They call me ‘Bear’

They call me ‘Bear’

This is the nickname my family (specifically my dad) gave me as a young child and occasionally calls me today. As a young child and now as an adult, I am grumpy in the mornings: like a bear that has just awoke from hibernation. A bear just awoke from a long hibernation and is hungry and therefore not in a good mood. A bear not in a good mood and therefore ready to fight and claw and kill if necessary.

This is me in the mornings as a child and today as an adult I continue to be this way some mornings – I have made great improvement in my morning mood and behavior. I am not sure why I was like this as a child: I assume I received enough sleep the night before, but maybe just starting another day put me in a bad mood. Whatever the reason, this is why they call me ‘Bear’.

I like waking and rising early in the mornings and have done so for many years. In my 40’s I started getting up at 4:00 AM and did this for almost 15 years; now I no longer work and I stopped setting the alarm and rise in the mornings between 5:00 – 5:30 AM. I like early mornings, but sometimes the ‘Bear’ wakes with me, inside of me and not in a good mood. I am much better at not letting the ‘Bear’ take over. This is achieved with my morning routine – remember my post: I like routines, do you?

As a young child, I would get up in the mornings and have coffee; yes I started drinking coffee in grade school. I remember making my way downstairs of our house and sitting in a rocking chair and my coffee would be waiting for me. I would sit in silence drinking my coffee and no one would bother me, after all I was the ‘Bear’. Currently as an adult, I rise in the mornings, the coffee is made, I sit in my rocking chair and no one bothers me. I guess some things never change. But I have changed my grumpy ‘Bear’ behavior into a softer ‘Bear’ behavior: certainly not a cuddly ‘Bear’, but a ‘Bear’ that is tolerable.

The tolerable ‘Bear’ is allowed several hours in the mornings to not be disturbed. My partner knows he should not break this rule or the grumpy ‘Bear’ may come out and the day starts badly. After I drink my coffee in silence with no one bothering me, I will exercise and then meditate. Even though I will go to the gym later in the morning, I like to exercise in the early morning. With the coffee waking my brain, the exercise will wake my body. I them meditate because for me as mentioned in my post: Mindfulness Meditation, my mind is swarming with thoughts and ideas even at this early hour of my day. The meditation helps to calm my mind and help me focus on the day to come.

They still call me ‘Bear’: but this ‘Bear’ has grown into one that is not as grumpy as once was.

Rocking

I love rocking, always have, always will; I am rocking right now while writing this post. The rocking I am referring to is the verb: move back and forth. My mom and I talked about my rocking and she told me that when I was a baby, I would get on my hands and knees and rock back and forth in my crib. She never understood why I did this and to this day I do not understand it either, but it was and still is an activity I do every day, every chance I get.

The Thesaurus.com website has many good synonyms for the verb rocking. This includes what most of us would consider rocking to be: sway, move, vibrate and swing; these are definitions that seem to best fit what rocking is for me. Upon further viewing on this website I found other words related to rocking that had me thinking that rocking may have a new and different meaning for me.   A couple of nouns related to rocking are agitation and convulsion and related adjectives are festive, merry, spirited, spry and vivacious.

I do not like the related nouns agitation and convulsion. These words per Thesaurus.com refer to discomposure, disturbance, turmoil, unrest, disaster, shock, turbulence among others. These words describe my mind and my life. These words remind me of the negative characteristics of my being, the person I do not want to be and these words I want to overcome and put behind me.

I do like the related adjectives festive, merry, spirited, spry and vivacious. These words per Thesaurus.com refer to active, playful, cheerful, upbeat, happy, lighthearted, sunny, and pleasant and many other positive words. These are the words I want to relate to, to become, to live and to be known for.

I love rocking and it brings comfort to me, the verbs I am familiar with, the synonyms I understand and relate to, but every time I am rocking I am going to think about the adjectives.

Thoughts From Years Past.1

Another documented ‘Thoughts From Years Past’ that reflects what was going on in my life at a particular time. As with this written documentation, the constant and consistent thread is still there. The constant and consistent thread deals with inner struggles, emotions, feelings and my behavior.

The following documentation I wrote because I felt I had cycles or mood swings I would go through similar to bipolar disorder. I don’t have bipolar disorder and my mood swings do not occur as often. I feel I am over the wide mood swings I once experienced – but still continue to deal with some unacceptable outbursts.

Thoughts I wrote from July, 2011 – (edited from original writing by removing proper names)

I have these outbursts that are directed at my partner that seem to come in cycles. They are directed at my partner for several reasons. Reasons include jealousy of him and because he is the closest person to me. These cycles of behavior always start with me being good with life. I am dealing with life in a positive manner, realizing the important things and not letting the insignificant stresses of life get to me. Then it changes, my stress level will rise due to work or hunger or tiredness or daily life. These igniters cause me to become mentally weak and this is when my thinking will start changing. I become more irritable and begin thinking that life is bad and I am being punished for some reason. I forget about the good things in life and what is important and let the insignificant things become more important. Things I let get to me are feelings of failure, being less of a person to my partner and others, becoming insecure and allowing my self-esteem to lower. I feel left out because I am not important or my ideas are stupid and feel that my partner is better than I am. I start becoming controlling thinking this will make me feel more important. All these emotions and feelings start building and at this point I have lost perspective of my actions. My behavior is automatic and not based on conscience thinking. Than something will happen that causes me to feel left out and I explode. I lose all rational thinking and control and become violent in my mental and sometimes physical behavior. Once this outburst has occurred, I go through many emotions that include shame, anger, regret, confusion and depression. The shame is for what I have done to my partner, my behavior is unacceptable and my partner is not deserving of it. The anger is directed toward me for allowing the incident to happen and not controlling myself. The regret is toward my partner and knowing he is not the cause of my thinking and actions. My confusion comes from the thinking of my emotions. I feel confused because my mind is out of control and I have failed again at the attempt to control myself. I want to end my life and not feel all these emotions and feelings. I do not want to hurt others any longer and I am just tired of trying constantly to stay focus on what is important. I than become depressed because I have failed again in my attempt to be a good person and not let things get to me. During this time I have fear of my partner leaving me: that he will get tired of these cycles and move on. But my high level of faith in God reminds me that the struggles I go through help me become a better person. And I am reminded again of the important things in life and I will try harder next time. And life is good again.

Trouble Concentrating and Staying Focused

Common adult symptoms of ADD – Trouble concentrating and staying focused

  • “zoning out” without realizing it, even in the middle of a conversation
  • extreme distractibility; wandering attention makes it hard to stay on track
  • difficulty paying attention or focusing, such as when reading or listening to others
  • struggling to complete tasks, even ones that seem simple
  • tendency to overlook details, leading to errors or incomplete work
  • poor listening skills; hard time remembering conversations and following directions

I display several of these symptoms and have learned to live with them. I could easily take medication to help in relieving these symptoms, but choose not to. I do not like to take prescription medications – it bothers me to have to rely on medication to manage my existence. This is how I feel for myself and by no means have these expectations of others. For my daily life struggles; I try to challenge myself to fight these ADD symptoms. Some days I succeed and other days I fail.

So how do I fight these symptoms? I recognize I have them and remember to stay attentive to my personality and behavior. Concentrating and staying focused is extremely difficult and overcoming is easy by being alone with no interruptions.   Being alone with no interruptions in my world is not always an option; so I do my best to not let the noise and interruptions get to me. This is an important key to remember, I accept my symptoms, I accept there will be interruptions when I need to concentrate and I try not to let it get to me. When the interruptions occur and I respond in a negative way my day is ruined and I have failed the challenge. When responding in a positive way, I have succeeded in my challenge.

I try to stay focused on what I need to overcome, focus on listening when someone is talking to me, focus on completing tasks, focus on concentrating and focus on focusing.

I understand taking medications would diminish the symptoms and then I would not have such a challenge to take on. But without the challenge I will not become stronger to overcome the symptoms.

My 5lb Friend

My 5lb friend was my Chihuahua who died a year ago today. My partner and I were deeply saddened by his death which was a result of a quick unexpected illness. He is dearly missed in our household and will never be forgotten.

Though he was only 5lbs, he was certainly the head of the household. He was ornery, controlling and new how to get his way. While owners can train their dogs to do many things it is also true dogs can train their owners. My 5lb friend had me trained very well! A year later, I still see him roaming the backyard as if exploring for the first time and finding something new. Sometimes I would have to yell at him to stop eating plants. After several minutes of roaming the backyard and smelling everything, it usually ended with him lifting up his leg and peeing on something. He would also for no reason sit and lift his head and bark usually at nothing, just bark. He had many characteristics to him that made him unique, interesting and lovable; there were many reasons to love him.

I miss my 5lb friend very much and think about him almost daily. My memory of him may fade a little, but he will never be forgotten.

Our pets are our family and teach us many things and when they leave this earth we grieve. My 5lb friend taught me many things such as patience, love, gentleness and kindness. He taught me to be a kid by allowing me to sing silly songs to him and letting me crawl on my all 4s with him on my back. He would allow me to rub his ears and his belly and also unlike many dogs he allowed me to cut his nails without flinching.

My 5lb friend was my Chihuahua who died a year ago today – I miss my 5lb friend and still see him roaming the backyard, exploring and enjoying his world.

Smile Workout

Besides working out my body’s muscles, joints and respiratory system on a daily basis I also do a smile workout. My face no longer displays a natural smile. I recently noticed this while practicing taking videos and pictures on my new smartphone. Not realizing, I took some videos and selfies of myself and upon seeing them I noticed the side of my lips were lowered and I appeared to have a frown. I never noticed this when looking at myself in a mirror, I guess when I look at myself I likely unconsciously change my expression.

I blame my now natural frown on years of unhappiness (with myself), usually being irritable and in a bad mood and always complaining about everything. I also blame gravity on my now natural frown. As we are all aware, gravity pulls everything down and keeps us grounded on this earth. Over the many years of my life, I believe my face muscles have been pulled down by gravity. I catch myself sometimes with my mouth open, my bottom jaw is lowered; I usually observe this while driving or watching TV or working on the computer. I think gravity has pulled my lower jaw down and now the muscles are weak and no longer strong enough to display a smile naturally.

It takes effort to lift my lower jaw and cheek muscles up to form a smile. I perform my smile workout numerous times throughout the day; when looking at myself in a mirror of just when the thought comes to mind. I think it is important for me to display a smile often; it portrays to people a happy person with a happy life. At this point in my life, I am happy with myself; the improvements I achieved over the years and my current life situation. I am happy in a relationship with a wonderful person who is my soul mate for life, I am happy to live in a great home and not have stress with work, finances or health issues.

I will continue to do my smile workout so I can display my happiness in my face and to also defy gravity.

Memorial Day

As a child it was a holiday and therefore not a school day. I did not understand the true reason for Memorial Day.

As an adult it is no longer a holiday, but a day to remember those that have given the ultimate sacrifice. Those people who joined and served in the United States armed forces and to never return back home safely to their loved ones.

As an adult it is no longer a holiday, but a day to remember those that continue to give the ultimate sacrifice. Those people who joined and continue to serve in the United States armed forces and have yet to return back home safely to their loved ones.

As an adult it is no longer a holiday, but a day to remember my son who gives the ultimate sacrifice. My son who joined and continues to serve in the United States armed forces and has yet to return back home to his loved ones.

As an adult it is no longer a holiday, but a day to remember those that grieve for those that gave the ultimate sacrifice. Those people that grieve and continue to remember those they lost in the United States armed forces and never returned back home to them, their loved ones.

Mindfulness Meditation

Last year on 60 Minutes, one of their reports was about Mindfulness Meditation. The report was interesting and upon further research I decided to try it. The benefits of mindfulness meditation are improvement in physical health, mental health and overall wellbeing. Areas I wanted to improve upon were learning more patience, relieving body tension, and feeling less irritated; just having an overall relaxed feeling and living in the moment. I also hoped the mindfulness meditation would help in reducing the symptoms I experience with my ADD and OCD. I was optimistic these improvements would help me live in the moment and not feel rushed; the feeling I have to hurry to do the next thing in my day.

The last couple of months in 2014, I practiced on my own with some success. Earlier this year I found an online 8 week course and decided I would commit to it. I struggled with the sitting medication due to my mind’s usual scattered thoughts. It is difficult for me to concentrate on my breathing and calm my mind’s thinking process. At times my mind is chaotic with thoughts swirling and never ending. My mind can feel like ‘white noise (Static)’. Do you remember old TV sets, with a station with no programming, the visual static and noise it made, at times my mind feels similar to this.

After 7 weeks of the online course when I was up to 45 minutes medicating, I felt good I was putting in the effort and finding some benefits from the sessions. Along with becoming disciplined, I was beginning to feel some relaxation and calmness in my mind and my day. I then started having issues with my back and shoulders while I was sitting. The back and shoulder pain is nothing new and is a chronic pain I deal with daily. I tried to make adjustments to my posture during the sessions and the pain subsided some but it was interfering with what I was trying to accomplish. I felt I was not getting enough from the sessions and along with other activities in my life, I just stopped the medication sessions all together.

After taking some time away I am trying again. I look forward to finding the discipline again and receiving the benefits from this exercise. I have found a suitable posture that does not intensify my chronic pain. I know with continued practice and dedication I will achieve the results I desire from Mindfulness Meditation.

ME and OCD

OCD: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

I believe we all have OCD to a certain level – some more than others. For me OCD is just another fragment of the complexities of my brain. As with ADD, symptoms of OCD I deal with on a daily basis and I try to not let the repetitive behaviors and thoughts get to me. I try to go with the flow and not challenge the OCD thoughts and behaviors, but gently shy away from them. My endless cycles of thoughts and behaviors can at times be difficult to deal with. As a younger person OCD played an integral part in my road to a failed marriage, psychological issues and many years of therapy. Some recovery took place, but today – still dealing with OCD.

Forcing a behavior change or forcing a thought out of my mind is extremely difficult and at times makes me feel crazy. Trying to change a ritual or routine (see my post: ‘I like routines, do you?’) is difficult and just trying to stop my OCD thoughts is nearly impossible and extremely tiring.

The WebMD website has very good information about OCD – I myself currently exhibit these symptoms of OCD:

  • Fear of making a mistake
  • Need for order, symmetry, or exactness
  • Repeatedly checking things, such as locks or stoves
  • Constant counting, mentally or aloud, while performing routine tasks

I use to exhibit these symptoms of OCD, but have now overcome:

  • Excessive doubt and the need for constant reassurance
  • Constantly arranging things in a certain way

I deal with these symptoms by being consistent and conscience of my responses to certain conditions. Doing this over and over eventually overcomes my initial subconscious behavior and changes it to a behavior more acceptable. This process has helped me overcome some symptoms and reduce the level of others.

I still have a fear of making a mistake, but I am getting much better with this. The need for order, symmetry, or exactness is very much still an issue that at times drives me crazy. Repeatedly checking things, such as locks or stoves continues to be an issue, but does not prevent me from everything things. Constant counting, mentally or aloud, while performing routine tasks is an everyday symptom that I believe goes hand in hand with symmetry.

OCD and ADD combined with other characteristics have caused much discomfort for me. The resulting psychological issues resulted in addictions, suicide attempts and a psychiatric hospital stay.

Thoughts From Years Past

In my quest to write a book, I have documented thoughts, events and reflections about myself and my life. Some documentation is written while others are in the form of voice recordings waiting to be dictated to paper.

Of the written form, I have my ‘Book of Writing’ that is bounded by an old shabby green school binder and written by me in 4th grade. Yes me in 4th grade – about 46 years ago. My ‘Book of Writing’ is stored in a box in storage and with some effort in the coming months; I will retrieve it and share some of my stories. Stay tuned, more on this in the future.

Occasionally I will be sharing these thoughts, events and reflections about my life that I have documented over the years. At times I read my writings and found it interesting how I have changed over the years. My ideas, opinions have changed over time as well as my feelings and emotions. What was once an important segment of my life, today is absent from my life. As the documents of my life are revealed, there is a constant and consistent thread in me that reveals inner struggles. Though I feel as I write and as I reveal; the constant and consistent inner struggles in me are drifting away and giving away to a better understanding of me, an acceptance of me, an improved me, a changed me.

The following documentation was written at a time I needed help in my life that I felt nobody on earth could provide. I started going to church and found a sense of understanding that ultimately helped me during a difficult period in my life. As time moved forward the need for faith in a higher power has diminished and evolved into something else. I still believe in more than me, but realize that believing in me is extremely powerful.

Thoughts I wrote from April, 2003 – (unedited from original writing)

This morning it has occurred to me that this year of struggle is related to the struggle Jesus had during those 40 days before his death. I have and am still dealing with no income and my financial situation is nearing ruin. But, through it all I have not lost my faith in God. And I have come to realize that my situation; this year of things not working out is not a reflection of me being less of a person. I have just now realized that it is a reflection of me being more than I was. For the faith I have, has sustained me through this time and I have grown as a result of it. Life does not always work out the way we want it. That does not mean we give up believing or just give up! I know that life’s challenges benefit me by allowing me to tap into the strength, courage and confidence I have inside of me. God has blessed me with these qualities, now I just need to use them.

I relate this year as Lent, not just 40 days of struggle, but so far 98 days of struggle. Struggle for what?   Struggle to become a healthier, happier and stronger person. Not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. I have wrestled with internal demons that have wanted to break me down and wanted me to give up. I may have come close to that, but I have kept my faith because I know I have God on my side and nothing will win over God.

I appreciate struggles in my life, not always glad to go through them at the time. It is difficult to deal with struggles, they are not fun. But, I have learned and grown as a person and I am stronger than ever before. And it is with the grace of God’s love and devotion to me that I am that person today. I think this Easter will be more significant than ever before. I feel this year of struggle will take me to new heights that I only imagined. I look forward to this and know that God is with me always.