Mental Health Awareness 2021

Hey there everyone! We’ve got a little something different today, so I hope you don’t mind. Not the typical meandering on about comic books or movies or Pokemon or Image Comics today, sorry! I would say our website goes off-target a lot, but I’m never fully convinced what its target actually is!

No, I wanted to discuss the fact that May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

Before we get into things, the biggest thing to always remember is the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255. Free and confidential support is available for anyone who needs it! Please always remember this is there if you or a loved one might ever need it!

So according to the NIMH, 20.6% of Americans (51.5 million as of 2019) have a mental health condition. Twenty percent being one out of every five… that is a lot, and it makes it virtually inescapable that you or someone very close to you is experiencing such a condition.

Now, there are obviously a lot of different types and severities of mental illness, from anxiety and depression through Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder through Schizophrenia. But everyone with a mental illness is struggling to some degree. Whether a serious condition or a more manageable one, all mental health issues are serious and require attention to make sure they don’t escalate. Everyone deserves the help and recognition they need to thrive, and according to NAMI, less than 45% of adults with an illness received treatment in 2019. That number is heart-breaking.

Here’s the thing, though. I’m not a doctor, nor am I a particularly clinical person. I can sit here and throw numbers and facts at you that I am pulling from online sources all day, but if you wanted that information, you could do your own Googles.

What I can talk about is me.

That’s right! I’m one of those 51.5 million Americans. I have struggled a lot with mental health situations that, for years, I just assumed was, you know, “Oh, I’m just an angsty teenager” and then “Oh, I am just really self-pitying” and then “Oh, I just never matured as well as everyone else has seemed to”.

I never really thought there was anything there. It wasn’t until my mid-30’s that I would finally start seeing a therapist and try working out some various medications. I don’t know if it was pride or low self-worth, but it never felt like anything that deserved treatment before, you know? And that’s not uncommon! A lot of mental illness goes unchecked because people convince themselves they don’t “need” (or worse, they just can’t can’t afford) it. That’s why the word “stigma” gets throw around so much. It’s true! When you have it, it’s so easy to just say “everyone has these struggles and I am just being weak”.

Ultimately, I would end up being diagnosed with Intermittent Explosive Disorder. And, I mean, can we come up with a more insulting acronym? IED, guys? That’s not very nice. That’s worse than the poor folks you’ve determined have Oppositional Defiant Disorder!

I struggle with anxiety-based frustration, really. It’s weird because person-to-person, I am not an angry person, and I have no violent tendencies at all. The older I get, the more I don’t even like disagreeing with people online, which is what online IS FOR. I try to have a very “Hey, you do you and that’s cool!” attitude about everything.

I just tend to be sometimes destructive when I’m under stress. I’ve broken countless pens, a few phones, my eyeglasses, and more. I never ever in my life get physically upset at people, but towards inanimate objects? My rage can know few bounds.

The HULK Essentials: Reading For A Smashing Time!
My patronus

It’s the thing I like least about myself. I know it all traces back to some basic anxiety, but when I get flustered, I get very angry. It’s not endearing, and I struggle hard with it. It creates an entire negative feedback loop where I get annoyed by something minor, I have an outsized reaction, I feel terribly guilty and horrible about it, and then I get depressed over it and get incredibly hard on myself.

But the next time I get frustrated… it just happens again. And it’s objectively minor stuff. Suddenly having too much on my plate. Or being asked to do something when I’m busy. Or other people making my job harder. Just stupid inconsequential stuff leads to my having reactions like I never grew out of teenage hormones. I never had a better way to describe it.

You would think this would make me a bigger jerk, but I am oddly TERRIFIED of confrontation. I will not argue with people face-to-face. I just can’t do it. If people are personally combative with me, I tend to clam up and get really… nervous, I guess. I will often do a full-on nervous laughter thing, but if not that, then my jaw just tenses up and refuses to budge as I sit there. I just can’t deal with it, but I’m sure that comes down to having addict parents and my mother’s emotional abuse.

So yeah, I have anxiety which triggers explosions of anger which, in turn, triggers depression and a terrible sense of self-worth. On top of a ton of issues of abuse I suffered as a little kid and then again in my very late teens. It’s a whole messed up stew in my brain!

(and yes, I know what I did there)

But hey, I’m on my third different medication for it! It seems to be doing well enough (and by well enough, I mean I’m not having side effects like seizures, so… huzzah!).

I have mentioned this before in the wake of Brodie Lee’s passing earlier this year, but my mental health is what inspired me to get my first and only tattoo.

That’s me and my Blue Lantern Corps tattoo, and no… I don’t know why it looks like I am pulling my pants down. I think I was just trying to get a good angle on my arm. It’s a weird posture, though, I agree.

When things are more back to normal, I am hoping to get a second, but I’m not sure where yet. Probably on my forearm? I very much want to find another place that isn’t too painful (biceps are supposed to be good, but I still found it amazingly unpleasant).

Much like my first, my second is going to be premised on my reminding myself of my desire to rise above my condition. I was thinking of a more comic-oriented twist on the WWJD thing, with a “WW[Superman logo]D” tattoo. Like I said, I have to work on placement ideas first. And wait until tattoo shops are less busy in the post-COVID days.

Hope is big for me, if you can’t tell. The Superman emblem. A Blue Lantern Corps logo. I feel like Hope is the one best weapon against my mental health problems.

I like having the reminder on me of who I am and who I CAN be… even when I feel like someone else entirely.

And I’ve felt like someone else for quite a while…

I have been in a particularly bad place for several months at this point. As many know, I used to be part of another website and podcast that ended up falling apart. There’s an incredibly long story behind it all, but the meat-and-potatoes of it boils down to the fact that one of my cohosts started bullying and insulting me around the time the calendar changed to 2020, and he kept it up for MONTHS. Sometimes subtly, other times much less so, he made the last several months of our podcast incredibly painful and uncomfortable for me. Any concerns I raised to either cohost were dismissed out of hand, and I was told I was the problem for not brushing the treatment off. Or I was made fun of for bringing it up.

During these months, I had turned my other cohost against me by telling him I didn’t agree with the sound choices he was making on the show. So in addition to being told I was the problem for wanting separation from a bully, I was persona non grata for not falling in line creatively. At that point, I had already accepted that I was going to eventually strike out on my own, and that the project I created with one of them was being stolen and twisted by both. After one night where I could not sleep because I was struggling with the status of my creation that had my name on it, I realized I had to accept it was theirs now and I was just along for the ride.

That was in May, and in June when I was fully in coasting mode and had genuinely found happiness by just caring as little as possible, my cohosts came through in our texts and said we needed to have a face-to-face meeting, which had long-since come to mean they wanted to gang up on me and bully me. I told them that if this was another such session of dumping on me, I wanted no part of it, and then the one who had been my frequent bully EXPLODED into a streak of vulgarity and accusations.

I blocked him. Phone, email, social media… all blocked so I could escape. I refused to be treated like that anymore. Which, of course, made ME the bad guy to my other partner because he saw it as my ruining the show by not forgiving the more abusive partner.

Kittens take over City Hall Aug. 8
Whew, mental health break to look at some kittens! Kittens make everything better.

The partner I still talked to and I went round and round on this for a while and had a few smaller blow ups over it with a lot of HIS cussing me out and insulting me, too. I will say to my credit–and, oh, I have the receipts on everything, don’t worry–I never resorted to swearing or yelling at them. I’m not saying I wouldn’t get smarmy, but I left all of the ALL-CAPS vulgarity to them. And I’m the one with IED!

By September, I ended up feeling empathetic enough that I tried to repeatedly to make peace and resolve everything, even agreeing to work with the bully again as long as I never had to interact with him outside of the show. But my partner with whom I was still friendly just decided to take our venture–the one he and I co-created–and shut it down without any input from me. I actually offered to buy him out to keep it going, and he refused.

It stunk, but I moved right onto SWO Productions here, and I figured he and I could eventually work out a friendship from everything. I checked in to see what he needed to do that, but was repeatedly ignored or given one word responses.

From there, he refused to even follow any of my activities with SWO Productions. Then he no-showed my annual Halloween party he had always been a regular at (it was masked and socially distanced for COVID!). Then my 40th birthday passed without a text or a Facebook message or anything. I promoted his new podcast when it started, and he didn’t acknowledge that effort in any way.

So I texted him to see what HE needed to start repairing things. I had no expectations other than to move forward on his terms And he told me he would not talk to me by text and maybe someday if we happened to be in the same place at the same time, we could talk about it.

So I blocked him, too. Not my best moment, but after weeks of being ignored, being told we might maybe talk about it someday by accident was just too much. I was the only one putting in any effort, and I saw the writing on the wall. He had been my best friend for a time, but he sold me out in favor of a guy who was bullying and abusing me.

Months later I would feel bad about this and try AGAIN to reach out to see if bridges could be mended, but my messages were left on Read. Again… at least I put in the effort.

So what about my other former partner? The one who chased me out?

Well, last month I noticed his wife mention on Facebook that their son was going in to have a not-unsubstantial surgery. Shit was what it was, but that goes above and beyond petty differences, right? I reached out to let him know I cared. We had had no contact since June when he berated me and I simply blocked him. Until…

So that’s what I get, I guess.

So here is the problem I face in the wake of… *waves hands around* everything. I WANT to forgive them both. Not to reach out and tell them I forgive them because clearly neither of them wants to hear it. But to just forgive them in my own mind. I want to just let it go and not be upset, not be angry about it.

But I just… can’t.

I don’t know how to let go of this. I’ve talked about it with friends and shown them the text histories and been reassured they are both the jerks here, but internally… I really struggle with my feelings on this. There’s a lot of resentment, and despite knowing it’s hands-down wha I need to do, I can’t let it go. Maybe because I tried to reach out to them many times, and I have only gotten vitriol at worst or nothing at best in return.

People say “Well, you know you are the bigger man”, and man, you’d think that would be more comforting! It’s really not! I don’t want to be the bigger man. I WANT to be content!

So yeah, I’m on a few months long tear of degrading mental health over here. I try very hard to walk the line of “it feels better to talk about it” and “I don’t want to be the person who just keeps talking about it”. I have never mentioned it publicly in official SWO capacity because I didn’t want to sound like I’m dragging people or being bitter.

But man, it’s my mental health.

And I’m being aware of it.

And it’s May!

So before I go, if anyone knows any ways to let go of resentment and internally forgive those that have wronged you, do let me know. Do I, like, do upside-down yoga over a lavender scented candle or something? Who knows this one?

Until next time… actually, do MORE than “take care” today. Take stock in yourself. If you need help, ask for it. If you hurt, talk about it (if that helps!). Don’t be ashamed and don’t feel guilty because you struggle. Find out what you need and see if others can help.

I will always be here for you if you need anything.

3 thoughts on “Mental Health Awareness 2021

  1. Wow, I knew it was bad, but I didn’t realize just how bad it was until I went through all this. Too bad Ghosts ended the way it did. I’m really wondering what their take is on that- the old co-boss wasn’t specific with me when I asked. Like, how would he even defend someone as possibly psychopathic as the other dude? Mr. “Fuck Off” there comes off like a legit nutjob.

    Liked by 1 person

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