Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How a Fired Ex-Security Guard Conquered Mental Illness to Live His Dreams

I did not want to write this post. Everybody sees me as cheery Ryan. Factor in a painfully-slow internet connection here in Kathmandu, and pretty high levels of agitation with being behind my work, and some intestinal issues, and some other stuff too, and well, I just did not feel like writing this post. But here we are. Why?

Because people need to hear your story. No, not my story. I write my story to inspire you to write your story. Sure I do some awesome stuff; I tame tigers, I feed monkeys on the front porch, I change time zones like nobody’s business and I do other neat stuff, but I am writing this for all of the scared, depressed, worried, suicidal people out there. I am writing this for bi-polar people, for people who suffer from mental illness, because although I have never been diagnosed, I have suffered from depression, suicidal thoughts/tendencies, bi-polar behavior, etc, etc, etc.

Hey, I am not writing this to put myself – or yourself – in a box. I want you to know that if you have ever been depressed, or suicidal, I have been there. I want you to know that if you have ever struggled horrifically with poverty, with being so broke that you have 4 cents in your pocket, I have been there. I have been through nightmares, like you, I am sure, and I have proven that, despite all these nightmares, you can live your dreams.

I mean, look at me, doing intense laundry lifts by Lampizat Road. Adding some mass to my quads again ;)



Again, I am in Kathmandu now. I have 3 months in India after our month in Nepal. Charmed life, indeed, but of course I had to work mentally and physically to get here. I live my dreams, traveling the world for 36 months and counting, by dealing with my feelings. I had to face, embrace and deal with my demons. I had to fight through low lows, where I thought about ending my life, or just never getting out of bed again. I had to experience these moments to become the mostly happy, jovial, heart-felt guy that I am today.

2 stories come to mind, 2 stories forced me to write this post. I had no choice. I learned of blogging legend Jon Morrow’s story yesterday. I always saw the name but never knew the story; Jon suffers from a crippling disease, and yet he still puts out the best copy I have ever seen. And that is a ton of copy. He succeeded despite going through hell.

I also thought of Randy Gage. Such an inspiring, uplifting guy, and I learned a few months ago that he is HIV positive. The energy he emits is stunning, really, and to realize that he is high vibing it despite his current situation has inspired me to write this post.

Kid Years


OK, on to me. As a kid I was hyper sensitive and shy. I lived a pretty good life but socially I had issues. Not a big deal, I suppose. I did not date until I was 26. After breaking up with my first girlfriend I had my first visit with depression and suicidal thoughts. I went dark for 3 months. The rejection was overpowering to me, and it was the first true loss that I experienced.

Since both sides of my family have a history of alcoholism, mental illness, and unfortunately, one suicide, my parents took great care to help me deal with my mental issues. I did dumb stuff like stacking, or combining thyroid boosters with fat burners with caffeine and I worked out to ridiculous limits, pushing myself to dangerous points in the gym. No, it was not healthy. I did it to look good, to boost my self esteem, and also to punish myself, because I viewed myself as shit. No self worth.

After kicking around for a bit – and a trip to the emergency room for the stupid stacking stunt I pulled above – I began to come out of my haze for a bit. I was not healed, by any means, but I could start to see that by suffering, and by owning your suffering, you can be free of the suffering. You can begin to grow. Inspiring. A little bit at least. This was also the point in my life where I began to embrace personal development.

I kicked around working a few dead end, low paying jobs. After meeting a nice girl from NY and dating for a bit I came into the possession of a few powerful CDs. Personal development stuff, called Bob Proctor’s “Power to Have it all” series. I liked them. Bob mentioned “Think and Grow Rich” as being pivotal in his life. I bought it. I was hooked. The wheels began to turn, but just a bit.

Pier Guard Days


Fast forward 3 years. I was making a few dollars working as a security guard in a shipping terminal. I had my college degree – most people wondered what the hell I was doing there – but desired a nice, comfy job, where I had little hassles. I hated authority, I feared criticism, and I enjoyed living in a comfort zone.

I still had episodes of depression, although no suicidal urges in years; I was way too comfortable for that to happen. I dated casually – no hurt or rejection, and professionally, I worked an easy, low-paying job, where I could pay bills, put away a few bucks, and still spend time watching sports games.

All of this changed when I got the pink slip. Maher Terminals let me go. Computers took over my job. Thanks Microsoft. I was cool with that. The beginning of my online business career. I was ready to grow, and go. My girlfriend Kelli and I chilled for a few months, relaxing. I enjoyed my first vacation in 5 years. Exciting time. I lived off of dwindling savings without a worry in the world.

Eventually things got really tight financially so I had to work. I decide to do the online business thing. This was the beginning of a difficult time in my life. I spent time working on my mindset, and on my business, but things did not come together. The money disappeared. Depression again. Suicidal thoughts again. I care not to delve into details, but needless to say, these deep, dark times, well, they made the person who you see today. They made me. They pushed me to embrace my demons.

Bad Times


I remember one day walking to the Scotch Plains-Fanwood library. I sold my car for $2600 because I needed money. I went through that money. I was blessed to have a roof over my head but that was changing soon too. Anyway, I looked in my wallet; 4 cents. I cried. I had 4 cents. I was over $50,000 in debt. I went home. I cried. I fell into a pit. Deeper and deeper. It was one of the lowest points in my life. I worked like hell to grow my online business but saw little growth.

Now, when I look back on those days, I realize why people who do stuff like traveling the world for 36 months, or people who start massive business ventures, or people who change the world by becoming the best in their respective fields, I understand why these people do what they do. Most If not all of these folks went through unimaginable nightmares to get where they were. God breaks down the most the guys and gals who shine brightest for others. At least in most cases.

Listen, I understand that people starve to death. I understand people have experienced hardship, unimaginable hardship, and I never want to minimize their experiences, but I also want to never minimize my experience, because in being honest in explaining how I have felt over my life, I can help one person who has been severely depressed, or who has been suicidal.

More Tough Times


I worked, and worked, and still no money. After I picked Kelli up at the airport – her car, she offered to take me on trip but I refused – she said I looked like a “terminal cancer patient.” I shaved my head because I could not afford a haircut, and I lost 35 pounds because I walked 4 miles to the library each day, and did not each much, each day. Maybe one meal.

I was living in a nightmare. But I persisted. I sometimes spent 6 hours or more working on my mindset daily. I meditated. I would spend hours in silence. I pushed myself. I wrote down inspirational quotes. Many people do not realize most of my most inspiring quotes were written during the nightmarish days.

But I persisted with my online business tasks. I had my moments; each time I had a violent argument with Kelli over money, most of these times I made terrible threats. Threats against myself, of course. Me against the world again. More depression. More rage, more anger, more self-abuse.

The cycle continued for years. I would make a few bucks, see a little success, the happiness dries up, I get depressed. Almost like clockwork. One day, I noticed a marked shift; I decided to do something which enraged me. I opened a stream of income I had resisted opening for years.

Flip Out


I flipped out before this moment. I threatened to hurt myself. I became enraged with Kelli. I protested. But I could feel a little something. My heart opened a little as my ego melted a little. I had bouts of depression after that, and I got upset, and angry, but I began to soften just a little bit.

Money began to flow into my life with increasing ease. I began taking more chances, and prospering more frequently. Then, I made a bold move! Kelli and I scheduled a trip to Bali, Indonesia. Things started falling into place.

I was not past my depression yet, nor my low energy, angry, sometimes suicidal states of mind, but I did at least embrace my human-ness. I did at least embrace my mental illness.

Acceptance


Here is the secret; there is no secret. There is no magic key. There is not pill, or one act, or one moment that will change your life, that will solve your mental illness. There is only this: ACCEPTANCE OF WHAT IS TO HELP YOU SEE WHAT MIGHT BE.

Stuff like meditating persistently helped me become aware of my demons. I could see where I wanted to hurt myself. I could face, embrace, and release those feelings, despite how hellish these moments were.

Stuff like surrounding myself with positive people helped me frame a different perspective on life.

Look at the results. Me hanging at Monkey Temple in Kathmandu, Nepal, yesterday :)


Stuff like pushing myself, and doing stuff that I feared doing, helped the angry, frightful, depressed, worried, sometimes wanting to harm myself feelings, to arise, and as these feelings arose, I learned to embrace them, and release them.
The real secret to conquering depression is acceptance. The second secret is to see what might be, it is to see where you can improve your life.

You see, I could have sat home in New Jersey, gotten hooked on Zoloft, landed a job so I could pay my bills, and accept the fact that I will always have deep, dark bouts of depression, and I might always be suicidal. I could have. That would have been acceptance of WHAT IS. But I learned, from many successful people who conquered their demons, and dealt with depression, and suicidal thoughts, and who dealt with the death of loved ones, and financial heartache, I learned that once you accept what is you can develop a vision of what MIGHT BE.

Might Be


The “might be” part for me was travel. The “might be” part was running online businesses. It was being rich. It was, more than anything else, being happy most of the time, and minimizing my deep, dark moments….it was realizing that I could be happy, that I need not spend my life angry, and scared, and critical of other people, and worried about what people might think.

When I began writing inspirational quotes – my own – many years ago, at one time or another, every one of my family members though that I was depressed, or crazy. It was such a change, they were not ready to handle it. Even Kelli wondered what I was up to here and there, and she has been the most supportive, loving, caring person in my life, along with my parents. I was stunned, really, because here I was, inspiring people, even though I was dead broke, and pretty depressed, and those closest to me thought that the positive quotes and new persona meant I was sick, or that something was wrong.

I suspect this was association by patterns; our family had seen some tragedy in a similar situation. I respected this and although I was upset. I moved on.

I traveled, and saw the world, and embraced new cultures. I saw how much of the world lives in poverty yet is happy, and how many people in the West have money yet are miserable. The Walking Dead. Nope, I learned to grow my online businesses from an inside-out perspective.

Watch Triggers


I saw my triggers; anything related to financial struggle, or rooted in heavy criticism, pushed me to go into a rage, often ending in depression, or sometimes, in wanting to jump off of the roof. Or the 5th floor. I saw these moments, for the first time, and I began to make correlations. I felt a bit more free.

So, when was the conquering point? Where can I honestly say, I began to get past my darkest demons? Where did the deeply depressed, suicidal thoughts, begin to disappear?

THE MOMENT WHERE I SAT QUIETLY AND TOOK IT!

Example; yesterday I became heavily agitated at something. Some moment. The feelings arose. I had 2 choices; I could react, and speak, and vent, or I could sit and take it. I chose to take it. I went quiet for hours. I did not mope; I observed. I went to sleep. I laid in bed. I watched it all without responding, or reacting.

I did not run to the bar. I did not take a pill. I did not exercise. I did not scream at Kelli. I did not attempt to harm myself. I did not attempt to go into a depression, to shut out the world, to fight, to strain, to put on a happy face.

I sat, and took it. I embraced the feelings. I felt them. I watched scenarios go through my mind. I watched fights, and retorts, and rebuttals. I watched me fighting people online and offline. I watched myself fighting each person who allegedly wronged me.

I fought, and fought, in my mind, but that was the only spot, where I fought. My body was limp….well, full of tension, at times, but overall, pretty limp, because I decided to sit and take it, instead of manifesting the energies, and doing sometime to dissipate them.

In the past, when I had deeply suicidal, or depressive, moments, I used the same strategy. Go to bed, deal with the feelings, watch them, embrace them….for 30 minutes, or 12 hours. Does not matter. Embrace. Embrace. Release. Release.

I am not a medical professional. If you feel suicidal I suggest calling a hotline. I can only share my story, what cleansed me, and that was embracing these energies.

Use Power Ask for Help


There is only POWER in reaching out and asking for help when you need it. There is nothing wrong with using medication to control depression if you augment treatment with meditation, or some spiritual, or mental, treatment. This way, when the doctor goes away, or the pills go away, you have a back up plan, until the pills come back, or the doctor comes back….and one day, you might be able to wean yourself off of the pills, or the doctor. Maybe.

We are complex beings. Facing my fears, worries, rages, anxieties, without acting on them, and releasing them, was a turning point in my life. But I have other tips to share, which have helped me moved from mentally ill, to happy, and prospering, and yes, a dream living fool ;)


Practical Tips for Overcoming Your Mental Demons

1: Admit you are dealing with mental demons…..embrace your mental issues. If you feel down, or depressed, for 5 hours today, or for 2 days, or for 2 weeks, say to yourself, “I feel like shit, I feel depressed. I need to take steps to address my feelings.”

2: Consider seeking medical help; seeing a medical professional can be the first step to help you see that you have an illness, like a physical illness, that needs to be addressed. I did not admit that I was depressed until I saw a doctor. At that moment, I embraced it, fully, and moved forward.

3: If you are even borderline suicidal call a 24 hour hotline or check in with a friend. Frankly, avoid doing what I did. I took my rage out on people around me and I haunted them, my rage did, and although I felt a bit better, these selfish moments hurt people I loved, terribly. Call specialists. Get help. Get past your feelings. Get better.

4: Find purpose. Make your life about something bigger than you, or your mental illness. Make it a goal of yours to travel the world, or to live the internet lifestyle, or to inspire people. These goals push you past your demons.

5: Take care of your body and mind.

How I Conquered Mental Illness and Lived My Dreams

Embracing my faults and seeing something bigger happening. Accepting my mental illness and building a vision. Admit it; you are depressed, or upset, or ill. You go through dark periods. This is OK. Admit it. Allow it. Then, take practical steps to cure your issues. No shame in that.

While taking your practical steps to cure, keep the idea of WHAT MIGHT BE in your mind. Make it a dominant thought. Picture a spectacular new reality in your life. Adopt a purpose and hold to it. See something grand.

Other Tips:


  • push yourself into uncomfortable areas; writing this post is an example.....uncomfortable for me to do but I see the potential to help and inspire so many people
  • make new friends; not in all cases, as I am still friends with old buddies, but I have met new people and made new friends too, to widen my support network
  • release anybody who feeds into your dark energies. Let go negative, unhappy people, because your job is not that of a savior, it is to feel good and help people who want assistance
  • be at peace with your feelings. Practice meditation, expand your awareness, learn to watch your feelings. Meditate for 20 to 40 minutes or more daily. This practice alone can help you embrace depressing or rage-ful feelings, and release them with alarming ease after months or even years of meditating
That is it for today guys. I have some fun stuff to do in Kathmandu. I might do laundry lifts, or hang with the fruit bats, or I might just chill for a bit, or meet my blogging buddy Suresh - although I think that is tomorrow - but whatever I do, I will do, because I faced my demons.

Mental healing is an inside-out job. Mental healing absolutely, positively, can be attained using an inside and outside approach, but when you augment the medication, and advice from medical professionals, with meditation, personal development, and adopting an overpowering purpose, a grand vision, a spectacular dream, well, magic happens.

I am proof :)

Have you ever suffered from depression?

How did you overcome your demons?

What tips can you add to my post?


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- Image http://www.flickr.com/photos/paul_everett82