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WesIsMore Blog Return

(I wrote this blog a year ago, but I thought I would post it now…)

Imagine having two separate diagnoses that interplay dangerously within your mind. That is what I have struggled with, personally, for over a decade now. However, I never lost hope. I was diagnosed with Bipolar with schizoaffective disorder when I was twenty-three years old. Now I am thirty-three, and coming to grips with these diagnoses has been a journey that I hope never ends. You might consider right now my tenth birthday with it. I look forward to thirty-three more birthdays and maybe live to be one hundred. Though working through life with this type of disorder is not easy. You might imagine how people respond to you by thinking that you have issues all the time can put a strain on relationships. It has and will continue to my whole life, as it does for millions of people worldwide. That is the reality now. Mental health awareness is a complex issue because people coping with what is going on in people’s minds and causing them to make the choices they make is not, in my opinion, the type of thing that we should really be focusing on. Is it necessary to help ensure some people’s well-being? Maybe we can try to do something different.

For me, it all seems to have started and ended in Orlando, where I am now going to school. When I first was diagnosed, I moved to Orlando to live with my sister. When the diagnoses happened, the sorrow associated with being labeled with these diagnoses was startling, to say the least. Throughout my experience since then, the changes in medication and mood made it very difficult to keep dreaming big dreams–unless I happened to be in a manic state. In my family, I am so grateful. Outside of my family, I am starting to get a little bit more hope. It was complicated for the first ten years to forge new relationships and sustain them because of all of the pitfalls associated with manic episodes, depression, and the psychotic nature of my disorder. Relationships, I have learned, are essentially vexed with a situation like that. Still, I haven’t lost hope.

What I want to do is inspire and lead. That drives me. One might ask, what can someone with these diagnoses do to lead? I would say there is a lot. Showing people that mental health diagnoses are not the end of life. Many people are diagnosed early in life, and that can make things very difficult for them. Trust becomes hard to come by; trust in others and trust in yourself. Family support definitely makes a huge difference in your experience with these symptoms, with the medications and other treatments. Treating people with mental health issues like they are family is a good way to deal with them. Be like a family to us. We are often seen as outsiders, but we should be accepted and understood like a family member you can learn to understand. Perhaps this is wishful thinking, but I have put it into practice in an entrepreneurial fashion. After being unemployed for many years, I went back to sales, and now I am a student again.

Someday, my hope is to be recognized for my ability to share my story and connect it to the world. We all have so many things that we struggle with every day. We have to take care of ourselves, our families, and, increasingly, the rest of our world. Communities of people who can look to each other and within themselves for the best in us can bring us to a better world. A world where someday finding out that you have mental health problems is not meant with stigma. We need to be able to change the conversation for a whole new generation. I want my voice to be remembered as one that sought to include, not disclude. To be more involved and more open about my successes, failures, joys, and struggles. Sharing what is good to share and keeping a hopeful mind. I believe in hope for life. Millions of people have those in their lives who struggle with anxiety, depression, anger, mania, or psychosis. I have faith that there are good people around us that we can count on in our communities.

I wrote a blog called “Wes-is-more,” and I have tried to keep it going for almost half the time I have been diagnosed. With that blog and my other social media, I have tried to be someone who stands out as a positive voice that does not seek division. I don’t feel that I am naive. I know that people don’t always get along. I may have done some of the ignorings myself because many people who have disorders like mine tend to be very capable of bringing people down. I don’t intend to bring people down. I try always to be positive. Again, though, I am not naive. I think that the world brings us down enough, and we don’t need to give it any help. Writing on social media with whatever popped into my head was a real way to connect to the rest of the world that I felt secluded from. Was there a place for my true voice? I have struggled with that. So many voices have never been heard. Perhaps the thing that I have come to believe strongest since my diagnosis is that there is always more to learn. I believe we all can learn to trust, hope, understand, and appreciate. I hope to learn how each of us can work through the world’s conflicts and connectedness to do the simple little actions that save the world. Every day acts of humility, kindness, and compassion save my life every day. Though there are other forces out there that do not intend our well-being, we need to always strive for the good first. If we have the good, I believe we can strive for the better. Maybe the point of Wes-is-more was always hope.

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Seattle Kraken Bring Mental Health to the Forefront

It’s great to see people voicing their concerns about their mental health publically. You have seen it done by sports icons throughout the last half a decade. It is a true testament of the struggles that people face that are prevalent across all spectrums of society. 

I remember hearing players describe their issues with anxiety. Lane Johnson of the Philadelphia Eagles NFL team, Simone Biles of USA Olympic Gymnastics, Cleveland Cavs power forward Kevin Love, and now players on the NHL expansion team, the Seattle Kraken, are voicing their own battles. 

This type of interaction with this difficult but important topic in a public forum from perhaps unexpected places fixes our attention on the propensity for the availability of difficulties in our own experiences. However, this is not a topic that should be lightly interacted with. We must take these types of admissions seriously. There is an atmosphere of not showing any weakness in the world of sport, and somewhat pervasive in our general society.

Mental health is a broad swathe of issues that are difficult to encounter in a public setting. Depression and anxiety are the generally foregone conclusion of the most prominent types of issues, but there is also a world where mania can be experienced and the reaction to that type of mental health issue is not even addressed on a general basis. If you have manic tendencies in a public view you are perceived often as a problem. This is a mental health symptom as much as the others are.

There is room in the general conversation for an expansion of the defining terms and situations that encompass mental health and sports. The ups and downs of competition lend themselves to a sort of bipolar mindset that can be volatile in some people’s cases. We have to remember that these are people and they struggle with real issues just like everybody else. Also, the inclusion of their voice will bring legitimacy to the struggle against the stigma associated with interactions concerning mental health in our culture. This is all coming from someone who has been voicing his battle for half a decade now–knowing the game gets you on your way to victory!

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WHole Mind

This is the sports maniac, also named Wesley, doing some of the first blogging of the year–and even that has multiple meanings because I have not been able to blog and develop a concept in stream of consciousness style writing for almost two years. I have had a space to fill that is hard to imagine getting back.

When writing in this manner, it is difficult to fully contain your purpose in the expression you are attempting to convey. What you are trying to say doesn’t always come out right, but it does come out and you are there left with a conversational tone that helps readers to follow where you are intending to go with your expression.

When a sports figure of any type is found with a mental health issue, it is difficult to completely form a matter of opinion versus a matter of fact. Masking heads or tails of the way that things play out. With Simone Biles during the Olympics in 2021 or Antonio Brown recently leaving the field and throwing off his shirt, both of these circumstances suggest that perhaps there is a whole mind with a hole in it. Something missing from the equation. Something left to be explained.

A whole mind can still have a hole in it. Holes in the mind are real things. I am not talking just about forgetting things or brain damage, although those things can be symptomatic of holes in the mind. Holes in the mind are places where we do not have cohesion in our thinking. Experiencing your whole mind is not easy and a hole in your mind is also difficult to bring together. Do you have a whole mind with a hole in it? I may and that is okay.

This is not a diagnosis. I am explaining what makes an interesting story. Having a hole in one whole mind. Things can have multiple meanings intended at one moment in time. Writing can be a creative process that changes the nature of communication. I can mean that hole in one whole mind is like hitting a golf ball 210 yards directly into a cup. That type of achievement could be one definition. Another could be that there is a vacant space where the entirety of a mind dwells.