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In the face of yearning, one must marry desire with discipline.

It is human desire to yearn for something, someone, a feeling, and so on. There’s no denying this. We all yearn for something. To be a bit more attractive, to have more friends, to do better in school, to find spiritual peace, and so on goes our yearning.

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My yearnings feel like a compass at times and at others like an incessant nuisance. One leading me in the direction of my dreams while the other tells me that now is never quite enough.

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What is it you’re yearning for? Is it someone? Someplace? Maybe it’s pizza. It’s probably pizza.

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Deep breaths now.

Personal updates:
I’m learning Chinese.
I’m learning to code in Swift.
I’m working out daily.

Hope you’re all having a lovely Monday. Thanks for stopping by.

 

Recovering

Welcome back, dear reader.

It’s been a wonderful week. My grandmother is doing well, and she seemed genuinely thrilled to see me. It only confirms my thoughts that family and friends are the best medicine. I just finished having a lovely visit with one of my best friend’s Moms (and by proxy, she is my Mom too) and it’s left me feeling incredibly happy and rejuvenated. I truly love her and her entire family, and I’m positive that they love me back. Now, on to the article.

Recovery takes love, time, and patience.

Patience is something that I  had to learn to have for my self, rather than for others. I am naturally somewhat tolerant and patient when it comes to those in my life, but horribly intolerant of patience in changing my self. I want to make changes immediately and without the effort and time and self-love necessary for those changes to become a part of who I am. I knew what I wanted to be, but the process of getting there was a matter of learning to love who I am.

Here are my steps to recovery:

When you have patience in your journey to recovery, you’ll find that you have patience for your daily self and its struggles.

When you practice taking time for your self every day, you’ll find that love for your self (and others) comes naturally.

When you have patience and time for your self, you’ll find that you love who you are every day.

When you love who you are every day, you’ll find that you’ve begun to recover.

Recovery from depression, illness, grief, and self-inflicted wounds is a lifelong journey of self-love.

It sounds preachy and a bit corny, but it’s entirely true. Just like you take care to not re-injure a broken leg or arm, you’ve got to remember to practice self-love lest you re-open old wounds.

My journey to recovery isn’t over, and is something I’ll be aware of my entire life. It doesn’t mean that I will be incapacitated by it my entire life, rather that I will remember to be kind to my self every day so I don’t undo the habits I’ve begun to form that have made me better.

You can always find room in your heart for your self. If you can’t, you are probably giving away too much of your time, patience, and love, to others. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if it leaves you drained of those things then it’s a good idea to make more time for your own practice of recovery; those around you will understand. If they don’t, just show them this blog post and tell them Steven told you to do it. I can take the heat for you, and you, my friend, can get some well deserved rest.

As always, dear reader, thank you for visiting my blog. Your readership means the world to me. I hope that this helped you in some small way, and that you’ll share it with someone who could use it.

If you’re bored or looking for more content about depression and the journey to recovery, try reading Coping with depression, or Recovery in the face of Psychosis (and you can too).

Thank you!

Steven out.

Update from South Carolina

The South, a place I still consider home, a place I cherish visiting, and the unfortunate reality of why I’m visiting.

There’s nothing like southern hospitality. Even though I’m from Wisconsin, I have southern roots and I’m still very much at home in the culture of “y’alls,” “howdy,” and “ma’am.” I have plenty of friends whom invite me back into their lives and homes for a week or two every few months, and that’s amazing to me. Their generosity with their time in something I’ll always be thankful for.

Fortunately and unfortunately for me, I’m here to see my Grandmother whose health is failing. She’s got COPD, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, and she is rapidly fading. Our once weekly half hour conversations have shrunk to a five or ten minutes every month, and you can hear the strain in her voice even when she strongly insists she loves me and can’t wait to visit. She’s incredibly resilient, not even comparatively for her age, and we didn’t think she’d make it as long as she has. She’s been living in a grace period, as I like to say.

Saying goodbye is never easy.

That’s the honest truth of it all. I don’t want to say goodbye. I dread the thought of seeing her frail frame on oxygen just to survive. I don’t want my last memories of her to be seeing her weak and in the embrace of the void. But I will. I will because I want to say goodbye, and to let her know how much I love her one last time.

I’ll get through it with the help of my wonderful brother, his bride-to-be, dog-kisses, and my family of course. There will be a chance to celebrate the next generation at a wedding this weekend, and time to celebrate the passing of the old generation.

In the South, you can live forever in a moment of time that seems isolated from the flow of the world, but the world will keep on moving without you. Some like it this way, find the Southern Charms intoxicatingly nostalgic, but right now, for me, I’m aware of every passing second and what it brings.

As always, dear reader, thank you for stopping by. It means the world to me. I hope this article finds you happy and healthy, and I remind you to check on your loved ones and to make sure they’re aware of just how much you care.

Steven, signing out.

 

(I love you Bibby)

Why friends are the best medicine.

A good great group of friends is a blessing gift that you should cherish.

I’m blessed to be a part of a vibrant digital community consisting of my real life friends and hundreds of folks I’ve met through photography, video games, and forums. They’ve kept my spirits up through the worst of times and still do.

What makes a good friend a great friend?

When they know your bullshit well enough to laugh, and make fun of you in all the right ways, and are the first ones to call when they sense something is truly wrong. My friends are all ages. Kte Pretsch and her lovely family. The Becks. The Chiaverinis. The Luhns. The Meyers. The Palmers. The Andersons. They’re all family to me.

Family is what makes a good friend great.

They’ll adopt you into their lives and stick by you through thick and thin. They’ll have their own moments of need and you’ll feel a profound sense of joy for helping them through it. They’ll cherish your ideas and they’ll celebrate your differences in opinion,.

I am truly blessed to have so many wonderful friends who I consider family, and so many family members who I consider friends. I can’t say thank you enough to the Kehoe’s. I can’t say thank you enough to the Thompsons and Bedingfields. These might not mean much to you, but I assure you it means the world to me.

We are all blessed with the opportunity to find companionship, family, and friendship in this life.

I want you to know that I cherish you all, my digital tribe and my tangible friends. I love you all. If you ever need me, feel free to give me a call. I still have the same number and always will. To anyone from my hometown — The same goes for you.

Be joyous for we are alive with the spirit of friendship and nothing can take that away from us.

Recovery in the face of Psychosis (and you can too)

It’s not easy. There is no secret. There is no singular trick that will solve your problems.

There, I said it. Hopefully it helps those of you who suffer from depression to hear this.

I feel there’s no equivocation in depression, no relative comparisons of suffering, there’s only suffering. People around you, often with good intentions, might have tried to “solve” your anxiety, depression, panic attacks, eating disorders, autism, or whatever challenges you face, and while they mean well there’s nothing they can do that will fix you. Sometimes it can make you feel even more helpless than before. The solution — that comes from within the afflicted, and its resolution is a personal journey. Professional help can be a partner to walk alongside you in this journey, and I feel there’s little more helpful than a visit to your psychologist or psychiatrist. My burden is panic, paranoia, psychosis, and depression. It’s not as severe as it sounds, but i’m certified crazy, and highly functioning.

Psychosis was a burden, filled with suffering, and brought on partially by decisions I made.

It broke me. It filled me with anger and regret and longing, and I thought i’d never be my self again. It still does, sometimes, but i’m getting better. Seeing a good therapist has been life changing. Taking the right medications has been life changing. My life is changing. I’m making changes that add up every day, like quitting smoking cannabis, drinking less, and exercising in conjunction with medication and therapy. I’m also practicing self-care, reaffirming my worth every morning and night.

It’s only since quitting a semi-illegal, somewhat decriminalized drug that I began to truly understand what it means to recover from Psychosis, what it does to you and those around you, and how to rebuild the damaged.

Familial relationships, friendships, academics, and intimacy lashed out at viciously. No reason to believe I would ever recover, be “normal” again, if I ever was normal at all. But that’s not true, there is hope for me and all the afflicted. I’ve been forgiven by all my friends and family, and yet I still beat myself up emotionally from time to time over things I’ve done. I can’t say what your solution is, but I can offer these tips to help you along the road to recovery.

  1. Don’t do drugs (M’kay?). If you have a serious mental disorder, the last thing you need is for a psychoactive drug like THC, LSD, Psilocybin, MDMA, etc. to exacerbate the problem. Alcohol too. (But a beer here and there is essential to one’s wellbeing, I believe.)
  2. See a psychiatrist, or a psychologist if you’re doing well enough to avoid medication. Talk openly and honestly, they’re supposed to be a refuge for the things you can’t comfortably say elsewhere. No topic is taboo, as long as you set some guidelines with your therapist before diving into topics like sex, drugs, and other things that might have real repercussions.
  3. Do drugs. Take medication. There’s nothing wrong with being prescribed something for your disorder. I take Abilify and Sertraline. It works well for me. I like to talk about it to encourage others to do the same, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
  4. Appreciate yourself. You’re worthy of every joy life has to offer. You are wonderful. You are a prince, princess, champion of the suffering, hope for the afflicted, and a wanderer of the imaginary realms. You’ve traveled a bit too far and you’ve tired, but we’re here to rest alongside you.
  5. Appreciate your family and friendships. Nothing in this world is permanent and nothing hurts quite like regret. Appreciate people while they’re in your life, and when they’re inevitably gone, be grateful for the memories.
  6. Embrace failure in your journey to “happiness, normalcy, etc.” No one is happy. No one is normal. We’re all trying to reach contentedness, a true state of acceptance and bliss that flows from moment to moment. Happiness is a state you’ll never reach for longer than a fleeting moment forever in the future or far behind you. When you live in your heart from moment to moment, you can fail a thousand times and always find a reason to smile afterwards.
  7. Take time for your hobbies and don’t focus on reaching perfection. Just embrace the moment. You’ve got time to enjoy the gifts God (or your Deity of choice) gave you — that’s amazing. That’s incredible. That’s fantastic. It goes back to point 6, embracing failure while finding contentedness in the moment.
  8. Don’t worry about it. Things tend to work out as they should, and there’s no sense in fighting the reality you live in. No matter how impossible it seems, even when you’re tired at the end of a long day. Don’t dwell on what can’t be changed.
  9. Find community. Find your tribe. Connect mentally. Find people who have similar interests, illnesses, struggles, sorrow, sadness, and who find joy in you. There’s nothing quite like connecting with a new person whose experience resonates with your own.
  10. Give back. The world gave you life and consciousness, use those gifts to reaffirm the goodness of life. We’re all the same and different. That alone inspires me to write and reach out to those who have similar afflictions to myself, and those who want to understand where i’m coming from (or what someone in their life is feeling.)

We’ve got the power to be loving each other no matter what happens, and that’s enough to fill me with hope for my self and for others. In these polarizing times, take a minute and think about what makes you different, what makes you sad, what makes you special, and what makes you the same. For me, it is the fact that we are all the same and different simultaneously that fills me with hope. There’s room to love each other in any situation, including loving your self. There’s room for sadness and sorrow, there’s room for psychosis and autism and anorexia and anxiety and panic and schizophrenia and dementia. There’s room for everyone.

Coping with depression

There’s something that you should know about me — I have major depressive disorder with psychotic episodes, I have a mental illness. What that means is that I struggle to get out of my room most days, that I see a psychiatrist and take medication to control it, and occasionally I have a breakdown, panic attack, anxiety attack, etc. with psychotic features like delusional paranoia, uncontrollable thoughts, and self-deprecating feedback loops of internalized emotional abuse. If you’re close friends with me you’ve probably been a witness or victim of one of these episodes.

I’m hoping that sharing my anecdotal experience with depression and psychosis will help eliminate the stigmas around mental illness. I’m getting the help I need, and I am getting better, but it helps to talk about it. I’m not doing so great right now. It’s my hope that I can foster the spark of hope within others afflicted by mental illness by simply saying, “Yes. I too am sick. And I am getting help for it.”

While I’m not doing so great right now, I have a strong support system and friends who watch out for me and whom I love dearly. They’re the best medicine. I’m not at risk, necessarily, but I want to express the lows of my life as vividly as the high points, and this is a part of the lows.

Thanks for reading, friend, and I hope this finds you well, happy, healthy, sad, depressed, emotionally unstable, or whatever state you’re in, but I hope it finds you and that it helps. – Steven

 

 

Headed to Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Stockholm in a month, A ‘Zine, and other news.

Hey reader. img_5805

Did you know that being a cat is totally freakin awesome?

Anyways, like the title says, we’re off to Europe later in March and I would really love some suggestions on what to do, see, photograph, eat, observe, etc. I’ll obviously be doing my own research but there’s nothing quite like word of mouth for learning about the little secrets a city might hide.

Now, on to the news. Fox,Flower,GasolineZineCover

I’m currently looking for co-creators for a printed zine (mini magazine). It’d be a long term collaboration and cover topics on tech, photography, graphic design, the arts, sounds, etc. out of the midwest and southeast, with a strong emphasis on music & photography. If you’re capable and driven, let me know by emailing a resume to steven@stevenrybeck.com and we can talk about the nitty gritty from there.

That’s about all really. Thanks for stopping by, and as always, have yourself a lovely day reader.