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  • Writer's pictureBen R

The Zigzag of Life

Updated: Nov 12, 2020

August is here!

Generally, I remember as a child getting anxious as I knew the start of school would be coming up the following month. The only benefit of this month, minus Summer weather, was my birthday is this month, August 10th to be exact. I haven't been in school for a number of years now, so I no longer associate August with anxiety. Shit, now I just have anxiety all the time as I'm hyper-aware of my mental illness.

This year, though is different. *Laughs* Yes, what about 2020 hasn't been crazy so far?

Lately, I've been thinking about parents. I'm not one, unless you consider puppy training to be so, then I will gladly accept!

I feel for the parents of children who have to make the decision as to whether or not they feel comfortable enough to send their children back into the classroom or do distance learning again. I'm sure it's difficult enough for each school district to make this decision themselves, as I believe the safety of all school staff is essential as well. Here in Minnesota, our governor has decided to leave that up to each district. While anyone who's read my blog so far knows where I lean on Covid, I'm leery of any in classroom learning as long as we don't have Covid under control.

Now I just read that the governor of our southern neighbor, Iowa, has mandated a law that requires 50% of learning HAS to be in the classroom. Let's just say I wasn't "smiling" when I read the article, apart from reading that two schools have planned to defy the states law. Now their governor is threatening to not give children school credit if a school doesn't comply. Oh, and Iowa doesn't mandate mask wearing as well. That's a double whammy in my book! I think it's terrible that parents, let alone children, are now being put into this situation. I know distance learning causes headaches for various reasons as well.

Going back to August now. So what else is different this year? Well, in less than a week I turn 40. It's hard to believe! I've definitely noticed that I've been reflecting a lot on that in previous months as it has been approaching. I find myself looking back on my life; why I was the way I was and why I'm still the way I am, flaws and all. It's taxing. Not that these last almost 5 months haven't been enough to break (mentally) anyone.

I sit here on the Tuesday before my birthday, physically and mentally exhausted, yet still enough drive to write this blog (Check out this other blog: (Why we should all try therapy). Sometimes I don't know why I keep doing my mental advocacy work. I've been basically non-stop stressed, anxious, and depressed since March. I'm angry with myself because with a new anti-depressant I started, it requires 2x daily doses. At first I kept forgetting the evening one, but then I remembered, without any reminders. Now I'm starting to forget again. Probably why I'm feeling a bit "off" today. My mind is racing a lot with everything I need to do or pay attention to: Hazel (our new puppy) takes work; waking up in the middle of the night (diarrhea) due to a strong antibiotic she needs to help get rid of her UTI. Juggling the day with her, between other commitments is a lot for someone on constant high stress. When we first got her, it caused a bit of a rift between my partner and I, but we have done much better at trying to help each other out. Hazel managed to get out of our back yard fence last night. We thought she was big enough now that that wouldn't happen.

Now we had to order ugly fencing mesh to put up. Due to other personal things, we have to put it up on Wednesday (probably that evening), which sucks because I really wanted to attend the renewed support groups from NAMI for Wednesday nights. They are now doing them outside (weather permitting). It's not the end of the world if it doesn't work out, but I'm really wanting to connect with others, in person. Yes, there's always next week, I know.

I find myself constantly looking out for the mental well-being of just not myself, but my partner, her mother, and my own parents. Meanwhile, I'm facing a lot of unknowns down the road with covid and stressing out a few days ago that no one was willing to partake in my creating a newsletter. Thankfully, several people (people I know personally) have reached out.

Last night, my partner and I, amongst discussing the whole fencing issue, discussed vacations. I know, so strange during a pandemic, right? Oh, wait, maybe not for others out there. Excuse my angered sarcasm!

Anywho, we had (before Covid) talked about returning to Maui, HI. My partner has been there a few times already, but I went there for the first time for our honeymoon in January 2017. Living in Minnesota, it's often very therapeutic to go somewhere warmer during our nasty winter months. Besides all the beauty that is Maul or Hawaii in general, it's whale watching season. We got to talking about when. Obviously, WHEN is a big ? when Covid is still around. How many times have I mentioned that damn "C" word already? Five or six times? I'm losing count. Anyway, we usually appreciate the concept of delayed gratification, but with "C" around, we are hoping by late Spring/early Summer of next year. As a couple who loves to travel, "C" has been a real pain in our ass!

I could use a vacation now!

Four Seasons Maui photo below.

I want to back up just a bit here and show some of the comments people shared with me whom I personally asked to contribute or even just sign-up for my newsletter. Before I do, I want to admit something. I have to fully admit that I need a reasonable amount of praise in my life. See, as a child, I was left in my own world often (hear my personal story), so I knew how to manage life without compliments and trophies, But as is often the case in life, what we realized at the time we didn't have/ was neglected, we often go the complete opposite way as adults. At almost 40, I have to admit this flaw. Or isn't it a flaw? I'm not sure. I can say I don't need hand holding to speak, but I feel and think I've put a lot of work into The Upstairs Battle as I work toward a speaking/advocacy career, and damnit, I need to hear I'm doing something good, for others. So without further ado, here's some of the comments.

"I do hope the publication is a success, as well as your joint-profit venture in wellness!

"Omg this sounds awesome!"

"Ben, what a blessing! Beautiful story...heartfelt. I’m with you not alone, but together getting stronger. I’m so excited you have found a place to have a purpose and be an example and advocate to others who struggle with us. Your story (our story) isn’t over."

" I really appreciate what you have said and what you keep doing with the website too. I think that a lot of people truly do “like” what you’re doing but maybe they are having self doubts like a lot of us are right now. But seeing what you’ve been doing with your posts DO help- keep doing it! I truly do not thing you’re being ignored- I think others are just afraid or unsure- as you know mental health still has that stigma and when your in the midst of a pandemic and the entire world is changing it’s hard to change with it. Especially when so many are against “you” (not masking, not believing, and politicizing it). Especially when all you want to do is go home to your own little world. So- Please please please don’t stop with what you’re doing. Even though many are not “responding” it is helping- as it can be hard to admit to themselves how difficult everything is right now. Including ____ and I. Thank you for your support and for being a strong voice for all of us struggling with their own mind. "

Another person has even offered to help me edit the newsletter once I'm ready!

It's responses like the above that help me to continue to do what I do. I have many faults, but they can also be strengths at certain times. It's hard to explain, but as my dad has often said, "It is what it is."

Speaking of always trying to move forward in life, I will be posting another blog that has a video and a blog post (not my words) about the importance of being Emotionally Fit. Now in her blog, she does her written article based on companies, but like many things in life, one can learn to adapt it to their own journey.

Stay tuned!


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