Apple News, umm…news.

Hello Everyone!

iOS 9 came out on September 16, and introduced many new and exciting features.

I’m not here to talk about any of them.  Except one.

Apple News!  The app, not the clickbait-y article from Buzzed or MacRumors or wherever.  News allows you to control the content you receive, and create an aggregate from multiple news services to deliver high quality and relevant stories and content to you in one place.  It’s awesome and I encourage all of you to go check it out.  After you finish reading this, of course.

The reason I am telling you about this, is that Sword & Quill is available through News!  Simply go to Search inside of the News App and type “Sword & Quill” in the search bar.  Under Channels, Sword & Quill will appear.  By clicking the + on the right hand side, new posts will automatically be added to your feed!

I hope this makes it easier for some of you to find and read posts.  If you have any questions or feedback, please let me know through the links in the About Me section.

I solemnly swear to be Furiously Happy

In early January 2012, I read a blog post that affected everything in my life. I was not in a great place in most parts of my life, and this post really helped me to understand myself a little better.
It was written by Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess.  I had stumbled upon her blog at some point in the past and always checked back because she was funny and strange and maybe a little crazy, but she seemed my kind of crazy and I love her writing.  Anyways, she had been posting about her personal battles with Depression and with beating it in the moment and a thousand other things.  This particular post was after a very long and difficult battle.  It said a great many wonderful things, and I really encourage everyone to read it.  But one thing she said in it was this; “I haven’t hurt myself in 3 days.  I sing strange battle-songs to myself in the darkness to scare away the demons.  I am a fighter when I need to be.”  I still get chills reading that.
I don’t self harm in a physical way, but all too often I let my inner voice and demons to the harming for me.  I have been in destructive cycles.  I allow myself to buy into the lies that Depression tells.
Jenny inspired me to pick up writing again.  To push myself to post every week.  To not let the Lies keep me down, but to survive and fight in spite of them.  For all of that I am eternally grateful.
When I read her first book, “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened,” I fell in love with her writing.  I had always enjoyed her posts, but to read her in long form…let’s say that the woman next to me on the plane while I was reading it, probably thought I was high.  Which I wasn’t.  A little drunk maybe, but I was flying so it is totally acceptable.  Encouraged even.  Anyways, it is hilarious and wonderful and you should go read it right now.
Jenny recently (like this week) released her second book, “Furiously Happy.”   I encourage anyone that has a mental illness, knows someone with a mental illness, is curious about what it is like to live, and laugh, with a mental illness, go get it.  It’s been a difficult read, but it is something we all need to read.  It has been difficult because I am reading about someone I care about, even if we’ve never met (the internet is crazy ya’ll), go through these terrible things.  I am reading about descriptions of my own thoughts and feelings written down and described far better than I have been able to.  It has been difficult because I see the battle being fought in my own brain.  What makes it easier is the grace and humor she has while going through it.  She would probably disagree with the grace part of that statement, but I disagree; anyone that can get a responsibly taxidermied raccoon to ride a cat definitely has grace.

Jenny taught me that it is ok to be me, whatever that means.  That it is ok to let my real voice out.  That depression lies.  That I’m broken inside, but so is everyone else.  That I’m crazy, and that’s ok.
Thank you Jenny, and I promise to fight to be Furiously Happy.

Anyone else felt a little bagel lately?

I’m tired.

Not the normal, I’ve got a two-year old and have to get up early kind of tired.  No, this is the really fun tired of Depression.  The kind of apathetic, bland, insipid tired that makes you want to do nothing but sit in a dark room and stare at a wall.  Except I can’t do that.

I have a job.  I have a family that counts on me.  I have a two-year old that just won’t quit.  I have commitments and bills and a fairly healthy coffee addiction that isn’t going to drink itself.

The last couple of days have been a little rough: I haven’t felt like writing, though I’ve tried.  I haven’t felt like going to work, though I have gone.  I haven’t always felt like I’m being “good daddy.”  My patience is thin, my attention is short, and the smile is a little strained.

It seems like the last few months have been more of a battle with this.  Perhaps I’m finally beginning to realize when it is Depression versus just not feeling great, or a migraine instead of an attack.

Another sad and ironic truth could be that in making more of an effort to talk about it, I could be bringing on more attacks.  Trigger words can be amazingly powerful things.  I know I’m having an attack way before I can bring myself to say the “D” word in my head, let alone to anyone else.  I will go out of my way to avoid the word; “I am fighting it today,” or “I’m having a rough go of it.”  You will never find a more euphemistic way of referring to such a horrible thing.  And this isn’t to strangers, this is to family.  Would it help, I sometimes wonder, if we called it something else?  “I’m feeling really bagel today.”  Maybe that would help get the idea across that I feel like a hole has been cut out of me and I’m slathered in Lox.  Ew.

Sometimes it seems like the conversation about mental illness is finally starting to open up. That the stigma, and the pain, might be looked past to help the person underneath.  But mental illness lies.  Depression lies.  It makes you believe that no one wants to talk about this, or that no one cares.  That you’re the only feeling this way, and that you’ll just be troubling people if you tell them about it.

National Suicide Prevention Week was last week, but it should be all the time.  The most stable among us, can sometimes be in the most pain.  Depression Lies.  Mental illness Lies.  Be somebody’s truth.

Today’s post is brought to you by…

This piece was originally written for a writing exercise about two years ago. The prompt was “Fairytell – with a twist.”  I re-edited it for publication this evening mostly because I spent the day with my tumultuous two-year old and was unable to finish editing the piece I had originally planned.  Life is awesome, but unexpected.

What’ll I have? Your choice Jack. Had a hell of a day. I’m sure you hear that all the time, but I mean it. Better make it a double, and spill a little in the glass.

It started first thing this morning. I woke up when a tree sprouted in the middle of my room. Swear to God! It went straight up through my roof. Well, it’s hard to go back to sleep after that. So I went to get dressed and there is a lion, a freaking huge lion, standing in my Wardrobe! I’m not going to hang out in a room with the King of the Jungle so I got out of there and went to make some coffee.

I get into my kitchen, and there’s some old woman with her legs sticking out of my oven! I went to try and help her and see these two brats running through my garden, so I chased after them, but they took off on some bread trail that I couldn’t follow.

About 30 feet down the path there’s a little girl, this panicked look on her face. I asked her what was wrong and she says that her Grandmother just tried to eat her! Said she had this wolfish look in her eye. I sent her towards the Woodsman’s house and continued on my way.

Now, so far, this day has been pretty strange. Hey, that was pretty good, I’ll have another. So I head into town. The Butcher is outside talking to the Baker and the Candlestick Maker, all helping hang a sign announcing his sale on Three Little Pigs in a blanket. Now, everyone knows that these guys are the biggest gossips in town, so I stop by to see if anyone else is having a weird day.  They try tell me that some dish took off with the cutlery and that cows were seen jumping in fields. Well, it was obvious these guys were crazy so I left them and headed into the forest, where I see seven little guys all gathered around this girl in a glass coffin.

Now, I don’t want you to think I’m just some Pinocchio, but I almost cried wolf when I was passed by this rolling pumpkin with a blond in it. I tell you, I just don’t know anymore. This place is getting pretty weird.

Say, these are pretty good, what did you say this drink is called? Fairy-Tale, with a twist. Yeah, that sounds about right tonight, Jack.

Trigger Words & Terribleness

This has been a pretty lousy week, full of darkness and doubt; a family friend lost a battle with cancer; a co-worker lost her baby; and we lost a furry member of our extended family.

I know that I am one person, and that there were many people fighting their own battles this week.  It seems to come in waves, a good few weeks and then nothing but trigger words and terribleness.  I’ve been fighting my own battles the last week or so, but have struggled to put the fight into words.  It isn’t depression, or even sadness.  It is like trying to keep a candle lit in a shrieking gale.  To keep a little light where darkness shines.

And over the last week there have certainly been bright moments; watching my son play with his cousins, making my co-worker laugh at her son’s memorial, more hugs than I can count from more friends than I could name.

The best moments this week came from watching my wife take the final steps of a three-year journey, my son telling being excited when he woke up in the middle of the night and seeing that I was home.

Yes, this week has been filled with trigger words.  And yes, the depression waits like a beast in the shadows, but for this week we have enough light to keep it at bay.

Post-Script – I don’t usually add something to a post after I have written it, but I felt like I needed to for this one.  I ask that everyone send good thoughts, or prayers, or positive energy to a few people: the Rector Family, Ryan & Toni McCoy, and anyone that knew Ellie.  Loss is hard, but people can make it better.
Go hug somebody.