Recovering From Illness

About a month ago I became ill. I don’t ever recall being as ill as I was. This illness lasted for about two weeks and I even made a visit to the emergency room at the direction of my Doctor. I have been frustrated with how slowly my energy is returning. I was told by my Doctor to have patience.

I am grateful for the return of my health. Good health is one of those things we tend to take for granted until we become ill.

I plan on returning to writing on a regular basis. Thanks to all those who follow my blog.

The Meaning of Life

What a huge and universal topic to be tackled on a blog post.  Man has been trying to find an answer to this question since the beginning of time.  Numerous philosophers and psychologists have written volumes on this topic.   This is the major reason people have turned to religion and metaphysics.  How many sleepless nights have been caused by the search for the meaning of life?

“What is the purpose of my life?”

“Why was I born?”

I have come up with my own answers that simplify and truly work for me.  They make life less of a mystery and far less scary.  I thought I would share and I hope they might work for you.

1st the second question:  Why was a born?

My birth is no more or less significant than the birth of any child that has ever been or is yet to be.  My parents engaged in sexual intercourse.  One of my mother’s eggs was fertilized and approximately 9 months later I was born.  This is the reason I was born.  It is that simple.

1st question:  What is the purpose of my life?

I do not believe in some grand plan or inherent meaning of life.  I believe each of us has value as a person and we make choices during our life.  My life does not have meaning.  I give meaning to my life.  The meaning I give it depends on my values and beliefs and the choices I make.  Therefore, life means what I decide it means.  And the meaning I give it can and has changed over my lifetime.

Try this on and see if it works.

On a More Personal Note

I have been writing my blog for a few years and I have rarely spoken about myself and my own struggles. Having started my own journey of recover nearly 30 years ago, I have a great deal of experience and knowledge about all the skills I have shared with my readers. I have also learned from all the people I have counseled over the last 20 years. I hope that some of you have benefited from my blog.

One thing I have to keep in mind is the phrase: progress not perfection. No one, including me, has ever done this perfectly. I am a work in progress like everyone else who is in the process of change and growth. I suffered from chronic depression and addictive behaviors for most of my life as well as poor self-esteem. Although I have experienced a tremendous improvement in the quality of my life, I also have my struggles. I sometimes find it difficult to apply all the coping skills I know. There times I have to work hard to focus on the things I need to and stay in the present.

I have my own philosophy of life: Life is to be enjoyed. I work every day to make that a reality. One of the ways I stay focused is by writing this blog. It has great value to my life. I hope it has value to yours.

What Are You Waiting For?

You have realized that something is not quite right in your life.  You have become more aware of your anxiety or depression or some other issue that weighs heavily on you and negatively affects your life.  You have become increasingly aware that something has to change because you can no longer tolerate living like this.  What are you waiting for?

You have experiences that have haunted you for many years.   You have tried to put behind you.   You have read books and gotten advice from friends on how to overcome it.  You have beaten yourself up for years about it.  You have thought about getting help with the issue for years and understand that you cannot do it on your own.  What are you waiting for?

Your drinking or other substance abuse has become more and more of an issue in your life.   The damage continues to pile up.  Friends and family keep telling you need to get help and deal with it.  As much as you try to control it you find it impossible.  You life is unraveling in front of your eyes.  You know you can’t deal with it on your own.  What are you waiting for?

You are very unhappy at your job and keep telling yourself you need to find another one.  The economy has improved and it is easier to find a job.  You have been thinking of continuing your education for a long time.  You keep putting it off and continue to feel sad and anxious.  What are you waiting for?

Your relationship is just not working.  You and your significant other have one disagreement after another.  There is more conflict than calm and happiness.  You have worked hard to find ways for you both to get your needs met.  The more you try, the more you realize your values, wants, and desires are not the same as hers/his.  You know in your heart that the relationship will never be as fulfilling as you want.  You want more.  What are you waiting for?

Life is so short.  The clock continues to move as you stay stuck in a place that you do not want to be.  Fear stands in the way of finding a more fulfilling life.  For the most part it is you that stands between yourself and having an opportunity to find the things you seek.  Taking the steps to overcoming your fears is the only path.  Moving forward one step at a time.  Try not to look too far into the future.  That’s a very scary place full all kinds of unknowns.  You can deal with those when you get there.  You are responsible for your own happiness.  You are not responsible for the happiness of others.

Another year is about to come to an end. What are you waiting for?

Experiencing Loss and Overcoming It

One thing we have in common is the experience of loss. No one goes through life without experiencing some degree of loss at some point. Sometimes the losses are minor (a small amount of money, changing jobs, moving from one city to another). Other times they are more significant (the death of a parent or spouse or child, loss of a relationship, a betrayal, loss of something we are unable to replace, economic reversal). No one wants to have these experiences, and rarely are we prepared for them.
When we experience loss, what we feel is pain, but often we cannot identify exactly what it is about the loss that is causing the pain. We miss whatever we have lost and it just hurts.
This emotional distress comes mostly from two sources. First, the realization of how little control we have over what we experience in life. This realization is both frightening and depressing. We feel helpless and are powerless to control the situation. We want to regain a sense of control.
Secondly, what was lost occupied a part of our lives. It had meaning for us and took up space in our day to day living that was either physical or emotional or both. This leaves a void, and a longing to fill it. We feel empty inside and it is deeply upsetting. Many of us try filling the void with activities, a new relationship and/or, material things. Many of us turn to substances or addictive behaviors in order to avoid these feelings, but nothing we do can replace what we have lost. We struggle with our feelings and want the pain to stop.
The only way to heal is to allow the grieving process to run its course. It is important to avoid pushing those feelings away no matter how much we want to. Feel them for as long as you need to. Cry until you stop crying. No one can tell you how long this process will take. We will eventually release the pain and other people and things will enter our lives to fill the void. We will also begin to feel we have more control over what happens to us.
Allow yourself to heal. Repressing or denying your feelings will only lengthen the process and could result in prolonged depression and anxiety. Allow yourself to feel your feelings without judging them or yourself. Find ways to express them. Keep a journal and write as often as you need. Rely on friends and family for support. That is what a support system is for. The use of drugs and alcohol really won’t help and might make things worse. There is no timetable for grief. But, remember that you will heal. Those feelings will not last forever.

Living In the Real World

Whenever someone famous commits suicide people are affected in different ways. There is usually the surprise and shock associated with the sudden death. There are the questions of why and how could they? Most of them have achieved success and wealth and have adoring fans. Why would a person who seems to have it all want to end their life? They live in the real world just like you and I.

When these people appeared in the public eye they seemed so happy and positive and full of energy. It seemed their lives were so easy and they were able to have whatever they desired. What we saw was just a snapshot of their life. What we saw was only what they wanted us to see. What we saw was actually fantasy and not reality. These celebrities lived in the real world as we all do. They all had a history of life experiences, tragedies, losses, as well as the happy times and successes. Some had medical issues. Others had mental health and substance abuse problems. It is not easy living your life in the public eye. It affects how others see them as well as making it more difficult to have stable relationships. They lived in the real world and what the rest of us see is merely an illusion.

Just like the rest of us, life sometimes gets to be too much to deal with. Feelings of desperation and helplessness and hopelessness take over. It seems there is no way out other than to put an ending to it all. They lived in the real world.

If you look at what you think their lives have been and compare them to your own remember that you live in the real world too.

Seeking Happiness

It seems that most people are in search of happiness. Clients come into my office saying, “all I want is to be happy. What do I need to do in order to me happy”? I read on message boards how people just want to be happy. Look at many of the daytime talk shows and you can find them talking about seeking happiness. You can find literally hundreds of book promising to help you find happiness in your life.

I do not think that happiness is a reasonable or attainable goal. Before you stop reading, let me explain and you might even agree with me. I believe that happiness cannot be a constant state of mind and happens from time to time under special circumstances. I think we can work toward being in the state of mind to allow happiness. I want to be in a place emotionally that will allow me to experience happiness when those situations present themselves during the course of my life.

There are feelings that I like to have and feelings that I would rather not experience. If I want to experience the feelings I want I have to allow myself to experience those feelings I don’t want. I don’t get to choose. It is important to learn not to judge our feelings as either bad or good. There are no bad or good feelings. There are only feelings. Having and expressing our feelings is all part of experiencing life and being a human being.

Ultimately, my goal is to feel comfortable enough in my own skin to experience and work through my feelings. I cannot judge myself for the feelings I have. This way I can allow myself to experience happiness and joy in my life.