Why I like #BellLetsTalk

I’m an American.  Therefore I don’t know much about “Bell” other than they’re a Canadian company.  A few years ago I noticed the #BellLetsTalk hashtag and that it was an initiative by this company to de-stigmatize talking about mental illness.  Now normally I think Hashtag activism is malarkey and doesn’t accomplish anything but virtue signaling and people arguing with one another.  But this hashtag was raising money and also was bringing attention to something i’m rather passionate about because it’s something I deal with.

I have severe anxiety disorder with panic attacks and depression.  I had my first panic attack at age 21 and they’ve been a part of my life for 15 years now.  In many ways my anxiety has become my life.  It controls everything and I give into much more than I beat it back.  I’ve allowed my anxiety to cost me relationships, opportunities, career advancement, and any real meaningful happiness.  I say “I’ve allowed” because of pride and the fact that I probably want to feel as though I do have some control over the anxiety, which I do.  But let me emphasize the word “some” there.  There are days where no matter what I do to care and cope, the anxiety makes functioning pretty impossible.  Some family members and friends will say “relax” or “stop worrying” not knowing that inside it feels like i’m gonna pass out, or fall over, or drop dead right there.  If it was as simple as ‘just relax” i’d fucking relax.  It’s not that simple.  And when you tell someone with anxiety or depression to “relax” or “cheer up”, you’re clueless.  If only it was that simple.

Back to the hashtag and why I think it’s important.  Even if they didn’t raise any money (which they most certainly do).  Asking for help or support is extremely tough.  That phone weighs about 2000 pounds when you lift it to try and call or text someone to tell them you’re hurting and you need help or just need a friend.  My anxiety and depression goes in ups and downs.  I tend to go stretches where I’m doing well and stretches when I’m not.  I’m currently not.  I spend my days in “safe” places like my car or my room.  I get food in drive thrus or delivered so I don’t have to go into crowded places.  Or I go to the grocery store at 5am before anyone else.  I had a panic episode on my morning walk in the mall a week or so ago and basically got to my car with no breathe left and my legs feeling like they were going out from underneath me the entire time.  I got to my car.  My safe place.  And I did all my breathing techniques and soothing techniques and everything I could think of to calm down.  Later that night I was still anxious.  I sat in my car in an empty parking lot sobbing and whaling and screaming.  I feel so lonely sometimes because I’ve basically withdrawn myself because of the anxiety.

I picked up my phone and scanned thru my phone and desperately wanted to call someone.  I have 163 contacts in my phone and after scanning through all of them I found three people I thought I might be comfortable calling.  I didn’t even want to talk.  I just wanted and needed someone I knew cared about me to be with me for a few minutes, even if it’s just over the phone.  But I couldn’t hit the call button.  The embarrassment was too much.  I have so much shame about my mental illness and I let it define me.  I also probably subscribe too much to the theory that it’s me being weak.  Plus I feel like I’d just be bothering them.  But in those times of pain, many bad thoughts go through my head.  And it’s those times when I really do think that I need to hit that “call” button to those friends.   

That’s why I like the #BellLetsTalk hashtag.  Because maybe someone who is struggling will see a friend who posts that and realizes that they do have people they can turn to in times of struggle.  Maybe they’ll see that many others are dealing with the same things they are.  Finding community and support is so important for all of us.  I need to start finding mine again.  What’s funny about thinking there was only 3 people I could call is that I bet almost all of those 163 people would take my call.  And I’ll bet many more people I know would take that call.  Just gotta realize it’s ok to make that call and talk.

An Open Letter to Open Letters

Dear Open Letters,

First of all, I know you won’t read this, cause nobody open letters are intended for ever read them.  Cause you open letters, are bullshit.  You are a blog.  You are basically a way for us who write them to feel better about ourselves.  To get things off our chest.  To virtue signal.  To show the people who are reading you just how smart I am.

You see the key to you Open Letters, is massive condescension.  I mean is it really an open letter if it’s not extraordinarily condescending?  No it’s not.  You Open Letters are how someone like me who lives in their parents basement can say something to a subject who is always a million times more successful than me and make it seem like i’m way smarter than you.

I will also write from a perspective of hope and optimism for part of the letter so it looks as though when i’m writing you that I really want the intended person to change and be open, when in reality I just want them to think and do what I think is right.  Because after all my opinion and views on things are of course right.

But really Open Letter the key thing i’ll be needing from you is for you to make me sound smart and virtuous enough that I can get retweets from people who think and feel the same way I do about things.  See, screaming into an echo chamber is really all that’s important now, and you Open Letter are the best way to do that.

Thank you,

JB

My random love for Redding, California

I love Redding, California.  I’ve probably spent at least a month or so of my life there, but never for more than 24 hours.  But for some reason I feel comfortable there.  I stop there on every trip to and from LA or Vegas and I get stupidly excited to go there.  I stay at the same Red Lion every time I go there.  They have this great charcoal soap that’s worth whatever the stay costs.  I always go to Cattlemen’s down the street from the hotel for dinner.  It’s a dumb little routine that I absolutely love.

My first stay in Redding I didn’t even see any of it.  It was on a last minute trip to Vegas about 3 weeks after college graduation.  My buddy Ryan and I pulled in at like 2am.  Crashed at the motel 6 and were awake by 7am and it was still kinda dark.  I completely missed seeing Mt. Shasta or Lake Shasta or any of the other beauty of the surrounding area.

mtshasta

Mt Shasta from the passenger seat.  

But on the way back from that trip we stayed in Redding again.  Only this time we played a round of golf in the early morning and I got to see the glory of Mt. Shasta, and even it’s tiny sidekick Little Shastina.  The red clay that surrounds lake Shasta is such an amazing color, especially when the sun illuminates it.  I even pulled over on a bridge just to snap a photo.

shasta

Nobody was coming behind me, don’t worry it was safe 🙂

I also always go down to the park area by the Sundial bridge.  A great place to take a walk and look at the beautiful river that goes through town.  Here’s a video of me enjoying a walk on the bridge and eating a bug (fast forward to 4:38)

I’m gonna stay in Redding in a couple weeks when I go back down to Las Vegas and I’m weirdly excited for it as I always am.  It’s one of those strange little traditions we pick up in our lives.