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  • Writer's pictureBen R

It's Been Awhile

Updated: May 19, 2021

...Since I could hold my head up high.

In 2001, the album, "Break the Cycle" by Staind came out and I was hooked for awhile.

I've never been a fan of "screamo" music, but this album was different. It's melancholy sound and lyrics spoke to me as a young 20s adult, trying to get through college and get into the real world.

Anyways, I thought I should do an update on my life. I haven't felt like blogging for awhile and the past almost six weeks have been quite busy.

I received my second Pfizer shot on March 17th, endured a couple days of blah-ness, and been good since.

I've experienced a ton of up and down moods. This pandemic has languished for so damn long, it's really not all too surprising. Still, it sucks to have to managed your emotions constantly.

During this time, I've continued to reach out and have had a little more success in sharing my, what I'm calling, "Passion Storytelling Project" with other organizations. Actually, I'm playing around with some names, but will maybe share that down the road. After a lovely chat with an individual, who's on the board with our local NAMI chapter, they made me realize and accept two things:

  1. Many organizations will be focusing the rest of this year on getting a sense of "normalcy" back. What that means is that they wouldn't necessarily be opposed to collaborating, it's just that they have to come back to shore first. I know one person said they would be interested in talking down the road.

  2. If I'm to do anything in developing this platform, it's going to come from the greater public right now and it's going to come from young adolescents/college students.

I don't know if I mentioned this in a past blog post, but I know I've mentioned it through my Facebook and Instagram pages, but I was inspired by this storytelling platform through an organization called, This Is My Brave.

Check the link out to learn more about what they do. It's really amazing!

Not too long ago, I finally heard back from their founder. She mentioned that they will be creating a platform this year so others can replicate their shows in the future. So it sounds like I will have something to go off later on, even if not much materializes right now. For the time being, I'm just continuing to gather contacts and interest. In the wake of the George Floyd trail and Daunte Wright murder, I'm starting communications with a well-respected local organization that advocates for the rights of many different groups.

Here's a preliminary vision for the platform:

- Storytelling through various mediums (ideally in person, but can be online if needed). Forms could include; oral storytelling, poetry, artwork, media/film, dance, acting.

- Having participants with diverse individual/group backgrounds

- Create roleplaying with the audience so that they can learn how to better respond to certain situations. Working toward ending mental health stigma.

- Creating a Q & A session

- Create a model that is scalable and easily replicated for different organizations.

While originally I had the desire to make this a self-employment job for myself, I don't feel that I'm ready to take on that responsibility. I believe I am a quality advocate for mental health and a solid ally for people with disabilities, those are my best wheelhouses. I need to learn about other groups and what better way than having proper individuals drive the bus for their own organizations on a platform like this.

As you may recall, I'm a volunteer for our local NAMI chapter and continue to advocate and volunteer as a peer support specialist. Like many organizations, they have been incredibly busy and are still needing to hire a new Volunteer and Events Coordinator to help offload the pile of work, so I do plan to have them involved when things settle down a bit more.

Also, the new mental health crisis center in town will be opening in July now. It's called the Southeast Regional Crisis Center.

Guess what?

Yours truly was offered a position and will start working there in June. Yes, I'm so excited! I'm truly looking forward to working with others (therapists, counselors, nurses, other peer specialists etc) and really digging into the mental health field. I feel that I'm about ready as can be for this new chapter in my life. What's neat is I get to be a part of building a work and community culture. The center will serve the needs of 10 counties in our region of the state and I'm curious to see what level of demand will come about. From my understanding, the center will be anything BUT a sterile setting that's just going to pass out medication and have people watch TV all day. The organization I was hired through is the main operator of the center and works with youth to adults. Accept for a brief job working at an center for autistic children, this will be my first, real experience working with youth. I'm a bit anxious and nervous working with that population, as I'm use to adults. But I'm looking forward to the challenge that awaits!

Other than those two main updates, I mentioned about my ups and downs.

While being fully vaccinated has allowed me to finally get back out into society more, there's still the ever pro-longed period of waiting for others to get to that point.

As much as the last 13 1/2 months have been a gift of spending time with family, this time (this pandemic) has forever changed who I am a bit. The continued ugliness people display on social media is not forgivable, in my opinion. While I'm aware that social media doesn't necessarily represent the opinions of everyone, it's clearly showed why America has languished so much during this time. I know it won't ever be completely "fixed", but am reminding myself (despite frequent frustration) that all I can do is do my part to make this a better world. I have to remind myself DAILY that I have a lot of good things going for me.

My partner has been such a trooper in calling out my over anxious self at times and working with me to better communicate my thoughts and how to see things from an empowering viewpoint. I will fully admit, I have a tendency to communicate a lot on negative aspects of things. As I'm still learning to advocate in a professional manner and how to say what I want to say with fewer words. I have a tendency to need to "place value" to everything I do. In other words, I may place "beans" into ears that simply don't need to know all the details. My mind has always been full of emotions and words. I guess I'm learning to now share exactly the same outwardly...haha.

My only ask is that I don't want to be a person who says, "I'm fine. I'm good" when there's more to the story. But I'm realizing there's a time and place for that...I think. Sometimes, though, you just want to share shit with others.

At 40, I realize I need to find and develop new friendships. Some people from my past no longer serve my future. It's not that I refuse to talk to them, it's just that the pandemic and my own mental health journey the past three years have changed me.

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