealth.com. My blog lives there along with some videos and a podcast I have been doing. I have some other creative forms of media there as well which I use to help spread my mission and goal to promote mental health awareness. You are not alone!

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I Can Feel The Turn (A Journey Through Space And Medication Adjustments)

The last time we joined yours truly he was taking a huge first step…again. It’s called a first step, even though this first step has been taken before, because sometimes we have to take things back to almost a square-one mentality. I had gotten away from some practices which had always worked for me after the first first step. It wasn’t until recently I realized I needed to make some changes or, at least, get back to the basics I learned initially when I undertook this journey.

We find yours truly being more of a space hero, at least for now. He is hurdling through space, in his spaceship, on his search for the mystical energy field known only as the “Good Place”. Many have sought this Good Place before him. Many have succeeded in finding it. It’s kind of funny that many have found it, but yet it is almost impossible to tell someone exactly how to get there. It draws you to it. This energy is a special energy and at sometime in everyones life, we are drawn to it.

I am currently being drawn to it. It is something I am searching for. As I sit back, in my spaceship chair, I begin to wonder how long it will take to get there. I have programmed the general coordinates in the navigation computer. I say “general” as I don’t know where the exact location is, but as I started this journey it just feels like the right direction.

I am unsure how long this journey will take, but I can tell I am getting closer. The closer you get to the Good Place the more you begin to feel it. It still hasn’t fully revealed it’s location, but I know I am heading in the right direction. I can feel myself heading in the right direction.

By the way, this spaceship I am in is no ordinary spaceship. It is very similar to the Millennium Falcon. OK, it is the Millennium Falcon. I finally got my hands on it after all these years. I’ve only wanted it since I was a kid😉. And now it is mine…hahaha!

OK, sorry about that. I had to make sure I was painting the entire picture and I know you were curious about what ship I was flying in. Nothing but the best!

While on this journey, I have some time to kill while flying through space. There are some tasks you have to work on while spending your days in the Millennium Falcon. You do not get to just sit back and enjoy the ride. There is work to be done. Without this work, I feel like I won’t be able to fully enjoy the Good Place when I finally arrive.

A couple of weeks or so ago, I went and saw my new psychiatric nurse practitioner. We discussed everything. We came to the conclusion that I might be under medicated. I agreed to raise the dosage of one of my anti-depressants. After talking with her, it seemed to make the most sense for this moment and for how I was feeling. I was low. Really really low. Something had to be done, so I was game for most any idea. It has to be better than this current state I was in.

I’m now a couple of weeks into this particular endeavor. I am definitely noticing a difference. It feels like, and this was almost immediately, like the light switch has been turned back on. Was the immediate reaction the medication or was it my excitement over finally getting back to working on myself. Either way, it has been a welcome feeling.

I do feel like I have been under medicated. I hate to seem like a medication pusher, but this adjustment seems to be working for me. I like this feeling. I have had one set back moment or maybe its more of an adjustment moment, but it didn’t last as long as before and I have worked out of it and still have the lights-on-feeling.

I am less frustrated with life. I feel like I am dealing with certain situations better than I was. It really is nice noticing a change and it is a nice reminder that change is possible and it does aid in getting to the Good Place.

Now, as I work on what I need to as I hurdle through space towards the Good Place, not all is going as designed…at least not yet. I have some crazy block on the exercise motivation part. I have to get better at this. I have taken Ben on a couple long walks, but the inactive days way out number the active days as far as exercise is concerned. I have to get better at this and I do believe I will get there. “Well just get out there and do it, Jason”. It seems like it should be this easy, but it is not working that way so far. I am just being honest with you.

I do still have my appointment with my therapist on the books as well. December 1st is the big day for this as it was the first available day. It is a long wait. Maybe shouldn’t be this way, but I do not blame my therapist. I blame the system and the continued lack of availability to mental health care. Way more patients than help.

I’ve even gotten back to doing a bit of art for myself. A lot of what I do is in the name of mental health awareness. It is a passion and a mission of mine, but I can’t let everything I create be geared towards that. I need some of it to be for me. It is all therapeutic, in my eyes, but you need to keep yourself in mind. I feel I can be better for you, if I do things which are better for me along the way. It has been fun just letting my mind go in a completely free direction. This is bonus awesome. Sometimes, the energy of the Good Place reveals other ways of propelling you forward and closer to the ultimate destination.

I am going to continue this journey. How can I not when I am doing this one in the Millennium Falcon? I can feel the turn towards the right direction, but I still have a ways to go. The feeling of having the light switch flipped back on is pretty awesome. I want to continue feeding this much better feeling I am having. I will hit more bumps. I’m sure I will, but I will get through them. I always do. I don’t always give myself this credit, but it is true!

Take the first step. Continue taking more steps, but take the first step. You will not regret it!

You got this! I got this! We got this! Let’s keep walking this path together.

Have a great day!

Jason

Please check out my website! www.rockingmentalhealth.com. There you will find my blog along with a podcast and other creative media I like to mess around with in the name of mental health awareness. It HAS to be OK to ask for help! We have to crush the stigma which surrounds mental health!

It all starts with the first step! Take the first step! You Got This!
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It All Starts With The First Step

It has been a dizzying couple of months. Especially the last three weeks. The fog re-set in and I have felt like I have been coasting along. My thoughts have not been great and they haven’t been focused on building myself up. My motivation has been terrible and nothing seems to interest me like it once did. Nothing has made sense and it has felt, at times, like my world is crashing down around me and all I can do is hold on. I have become less active in my care and thankfully my mind still knew I needed to do something different and get back on the right path and get back to moving forward to better days. All I have to do is take the first step.

And I have taken that step. The step I took was to try and re-fire up my active level of engagement in my care. The feeling of coasting along is certainly not the answer I am looking for. In my mind, I have wanted to give up. What’s the point if everything I am doing is getting me nowhere?

Also in my mind, something else was bugging me. Something was swirling around and it made some sense. Do I want to grab ahold of it or can I even grab ahold of it? Is it too late and this feeling of being lost was going to become my new reality from now on?

I am proud to say the answer to each question is YES and NOPE respectively. I still have a desire left to feel better. I do not want to give up after almost two and a half years of hard work.

Time can really get away from us quickly. I have noticed this the older I get. Each day goes by a little faster than the last one. Something you feel like you did yesterday, can quickly become a year or a couple of years in reality.

About a year ago, my previous psychiatric nurse practitioner left and went somewhere else. I did not receive notice until I called for an appointment or a refill. I do not remember which it was, but when I called I was notified that she had left. Thankfully, one of the doctors there would be able to prescribe any medication refills I needed. Unfortunately, the doctors who remained in the office were full and were not accepting new patients.

This isn’t the first time I have been without a psychiatrist/nurse practioner for a period of time. It happened before, but I was able to find another without there being too large of a gap between visits. I felt like I was churning along still at that time. I could meet someone new and go through the questions and all…no problem. Whatever I have to do to keep myself moving forward.

Let’s just say a year can go by very fast. The nurse practitioner I was seeing before had left and I was told the office was actively searching for someone new to come in. I was put on a waiting list. Cool…I’ll just wait and hopefully someone comes to the office before too long.

So I waited and I waited. I called the office a few times to check their progress, but was told they were still searching for someone. A month grew to a few months which grew into six months and then ended up being around a year.

And then I got a call from the office. A new nurse practitioner had just started and was seeing patients. This was a couple of weeks ago. I was able to see her last week…thank you Lord!

I also had not seen my therapist in about the same amount of time. I had access to a doctor, for my refills, but other than that my mental healthcare team kind of evaporated before my eyes. I hadn’t actually seen someone in person for over a year.

I was at a point where something had to change or I was nervous (afraid) where or how I might end up. The path I was on was leading me down instead of up. Nothing made sense.

My last blog entry talked about accountability and the fact I need to be more active in my care. The two things I mentioned doing where: getting back into seeing my therapist and start exercising again.

I am proud to say that I am well on my way with one of the accountability actions I laid out before you. I called the next day, after writing the blog entry, and scheduled an appointment. I have to wait a month to get in, but I have made the appointment.

The one month wait had me nervous. I feel really bad now so what would I be faced with in a month?

Thankfully, the answer came in the form of the phone call. I received a call from the office letting me know they had just hired a new nurse practitioner. I was able to get in the very next week.

I was nervous going to the appointment as it had been so long since I’ve done any of this. “This” being hanging out with my mental healthcare team. I was a mess. I felt terrible the day I went in to meet the new nurse practitioner.

She asked the standard entry questions and then she asked how I had been feeling lately.

I tried to sum up the last year in a 45 minute visit. I had so much to say. I grabbed this moment from over here in my brain and then the next from over here and so on and so forth. I laid out so much information I surprised myself. Or maybe it all made sense at that very moment.

I hadn’t talked about myself, in that much detail, for that long of a time since maybe about the time I originally sought out help. It was exhausting. It was extremely emotional. I found myself tearful and feeling vulnerable throughout the whole time I talked.

How I felt for the last couple of weeks all made sense…at least it kind of made sense as I formed bits and pieces of the last year into one jumbled story. It wasn’t the most cohesive, but soon a picture of myself formed. I am really hurting, and feel like a mess, as I have not done everything I know that I should have been doing.

Should I have been more aggressive in finding a new psychiatrist? Probably so. Should I have made an appointment with my therapist when this started? Probably so. Would all of this have made a difference where I was at today? I would like to think so, but you really never know. Dealing with the mind is a very tricky game that can sometimes change quickly.

I will say this, God was looking out for me. You may be thinking… Really?, Was He? You sure present yourself like the opposite happened.

I talk a lot about “active” care. The idea of us being active in our care is a must. Coasting along really doesn’t work in the end. A problem you are trying to ignore, or not tackle head-on, will find a way to get to you and effect you eventually.

It’s almost like I had to be reminded of my own “active” care. I will say “I got lazy”, maybe not the best description, as these types of things are what I say when I am being hard on myself, but it is just the easiest way for me to say that I feel like I dropped the ball.

I don’t deserve any of this. None of us do, but sometimes we have to work for something to truly appreciate it and this plays in the mental health arena as well.

The last few months have sucked. Sometimes these times have sucked really bad, but here I am. I am still here. I am standing again. I may have been knocked down, but I got back up. I didn’t have to, but I had to.

The payoff for me putting one foot forward: I was able to raise one of my medication doses. The effect: I feel like a light switch has been turned back on. I try not to be a medication pusher, but in this instance, a change in dosage is what I needed. I have been plowing along an under-medicated-mess. No wonder I have felt so bad.

So now I am adjusting to this new dose. I have a follow-up appointment scheduled. I have an appointment scheduled with my therapist. The one thing I feel I am missing is the exercise part. I have to get back to exercising.

This all started with putting one foot forward and taking the first step. One step leads to another and that step leads to another and, pretty soon, we are moving forward on our path again.

I do feel like I am being looked after. Things feel like they are falling back into place. I have put in more work and I’m becoming more active. I already am beginning to feel better. I still have a ways to go, but I like moving forward versus the feeling of moving backward.

You got this! I got this! We got this! It all starts when we take the first step. Let’s keep walking this journey together. I know I need the help and support…we all do. We can get to where we want to go.

Have a great day!

Jason

Please visit my website: http://www.rockingmentalhealth.com. There you will find other blog entries along with some other creative things I am doing to raise mental health awareness.

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Accountability: That Thing We (I) Need From Time To Time

I’ve been really up and down lately. I’d say definitely more down than up. These times provide me an opportunity to take a look at myself and ask “Why do I feel this way?”. “Is there something I can identify and work on or is it something else?”. I absolutely hate these moments of feeling bad, but one thing it does provide me is a reason to reflect on where I have come from and where I need to be going. I want to take a different approach this round and throw some thoughts and ideas out there as a form of accountability for myself.

So much of what we go through we like to keep private. Not everyone wants to be as open as I try to be with my own personal battle with depression and anxiety. I get why some may not want to blog their entire lives for everyone to read. It is OK to keep what is going on with yourself private and not put it out there for everyone to see. I don’t mean keeping it private and doing it all yourself. It’s more of a keep it private in your own circle of those you trust with telling stuff to when something is troubling you. I feel it is important to share to that level. This journey is hard and it can be really hard when you feel alone.

I feel like I need to throw out all sides of my journey. I think I’m doing a good job of it, but I do think I can do better. My life isn’t all puppy dogs and rainbows (whose is really). Sometimes what I write might come across to some as “he has it all figured out”. Well, quite simply, I don’t have it all figured out and I want to be more forthcoming about these moments as well. At least this is what I want for myself and I’m not trying to push you to make videos and write, for all to see, your entire life story. We certainly need more of these things as we continue to push down the wall of stigma which surrounds mental health, but there are so many great ways to go about this. Writing this blog is one of those ways that work for me personally.

Lately I have been feeling what I would describe as numb. Really just having trouble feeling satisfaction and enjoyment in the things I do in my life. I have been frustrated, which is a repeating topic for me, and quite frankly I feel bored with almost everything.

I have been sleeping more and this can add to the feeling of numbness and frustration. When I sleep to much, reality and dreamworld get a little skewed as I have more dreams when I sleep more. It gets to a point when I am awake that I am feeling numb and bored with life that I want to sleep and dream more than being awake. I want to sleep the feeling I’m having away. The catch is the added amount of sleeping does not lend a feeling of healing.

Sometimes, sleep is what our bodies need to do in order to heal or feel better when we are sick. Extra sleep is what our brains tell us we need so the body can get back to normal. For me, when I sleep more when I am feeling depressed and anxious, the same healing occurrence does not happen. Quite the opposite happens and the more I sleep, the worse I feel, but sleeping all of the time is an easy thing to do when you don’t feel like expending energy in other ways…like living my life and being happy.

So, I have felt unhappy. The unhappy feelings intensify the numbness and the frustration and really ushers in the boredom. I don’t know the exact order all of these occur for me, but I do know they are happening and I have to deal with it…or do I.

These depressed times can throw me over to the “I want to do nothing side”. I start to think “none of this is working anyway so why continue trying?”, so my boredom and numb feeling increase. The frustration increases with it.

I am guilty of wanting all of what I am doing for myself to work immediately and I can instantly be better and be who I was again. I know, from a bit of experience now, that this is not how it works, but I find myself going back to that thought. The frustration grows.

So here I am in bed (we’ll, not as I write this😁). I don’t want to talk or see anyone. I don’t want to try. I’m sick and tired of all of the effort only bringing me so far sometimes. I feel terrible. I don’t want to feel terrible, but I do feel terrible. I don’t like it, but maybe this really is the new me and everything else is a scam.

Maybe I trick myself into thinking I am happier and better. Maybe I think this way because others want me to think this way. Maybe I’m just following a template and all of this is a part of it and in the end we just fool ourselves into thinking we are good-to-go. I’m not going to lie…I think this way from time to time. How could I not? I doubt I am alone in this way of thinking.

But I’m only worried about me, so I don’t care what others may be feeling or not. I’m focused on what my existence feels like now and it is hard to worry about anything or anyone else sometimes. I get super focused on myself and I don’t think this is healthy all of the time.

You put so much focus on yourself and how you feel and why you may feel this way that it becomes all you think about. What you are thinking about is all of the bad feelings you are having right now and you begin to pile the negative on. You begin to believe this tangent way of thinking.

Here comes the accountability part of it. I can get so locked into these thoughts that I shut down. I stop reaching out. I don’t want to reach out. Thankfully, there is a part of me who knows I still need to push and crawl out of this hole I find myself in again.

I feel like I have become lazy in certain aspects of my journey forward. It also doesn’t help that I am stubborn and when I’m not into something, it can seem like an impossible climb trying to flip out of the stubborn me approach.

I have talked about how important going and seeing a therapist has been for me. I saw this element of my journey as a cornerstone to my success. I needed to keep talking to stay focused and to keep learning this new and improved life I want to live.

I cannot tell you the last time I saw a therapist. It was last year sometime through the pandemic. I know it was around the time where I could go back into the office and have a face-to-face visit with my therapist, or more like mask-to-mask.

And then I stopped. I bet it is close or just beyond a year. I’ve been on this journey now for about 2 years and some change. Do the math and you will see that almost half of this new journey has been spent NOT doing something I once saw as so pivotal to my success.

I talked about the importance of seeing a therapist, but I haven’t always been practicing what I preach and I need to get back to that. I have to get back into seeing my therapist as I know it works, but dammit…it feels like a lot of effort again and so I take the “easy” way out and I don’t do anything about it.

This way is nowhere near the “easy” way. It is most certainly the “hard” way. Yes it takes energy and effort to go to the appointments sometimes, but I can honestly say that I have never left an appointment not happy that I went.

Why is it so hard to go now?

I chalk this one up to laziness on my part. No one can do this for you. Dealing with depression and anxiety or any other mental illness is an ACTIVE work in progress. It takes effort. Sometimes it is tiring, but you have to continue with the effort or you quickly can find yourself on the other side.

My laziness in my care has found me more on the other side lately. I have fallen into some old bad habits. No I am still not drinking, but the old habits revolve a lot around doing it all my self which has been proven to be not an effective way to go about this.

I still have not made an appointment with my therapist, but I know I need to. I need to start utilizing, again, this huge benefit to my mental health and to my journey. I need new ways to go about this. I need to solidify the ways that work for me again as well.

There are two things I am going to lay out here right now. These two things, as I reflect, are so important to my ongoing journey. Why do I stop then? Well, I need to stop beating myself up about that question and just do it.

I need to schedule an appointment with my therapist. I need to get the ball rolling again in this department.

I also need to start exercising again. Exercise has always boosted me mentally. It provides a great outlet for relieving what troubles me and a healthy mind can lead to a healthy body and can lead to a better self-image where I don’t tear myself down so much.

There it is. Schedule an appointment with my therapist and remember where the gym is.

It’s out there now so of course I will feel the need to follow up with my progress. I will have to follow up one way or another and continue to be honest with you.

Accountability is a great thing. It can drive us the right direction. I do not like to fail, especially when I put something out there, so now I have to push again to succeed once again.

Do you feel like you may have fallen back in your efforts? Do you have the same numb and frustrated/bored feeling I have been having? Are there some forms of keeping on your journey that are lacking or you just don’t do anymore?

Tell someone what they are. Tell someone what you think you need to do to get back to good again. Accountability is never a bad thing!

You got this! I got this! We got this! Let’s keep walking this path together!

Have a great day!

Jason

Please feel free to visit my mental health awareness website: www.rockingmentalhealth.com

Also, feel free to join the group I started over on Facebook – Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health. It’s a chill place for all of us to support each other. We are stronger together!

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When Moving Forward Isn’t The Right Answer

You are driving along. The music is cranked as the radio is playing one of your favorite songs. You can’t help but sing along at the top of your lungs. The sun is shining and the road ahead doesn’t appear to have much traffic. It’s really the perfect day for a drive. You are feeling good. You felt good when you left your house and started on your journey. It just feels good to get out of the house for a bit, so you decide to drive.

And then you feel a tug at the steering wheel. The car wants to pull to the left. You know somethings wrong. You even have an idea from the sound you heard. You’ve blown a tire. You pull over to the side of the road. It doesn’t make sense to keep going as the current situation presents itself. You have to take care of the tire first. It is best to pull over. Sure, you could make the wild decision to go a little further. Maybe there is a town at the next exit, but you know you shouldn’t. You know if you do not pull over you could inflict damage to your car or make the situation worse. It’s just not safe to drive on at this point. So you stop.

I’ve been doing pretty well lately. I’ve jumped over some major obstacles and I survived each one of them. My anxiety could have gotten the best of me, but I didn’t let it win. I was able to push through and I was rewarded at the end by some great experiences. I have learned a lot about myself and I continue to get more and more comfortable with who I am and who I am becoming. I kinda like this guy!

This week I hit some bumps. I’ve been off. More depressed than anxious this round. I’ve been frustrated with the ongoing constant energy it takes to do all of this every single day. When I get frustrated, it’s usually around a time I am tired. Or maybe it is the depression making me feel so tired. Either way it allows my guard to drop much more easily. When my guard drops, the dark thoughts like to creep back in.

I’ve had some this past week. It sucks. I hate the way they make me feel. I recognize them, but I try not to give them any validity. This is hard, as your guard is down, and your normal defense mechanism is out of whack. I’ve even had thoughts of not being here. Nothing like before, but it still frightens me when they seemingly come out of no where. I don’t like it, but they are there and I have to deal with them.

I found myself not being motivated. I found myself in bed more. I’ve worked really hard at not being or doing either of these things, but we are stuck in a constant battle with ourselves. I’m all in on the battle, but sometimes I get fed up with the whole process.

I get fed up and it then ushers in the bad thoughts. I then get fed up with the bad thoughts as I have worked so hard to push them away. I’ve worked hard at changing my mindset. So, when these thoughts creep back in, it is easy for me to get frustrated and the thoughts of giving up grow.

One thing I do know is that I cannot give up. I’ve fought hard to not feel this way. I have worked hard at not wanting to feel this way. Let’s face it though, sometimes through all of this you can convince yourself you want to feel this way and you deserve to feel this way, but it just isn’t true. It does get hard sometimes, not letting these feelings take over my new world, but I have more work to do and I have a journey to continue walking.

So we pull the car over. It is the right thing to do. Going on at this point could make everything worse. We take care of the situation in front of us and then we get back on the road.

I knew something was off. Obviously, with the way I was feeling, I knew something wasn’t right. I decided to pull off the road of my journey and try and figure it out. Even as I laid in bed, I was evaluating and reevaluating myself. This is what is different with me now versus me before I recognized I needed to start this journey. Even at my worst, I know I need to figure out what is wrong, because the good feeling is what I know I want to get back to. No matter what my brain is telling me, I want to get back to the new me who I really have begun to like.

Moving forward on my journey was not the right thing for me at this moment. We always want to be moving forward and in no way am I saying moving forward isn’t the ultimate goal. What I am saying is sometimes to keep moving forward, we have to stop and fix the blown tire or whatever else made us pull over.

It is OK to hit pause while on your journey. This was a point for me where I knew if I kept going forward, with my current thought process, I could potentially damage myself in a way that could become harder to fix if I allow myself to continue with the dark thoughts. I couldn’t simply ignore them and hope for them to go away. I had to tackle these thoughts head on and it is a lot easier to do when you hit pause.

You can then put all of your focus on figuring out why these feelings and these thoughts are there and then you can do whatever it is you need to do to get yourself back in good working order and continue along our way.

Here is the thought I have had through this whole thing especially now that I am beginning to feel like the new me again: Even when we pull over to the side of the road and it feels like we are stopping or pausing our journey, we really aren’t stopping or pausing our journey at all. The act of taking care of what is going on is necessary in getting us back on the road, but it really is still forward motion. Maybe not in the physical forward motion, but if we don’t take care of what is going on we can’t expect to get back on the road and continue our fulfilling journey. These steps are necessary, therefore, these steps when we are stopped are still forward motion in our journey.

I think this is awesome. When I realized this, it really provided me with a boost to my motivation. I felt like I had stopped and even maybe moved backward, but it was not true. I was moving forward all along even with the pause.

This thought really helped me with my perspective of this whole thing. This thought brought a smile to my face.

So, last night (Friday), I worked on a new song. I enjoyed creating something new and I am really happy with how it is coming along. I was able to get back to something I enjoy and I enjoyed doing it.

I’m back on the road. It feels good. Yes, we may have to pull over from time to time to fix the blown tire, but it is OK. It really is. It will happen once and it will happen again. Know it is OK to pull over. Fix the problem and get back to cruising forward!

You got this! I got this! We got this! Let’s keep moving forward on our path and let’s do it together!

Have a great day!

Jason

Please visit rockingmentalhealth.com. This is my website I have created where I share this blog along with some videos and a podcast I do. I have some other creative work on there as well. The idea is to let everyone know they are not alone and I hope you can gain some strength and hope from the story I tell about dealing with my own depression and anxiety.

Coming soon…

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What If I Had Stayed In My Room?

What if I had stayed in my room? It is a valid question. The answer wasn’t easy. I very easily could have stayed in my room. My mind was telling me to stay in my room. My anxiety was way up. I felt overwhelmed. My thoughts were racing and I couldn’t focus. How am I going to get the strength, the will, to do this all over again? I’m tired from my victory of night one. Maybe night two is too much and my mind is trying to protect me. Maybe I should stay in my room. I conquered and jumped over a huge hurdle the night before. Now, somehow, I have to do it all over again. Maybe, a break is what I need. What do I do? Maybe I should just stay in my room.

I woke up Saturday morning after an awesome soul filling show the night before. I was still riding an emotional high. It felt good. I felt a sense of victory and I know I deserved to feel this way. Crowds never really bothered me before, but things were different now. Things have changed. I have changed, but I did it. I conquered a huge fear and issue of mine. For one night, my social anxiety didn’t get the best of me.

I put my head down, and no matter what my mind tried to tell me, I plowed forward. There were a few times I could have let my anxiety get the best of me and I could have retreated back to the car. It would have been understandable. I would try not to beat myself up too bad if I did decide to retreat, but I kept telling myself it wasn’t an option. Of course it was an option, but I really wanted to win. I wanted to jump over this huge hurdle in front of me.

I told myself it was all temporary and the situation I found myself in would soon pass and I would be OK again. We have to remind ourselves that even the worst situations are always temporary. In the moment, it can be hard to see, but this is the mindset I was trying keep.

I kept going. I wasn’t going to let my anxiety win today. I was back in my element. An element which fills my soul and I really needed it. My low fuel light has been on for too long and I’m not sure how much farther I could push it. I needed this, so I kept going.

I am so proud of myself for keeping my head down. I am so proud of myself for staying the course. I am so proud of myself for hanging in there. The concert was everything I needed. I felt old-me-ways being strengthened and I noticed some of the new-me-ways gaining more steam.

What a night!

Now onto night two.

I laid in bed the next morning tossing around the recent memories of the night before. I could still feel the energy. I felt good. I felt like I could do all of this again, which was good, as we were doing it again that night. OK, I thought to myself, I can do this. You now have a model in which to draw from. You know what you had to do the night before and all you need to do is repeat those steps. Seems easy enough, especially after having just done it.

We headed over to Top Golf for some golf fun and some lunch. There was a six hour wait. Scratch that…we headed over to a brewery, in a really cool district, and had lunch. It was good. We joked around, as guys will do, and it was enjoyable.

After lunch, we hit the store up for some provisions for the coming evening of tailgating. Really the provisions were for the pre-show tailgate and, well, because we never can get enough…the provisions also were for the post-show tailgate. Why the heck not? The parking lot is a mess at first, so it is a good way to wait it out. Plus, you can gain a few friends in the process. People love a lit grill. Especially after a show. We tend to make friends and feed those around us too. Good times!

So we hit the store. I could feel things beginning to turn in my mind. A grocery store full of people, all doing their own tunnel visioned thing, is one of my social anxiety hang ups. People everywhere!

I am one who likes to go to the store and get what I need and get the heck out of there as fast as possible. I am not one to mill about and look for the best deal or the best loaf of bread. A lot of people do and it gets in my way. At least this is what my mind likes to tell me. People being people is OK. I’m good with it. We need to be good with it. How else are people supposed to be?

My mind likes to tell me that I am losing control. Sometimes you have to wait your turn, as pushing through people is frowned upon, so you have to wait sometimes. This is OK. It is part of the experience, but my mind is telling me to go go go.

So I start to feel overwhelmed. I begin to feel frustrated. Uh oh…I know what these feelings can lead to. I cannot let myself spin out of control. Normally, I would get what I need and bee line out of there, but I wasn’t by myself. The guys where there too, so I had to be patient. I had to take my time. This is the exact opposite from what my brain was telling me to do.

We check out and walk out the door back to the car. It wasn’t like we were there very long, but it felt like it. But now we are out and I should be OK. We head back to the hotel.

I was glad to be back, but the overwhelmed and frustrated feelings were not going away. I had removed myself from the situation, but I wasn’t feeling better. I was feeling worse and I could feel it spinning out of control. Oh great…now I am going to lose it in front of my friends.

These are the people you should be able to lose it in front of. They have been along for the ride, mostly, and understand how I feel more than a lot of people. I have been talking a lot about not doing it yourself. These guys are part of me reaching out of myself and bringing others in to help get through all of this. These guys are a part of my team.

So, why did I not want to tell anybody what was going on in my mind? Old ways are hard to break. I can write about getting help. I can talk about getting help. I can do videos about getting help. I believe every bit of what I write and say. Why would I say it if I didn’t? It doesn’t mean I have this all figured out. It doesn’t mean the old do-it-myself ways don’t and won’t come out sometimes.

I tried so hard to not show it. I tried so hard to hide it. I couldn’t do it. I got up from the couch in our room and went over to my bed and started to cry. Oh great, I thought to myself, here we go. My anxiety, the feelings of being overwhelmed and frustrated, decided it was time to boil over. So I began to melt down.

What started as a sob to myself, quickly became an all out cry. I think all of the craziness of the last couple of weeks was what led be to this. I made it through it all, but maybe I did too much too fast.

The week before the concerts, my wife and I spent a week with my family in the Lake Of The Ozarks. This is a yearly trip we all take together. We stay in a big house, a whole bunch of us, and we enjoy being a family all together. It was great and I did really well. I did not find myself retreating during this trip like I have for others. I felt good and I wanted to be out hanging with my family. It was important to me to be able to do that. I wanted the energy and the love that fills my soul and I didn’t want to miss any opportunity. I didn’t retreat. I did great and was really proud of myself.

Three days after getting back from a week in the Ozarks, I headed over to Indy for two back to back nights of the Dave Matthews Band with the boys. Another tradition I like to do. We try and head over to Indy for the DMB shows every year they are there.

So, there I was, laying in my bed crying. It was a bit out of control and I felt like a fool, to be honest. Again, old habits die hard. I think, as I look back on it, that the week in the Ozarks, were it was hard to get alone time, and now the fact that night one of the shows was under my belt, I was exhausted. I was emotionally and mentally drained. I went from doing nothing throughout the pandemic to doing everything I could get my hands on in a two week time period.

Maybe I should have spaced these activities out and eased back in a little more. Maybe this is what I wanted, but life events don’t always present themselves exactly how we want them presented. You sometimes have to do things when they are and roll with it. So I did.

Should I have been surprised when I broke down? I mean look at all the energy I have been spending. I went from a supercharged introverted, wanting to be alone, state and just floored the gas pedal and sped into being a social butterfly. Was I surprised? Honestly, I was a bit surprised, as it was more about not breaking down in front of my friends, but really there is no way I should have been surprised. I now don’t think it was a matter of “if” something was going to happen it was more of a “when” and also a “where” question.

Well it did happen and the answer to “when” was now and the answer to “where” was right here in my hotel room. My buddy, I was sharing a room with, sent a text to my other buddy and he came down to our room. By then I was out of the bed and talking a little bit with my roomie buddy when the other walked in. I was still crying, but I wasn’t trying to hide it. Not that I was succeeding at hiding it in the first place.

This all went down about an hour before we were to leave to tailgate for night two. My mind and my body had had enough. We talked. I didn’t just keep it all in. I remembered what the importance of talking was and the feeling of getting it all off-my-chest felt like. We talked about what I was feeling and why.

Honestly, a big part of why I broke down was frustration. I will never stop moving forward, but sometimes it is just plain exhausting. I was sick and tired of all I have to put into myself just to get me to go out and do simple things, let alone going to a crowded concert. It is a constant push. I am always thinking about every situation and how to do it. I think about how I am going to protect myself and also what is my escape plan. I think about this stuff constantly. It could be as simple as going out and getting a hair cut, but I have to psych myself up to do it. All in all, I was frustrated that I have to spend so much energy all of the time, and all I want is to go do the things I like to do, when I like to do them, and it be no big deal at all. Like it used to be.

Well, that is the past. I do not get to go back there. All I know is the present. I can think about the future, but I cannot predict it. All I know is the present. So here I am. Frustrated that things couldn’t be easier and overwhelmed that I cannot make it happen.

The guys were great. I calmed down, but I was already emotionally and mentally drained from the events. I did feel better. I always do after letting go of whatever is bothering me. Now I was faced with a question.

Do I not go to the show? Do I protect myself? Do I call my efforts good and wait for the next time? Do I stay in my room?

I could have. I think I would have been justified. I have learned to protect myself and always look out for me. Sometimes it means pulling yourself from a situation before you get yourself into said situation.

I did not stay in my room. In the end I couldn’t. I know I would have regretted not going to the show. I would have missed out on another good night!

I went. I conquered again! I won again! I jumped this huge hurdle again! The energy of the crowd was great. It was another emotional show. The people around us where awesome. I had all the nerves I had night one while in the crowds, but as the show started, it all melted away…again.

I would have missed grilling burgers in the ER parking lot after my buddy cut the tip of his finger with a chef’s knife. Now, of course I would rather my buddy didn’t get hurt. I don’t wish injury on anyone, but it makes for part of the experience of a night not spent in my room.

Who grills burgers in the hospital parking lot? Well, that would be us. You have to pass the time waiting somehow and we were hungry after an amazing night!

What if I had stayed in my room? We will never know.

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

Have a great day!

Jason

Feel free to jump over to my website (http://rockingmentalhealth.com) – Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health. This blog lives there along with a podcast I do. I also have some videos I have made and also some music. My goal is provide people with the strength and encouragement to ask for help it they need it and to also keep going on their journeys. It Is OK To Not Be OK. We are in this together!

Coming Soon…Stay Tuned! A not-for-profit endeavor I am working hard at making a reality. This will be a spot for mental health bloggers, podcasters, videographers, musicians, and artists to share their work as it pertains to their own mental health dealings. The goal is to have somewhere people can go to find strength and encouragement to fight their own battle. Through our many stories, hopefully everyone who stops by, can find something which helps. More details to come as day 1 approaches. I am going to need your help!

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I’m Dizzy From All This Spinning: The Return To One Of My Elements

The world continues to open up even during what still remains to be a crazy time. I know many want to declare the pandemic over, but it just simply is not true. Through all of this, we are still trying to get back to a normal feeling. A comfortable feeling. We crave a feeling some of us feel we have lost. We have come a long way. We have changed. How could we not change? It happens when we are deep within our second year of “figuring life out as it presents itself to us”. I know I have felt blind sided, steam rolled, and quite frankly, I am exhausted. The pandemic has taken a huge toll on me. The pandemic has taken a huge toll on all of us. But here we remain. We don’t have much of a choice, but to figure life out and keep moving forward. I made a huge jump forward, this past weekend, and made my triumphant return to the live music scene that I love so much. I was able to get back into one of my elements. I was able to get back into an activity that makes my soul tick. It was great…it was really hard…it was great, but I am exhausted, right now, to be quite honest.

I tend to go see a number of concerts per year. I’m a huge Pearl Jam and Dave Matthews Band fan. I tend to see them a couple of times in a tour. People always ask me how I can see them so many times. That’s easy…they are two bands that mix up their set lists for every show. No two shows are the exact same. It provides a “wonder what they will play tonight” mentality. It is fun to try and guess what we will hear, especially when seeing them two nights in a row. You get the songs the first night and now the time to wonder “what will we get the second night” starts to play through your mind and plays in the conversations with your buddies you are there with.

One of the things I have struggled with a lot through the pandemic and the shutdown of the world is not seeing live music. Now, some of the bands performed live on social media, which was great, but it wasn’t the same. The bands I like, tried to do what they could for all of us and for themselves. You know these bands craved playing live in front of us, but had to settle for an empty venue and a virtual crowd was substituted in. It had to be weird trying to keep the energy up when you were staring into a dark room and couldn’t feed off the energy of the crowd (A Foo Fighters performance comes to mind). The bands I like to go see, you can tell we feed off of their performance, but I know they feed off of us and how we are reacting to each and every song. It is a give and take of energy that is palpable. You can absolutely feel it and it is great. The energy of a great show feeds my soul.

The pandemic threw a wrench into this craving of energy I get from going to a concert. I still have tickets for shows which ended up not happening. I keep them as each show is labeled “postponed”. Each of these shows have the potential to be epic and they are also not easy to come by unless you want to spend a ton of cash. I was within 2-3 weeks of seeing Pearl Jam at Madison Square Garden, a bucket list show for me, when the lights got turned out and we were left trying to figure out what the hell was going on and how the hell to do life.

Live music is a huge mental health builder for me. We each have our thing and this is a huge thing for me. I know it is a luxury, but it is something my soul craves none the less. And then it was taken away. So much was taken away during this pandemic. Especially, during the initial onset of the world being shut down. We had too, by no choice of our own, figure out how to keep our flames lit while flying by the seat of our pants. I know I am not alone in this, but I had to hang my head and let out a huge sigh. And then I tried to inhale and begin to move forward in a world that wanted to stand still.

My mental health journey was still very much a new experience when all of this decided to change what was already confusing to me. I was gaining clarity with each and every step I was taking, but I was far from figuring it all out. Enter the shutdown and the fact we were being told to stay home and…BOOM. The clarity I felt became much less clear.

Before, I could still venture back out into the world and test this new and improving me out. I took baby steps when needed and I had some huge leaps and bounds as well. I was learning a lot about myself. I was learning a lot about what it means to not do everything myself and to include others in my re-tooling. I was learning a lot about an amended me. I was changing, but I was still me. I had a foundation to lean on and a lot of floors that needed some renovation.

The pandemic stole away a lot of my tools. It completely changed the game for me. I had to learn to re-insert myself back into the world while being at home. How does that work? If you have the answer, I would love to hear it.

Initially, I was on board with a break from the everyday madness. In my mind, I hoped this shutdown would be short. In my mind, especially within my nurse brain, I knew it wasn’t going to be short. It wasn’t short at all. We are still living it to this day. We are still flying by the seat of our pants to this day.

Well, I’m not cool with it. You know what? Life could care less with what I am cool with or what I am not cool with. Life says…”here you go”, and throws what it wants at you. Curve balls are hard to hit, now life had figured out a way to throw seven curveballs at once and I had to try and figure out how to hit them all at once. It is an impossible feat.

So, we began to figure out how to handle each curveball on an individual basis. Before the pandemic, I had already realized I am more introverted than I am not. During the pandemic, this got out of control. It was easy to let it happen. I didn’t have to do anything I didn’t want to do. I had a great built-in excuse to get out of anything. This began to backfire. My introversion took on a live of its own.

My depression ramped up too. Through a lot of my depression I have felt alone. I have felt alone when even surrounded by people I love. I felt like I was on an island with no chance of rescue. How do you shake this feeling of being alone when the government is telling you to stay in and be alone? Again, if you have this figured out, I am all ears!

I went from feeling much better to sinking back into my hole again. It wasn’t as deep as I was when I decided to make some major changes to my life, but it was still that same shitty hole I thought I was out of. Deflating. Demoralizing. Scary. Frustrating. It was easy to tell myself to give up. Everything I had done up to this moment was now totally changed, or at least flipped upside down. Again, the clarity I was achieving was now much less clear.

I could have given up. Yes, I could have. You may not agree with the “giving up part”, but this is my reality and not yours. To live each and every day at maximum effort to not “give up” is absolutely exhausting. I kept going, because I knew I had to. Honestly, I wanted to keep going. I certainly had thoughts of ending it again, but the difference this time is I knew, while thinking it, that this was not my reality. Living was, and is, my reality now. I felt like shit, but I couldn’t stop. Each and every one of us has had to figure out how not to “give up” and to keep going. Each one of us have had to make changes in our lives to survive what was going on around us, with the world being shut down, and with people telling us to stay inside. I know I’m not the only one, but this, right here, is my story. This story is the one I know.

I’ve waded through all of this uncertainty. I’ve figured out how to keep moving forward. I have continued to mold this new life and I’ve done my best to figure out how it fits with my old life and with the foundation I have always possessed. I felt like I was rounding first and heading for home, but there was the catcher blocking home plate.

The shows this past weekend were in the Indianapolis area. My buddy and I headed over on Thursday and our other two buddies were coming over Friday. The first night there, my buddy and I went out to eat (he just so happens to be one of my core peeps). The simple act of going out to eat has become a hurdle for me and I leaped over it. We had a great dinner and had a great time catching up. Alright, I’m feeling this…I can do this. I hope this is a sign of things to come with the first show being on Friday.

Friday arrives and I can feel my nerves beginning to jump. I can handle this. This feeling was to be expected. Getting back out into a huge concert crowd means I have to jump over one of my biggest hurdles yet. I may not have felt totally ready in all honesty, but I was ready to give it a shot.

It is tradition to get to the venue early for a bit of pre-show tailgating. Nerves began to jump a little more. The Dave Matthew’s crowds are notoriously really cool, but with that comes socializing with some cool people. Eek! OK…breathe. Jump in and out if you need to. I told myself all of this. I felt super awkward as well. This was my first tailgate after being a non-drinker for two years. Drinking at a tailgate was another of my favorite activities. Well, it wasn’t anymore. Enter a new me. A non-drinking tailgater amongst many who were drinking. It was tough, but that part wasn’t too bad.

I really was contending with my super charged introversion. I was OK with not drinking. I have jumped that hurdle over and over, over the past couple of years. These next couple of days was all about the people and how I was going to act as a person who prefers to be at home most of the time. I preferred what was now my safe place.

I had to venture out of that safe place. A safe place can become more of a hinderance than a safe place type of thing really easily. I have recognized it as becoming more of a hindrance over my extended time in my safe place over the pandemic. It was time to venture out and I did and I wanted to venture out.

The time arrived for us to head into the venue. I took a couple of deep breaths and off we went. Now, when show time is approaching, obviously everyone has the same idea. “Let’s head in”. So of course we came up to a line. Not a single file line but a long and wide line as everybody was trying to get into one of the multiple entrances into the venue. I was forced to wait within very close proximity of everyone around me. My nerves where now straight up anxiety. I think before, in the parking lot, it was all nerves, but now one of my mental illnesses was up to its old tricks. My palms were sweating and my mind was spinning. I was a bit dizzy. I had to get through this line. I had to get out of this line.

I had two options. Get out of line and go back to the car…no way. I’ve waited for this moment too long. So I kept moving forward one baby step at a time. There was a lot of people after all. We got through the line and were in. OK. Big big hurdle cleared. I may have hit it a bit with my knee as I went over the hurdle, but I was across it and on the other side. Whew!

Now it was time to wade through the people and head to our seats. We got to our seats. Well crap, our seats are in the middle of the row. Now it’s time to deal with this aspect. I had at least ten people to either side of my escape plan. My anxiety tried to convince me I was trapped. Nope. I can’t let it win tonight. I told myself I can always excuse my way through and get out whenever needed. The people began to fill the seats on either side of me. It was getting real. Everything I have worked so hard for is now getting a proper test. I was super nervous and anxious.

Thankfully, we had an extra seat as, unfortunately, one of our buddies wasn’t able to make it due to a family issue. I wish he was there, but I was thankful for the extra breathing room. The extra space was a huge positive, I told myself, and it helped to keep me grounded and quite frankly it kept me in my seat.

And then the first chord was strummed on Dave’s guitar. All the worry, all the anxiousness, all the depression, all of the bad shit I have gone through and worked so hard to get through was gone at that very moment. I finally got what I felt like I deserved and it was PEACE. It hit me really hard. It hit me in a really good way. I stood there, listening to the beginning of the show, and cried. It wasn’t a wailing cry, but a feel good within myself cry. At that moment, I realized I had made it back to a period in my life I missed so much. My soul was being filled with the energy I missed experiencing while going through the pandemic. It was emotional. It was absolutely great!

I was so worried about myself. I was so worried about protecting myself. I was so worried about using everything I have learned over the past couple of years, that I forgot until that very moment, that I was back in one of my key elements. It was overwhelming. I cried. It was great!

Throughout the show, I didn’t worry about the people around me (huge step), I didn’t worry about what I looked like as a man who was showing emotion (huge step), I did what I wanted and felt free. I danced. I laughed. I high-fived my buddies. Guess what? I never once left my seat through the whole show! I didn’t have to physically escape, I didn’t even think about it, because the mental escape I was experiencing was what I needed the most. I was back and for one almost three hour moment of my life, I felt like me again and I really liked this me I was experiencing.

Through two plus years of dealing with so much, through two years of exhausting myself, for almost three hours…I knew my decision to save my life and begin anew was 110% worth every hardship and every bit of energy I spent on myself to get back to this moment.

I didn’t once feel like I was alone. It was such a great feeling. I enjoyed watching the show. I enjoyed watching the crowd. I knew each and every one of us has had to endure struggles of what a world wide pandemic does to each and everyone of us and now we were back! It was great watching how the band celebrated being back and it was great watching the crowd celebrate being back.

It felt great to be back! Honestly, I have never felt like I did at that moment ever before at a show and I have felt some deep stuff at other shows…it was an amazing ride.

What things in your life would you describe as part of your element? Have you been able to experience any of it during or after all of the madness we have been through? I hope you get to feel what I felt when you do experience this moment. Getting back to feeling awesome emotions in a way that really fills up our souls.

Keep going! You are doing great! Jumping hurdles is exhausting, but all of this training can and will lead to a much better feeling than what we are working so hard to leave behind. You got this! I got this! We got this! Let’s keep walking this journey together!

Have a great day!

Jason

Jump on over to Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health at http://rockingmentalhealth.com. You will find this blog there. I also have a podcast and have made some videos, amongst some other things, I share there as I strive to push the mental health awareness needle as far forward as I can.

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Dream A Little Dream With Me (Or A Big Dream)

This past weekend was another weekend spent with friends. These friends of ours are long time friends. My wife grew up with them and they have been her life-long friends. The best friends to have. I love hanging out with my long-time friends and I love hanging out with her long-time friends. Really, over all of this time, my wife and I are lucky to have long-time friends still in our lives and most assuredly, her long-time friends are my really good friends and vice-versa with my wife and my friends. These are the types of friends you start to drop the “friend” designation and you really think of yourselves as family. When I’ve talked about having a core group, these are the folks I am referring too.

We spent the weekend over in Indiana at one of our friends houses that is near a lake. We spent all day Saturday out on the lake as they have a boat and aren’t afraid to use it! Lucky for all of us. It was a day spent cruising and swimming and watching our buddy try and knock the kids off of their tubes as they taunted him and his ability to do so. We even had a small storm go through that found us heading for cover. It was a great day full of sun and a ton of laughter. Really the perfect medicine in my quest to better my mental health and to keep heading forward on my journey. I found myself laughing hard and smiling often. I found myself reflecting positively as I stared out of the boat at the many lake houses found on the lake. I found myself being extremely happy where I was and with what I was doing at that moment. The best part may have been is that my anxiety I experienced the weekend before wasn’t present this past weekend. I consider this a major breakthrough in my re-entry into the world as a “new” guy. It felt really great!

A very awesome and repeated topic kept coming up. As we all were talking we found ourselves talking about some of the dreams we have for our lives. Whether it be a house one couple was looking at or talking about getting some level of an RV and traveling the country. A way to see some of their kids that are spread out around the western portion of the United States. Another friend talked about getting a travel trailer small enough to be pulled behind her SUV just to allow her to get away from the responsibilities of everyday life and get back to and out to the outdoors which she truly loves.

I even talked about a huge step I am trying to take with my mission to spread mental health awareness as far as I can reach. I filed to make my endeavor, mostly my website (rockingmentalhealth.com), a not-for-profit organization. I filed literally days ago. I am super excited and nervous all at the same time. More will come out as this hopefully becomes a reality, but my goal is to turn my website into a site where I still share my blogs, podcasts, videos, music and other stuff, but I want to invite others who are dealing with their own mental health to have another place to share their message from as well. I want to make the website a library of sorts for creative thoughts and media. A place where those who may be struggling can find some strength, comfort, and hope from some form of media. Not everyone relates, necessarily, to my story, but I want there to be a number of stories available, being told through the use of our creative talents, to have content people can relate to and can pull whatever they are searching for from what is available. All free. A place for people dealing with their mental health, where they can share their story, further helping their healing and strengthening, for people who are dealing with their mental health in any and all ways. I feel this can be very powerful as we are all definitely stronger working through all of this together.

We talked about how we can make all of these dreams a reality. We encouraged each other to make our dreams a reality. Really, why shouldn’t we?

One thing I have learned through all I have been through is that life is short. I have peered over the cliff’s edge and I almost jumped. I have been able to pull myself back. I can say it has been the hardest and best thing I have ever done in my life and for my life. One thing that has come from this experience is that life is truly short.

We hear this said all of the time, life is short, but I almost made it short on my own accord. Now that I am coming out on the other side, I can look back and the fact that life really is short glares back at me. It glares, but it also looks at me with soft gentle eyes. At least my mind tries to no longer see the glare, but I try to see life like it looks at me with soft gentle eyes and that life does want me to succeed in being happy with my life again.

Part of this is to dream. We have to dream. Kids need to be allowed to dream and adults need to remember it is OK to dream. We also have to let some of these dreams come true. Or at least we need take a leap of faith and risk and just go for it sometimes. Life is short. I see it now. We need to make the most of it. We need to dream. We need to work to make some of these dreams come true.

I have been reading and learning a lot about what it means to start a not-for-profit organization. The government has a lot of control over me getting there. This means I will need to exercise patience along the way as the process can take awhile. I am excited and nervous at the same time. I have been a grunt my whole life. I have never been the person running something. But I’m learning and I am determined and I’m fueled by my fire to spread mental health awareness and to hopefully save a life. I know I have to and I know I am led to take this huge jump and see what happens. To achieve this dream, I have to take a huge risk. The risk being that failure is always on the horizon, but success has to be on that same horizon. I have to try and see where it goes.

I feel like I have lived a fairly safe life. I haven’t taken a ton of risks and I think it fuels my feeling I have of coasting through life. This feeling is a struggle for me and is a constant topic in my life. I need to spice up my life and stop coasting. I need to strive for the next level. This is the perfect opportunity for me.

Nothing about starting a not-for-profit is easy. There is a lot of paperwork and deadlines. There is a definite accountability to the public you are trying to serve. You do not go into this endeavor with the goal of getting rich. This isn’t the right arena for that thought. You have to go into it with a mission to change lives and hopefully improve on what is currently out there for mental health. I have some assistance, thankfully, from some outside companies on what to do and when to do it, but this will be a lot of work.

I cannot let that stop me. The fear of hard work and the fear of failure cannot stop me from attaining this dream. This thought cannot stop any of us from attaining our dreams. Everyone of us needs to dream and everyone of us needs to step out of comfort zones, sometimes, to make our dreams a reality.

I’m also not talking or encouraging you to go broke or anything as you work to make your dreams a reality. Dreams don’t have to go to this level. I really feel, as we are trying to implement more positive aspects into our lives, that dreaming and working to make these dreams a reality is a huge part of this.

I love the fact that I am chasing a dream. Two years ago and even before that, I did not possess the ability to dream. I was so far lost or at least confused, that my mind wouldn’t allow me to dream, let alone chase a dream. My thoughts were way to negative and my motivation to chase something involved chasing something that further drove me down into my dark hole.

And here I am dreaming! I made it out of my dark hole and I have the ability to dream again. I feel this is a huge step in my journey. It means I want to live life again. I want to experience it again. It means I am getting closer to the happy life I have envisioned for myself. It means that I am invested in myself again and I am actively striving to live my life how I want to and as I feel drawn to.

The overall vibe of the conversation we had on our friends’ back deck was GO FOR IT! Get the RV, if you are able to, and go see the country. Get the camper and spend time in the outdoors which you love. If you feel compelled to start a business, then do it. If you can dream it, you have the ability to strive to make your dreams a reality.

Life is so short. I see it so much clearer now. Life is to short to sit around thinking “what if” or “I would love to do that, but…” These thoughts are OK to have. These thoughts are us being human. Never forget part of being human is we have the ability within us to work hard to achieve our dreams as well.

The thought of living a life where we can make our dreams come true sounds so much better than sitting on idle. We have worked so hard to pull ourselves out of our dark holes. We have the right, through all of this hard work, to do what we need to achieve our dreams however big or small they may be. A life where we achieve our dreams and our goals is a life worth living, to me and the thought of this brings a smile to my face and to my heart.

Dream. Dream big! Dream small! But dream. It is OK to dream. It is OK to dream as much as it is OK to Not Be OK. You do deserve to achieve your dreams. Your mind may be telling you way different right now, but this is where asking for help and beginning your journey forward, out of your dark hole, can and will lead to the desire and the renewed ability to want to dream and to work to achieve your dreams again. All of this is possible…it really is!

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

Have a great day!

Jason

Head on over to rockingmentalhealth.com. There I share this blog, a podcast I do, some videos and animation I’ve come up with, along with some music I’ve created as well.

Stay tuned fellow bloggers, podcasters, videographers, photographers, artists and beyond…I will need your help if(and when) my not-for-profit endeavor takes off. I would love to help you share your work and build your reach through a website that will be ours, and will allow all of us to spread the reach of our mental health awareness missions!

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Perspective and Perseverance Go Together Like Peas And Carrots

I’ve written some lately about how my perspective about my treatment for depression and anxiety has changed lately. Especially after we took our trip to North Carolina after my boneheaded decision to stop one of my anti-depressants. Once I went back on it, I began to feel better within a couple of days. I talked about how my perspective has changed and how it relates to my acceptance of my treatment. I feel acceptance and perspective go hand and hand. Another is perseverance and perspective. I feel these two words, as far as they relate to mental health, basically orbit around each other in an ever changing manner, yet help to form balance.

This ever changing manner is a very good thing. Or it can be a good thing. I feel we have a lot of control with how perseverance and perspective affect our lives and our mental health. I know they have for me.

We all have a perspective about our lives. We have perspective on how we want to live them and a perspective on how we want to enjoy them. With perspective, we let things into our lives. We also try and keep things out of our lives. What is the perfect recipe? That is a great question I don’t think can easily be answered. But it is OK for it to not be easily answered.

I say it cannot be easily answered, as we are always molding and forming our perspective using our internal information, as well as external information. Internally, some examples can be: how I think about myself…how I treat myself…what is my brain telling me and how can I either stay right there, or how can I change what my brain is telling me to fit what I am striving for, as it goes for living the life I want to live. It also can be how we perceive how people react to us or even accept us. Granted what our brain is telling us may not be really what people are telling us or treating us like, but we know how much our brains influence our perception no matter what people’s real intentions are or not for us.

External things that help to mold our perspective can be: how do we take what someone has said to us…does it register as good or bad…how does a public interaction go with someone at the grocery store…what are we watching on TV or other ways of stimulating our brains through technology…did a neighbor see us walk outside our house and strike up a conversation when we really didn’t want to talk to anyone. These may not be the greatest examples, but they are some examples out of so many.

My point is we constantly have internal and external forces at work on us. They are working on us even when we don’t know it. What do we do with the information? Do we use it as a tool to try out something different or strengthen how we interact with the world? Do we allow the experiences to push us back into our hole where we don’t want to be active in our care anymore? Every bit of this helps us to form our perspective. Whether “it” is good or bad.

Here is an example from this past weekend that I experienced. I have just passed two years without having a drop of alcohol. I’ve had some good and bad days with this, but I’ve never wavered from the commitment I made to myself. I find myself being able to hang out with people when they are drinking more and more. I don’t mind it as much. There does come a point where I do sometimes get tired of being around the “different level” people will get to when drinking. This is by no means judgment as I know how I was when I drank. I’m not spouting goody goody garbage all over like I never drank a day in my life and I’m better than you are. I am talking about something that just happens. Maybe I pay more attention to this than others as I have gone from a heavy drinker to not being a drinker at all.

We had planned a camping trip with some friends of ours. Another couple. We planned on making the trip a long weekend type of trip. Cool! I really enjoy getting away and setting up our camper and just relaxing outside. So many of my trips are with my family and no one really drinks much at all, so this may have been my first trip with just friends. The activities with my friends are definitely different than with my family. A camping weekend with my friends involves a lot of alcohol.

In no way do I expect anyone to do or be any different than how they have always been. When I notice people being different around me, it is way more awkward for me to be around than if they would just act like themselves with me. I’m a big boy and I made a decision that I am determined to stick too.

I was having some serious anxiety though. Are we going to be the loudest people in the campground? Will there be little kids staying in a tent right by us? Is our music disturbing our neighbors? Am I going to get sick and tired of watching people do the same thing everyday?

I found myself worrying more not about us in particular. I was OK with everyone being themselves. I was worried about how everyone around us perceived not one of our actions, but every single one of our actions. My level of worry was at the level of anxiety when we went to North Carolina.

It made me feel terrible. It made me feel like I had no control or I was loosing control. Not that I was loosing control over them, but it was me loosing control of…me. I knew my worries were irrational. We were OK. Try telling that to my brain. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I couldn’t stop worrying. All I wanted to do was to stop worrying and relax and enjoy my time with my friends.

Then it escalated. Some neighbors across the road came over. Campgrounds are notorious for attracting pretty cool people and you tend to be friendly with your neighbors. I’ve had some wonderful conversations with another as we were setting up our campers or whatever.

Well, when the neighbors came over…I tried to visit the best I could. I quickly realized I didn’t want to be in a group of people I know, mixed with people I didn’t know. Too much stimulation. So, I decided to try some of my new stuff out. I forced myself to leave the group. Telling myself it was OK to leave the group and I walked over by the fire away from the group. The neighbor guy saw me and walked over and we began to chit-chat. My goal of walking away was to hopefully have not more than one stranger walk over to me and I could then handle it.

It worked for about maybe five minutes. My brain was still not calm. I wasn’t depressed, but my anxiety was high from a day and a half of camping. That’s a day and a half of constant worrying. Any mechanism I had to keep my anxiety in check was gone.

I went into basically a fight-or-flight type of response. I basically just left and went into the camper to lay down. I thought maybe pulling myself out of the situation for a while would allow myself to calm down and maybe I could rejoin the foray. Nope. I could hear everyone talking and that meant our neighbors were still there.

Eventually they left. It had started to rain and the rest of my group decided to come in so the neighbors left after they came in. When I asked my wife if they were gone and she replied that they had…a feeling of relief came over me.

In a sense, my perspective changed. Or at least I molded an edge of it a different shape than what that edge looked like before. I realized that all of my worry about how we were being perceived was really my worry of having to deal with people I don’t know. I didn’t want to do it. I was in no mood to make new friends this weekend. After I knew they had left, I became more comfortable.

I realized no matter what these people around me do. My wife and my friends, I was happy to be with them. Why? I felt safe around them. I felt they could be a buffer for me to the outside world I didn’t want to interact with. Now did I ignore everyone as they walked by? No I didn’t. It is not who I am, but I wasn’t up for inviting all kinds of nice people over to enjoy our fire and our company.

I was good just being with my group. I could care less what they did. I was happy. I interacted more. I loosened up. I started to enjoy myself. When our neighbors didn’t come over the next night…I was good to go. I was feeling much better. I was still worried about the music volume, but even that worry had lessened.

We were having so much fun together that we added on another night to our trip. I’m so glad we did.

My perspective changed. What these three people mean to me changed. Nothing was bad before, but more good feelings about them were there. There is something to be said about being with people who make you feel SAFE. Not make you feel good…yes maybe they do that as well, but I’m talking about SAFE. I could be me no matter what. These are great people in my life and my level of respect for them went up for sure.

The perspective of how I want my life to look and feel changed this past weekend. I feel I was able to better form how I want myself to look and be like.

I have begun to like the perspective my life has taken and how I want to live it moving forward. It has taken a long time to get to this point. This is not the finishing line, but I like this check point I am at. My perspective will change again, but it does look a lot different than it did at first.

When I got out of the hospital, my perspective was more focused on survival and what I needed to do to achieve moving away from a bad place. It is more now on being who I want to be. It is more about living the life I want to live. It really is more about how I want my life to look.

This is where perseverance comes in. In order for me to get from being in a very dark hole, to asking for help, to learning how to survive, to learning my life and learning what it looks like has taken a bunch of time and effort. I’m not done yet either. I’ve not only had to learn to constantly mold my perspective into what I want it to be, but I’ve had to learn perseverance.

I’ve tried a lot of stuff. Some has worked and some has not worked. The times everything seems to be working is a lot easier than the opposite. No aspect of any of this is simple, but better times seem to make for a bit smoother sail. To maintain the good times it takes perseverance.

You don’t learn how to be overnight. At least you can’t put it into action and make it a part of your life overnight. It takes time. It takes focus. It takes drive. You can’t say you want help and you want to change and then do nothing and still expect everything to just become better. This plan will not work. You have to figure stuff out. Figure out how it works. Figure out how it fits into your life. You have to tweak aspects sometimes. You are working on figuring it all out all of the time. It takes a lot of effort. It takes perseverance.

Sometimes you will fall backwards. It is OK to fall backwards. It will happen along your journey. Perseverance gets a big challenge during these moments. When we are working through all of this, some ideas and methods will not work. You can change them completely or alter them to something which works for you. But you must persevere. You can’t stop. You can take a break and catch your breath again, but you have to start moving forward again. You have to persevere.

Another huge challenge is when something you are doing seems to be working and then it seems like it comes crashing to a halt and either doesn’t work or doesn’t make sense anymore. This to me is the time I most want to quit. This is where I begin thinking…what did I do? Why do I try so hard when nothing seems to work? What is the point of all this? My desire to quit can become strong. But we must persevere. This is a key moment when we must persevere. You may want to quit, but a lot of times we have come a long way and then boom…something in life changes, or whatever the cause may be, and we feel helpless. We feel frustrated. We feel like quitting. We have to pick ourselves back up. It hurts, but we have put so much work into ourselves. We have so many things that are working for us that we can’t quit. We pick ourselves back up and we persevere.

I wear a bracelet on my right wrist. I wear it on purpose or at least for a purpose. The stones are round and the three brownish stones represent perseverance. This bracelet helps to remind me that I must persevere through the good and especially through the bad. The bracelet has a cross on it as well. The cross helps me to remember I am not persevering alone. We all need help. Our perseverance needs just as much help as anything else does. This bracelet provides me with some grounding and is a great reminder of what I need to do.

Perspective will come. A general perspective forms quickly. Your perspective will change. You perspective can change for the better. You can do it! Our perspectives don’t have to stay in the bad…or stay feeling hopeless. We have control over our perspective. We really can mold it to look how we want it to look. The process will involve perseverance. With perseverance comes an acceptable perspective. With an acceptable perspective comes a life we can be happy living again.

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

Have a great day!

Jason

Please stop over and visit Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health. This blog lives over there along with a podcast I have been doing. I also have some music I’ve created along with some short videos I’ve made to help further my mission for mental health awareness.

http://rockingmentalhealth.com

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Celebrating Two Years Sober And Two Years Being On My Journey

Wow! I cannot believe this Friday will mark two years since I’ve had a drop of alcohol and two years since I decided to change my life and I asked for help. In ways, the two years have flown by as time seems to do, but some of the time, along my journey, it seemed like time was standing still. I’ve seen many ups, but I’ve also had to endure the lows. As I come up to two years, it does find me reflecting on all I have done and all I have went through. It really has been a wild ride for sure.

As I reflect on this time that has passed, I find myself thinking about how I felt two years and a handful of days ago. Two years ago to this very day that I type this, I was really in a bad place. I was caught in a downward spiral. I was lost. I was not happy with my life. I was not happy with some of my life choices. I had lost all hope. I felt like I was on a downward spiral, but at the time, I feel like I had already ended my descent and had just smacked the bottom.

I was drinking a ton. I never was an all day drinker as I had a job to do. I was a champion binge drinker. When five o’clock hit, it was time to drink as much as I could before I either ran out of alcohol or I passed out where I sat. This was becoming a daily ritual. It had become a ritual I could not maintain. I thought I could…I’m just that stubborn, but I was on fire (in the worst of ways) and the wind that was blowing was threatening to blow my fire out. I was absolutely lost.

Add in the horrible outlook and thoughts about myself, and I was a speeding locomotive which had already sped off the tracks. There was no longer train tracks to help guide my path. I had no idea where I was going and I no longer had control of this very lost path I was on. And I felt like my out-of-control train was quickly coming to the moment where I crashed and I would not recover and I felt like I would lose everything.

I felt like I would lose my life. The scary thing is…I didn’t care anymore. I was so far lost and hopeless that I even was having thoughts of ending my life. It really felt like the only option at this very cloudy and dangerous time of my life. I even had a plan. I even was having very vivid images of me going through with this extremely distorted, but very real (at the time) plan. I was lost. I was unhappy. I had lost all hope.

When your brain is chemically imbalanced, as this is what depression is, you basically are along for the ride. Depression isn’t something you can turn on and off. When you have a chemical or a neurotransmitter imbalance, you have absolutely no control over it. Depression is a disease. A very dangerous disease. It isn’t something you can just “get over” or something you can just “suck up”. A disease process does not work this way.

The thoughts I was having about myself where terrible. I had zero self-esteem and zero self-confidence. In my eyes, I was failing at every aspect of my life. It didn’t matter what people around me would say to me. My chemically imbalanced brain was in full control. It had so much control over me that I reached the edge of the cliff. The voice in my head said “jump”. It made me believe that if I ended my life it would all be over and this is the only way to go. My brain wasn’t telling me to turn around. It had convinced me to keep plowing ahead, a speeding out-of-control locomotive which was no longer on the train track and had only one destination.

To no longer exist. To end my one chance at life. To finally blow out the flames raging inside of me. My brain lead me to believe that the unthinkable was the only answer.

Thank God, let me say that again…thank God I get to celebrate two years of sobriety and I also get to celebrate the most important decision I could have ever made for myself. No way I could have arrived at today without God in my corner.

I decided to choose life. I decided to ask for help. I decided to choose me!

I wasn’t in control, but thankfully God was still and still is in control of my life. He gave me the push I needed to turn away from the cliff edge. I am so thankful that I get to celebrate 2 years this Friday. Instead of forcing people to mourn my death, I get to celebrate my life and the decision I made to change my life.

These last two years have not been easy. Yes, I asked for help. Something I would never have normally done. I really felt I was good doing everything as I always have. Well, that didn’t work out so well. I asked for help. I had to shed the stubbornness and swallow my pride. I had to strip myself down to the absolute most vulnerable version of myself. I decided to open myself up to making a new and better me.

I’ve had some really low times over the last two years. I wish we could make the decision to ask for help and then everything magically disappears and is replaced by a whole new life where we are good. We all know life doesn’t work that way.

The changes I made required and still do require a ton of effort on my part. I love to use the word “active”. I had to be active in the changes I was making. I had to be active in implementing the advice I was receiving from my therapist. I had to be active in the treatment method my Psychiatrist was implementing for me.

Change is hard. We aren’t wired for loving change. Change can be hard, but change is necessary. Think about if certain aspects of our lives didn’t involve some level of change. Where would we be? Would we be stuck in a stagnant rut? Would we be bored with our life path? What if we made a decision for our lives and we didn’t have the ability to change that course as we saw the previous way wasn’t exactly working anymore? Where would that leave us?

Folks, we do get the option to make changes. We get the option to make minor adjustments, but we also get the ability to make major life altering changes for ourselves. Doesn’t this thought provide you with some level of comfort? If we don’t like where we are headed…change it. We get the ability to change our lives. Sometimes our lives need the change to sustain our life and insure that our fire for life doesn’t go out.

Change is un-nerving. It sounds scary, but thankfully, in the end, it is a fact of life. Have you ever been involved in a change in some aspect of your life whether it be professional or personal? Wasn’t it terrifying at first? But, in the end the change ended up being exactly what you needed? We get this chance when dealing with our mental health.

Let’s be real. Some changes don’t always work out for the better. Sometimes the old way ends up having been the best after all. Do you know what’s cool? If we don’t like the change, we get to change it again if we so desire.

The ability to change is endless. You do not run out of the ability to change. Change is always an option. We just have to look for the need to change. We then have to exercise the ability to change.

Thankfully, when dealing with our mental health and also dealing with mental illness, we have the ability to make changes. We have the ability to make as many changes as we want. We get an unlimited amount of opportunities. We don’t get to exercise the change if we don’t initially ask for help. The ability to change starts when we ask for help.

Say something to someone. If your mind is confusing you, please say something to someone. It doesn’t have to be a professional, although I encourage you to use the mental health professionals, but the initial act of asking for help can be to anyone. A family member. A friend. Your local pastor. Someone you may be close to in an activity you participate in. Whatever and whoever. The key is asking for help.

Again, the key is asking for help.

I am so thankful I decided to ask for help. I am here today because I asked for help. I absolutely believe asking for help saved my life. I now get to look back at the highs and the lows of my journey, since I asked for help, and I get to celebrate my huge accomplishment.

Never sell yourself short. The changes you make after asking for help is a huge accomplishment. It is something to be proud of. Shout it from the rooftops. You never know who might hear what you have gone through and it provides them the push to ask for help for themselves.

I get to celebrate my second chance at life this Friday. I hope you get to celebrate your chance. I want all of us to celebrate our chance. Way to many people are losing their personal battle everyday. Suicide is winning way too much. I understand the hurt and the pain and the hopelessness of being at the cliffs edge. I understand that jumping and ending your life seems like the only way to quiet the voice inside our head telling us we are worthless. I really do get it.

I also now get to understand the other side of it. Trust me…there is another side to the hopelessness and the desire to end it all. It can be so hard to see when you are hurting, but the other side is there. The other side is a life you can feel is worth living. Ask for help. You will not regret it. Be ready to be active in your pursuit for better mental health and a better outlook on life. You will not regret making the biggest investment in your life or really the biggest investment FOR your life.

Better days are ahead of you. They really are. Ask for help and turn away from the cliff’s edge. Come celebrate with me as we celebrate a gigantic accomplishment in life. True strength comes from admitting we need help from time to time. The time is now to flex. The time is not tomorrow. The time is now. The time to change your life and get to the point where you get to celebrate two years of choosing life, as I now get to, is right there in front of you. Make the choice to get help. Make the choice to change your life. I would love to celebrate you and your life and the awesome choice you made to make an active change. We are in this together after all.

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

Have a great day!

Jason

Head over to my website: rockingmentalhealth.com

There you will find this blog along with a podcast I do. I also use other forms of creative media to get my mental health advocacy message out there. The creative media is like each individual instrument in a band, that when they come together for a Jam session, the end result of everything put together forms a strong harmonious message.

It Is OK To Not Be OK.
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We Are A Masterpiece In Progress…Keep Applying The Paint

I’ve always enjoyed art. I’ve messed around with it, to some degree, my whole life. I like to draw and in the last 5-6 years, I’ve gotten into painting. It’s not something I do all of the time. That is not how my hobbies work. I tend to cycle through a few different things, but when I am focused on a particular hobby I am all-in. I don’t just do it a little bit, I basically do it a-lot-of-bit. I hammer whatever hobby I am on until almost a point of burnout sometimes. When the burnout hits, I move onto the next one. Eventually, I will cycle back to whatever hobby it was, but I pick up something else and go all-in on it in the mean time.

The all-in part is something I am working on. Nothing wrong with being totally committed to your hobby, but I feel I need to balance multiple hobbies at the same time and not just focus on one. I feel it will lessen the burnout feeling and I will be able to stay with a particular hobby or hobbies for a longer period of time. Playing in a multiple hobby at a time mode helps to keep my mind distracted. It keeps me thinking of being creative versus dwelling on the negative stuff that loves to pop into my mind.

Currently, I have not been painting. I’ve been writing and making some short videos. Both newer hobbies to me and I am enjoying using some different creative cells in my brain. I’ll paint again. I always do, but it’s not currently where my head is right now.

I find I don’t draw as much as I feel I get more out of painting. I’ve been dabbling with some animation for a short video I’m working on, but really I have found I enjoy the process of painting maybe a little more. It’s a tough thing to compare as tomorrow I might flip to total sketch mode. One reason I like painting is how forgiving it is. As I paint, if I don’t like how something looks, I can just paint over it and make it look how I want it to in the end.

Being able to correct something I have just attempted on canvas, and changing it or tweaking it to how I envision it, as maybe what I first tried wasn’t exactly how I wanted that line or that blended area to look is awesome. I find that painting is extremely forgiving.

With drawing, if you make a mistake you erase it and do whatever you erased again. The issue can be is sometimes you still see the mark you just tried to erase, so it can be hard to hide a particular area with something new. Painting is totally different. You can always paint over something, sometimes even before the old part you are correcting has dried and start adding more layers of paint and eventually you end up with an area of the painting you are very happy with.

I would say I’m better than average at painting and drawing. I’ve been around some level of it my whole life. It really made it easy as my dad (now retired) was my small town’s art teacher. I had my dad in almost every grade I went through starting with 1st grade. So, needless to say, I had plenty of opportunities and supplies to give the art thing a healthy try.

Being good at art, especially painting, doesn’t mean I can see something or imagine something and then replicate it and it be perfect the first try. One may think an artistic person would just nail it. This isn’t true. My brain can see something and then my hands, while being guided by my brain, can do a pretty good job at doing what I see, but it definitely isn’t always accomplished on the first try. I do have to work at it.

Sometimes, I paint something and I like it initially. I’ll sometimes walk away and then come back to it and I won’t like it as much or I feel I could make it look better, so I re-work the area until I am satisfied with it.

I get a little perfectionist-like when it comes to painting or anything creative. This can lead me to overworking a problem when I really should have left it alone. This is the other side of creating something. You have to learn when enough is enough. This is very hard to figure out at first and I know I’m still figuring that part out. I say you have to learn to say enough, as it isn’t something you just know right off the bat. At least I didn’t know it right off the bat. I’ve had to learn when to put the brush down and just smile at what I’ve done because I’m happy with it.

Some of this is me being hard on myself in a way, but it also is the part of me that wants to make a perfect representation of what I am imagining. Well, I can’t always do that. My style sometimes is just different than what I am seeing and some of your style may look different than what you originally saw. This is OK as nothing needs to look perfect when you really are doing a representation of something.

I’ve always said, in relation to my job, “the enemy of good is better”. You keep blowing up a balloon in someone’s leg artery, looking for perfection, and you will run into issues. You can seriously damage the vessel. The physician has to learn when what they have done, to open up a blockage, is enough and when to press on a little more. The same idea works with painting, especially being a perfectionist. There can be a point where you’ve worked it too much and it gets hard to come back from. Maybe now you have a spot that has so many layers of paint on it that the spot sticks out because there is way more paint on that spot than anywhere else on the painting.

In life, and especially where our mental health journey is concerned, I find that we travel down our road to better mental health in the same manner as I would paint a picture. Sometimes we apply the paint to our canvas and it looks great after the first try. Awesome! This is great, but this isn’t how it always works.

We have asked for help. This is us setting up our canvas. Immediately after asking for help, we begin the process of moving forward and crawling out of the dark hole we have just been in. We want to move as far away from the darkness and get back to a level of life where we can be happy again and really enjoy our life.

These initial steps are us applying the first bit of paint. Maybe we paint the blue sky background or maybe you envision a solid color as your background. You start with this. This is the foundation of our painting. From there, we start to add more paint and our painting starts taking on some detail. Maybe we have spoken to a friend about what is troubling us. Maybe we go see a therapist. Maybe we decide to stop doing an addictive behavior and now we are in the beginning process of figuring out how we do it. This is great!

As we go, the painting begins to take shape. You’ve laid out the basic shape of how things are going to look. The awesome thing about our mental health journey, much like a painting, is that if we don’t like something we have just attempted to paint, we can always paint over it. Sometimes you like it after the first attempt, but sometimes we need to tweak our plan. You like the initial shapes and idea of your painting, but you want to change it a bit to fit a little better into your overall vision for yourself.

You decide to alter an area of your painting by applying more paint or maybe by using a different color. The idea of the overall painting is the same, but now we are tweaking what we have on the canvas to look more the way we have envisioned it. Sometimes we may need to see multiple therapists before we find someone who you feel you can really gel with. Sometimes we need to see a different doctor, kind of along the same line as the therapists. Maybe a technique we have learned needs to be altered a bit to better fit into our lives.

Sometimes our vision changes some. We had an idea in our mind, but then we get a little bit different of an idea so now we evolve our plan. We try many things through our journey. Some stick the first time and some have to be altered some or even completely changed as we move forward. None of this is wrong. None of this is bad. We need to be active in our treatment and we also need to keep an open mind. Things change or sometimes they simply don’t work out.

But we keep moving forward.

That is the beauty of paint whether it be a real painting or a metaphor used for our lives. If we don’t like something, we can always add more paint or paint over it. What we were doing didn’t necessarily look bad, but it didn’t exactly measure up to what we have envisioned in our minds.

Life is forever changing. This is not a revelation or anything, but I think we sometimes forget that it is OK to change with it. We don’t have to hold onto our old ideas. They can change. They can evolve. We certainly don’t want to hold onto to everything about ourselves that helped to lead us to that dark hole. Some parts of our past will fit into the change, but some of it needs to be painted over. It remains a part of us, but it doesn’t have to be seen or represent how people see us as we move forward. You don’t have to look the same, as far as our minds work, and we really are trying to be happy with how we have been changing and reshaping ourselves.

Part of why I start a painting is to see where it will go from start to finish. My original idea tends to leave a foundation, but sometimes the idea does evolve in my mind as I work more and more through the process.

When I first asked for help, I kind of had an idea of how the process was going to work. It was general as all of what I was going to be doing, even though some of it I had no idea about yet, was going to be new to me. I needed to change it up. I decided to continue with my painting, but my idea had evolved into getting help outside of myself and with getting help, the picture of my life changed in my mind as well.

I made the decision to get help and change my life. I made the decision to be more active in caring for my mental health. I made a decision that I couldn’t keep going as I had been. The old way had proven to be destructive and I had to change to survive. So instead of throwing the whole picture away and starting over, I decided to alter my picture and I also added more paint.

I’m still painting my picture of myself. My guess is this will be the most amount of time ever spent on a work of art that I’ve done, but I am still painting. Maybe I will apply paint over something I thought I liked, but maybe the difference of my idea will be what makes me feel happy about what I am doing in the end. This is the point after all. We should and we deserve to step back from the painting we are doing and we should be able to smile at what we see in front of us. We should be proud of all we are doing to better our lives and get ourselves back to living a fulfilling life.

Make your painting look how you want it to look. Keep working at it. Add more paint. Keep blending the contours. If you don’t like what you are seeing, tweak the plan. Stay active in strengthening your mental health and well-being.

We are worth the masterpiece we have set off to make ourselves into. We are worth every bit of the effort. We really are! This is how precious our lives are. Somedays it’s hard to see, but you and I are precious and so are our lives. Keep working at all you are doing! You are doing a great job!

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

Have a great day!

Jason

Please visit: Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

A website I created to further my mission to spread mental health awareness. There you will find this blog and a podcast I do, along with some other creative expression works I have done all in the name of mental health. It Is OK, To Not Be OK. We can do this together.

www.rockingmentalhealth.com

Also, please feel free to venture over to Facebook. I started a group over there where we can all be lifted up and share with others who are dealing with a lot of the same things. It is a very chill group and all are welcome!

www.facebook.com/groups/rockingmentalhealth

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Recalibrating Ourselves

There are tools we use in our lives which need to be recalibrated from time to time. These are the really real tools you would use around the house or for a job you work. Typically these tools aid in measurement or leveling. I know the app on my phone, which is a level I use with my camper, needs to be calibrated and can be recalibrated if you want to. We use devices which electronically measure something. These tools need to be calibrated and also recalibrated. Take an electronic meter for example. It is a great tool for finding if there is an electrical current or not to an area of need. They also can measure the level of the electricity being carried to a particular device and if the level of energy is sufficient to safely run the device. I see this a lot in my field of medical device sales.

Some of our products plug into a console of sorts to power the device. The bio-med folks in the basement of your local hospital are the ones who use these types of meters to ensure the hospitals equipment is working right and is safe for use in patient care areas. When we bring equipment into play around people who are depending on said piece of equipment for medical care, it is important to know the piece of equipment will work and also not harm the patient or staff. This is obviously an important role within the day to day function of your local hospital.

What if the tool they are using wasn’t working properly. It hadn’t been checked in some time. You didn’t know it wasn’t working properly, because for some reason, your hospital doesn’t have a policy in place for maintaining every bit of equipment under its roof. You then use the meter to gauge the safety of using whatever piece of equipment you are testing. The meter reads that everything is normal. We trust that the meter is right so we return the piece of equipment into service. Someone gets hurt due to the fact the meter gave a false normal reading.

Don’t worry, your local hospital has policies in place for the equipment it utilizes whether it is patient care equipment or the equipment used to check the safety of the patient care equipment. Part of the policy is recalibrating these pieces of equipment that measure energy or whatever you are measuring. These checks are in place to maintain patient and staff safety. You may think something is OK, but from time to time it needs to be recalibrated to insure everything is working as it should.

Sometimes we are just cruising along. We feel good. We have been having a good run at life. It really feels good. Nothing is really bothering you, per se, but in the back of your mind you have the sense that something is a little off. Nothing bad really, but something just feels off. It isn’t anything for which you need to derail the train for or even pull off of your path, but you feel like something maybe needs a little tweaking to maintain this good course.

This has been me lately. I’ve been feeling pretty good. My medication rebellion is behind me and I’m still on the path I have accepted. I still have some moments where I don’t feel awesome and I know these moments are a fact of life. No matter what we do for ourselves, we will still have days and moments where we just aren’t feeling it. These moments have been much less for me, but I am human and human stuff happens.

I have to admit. The feeling I have had related to the feeling of needing to recalibrate, stems some from all I have been doing lately for my mission to spread mental health awareness.

Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health (rockingmentalhealth.com), which is what encompasses all that I am doing to add my two cents into the mental health arena, has grown. I write the blog and I have been doing a podcast all for about 5 or 6 months now. It all really started with me creating and recording my own songs (rock-ish instrumentals) and has evolved from there. I now have been messing around with some short videos to help spread my message of: It Is OK To Not Be OK and It Is OK To Ask For Help.

I have really enjoyed every bit of this. I have really enjoyed the challenge it provides me creatively. I enjoy writing and talking about my story. I say enjoy as I am fully committed in telling my story and throwing it out there in hopes that my experiences can help someone with their own battles.

All of these creative forms of expression take time to create and make. The process is awesome, as each area is done differently, so the creation part is far from monotonous. This is great for keeping my motivation to do this very high. I do have to mix this time in with the rest of my life. My home life and my work life.

I do believe I am finding a good balance between all aspects of my life and how my mental health mission fits in to all of this. I must admit some aspects had been becoming almost a deadline driven type of a feeling. This is in relation to my mental health advocacy side of my life. My fear was if I’m having this type of a feeling, as I am creating sometimes 3-4 different things at once, am I going to lose focus? Is what I put out not going to be worthy of putting out? Am I starting to go through the motions?

I do not get paid to do any of this. I do all of this because I truly want to do all of this. I do not want people to have to get to the level of darkness that I got to before asking for help. I came out of the hospital on fire and this thought was a big driver of this fire I had. It took me some time to start doing it, but the time allowed me to plan what I wanted to do. It has now gone places I never thought it would go. Honestly, I never even wrote anything for fun before all of this.

So, even though I have been happy with everything I am doing, I felt like I could use a bit of recalibration. I am happy with the website. I am happy with my job. I am happy with my life. But, somethings I was doing started to have that deadline feeling and this prompted me to step back and take a look at things. The recalibration had begun.

I have taken a couple of weeks off from writing my blog. I have also taken a couple of weeks off from the podcast. I feel these were the two areas where I felt that deadline-feeling and I wanted to get rid of this feeling. I love to do these two things and I do not and will not let something stand in the way of the motivation I have to do these things. This whole endeavor is not about deadlines. It is about putting out a piece of work I believe in and can stand behind.

I have been going along so well as of late and I feel the recalibration would be what I needed to do to maintain my course. So I took a break from a couple of things. I didn’t stop working on everything. It has let me fully focus on the video messaging side more. This has been a fun addition to The Basement Of Jams. I was able to tweak myself and not feel like any of this is a chore, but it is still the enjoyable thing it originally was and is meant to be.

And now I am back full force. I may not write a blog or record a podcast every week, but the recalibration period has allowed me to accept this thought as an OK thought. It is OK to not produce these things as regularly as I have before. Now don’t get me wrong, it may all still get released as it did before as I have trouble shutting things off when they are flowing, but I know now that whatever I decide is OK. I remain fully committed to this and in some ways I think my commitment level has grown after allowing myself some time off from some of it.

I do all of this for you, but I also do it for my own growth and for traveling my own path. Recalibration isn’t necessarily a full on re-set, but it helps to ensure the machine functions and functions in a safe manner.

None of what we should be doing in our lives and for our lives should be considered unsafe. We are trying to get rid of and change the unsafe aspects of our lives in order to improve our mental health and wellbeing, which in turn improves our lives. We need to recalibrate our life measuring tools from time to time so we don’t get false normal readings when there is really something we need to look at further. If something feels off, follow your gut. Follow your instincts. If something feels off, then most likely, something is off.

What feels off isn’t necessarily something bad, but what feels off doesn’t need to escalate to a level to where it promotes something bad to creep back into our lives. Recalibrate your tools. Then use these tools of measurement to look at everything in your life. If the reading shows you need to step away from something for a while in order to keep the train moving down the tracks, then step away from it for a while. These things we are stepping away from can be some of the best aspects of our lives, and the stepping away and recalibrating what we need to, can help to ensure these aspects of our lives remain a strong point for us to draw from.

I have to say…I think life gives us little hints and nudges every now and again about what we need to do for ourselves. I will admit I miss these nudges sometimes. I can be guilty of letting things fly right by me and not even notice what the real message is. None of all we are doing is a perfect solution, but the solutions we are trying to put into place will help us to get to where we want to get too in our lives.

Life is beautiful. This life is precious. We get one chance at this, so let’s keep doing what we need to do to get ourselves living the best lives we can foresee ourselves living. Maintain your course. Use your tools to measure where you are at and measure the methods you are using. After doing so, keep going or make the necessary recalibrations and continue moving forward.

We got this! We really do! If you are not feeling well and your mind is confusing your every step, please ask for help. You do not need to continue suffering. There is help out there. You are not alone. You really are not alone in this. Draw on the strength of others around you who have been down the dark road and are now walking the path to a better life and better mental health. These folks know a thing or two and would love to listen to you and they want to help you. Ask for help and you may be surprised how not alone you really are. I believe we are all stronger together!

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

Have a great day!

Jason

Please visit: Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

A website I created to further my mission to spread mental health awareness. There you will find this blog and a podcast I do, along with some other creative expression works I have done all in the name of mental health. It Is OK, To Not Be OK. We can do this together.

www.rockingmentalhealth.com

Also, please feel free to venture over to Facebook. I started a group over there where we can all be lifted up and share with others who are dealing with a lot of the same things. It is a very chill group and all are welcome!

www.facebook.com/groups/rockingmentalhealth

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We Are Walking The Path…But, Have We Truly Accepted Our Path?

Acceptance. What a word really. It can mean a number of things. I feel it is a powerful word, as it is a declaration of what we want to do or where we want to go. We accept something and whatever that route is, it now lies in front of us. It, to me, means you can now look forward and stop looking back. You are leaving what is back there…well there…in the past. You no longer question if you are doing the right thing. You no longer question where you want to go. You have decided this new path is the one for you. You’ve weighed all the odds and didn’t make the decision lightly when you decided to accept whatever path you have accepted, especially in life. Acceptance. We have been walking down the path of our mental health journey for a while now, but have you (or I for that matter) truly accepted that this is the path you want to take?

Of course it is the path we want to take. This path is the right path, as this path we are on, started with the decision we made to change how we have been living our lives and how we have been dealing with our mental health. We know it is the right path, but have we truly accepted everything that is involved with walking this chosen path?

I think we have accepted most everything which has been laid out before us either from ourselves or from our team of mental health professionals. Together, we have determined what the path may look like, but to truly benefit from this path, have we truly accepted everything about this path?

I feel this is an important question to ask ourselves. We asked for help. We committed ourself, at that point, to making a change and doing what we need to do to make the changes work in our lives. I know I have felt fully committed, in the decision I made, to get help and implement the important changes to my life to then be able to live the best life I can live for myself. I am fully committed to doing what I need to do to finally be comfortable in my own skin instead of hiding from myself.

But I can’t help thinking about the question of being fully committed to the changes and having accepted that all of this is what I need to be doing. Enter my experience while on vacation. I decided to stop one of my anti-depressants the week before we left. It was fully fueled by a rebellious nature I have shown throughout parts of my life. I was questioning the plan as I made the boneheaded decision to just up and stop one of my medications without consulting my psychiatrist first. I felt I knew what I was doing, or at least I knew what I was attempting to prove to myself.

I thought what I was trying to prove to myself was I didn’t need all of these medications. I take other medications for other medical stuff in my life and it gets old feeling like you are “popping” pills all of the time. I would much prefer to take nothing at all. I know that isn’t realistic, but in my rebellious mind, I thought I could at least stop one of my anti-depressants and I would be fine.

My thought process through this was: we had been lowering the dose of this particular medication and I was now on a low dose of it. We lowered the dose as yet another anti-depressant was being added, a little while back, and it made sense to try and not be on too much. My doctor was playing the balancing act game of trying to find the right combination for me. I originally was all in with this plan, but it didn’t stop the part of my brain which likes to question everything regardless of the logic of it or not.

So I decided to stop the medication a week before going on vacation. Who does this? I’m going to safely assume I am not alone in all of this. It is human nature to question everything. We say we are on board, and I really think we are on board, but this doesn’t stop our brains from, well…being our brains and it allows us to question even what we know we shouldn’t question.

I do think we should question what is going on with us. I also think we shouldn’t take certain matters into our own hands without consulting the ones who know what they are doing. We can question everything, I think it keeps us safe and helps us to make the proper decisions for our lives, but some things that we question we then shouldn’t take it upon ourselves to act out what we are questioning.

So, during a portion of my vacation the question about acceptance popped into my brain. It is something I have been thinking about since. I thankfully had brought the medication I had stopped with me and was smart enough, after feeling awful, to start it back up. It took a couple of days, but I started feeling better.

I questioned why I was feeling better after only a couple of days of being on the medication. On one hand, I wonder if the medication hadn’t fully metabolized out of my system so then it didn’t take long to start feeling the effects again. Or was it really just me accepting the plan and the path I was on in more of a complete and all-in manner.

I do feel some of me feeling better after a couple of days was the medication, but I do believe it was me finally realizing, or finally REALLY accepting, what I need to continue doing and fully accepting the path I have been on is really the right path for me.

I do believe some of the reason for me being able to feel so good after a couple of days being on the medication was because of the good feeling I was now having after proving to myself that I was confident in my path. I questioned it, probably should have gone about it differently, but regardless…the move led me to believe in my plan, my path, and I believed in myself again.

I think I had lost a bit of belief in myself and what I was doing to better my mental health. I needed a sucky moment in my life to prove to myself, again, that I have to keep going and walk the path. I am not encouraging you to do anything reckless to yourself to help prove to yourself that you are on the right path and you accept your path, but I do think we need to question ourselves sometimes.

By questioning ourselves, or maybe really just stepping back and doing an evaluation of ourselves from time to time, we can then allow ourselves to see our path more clearly. Sometimes we need a reminder and a boost we are doing the right thing still. My goal in stopping the medication was not to derail myself. I truly thought I might be OK without the medication. I did. I wasn’t trying to put myself into a bad spot, especially before my vacation, but I think my logic was off. No one wants to purposefully make a bad decision for themselves, but that doesn’t mean they won’t happen.

When these not super awesome decision moments come about, my hope is we can learn from what we did and then use what we have learned to up the ante. We can then come into a more complete level of acceptance of the path we have chosen to take and we now have increased motivation to keep walking the path versus veering off and derailing our train.

Please, don’t go out and do something drastic to prove your commitment to your plan. I do not recommend it. With that said, I do think it is good and also needed, to question what we are doing. These moments may be less of a questioning period versus more of an evaluation period.

We do need to evaluate our progress and our paths sometimes. Sometimes we need to alter the path we are on. We are on a good path, but we are constantly changing, and our path can change with these changes, so we need to alter it some to fit where we are in our lives. This is a good thing. It shows how active we still are in implementing our plan. We can’t alter a plan as we need to if we are being passive in our care. The changes come because we remain active and steadfast in our plan and our path.

Take a look at yourself from time to time. I feel, each time I do it, I learn so much about myself. It’s awesome because it rarely leads to what I would call a bad change. It strengthens my resolve and we can all use some strengthening of our resolves from time to time. This is not an easy path after all and we need to evaluate where we are every so often.

Through my experience, I do feel like I have accepted my plan and my path. I am more on board now, after stopping my medication and restarting it, than I was before. I was feeling stagnant and my not-so-smart decision has re-kickstarted my drive to keep going. I feel good today. I feel confident in what I am doing for myself again. It’s a good feeling! Please, take a look at yourself. Have you fully accepted the plan? It’s OK if you have not. It’s in our nature to be leery about stuff, but I hope through your self evaluation that you can come into a more complete acceptance of what you are doing and where you are going. You are doing so good and I know I like where I appear to be headed now that I have accepted my plan.

I’m sure I will pull a boneheaded move again through all of this, but until then…I’m going to keep on keeping on. I will deal with the bonehead moves when they arrive. I can’t be worried about something that hasn’t happened yet.

I hope you are good. I hope you are all in on your plan. It is always ok to not be ok…it really is. We have to keep moving forward, though. Our lives deserve it. You deserve it! I deserve it! We do deserve it and we are worth every effort we put into ourselves.

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

Have a great day!

Jason

Please visit: Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

A website I created to further my mission to spread mental health awareness. There you will find this blog and a podcast I do, along with some other creative expression works I have done all in the name of mental health. It Is OK, To Not Be OK. We can do this together.

www.rockingmentalhealth.com

Also, please feel free to venture over to Facebook. I started a group over there where we can all be lifted up and share with others who are dealing with a lot of the same things. It is a very chill group and all are welcome!

www.facebook.com/groups/rockingmentalhealth

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Take It All In: Part 2 (The Mountains)

I learned a lot about myself while we were in Oak Island, North Carolina. The ocean was amazing. So much power and yet so peaceful. Watching the waves roll in and crash on the beach is extremely relaxing to watch and listen to. I enjoyed hanging out with my wife talking and laughing together. Ben is a champion on the beach with his floppy frisbee skills. What a great start and what we originally intended to be the end of our vacation.

I also learned a lot about where I am in my mental health journey. I learned it is unwise to just up and stop one of your medications for anti-depression the week before you leave on vacation. This, along with me thrusting myself back into the world (kind of…we had a house in a residential area…not a lot of people around) and seeing how I would react, left me with finding a lot out about were I am currently with my journey.

I spent a lot of the vacation worrying excessively about almost anything my brain could latch onto. It lead me to being apprehensive with wanting to venture far from the house. We went and hung out on the beach and would go out and get some take-out and bring it back to the house to eat. My excessive worrying lead me to believing that everything we did was being somehow inconsiderate to others…and it wasn’t, but try telling your brain that when you are locked into this thought pattern.

Thankfully, I had brought the medication I had stopped and was able to restart it about halfway through the week. After a couple of days, I was feeling much better. I don’t think it had been long enough for the medication to pass through my system so it lead me to not needing as long to start feeling the effects.

Or was it something different? I believe the chemicals of the drug hadn’t yet fully metabolized in my system, but I also wonder if I came into some form of acceptance about being on the medication regiment I am on. Either way, I began to feel better. I threw out the idea of extending our vacation by a day and taking a different route home. A route that would allow us to stay a couple nights in the great Smokey Mountains of Tennessee!

I will admit, my move with my medication was definitely a rebellious move. I get this way sometimes. I think I can do better or should at least try and see if I really need all of this medication. So I stopped it. And then I started it back up. Signaling the end of this particular rebellion.

We arrived to our cabin in the mountains and the view was breathtaking! Our cabin sat on the side of a mountain with a picture perfect view of the valley and the mountains on the other side of the valley. The ocean is indeed powerful, the mountains are just as powerful and really can take your breathe away with their awe inspiring peaks and valleys.

I was feeling better. Much better than how I was feeling in North Carolina. A peace had come over me. Again, I feel a lot of it was me accepting I need to stay on the course I have been on. This includes continuing the medications my doctor has prescribed for me. I experimented and I failed. But I learned as well. This is what I feel powered a lot of my resurgence. I had gone full circle from rebellious to accepting and now it was time to truly enjoy myself.

Nobody was really around us, this might have helped my good feeling as well. I didn’t have to worry about anything. Well bears, as they told us the bears were roaming around during this time, but other than that…I felt free😁. I was able to let myself go. I was finally able to take it all in. Where was this earlier in the vacation? Again, don’t just up and stop your meds!

We had a porch which overlooked our mountain picture perfect view. Of course, there was wooden rocking chairs. Don’t mind if I do. It was great sitting on the porch, rocking in a rocking chair, and looking at the mountain view and watching the trees in the distance wave back and forth in the mountain breeze.

I played my guitar. I wrote last weeks blog out on the porch. I slept better than I had the entire vacation. I felt comfortable. I felt comfortable in my own skin. Now this is what I was looking for this whole time!

I needed the experience I had at the ocean to be able to have the experience I had in the mountains. One place, I learned a lot about me. The other place, I could put “me” into action. This is why I am thankful for the unpleasant feeling I had while at the ocean. The ocean was great, but I think the experience I had with my mind was bound to happen at that time no matter where I was in the world. I thankfully got to have the experience at the ocean, as I feel my mind was more open, and I was really able to focus on the task at hand as it presented itself to me.

This lead me to being able to enjoy the part of the vacation we were never planning on having. I am so thankful that we extended the trip as the experience in the mountains was amazing.

I am OK with having been inflicted with the excessive worrying part of my vacation. At least I am now. As I sit here today, I feel really pretty good. I am a lot more peaceful. Stopping the medication allowed some of the frustration I can have to really rise up. I was easily set-off and I was easy to anger at things I didn’t call for a need to react in such a manner . But now, I feel more at peace. I feel more at peace with myself.

I was able to let myself go and, in turn, I was able to take it all in. Even the bears we saw at the cabin above us! Eek! We saw mama and then we saw her cubs…we quickly went into our cabin. Scary for a guy from Illinois who has to deal with squirrels, but awesome as well!

Much like the beach restoration going on in Oak Island after the hurricane hit, sometimes we have to get torn down and washed away. Sometimes we have to rebuild. Sometimes we have to experience a bad time, but just like the people of Oak Island, we have to begin to rebuild. We can’t sit around waiting for something to happen. We have to be in charge of starting our rebuild. Much like the beach, we are worthy of being restored. We can build ourselves to be much stronger and more resilient for the next time the storm hits.

We then get to enjoy the mountains. We get to truly take in the breath taking spectacle known as life and we can then enjoy the peace and the power of the undertaking we have taken upon ourselves. Pain and struggle is inevitable in life, but they don’t have to be defining. We don’t have to stay a torn town pile of rubble. We get the ability to build ourselves back up. We get this ability as many times as we need to!

We get to rise up like the mountain peaks. We get to touch the sky if we choose to. We have that choice, but it does take effort. The effort put forth is not an impossible feat, thankfully. It is very doable. We just have to be active in the effort to then get to rise up and touch the sky! We then are able to take it all in and enjoy the fruits of our labor. The fruits are our lives. The one life we get. It is precious. It can be great. Let’s keep going. Why? Because we are worth it…we really are!

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

Have a great day!

Jason

Please visit: Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

A website I created to further my mission to spread mental health awareness. There you will find this blog and a podcast I do, along with some other creative expression works I have done all in the name of mental health. It Is OK, To Not Be OK. We can do this together.

www.rockingmentalhealth.com

Also, please feel free to venture over to Facebook. I started a group over there where we can all be lifted up and share with others who are dealing with a lot of the same things. It is a very chill group and all are welcome!

www.facebook.com/groups/rockingmentalhealth

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A Message To Myself: Take It All In…It Is OK (Part 1- The Ocean)

I grew up in a family who liked to travel. My parents both are/were teachers (retired now and well deserved) which meant their summers were open and we were not going to waste it. We weren’t the family you’d find staying in a hotel and taking over the hotel pool. Nope, we were a camping family. We preferred to take over the pool at the roadside KOA. An affordable activity you can do anywhere you can get your camper too. We camped every summer. Mostly, we camped on the weekends. About every other summer we would go somewhere big. All the weekend camping trips became warm up to the big trek to see Mickey or the mountains if we traveled west. I consider myself very fortunate to have been in a family which liked to camp and camp as a family. I have been blessed, throughout my life, to have been able to see some of the amazing places the United States has to offer up. Everywhere we went we did that particular place as well as we could do it. Days at Disney. Days at the ocean. Days in the mountains and days everywhere in between. It was a lot to take in, but we did it and we all grew to love what we have around us because of these early experiences.

My wife and I are currently having our own adventure. We loaded up the VW SUV and headed out east from the center of Illinois. Along with everything we packed, our black lab mix dog, Ben, got to go along with us for the first time. This is my version of a “family vacation”. I have my wife and my boy with me. Really couldn’t get any better than this.

We started off driving out to the coast of North Carolina. We stayed in Oak Island, NC for most of this past week. This area is still recovering from Hurricane Isaias which hit the area in early August 2020. It was super impressive seeing how fast the community was bouncing back. Tourists doing touristy stuff. Restaurants attempting to survive not only the pandemic, but now the recovery and most, or at least all I saw, were open for business.

We stayed in a small house on stilts, on the beach. Oak Island is known for their natural sand dunes that line the back part of the beaches. You would cross through them to get to the beach. These sand dunes were wiped out by the surge. An impressive beach recovery process was, and still is, occurring during our stay there. Large machines and pumps are aiding in rebuilding the dunes. They are making a sand levee where the dunes were located which I can only guess is to help protect from any storm surges in the future.

The speed at which the beach recovery was going on at was nothing short of impressive. The beaches and the town received major damage. The rebuild process is a sight to behold. From the beach recovery to the amount of construction, and even new construction, was impressive to witness. These folks are wasting no time in getting their lives back.

The beaches are open for business and with us being in a more residential part of town, the beaches were not crowded. This was perfect with having Ben with us. We could walk down to the beach and then let him off the leash. The tennis ball addict wasn’t as much into his tennis ball as he was his soft frisbee. Too much sand up the nose for the tennis ball to be it’s usual hit self. The guy loved his frisbee though. We played a lot and the boy also napped a lot as we tried to have as much fun as we could.

We had an awesome deck that overlooked the beach, kind of. The new sand wall that is being constructed obstructed the view of the beach itself, but it didn’t take away the view of the ocean. So we spent a lot of time sitting on the deck staring at the ocean. I can stare at the ocean doing ocean things for hours. I love the sounds of the waves and the birds and I love the peaceful power of the waves rolling in and crashing on the beach.

I was trying my best to take it all in. I was trying my best to enjoy this new and improved me I have been working on over the last couple of years. I learned a lot about myself while sitting on that deck staring at the water. I learned, or at least figured out, that I need to get out more.

What I mean by this is I have been at home a lot more. I have been to myself a lot more. The pandemic, as much as I don’t want to admit it changed me, has changed me. Some for the better, I’ve put a lot of work into the better, but I really learned that I have also developed some things which I do not like and I don’t recognize as myself or what I am trying to be.

I’ve talked about the worrying I do. I am an excessive worrier. I think I’ve made that clear. The excessive worrying part of me I was trying to get away from, raised its ugly worrying head. Ugh. The worst part about it is I even knew the things I was worrying about were not anything to really be worrying about. Especially to the level I was worrying at.

We had neighbors. They were nice. No issues what-so-ever. This doesn’t mean that my brain didn’t come up with countless amounts of junk to worry about. I worried about Ben barking, which he didn’t do. I worried about our noise level and were we to loud. I mean, how loud can two people be? The answer…not very, but the reality of it all didn’t stop my brain from going on a worrying rampage. I worried about people as they walked by the house to the beach. I worried our music was to loud or we were being to loud. Again, I worried about Ben barking, which he didn’t do. While out driving, I worried about everybody driving around me. What is the speed limit? Where is that restaurant and am I going to have to stop immediately to turn in and inconvenience the driver behind me. I worried about the sand from the beach we might track into the beach house. Read that again. Beach in the beach house basically.

So much worrying about stuff I even knew, as I worried about it, that it wasn’t worth the energy I expended worrying about it. But I worried anyway. And it cut into my fun. It cut into the whole reason I was there doing what we were doing. I was struggling at letting go and just taking it all in. It annoyed me to no end, but I couldn’t stop. Now, I did have a good time…I did, but not to the level I feel I deserved or allowed myself to experience.

I also must come clean. Before the vacation I decided to try and take myself off of one of my meds as it was such a low dose and previously it had made my head foggy at higher doses. Folks…NEVER stop your medicine on your own. Not smart on my part, but I do dumb stuff from time to time. I quickly figured out that this medicine counters some of the effects of my other anti-depressant. Together both aid my depression and both play off each others side effects. Without the one, the other has a stimulating effect, in turn, making it easier for my anxiety to enter into the equation.

This past week at the ocean, I have been an anxious mess. I came to the conclusion, while being way to deep inside of my head, that I am an excessive and possibly an obsessive worrier when it comes to being considerate to others. I worry about every inconsiderate possibility which could arise in the situation I am in and then I worry about that. Excessive consideration worrying is the phrase I may coin. I honestly would like to be more like the people I see who obviously could care less about the other people around them. That would be awesome, but I’m not that guy. I’d honestly settle for somewhere in the middle. Heck, I’d take being anywhere in the vicinity of the middle.

All of the worrying is exhausting, so then you don’t want to do much. All of the excessive worrying isn’t warranted, but I still do it. I wish I could just turn it off like it seems a lot of people can do, but I can’t. I’m working hard on just controlling it, but this past week the flood gates opened and I was really just along for the ride. I like rides, but this ride was seriously annoying and it ate into my time where I should be relaxing and enjoying my time I know I deserve.

I know some of it was coupled with me stopping my medication (I have since re-started it), but everything to me is a test. A test to see how far we have come. A test to see what we need to focus on, whether it be good or bad, and focus on where I need to go with my healing next. The ocean was great, but this time the ocean was also annoying.

I did learn a lot about myself. This is always a good thing, but I didn’t like the manner and the time spent on realizing what I was experiencing. I lot of time was spent inside my head. A lot of reflection. A lot of not nice things said to myself. I feel like I was able to appreciate the blessings I have with traveling, but I also reinforced to myself that I am still a big work in progress and I feel like I now know a big area I need to continue to focus on.

Part of this vacation was to forget about all of the focus I put on myself and my mental health. We should always be focused on bettering our mental health, but I have a habit of taking things too far and having this focus become a detriment sometimes. I honestly was angry at how my mind acted and where my thoughts kept venturing too. At the same time, I am thankful that my mind went there. I didn’t want it to occur during this vacation, but I am thankful for the clarity in which I can now see things better and better.

So, I will take this experience and try and do my best to come up with solutions. I do feel like I understand the worrying side of myself better. I do feel I need to work on my anxiety more. I focus on the depression, but I think it is less of a culprit this time and my anxiety is kind of taking the lead right now. For a silver lining, I am thankful for the worry and torment which goes along with the excessive worrying as I now have a better “feel” for it and where the anxiety is fitting into my life. The anxiety is and still is a huge player in all of this and not one I can ignore or at least not something I can not have some of my focus on.

I will continue to work on myself and see myself as an ongoing work in progress. We all are a work in progress. We all are trying to better our lives and our mental health everyday whether we are conscious of it or not. Wow, this really is a journey! We’ve come this far, so why stop now. I’d like to say we are more than halfway so it’s really easier to keep pushing forward versus turning back and going back to the place we are trying to take ourselves away from.

I did my best (I always think I could do better) to “take it all in”. I love the ocean and the beach. I enjoy relaxing in a chair and watching the waves crash on the beach. I enjoy watching a rebuilding process take place in a manner I do not get to see everyday. What I didn’t understand of “take it all in” was the part of this vacation where I learn more about myself. It wasn’t pleasant going through it, but it happened. I can’t take it back. All I can do is take the information I have gathered and continue moving on. Take it all in…and I mean take EVERYTHING in. It’s not all about the scenery and the relaxation. It’s also about what we can learn about ourselves when we take ourselves out of the situations we know and understand and then seeing how we deal with these situations. So I will keep going and I will keep working on bettering my mental health!

We are a work in progress, but we got this! I got this! You got this! We got this! Let’s keep walking together on this journey.

Part 2 – The Mountains will be next! Wow…the mountains is all I can say right now!

Have a great day!

Jason

Please visit: Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

A website I created to further my mission to spread mental health awareness. This blog and also a podcast I do, live there, as do some other ideas. Please check it out!

www.rockingmentalhealth.com

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I’m Excited…I’m Apprehensive…Wait, What?

There is a song by The Doors called “Not To Touch The Earth”. I would say it is not one of their most well known tunes as it came out with the awesome Celebration Of The Lizard which is a set of poems and songs which all string together to form the Celebration Of The Lizard…good stuff for any Doors fans reading this. My favorite line is “Not to touch the earth…not to see the sun…nothing left to do but run, run, run…let’s run!”. “Not To Touch The Earth” became our go to song we play loudly in our house before heading out for a vacation. Well, this Saturday, neighbors be warned…you will hear this tune being played loudly as we get ready to head out Saturday morning. To say I am excited, well I am…to say I’m also apprehensive, this is the truth.

So, my wife and I and our dog, Ben, are heading to the coast of North Carolina. There we have rented a small house, on stilts, right on the beach. The house is located more in a residential area and doesn’t appear to be near any hotels which is awesome to us. It will allow us to truly get away and I don’t have to worry about all the people that comes with a beach front resort/hotel.

I am excited. My wife and I haven’t been away, just the two of us, in a long time. We do go camping together, which is great, but it isn’t the same as hitting the beach together. An added bonus is this time, he doesn’t understand it yet, but we are taking our dog, Ben, with us. I am excited to show my boy the ocean! He is a 3 year old black lab mix who loves his squeaky tennis ball. He also has gotten really good at catching his floppy frisbee. Sounds like the makings of some awesome beach time. Again, the house seems to be off the beaten path, so it should be perfect for the two of us and a dog who likes to play non-stop.

Again, I am excited. Of all the places I’ve been, the ocean is my favorite. I love the mountains and I really enjoy going most anywhere that isn’t home, but the ocean is my jam. I’ve always been a huge fan of water, not just for drinking and the fact we are 70% water ourselves, but I have always liked trekking to an ocean. The beach, the crashing waves, the sun…it is all so refreshing. My soul could use some refreshing. It’s been a long year and I think all of our souls could use some refreshing. So we go to the ocean.

I am one who can sit in a chair and watch the waves crash on the beach for hours. I love the sight of it. I love the sound of it. It is so powerful and yet so peaceful. My soul craves peaceful more than ever right now. To top it off, I get to spend a week with my wife. We always have so much fun together, regardless of what we do. We are both just thankful we have the abilities and the means to get away.

I am also looking forward to the road trip. Pack all of our stuff. Jump in the car and off we go. Half the fun of any vacation is the journey. We haven’t had a road trip like this in a while. Jamming to tunes. Talking. Potentially stopping to see the biggest ball of twine or something similar. All of it is awesome and all of it is an experience. Is it Saturday yet?

And then, enter my brain. Ugh. Why is there a level of apprehension related to this vacation? Why is there a level of hesitation that is making me nervous about going? Why can I not commit myself to being fully committed to being as excited as I can be about this awesome trip? The worry begins to set in. I don’t want it to set in, but sometimes I feel like I don’t always have a choice in the matter. Or maybe I’m still a work in progress and I’m not there yet to having all of this mastered. Do we really ever get to the mastering stage? My guess is no.

I have found that through the pandemic, I have been home a lot more. We all have. For a lot of it, we did what we needed to do to keep ourselves and others safe. Nobody wants to be the reason someone contracts the virus, so I did the best I could. Yes, we did venture out. It’s not like we didn’t go anywhere and do anything fun. We were just very careful with who we did it with and we were careful with what we did. You didn’t find us out there in the crowds doing the touristy stuff.

With the being at home more aspect, it became increasingly easier to explore the introvert in me. I never thought of myself as an introvert until I stopped drinking and tackled my mental illness. The introversion, I believe, has become a crutch. I am introverted more than I am not, I recognize this, but to the level I exercise it right now seems to be a little overboard.

It is easy to get out of doing something, when you can use the pandemic as a reason for not doing whatever it is. Nobody really questions you about it. It maybe has spun out of control in my life. Stepping out of the house, even some days for my job, can be a struggle. I have to prepare myself for leaving. This is not how I used to be. At least not to this level, but here I am. I think this is a big reason for the hesitation and apprehension I feel towards this vacation.

I’m not trying to be a spoiled brat or anything. I get it that not everyone has the means and the abilities to just go do these things. I am very thankful for what I have been given in life and I do not want to sound like I am taking this for granted or anything. The things I am talking about here are just thoughts I have been having and it helps to get it out.

The hesitation and the apprehension keep popping up. I have become way too good at worrying. It drives me crazy how much I can worry about anything and everything. I worry about stuff that hasn’t even happened and probably won’t happen. I believe the worry can be related to me still not having fully let go of what I have been going through. I believe not letting go, leads me to keeping a guard up all of the time. I’m about to go on vacation and have a great time and all I can think about is what is going to go wrong. Or do I even deserve this. Who am I to get to just up and go and others cannot. I worry about the journey. I worry about the hotel we are going to stay in half way through our road trip. The hotel is dog friendly, but is it really even though everything I have read says it is. Am I going to pop into some funk while out there? Am I going to get there and just want to be at home? These are a few of the things my brain throws at me during a time I am supposed to be looking forward to this trip.

I am looking forward to this trip, but part of me isn’t excited for the trip. I am on one hand and in the other I am not. So goofy. Why can’t I just let my guard down and just be able to soak up the relaxation and allow myself to enjoy the recharging process?

This to me is a big key to it all. I think I am still afraid to put the real me, the new me, out there and test this new way of living out to the fullest. I am still learning all about how to be and how to think of myself. I think I am afraid to show myself who I can really be and who I am becoming. I’m supposed to be proud of everything I have done. I am proud of everything I have done, but for some reason I don’t trust myself. As far as I have come, I am still needing to remind myself to be patient and trust the process. I like who I am becoming, but I’m not very comfortable in my new skin. I was one way for so long and now I am trying to be this other way in which I envision myself, as I move forward. Well, hmmm.

So, I remain to be a work in progress. I have to let my guard down. I have to keep learning how to do it. I don’t always have to be in protection mode. It’s almost like I am afraid of letting my guard down because around every corner, a bad situation is lurking. To be in this state of constant alertness is exhausting. It simply isn’t sustainable. Why? Because we aren’t meant to be in a constant state of alertness. It is OK to let your guard down and enjoy the moments around you.

Sounds easy doesn’t it? Obviously it isn’t easy or I wouldn’t be writing this. I know I need to get better at enjoying the moment and allowing myself to enjoy the moment. Maybe this trip is a test and also contains more information for how to get to the point where I can allow myself to drop my guard. I think I will go with this thought and I will try to do my best to enjoy the moment. Enjoy the moment with my wife and my dog. They are my everything and why should I short change an experience with them?

The answer is of course I don’t want to lose out on any potential for a great experience. So, I will continue to work on myself. I have to. I will make it a point to Let Go during this vacation. Our work is never done when it pertains to our mental health. I need to keep searching for the ability to drop my guard and also keep building my mental health. I think being able to drop my guard from time to time is exactly what will help to build my mental health.

The day is approaching for us to pack up and hit the road. Even just writing all of this has helped to straighten some stuff in my mind. I will do my best to drop my guard and allow myself to fully enjoy the experience I am about to have. If you struggle with this exact same thing keep going. I am going to keep going. Even when I feel frustrated or apprehensive or hesitant. I will keep going. We have to keep going. This whole thing is a journey after all and we have to do what we can to keep moving forward.

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

Have a great day!

Jason

Please visit: Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

A website I created to further my mission to spread mental health awareness. This blog and also a podcast I do, live there, as do some other ideas. Please check it out!

www.rockingmentalhealth.com

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What Is Your Super Power?

I grew up a Superman fan. I am “grown” up now and still am a Superman fan. I was never really into the comic books, but when Christopher Reeve donned the red and blue with the “S” on the chest, I was hooked. I had a cape I would wear and run around the house like I was flying. Superman had become my favorite superhero of them all! I’ve always been mesmerized with flying ever since. Outrunning a train would be pretty cool as would leaping over a tall building. Super strength isn’t too shabby of a power as well. Heat ray and x-ray vision (I still have no idea how he controls his eyes to do one or the other😉) all completed the super hero package of powers for me. I wanted all of them. I would be happy with any one of them really (please be flying…please be flying…please be flying)! As long as he had Earth’s sun fueling him, he would never lose his powers. Well, unless some kryptonite so happened to come around and was near him, all was well in the world of Superman.

So many of us go about our mild-mannered day. We get up in the morning, eat breakfast, brush our teeth and take a shower. We get ready for work and we go to work. My job is all about driving so I drive to wherever my job takes me on that given day. Some of you report somewhere and have a desk and a spot in which to do your work. Those of you who are teachers and work within any form of the medical community, you are truly heroes already.

We go home at the end of the day and we talk to our families about how our days were and we eat dinner. Maybe catch a TV show at night and then we get ready for bed and prepare to do the mild-mannered life thing all over again the next day. We live within our Clark Kent life. We live in this life, sometimes, not knowing what we possess inside of ourselves. You can’t have Clark Kent without Superman and vise-versa.

Ok, dude, we get you like Superman and we think you still have that cape and you still fly around your house with it on, but what are you getting at here. Superman is cool and all, but let’s get on with it!😁

You and I possess our own super powers. BOOM…there it is. No we can’t fly. No we can’t outrun a train, but we possess our own super powers. We walk around through part of our life not knowing how to un-lock it. We really have no idea we have something in us to un-lock. But we do have these powers within us.

Depression and anxiety and everything else related to these two mental illnesses can begin to basically ruin your life. Your thoughts and your actions to yourself bring you down into this dark hole. We don’t always know, at first, how to get out of it. Unfortunately, not everyone figures it out and this is why I do what I do here with this blog. I do not want you to have to go through what I did, or even go through something worse than I did. I know I don’t want to relive my story and I’m sure you have your own story you may not want to relive.

We can go along, living our lives as we always have. My way of living my life was not dealing with what was troubling me. My way of dealing with it was ignoring or not allowing myself to recognize I have been dealing with depression and anxiety for longer than I even know.

I haven’t always had the tools to recognize these two things early on in my life. As I think back, I know I’ve been dealing with my mental illness for a lot of years. I write a lot about the last couple of years, specifically, as they were the absolute worst years, but I now can recognize all of this has been around much longer.

Even when I started feeling really bad and defeated. Even after I was losing hope and had lost all sight of my life’s direction, I still chose to do everything as I always have which was pretty much ignoring the problem in the first place. It will go away. It always will go away. The problem was it wasn’t going away anymore.

I was being consumed by my thoughts. My thoughts of the outside world and the thoughts about myself. I was not a nice person to myself near the end. I tore myself down. I tore myself apart. I could be doing anything, even something I’ve done a million times before without issue, and I would tear myself down. I would tell myself I wasn’t good enough. I convinced myself I couldn’t enjoy life again. I convinced myself I had lost all hope. I convinced myself that maybe this life, and the people in it, would be better off with me not being around.

So the darkness crept in and surrounded me. I felt like I was suffocating. My thoughts went more and more towards potentially ending all the torment and the guilt and the hopelessness. The fact I could no longer see myself for who I was or who I could be was when I thought about ending my life.

People are like, “why would anyone ever get to that point of killing themselves? Don’t they know their life is precious?” All of that stuff. I may have been one of those people, at one time, thinking like that. Until I was there. Oh my God, until I was there. And “there” is somewhere I will never forget and somewhere I never want to be ever again.

I have no idea what Hell is really like. Of course I don’t know. None of us really truly do know as we haven’t experienced it and come back from it. Do you know how someone gets “to that point” of doing something drastic? I’ll tell you…it’s the point you reach when you have been living in your own personal Hell. The place you get to after you have been to the lowest point of your life and there is no return. The torment and the torture you put yourself and your mind through. The torment and the torture that your mind puts you through. Yes, I believe in the chemical imbalance of it all and your mind works both the ways I’ve stated.

After a while, a human being can only take so much. I do not care what you think about the situation when someone reaches this point of their life in their mind where they think about ending their life. I do care, of course I do, but this level of darkness is almost impossible for people to really fathom. This moment is the most real and worst moment of your life. It has to be what Hell feels like, because I can’t think of anything worse than how I felt at that moment when I came to that fork in the road. I felt I was out of choices…I really did. If this is how life is going to treat me, then I don’t want to do it anymore. I HAVE TO ESCAPE…NOW!

Either I end this now or I don’t. This was the fork in the road. You either went left or you went right. These are your only choices. Or at least this is how it feels.

Thankfully we have a fork in the road, as in thankfully we do still have a choice, when we feel like we have reached the end of what we can take. This road does not turn towards just one direction.

I decided I was going to take a chance, but this chance was going to be different. I was going to flip my life on top of its head and tackle this Hell I was living in differently and in a different way.

My super power came out at that moment. All you have to do to exercise this power in you, is utter the phrase, “I need help!” Tell someone you need help. Go to the ER and ask for help. Call 911 and ask for help. Please ask for help.

Trust me, now that I am on the other side, you want to exercise the ability to unlock your super powers. Ask for help.

Asking for help was the hardest thing I have ever done. It was the best thing I could have ever done. I am still here because I asked for help. I fully believe this. Yes, the stigma had a hold on me. I thought people would think I was weak or not trying hard enough. I thought I would lose friends and maybe even family. I thought people would be able to tell I was “different” or something and want to avoid me.

I still found the courage to ask for help and the power didn’t just drip out, it came pouring out of me. I had no idea what was in store for me, but I was no longer scared of what I was capable of doing to myself. God wrapped his arms around me and said everything would be OK. Something was different and I could feel the power.

Unleash the power of asking for help. Let it wash over you. It will help you to embrace the big changes you are about to make in your life.

This power includes and is not limited to: courage, strength, bravery, happiness, sadness (but I could now tell the difference between the two and I could tell the difference between other emotions as well). You gain an open and clearer mind. With this open mind you gain newer and better techniques to begin to help yourself for right now and also for beyond. You regain a motivation you thought would never be available again. Oh my God, I felt hope! It was weird…it was foreign…my mind wanted to still tell me it was a lie…but I felt hope, guys! You can too!

There is more aspects involved with this power, I listed a few examples, but the things I just listed will begin to carry you above all the junk you are trying to leave behind. Is it all easy at first? No, it is not. Your mind will try and convince you none of this will work and you might as well go back to the old way of doing things. You have to learn to harness and control this new-life power. We aren’t masters at it at the get go, but we can learn to harness and control it and use all of these things I listed to make a much better and happier life for yourself.

We all possess this power. We don’t recognize it until we unleash it though. Unfortunately, it’s just how it works. Part of all of us knocking over the stigma that surrounds mental health is getting people to realize the power they have within, before it gets to such a bad point. You don’t have to be at the end of your rope to ask for help. You can ask for help at any time and you will gain the ability to wield this power.

It really is OK to not be OK. It really is OK to need help. It really is OK to ask for help. You are not alone in this battle you are fighting against yourself and you are worth all of the effort you put into strengthening yourself and your mental health.

Some of us, who have wielded this power before, have to be reminded from time to time we still have it. Our minds love to play games with us and hide the truth about what we can be and what we should be. For those of you who have asked for help before and have wielded the power before, it is also OK to need to ask for help again. It is OK to need to be reminded that you have the power to rise above all of this stuff that is attacking you.

It is OK to not be OK. Please ask for help. You will be surprised where the help can come from after you ask about it. I thought people would pull away from me, but thankfully, at least for my experience, it simply wasn’t true and I have been surrounded with more love than I ever thought was possible.

The power is there. You do possess it. You can unleash it. You can get yourself to where you want to be. You can be the person you want to be. Please ask for help!

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

Have a great day!

Jason

Please visit: Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

A website I created to further my mission to spread mental health awareness. This blog and also a podcast I do, live there, as do some other ideas. Please check it out!

www.rockingmentalhealth.com

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Maintaining Is Easier Than Starting Over

Running. The ultimate love hate relationship, especially for yours truly. I have been an on-again off-again runner for quite a few years now. During my heyday, maybe around 12 years ago or so, I got really into running. Never thought of myself as a runner per say, but after I started doing it I found I kind of liked it…and I found I kind of didn’t like it. I have now ran 8 half-marathons and I even have ran one marathon. That’s a lot of miles!

With all of that said, I am very much an all-in or all-out runner. I’m either running most days of the week or I am focused on pizza and chicken wings. Currently my focus is on the latter. I tend to get all-in to running and then I stop for whatever reason and it can be months and months before I get back into it.

Each time I start again, I question myself, “Why did I ever stop?”. I question myself as it is really hard getting back to a level of fitness where you can start to enjoy it again. It takes a lot of work running a mile at first when my goal is to get to 3-5 miles each time I run. The initial part where I am building back up is not fun. My breathing is off. I get sore. My endurance is off so I walk some of my path (walking and running is never a bad thing by the way). I find injuries occur easier when my body is not used to doing something. This initial part of building myself up is not fun and it is not easy. But I do it because I want to get back in shape and lose the pizza/chicken wing part of my gut.

I question myself each and every time I stop, because wouldn’t it be easier to just maintain and keep going versus stopping? The answer I always come back to is “yes”. It would be a lot easier to keep at it versus taking the lazy way out and quitting. After quitting each time it is a lot harder to get back to where I was at first.

I really feel this relates to how we handle our mental health. We need to always be working at improving our mental health even when we feel we don’t need to, as we may feel good at the time. I know my thoughts occasionally drift to, “I’ve been feeling pretty good lately, why don’t I just coast a bit”. Even when I’ve been frustrated with how everything is progressing, there are times I want to quit.

Thankfully, I have gotten to a place where I recognize that if I quit, I will fall back. I do know I don’t want to fall back to where I once was before I started this journey. We will have set backs through all of this. They happen. Our brains are so complex that it is not always easy keeping ourselves on the up and up.

With the setbacks we still have to stay focused and keep working ourselves forward. The setbacks are temporary and, with the work we put in, we will not remain knocked down for long. We always have to keep working on improving and strengthening our mental health. No matter how we feel, good or bad, we always have to keep working on the aspects that bring us happiness. Keep working on the aspects which bring us fulfillment. Keep working on the aspects that make us feel like we are getting somewhere and we are happy with our progress.

I’ve certainly played the “lazy card” through this journey from time to time. I’ve even wanted to quit and I’ve even vocalized the desire to quit. Each time I play the “lazy card”, I can feel myself falling back. Thankfully, I can usually find the motivation to pull myself out of this feeling, but sometimes it can be hard convincing yourself to keep going.

I went through a spell where I was doing everything I had learned from my therapist. I was also adjusting and trying new medicine when I got really frustrated. I didn’t feel like anything was working. Here I am doing everything I can to help myself out and I feel like I’m not improving. Why should I continue on a path where I feel like I am not improving?

All of this takes time. All of this doesn’t just fix itself overnight. It may take awhile to feel the effects of all of your hard work, but keep going! Do not quit. It is OK to take a break and take a breath, but don’t quit. We have to get back on the road and we have to keep working ourselves further down the road.

Even through my lazy spells where I just don’t feel like trying at that time, I can feel the effects of dropping my guard. I can feel myself falling back. I then have to put in additional work to get myself back to where I was.

Imagine quitting. I know it can happen and I know nothing about any of this is easy, but imagine quitting. Or some of you have maybe quit (I know I have had serious thoughts about it and have even quit for a few days or more before I pulled myself back up) and then realized you have to keep plugging along. You have found the road to be more difficult than maybe it was before and had to work harder at getting yourself back to where you were.

My point is, it is always easier to maintain, even our mental health, than it is to stop and start. Even when we get to feeling good, we have to continue working at it. We can’t stop. When we stop we lose that level of mental “fitness” we possessed before and we have to build our minds back up. This takes a lot of hard work and dedication to yourself. All of this can happen, you have not done anything wrong if this has already happened to you. I really am just trying to encourage everyone, including myself, to never let up on yourself. We have to keep putting the work in.

The setbacks can happen, but we can pull ourselves out easier if we have stronger mental “endurance” by doing the work needed, then if we have to basically start from scratch. It takes a while to build back up to the level of mental health we were at, so let’s try and do what it takes to stay there and keep ourselves moving forward.

Again, things can happen. We aren’t always in control of every situation and we can fall back. We can sometimes fall back so far we feel ourselves falling into a hole again. It can happen. You have done nothing wrong. Our brains are a complex machine that can be difficult to figure out and it will occasionally throw you a curve ball you were not ready for, so we have to do what we can to stay strong and ready.

Keep going. Keep doing what you can to maintain and improve your mental “endurance”. Keep going even when you experience a rough day. Tomorrow is a new day with new opportunities. Keep up the good work. Maintaining our mental health is always easier than starting over. None of this is easy, but every bit of work we put into our mental health is absolutely worth it. Why? Because you are worth it! I am worth it!

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

I hope you have a great day!

Jason

www.rockingmentalhealth.com

Feel free to jump over to Facebook and join the group I’ve started. It is a place where everyone can contribute to strengthening each others mental health and a place to lift each other up:

Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

www.facebook.com/groups/rockingmentalhealth

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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What Am I Searching For?

Looney Tunes. Hands down my favorite cartoons ever. Without question. The antics never get old to me and it takes me back to a place where I felt good. This old place is based in my childhood, watching Saturday morning cartoons. No matter what other cartoons were on before, I was really there for when Bugs Bunny and all his friends and foes came on. Floating through my mind right now is the phrase uttered many times throughout the many episodes, “Did you ever have the feeling you was being watched?”. This was said after you see the eye balls in a picture following Bugs or you see eye balls peering out of the shadows watching Bugs try and sleep or whatever the scenario. Everything ends with Bugs figuring it out and then completely foiling every plan the thing watching him had. Epic.

Let’s spin the question a bit differently to fit our mental health journey we are on. “Do you ever have the feeling you are searching for something?”.

This is a question I have been thinking about and have thought about a lot. There are times where it feels like something is missing in my life. Something that feels like it is on the tip of my tongue or just out of my grasp. Just far enough away I can’t see what it is and it continues to elude me, but I know it’s there as I can feel it. It really gets into the nagging-feeling realm. I will do my best to explain this feeling and what I think it means.

What could it be? How does it tie into my mental health? Is there really even something out there eluding me or is it just my brain being up to its old tricks? Three solid questions in my book.

What could it be? Well, I am not sure. I do feel like it is something good. Something that could either change my life or give it a much needed boost. My guess is a lot of us, whether we are dealing with mental health issues or not, wrestle with this question. I think it is all part of getting older. Maybe recognizing our mortality and the fact we aren’t as invincible as we maybe once thought of ourselves. The one thing I keep going back to is the thing I’m searching for is some form of “bliss” or a happy feeling I once had and I don’t feel it like I used to.

Bliss to me ties into our experiences of everything in our lives. I think bliss ties into a childhood feeling we are all searching to get back to or experience again in some fashion. I’m getting older. No denying it. New experiences in life are still there, but there are fewer and fewer of them. Something may perceive itself as new, but I’ve experienced it in some fashion before so the “shine” isn’t quite there.

As I think more about it, I feel like the bliss I am searching for is a magical feeling of wow-this-is-really-cool type of feeling. This is the perfect place type of feeling. This magical feeling ties directly back to how we experience things for the first time as a child or how we experience repeated things through the simplistic mind of being a child. No responsibilities, just learning about life. I feel, at least for me, this type of feeling stretched even through high school. Again, very little responsibility.

The first time going to Disney World or any other time going as a child…there is magic in the air as you see this place through the eyes of a child. You see less of the crowds and all of the other annoying stuff and you are able to transport yourself into this magical world and take it all in in awe. It leaves a lasting imprint on your mind. You have a feeling you don’t want to lose and you want more of it. I remember going home and playing “Disney World”. Now this part of playing was focused around the trams and the monorails, as both of these things made a huge impression on me, but I could play at home remembering the experience, and travel right back to the magical blissful feeling I had while being there.

The first time seeing the ocean. A truly magical blissful feeling. Growing up in the midwest around cornfields led me to, when I saw the ocean for the first time, having a feeling that felt blissfully magical. The sound of the waves crashing on the beach. The appearance of the waves as they got closer to shore and began to curl over before crashing down into the water and then washing up onto the beach. The sound of the birds. The sand under my feet. Just an amazing feeling. Today I love the ocean, but I don’t get the same feeling I once did when I was a kid. The ocean is an impressive display of power that I respect and I am in awe of, but I don’t get the same feeling today as I did when I was a kid.

Playing the many sports we would play throughout the neighborhood with my friends. I really enjoyed this. Hitting the ball or making a basket was awesome when you were playing against and with friends. My imagination was good at transporting me into pretending I was in the MLB or the NBA. These moments, growing up with my friends, are some of my most favorite memories and they made me feel good. Again, it provided me with a sense of bliss.

Walking into Busch Stadium, to watch the St. Louis Cardinals play baseball, for the first time especially, but every time I walked into the stadium there was something about the sight of the field and the smells of the stadium. It all spoke of and felt magical and I would have a feeling of bliss.

Basically, all of these feelings and memories take me back to a place where I felt really good. I really enjoyed the magical feeling these different experiences and many others provided me with. As I get older, I have this craving to feel and experience life as I did as a child. I don’t necessarily want to go back to my childhood, but I want to experience life now with the same magical blissful feeling that I once did.

How does this tie back into our mental health? Well, I think we are craving being in a better place mentally than where we are at sometimes. I think, when we are locked into battle with our minds, we think and also overthink many aspects. We become consumed with wanting to feel better and sometimes we begin to search for something that is not there anymore. And this desire can take a toll on us. We begin to start searching for something we can never have again. At least, we cannot have it in the same form we once did. A great magical experience is awesome. The magic created when we experience something for the first time is a great feeling, but our minds are not in the same place as when we were kids. We then become consumed with trying to find this feeling no matter what. We try and find it even when we know the exact feeling isn’t there.

I know I have been consumed by it. Why should I feel so bad? Why can’t I feel exactly the opposite of the extreme I am feeling now.? Why can’t I shift these horrible self-eroding thoughts into the old magically blissful feeling I remember as a kid?

We can’t, but we become so consumed with feeling better that we go back to the form of better we remember most in our minds. For me, it’s the blissful feeling I had experiencing life as a kid. It is what I remember. When I am locked into the darkness of depression, I become blinded to the good things that have happened most recently in my life. They take a back seat, so the only thing I can remember is the feelings I had as a kid when it comes to feeling good. And I become consumed with trying to grasp this magical feeling I once had.

So I reach out and try and grasp something, anything. I reach out for something I have trouble seeing, but I reach out because of the feeling of something being there is so strong that I can’t think of doing anything else. I picture the feeling of this blissful magic and I want it, but I’m never going to be able to grab it because this level of experience is gone.

Maybe I should say this level of experience isn’t really gone, but it has changed. We experience things differently in life then we used to. We have experienced so much up to this point our new experiences take on a different feeling. It becomes hard to see when you are locked into the darkness of depression.

Happiness isn’t lost when we grow up. Happiness changes. Our experiences change. We change too, but it becomes hard to see when we are down in our holes. It is there though. We may feel lost, but happiness is there. A new feeling of bliss is there. We just have to have a better idea of what it is we are seeking.

Seeking the blissful feeling you once had as a child is not the idea anymore. I totally get why I want it again, because it was awesome, but I have to allow myself to seek a more realistic form of bliss or happiness.

Our minds are great at tricking us. Our minds, especially when we are locked inside of them and feeling at our worst, will tell us anything. Our minds will trick us into thinking the only way we can be happy again is by reaching out for something that isn’t there. We really need to be reaching out for what IS there.

Before you fell into a depression, what made you happy before? What did you like to do? What experiences, in the now, made you happy. Watching your kids play a sport? Working in the garden? Traveling? Picking up a guitar and learning how to play it?

We have so many things right in front of us, but our mind will not allow us to see what is really right in front of us. Part of our mind’s games it plays on us, involves seeking aspects of happiness that just aren’t there anymore. It will hide what you currently enjoy and make you crave what you once enjoyed during a time of your life when life was simpler. This feeling makes me feel like I’m losing my mind sometimes, but I continue to seek it no matter if it is a real thing or not.

Maybe that is just it. Our minds trick us into wanting life to go back to when it was much more simple. A life with very little responsibilities sounds amazing! Who doesn’t agree with that? But that is not where we are in this life. We have to push back on our mind and remember the awesome things we have now right in front of us.

We can’t go back to the kid way of life. We now have too many responsibilities. They are a part of life as we get older. We can get back to what makes us feel happy now. We can block out all the doubt we have and all of the negativity we keep telling ourselves. When we do this, however you get there, we can then experience happiness as it is now. And it is great now. It’s different, but it still is great. That old blissful feeling is there to be found, but it has morphed into what we need now. It can be hard to find as it can be hard to see when we are in the thick of it all, but it is there.

This is the feeling we need to be searching for. This is the feeling we need to be grasping for. We always love to think about the doing the biggest jumps or steps in life, but seeking for the happiness right in front of us is all about those all important baby steps. Searching for the grandiose jump in our lives sure is tempting, but it isn’t realistic.

Searching for our present day happiness is realistic and it is out there. You may not be able to see it now, but it is there. I was down deep in my hole. I really thought for a while I would never experience happiness again. I’ve searched for what wasn’t there anymore. I searched for the grandiose jump and the return to the magical blissful feeling of my childhood. I had to work hard at climbing out of my hole, and through the hard work, I was better able to focus on what I need now and not what I once had that hasn’t really been possible to recapture for a lot of years now. I have been able to grasp what my happiness is now and it is a good thing. It’s different from what my mind tries to tell me to search for from time to time, but it is there.

Recognizing that the happiness is there has lead to a new sense of bliss. An altered state of bliss that I can be comfortable with. I will always wonder about getting back to the childhood magical bliss I once had, but I also have gotten to a point in my journey that I can recognize what I need now and I can allow myself to be good where I am with what I have right in front of me.

Maybe it’s all really a mid-life crisis type of thing…😉.

It’s OK to remember the magic and the blissful feelings of childhood. It is OK to dream, but we also need to allow ourselves to know our limits regarding trying to get back to a time of our lives that is over. Go out and find what makes you tick. Remember what makes you tick when you are feeling the darkness taking over. A feeling of happiness is still there and it will return. It is OK to search for this feeling. A new feeling of bliss is there and waiting for you to experience what it has to offer to your life in the now.

You got this! I got this! We got this! You are not alone in your journey. Let’s keep walking this journey together.

Have a great day!

Jason

A website I started. This blog and a podcast, amongst some other stuff, live here. Check it out!

Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

www.rockingmentalhealth.com

Feel free to jump over to Facebook and join the group I’ve started. It is a place where everyone can contribute to strengthening each others mental health and a place to lift each other up:

Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

www.facebook.com/groups/rockingmentalhealth

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.

Featured

Take Time For Yourself

Recently, I have been feeling pretty good. I feel like life is beginning to flip. This flip is a good thing. I am having way more of the good days versus the bad days lately. It is starting to get more comfortable, stringing together good days, but it does still feel weird. I will take more comfortable and a taste of the good-weird, any day. It is getting more comfortable, but due to the more comfortable feeling, I still can’t let my guard down. I still need to keep working on myself and I need to continue moving forward.

One way you continue to move forward is by recognizing you need to take time for yourself. I realized this early this past week. I noticed my focus beginning to slip. When my focus slips, which it does and it is always going to at some point, the negative thoughts have an easier path back into my life. I noticed the negative thoughts were jumping back into my brain more than they had been lately.

All of what I have been working on, since I recognized I needed help, has been to strengthen my mental health. The goal is to get back to a point where I am comfortable with myself. Get back to a point where I recognize myself and also a point where I like myself and what I am becoming. I also am preparing for the next time the battle knocks on my door.

Over the weekend, the week before, and early last week, I noticed my resolve lessening some. I could feel myself lose focus. I didn’t slip into what I would call a bad place. I didn’t necessarily feel bad either. I did feel off. I did feel like I had lost some of my balance. I could tell that if I didn’t do something about this feeling, I was potentially going to fall into a bad place.

It is OK to fall back. I’m not saying I hope we fall back, but it is OK when it happens. It will and does happen throughout the journey. Part of all of this is recognizing that it is OK to not be OK and it is OK for the fall backs to happen. We have been working on the present, but have also been working on preparing for these moments as well. We have been preparing for when these moments happen, and we now have better tools to lessen the fall. We have been preparing ourselves for when we fall back and, also, working on how to bounce back quicker and stronger.

Part of these tools is recognizing when something has changed. I was able to recognize I wasn’t right. I have worked on recognizing the different feelings I have and also to recognize when they could rise up and cause me to slip.

I began to see it Monday and Tuesday I had a plan to reverse course and also to allow myself to step back and regain focus. I took the rest of the week off. I decided to take time for myself.

Through the pandemic, I have been reluctant to take much time off. With my job, especially at the beginning of the pandemic, I was working from home a lot more. The hospitals didn’t want us in there if we didn’t need to be there. Partly to protect me from the virus, but also to protect them from me. Either way, it meant I was at home more. It also meant I had more down time.

This increased level of down time made me feel like I couldn’t take time off. Number one, I can’t really go anywhere even if I did take time off and, number two, I have a lot more down time so I shouldn’t take additional. This is how I felt about it.

The problem, as I see it, is even though I had more down time. My brain was still locked into the job. I wasn’t able to allow myself to shut it off for a while. I honestly felt guilty. I would spend as much time as I needed to complete my job day to day, but sometimes I completed that task quickly and had most of the day to myself. But I was never “to myself”, I still kept a level of focus on the job just in case something where to pop up.

I honestly felt guilty taking time off. After all, I am fortunate to have a job that allows me to work out of my home. With the element of going into the hospitals to do that aspect of my job all but gone, I had much less to do and my downtime went up significantly. The downtime became my time off. Therefore, I didn’t take much additional time off to allow myself to fully unplug. Or at least I didn’t feel I needed it, or should actually take it, even though I still had the time off banked.

The pandemic has been tough. It also has been a huge learning experience. None of us have been faced with this type of forced adjustment to our daily lives before. This whole pandemic thing has found us trying to figure everything out as we go. There is no blueprint from the last time this happened. We haven’t lived through anything like this before. We are still traveling through uncharted waters even as everything continues to change right before our eyes.

It hasn’t changed the fact I feel guilty for taking time off. Well, we need time off. We need to take time for ourselves. We need to continue doing everything we can to stay on the road to better mental health. We have to take time for ourselves.

Last week I realized, no matter how I felt, I needed to take some time for myself. I needed to step away and work and focus on me. So I took the rest of the week off. It worked out to be the perfect week for it. Is there really a perfect week? My brain tells me “no” all of the time, but I took the rest of this past week off and it was great.

With taking this time off, I came into it with a couple of goals. Mostly, I wanted to reconnect with some activities I like to do, but haven’t done in a while. I wanted to work on a colored pencil piece I started over the past summer and I wanted to record a new song.

Neither of these things I have done in a while. I love art, but I find myself not doing it all of the time. I am really cyclic with my hobbies and the wheel hadn’t stopped on “art” for a while. Same goes with the music. About 6 months ago, I started to record some songs I made up. No singing, but I do record the guitar, bass guitar and drums myself. It is a fun process, but a process that takes time to complete.

6 months ago, I jumped into the music creation side pretty hardcore and now I found myself having not created anything in a while. Again, the wheel hadn’t stopped on “music creation” for a while.

I decided to make these two things the focus of my time off. I chose these two things as I hadn’t done either in a while. I felt like I needed to mix my routine up a bit. I felt these two things where the best bet for me to mix life up in a good way.

Yes, I did work on my drawing I had previously started and I did record a new song. I was able to check off the boxes for these two things. It felt good. The best part of it is I had to put my focus on both of these activities in order to complete them.

The focus allowed me to unplug from everything. The focus allowed me to step away from my other daily obligations and really just concentrate on myself. The focus helped me to feel more balanced and centered again.

I was able to recognize I was off. I was able to recognize I needed to pull away from everyday life for a while and get my mind back on the right track. I was able to do this before I had any sort of a crash and the reset from this particular place was a lot easier to achieve than if I had fallen so far back that I had a crash.

I wish I had been able to recognize this need and acted on it sooner throughout this journey. It is so refreshing going from feeling “off” versus feeling “lost”, like originally at the start of my journey, and getting back to having more balance. It takes less work and energy when you feel off versus feeling lost. When you get back to the more balanced you, you feel almost stronger than before, as everything required way less effort to raise yourself back up than it does to raise yourself up from feeling terrible for a period of time.

I needed this time. Not only do I feel stronger, I also feel even better about myself than I did before I took this time off. I needed this more than I even really knew I needed this. I can see it now as I sit here today typing this blog. I really should have down this a long time ago and then just keep refreshing this balanced feeling as it went.

Enter the guilty feeling and all of that stuff which hindered me before I finally took the time off. I can’t go back and re-take all this time off I should have taken before, so I will be grateful for what I did take off now and build from it. I am grateful for the peaceful feeling I have right now and I will try and ride this wave as far as I can.

In the future, I know taking this time off just needs to be done. I need to drop the guilty feelings about taking the time and just take it. My body and mind needed exactly what I did for myself and I need to do exactly this from time to time moving forward.

What do you do to take time for yourself?

We all need to do it. How we do it is individual to each of us. How I go about it is different than you may go about it. We have to FIND what works for us and then DO what works for us.

I know my, just-take-a-few-days-off formula, may not be so easy for everyone to do. I don’t have kids. I get it. I wanted them, but I don’t have them. The silver lining of not having them, I guess, is I can just drop most things and take time for myself easier than some others.

Taking time for yourself doesn’t actually have to be taking time off for yourself. Yes, I think you should do just that, but taking time for yourself can look like just about anything. The key is you give yourself the time to do whatever you need to do.

Time for yourself can be exactly opposite of you being by yourself. To some, spending time with family and friends is the time one needs for themselves. A family movie night may be just what you need. Taking time to dive into a good book can be just the time you need. Going out for a walk may be the time you need. Taking the rest of the week off was the perfect time I needed.

The idea of taking time for yourself is more about doing what you need to do to remain you. To remain your mentally stronger and happier self. However you do it is for you to figure out. What works for me may not work for you or just isn’t what you feel you need. The key is you do something which helps keep you focused. Or it’s something which brings life back into focus. The idea of taking time for yourself is doing something, anything, which helps to maintain the balance you have worked so hard to create.

It is OK to step back. It is OK to need a reset. It is OK to focus on yourself. You may be thinking you have no time based on all your other responsibilities, but the time you may need doesn’t have to be over a set amount of time. The time you need for yourself could be short or it can be long or whatever falls in between. The important things is you take time to do what you need to keep yourself in balance and in a good place.

How can we be good for everyone around us if we don’t take the time to ensure we remain good for ourselves?

Do what you need to do. Even if it is just for a short time after the kids go to bed. Do something to help keep yourself focused and balanced. Do what you can to keep yourself on this journey. We aren’t there yet. We always will be working on getting there. We can be in the good, but it still takes work to remain in the good. Do what you need to do for you and everything you need to do for others around you, will fall in line and be easier to do. Take time for yourself!

You got this! I got this! We got this! Let’s keep walking this road together!

Have a great day!

Jason

A website I’ve started. This blog and a podcast, amongst some other stuff, live here. Check it out!

Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

www.rockingmentalhealth.com

Feel free to jump over to Facebook and join the group I’ve started. It is a place where everyone can contribute to strengthening each others mental health and a place to lift each other up:

Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

www.facebook.com/groups/rockingmentalhealth

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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Stick With Me On This…Is There Such A Thing As “Too Good”?

So, you’ve read the title and now you are wondering what this guy is up to. Maybe he has flipped his lid. The whole goal of all of this is to take our bad situation and make it a good situation. We start at one point and we work on building up from there. We build towards the good. So, now this guy is wanting to put a cap on how good we can get? This had better be good, because so far it doesn’t make sense to me…

This edition may take on a little different feel then some of the others have. We are going to dive into my mind and try and make sense out of something I have been thinking about for a while. This one has baffled me as I try and wrap my head around everything that has taken place over the last year and a half since I asked for help.

Rolling around in my mind is the fact that as we feel better, is there a level or other branch of us being good, that stretches more to the “too good” side. I understand there will always be bad moments which creep into our lives and the idea is to work towards a better us. A good us. During this process of basically finding the right balance, is there a point where the pendulum swings to the “too good” side of our balance.

At this very moment, I feel I have reached a level of good balance. My bad days are significantly less and my good days are significantly more. I feel my pendulum is swinging back and forth, but less severe and more even strokes. I am still having some bad days, but I think some of these bad days I’m feeling are more along the lines of “normal” bad days. The bad days we have living life. I feel I am parked more in the good side of things. I feel my days are more balanced and I don’t swing back and forth so wildly at this very moment.

Using less words to describe how I feel would be: I feel like I am reaping the rewards of all of my hard work and it is paying off by how I feel day-to-day. So where does this “too good” idea come into play? Well let’s step inside my mind and I will try my best to show you what I mean. Or maybe I should say, “Come on in, but proceed with caution!”😁

Here goes…

At the beginning of all of this, I found myself in a really dark place in my life. I finally admitted to myself and to others that I needed help. I couldn’t do whatever-this-is on my own anymore. I decided to leave the old ways of doing things in the dust. At least this was the idea floating around in my mind. I wanted to help myself feel better or help myself get better.

It has been hard work which I haven’t always allowed myself to see. Not everything progresses with super noticeable leaps and bounds. Some of the progression through this has been taking very small steps. The results do not appear as big on the grand scope of things.

Sometimes, these small progressions have been very frustrating to me because the progression is so small, still a progression absolutely needed in all of this, but sometimes I can’t actually see what is always taking place. So I get frustrated and feel like I’m going nowhere. I feel like I am doing all of this for nothing.

Eventually, all of this work I am doing for myself starts to move the needle off of bad. I begin to feel better. Sometimes this better feeling is short lived, but it is nice to see better for a change. At first I would feel better for a short time and go back to feeling bad again. So far, at that particular time, the pendulum swung heavily to the bad side of my feelings. But the good was starting to make an appearance.

So here we go, I start to feel better. I like the feeling of good, however small and short lasting it is, I know I like it. It begins to grow. I feel better and better and then I really start to feel good. It feels like a sustainable good. I like it.

These good feelings seemed to always come up about the time we where going to do something social. A lot of times it came up when we would be going to spend times with our families. Whether it be vacations, birthdays, or holidays. Sometimes it would pop up when I would be around friends for a night.

Alright. I have now reached the point where I may need you to bear with me for a moment or two while I try and put my thoughts into readable sentences. I’m going to try my best, but the things in this brain of mine sometimes get lost in translation.

These times I described above would find me feeling pretty good. I didn’t feel good during all of these interactions, but typically I would be feeling better. I would get into situations where I was going to have to be social. So I would do my best.

I would enter the situation feeling good and then the “too good” would kick in. This “too good” feeling seemed to be fueled from another fuel source that I couldn’t always tap into. At least I couldn’t tap into yet. I would go from good to feeling amazing. And I would try and ride the amazing feeling out.

I would find myself being “on” most of the time. I felt like I needed to be “on”, but sometimes it felt like I didn’t have control of this particular function of my brain. Basically, I would rock-out the situation. I felt like I was doing good. It felt like other people thought and saw me doing good. It was a great feeling showing people how different and good I was feeling. It felt like I was showing them I would be OK. That I could get through everything bothering me.

I wasn’t always so much convinced. I did feel good, but sometimes I felt like I was on automatic during these moments. It would become exhausting.

I know, or at least I feel like I know, that after feeling so bad for so long, every feeling of good would be or could be heightened. I was enjoying feeling the good, but I had spent so long in the bad that I couldn’t yet regulate the good. So, whether consciously or not, I would fire at a pretty high level of good. At least when there was someone around.

I wasn’t sitting around planning how I would feel around people. It really felt like it would happen automatically. There were times I would feel happy about the way I felt, but I wouldn’t feel joy in how I felt. What I mean is: “happy” is the at the moment feeling. “Joy” is more the long term effect and the underlying emotion the “happy” feeling would bring on. I would sometimes feel happy, but it wouldn’t translate over to joy.

At first, I had no idea. All I knew is I felt great. I felt great, but why was it exhausting? I can feel “happy”, but it was proving to be a chore to reach “joy”. Hmmm…

So I would think about it. This is what I do when I have down time. I think. Sometimes I have a lot of down time so I think a lot. I would find myself sitting at home looking at a blank TV screen. I was in my mind. These moments of feeling emotionally elated and happy, but not feeling joy, and also feeling exhausted didn’t make sense.

Here is the other side of this. I found after experiencing these moments, I would crash. I would typically swing back to a bad feeling and sometimes would find myself spending a day or two mostly in bed. It was like I spent so much energy feeling good that I no longer had any threshold to keep me out of feeling bad. Any bit of cushion I felt I had, would be gone and I would reenter the depressed part of my brain.

I would think about this. How does this factor into the big picture of getting my mental health strengthened and getting me to a more consistent good place? So I would think about it.

Now, my thoughts while thinking about all of this weren’t always great. Initially, I was extremely new to all of this. I was learning ways to help myself, but these methods take a bit of time to take hold and grow roots to hold them in place and also to grow in my life. I was still swinging towards the dark side of my experience and I wasn’t yet used to any feeling of good.

This “not yet being used to feeling good” aspect was the key. At least this is what I have come up with while thinking about it. Am I anywhere close to how you maybe have felt? Some of this, for me, goes down the road of feeling like I am on an island sometimes and my brain is whackier then someone else’s.

Stick with me. I’m getting there.

I feel like I had been feeling so bad for so long, that any feeling of good was almost too much for me to handle at first. I didn’t know where to cap it. I went all-in on dumping my energy into feeling good that it would eventually leave me feeling drained and not feeling good anymore. I would feel bad. Sometimes I would feel really bad.

Was I really that bad? Or did I swing from being bad for so long to a heightened sense of feeling good, which I wasn’t used to, and then when I would drain my energy, I felt like I was really bad again. Was this a real feeling or really just a feeling you have when you swing so heavily from one side to the other?

A lot of “I thinks” going on, but I warned you this edition might play out differently than the other blog posts I’ve done.

This has been so frustrating to me. Feeling it frustrates me. Trying to do better frustrates me. Trying to think about it and make some level of sense out of all of this, frustrates me.

Why can’t I feel good more? Why do I have to work so hard to feel good? Why do I feel so good and all of a sudden it is gone?

During this time, I would hesitate to answer the question when people asked me, “How am I doing?”. There was a time period where I would answer “good” and then everything seemed to crash around me. I began to hesitate saying I was good even when I really was feeling good. It almost felt like when I said I was good, it spoke some level of confidence into the game that I then needed to be checked and I would crash back to the bad.

I am at a spot today where I can honestly answer that I feel good. I have more confidence in saying it now. Why more confidence all of a sudden? I feel I have reached a better balance. With reaching this balance, I don’t have to expend the same high amount of energy I was expending before. Before, I would feel good and I had to show everyone how on I was. Now, I feel like there is a more evenness about it. I stay in the good much longer now and spend less and less time in the bad.

I do still have bad moments, I expect to always have bad moments, but they do not make me crash from the good like they used to. It has to be some level of balance I feel I have found. It has taken a long time to know where to put my energy and how much to put into a particular feeling.

The idea of feeling “too good”, to me, comes from those moments when we don’t know how to control the energy and the swings that occur when we deplete all of our energy on feeling good. “Too good” had a not real vibe about it. This heightened level of good was almost too much. It is a level of good we cannot sustain for very long. We aren’t made for that having-to-feel-constantly-on extreme of feeling good. We need to find a balance between the extreme highs and the extreme lows. I would exhaust myself from feeling “too good” and crash to “too bad”.

No way this dramatic swing of emotions is good for me. I had to change how I went about things. I had to learn ways, for myself, that would keep me more in the good and when I wasn’t good, would not have to go through such a drastic drop into the bad anymore. I had to figure out my balance and with this balance, I can sustain the good much longer.

There really is no cap to how good you can feel. The “too good” is a level of good that is way out of balance and we cannot sustain it. I hope we can feel as good as we possibly can, but at a level we can sustain. At first, any level of good, whether it is sustainable or not, is very welcome. It is way better than the alternative we have been feeling for so long.

The “too good” isn’t a bad place, necessarily, at first, because it feels good to feel good, but if this good feeling is quickly exhausting you, maybe it’s time to take another look. Feeling good isn’t supposed to be exhausting. Feeling good is supposed to…well…feel good. To get out of the level of “too good” we need to keep practicing. Sometimes we need to change the way we are doing things up a little. Experiment with what works.

My definition of “too good” is this: A feeling of good that quickly leads to exhaustion and a crash back to the bad. A level of good which is not sustainable. This is what I am getting at. Does it make sense? Think about it for yourself as I may not have explained it exactly how you have felt everything on your journey.

Again, this has been a big topic swirling in my brain and I wanted to get it out there in writing. It allows me to think more about it, and what all of this means to my life. It helps me to write it out, but also this is a way for me to gauge a little what others may be thinking about this train of thought.

What is “too good”? Is there such a thing? Our goal is to feel as good as we can get so is there a level of “too good”? I think the answer can be both yes and no. I say this as I don’t want anyone, including myself, to feel like the good life is unattainable. It is very attainable, but just watch how you feel when you start feeling better. Does it swing to a level that is hard to sustain and leads to exhaustion. If so, maybe an adjustment is needed. Maybe not, if you are happy where you are then ride it out as far as you can!

We all have to determine how we feel about all of this for ourselves.

I, personally, as all of this plays out in my life, feel for me that there is a level of “too good”. “Too good” doesn’t play well with me because I hate the thought of the almost predicted crash which goes along with it. I can dial down the level of energy I put into it and try and be more “just me”. I don’t need to always be on. I just want to be at a level of good where I can be myself. The feeling I have of “too good” takes me above being myself. It is not me. I need to be more comfortable with me and learning a balance away from the “too good” is taking me more to who I really want to be.

For me, this is what it is all about. I need to find the appropriate levels of everything which allow me to be me. Allow me to be the real me and not some dude putting on a show for everyone so they feel I am OK. The putting-on-a-show me is another form of a mask. One I want to remove. My goal in all of this is to just be me and find a me I like.

I am doing way better at this and I am happy, right now, with the me I see.

We all can get there. All of this work we are putting into ourselves will get us to where we want to be. The level of being happy with who you are again. We may need to turn the knobs up and down for a while until we find the right balance, but it is worth it. I like feeling like me again! I want you to feel the same way!

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

I hope you have a great day!

Jason

A website I started. This blog and a podcast, amongst some other stuff, live here. Check it out!

Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

www.rockingmentalhealth.com

Feel free to jump over to Facebook and join the group I’ve started. It is a place where everyone can contribute to strengthening each others mental health and a place to lift each other up:

Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

www.facebook.com/groups/rockingmentalhealth

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.

Featured

The Storm, Find The Calm Within The Storm

I enjoy painting. I enjoy taking a blank canvas and making it not blank anymore, wild idea I know! Pour some acrylic paint onto a paper plate (I’m super sophisticated), dip my paint brush into the paint, and begin to create whatever I see in my head. Beautiful thing about painting, especially with acrylic, is if you don’t like what you are seeing, you can always paint over it. Mostly though, I really enjoy taking a vision in my head, as I love to play in imagination land, and try to replicate it onto the canvas. This is a part of the challenge thing I like. The challenge in my painting is, can I get close to what I picture in my brain. I easily get lost in the process. One of the best parts about it is, I can get lost in my brain and my creation for awhile and forget about everything else. I basically can transport myself somewhere else and escape from reality for a while.

Painting is a form of expression. It is a form of expression I enjoy doing. It also is a release. I find myself painting when I feel down. Some of my paintings are done when I was feeling good, but a lot of them are done when I am not feeling great. Some of my favorites have been done when I am down. I think this happens because during those down times, in my brain, I’m thinking about what is going on quite often. As much as the feelings in my brain aren’t awesome during these times, my brain is working overtime. This overtime work my brain is doing, allows me to really see some vivid images in my mind and within my imagination. Sometimes, I feel these images need to get placed on canvas. The act of placing these vivid images on canvas provides a release for me. It provides a level of escape and it also provides a release for me.

Ben in the sky, a calming force, amongst the stormy seas.

One painting in particular sticks out. It is the painting you see here. This painting was the one I was working on right before I went into the mental health unit at my local hospital. I call it finished, now, but technically it isn’t finished. I didn’t complete what my vision was. When I came out of the hospital, my vision was there, but it wasn’t. My mind set had changed and I couldn’t bring myself to finish it, so I deemed it finished. As you can see, there are stormy seas, with stormy clouds, and an image of my dog just above the horizon. My dog, Ben, represents the calm within the storm, as the storm was surrounding me at the time.

Here is a little back story. We had to put our first dog to sleep as she was dealing with some major issues with her kidneys. She was 12 years old and put up a great fight over the last one and a half years of her life. Katie was such a good girl and she was a devastating loss to me.

My wife and I were not able to have kids. Someday I will elaborate on this more, but as of today, I still don’t want to elaborate too much on this one element of my history (I am still a work in progress as we all are). I will tell you, we tried everything under the sun to have a child. We ended up spending a lot of money in the process as well, but money is money, it was worth the effort of achieving one of our dreams of raising a family. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work out.

Enter our dogs. They are very much our kids. Katie was our first and now we have Ben who we rescued after Katie passed. Both of our dogs have been rescues. Please, if you are thinking about getting a dog, think local rescue! Katie was a Hurricane Katrina rescue who ended up in central Illinois at our local humane society. Ben was rescued from one of our local rescue facilities in town. Both great dogs!

At the time I was doing this painting, we were approaching the one year mark of the day we had Katie put to sleep. I went into the hospital a few days before the one year mark of her passing. Along with everything else in my life, the loss of my four legged child was and still does have a strong effect on me and my mental health.

Originally, the painting was going to encompass everything you see in it, but I ended up not putting the last element in. The last element was going to be adding a row boat working its way across the stormy seas. In the row boat was going to be an older man with a grey beard who would be wearing yellow rain gear. His hood would have been up, but you would have been able to see his grey long beard sticking out of the hood. He would be rowing the boat. On the boat I was going to place Katie. She would be laying peacefully on the back of the boat. Almost like she was sleeping.

I’m not exactly sure what the man represents, but I do believe one interpretation was he is God. He was rowing my girl across the stormy seas of my emotions and where my life felt like it was at that moment. Rowing her too safer and calmer waters.

Ben, in the sky, represented the calm. He represented the calm I needed in my life. He represented the calm which hadn’t been completely lost. The calm I wasn’t able to see at the moment. He represented a focus I needed to have. A focus that provided hope during this very dark and stormy time. He provided a beacon of something positive I needed to try and remember was still in my life. He was the lighthouse in the storm helping to guide me and remind me that I will be OK. Safer seas were ahead.

I never finished my vision of this painting. I came out of the hospital feeling much different and much better. I couldn’t bring myself to finish it because I wasn’t feeling it anymore. I paint what I feel. If I am not feeling it, I fear I will not put forth my best effort in laying it out. I decided the painting was done and still represented what I wanted it to represent.

Even in the storms that like to pop up in our lives, we need to seek out the calming elements which remain present. They get hard to see, but they are there. When we feel like crap, it is very hard to see these things. Please be assured, the calming elements are still there. We need to seek them.

My dog, Ben, the dude in the sky, was a calming element for me. I remember I would be laying in bed. Hungover most likely. Super anxious and having horrible thoughts of myself and he would jump up into the bed and lay there with me.

He knew I wasn’t right and he wanted to help. Sometimes he would bring a toy into the bed. He wanted to let me know there was other things out there besides the darkness I was feeling. Sometimes he would go grab another toy. I know he knew those toys brought him happiness and he was trying to provide something happy for me.

Call me crazy and obsessed with my dog, but this feeling of my dog really helped me not completely lose it. He kept me grounded. Whether it was intentional or not, he kept me off the ledge so to speak. I believe he knew what he was doing. Dogs really are smart beings who want to make their pack family happy.

Also, Ben came along at the right time in our lives. We got him a month and some change after we put Katie to sleep. He filled a huge void. I really struggled with the passing of Katie. It was weird being in the house. It was way to quiet.

Enter Ben. He was just what we needed. A totally chill guy who loves to be near us and loves his tennis ball. He helped to remind me of the simple things. He is a big softy and really just wants to hang out with us.

These are the reasons why you see Ben in the sky of this painting. He was my calm in the storm. He helped provide perspective for me during a time I had lost all perspective. He knew I needed help. He is in the sky to remind me that everything will be alright.

I really do love my dogs. They provide me with so much happiness. They also provide me with a focus I need to keep going and also a calm when the going gets rough.

We all need something we can focus on during these hard times we face in our lives. Life can get dark and we can feel hopeless at times, but we need to focus on something which brings us calm. We need to focus on something during the good times, and the focus we have on the good elements in our life during the good times, so we can have something to pull up when we need it during the bad times.

What is it for you that brings you calm? What brings you calm when you feel good?

Think about this for a while and log these things so you can pull them up when you don’t feel great. We need everything we can, during the darker times, to help us to have hope. Lean on these calming thoughts. Let them provide you with a level of grounding. Let them provide you with hope that there still is good aspects of our lives out there. It gets bleak sometimes, but there always needs to be something to provide us the motivation to continue seeking the better times ahead.

Hope is out there. The good days are out there. They are. Without this hope, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Today I feel good. I’ve experienced a good run lately and it is awesome. Part of what has gotten me to this point is remembering the calming forces which are built into my life.

Lean on your calming forces. They are there to help us. They are there to pull us along. We will traverse stormy waters from time to time, but there are always calmer seas ahead. The storms will pass and the seas will calm down. I believe this. I think we have to believe this. We have to believe this to keep moving forward on our journey.

You got this! I got this! We got this! Let’s keep walking together on this mental health journey.

Thank you very much for making my rambles a part of your day!

Have a great day!

Jason

A website I started. This blog and a podcast, amongst some other stuff, live here. Check it out!

Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

www.rockingmentalhealth.com

Feel free to jump over to Facebook and join the group I’ve started. It is a place where everyone can contribute to strengthening each others mental health and a place to lift each other up:

Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

www.facebook.com/groups/rockingmentalhealth

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.

Featured

I Can’t Always See It, But Keep Smiling

I’ve been a nurse now for over 20 years. About 22 years to be exact. I haven’t worked as a nurse for the last 10 years, but I am still a nurse. This is a title I am very proud of. It took a lot of hard work to get to be one and my hard work lead to a wonderful career geared towards taking care of people. I do not work as a nurse currently, but I still work in the medical field just on the medical device sales side of the equation. My role still gets me into the areas I used to work in as a nurse and I love that. I still get to talk the talk with the nurses in the Cath Labs I go to in my current role as a Clinical Specialist.

I worked three years on a general floor which leaned more towards the geriatric population. The floor I worked on was also the oncology floor for the hospital. At least it was before the outpatient cancer center opened up in town many years ago. I was chemotherapy certified and did administer it to patients. You really get to know someone while doing this type of a role. I really enjoyed the people I got to meet during my three years in this role.

I eventually took a job in the radiology department of the hospital which also doubled as a role in the cath lab. Not the cardiac cath lab side, but more the peripheral vascular and neurological side of the arterial and venous system. This role lead me to where I am today in the medical device sales industry.

I help promote products which aid in opening up the arteries and the veins in the peripheral vascular portion of the bodies “plumbing” so to speak. Basically, I promote and educate on plumbing equipment for the bodies pipes, being the arteries and the veins. A blockage is seen on x-ray within the arteries or veins, and I have the tools to essentially unplug the pipes and keep the blood flowing as it should.

We could do a deep dive into an anatomy lesson, and I would love to do it, but it’s not the point of why I bring up my nursing and my current job here. As I nurse, one of my big roles was establishing a connection with my patients. Yes, I took care of them and helped them to feel better, but in order to really do this you need to establish a connection with the person you are caring for. You wanted this person to trust you. To trust you that you know what you are doing and also to trust that me, as a perfect stranger, has your best interests in mind.

In my role early in my career, and especially in the cancer treatment side of it, you typically got to know your patients very well. You saw them a lot as they came in for treatment and you got to know them and their families. The way you establish a connection with them is way different than how I did it in the Cath Lab. I had time to spend with these patients and you tend to spend your time talking about anything and everything. You also, over this time, get to know some of them on a much deeper level. You have serious life type of conversations. You really become invested in their lives.

The Cath Lab was different. A role in a department where procedures are done is different. Usually these patients are outpatients. They arrive the same day as they go home. If they end up staying, they go to one of the inpatient floors. You do not get a lot of time with these folks. You have to establish a connection with them quickly. It was a whole different ballgame.

I enjoyed the ballgame. I enjoyed the challenge of establishing a connection with my patients over the few hours I get to spend with them. They are nervous about their procedure and most have never been through the procedure before. You had to get them admitted into the system at the same time you were trying to establish a connection with them. It truly is an art form. You have a lot of prep work to do before their procedure, but you also have to establish a rapport with them during this time.

You establish this rapport and typically people calm down a little bit and are less nervous and that is one of the goals. They begin to calm down because they now trust you, again I’m a perfect stranger, with their lives. It’s an honor so to speak, but it is a level of interaction in where you have to do everything in your power to be successful.

Why did I go through all of this? You get to know me a little better. You’ve been reading my stuff for a while now and why not get to know me. Really though, it’s about establishing a connection with people. We may not realize this every second of the day, but we get to establish a connection with people in our interactions with others. It’s not always a conscious act, but we are constantly doing it in our interactions.

Through this pandemic and the Great Masking Of The People movement. I have realized there is one basic human interaction I miss. I miss it especially with strangers who I pass. I miss the simple connection a smile provides between people. Even people we don’t know.

I never realized how much I crave it until it was taken away. Yes, we do get to see people close to us without masks and we can smile at them for days and we should smile at them for days, but I find I miss the simple action of smiling at a stranger and they smile or say “hi” back.

We go to the grocery store. A place where we pass strangers all of the time. Are you someone who likes to give a simple nod of recognition you are both crossing each others life paths with a smile? I know I do. And it gives me joy. It is a simple act, but is a huge connection you can make with a perfect stranger who you pass by.

Enter the mask. We wear our masks out in public when we will be around others. Namely, the grocery store. The interaction of the smile is gone. Here’s the real question. Do you find your self still smiling when you pass somebody?

I do. I can’t help it. That person probably thinks I’m just some creepy dude looking at them, but I am throwing my smile out there even though it is hidden. It is a habit of mine. I guess I do it a lot as it’s something that’s been on my mind lately.

Is smiling a habit of yours? I feel we should make it a habit. We should make it a habit regardless of the fact people can’t always see it. Why? Simply because it makes me feel good. That person can’t see it, but I will always try and smile at someone. When they can see it, I hope it can be the type of interaction that can brighten someones day. We are all in this game of life together after all.

Even if they can’t see it, do it. They can’t see it, but you can feel it. It is proven that smiling gets the happy juices flowing. Smiling is a simple act and it is literally good for us!

And that’s what it’s all about. Smiling makes science happen. Good science. Smiling improves our moods and makes us feel better. The awesome thing about a smile is when you can do it as an interaction between two people, it can make both of you feel better. Unfortunately, we still are living within a time where we have to wear a face mask so we don’t get to brighten someone else’s day with a smile as much. But we can brighten our own days always by performing this one simple act of muscle memory. Smile on.

Your eyes speak a lot. Our eyes are not covered by the masks. At least I hope not. If your eyes are covered, pull that thing down a bit😊. Let your eyes speak the smile to someone else. Smile even bigger at someone so they can see your eyes squint down in that obvious smiling at you glance.

Maybe this can be a positive take away from the ongoing mental health onslaught the pandemic has provided us with. Smile bigger than you normally do. Your eyes can translate a message that can change someones day. At least for a moment when hopefully they can throw a masked smile back at you.

Smile! Smile big! It always will be of benefit to you, but a nice big smile, where your eyes can’t help but smile too, is an awesome simple life improving gesture we can make to one another.

You got this! I got this! We got this! Let’s keep walking this path together!

Have a great day!

Jason

Hot off the press!! I have started a website which combines my blogs, podcasts, and other methods of dealing with our mental health and provide inspiration and hope. It is meant to be a relaxing place to stop by and refuel. So far, it is basic, but I have ideas to make it grow into something much bigger. Please check it out!

Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

www.rockingmentalhealth.com

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.

Featured

I’ll Pick Door Number Two

I’m more of a Price Is Right or a Wheel Of Fortune kind of guy. These two game shows would be my choice to watch if given a choice. Price Is Right reminds me of being home sick from school and knowing exactly what I would be watching at ten o’clock. The rest of the day would be spent trying to avoid the many soap operas, but ten o’clock was always spoken for. This is like grade school me. The Price Is Right is one of those shows any age can get into. It’s a great game show!

I’ve also liked Wheel Of Fortune. It reminds me of sitting at home with my family. My dad always has been so quick at guessing the puzzles. I really think he should have tried out for it or whatever the process is to get on the show. My mission, because I can be slightly competitive, was to try and beat him. I eventually got pretty good, but man could he guess those puzzles fast!

Another game show, one I watched some but not as much as the other two was Let’s Make A Deal. A game of chance and trading up for hopefully the better prize. There always was a dud prize standing somewhere in the way. But where? That was the game of chance. You didn’t know where it was, whether the prizes where hidden under a box or behind a door. You had no idea what waited behind the door. It truly was a game of chance, but was full of the mind game. Are you sure you want that prize, or you could take one of the other two boxes and possibly improve your winnings. You could also lose. It was a gamble…kind of. Hard to gamble with what you can’t see. A game of chance, but a fun game.

The game of life, especially when related to our mental health, is a game of Let’s Make A Deal. We have choices. These choices are hidden behind three doors. We are not sure what is behind each door, but we must continuously open these doors as we travel through our life journey. Some doors hold great prizes and some doors are duds. What door do you choose? I’ll go with door number two!

Unlike the game show. We do have some control of what is behind each door. This goes along with having a positive mentality or a negative one. These mentalities don’t tell us what is behind each door, but it does give us an idea of what direction each door may take. The prizes in the Game Of Life are unknown, but each prize can be influenced by us.

We work so hard at working our minds out of the negative aspects of mental health and mental illness. Our goal is to reach a positive place and stay there as long as we can. The ups and the downs continuously happen. We don’t always know what direction each up and down is going to take us, but we do have an ability to influence each door.

I wish the influence part was as easy to do as it is to type it out. Dictating whether you land in the positive or the negative is very hard. I’m still not completely convinced it can happen, but this is where I’m trying to get my mind to wander too.

I do know it all takes hard work. I talk about re-wiring our minds often. This is not an overnight process. We are re-wiring pathways which have been a certain way for so long. Typically, when we are re-wiring we are making new pathways away from the negative rut we have been in for however long. This re-wiring out of the negative into the positive takes time. And it takes a ton of work.

We have to put the work into it. Whatever that work may be. Currently, I am working hard at positive reflections of myself. My mind loves the negative, but I’m working on making some lasting positive pathways in my life. My reflections center around remembering good times. Positive times in my life. Remembering times where I felt best about myself. Allowing myself to remember those feelings and how it made me feel mentally.

I’ve also been telling myself when the negative creeps in that I deserve the positive stuff in life. One of my big negatives is I have a hard time allowing myself to enjoy the moment. I’ve basically wired myself into thinking I don’t deserve to enjoy the moment and let go of the worry that surrounds it. When these thoughts of doubt creep in, I tell myself (sometimes out loud) I don’t deserve to be this way. I deserve to feel good. I have done nothing to receive this negative and nagging images I have of myself. I am working on pushing the positive thoughts of myself, when the negative stuff pops up. Let’s just say I have been doing a lot of talking with myself.

I never really realized, or allowed myself to recognize it, but my mind really plays well in the negative. Until I started really pushing the positive agenda with myself, I never really realized how rooted in the negative thoughts of myself I was. Years and years of being one way and now trying to force myself out of it.

Again, the change to the positive doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of hard work to change the negative ways and thoughts about ourselves. We have to put the work in. By putting the work in, we can begin to dictate, at least the mood, of what lies behind the closed doors in front of us.

We open these doors daily. We leave one room and go into another. We have choices. We don’t necessarily know what is behind each door, but we can get to a point where we have a sense of what is behind each doors. At least we gain the sense of the mood waiting behind each door.

When we are stuck in the negative and our brains are constantly throwing doubt and worry at us. Chances are, until we try and change things, some negative style prize is waiting behind each door. This isn’t a perfect idea as it’s not always this way. The positive and the negative comes and goes sometimes outside of our control.

We need to train our brains. Generic phrase yes. I also don’t have a perfect solution as we all are different, but it is true. We need to find the method that works best for us. Works best for me. Works best for you.

Right now for me, the positive reflections and talking more positive and encouragingly to myself is working for me. I feel more positive pathways taking hold in my life. After being wired to the negative for so long, I remain to be skeptical, I’m human after all, but I also have to allow myself to believe what I am doing is what I need to do to better me. To better and strengthen myself and my mental health.

I do find that the doors I open are beginning to have more positive geared prizes behind them. It’s not a perfect equation, but it isn’t just negative crap anymore. The positive, with what I am doing for myself, is growing. I can begin to predict the mood that is behind each door and it is a really cool feeling.

Yes, sometimes my spidey-senses aren’t correct and there will still be a negatively geared feeling behind the door I select. The best part is, I now realize the options of doors to pick does not end. I jump through a negative door and I know my chances, of a positive door, are growing with the work I put in. The positive begins to outweigh the negative. I still have choices, but I am doing what I need to do to raise the odds of the positive prize. It’s getting to a point I can almost predict it.

Noble of me to be so confident. That is not my goal here. What I am saying is the positive work you put into to yourself and to your brain will yield more positive influenced doors and prizes on the other side. The negative is never gone, but it doesn’t have to be the dominant force in the equation.

The more we work at the positive side, the more the positive doors will pop-up for us to choose. We land and live in the positive and we already know, mostly, what type of feeling is behind the door. We don’t know exactly what is behind the door, but we can tell it has a positive hue to it.

The negative will always creep in, but with the work we put in, we can make the positive doors way outnumber the negative doors. This is basically the idea of being able to predict what is behind the doors. Our brains re-wire to a more positive wiring and the pathways, even when blocked by several closed doors, tend to lead us down a more positive road each selection we make. Positive…positive…postive!

Let’s be more positive with ourselves. We deserve it. We have convinced ourselves for so long that the negative is the norm, but it isn’t. We have the power and the ability to change our lives and our minds into a more positive mindset, therefore a more positive outlook and life. Doors remain closed, but we can walk up and kick them in and not hesitate to walk through the door we chose, because we don’t know what exactly is there, but we know there is a super high chance it will be positive.

We got this! You got this! I got this! It is OK to not be OK…but skies the limit after admitting you may not be OK. We get to grow from there!

Let’s keep walking this journey together.

Have a great day!

Jason

Hot off the press!! I have started a website which combines my blogs, podcasts, and other methods of dealing with our mental health and provide inspiration and hope. It is meant to be a relaxing place to stop by and refuel. So far, it is basic, but I have ideas to make it grow into something much bigger. Please check it out!

Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

www.rockingmentalhealth.com

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.

Featured

Vaccine✔️: For You, But Really For Me

I received my second Covid-19 vaccine the other day. I was happy to receive it. I feel like it is one step closer to getting life back on track. There has been a lot of changes over the past almost year now, but nothing really seemed to be changing the course direction of the pandemic. And then the vaccine became available. We can have the mask debate and we can have the social distance debate. We can debate all the openings and the shutdowns unit we are blue in the face. Are these debates focused on putting all of this behind us? Along comes the vaccine. I know we can debate the vaccine, as well, but to me the vaccine provides a difference in how we’ve been going about the pandemic all along. In my mind, it finally is something that provides a chance to get back to some form of normalcy. I see it as a good chance. I received the vaccine with you in mind, but it really is for me.

This isn’t meant to spark a debate. This isn’t meant to turn anyone off. This is going to be an example of how my brain has reasoned through this. This is an example of how my brain, which seems to be focused on my mental health, reasons through an option to improve my mental health.

My goal is not to change your mind. I think we have proven, through all of this, that we will not be changing anyone’s minds, on damn near any topic, and that is not my goal here. Believe what you want. This is about where my frustration level is with hearing and reading how people interact with each other over differences. It wasn’t like this in the past.

I do care about other people. I care about their well-being. I care about your well-being. It’s a big reason why I started this blog. I am a nurse after all. I didn’t get into nursing solely for myself, but to help other people. I enjoy trying to help other people. It is something engrained in me and it’s hard for me to turn it off. Sometimes it can become a detriment to me and my mental health, but I really am learning how to balance the two and it is kind of a fun challenge.

I say this as I received my second Covid-19 vaccine the other day. I feel like I have done my part. I feel like I have done my part for humanity and I feel like I have done my part for myself.

I have been the one, throughout the pandemic so far, who has tried to do what is asked of us as far as protecting each other from the spread. I wouldn’t say I have been living in fear. I haven’t been perfect in following all of the mandates all of the time. But I try.

A lot of my depression and anxiety issues revolve around my lovely ability to worry about everything…excessively. I say I haven’t been living in fear, but I’ve gone into overdrive, mostly, in trying to prevent myself from being the problem. I wear my mask. I socially distance. I’ve always washed my hands. I try and respect other peoples beliefs in all of this too.

But I worry. I am not sure I would do good knowing that I had contracted the virus, maybe didn’t even know I did at first, and passed it to someone who is not equipped to battle this virus. My worry goes into overdrive thinking about this, so I try and prevent it the best I can. I do not want to be that person.

It’s led me being more locked down then I normally would have been. I go to work and I return home. Not much else. Yes, I’ve gone to friends and have hung out with others some. I’m not going to sit here and try and paint myself as being perfect, but I really do try and do what I can to prevent myself from being a spreader.

I’ve locked myself down to a point where I don’t really have a desire to go anywhere. I’m not fearful, but I’ve allowed myself to get into the bury-myself-in-my-home attitude. Hard to get into any trouble when you don’t leave. This does and has begun to wear on my mental health though.

I am more introverted than not. It is one thing I have learned about myself over the last year and a half. With this being said, I used to be way better at balancing all of this. I believe the balance has been thrown off by the pandemic.

I have avoided certain situations. It is really easy to use the pandemic and the rules as an excuse to get out of something you don’t want to do or something your social anxiety doesn’t want you to do. I’m tired of avoiding situations. I am so ready for a taste of normal life again.

Enter the vaccine. I was given the ability to receive it and I took it. I work in a number of hospitals and I feel it is my duty to be protected and also protect others as best I can. I got the vaccine for you.

I really got the vaccine for me. No one is going to change anybody’s minds when they are made up to the opposite these days. It does leave me with not always agreeing with where people are in this fight. I’m not dissing you as we all have a right to our own decisions, but I don’t necessarily agree with you. I’m trying to hold onto the old adage of “we can agree to disagree” and it not ruin a relationship with another person. Plus, I’m a terrible debater and so I avoid those situations of the whole prove-I’m-right-and-you-are-wrong arguments.

So, as much as I got it for you, I really got it for me. Yes, I’m being a bit selfish. I crave a chance at getting back to normalcy. The vaccine, to me, provides a chance to start getting there. Believe what you want, but I see this as a way for me to get back to seeing some live music again. It allows me to get back to the ocean and to the Caribbean where my wife and I unwind the best.

We all need a mental health boost from time to time. Getting the vaccine has provided a boost for me. It gives me hope. Hope is a big thing and a big motivator in the mental health game. We need hope. We need to hope our lives will get better. We need hope to ensure we stay on the better and stronger side of our minds.

Do what you want. Say what you want. I did what I thought was best for me and my life. I did what I thought was best for me to get back to my normal life again. Will anything be like it was again? Probably not entirely, but we can get back to not having to worry about each other, our safety and the ability to squash this horrible time in our lives.

I did what I thought would be best for my mental health. I’m always up for a boost and a lift and the ability to get the vaccine has taken me there. I have hope again. It was getting hard to have hope, at least where this pandemic is concerned and now I feel like I’ve done something to give myself hope.

Again, I got the vaccine for you, but I really did it for me. It is my opinion that we should all get it, but I’m going to love you no matter what you think. I’m tired of the constant fighting amongst people. I’m tired enough of it that I have to push it aside and worry more about me. I’m proud to have gotten the vaccine and I feel it is the right thing for me and my mental health.

Who isn’t ready for a taste of normal life again? I know I’m not in alone in thinking this. I wish we could just wish the past year away and things could be as they were before all of this, but that’s not happening. We have to make the best of what is in front of us. We have to do what we can to carve out a good path and have a good picture in our minds of what normal is again. We need to have hope.

I got this! You got this! We got this! It’s OK to not be OK, but keep moving forward!

Have a great day!

Jason

Hot off the press!! I have started a website which combines my blogs, podcasts, and other methods of dealing with our mental health and provide inspiration and hope. It is meant to be a relaxing place to stop by and refuel. So far, it is basic, but I have ideas to make it grow into something much bigger. Please check it out!

Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

www.rockingmentalhealth.com

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.

Featured

Celebrate The Positive

I used to be a big runner. I really enjoyed the motivation I got when I would sign up for a race. I would spend “X” amount of money and then felt more obligated to train as I just put money down on the race, but really I put money down on myself. I’ve ran many half-marathons and I’ve also ran the Chicago Marathon once. Running these distances takes a ton of training. You start your training program months in advance of the race. When the race day arrives, it’s now time to put all the training into motion and go out and run the race I signed up and trained for. The race was never easy, but I was well equipped to finish it. When I finished, I didn’t focus on the pain and struggles through the race. I instead, focused on the accomplishment of finishing. I didn’t dwell on the pain and the negative thoughts of quitting when I was finished with the race. I focused on the positive. I celebrated the fact I had just finished.

Why is the celebration so hard to do sometimes in our lives? Why does the negative creep in and repel the positive so easy? Why are our minds wired this way? What can we do to change this and celebrate finishing the race versus all the bumps that occur along the way?

I definitely have had a love-hate relationship with running. While doing it, I enjoy it (mostly), as I love how I feel when I’m done. Endorphins are a hell of a drug after all😊! The love-hate idea stems from the fact it is not easy to just go out and run 3-5 miles. You have to work up to it.

The hate part of the equation usually occurs when I am getting back into running. I am one who is either all-in or I’m all-out of an activity. Running is the exact same. Every time I get back into it, I question myself “why did I ever stop?”. It really would be so much easier to keep the activity going versus having to start over.

When your body is so out of shape, you don’t feel awesome when you first start up running again. No, you don’t go out and attempt 3-5 miles right off the bat. You have to start small. I start somewhere either at a half mile or a full mile of a walk-run style. I will run for a while and then walk until I complete the distance.

Back in the days when I would do the long distance races, I had to start somewhere and what I described above is just how I started. I wasn’t as experienced then, so sometimes I found myself increasing my distances too fast. This would typically lead to some type of injury and maybe some forced time off to heal.

I would get through it though. As I trained for the upcoming race, I continued to up my mileage, according to the program I was using. Even when my endurance and stamina level was high, I still struggled certain days during my runs. Bad days happen.

And then race day would arrive. I was ready! I had trained diligently and was ready to go out and run with my goal always being to finish. I was never out to win the thing, but I had a competition with myself…beat my previous best time. I ran against myself. It was really a good feeling. It didn’t matter where I finished, as long as I did my best going up against myself.

The starting gun would sound and we were off. I’ve run in some cool places so hearing the gun was always exciting. It is really cool to tool around some cities, and even Disney World, through the eyes of a runner trying to complete a goal. The race, even with all of my training never was easy. An old injury might decide to show up and say hi, or somedays you just don’t have it as much as you feel you should. You still run.

And then you finish the race. You are tired. You may hurt a bit or a lot, but you finished. You push the pain and the difficulties of the race back as you celebrate the achievement of finishing the race. You have a sense of pride knowing you have worked your butt off to get to this point. You are very happy with yourself. The positive wins today and the negative takes a back seat.

Why can’t this exact feeling be had in our lives especially when dealing with mental health?

We ask for help, basically like signing up for a race, and then we begin training. We have some bumps along the way, but we keep going. Sometimes we have to nurse an injury and pull off the road for a moment, but it doesn’t stop us. We keep moving forward. We are invested in ourselves after all. We can’t stop, we have to keep training.

The more we train, the stronger our mental health gets. We get better at coping with our issues. We get better at talking ourselves through the negative as it pops up. We start with a short distance, or baby steps, as we don’t want to increase our distance too fast. We then can build our miles and the more we train the easier it gets.

Or at least this is the goal. The idea is we have a down experience and we do what we can to work ourselves out of it. We train our brains how to better deal with these situations. I hope that all the work you put into it leads to a positive experience and that it all works and you are doing well.

The reality is, though, our brains don’t always let us celebrate these victories or at least it seems this way. At least my brain doesn’t all of the time. Lately, I’ve struggled with seeing the good. Or I see the good and the negative figures out a way to shine brighter. I feel like I’m doing what I need to do to train, but the negative keeps creeping in.

Is this how you feel sometimes?

It feels like no matter what I do, I can’t catch a break. But why is this happening?

My brain has been wiring itself for years towards a more negative outcome expectancy. It was never an intentional activity. Heck, I didn’t even allow myself to recognize the problem until a little over a year and a half ago.

I have since put in a lot of work to start correcting myself toward a better more positive me. You think training for a marathon is hard, working to re-wire my brain, that has made itself what it is over the last 20+ years, is a difficult task. Makes the training for a marathon look easy in comparison.

With this re-wiring training going on and as extensive as it is, why is it so hard to see the positive work sometimes? Or why do we not allow ourselves to recognize it?

The negative has had a strong foothold over us for a long time. For years. Our minds are trained to think the worst. Doesn’t mean you live your life always in the negative. There are definitely some good times within all of these years. These good positive times can’t be ignored. My goal is to not sound like I’m all gloom all of the time.

I find the issue is that we allow the negative to creep in. It’s almost like it has an open invite and the door is always open. It loves to show up unannounced and not invited. Negativity doesn’t care if you want it around or not. My brain has functioned in such a way for so long, that negativity can pop up out of no where.

Basically, I struggle at giving myself a break. I struggle at letting go. The negative has an open door to my mind. This is where the training has got to intensify. We have to work on closing the door. We will never be rid of negative experiences in our lives, but they don’t have to be allowed to just show up at anytime and wreck a good time.

I don’t know how it exactly happened or why I let it happen, but I am an excessive worrier. I would throw that into my anxiety bucket, but it can definitely fuel the depression as well. I used to not be this way, but somewhere along the way something changed.

I worry about everything. Really to the point I put up an unrealistic guard. What is that person thinking about me? Do these people like me? Should I be acting goofy out in public? Should you be acting goofy out in public? You are going to attract attention by being goofy so we shouldn’t have any fun. What are people thinking?

Seriously, it’s out of control. It is so out of control that I now have trouble letting my guard down and enjoying the simplest of things. The worry has manifested and mutated so much, that I have this belief that I basically can’t have a good time…period.

This is nuts. What have I done in this life to deserve such a sentence? What have I done in life to have allowed myself to believe and live this way? The answer is nothing. The answer is the brain is open for attack. You let the enemy in and the negative will take over. These seeds, once planted, take no time to germinate and grown, but also root deeply so it is much harder to get rid of the negative.

I know I am not alone in this thought process. I know there are others who believe they are just destined to not having a good time. To the point we feel we don’t deserve it. Well this is Crap…yes with a capital C.

The truth is that none of us deserve to feel this way. It’s almost like we convince ourselves we are bad people. The truth is that this just isn’t true. It is so far from the truth, but the negativity in our brains is so deeply rooted, that over all of these years, the negativity as altered and morphed our way of thinking about ourselves.

You are not a bad person. I am not a bad person. We have done nothing to receive what we feel as the negative and worthless life sentence that we feel we have. It simply is just not the case. You and I deserve happiness. We deserve to have the negativity take a back seat and let the positive door swing open.

I have started talking to myself. No, don’t worry about me…it’s not like that😊. I have started to tell myself, when the negative creeps in, that I deserve whatever good time I am trying to have. I deserve to not worry about everything. I deserve the ability to drop my excessive worry guard. I deserve to be happy.

I can’t say I’ve been doing this for a long time, but it has quickly changed some of my behaviors. It started after a friend of mine shared a technique in the mental health group I have on Facebook (see below for link). This technique is really simple. Start your day off with spending 12 seconds thinking of a positive memory or point in your life. It discussed how it only takes 12 seconds for our neurons to form new more positive pathways. Focus on how the good feeling made you feel. Do it every morning and your brain will start to rewire itself towards the positive.

I’ve taken it a step further. This is the talking to myself portion. I am working on, when I have a negative thought, telling myself something positive. Recalling a happy feeling. Telling myself I deserve to feel positive about whatever, the negative thoughts, are trying to creep on.

I’ve really focused on telling myself I deserve a break. It is OK to shut down the thoughts for a while. Do something I like to do to distract me away from the negative as I put more focus on the positive and being positive. I tell myself I deserve to have a good time.

I have this feeling like I don’t deserve to have a good time. Almost like I’m a bad person who has squandered away the ability to have a good time. This simply just isn’t true. We have done nothing to feel this way. We do not deserve to feel this way. We are good people who deserve to feel pleasure and be able to enjoy the positive. We deserve the right and also the ability to push the negative away and let the positive have the stage.

We have worked too hard to just allow the negative to keep wreaking havoc over our lives. We have trained hard for the big race. When we accomplish our goals and finish our races, we need to be allowed to push the negative aspects away, because the positive aspects deserve the spotlight. We need to celebrate these moments. We’ve worked too hard to let the negative have it’s way with us. We have worked so hard and we continue to work hard. We have our lulls and set backs from time to time, but it doesn’t mean you’ve used up all of your positivity points. These points are unlimited, we just aren’t allowed to see it this way by the negativity enemy.

We deserve to win! We deserve to celebrate out accomplishments! We deserve to feel good in life!

I can do this! You can do this! Together we can do this! We got this!

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.

Featured

Unplug It

I’m a big music fan. I tend to land in the classic rock era a lot. Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Pink Floyd and The Doors to name a few. Love the blues and will even land in some jazz and classical music from time to time. Most notably, I enjoy a good John Williams movie score. My high school and college years took place through the entire 90s. Please don’t do the math and yes college took me a little bit to settle into and get serious. I have a love for the 90s alternative rock scene. Especially the Seattle rock/grunge scene. I’ve seen Pearl Jam a number of times. Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Mother Love Bone, and Soundgarden are my favorites. I couldn’t and still can’t get enough of these groups. One of the coolest things is when some of these bands played on MTV Unplugged.

All of these bands can rock, and by rock I mean fast and loud with a side of screaming at times. Tap your foot and get out your air guitar or air drums and rock and roll right along with them. As fast and loud as these bands could play, the MTV Unplugged series was amazing. Honestly some of my favorite live performances from these bands.

Getting to hear them stripped down and acoustic was and still is an awesome experience. They took these same songs we rock out to and stripped them down to an acoustic level and a whole new lot of gems were produced. We enjoy our music as it is. I enjoy the distorted guitar and the cymbal smashing, but to hear them stripped down. Almost hearing them take a breath, is refreshing. Chill is good too. We need to do the same from time to time. We go a million miles an hour, while being hit from all sides with stimulation, and sometimes we need a break. Sometimes we need to do an unplugged version of our lives. Slow down and refresh.

This idea of unplugging is a large idea that can encompass many areas. I’ll hit on some as they play a role in my life and I also need to put some focus back onto my own unplugged experience.

What does unplugging look like? Less time on social media? Taking a walk everyday? Taking a vacation? Taking a few days off work to get stuff done around the house? Yes, these are good ideas. There are many more as the word “unplug” is extremely vague.

When I was in the hospital, one of the hardest things to do was cough up my cell phone. I was not allowed to have any contact with it throughout the entire stay. If I needed to make a phone call, I had to use the phone on the wall and actually try and recall the number of the person I wanted to call.

I am guilty of having my phone on me at all times. Usually it is not just on me, I’m also in it looking at it constantly. To the point I can check the same thing 5 times in a couple of minutes. I also cruise Facebook a too much. So the idea of not being able to look at my phone every 2 seconds was tough.

Another aspect, is I know I use my phone as a way to hide. Messing around on it can make me look busy and I can then hide from interacting with people. The phone is a crutch. My social anxiety likes to smack me in the face when I’m around a big group. If I don’t hide in the phone and I have to be in conversation, I have a bad habit of nervously peeking at my phone periodically throughout the conversation. It is a nervous habit. I know it is incredibly rude, but it has gotten to a point where it is a habit and I don’t even really think about doing it.

Technology, for me fuels some of the bad habits and methods I have for dealing with my mental health. It is always there and I can easily dive into it and get way to caught up. When I use it as a means to deal with some of my anxieties, the phone, or other technologies, are now part of the problem. I use it to avoid versus actually tackling the problem.

So, back to the hospital. I had to cough my phone up. The idea of not having my phone actually was part of why I didn’t want to accept being admitted. Through everything I had been through, my phone was a hinderance for me getting help. Crazy! I am so attached to this piece of technology I was not going to help myself, and maybe keep traveling down the same destructive path, because I didn’t want to cough up my cell phone.

Do you know what one of the best aspects about me deciding to seek help as an inpatient on a mental health unit was? Coughing up my cellphone. It wasn’t easy, but it was awesome…exhilarating…freeing!

I was forced to pay attention to what was right there in front of me. I had to socialize with people if I wanted to play social media while I was there. I stayed in the hospital for 5 days and by the end of those 5 days, I was almost fearful of getting my phone back. I enjoyed the feeling of not having it. It took a while to get used to not having it, but over a few days those feelings diminished.

I was at the point where I didn’t want my cellphone back. Of course I needed it back as it was my only form of communication as far as phone calls and work goes, but it was just so nice to have pried it from my own grip and learned to enjoy not having it.

I got out of the hospital and was good for a couple of days. I looked at the phone, but not like I used to. It lasted a couple of days and then I was right back where I was. One thing was different, I was more mindful of my usage now. I had the experience of doing the opposite, in my back pocket now. It made me think about it more and made me cognizant of my usage.

Lately, I have been working on putting my phone down. Especially at night. Due to my experience and my memory of not having my phone in the hospital, I now know how good and freeing it is to unplug from it. I try and leave it in my office when I go downstairs to play with the dog or hang out with my wife. It makes me feel so good.

I get so caught up in reading what everyone posts and also get caught up in all the madness that swirls around social media to where, even the short breaks, feel good. I get too caught up in it, and I know getting caught up in it, is not good for my mental health. I am guilty of being way to plugged in. I have to unplug more.

I use the phone example as many of us are in the same boat. It really is just to easy of a boat to get into. There are also other ways we can unplug that have the same freeing and exhilarating feeling as putting our phones down.

My wife and I like to travel. During the pandemic we haven’t been traveling, but we also like to camp. Normally, we would have been to a beach by now, but things are different. At least, we have decided to do things different right now, but thankfully we have our love of camping. Camping provides a get away and it is a form of unplugging for me. I get away from the hustle and bustle of life for a while and being outside is refreshing.

I find I relax a lot easier when I’m sitting around a campfire visiting with others. There also isn’t the normal everyday pressures coming at you either. It is one time in life where you can actually get away with sitting and doing nothing. Also, there isn’t always cell signal, so that is an added bonus. You get to relax and also take a break from technology.

These are a couple of things I like to do to unplug. What do you like to do? There are so many possibilities for unplugging. Sometimes we have to push ourselves to actually do it. It can be hard stepping away from life and the habits we are used to doing. Our mental health deserves the break from time to time.

The chores can wait. Your job can wait. The running around from here to there can wait. All of this has to and can wait. We need to be allowed to unplug and recharge. Otherwise, if we don’t allow the unplugging to happen, the normal part of life will suffer. We get burnt out. I know when I have been burnt out, I do not perform at life as well as I should.

Burn out happens. We’ve all felt it. If burn out happens, then the opposite needs to be allowed to happen as well. We cannot just go-go-go all of the time. We may try, but the go-go-go lifestyle will take a toll on us. I find my anxiety goes way up. With burn out, my propensity for depression goes up too. The more we constantly go, the more our threshold for keeping mental illness away goes down, allowing it to creep back into our lives.

We need to unplug every now and again. We need to put our phones down, shut our computers off, take a vacation or whatever it is you like to do to unwind. Take a walk even. We have to make time for these things. We have to make time for ourselves. We have the rest of our lives to run around all crazy like, we need to take time for ourselves and unplug and truly feel exhilarated…excited…and at peace.

I went heavy on the cell phone thing, but it was a huge thing for me to feel good after I was away from it. It was a feeling I needed and I need again. Even just stepping away from it for an hour, I feel so much better.

Please take the time to unplug from it all every now and again. Our minds need the break. We are inundated with so much in our lives that we need to take some time for ourselves. Really, it’s about taking our lives back. Not letting the constant stimulation of life take control of us and just ride along. Get back in the drivers seat and take some time for yourself. Heck, you may even rediscover a part of yourself you feel you lost at some point.

Get out there. Unplug. Do what you need to do. 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.

Featured

Are You Good Where You Are, At This Very Moment?

Time travel. We can’t do it, but what if we could? When Back To The Future came out, I think it was safe to say everyone wanted a time traveling DeLorean. I honestly don’t think I would turn one down now. Not exactly sure what I would do with it though. Do I really want to see my future or do I really just want a weird car that is nostalgic of my childhood?

What if I could jump in my time traveling sports car and see myself in the future? What would I see? Would I be happy? Would I be sad? Would I even be here at all? Would I be happy with what I am currently doing for my mental health? Would I like what I see? Enter the question…are you good where you are, at this very moment?

It is a very important question in our journey. Obviously, we cannot just travel into the future and see what we are like and then come back to the present and either keep going as we are or implement changes based on what we saw of ourselves. We do not have that luxury. I think this is a good thing.

We have enough on our plates as we work on bettering our mental health for the present. We look at ourselves in the past tense to gain a sense of direction. We don’t want to dwell on the past too much as we really want to move forward and not get stuck on what once was. We go there long enough to figure out what we want to change in ourselves and then we have to move on. The past is very much there, but we want to move on from certain behaviors and not remain locked on what we were. We are working to make ourselves a better version of ourselves each and everyday.

As far as the future goes, I don’t think I want the pressure of knowing what is going to happen to myself before it happens. This is all a struggle and a battle each and everyday the way it is. What if we put a ton of work into this and then find out we are still not in a good place down the road? Would we be able to come back, to the present, and keep our motivation up to keep going already knowing it isn’t working how we intended it to? This, for me, would be information overload and I’m not sure I could handle it.

Therefore, I keep my head down and keep plugging away at the plan I have worked to put into place. I have to trust the plan even though I cannot truly see the outcome. I am doing things differently than what I used to do, so I have to trust in the unknown. I trust it, and I need to trust it, because I have gone outside of my old normal way of dealing with my depression and anxiety that I had before I even knew I had it. The old way was not working so now I have to trust that this new way of doing everything will work. It is worth a shot. It is good to mix it up especially when the old way was destructive. Trust in the plan that is being put in place.

It provides me hope. Hope is a tough word to grasp as we can’t really see it. It’s not a concrete thing that we can touch, but I think we need to possess it throughout this journey. Without hope, we lose sight of where we are trying to get. I have hope that this new way of going about battling my mental illness is going to work.

This doesn’t mean I never lose sight of where I am striving to get to. Recently, and I’m talking about over the last couple of months not the present. I have lost sight. I know I have. I see it now.

I actually had a great Friday night this past Friday. I usually dread Fridays, ever since I quit drinking, but this was a good Friday. I was able to step out of my funk for a little bit. Step out of my funk in a way I have been needing to. I went down into my music room, played the guitar and sang. I’m not a good singer, but that is not the point. I hadn’t done this in a very long time. I have been going down there and recording songs I have been making up and then I share these songs with a positive message on social media, but I hadn’t gone down there and truly played and enjoyed it just for me.

It was liberating. It was something I hadn’t done in a long time. I am not sure why I didn’t allow myself to do it sooner. It helped to lead into a good night. I was in a better mood. My dog had way more fetch time with the tennis ball😊. It was just…well…it was enjoyable. The best part is it allowed me to step back for a moment and let me really look at myself and where I am at presently.

I was able to ask myself “Are you good where you are, at this very moment?” In this reflective moment the answer was clear. The answer was and is “No, I’m not good with where I am, at this very moment.” Wow. I hadn’t allowed myself to see it. I have known it for a while, but I didn’t allow myself to really see it and digest what it means.

I have talked about this a bit, but I have been in a rut. I have recognized it, but I haven’t allowed myself to truly see how much of a funk I am in. I feel like I am doing what I should be doing to better my mental health, but really I’m not. I have hit a very stagnant point. Coupled with the pandemic, I guess it was inevitable…at least to a point.

This past year has been trying. Trying for all of us. It is hard to be mentally beat down during a normal year, but add the pandemic in, and the amount of time things have been flipped up side down, and I think a stagnant point in our battle is going to happen at some level. Well, it has happened to me.

This last Friday night, I was able to really step back and see it. From the good mood that I was in after playing music, I could see more clearly where I was. And I don’t like where I am. I’ve spelled a lot out about my inconsistent medical care in my previous couple of blogs. I’m in the midst of adjusting medication through all of this. I’ve also gotten lazy in how I go about maintaining and building on my mental health.

Changes need to come again for this guy. I see it now and I can’t keep doing things how I’m doing them. I’ve pondered recently about just giving up and living out my life however I can while being defeated and just dealing with it. Dealing with it in a way that this is as good as it gets, right now.

Well it is not as good as it gets. I need to kick myself in the ass and get the excitement and the drive back. I see this now. I write and podcast about a lot of things related to mental health. I believe in everything I say. My problem is I have stopped living it. I have stopped heeding my own advice. My advice isn’t the cure-all fix-all kind of advice. But the advise is more techniques, which have been working for me, and I want to share these ideas and techniques with whoever will listen to me😊.

I need to listen to me more. We need to listen to ourselves more. We need to truly allow ourselves to honestly listen to ourselves. I now see I need to really get back on the horse. I have fallen, but I recognize I need to get back up and get on that horse and keep going. I see this now. I hope, if you are in the same place as I am right now, you can see in yourself you have fallen off the horse. It’s time to get back on the horse. It’s time to get moving forward again. Let’s ride together!

I cannot stay where I am now. I can’t. It is beginning to consume me. I recognize it now. Does it mean I’ve fully pulled myself out of this funk? No, I have work to do, but I am feeling the motivation building back inside of me. I want to be here and I want to do this.

I cannot see what I will be like in the future. I do not possess a time traveling DeLorean. I’m OK with this. What I can do is keep working on the me for the now and present. Keep working each and everyday on myself. This work will lead to the future me being what I am, being the best me possible, and I have a lot of control and creative power to mold this future me. It’s time to keep moving. The effort is worth it. I’ve seen the fruits of these efforts before and I need to get back to that place.

Are you good where you are, at this very moment? Can you allow yourself to really ask yourself this question. This question is valid for those who have never decided to start this journey toward better mental health and wellness and it is also valid for those of us currently on the journey. We are going to hit bumps in the road. What are we going to do about them when we do?

Maybe you are good at this very moment…excellent keep moving forward and don’t stop. Keep putting the effort into all that is good. Maintain the feeling.

Maybe you aren’t good at this moment. Same as the good…we have to keep moving forward. Allow yourself to step back and ask yourself, “Am I good where I am, at this very moment?” Allow yourself to truly ask it and answer honestly. The honest answer is the best answer, as it is all about your own mental health and wellness.

We have to be honest with ourselves. We also have to ask ourselves this question from time to time. This question about where we are currently at can help us either maintain our focus or recognize where we need to readjust our focus and implement the changes if necessary.

Are you good where you are, at this very moment? Are you?

We can do this! We got this! It’s OK to not be OK…it really is. We can stay there as long as needed, but we always have to remember to keep moving on and keep moving forward.

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.

Featured

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.

Featured

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.

Featured

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