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  • Writer's pictureBen R

And you are???

It's been awhile hasn't?

Almost 7 months to be exact since I last wrote a blog piece.

A lot has happened:

  • New job as a Direct Support Professional at a mental health crisis center

  • Wrapping up a 4000+ mile cycling season

  • Took a couple of vacations this summer and fall (Vegas and Hawaii respectively)

  • A lot of anxiety and depression caused by life situations

  • Seeing a couple of new therapists

  • New puppy, named Iv

That's just some of the events that have taken place since my last blog post. Obviously, my mental health has been at the forefront of many things. Good news is that I have seem to found a good therapist that's willing to work with me on further recognizing behavioral patterns when my mental health is at its worse. I don't like myself when I'm in a bad mental health pattern.

Things I do that negatively impact my daily life:

  • Ruminate (especially later at night) that impacts my sleep quality

  • Go down the parade of imaginary horribles about literally everything

  • Become extremely sensitive and irritable towards everything

  • Take out my frustration on my partner. This one always eats me because my brain feels "paralyzed" to say/think, "You're overreacting Ben!" My brain will only listen to what she's saying and often "twist" her words to fit my current narrative. I essentially become, to be blunt, a bit of an asshole.

  • Sometimes I will wreak havoc on my exercise, but exercise is mostly ingrained in me to keep up on.

Things I do that positively impact my daily life:

  • Exercise, even when I don't feel like it.

  • Try to stay present with my surroundings

  • Maintain an attitude of gratitude

  • Reach out to my partner and a few others with stressors

  • Learning to maintain healthier boundaries with job work load

If you are someone who hasn't read many of my past blogs or someone who has, I want to express that living with a chronic mental illness is not something I would wish on anyone. It makes the struggles of the reality of the outside world harder to deal with than it currently is. Admittedly, I struggle a lot with what's impacting my mental health from the outside world. I have high standards of my vision of what society should be and, probably like many of you, we are nowhere close to a healthy, inclusive one. While I often present a light-hearted, empathetic disposition on the outside, my mind is almost constantly at war with everything. It's quite the hell zone! On days when it's mostly quiet is a gift for me.

It's been about 4 years since I started my journey with my mental illness, as an advocate. I've dealt with mental illness my entire life from what I can remember.

Too often I see other advocates say "I'm recovering" or "I'm in recovery" from XYZ. I feel that the recovery term is used too loosely. Now, if you have current/past substance abuse issues and are actively in a treatment facility, then yes, recovery is happening. The truth, though, is that for those of us with chronic mental illness, there's no recovery and its over and done with. We are instead, learning to "adapt/adjust" to ways of best dealing with our mental illness(es). It's critical that this is understood. Chronic mental illness is a life-long journey, one that will require constant tweaking.

When I started The Upstairs Battle website, I was hoping to collaborate with others to build various content on mental health. Unfortunately, it's been quite the struggle to do so. I have been unable to get anywhere with local groups. I was mislead over this summer by an organization in my community. I thought they were going to be onboard with incorporating mental health impact from various cultures, as cultural diversity is what they are about. I also reached out to the county and was told there is a coalition forming, but from what I can tell, it's just a very beige group of community leaders on Veteran's Suicide and providing resources. While the needs of veteran's is well known, it's not in my wheelhouse at all. Also, I've sense that there would be a lot of "red tape" with this coalition.

I just want what I want, because I feel very strongly about creating a story-telling platform in my community. I'm not interested in working with pencil-pushers on this. From experience lately, I'm getting the sense that there's a conflicting sense of understanding from people who directly work with people who have a mental health condition and those who just diagnose. In simplier terms, office workers and direct care workers are exposed to different sides of people. There's an urgency from the direct care side to get things moving based on observation, while the office side just slowly goes through the motions. It's very frustrating!

I'm at the point now where I realize the only possible way I'm going to get my needs met in this field is:

  1. Continue to do my best in the field I work in to support, advocate, and provide a safe place to stay short-term for the people we serve.

  2. Continue to figure out a way to best utilize The Upstairs Battle Website and social media platforms to bring me closer to my desire for storytelling.

For point #2, I'm going to have to be a one-man show on this for the foreseeable future. I've been inspired by the storytelling platform from other social media accounts, but mainly from an organization called, This Is My Brave. While their primary focus is on teens, I would like to create a wider age group of storytellers. I'm considering starting a podcast, where I "interview" popular tv show characters with various mental illnesses. Ideally, I'd like to interview real people, but I think creating a sort of mock interview with tv characters would be a fun, yet informative way of showing the public my vision.

Some pictures from the last 6 months of my life:

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