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Archive for May, 2015

The following started as an e-mail explaining ‘Always Keep Fighting’ to someone I love and in reviewing it I realized that it’s a good explanation to all who’ve asked the question of me as well.  So as a step in helping to remove some of my own fear of the stigma surrounding my own mental health issues and to educate those in my life here goes.  Some of me open to the world…be kind!

I’m writing this in hopes of helping you understand the ‘Always Keep Fighting’ stuff and why it’s so important to me. First, I know that many of my friends and family don’t understand my enjoyment and fascination with the show Supernatural and that’s ok but my interest in “Always Keep Fighting” has nothing to do with my interest in Supernatural. AKF just happens to have been started by one of the stars of the show and was therefore put in my purview. I do find it interesting that my resurgence of interest in the show and entrance into Fandom happened just as the campaign started, I wouldn’t have known about it otherwise. But again, the two have nothing to do with each other, other than SPN bringing AKF to light for me.

So what is ‘Always Keep Fighting’ really about? It’s about bringing awareness, and acceptance to the reality of mental health issues, removing the stigma that makes people hide in the corner and not seek help. It’s also become about creating a support network for people who live each day with these battles. Where the campaign started to raise awareness and funding for charity it has turned into a support group and a family of sorts.

As for why it’s important to me… all my life I’ve been told that I was depressed, or manic, or whatever and all my life I’ve fought the people who’ve told me that for so many reasons that I can’t really explain anymore. Long about the time that this campaign began I began to realize that Yes, I do have some issues. At this time I also started to do some true soul searching as to who I am. I am, at my worst, an anxiety ridden mess who can see the worst in any situation. An introvert, who’s shy and extremely unsure of herself, and who has severe social anxiety just to round out the ‘I don’t like people” (not literally) trifecta. Meeting others in this crazy fandom and through the Always Keep Fighting campaign, the AKF Family as it’s lovingly referred, has helped me to accept my own issues and realize that I need to fight through them. It’s also helped me to realize that I am far from alone in these struggles.  And for me that’s not only fighting with the anxiety and mild depression that comes with the Meniere’s, but the Meniere’s itself, and all my other quirks. I’m worth fighting for! When I was little my Dad would strive to comfort my self-hatred by telling me that ‘God don’t make Junk’ and this ‘thing’, this support network, this family had helped me to start believing those words for myself.  They’re there when I’m scared, sad, or panicing necessarily  and unnecessarily.  They help me to remember that I am not alone, I am enough, and to always keep fighting.

If you’re part of my family or my friends and you really don’t understand it that’s fine but please don’t poke fun and please try to accept the AKF idea, because for me as it’s something that is helping me to accept myself, faults and all.  I would also encourage you to ask me more about it, this ‘campaign’ has quickly become and important and formative part of who I am and my work to become a better and more confident version of me.

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My Uncle Steve has been on my mind a lot lately. I often think about him around Easter since he died on Good Friday and before that the last time I had seen him was the Easter before. Usually it’s a passing thought, a moment of sadness, and I move on. Ever since his death I have taken a moment on Easter Sunday to stand in my churches chapel and remember our last conversation. As he marveled at the beauty of the music that morning (our choir is rather good) and we talked about how beautiful the stained glass window at the back of the chapel is. Maybe I’m having trouble letting go because I didn’t have that moment.

I’ve written about him before, sharing wonderful memories, sharing them keeps them at the surface. Maybe writing down the bad will make those ones finally be at rest.

I am usually rather good at focusing on the good memories of him. The trips out on his boat as a girl. My silly stuffed koala that created a love of koalas, a toy that I still have and cherish 32 years later. Walking down through the quad at the U with all the cherry trees blossoming overhead. Talking about my plans. Him trying so hard to distract both of us from my Grandfathers heart surgery. Hearing stories convincing the band director to let him first wife Sally into the band even though she didn’t play an instrument, or some such silliness. Working out the details for a short story with him about a Chameleon named Cami. These are the memories and more that I try to focus on but the bad ones keep seeping in lately.
The missed holidays cause he was drunk. The arrests, the time in jail for more DUI’s then I can count. All the trappings of an Alcoholic who’s fifth of vodka a day was more important than his family. I was in my 20’s when he crashed off the pillar I had placed him on. See until that time he was tied as my second favorite guy in the world with my Grandpa Hap, my Dad being top of that list. When I found out that he was a drunk, and all that went with that, that changed in a moment. A moment that was never repaired.

I remember picking him up for my Dad’s ordination and he was lightly drunk maybe just hungover, but he came. I have the same memory to go with my Nephew’s baptism. I look back on the day of Eion’s baptism and want to beg my sister for forgiveness. I made her come with me to pick him up because I couldn’t face him, his possible (probable) drunkenness on my own not after the last time.

See a year earlier I was supposed to stay with him for a week. I was so excited to get to spend some time with my Uncle, to get to know him as an adult, I hadn’t spent much time with him since I was a teenager. I arrived and he was wasted. He was unintelligible, nonsensical, drunk of his ass. I felt like he had done it because he didn’t really want me there. I left, I ran from his boat sobbing. I forgave him for that moment but he never forgave himself. Unfortunately because he couldn’t move on our relationship was never fixed. He avoided me, which added to my fear of him not wanting me there. At family functions there were many times he would greet or say goodbye to everyone but me.

There is so much I regret in our relationship, I wish that I had tried harder but I was at a loss to make it better. He’s been gone for five years. He knew it was going to happen, the doctors warned him and yet his booze was more important that his life. I know that’s not fair but in this moment, in a moment where I’m having trouble seeing the light for the darkness it’s how I feel.

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