Rambling on Depression

Depression sucks, especially the kind of been experiencing the past three days. It’s like something dark, just came and busted out a lawn chair and began to relax while it indulged in it’s favorite beverage and snack. Then I think to myself, “Hey, I didn’t invite you here” Then this dark creature replies “oh, but you forget I show up every year.. When you least expect it.” That you do, but it doesn’t mean this depression is welcome.

So I’m going to express and share about what I’ve been feeling without giving power to loathing and deprecation of the self. Which I have been prone to do. However it will be a goal of mine within the new year to really fight against feeling sorry for myself and speaking negatively about myself. Depression is interesting in the sense that, it can feel your mind with lies that you know aren’t true. And yet, because its so heavy it feels true all the more.

The depression will say that I’m a fraud, no woman would ever want to be with me again, I’ve made to many mistakes and that my life is as good as it could possibly get. Meaning I’m stuck and life as I know it. Is over.

Again, I know it’s not true, but as I said the depression makes it seem all the more real and powerful. I’ve been on different medications for depression, and been to various counselors and I’ve had bad experiences with both. Medications only seemed to make feel worse, physically and mentally and most counselors I’ve seen have cooking cutter responses to my pain. So I said screw it both.

For me I believe that nutrition and fitness are big parts of fighting it, but you can do all that and still grapple with depression, however short the duration. For me, I’d rather have short durations, than to be where I once was, where I was having a couple panic attacks a week, puking before classes in college and so on.

This year hasn’t helped, though I’m thankful because here, in small Nebraska were not that restricted by Covid. But it doesn’t help, hearing about it every day, having a never ending political battle. Moreover, having cerebral palsy doesn’t help at all. It’s not like I can just leave the house whenever my heart desires. It’s also difficult when you don’t have any friends who can readily come pick you up or hang out with you because of their own circumstances.

Which is why I’ve tried a lot to be happy with myself and my own company, this is not just my battle but for many with cerebral palsy. Depression doesn’t make you weak, I just choose to lower my head and keep moving forward, to keep taking the shots. I’m not directly apposed to seeking help- I’m more open to talk therapy than anything. I’d only like to find a decent fit.

In the midst of the depression and the powerful blows that it deals myself and others, I’ve learn to channel a deep warrior strength inside me. One that knows that this darkness will pass, I’m learning to notice the pain and darkness within, and yet not be over ran by it. I’m learning to not let the depression over ride the duration of my day.

I still manage to workout, eat healthy, workout etc in spite of the depression that faces me. One might say that that’s not healthy. But to me, I say that that’s making war against the depression. It’s me fighting, going down swinging no matter what.

My greatest anchor through all of this is my relationship with God, prayer and reading my Bible. That’s what’s bigger than any darkness in my life.

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Thoughts on Trauma Part 1: Healing first

The other night there was a lot of reflection being done, there I was sipping my whiskey. Depression set in mildly during the day, so that probably didn’t help. But in my reflection, the concept of trauma surfaced to my attention.   Trauma (in various compacities) is something that many of us deal with. I’m no stranger to trauma, as having cerebral palsy and all the pain that I’ve had to endure because of it, has left it’s finger prints on me. My first operation, I can remember being brought back to the pre-op room, there my parents had to leave to go to the waiting area.

What honestly went through my mind as a child, was that I was being abandoned.  Sure, that fear and panic produced an irrational fear. But the point is these moments in my childhood, had a great effect on most of my life. As mentioned before, a lot of us have our own trauma. Some more severe than others. What that should do then, is that should give humans grounds to show empathy and connect with one another. Healing comes in simple form when we can say the words “Me Too” to quote Rob Bell from his book Velvet Elvis. When we are willing to be vulnerable, that is when I believe God truly begins to heal us. The most profound lesson that I’ve ever had the privilege of learning, is that we cannot heal on our own.    

We need to confess that we have a problem, that we cannot conquer it on our own, and that we need God to work in us by his grace and community to walk along side us. Even those of us who try and white knuckle our way towards healing eventually get burnt out by trying so hard. Of course, this takes a lot of humility, gumption and inner bravery to admit any of this. Again, people wear masks (no pun intended), we try and appear as though we don’t need help and do things on our own. And while a fair amount of self-sufficiency is great, no man- woman is an island to themselves.    

 It took me such a long time to face my own trauma in my life, more often than not when I thought I was making progress, the fear and panic only seemed to get louder as time went on. Confusion set in , and the thought came to my mind “why am I not getting any better?”  

“Why am I still so afraid?” And the answer, for me anyhow, was that I was still looking to people to save me from my trauma, to save me from myself. Well  meaning people can help and provide wisdom and some comfort. But only God can heal us and give us the peace we crave. So, in this moment, I deeply want to you to know that God loves your more than any other person on earth could. You are not so far down the road, that you are out of his reach. It’s ok to admit you need help, not only from God but from others. You have purpose to complete with your life, and someone else can benefit from your own story. Go fourth today, knowing that the past doesn’t define who you are.

   

It’s Back…

I can feel the depression setting in again, it has been for the past few weeks. It’s like an unwanted guest trying to take of space in your home when they’re not wanted. There have been moments where I have lost interest in things that made me happy, in those moments I’d rather eat ice cream, drink beer and sleep.

I’m not trying to glorify the depression, I’m only trying to express what a bitch it is. Depression is never  simple or easy to bring resolution to, in my experience, it needs to be  met with heavy love and hope.

Normally when I am faced with depression, the only thing that I want is for a friend to put their arm around me, to tell me they care, that they love me and that I’m worth it. Quite honestly, I haven’t had a love like that for many years. Ever since my friend Garret moved away, got married etc. Things changed drastically. Garret used to hang out with me all the time,  take me places and remind me of who I was.

I miss that, so very much. These days my days are spent attempting to seek the type of community and connection my heart desires, after all, the golden rule of all life and religion, is to treat others how you would want to be treated. In the words of Bono and U2 “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for”.

Maybe the honest to God truth is that I’ll never find a friend like Garret again, and I just have to be okay with it. But he will always be the example of how to treat and care for others. Sometimes I just feel like selling all I have and going somewhere where people who are in need of a friend, a touch, a huge and warm words for the soul.

I would rather give my heart to people who wanted than to live wondering if I mattered.  The one factor that I have found that truly fights this evil monster of depression, is a purpose. Give a person the smallest hint of light and watch what they can do it. I know that this isn’t always the case, but it almost seems as though that something changes in the soul and even brain chemistry. When a person knows that they might be able to little less dark than when they found it, is truly powerful.

I just am tired of feeling like I am but a memory in this world, I miss being able to smile and meaning it, I miss feeling like there was a dragon to be slain. I miss feeling like a warrior..

 

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A lot Like David- For Those Who Go Unseen.

The story of David and Goliath, a story that people perceive as a metaphor or a real life event that took place between a small framed boy (probably close to being a teenager) who truly didn’t have much to offer, based on worldly standards. He didn’t come from a wealthy family, wasn’t even the most popular among his peers. He only tended to sheep and made music with strings.

He would be the last person that anybody would think of to face the large giant that was Goliath. Goliath was the opposite of David, he was a man that people feared, looked up to and one that appeared to never taste defeat. Even though David didn’t come from much, even though he wasn’t the largest he was the bravest. And his heart was  larger than anyone around him.

Sure, David had his own problems and hang-ups, but I often feel as David probably did as a youth.  I’ve often felt incredibly small in this world, despite talents, passion’s and longings  to help others. It’s easy to feel like you can keep sliding down the ladder.

The thought came to me as I was stepping out of the shower, that even though I may appear to be small in the world’s eyes I am like a giant in God’s eyes. Remember that when

 

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no one else see’s you. God does and he loves you.

 

 

Removing The Mask on The Christian Life.

For the last few years of my life, I have found myself increasingly frustrated with both myself and Christians in general. I’ve attempted to sit down and write out my thoughts in the form of a new manuscript, but nothing seems to be coming to completion. At best I am a complete paradox, to say the least. I’m packed with joy and various sorrows, I’m happy and angry at the same time, I want to laugh and scream all in the same breath.

I have never been that steady Christian that always seems to be happy and with no real pressing issues or things that bother them. If such a Christian even exists. I’m frustrated with myself that I have such a hard time forgiving others. Rather, I keep a record of wrongs and hold onto grudges. I’ve never been that Christian or person who can only forgive and forget. Though, other believers would suggest that I need to move on as though nothing happened.

I long to follow Christ with all that I am, yet I still become increasingly entangled in my sin. The everyday Protestant Christian would say “well you’re are not fighting back against your sin hard enough.” And there right, but my sin still feels good.  Atheists can call me a hypocrite all they want, but they have struggles and flaws too, I’m just not afraid to admit my own. Nor are they under as big of a microscope as Christians are.

Go ahead and call me a freak for believing in God, go ahead and make fun of me for believing in something that I have yet to see with my own eyes. In the end, I’d rather be wrong about the existence of God then only living for myself and my own passions.

But I regress… The fact is, I know that myself and the body of Christ as a whole are hypocrites. I believe that should be all the more the reason to place our faith in the Lord Jesus. For he came to call upon people who were sick and knew it deep down inside their souls. Not for those who believed that they were without flaw or blemish.

The church, though it is full of broken, sick and twisted people. Is capable of bringing about the most change in this world. Not only are we be able to bring a healthy balance of

social justice in the world, but also we would be doing so with the love, truth and mercy of God. Which is what this world so desperately needs. While this all sounds well a good, this generation of believers must come outside the four walls of our church buildings and engage the society around us.

We must put down our cell phones and notice the lonely and hurting people around us. Furthermore, we must develop a good sense of people skills.   At least in the Christian community that I am currently, people skills seem to be few, far and between. Everyone appears to be so caught up in their worlds. Myself included.

In my estimation, this should not be the reality of the church. At the heart of the matter, the church can and should be a reflection of Christ. But again, in my estimation we are not, in fact, we are far from it. Or maybe it’s only me that is far from the mark. Regardless, I long for revival to happen among Christians and even our country.  The fact of the matter is that there is no secret formulate to obtain such results is to (as Christians) is to seek God actively in faith and repentance.

Then, we must actively seek one another in a community and learn the art of vulnerability. Far too often it appears as though we Christians smile and act as though everything seemingly perfect and in it’s right place. But I think that for many of us (Christian and not) that life is extremely messy, even if someone of us are not good or willing to admit it.

When it comes to great examples of what vulnerability in the church should look like, the example that I go to is recovery movements. A place of utter honesty and transparency, a place where people let down their facades and find community and the possibility of healing. I’m in no way saying that recovery movements are perfect, for nothing in this world is.  But they are a starting block that Christians and all people can glean from.

Vulnerability is something that I strongly feel (is still) lacking from the Christian life. I know that people don’t enjoy being open with others, but it is how we experience both growth and healing. With God and others. The truth is, (I believe) is that we are scared, to be honest about our pain and what plagues us. I am always going back to the story of Adam and Eve, the fact that when they sinned, instead of running to God and seeking forgiveness they covered up.

The funny thing is we do the same, rather then being open and honest with one another. We hide. And for different reasons, one reason might be that we feel we have to have it all together and can’t show who we really are and where we are at in life. Another reason might be that we are afraid that if people see who we really are they might run away. Let me submit to you that, if people ran away after seeing who you really are then they never really loved you in the first place.

Regardless of what our reason is, we must learn to rake the mask of that we some comfortable wear and stand bare before others.

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Letting Go of The Heavy Load.

Do you ever feel like you have to have it all together?

Do you ever feel like if you don’t have your act together 24/7, then you’re not measuring up?

I relate to both those questions, both in a physical and spiritual sense and for me they both intertwine with one another. In a physical sense if I’m not winning then I do not amount to much.  It doesn’t matter if it’s in Brazilian Jiujitsu or Crossfit. If I’m not submitting people and bringing home the gold medals, then I further down the mountain while losing the respect of my team and sponsors.

If it’s Crossfit, and I’m not hitting the huge PR’s in the gym, if I’m not making the fastest time in competition and make it to the podium. Then others are beating me out and taking that spot that I desired in my heart.   As an athlete, I believe that wanting to win is a right and healthy mindset, but when we put too much unhealthy pressure on ourselves, I think that we willingly put ourselves into a mindset of slavery that we were never meant to be in any way.

You see, performance should never determine our worth. Sure, we should have dreams and be motivated to complete those goals. The bedrock of our lives should be centered around the understanding that we are loved. Loved by God, our family, and friends. When our lives are based on our performance and what we can produce with our lives, then it isn’t loving. It’s a tireless effort to meet a standard we could never meet on our own.

When the love of friends, family, and even coaches is based on the way we perform. Then one might strongly consider that the problem has little to do with you and more to do with them.  If it’s a coach treating you this way, I highly suggest not giving them anymore of your time.

Secondly, this can esaily translate over to the spiritual mind set, in that if we constanly feel that we have to earn Gods love, approval and favor then we have a foggy perspective of who God is. As sch our view of God most be quickly cleared up. So often we feel that if there is a God, then we first have to clean ourselves up in order to even approach him.

That couldn’t be more of a lie, the truth is that we can come to him despite how many flaws we have or how dirty we think we are. God longs for you to come to him, you don’t have to carry around the heavy load that is in your soul. Freedom and hope are possible.

There is a vast difference between God desiring for you to better off then you were, out of a new desire to be less of the person you were yesterday and wanting perfection. God wants you to be a brand new creation, but he understands that you will fall down time and time again. He won’t stop loving you just because you fall or have a bad day. He will love you to the sky and back. You just have to let him.

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What Can The Secular Say To The Holy?

I am working on a new manuscript, a devotional entitled What Can The Secular Say To The Holy (And Vice Versa). The manuscript takes mainstream “secular songs and filtering them through a Christ-centered lens.  Here is a sample of what I am working on:

Day Three

In Your House I long to be, Room by room patiently, I’ll wait for you there like a stone.

-AudioSlave

The focus of every Christian should be the presence of God, we are to hunger and thrust for it. The psalmist David once wrote “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God” (Psalm 42). In our physical thirst we long for something to quench our thirst, our physical thirst should in some ways be a reflection of our spiritual thirst. Jesus said that when we drink of his living water (John 4:14), of course one might wonder, even when I do have Christ in my life, why do I still thirst. It might seem quite paradoxical, but I believe that God created us to thirst for him and nothing else, he gave us a thirst that only he can satisfy. The problem is then is that we all believe that other that other things can satisfy, be it people, relationships, sex and other forms of gratification. These things are not bad, relationships, sex, food and things of that nature are meant to be enjoyed, both because they’re all gifts from the grand creator and they are meant to point us to his glory. So as I find myself listening to the lyrics of AudioSlave, I can’t help but long for to be in God’s presence, in his house, room by room being being surrounded by his presence.

Again, one might ask, what if I’m seeking the Lords presence and can’t “feel” anything? Great question, I believe that the key comes in the above AudioSlave lyrics, Patiently, like a stone.   Like a stone we patiently wait for the Lords presence, we refuse to move until we have his presence. Moses pleaded these words to God in Exodus 33:15, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” I think our attitudes should be the same as Moses if the Lords presence is not with us, then we shouldn’t even consider moving. Of course, though, as believers, we have the Lords presence and constant favor. Nothing can separate us from that (Romans 8:35-39). Again, having longings for other things like connection, intimacy, community and so on are beautiful and Godly. But nothing can satisfy and sustain us as the Lords presence. Seek him now at this moment.

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Developing Your Inner Coach.

One of the greatest gifts my father could have ever given me was the gift of working out. I can remember the first pair of green weights from GNC. He came into the living room where I was and placed a weight in my hand and taught me how to do a bicep curl, he might have even said something manly about having huge muscles. I’m not sure.

All I know is that since that time I have not stopped, it was the times that my father all but demanded that I come downstairs and work out rather than playing video games. Another memory that comes to mind is when my parents bought one of the original versions of the total gym, a machine heavily endorsed by Chuck Norris and many other top athletes in various sports.

When I first got on this machine, I’ll never forget how great and amazing it felt to develop the range of motions in my arms. Not just that, but muscle tone. From that point on, I wanted to be on that machine.   My mom, though, she would always be protective of me and not want me to get hurt by working out on my own as any good mother would.

I’ve always liked working out on my own, though. Being able to throw in my ear buds and tune out the world. Letting go of pent of emotions, feelings and thoughts. I never really understood people that liked to stand around and talk during a workout. I understand, though, that people are fundamentally different in some ways.  Maybe for the ones who like to talk during a workout, it’s a means to catch up in regards to life or perhaps it’s a form of accountability to make sure you finish what you started.

What I want to discuss, though, is developing your own inner coach or rather inner drill sergeant. I don’t know when this started exactly, but when there is a difficult WOD ahead of me (that’s Crossfit language for the workout of the day) I often sense this inner voice saying to me “Don’t give up!” Or “Almost there, don’t quit”. This inner voice is always there for me. Even when I am tired and would rather lie in bed, the voice whispers “you’re one step closer toward your goal”

By now, you might be wondering “that’s great for you, but how do I get an inner coach?” And to be honest, I’m not sure that there is some magic formula that I can give you. I believe everyone’s inner coach will sound or seem different. The first suggestion I could provide you.

  1. Find a verbal cue, what I mean is find something that triggers a sense of motivation and resolve within you. For me, it was triggered by an army commercial where a drill instructor would tell the soon to be ranger “Don’t quit!” with great conviction in his voice. Since that moment, that same drill instructors voice has not left my head. Whatever it is for you, my encouragement is that you embark on the journey of your own inner coach.
  2.  If there is one lesson that I have had to learn over and over again, it’s that you cannot depend on others to be there. You won’t always have that friend to drag you from the couch to the gym. It’s in the pivotal moment when one must decide if they’re going to keep chasing their goals despite the fact that no ones watching, despite the fact that no one is cheering for you. The question you have to ask you have to ask yourself is: Do I love myself enough to do what it takes to be the best version of you possible?  Forget about the moments of failure, forget the moments of self-loathing and forget about all the times you thought that none of this really matters. The only thing you have to is Keep moving forward.
  3. What do you do then, when you can’t sense the voice of your own inner coach? The answer is simple: Keep going, there are many many times when I have to quietly yell at myself to keep going. To give all I got no matter how long it takes me to finish the task at hand. I have no regard for records or who is the best at what, but that I finish and finish strong.

Lastly, set goals for yourself, some short term and some long term. Goals will allow you to keep going not matter what comes your way. Even if the goal is to get out of bed in the morning, start there and move to the next, like eating a healthy breakfast. Then get your ass to the gym.  Life is far to valuable and precious not to take care of yourself, so why not start today?

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Reflection on Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month

 

March is cerebral palsy awareness month, I’ve made a few posts on FB but I thought that a full-length post would be  good as well. I have lived with cerebral palsy (cp) for 30 years now. Yes, I’m 30 years of age, but I don’t feel it or look it. For that, I can thank the genetics that is in me. Cerebral Palsy is a condition that I have, not who I am.

Cerebral Palsy may be an extension of myself, but it is not who I am. First and foremost I am a child of God, who is loved from the earth to the heavens. This is where my identity lies. God knew my small frame long before time began, he wonderfully made me and gave me worth and dignity.

Having cerebral palsy then is a way that he has gifted me to reach out to others. It has allowed me to empathise with those who feel lonely, hurt and rejected by society. I can honestly say that if I didn’t have cerebral palsy, I probably wouldn’t have as big as a heart for people as I do now.

If anything, I probably would be more selfish and self-focused than I already am. That being said, there are many dark days that come with having this condition. There are many days that I wish I was different or like everybody else. Meaning that I wish I could run, walk and sprint. There are days when I cry out to God wishing things were different.

In these moments of self-pity and feeling of  helplessness, I ask the “what if?” and “why me?” questions. We all ask these questions, so to an extent its okay, God can handle these questions. Cerebral palsy is in no way easy to live with, it has taken me quite a long time to be at peace with myself, God and others.

The biggest truth that I can leave you with is that God loves you and created you with passion and purpose and no one can take that from you. People may not understand what we go through, they may even make fun of how we are. But I fearlessly proclaim that you’re loved beyond anything you could ever long for. Even in the times when you feel most alone, the most rejected the most misunderstood you’re loved.

I’ll be honest, there have been times where I have wanted to die. Just to be free from this body full of scars, but some how God keeps this smile on my face. But I say again, you are loved . Never give up the fight. Chase your dreams. Don’t be afraid to wear your heart on your sleeve, be who you are.

Another truth I submit to you is this, you are not a burden. If people do not make time for you, if they do not take the time to get to know you. That is merely a reflection of them and has nothing to do with you. Futher more, do not be afraid to love, do not be afraid to speak hope and encouragement. I truly believe that we can be the change we want to be in the world.

It may seem like you get nothing back in return, but as it is quoted in the movie Gladiator: “What we do in life echoes in eternity”. Do not shy away from pushing yourself physichally, I have been doing Brazillian Jiujitsu for almost 6 years and CrossFit for almost 2-3 years. With both of these elements in my life, my body has never been stronger. Even when doctors told me I wouldn’t be able to do much on my own, even when teachers told me I wouldn’t amount to much. It is by Gods grace I am who I am.

The same reality can be present in your or own life, you just have to take that small step forward. That might require asking for help, swallowing your pride and letting others be your teacher. It might require you sitting down and discovering your dreams and who you are as a person. Regardless, you can rest assured that there is no glass ceiling over our heads precerebral_palsy_awarenessventing us from conquering the obstacles that stand in our way.

Be well my friends.

-Brandon

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3: Fighting Back

Yesterday was a huge success, the Lord gave me the strength to resist and fight back. I am filled with joy that He is so faithful. Today however, this particular moment is filled with a bit of temptation to cope in Unhealthy ways.

The good news is, I have noticed the trigger and rather than giving in. I am going to sit with tension, wrestle with it even. I refuse to let this win any longer. It will not be my master. But I will master it.

I want to reiterate that there is hope, that things can get better. Even when people tell you they can’t. A new future, a new mind a new heart and new eyes are possible. You simply have to choose fight. You’re not alone in the fight. You were never meant to be.

If you have an hour to burn, please read this book:

http://www.artofmanliness.com/2014/10/09/how-to-quit-porn/

Motivate and fight my friends.

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