Being Healthy To Attract Healthy.

I woke up this morning with this question at the forefront of my attention:

Why Do I keep attracting the same kind of woman into my life?

It’s an honest question, and a life changing one at that. The same can be asked if you are a woman that just so happens to be reading this. You could easily ask yourself why you keep bringing the same kind of men into your life. Several years, an old friend of mine and myself, were having a beer after a bible study. Just the way I like it- beer and bible. Or bible and beer , however you want to say it.

Anyway, my friend asked me a very bold question, that actually pissed me off greatly in the moment. He asked Brandon, why do you keep attracting the same woman into your life over and over again? As first I was so blindsided and confused by the question, I took another sip of my beer, set it down still holding it and asked: what are you getting at? He looked at me and said:

“Bro, you keep attracting all these women that have all sorts of problems, their not actually healthy for you.” Again I felt anger rise within me, I looked at my friend and said “bro, doesn’t everyone have problems and baggage? “ Well yes he replied, but maybe you could find someone that had a lot less problems and was on a healthy path in life.”

I can understand if you’re offended after reading that, after all I was too. But do you know why I was so offended? Because my friend was right, and he was willing to offend me in the name of me seeing truth.  With my last few relationship’s, they have either had commitment issues or were honestly unstable in some ways. I don’t mean this to come across in a degrading way, I only want to communicate truth. And to be fair, some of the past women I’ve dated could say a thing or two about me.

And  yet, when I truly began to ponder this question, I only could look back at myself. Because taking ownership of our lives, starts with the self. Realizing our pit falls and where we can improve. I began to see that it some way or another, I was attracting what already existed inside of me. I had a lot of inward battles going on, mental struggles and so on. And so naturally when you’re not as a healthy as you ought to be, you migrate to what is most comfortable to you.

On another level, there lies a savior complex where I  want to help others with their problems and become more whole and happier. The only problem with that is, is that we can hope to “fix” someone to the point of forgetting to fix ourselves. That is the most unhealthy of options, it’s as they said proverbs, like a dog that returns to his vomit.

If I desire to be a healthy person, I also believe that you want to be healthy person as well. What does healthy actually look like? For me,  it means being less hindered by the past, dwelling on it less and less and leaving it where it belongs. This is something that I have to continually work on, though I’m not as bad as I once was. It always means having better control over my mental health and even emotions, in my own life I have been of anti-anxiety and depression meds for a long time. I’ve been learning to get a handle on my anxiety and or depression by getting down to the root cause. Moreover, I am learning to pray, and lay all my fears, worries and insecurities at the feet of God. This is not to say that I’m somehow arrived at the end of my progress, no in fact I have a long way to go. But I am nowhere near who I once used to be. That to me is a healthy person, one that’s moving towards who they were meant to be. And in terms of having another relationships, in the long term sense. I want someone who is at peace with herself in her own skin, isn’t attacked by insecurity or triggered by the little things.

I want someone that can handle their emotions, now I’m sure that your thinking “That’s not possible!” All I’m saying is that, I want to be with someone that even though their having a bad day. They can still vent about their day, and I can be there to listen and give my thoughts if needed and snuggle up after. Is that a lot to ask for?

Obviously, I haven’t found what I’m looking for yet, but I’m not going to settle either. I’m going to keep working on myself and for once in my life I’m going to allow myself to be picky. You do the same, work on yourself. Improve yourself. This way the cycle can be broken and we can actually discover what healthy actually is.   

Talking About Faith and Mental Health-again.

I’ve written on the subject on faith and anxiety before, but after my morning conversation with my girlfriend. It spurred me to want to write some more on the topic, as this is not a topic that can have a once and for all response. I’ll say it again, I have never appreciated how many Christians have handled the areas of mental health within the faith community.

Just pray more.

Have more faith.

Yes and yes..

But it’s not always that clean cut.

While it is true that people that live with anxiety or depression, should interact in their faith more with prayer and trust in God (if one is a Christian). That does not mean that all of our days with, anxiety, fear and worry are all over. They may get better, as we learn how to cast all our cares upon Christ- because he cares for us (1 peter 5:7), and learning different coping skills. Again, it simply does not mean that we will no longer have anxiety come up again in our lives.

When it does though, we will know how to defend against it, so it does not crush us. The biggest mystery through out my own faith journey, is while God chooses to heal some and not others. I am sure that there are some in which God has chosen to heal of anxiety, and others he has chosen not to.

And while this can be seen as a deterrent to faith, I choose to believe that there is sufficient reason for such thorns to remain. Simply because a fellow Christian still walks with anxiety and worry, does not always equate to a lack of faith or trust. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the whirlwind of our own mental health. But because our Lord is good, he always brings us back to the truth of himself.

And when we say to someone, “oh just pray and trust God more” we’re unknowingly making it about our strength and not God. As though we have to pray to drive our anxiety away, as though we have to muster up the strength to trust more. When it is God who spurs us to pray and gives us the ability to come our senses and trust him in the first place.

Sometimes what we say as Christians, in the context of mental health and faith is frankly unbiblical and even dangerous. If I went to a biblical counselor, I would hope and pray that they gave me a bit more than simply to learn to pray and trust more. I would hope that they would offer a listening ear, some compassion and empathy.

Christ told us that life would be full of hard times, but that he has overcome the world. -John 16:33, my faith tells me that Christ has already overcome all the darkness in the world, and with that, I know that all anxiety will be cast into the darkest parts of the earth. If you are one living with anxiety, big or small.

Jesus is not repelled by the anxiety that faces you, his arms are open to you. He loves you madly, his death, burial and resurrection say so. It is because of this, that we can cast all our cares upon him, along with our deepest trust.

We Adapt. Or We Die.

I don’t believe that having a disability is a means to completely stop a person, from leading a great life. Be it mentally, physically or spiritually. I don’t. Sharing my story is something I do all the time. And if you know anything about me, you will know that I have had the deck stacked against me since day one.

Perhaps it’s because I had parents that pushed me in the direction that I am now, I’ve been at the bottom. For awhile I listened to all the negative crap that people spoke into my life. I let the words of people barrie me deep- in a pit of nonsense.

Again, if it wasn’t for my family pushing me to be more. I’m positive in knowing that I would still be in the hopeless place. I feel as though its my mission in life to tell people (especially those with disabilities). That they can be more, they don’t always have to listen to doctors, teachers or feel entrapped by their own disability.

For years, I hated my body, I didn’t think that my mind or body could improve. Yes, I will always have CP, but no it will not keep me from being the strongest and healthiest that I possibly can be. Yes, I still may have bouts with depression and anxiety but I will always rise.

Make the most of what you have. Work with what you got.

If you can only lift a certain about of weight, with one side of your body. That’s fine. If one side of your body is stronger, I can deal with that. If you don’t have much mobility in your lower body, there are ways to adapt to the context in which you find yourself. But staying in a mindset in which there is no growth: Mentally, physically or spiritually is equal to death.

Because if we do not choose to allow ourselves to grow, every single day. We will die without every really knowing who we are. We adapt. Or we die.

Why I Quit Leaning on Anxiety Meds

If you know anything about my personal history, you would know that anxiety and depression have been present in my life, since the age of seventeen. I have cycled through various medications, seen different counselors. And hell, I’ve even spent a few days in a psych ward. For the simple fact that I hated my life and simply wanted things to be over.

To this day, I hold in high regard and esteem, anyone who goes to a doctor, knowing full well that they need help. That is the single bravest thing a human can do. It takes a lot of guts to say “I’m not well right now, and the thoughts in my mind are far too much to cope with on my own.”

Again, thats a beautiful and brave thing to admit. Within my own journey in learning to cope with anxiety and depression have almost always been a part of it. I have tried several times to slowly get off of whatever drug I was on. But the side effects were too great for me. So I’d hop back on the given medication.

To be clear, I have always wanted to be off them, because I have always hated how they made me feel. Tired, slow, and sometimes more hopeless than I was at the start. To be blunt, most of the counselors I saw sucked, they were filled with pat answers and didn’t grasp the pain that was inside me.

The more depressed and anxiety ridden I felt, the healthier I ate and focused more on trying to fight back against the anxiety and depression on the Jiujitsu mats or with the weights. Eating cleaning, saying no to a lot of carbs and sugar and saying yes to more protein and water worked. Making my workouts more challenging and taxing worked.

Yet, this lingering depression and random panic attacks through out the week would hit me still. I didn’t know what to do, I was tired of feeling this way, and I wanted it to stop. Fast forward to seeing my girlfriend for to weeks (she lives in NY) I was so happy to see her, that thinking about taking my medication was the furthest thing from my mind.

I even told her a few days into my trip “Babe, I haven’t taken my anxiety meds in a few days.” And you know what, I felt fairly good. Apart from the slumps that I would have mid day, when the depression would come slamming into reality again. I would have moments, where I would sit on my girlfriends bed and cry. Being the amazing woman that she is, she held me and waited until I was done crying. She also would gently remind me that everything would be okay, because God loved me and she loved me too.

It was in these moments, when I realized that, I’d rather feel the weight of my depression and anxiety. Knowing that I was mentally stronger than I gave myself credit for. I’d rather face the pain and darkness head on, knowing with a hundred percent fact that this darkness couldn’t beat me.

I did as David Goggins talks about in his book “Can’t Hurt Me” and started to harden my mind, not in the sense of being angry or bitter. I started hardening my mind to be strong in battle, I would speak to the negative thoughts in my mind.

“Is that the best you got!?”

“Your wasting your time, because you have no authority or power over me”

I would ask myself, “do you know who you are? You are warrior, a child of God and one bad mother F’er.”

The more I began to allow, embrace and feel the mental and emotional pain, the more I allowed myself to accept it, and started using it as more of driving force, to push forward. I often would use anxiety meds to cope with sadness, despair, shame and my perceived failures in life.

At this moment in my life, I have a deeper understanding that, allowing the darkness to swallow me up is never the answer. Wanting to not wake up anymore is not the answer. Being able to go to the root of your pain is the answer.

Once again, if you are in counseling and on medication, I’m not telling you to get off them cold turkey as I did. And as of now in my life I feel fine. But I am telling you, that you are loved, by God and people in your life. I am telling you that you are warrior and a bad mother f’er and I am telling you that the darkness has no authority over your life.

Your Comfort is Killing You

If you value your own personal comfort, over your personal health and growth. You have a very big problem on your hands. I know that in our society, we truly value are comfort, but it might just be the one thing that is holding us back from living as our best self.

Comfort, I have found, stems from two factors:

Fear, fear is a biggie, that is hidden in comfort. For example, we fear going to the gym because we don’t like our own bodies and we fear what others might think of us. So we don’t go to the gym, we don’t break a sweat and most of us just end up back on the couch.

Which then leads into the second factor: Laziness, we all struggle with this. It’s easier to stay  in bed longer, it’s easy not to choose the right foods, its easier to skip the workout and its easier to do the things we know we should do.

What does that result in?

It results in us not growing, getting out of our comfort zones or learning anything about ourselves. The negative sides of our comfort far out weight the positive. This is exactly why we never see results in our over all health and personal goals, because we never step out onto the water so to speak.

So how to we break out of the comfort? How do we began to ditch the fear and laziness?

In the simplest terms, you and I have to do things you don’t want to do every single day. Do the pushups you don’t want to do, go for that run, apply for that job, go after that dream you have always wanted to go after. Talk to that person you have always wanted to talk to.

When we do that, we grow and are much more satisfied with the direction of our lives. I encourage everyone who reads this, to write down a list of goals that you want to accomplish.

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My Thoughts On “Trans Abled”

I can remember being in college, in hearing all the craze, about a woman who wanted to become paralyzed from the waist down. Link Here I remember scratching my head and thinking to myself this can’t be real, right? But I was truly wrong, it was real. I was made aware of the Psychological disorder called BIID, or body integrity identity disorder. 

B.I.I.D. according to the NCBI, is defined as: Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID) is a rare, infrequently studied and highly secretive condition in which there is a mismatch between the mental body image and the physical body. Subjects suffering fromBIID have an intense desire to amputate a major limb or severe the spinal cord in order to become paralyzed.

Now, as a person who has lived with an actually disability (cerebral palsy) for 34 years. It is extremely difficult for me not to take a stand against this. For the simple reason that I didn’t have a say in the matter of being born in the matter that I was. There was no psychological imbalance or trauma that caused me to be born with such a condition. But rather complications in the birthing process and actually trauma to my brain.

Cerebral Palsy is not the worst thing in the world, but it does have its taxing days, both on my mind and emotions. And yes, some days I wish I could walk, run, and live like everyone else. Somedays I wish that I could have a new body, but never could I ever have imagined the new momentum of wanting to be “Trans-Abled”

Where people actually want to not have use of their eyes, legs or even arms. And the torture in which they put themselves through. In the name of achieving such goals is down right disgusting and frankly demonic. Forever, there are doctors and seemingly “medical professionals” who are willing to aid their patients in the process! And if not done by a medical professional, then physical harm is done by the person seeking those results.

As a society, what is happening to us? And are we actually willing to accept this as the new social norm? Furthermore, if we are willing to accept this as a new social norm, provided more and more people actually want to move into this supposed “life style” are we actually fighting for human flourishing? No, we are are not fighting for human flourishing, rather we are accepting a deep form of human denigration.

As human beings we should be pushing people with mental illness and various disorders, to thrive and be at peace with themselves at some level. This also goes for medical professionals as well, as most already are, but there’re also quacks everywhere you go. I don’t meant to sound in-compassionate to these people that have this mental disorder, because they’re people too.

But no, you don’t and shouldn’t have the right just to cut your own arm off, simply because you want to be called “One arm Jack” which is a real story too. This is heart breaking, these people need deep compassionate mental care. For no real human being should set out to accomplish the goal of becoming disabled in various ways just to feel whole.

That in my estimation is the very definition of Ab-normal. I get that a lot of people feel trapped in their own bodies, but the answer is not harming yourself to accomplish a sense of people or even taking ones life, no way no how. Finding a sense of inner peace within oneself can be an extremely daunting journey, I know it has for me.

And I mentioned earlier, having CP is not the worst thing in the world, but there are days when it sucks and my body is in great pain. And yes, the days where I would like to experience what it is like to be like every other person, they come too. But I have done the hard work to have a sense of peace with myself and my maker.

I dealt with the shame of my right hand, the scars on my body and so on. And though my struggle is not the same of one that suffers from BIID. I can honestly tell you that I am at peace with myself, I still struggle, but I’m very okay with the body that I have been blessed with.

The same, I believe can be found for someone that suffers with BIID, to find true mental healing and restoration. It may be a long process, but it is possible, it takes the care and compassion of mental health professionals to help them work through a lot of layers and change the way we think.

Though I profoundly and disagree with the desire for one to become disabled, in any sense. Does not mean that I love or care for them any less. These people still have the image of God on them, and  whether they know that or not. That is their truest self of identity. And from that everything else follows.

They have such worth and value, and they need people who will show them that, not just cave to their desires.

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Remembering Chester Bennington

I’ll never forget being a teenager, lying there in my bed watching MTV, when MTV was actually MTV. Meaning that they actually played good music videos. It must have been early morning I remember seeing Linkin’s Parks video for the song One Step Closer.  I was hooked from the first sound of the guitar, the break down and the perfect hybrid rap Rock vocals. The lyrics hooked me as an angsty teen. The lyrics were speaking to me in a way nothing else could.

I was a fan and will always will be. There was not a LP album that I was not a fan of. To be quite honest though, it was the lyrical depth that drew me in. The fact that the band was armed with a great live show was even better. I had never gotten the chance to see the band live, but I remember seeing them live on a show called Reverb Nation. There was so much emotional connectivity with the crowd, it was all so intriguing and inspiring to me.

To think that someone like Chester, or any member of the band could command such attention. When ever I was sad, depressed or angry it would be linkin park that I went to the most. The interesting thing is though, even through Chesters heavy, dark and even hopeful lyrics. I never truly connected that fact that he struggled with depression or mental illness. In my young mind at the time, I thought he was only telling stories of people that he knew.

There was no way he could be depressed right? I mean he was a world wide celebrity and had everything it seemed. That the was the younger, less wise part of myself. Now that I am bit older, I realize that it is truly possible to have everything and feel like you have nothing at the same time.

In my own journey with depression and anxiety, it was the lyrics of Chester B that gave me the room I needed to give voice to what I was feeling on the inside. I was never blessed with the chance to meet Chester, and tell him thank you for his words. And that I in some ways considered him a friend.

On a personal level, I often feel so up and down. Happy one moment and either want to scream or cry the next. I have had a handful of psych professors tell me that life, for most is very up and down or much like scribbling on a piece of paper. But thats never been a soothing or satisfying response for me.

The more I listen to the lyrics of Chester, the more I sense that he was truly crying out. Duh right? As a psychology major though, I have learned to pay more attention and see more deeply into a person. Are they truly happy when they smile or is there more going on below the surface?

Better yet, are we happy in a public setting and then fall apart behind closed doors? It’s almost been a year since his passing, and I honestly cannot believe that he is gone. I keep waiting for some FB article to pop up saying that he is alive and well, much like 2 pac. ..

But I guess that a big part of me is still in denial, that he is truly gone. All I know is that, we cannot afford to keep losing people this way. Regardless of what we believe about life. We must be willing to ask and have uncomfortable conversations, about how and where we are at in life.

We have to be willing to say **** the stigma behind talking about depression and suicide, for it is the only way to break free. We have to be willing to say enough is enough.

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A Tighter Grip.

I don’t even know where to begin

All I know is that I want to get a grip on myself.

My anxiety has been so bad.

My emotions have been everywhere.

And sometimes I feel like my chest is going to implode.

I find myself crying when I am alone.

I find myself utterly sensitive to the energies around me.

One moment I am happy and the next, anger, sadness, frustration rage.

I hate this…. I hate this.

My soul is desperate for change.

I want to know what it’s like to feel stable.

I hate feeling like such a wreck.

Perhaps its only a season or moment in time.

All I want is to break free. And not be dominated by this internal, unstable and insecure war inside me.

I want to get to the bottom of this, one breath at a time, one step at a time.

 

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Word Vomiting on Anxiety and The Christian Life.

Breath… Breath… I tell myself as the sense of panic sets in.

My chest tightens, along with the shortness of breath.

This doesn’t make any sense, shouldn’t I have the most peace and Joy in all the world?

Instead, I feel like everything is going into a spontaneous flat spin. And you call yourself a Christian!?  

This tends to be the inner conversation that I have with myself most days, when anxiety seems to be getting the better of me. Anxiety and depression are things that any and all people may experience in a life time. But it can be a little tricky (a lot tricky actually) if you are a professing Christian.

I’m willing to bet that there are many bible believing Christians that live with either or both anxiety or depression. But their timid about speaking up about it. I know that when I visit a new church, I tend to put my smile on and be prepared to tell everyone that greets me how great I’m doing.

Why?

Because talking about anxiety or depression in some christian communities is like a drill sergeant who goes into a room full of marines who are sleeping and decide to let loose a flash bang. It can be painfully deafening and stunning to ones vision, but that’s what it’s like when a fellow believer talks about mental illness in the church. It hurts peoples ears and blinds the perception of life. Or the Christian life rather.

I personally have reached a point in my life, where I am tired of stuffing how I’m doing just to better sooth others. Yet I am still tremble at the thought of hearing another cliche response to pain.

Are you praying enough?

In the word? (The Bible)

Are you memorizing scripture?

(even better) are you in fellowship with other believers?

Or… Or.. “oh, I’m sorry to hear that, I’ll pray for you”… As the pat you on the shoulder, as if to say “there there little one, its going to be alright”

Verses will then be quoted about how were not meant to worry, and how God knows every hair on our heads. I very much understand that. And I actually believe that deep down, though the anxiety in my heart wants me to believe other wise.

Believers that struggle with anxiety are not people that simply need fixing, we don’t need quick fixes for things that we might have until the day were led home by Aslan (Chronicles of Narnia reference to Jesus). For some, having mental illness could be the Lords way of using something seen as evil, for our good.

God knows that if I didn’t have CP, I probably rely or need him as much. I few my own anxiety and depression in the same. Not in the sense that I enjoy living with anxiety or depression, but that I know that God uses these things as a way of making me a more loving and compassionate person.

The classic passage in scripture where the apostle Paul, pleas that God would remove the thorn from his side, only to have the king of the cosmos say “my grace is sufficient for you”. The key word here is grace, for a Christian, grace is meant to be our driving force. Not our mustering of effort, Not our lists of accomplishments or failures.

Something inside believes, that this is how Christians are meant to live in community and relationship to one another. Yes, there is always room to encourage and push each other to grow. But more then anything grace is meant to abound all the more.

For so long pastors, and the church as a whole has seemed to only want to “fix” those who are learning to live and cope with various shades of mental illness. And that should never be the answer, nor the motivation for the church.First and foremost, I believe that the Church should learn to sit quietly with those who are in the midst of the storm.

This is best scene through out the story of Job, job in the opening chapters loses everything he ever held dear to him. He finds himself in a place of distress in every area of his life. His friends would soon arrive on the scene of his life. There they sat quietly as their friend mourned the loss of his children and vitality, but they seemed to be silent with him for a moment.

Then they started accusing him of doing something to royally piss God off. And as a result, God was then punishing job for something that he had done. The sad truth is that we Christians do the same thing today. Rather then sitting with someone in their pain, we tend to spew at the mouth with cliche statements and things that really say nothing in the end.

Could this be because were scared of not having the answer for something or someone in life? I think so, some of the most meaningful moments in my life have been when a friend has sat beside me and just let me cry. Not giving me a sermon, although we sometimes need that too. But they let me cry and scream until there wasn’t anything left to empty of myself.

We all could be better at this couldn’t we? As I have more then likely said before. If you have anxiety or any other form of mental illness. your not a freak, your not something that needs simple repair or fixing. you are not your diagnoses. your loved, created in the image of the king and thus have more worth and value then you could ever know.  Your pain runs deeper that mere pat answers. Healing and recovery are possible with time and diligence. You don’t have to go through life alone, nor were you ever meant to.

You were created to loved and be loved. Seek help, don’t be afraid to need it. Ignore what others think, your life matters to much to lay quietly in the darkness.

 

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From Me to You.

For everyone that has read my various posts, I thought I’d share a few more opportunities to read some of my work. Here are links to a few books that I have written of the past few years.

The first is The Emotional Struggle, which is a detailed memoir about my life with cerebral palsy, depression and faith.

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http://www.amazon.com/Emotional-Struggle-Brandon-Ryan/dp/1434348113/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1449964214&sr=8-7&keywords=The+emotional+struggle

The second is A Hunger for Touch, which speaks about how technology is causing a chasm between people and how it can also lead to addiction.

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http://www.amazon.com/Hunger-Touch-Brandon-L-Ryan/dp/1938480031/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1449964592&sr=8-1&keywords=hunger+for+touch