Depression and life

I just listened to a TEDx talk on suicide and life. Once upon a time, I could not do this.
I am told quite often that I am a strong person. They say this because I have dealt with having a disability, so well. And if I am honest, in some ways they are correct. I am a person who happens to have Cerebral Palsy. Back when I was younger, I didn’t let my dis-ablity stop me from doing what I wanted to do. My dis-ability (sic) is not who I am. I am not defined by my dis-ability. I live with it. To me, it is not brave, nor heroic, nor anything special. I have always had a bum leg. I don’t know any different, so this is my “normal.”

Somewhere on this path of life, I lost my confidence. I stopped believing in myself. I developed a low self-esteem about myself. My depression resulted because I believed that I couldn’t do anything. I was told, by kindly meaning professionals, that I couldn’t do this, or I couldn’t do that. I don’t blame them for what resulted. It just I took their statements to be realistic about my career choices to heart. I felt that I couldn’t do anything. It’s strange, how my all or nothing attitude played a factor even back then. I am an “All or nothing” kind of guy. I don’t like to admit it, but I still am. The result is that I suffered from depression in my late teens and early twenties. The fact that I was gay didn’t help. I was closeted, gay young man who grew up in the projects. I was supposed to be tough. I was also a strict Catholic and these two aspects were “polar opposites” in their views. I still joke about going to hell (I don’t believe it, but I still joke about it). So really, my depression stemmed from my lack of confidence in myself and the loathing I felt about being different. I gave up. I stopped living and I couldn’t see a good future for myself. I was depressed.

After I hit rock bottom, I went to counselling and I sought out help. I wasn’t working because of the recession at the time and because I felt I couldn’t do anything with me having a dis-ability. I got work eventually after I went on some job training course. It helped boost my confidence again. I later returned to school to upgrade my skills. The success I found there also contributed to my confidence boost. Step-by-step, I began to snap out of my depression and my confidence returned. It was a slow process, but one that built a strong foundation on which I could stand upon.

Today, this is all history. I have had my bouts of depression, but I have figured out tricks to help me snap out of it. My depression now stems from Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD). With this realization, I find that my depression is manageable, if I caught it. Sometimes it can be a week before I realize I am in a state of depression. When I finally do come to realize this, I do the opposite of what I feel I want to do. Namely, I go out, instead of staying in; I socialize, instead of shutting myself out. For me, this doing opposite works. I also purchased a light for the winter months. It helps.

I am at a good place. I can’t say I never get depressed, but when I do, I can deal with it. For the most part, I am happy with my life. I no longer worry about the past, and I don’t fret about the future. I stay in the now. This was another issue back then, I couldn’t stay in the now.

Most of the time, I am that strong person I appear to be, but sometimes I am not. For those times I am not, I work on it. Over all though, life is good.

For those of you who are struggling. I am reposting this image:

Mental health continuum-mobile

Get to know the signs and if you are in any phase other than healthy, seek help. There is no shame in asking for help. We all need a hand up occasionally.

My life may not always be exactly what I want, or I wish for, but it is a good life. I have my health. I have a good family, partner and friends who are always there for me, and a decent job. A hobby that I love – writing, contrary to what our income obsessive materialistic society wishes to sell us, these are what truly matter.

Peace and love.
—Robert Confiant 15 September 2018

The “should have, would have, and could have” moments in our lives.

Another morning with the same routine of going into work, the drive in seems to be going well this morning.

It’s strange some days. I like my job. The people are good, most days the customers are great, and the workload… Well, that varies from day to day. Still, I cannot stop wishing to win the lotto. It would be nice to retire (not that I have a lot of time until I retire, but still…).

Lotto

“What would I do,” you might ask? I would write. I was just telling my partner that I should have continued writing when I was younger. We got to talking about whether one would go back in time and do things differently. I said, “I wouldn’t – not unless I knew exactly what I know now. I wouldn’t want to go through the same life lessons again.” I would do things more smartly. Since this could not be because of the paradox where going back would change everything I currently know. I wouldn’t do it as tempting as the idea is.

I love to write. I think it was something I was meant to do. I am glad I rediscovered it. Although I have made great strides, I am not so delusional to know that I have a long way to go before I hone this craft, which is why I wished I never gave it up in the first place. I never received any encouragement from my English teachers. My grades were okay, but none saw my potential. I had a teacher did, but I discovered too late that I still needed a better foundation because there were fundamental gaps in my knowledge (I should have taken geometry; the gaps would have presented themselves to me).

The “should have, would have, and could have” moments in our lives.
—Robert Confiant 13 September 2018

I don’t give up

I don’t give up, or I don’t give up too easily. I was always this way growing up.

I never personally knew anyone else who had a physical dis-ability (sic) growing up until much later. I had four brothers and a lot of friends in the project where I grew up, and I wanted to participate in the same activities that they participated in. I had to work twice as hard to meet, or just function enough that I could join in.

It was the same when I got employed. My mother helped me get my first job. We didn’t have a lot of extras when we were young, so when I hit sixteen I wanted to get a job, but I told my mom that I didn’t think anyone would hire me with my bum leg (I still call it that sometimes – my right leg is worse than my left leg). Anyway, she spoke with her boss at the time, and her boss gave me a try. It was a janitor position, which required that I be on my feet all shift (weekends and the odd evening). I proved that I could achieve this by working extra hard (well, harder than those I saw around me).

It was the same many years later when I got hired over the phone for a clerk position at a bookstore. I was hired as magazine stocker. It was gruelling and heavy work: Storing overstock in the back (climbing up and down), stocking the racks out front and shipping and receiving bundles of magazines. As I was hired over the phone, when I walked into work the first day my manager thought he had made a mistake. He told me this a few years later, but he figured I couldn’t be any worse than anyone else he had hired, so he gave me a shot (he never regretted it), but I worked really hard to keep this job. I loved working there. It was a good group of people and I loved to read. When I decided to go to university, he called me back each summer.

I never gave up to easily on anything I tried. It was many years of attempting to ice skate before I threw them in and gave up. I felt like I wasn’t getting any better, so I gave it up. If I saw some improvement, I am sure I would have stayed with it. Alas, I sucked at ice skating, and I felt, “Why beat a dead horse, when I saw no improvement?”

So, now I am realistic about what I can, or cannot do. I try something for a while, and if I don’t see improvement, then I give it up. Why waste my time and energy?

Some people think I am stubborn, and they are not wrong; I definitely am. But, my stubbornness has given me the “Stay with it” attitude. It has gotten me far in life (It can also tee off some people at times, I am sure 😁). Stubbornness has its benefits.
—Robert Confiant 12 September 2018

My older cat doesn’t jump so well

Terra blockTerra, my cat, is getting a bit skittish about jumping up on the counter height chair (about 28″ in height). She is 13 years old. Her fear of jumping up began over a year. At first, she only missed seat of the chair once in a while. Then it began to increase in frequency yesterday with three failed attempts one after the other.

We own counter height island which we use at mealtime and which I use when I am on the laptop which is most of my home time. Terra likes to bop up on the chair beside me to come and visit. When we first bought them a little over a year ago, she had no trouble hopping onto the chair. Over the year, every so often, she would bump into the side of the seat. This bumping began to gradually increase to once a month. With each failed attempt, she grew more and more hesitant to jump often circling around before jumping up. I encouraged her to try again after such a failed attempt, but she usually fret about it before she gave it a go. It’s this hesitation which is preventing her from succeeding and land on top of the seat. I am trying to teach her to just jump and to not think about it first by encouraging her to jump on command. I am not too sure how else to go about teaching her not to hesitate. (She is only a cat after all).

If I cannot get her over her anxiety, then I will have to get my three-step stool, so she won’t hurt herself too seriously. Perhaps she is just getting a little too old.

When I got home last night, Terra hopped up onto the chair without any issue. Go figure.
—Robert Confiant 5 September 2018

PS: I gave her a bit of help…

IMG_20180916_235847622[1]

Do or do not, there is no try

“Do or do not, there is no try.” Yoda

Yoda

When one has a physical limitation, or any limitation, these are words to live by. Unfortunately, in real life one discovers there are limitations as to what one is realistically able to do.

I may not always succeed, but I always give everything I do or everything I attempt my very best. I never give up easily. I often make several attempts at doing new things. I can’t skate for instance, although, God knows, I’ve tried. I mentioned this story before, so I will skip the monologue, and get to the gist of the story. After many, many attempts of no improvement, I threw in my skates. I guess I could have kept trying, but I didn’t see any point. I had plateaued and I never saw any improvement. If I had, then I probably would have stayed with it.

For me, this is the key. I require some sense of improvement when I strive to do something. If I don’t see any improvement, I generally give up.

Unlike fantasy movies and books, life has its setbacks. The key is to keep trying until it becomes evident that it is beyond one’s ability. We can’t do everything, or else we would all be able to do it all. We all have our individual gifts, skills, and traits which makes each of us unique.

I learnt my limitations after I have made numerous attempts. I wanted to try for track and field once. I asked my teacher and she said if I could run a mile under 5 minutes, then she would let me. I couldn’t meet the time, but I completed the mile (I remained stubborn until the end).

Unfortunately these trials and failures, and what with professionals (teachers, counsellors, etc.) telling me to be realistic about my career choices, I began to lose my confidence. I stopped trying new things. I never attempted alpine skiing, and by the last surgery, I lost the flexibility in my ankle and feared I would only hurt myself.

Doubt and fear are two obstacles blocking most people from trying new things. I should have kept trying thing when I was younger now I feel I am too old.

Unfortunately one cannot go back. I have to accept that I cannot do everything, and I have. As mentioned above, no one can do everything. We all have limitations, but one must give it their all before one tosses in the towel. I still try new things. I have done IT ( I learnt to program and repair computers). I have taken up writing and I have written a book and I have this blog. I have drawn a map for my novel. I find if there is a will to do something, then one can usually accomplish the task. The end result may not be perfect, but at least it gets done.

In my case, the method I use may not be the same as someone without a physical limitation, and it may take me longer to accomplish it, but I get it done. And this is what counts. It doesn’t matter how one does a thing, or how long it takes. It only matters that one accomplishes what one set out to do.
—Robert Confiant 4 September 2018

Maturing to the point where one says,”Screw it.”

I try to be genuine to myself. I try to be true to who I am, and to my beliefs. This wasn’t always the case.

When I was younger, I wanted to be accepted and fit in (I think a lot of us did). As a person with a dis-ability, I think this was doubly so. Although my friends in the project, never excluded me; I may not have been first chosen, but I was included (Reflecting back on this time, I only ever felt bad about being picked last, or almost last, but I shrugged it off).

This need for acceptance and to fit in only worsened as I hit my teens, but it became more subconscious; more ingrained, so much so that I never gave it a second thought.

I finally shook it in my forties (I know, that’s a long time, but I am pig-headed and, obviously, slow to learn – I guess some behaviours are slow to change even the self-destruction ones). It’s strange, how as one ages one cares less about what other people think. I still want to feel accepted, but I won’t be bought, I won’t be used, and I won’t lessen myself, or change myself in order to be accepted by another person. It has taken me a long time, and a lot of hard lessons, to reach a place where I can live an authentic life where I can be who I am just as I am and be true to my beliefs.

I wish to be accepted by everyone I meet, but now I know that isn’t going to happen. I take it as the other person’s lost and not mine (This is probably not the best attitude to take, but it serves me, and helps me not fall back on the needy person I was). My attitude today is either accept me as I am, or not at all; the greatest “Screw it” attitude. I realize I am a decent and good person. I like to believe I treat others well, or at least I try to treat others well. I like to believe I am a good friend to my friends with each providing mutual support and love.

So yeah, I have reached a part of my life where I like who I am, where I want others to respect me for me, and where I don’t give a hoot what others think (for the most part, I still listen to advice from friends), and where I pick my friends more carefully and where that friendship provides mural support and love.

My friends are the best part of me. They always have my back and I hope they know I have their back.
—Robert Confiant 28 August 2018