Benefits of depression: Recognition of depth of faith

I don’t miss my depression. A friend of mine writes he misses his. That certainly would not be something I would ever say outright. Being at the depth of a canyon filled with heavy water is not a place to which I want to return. 

But I learned things about myself during that time. Things I likely would not have learned in an easier way. 

I’m not sure I had a darkest moment. I had a lot of really dark moments, though. During each of them–without fail, without exception–I turned to God. I might have been crying on the floor of my shower, but I turned to God and prayed. 

It’s a common wonder among people who grew up LDS whether they would be or become members of The Church had they not been born to believing parents. I’ve often concluded I would not. 

After this experience, I believe I would have searched. I would have spent so much time questioning, learning, searching for something additional beyond the miracles science gives us. There are things our current science cannot explain. (That’s ok, the purpose of science is to eventually be able to explain all things.)

In my darkest moment I needed something more. I needed understanding. I needed something sure in my life. If I had not been born to the parents I have, if I had not been taught the sure Truths of Eternity, this would have been the time I searched until I found them. 

No single friend, no counselor, no mentor, no parent could have brought the surety in my wave-ridden, windy, dark, and wet moments of depression that the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ brought me. 

Nothing else can bring that level of peace and acceptance. No amount of social interaction, medication (self- or otherwise), or anything else could have brought me to the stable place from which i had to start rebuilding my life. 

I don’t miss my depression. But it revealed things to me. It revealed the depth of my faith. My beliefs, my knowledge, my trust in God are rooted deeply in the core of who I am, and I am willing to endure smelting and fulling to become someone better (Mal 3:2-3). God sees my blueprint, even if I do not, and He is willing to guide me through Hell to achieve His vision of my future. 

Vitality

The presenter of a TED talk I listened to postulated that the purpose of life is vitality, and the opposite of vitality is depression. I think that’s a goo distinction to make. Happiness and depression are not opposites. The opposite of happiness is sadness.

But vitality and depression? Those seem a good match.

I’ve had real difficulty for several weeks maintaining vitality and zest for things I’m doing. What used to get me excited no longer does. The things that should matter most to me don’t. I have little desire to do the things I know are important–they just seem like a drag and don’t have meaning except what society seems to believe they should.

It’s not a great place to be. I still get out of bed every morning. I still end up programming for several hours, but the vitality, the excitement, the desire to do those things is gone.

I’m seriously doing one of the coolest things a person could ever do. From a cognitive standpoint, I know that. But that doesn’t make it any better.

Vitality will return: it always does. This time I’ll try to track the things that change as it does, and see if I can use that as a pattern to bring vitality back more quickly.

A guide for using this blog

The title is slightly misleading. Lots of website have style guides and media guides. This isn’t like that at all. 

It should be no surprise that I’m fairly open with what I post here. I am aware I may have many readers, but likely won’t. Those who end up here are likely facebook friends who are curious about what I posted regarding my blog on a Sunday afternoon. However, some of you may be women doing appropriate background searching on a guy you are going on date(s) with. 

I’m talking to you. 

The content here is public; I know that; I’ve been aware of it from my first major post in January. But please understand the power you hold as you read. 

You were likely drawn here as part of a way to protect yourself or “make sure this guys isn’t psycho.” That’s a good thing to do, but be careful. Mystery and learning about the other person while dating is important.

You may have a huge urge to judge me based entirely on what I’ve written. I suggest you be very careful about that. I am open and authentic, but I still control 100% of what is written here. I don’t hide anything, but I still try to hold some things close to the chest. 

One girl read my entire history, decided I was broken, mentioned it frequently while we dated, and turned me off entirely to getting to know her more. If that’s your judgment, just say so and tell me you’re not interested, because I’m not interested in dating a therapist/counselor/coach/fixer. 

But I suggest you read with caution and form your judgments based on our face-to-face interactions. A good friend did that and our conversations have allowed for me to maintain a level of disclosure I find appropriate and tailored to the level of trust I felt with her. 

You are privileged with this information. What will you do?

Accepting and giving love

I’ve had a lot happen this week. It may turn into several posts.

I like to consider myself a fairly normal person. The people who know m best know how accurate that may or may not be. But I hope things I experience are things you can relate to.

I have a need to be loved. Coexisting with that is a need for validation. I come across a bit conceited because I don’t really like the fact I have those needs and because I greatly dislike false validation.

However, I experience fear every day that my efforts are not enough, that what I’ve accomplished in life severely lacks, that I may never accomplish what I believe I can or should.

Heavenly Father knows my needs. He knows my fears and concerns. He knows what I need to grow, and what I can endure. When I receive priesthood blessings, He always tells me He loves me and is pleased with me. That is a great comfort and always needed.

We are aware that we often only accept the love we feel we deserve. I know that is very true for me. I have difficulty accepting love during my darkest times. I have difficulty having hope for future blessings and experiences when those times happen.

Believing others when they show me love is important. It’s something I can improve and something that will make a difference for me. When I have hard times, I can ask friends to speak with me and listen to what they say and how to see their love and Father’s reflected in them.

I was able to be that person for a friend a few weeks ago. She’s had a rougher past year than I have, and as she told me about it, I sat, listened, let her cry, cried with her, and did everything I could to show I cared and to reflect the love Father has for her.

It was apparent she’d been having trouble accepting how much someone could care about her. It was good to be the person she needed then.

Some day, I want to be with someone who sees me for who I believe I am, who loves me in spite of my faults and fears, and who I believe when she says I honestly deserve all the love she and my Father give me.

Until then, I get to learn from friends, and I get to rely only on my Father to learn to accept love in my life. The reality is we deserve more than we accept, so it is up to us to open our minds more and be wonderfully accepting of the love and kindness we actually deserve.

On finding peace through self-doubt and assistance

Last week was my last week teaching. For reasons outlined in my previous post, as well as many professional reasons, I felt it was necessary to step away from full-time teaching and focus on other endeavors.

It was a difficult choice to make. My mental state made it hard to believe I was doing the right thing: I was abandoning the students who needed me and the students I knew I could help. I brought them things they had never experienced and never seen before. And I was leaving them to pursue personal interests and money. I was leaving them behind for filthy lucre.

However, there is something to note. I needed to take care of myself. The more time I spent at school teaching, not being prepared, and not able to succeed as I envisioned I should, the more I would have spiraled downhill.

I asked myself all the questions you would have: can you stick it out another semester? You’re teaching all the same classes, doesn’t that make it easier? You’re leaving a consistent paycheck for an unknown future. Why?

To those I say, I considered them all. I included the knowledge that I wasn’t my intellectual best and asked those around me who knew my struggles for guidance. I prayed and pondered and felt I was making the right choice.

I investigated jobs that would be more consistent. For now,that’s not the way I need to go. (I have a potential job offer outstanding, and that might change things; however, I would have to be strongly inspired to know it was the right choice.

For now, I am where I am. For now I am balancing the passion of video games with the creative desire to build a company and a brand.

I have a partner. I have support in the business, and I have someone I can lean on when I don’t have the ability to drive the business forward.

More importantly, I have Partners. I have a Savior who understands my individual struggles. I have a Father who knows what I need to develop into a Son of character and success.

I keep them in mind as I move forward in faith. For that is the only path to true success.

I’m a sprinter

It’s simple, really.  I do things in sprints.  It’s part of who I am.  Distance running never held any draw for me (it’s strange cycling does, actually).  A lot of it draws from my hyperactive mentality.

I love new things.  I love to have new experiences and new challenges.  But if I don’t get through them quickly, the passion flames out.  For a while.  Then something triggers my interest again and I’ll do more on it for a while.

Sometimes this happens in a matter of hours.  Sometimes the sprint is a little longer.  But, dang, I’ll beat anybody in the sprint.  (Maybe this is why I don’t have a desire to be a computer programmer–barrier to entry and marathon mentality.)  I like things I can start and finish in the same week, preferably in the same hour.

Part of it likely has to do with the fact I have a lot going through my mind.  I’ve no way to measure this, but I conservatively estimate I have at least 50% more things pass through my thought centres than the average person.  So I like to get things done when I think about them, or when they are on my mind for a while.

Take today for instance.  I met with my thesis referee (I still have to ask him to be it), Gil Fellingham, Ph.D and sports science genius (that ESPN dude has nothing on Prof Fellingham!).  He had finished reviewing the second draft of my thesis regarding volleyball attack speeds.  He told me that I should make the edits he suggested and I’d be ready to publish it and defend.  He also said I should pare the paper down to submit an article to Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports.

Then I met with Carl McGown, BYU’s volunteer men’s volleyball coach to discuss a study he’d like to do.  He told me to contact both my thesis advisors (Iain Hunter and Prof Fellingham) and get them to ask the BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe for funding for the study.  Went and visited Profs Hunter and Fellingham within the next 30 minutes.  Hey, it was on my mind.

Somewhere in here I went to class and spent most of it editing my 50-page thesis.  Because research (as a general topic) was on my mind, I passed by the Maeser Building–home of the Honors Department–to check in about submitting original research (in information systems) for presentation.  I got the submission sheet and returned 30 minutes later with my abstract and short description written.

Then I had to do homework for my research seminar.  Fun, but boring in light of the day’s focus on volleyball research.

Anyway, it’s just after midnight and I have finished the edits on my thesis and finished the first draft of the article to submit to JQAS.  What!? (Shawn and Gus style, of course. #psych)

Anyway, that’s how the night went (oh, and there was an indoor soccer match, a shower and an hour-long conversation with a girl in there, too).  Like I said, when something’s on my mind, I’ll get it done.

I’ll win the sprint, but balance was never my strong suit. :/

Blog? What blog?

[If you clicked on “Blog” and were sent here, it’s ok. Something is broken and I’m trying to fix it. For my most recent posts, click on the links to the right.]

So apparently when I get busy, my blogging decreases. And when I’m no longer busy again, then I forget I have a blog. Kinda sad, eh?

Well, it’s more sad when you find out that my blog is one of my bookmarks that is so prominently shown on my browser.
Nothing major has changed in the last four months (maybe that’s why I haven’t written–little to pontificate about). I still like women, volleyball, school, and religion. Maybe a few things have changed. I no longer live with freshmen and am now breathing the fresh air of social interaction with people close to my own age.
It’s fun to live where I do. What’s interesting is I am among the youngest guys there, but am older than most of the women in the complex. Yay for two year missions. While I may not agree that those years “don’t count,” (I think I had between four and eight years worth of memories) missions give guys a chance to mature and catch up.
Not that age should matter, but that’s another story. (One I might share a little sooner than December.)