No one likes me

No one likes me, they say they do but are they really my friends? This is what my mind has been saying daily to me for most of my life, it says that I’m no good, I’m worthy of friendship, eventually, people get sick of me and abandon me. It feels so real despite having friends who support my mental health advocacy, correspond with me, say they care, my mind can never fully trust them an that hurts. My friends don’t hurt me but my anxiety does, it bullies me into thinking that everyone is against me.

I truly think the one who dislikes me the most is myself, in many ways I hate myself, I don’t know why but I just don’t like the person in the mirror and I figure no one else does either. I call it social paranoia and the paranoia HAS cost me friendships many times, no one wants to around someone who needs constant reassurance, puts themselves down or questions who is friends are, I wouldn’t want to know that person either.

I don’t know if I was always like this but it certainly got worse after I was bullied, I couldn’t trust people and I  became hyper-vigilant in order to protect myself, it’s a constant fear of saying the wrong thing or coming across a certain way and then  I’ll be rejected and rejection stings.

I really don’t have a lot of skills at my disposal to combat my anxiety other than my journal, meds, and prayer, sometimes I may relay on friends but again, oftentimes I feel misunderstood so I keep these social paranoid feelings to myself, I shy away from speaking about it out loud for fear it will further drive people away.

It’s very lonely to have to deal with this anxiety every day. it hurts. I have anxiety attacks over social gaffes I may or may have not made and I’m sure others have forgotten them but my anxiety won’t let me forget it. All I know is that I really struggle with this and writing is my therapy, it’s the only way to process this barrage of anxiety. When is it going to go away, when can I finally relax? I even worry about how this entry is going to be perceived ( if anyone even bothers to read it.)  God, anxiety is the worst but at least I’m not alone, I’m never alone.

Life update

It has been such a long time since I have written an update. I am sorry, my advocacy on social media takes up so much of my energy. I have connected with hundreds of people in so many positive ways, I am amazed actually.  I have been doing Facebook lives and I created a mental health group on there and it is flourishing. I am now flooded with messages and comments and it so difficult to keep up and I just haven’t had time to blog but very good things are happening.

I wrote earlier about trying to get a substitution for the required math class which was the only class I had left. I fought the school and pushed for them to either waive the class or give me a substation, I wasn’t optimistic I’d get either. I have a learning disability in math and I failed the course three times even with accommodations, I was hopeless and thought I’d never get my degree. But low and behold, after several meetings, I got a notice that they were going to substitute my math class with Astronomy, no equations or multiplication, heck yeah.  It was a miracle and a prayer answered. And not only did they substitute my class, but I also have the scholarship to help me finish school, my books and tuition are paid for, by the grace of God.

 

So today was my first class and I was anxious because I have had such difficulties the last few semesters, but I went and got through it. The teacher seemed really nice and the classroom is small plus I was able to get the accommodations I need from disability services. I just know I am going to have to really focus and study this semester, this is it, the last hurray and I really want this degree, I don’t want to piss it away, so I have to be determined and I’m going to study my ass off, that’s what I’ll do.  I am just so proud that I have come this far, I never thought in a million years that I’d be this close to a college degree but here I am, a goal realized.

Like I stated earlier, my advocacy has really grown by leaps and bounds, I am reaching more people than I could have ever imagined. I am connected with therapists. Authors, therapists, advocates, entrepreneurs and through networking, my mental health advocacy is growing every day and I feel I am making a huge difference. I have hundreds of people tell me how my words have resonated with them and I am so humbled.  I even am going to be on a mental health podcast and possibly volunteer for a mental health radio show including being a guest, I mean it’s crazy, this wasn’t even possible 4 or 5 months and here I am., I couldn’t be more optimistic.

My volunteer work has also been going well but I won’t be able to help as much because I have school on those days but I will see them at church and will visit when I can, I am so incredibly grateful for all the wonderful things happening in my life at the moment, I pray it continues. And I am going to make more of an effort to update my blog. Thank you as always for listening.

 

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The path

The future seems uncertain and the road I’m walking seems dark, full of potholes, it’s windy and I hear wild animals screaming my name.

 

I have no idea where this road leads but I can’t go back to where I am walking away from.

 

I shake from fear but I carry on, wherever this takes, I must finish this journey.

 

As I sit down to catch my breath, I find a a lit pen beside me on the grass, this pen will be my light that can help me combat the darkness as I walk this path.

 

Through the light, I can now see others beside me, they are on this road too. I never realized that they were there, the darkness hid their faces and I somehow failed to hear their footsteps alongside mine.

 

Now I take comfort in the fact that I am no longer walking alone. We may not be going to the same destination but at least we are on the same path.

 

 

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The dangers of sharing on social media

I was thinking about sharing mental health struggles the other day and the anxiety of being so public. I wonder why I share so much and if I am being judged. Sometimes I regret what I share.

 

But another thought came up and that was the fact that these days, we have very little privacy and it isn’t just our friends and family who are reading our posts. Anyone with the right software can access our social media ( even if we make our posts friends only as opposed to public)

 

We live in a judgemental world and the stigma about mental illness is still very strong and empathy is weakening in our society and there are consequences of sharing too much, beyond our social circles.

 

Something I had never thought about was employers. In their screen process, they hire ‘third party companies to scan social media accounts of potential employees ( which is a gross violation of privacy by the way) And if our social media activity is less than favorable in their eyes ( ie sharing information about personal mental health struggles, it can ruin our chances for better jobs.

 

I find this tactic to be immoral and upsetting. I realize that everything we put on social media is public but it in a sense this is all our personal space to express ourselves to connect with others. Employers checking our social media is the real life equivalent of them breaking into your house, looking at your photo albums, reading your journal, spying on you when you are out social; it;s just wrong and creepy and totally invasive.

 

That being said, despite that, I will continue to speak out about my struggles because I know it is helping people, I want with all of my heart to end the stigma and I can’t do that by being silent or fearful of a judgmental, ignorant world. I know I am helping people and this is my calling and if it means someone in a third party spying company may see it so be it. I’m just trying to make the world a better place and I’m proud of it and if I am judged, than I’ll be judged. I am who I am. ❤ ✌

 

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Bipolar

I am really tired but I wanted to share something I posted on my Facebook.  It’s short, simple and to the point

 

Part of being bipolar means that my moods fluctuate. I can be happy and upbeat one minute and feeling anxious another and oftentimes, I feel angry for and annoyed at everyone and I always regret that. I have trouble sleeping and I was woken by some noise this morning and I’m in a shit mood. Despite all that I going to try and be positive, communicate with others and continue my advocacy. Not every day is going to be a good day but I do want to say that this is an illness like any other and just like I want others to have love and compassion towards me, I have to do the same with myself today. So, I am going to be gentle with myself and do the best I can.

Facebook mental health group

I was thinking about advocacy and social media and I realized that I really wanted my followers on wordpress to k now about Facebook mental health group, it is called Beautiful minds and it is my first facebook group. Some people encouraged me to create and I created it a few days ago. So far it has been great and I have connected with some passionate people who also want to advocate for mental health.  I am hoping some of you who Facebook can join my group. I encourage people to post about mental health and I hope they can get something out of it. Here is the link

 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/270465390575783/

Moving to the big city

I used to live in a small isolated town, full of dark country roads that went nowhere. I never saw my neighbors or heard their voices and though I screamed for someone to answer, I got no reply, the silence was deafening. And while it was lonely, it was the only existence that I knew, I didn’t know what was out there because no one told me. So I packed up my belongings and went searching to find the place where I belonged, somewhere where I could be seen and heard and my cries could be answered with love and acceptance. I found a city to a live in with hustle and bustle, I went from lonely country roads, to traffic filled super highways that lead to the rest of the world and I felt alive. I screamed and those around me on those busy streets screamed back “I understand”. And I did feel understood among the crowd. I’m never leaving this city, I’m never going back there. I’m safe and secure within the city limits and I couldn’t be happier.

Mental health advocacy

I wanted to make a blog post today on the mental health advocacy I have been doing online. I have mentioned it before but it really has grown greatly even in the last week. So much so, that I haven’t been writing in my blog as frequently. But I want to give everyone an update on all the incredible things that have been happening.  I stated earlier that I added thousands of people of to my Facebook, mostly advocates and counselors and people who suffer from mental illness.  I found immediately that a lot of these people I added were highly responsive to my posts in a positive way, I got a lot of comments about how people could relate to my posts and how it was having this positive effect on them.  I found all of a sudden I went from getting maybe 1 message a day to about 10 messages a day from different people, sometimes. a lot of the messages were from life coaches wanting to a online one and one chat with me, I talked to one woman for about 1.5 hour on a Skype call and she was wonderful and quite helpful. Other people have sent me messages want to go live with them to discuss mental health or to make a podcast or collab on an article.  I can’t describe how that feels, I mean, it’s incredible and overwhelming because I’m not used to it.   I don’t know, it’s healing feeling but causes anxiety because whether I like it or not, I am in the spotlight, there are thousands of people ( Facebook, Instagram and my blog combined) seeing what I post, reacting, sharing what I’ve written and I am out there in a huge crowd all looking at me, it’s unnerving.   I am used to feeling put down and unheard and now it’s the barrage of praise ( mixed in with some negativity) and I having trouble coping with it sometimes but I’m not complaining.  It takes up a lot of time and it makes me realize about the assumptions we make when someone doesn’t respond.  I would like to respond to every message and comment and say yes to every offer with another advocate but I don’t have the time or energy.   And I am finally beginning to realize what it’s like to be on the other side, where you get so many messages, you can’t possibly respond to every one.  And I thought how I felt ignored in the past and failed to realize that people are busy and they can’t always answer messages, especially if they aren’t urgent.  It just made me think.

I also want to talk about going live on Facebook and Instagram.    About 3 weeks ago, I did my first Facebook l ive about mental health with another person and I was so anxious, I didn’t know this person or how she would respond or how the viewers would respond, she actually invited me out of the blue and I decided to say yes.  But it went really well, we just talked for an hour about mental health and learning disabilities and she was really nice and understanding and as we kept talking, I felt calmer and I could sense the viewers were also enjoying it. Afterwards, I got all these  positive messages and comments, I was just blown awat, I mean, it was indescribable, an elated high.  I got a message from someone about doing suicide prevention Facebook live with her. It didn’t really work out but the fact that she asked was such an honor.

I also got a message from the friend of the person I went live with and she mentioned a podcast and I had never even thought of one, even though I was doing video ( which is far less  nerve wracking)  And we talked for a bit and I decided that creating a podcast would be a good idea, I am less nervous during audios and I can write what I want to say so I don’t stumble over my words and keep focused.  I created a Podcast and have 3 or 4 Podcasts so far. I don’t get a lot of feedback because there’s no comment section or anything but I enjoy it and I’m doing it because I hope it will help someone.  I plan on continuing podcasts and maybe eventually doing one with another advocate but I am trying to figure how it works, it’s confusing.

Oh and another really important thing that happened this was that I along with several others, created  a mental health awareness group page on Facebook.  And so far, it’s been great. I have about 90 members and we all post and encourage and uplift one another and it’s just positive. And I pray that it can a source of help to people and that it can grow and reach a large audience.  And people have been so helpful with helping me set up the group, I go to them for advice,  I encourage members to post whatever they want, I try to make it a safe place where people can express themselves.  Like I said, it’s surreal that so I am connected with all of these people.

I want to go back to the Instagram and Facebook lives because I have done a lot them.  So another person saw a video I made on instagram about social media and wanted to get on live with me and discuss it with me.  So yesterday we both went on live and sadly her connection was really bad so we had to cut it short and so I decided that I was going to back to Facebook and go live by myself and discuss suicide prevention. I told the whole story of my how my brother took his life and everything that preceded it and it was really difficult, I was blunt and honest and didn’t omit anything. It was very raw but healing.  And again the support was amazing but there was a very hurtful comment made and it is something I need to talk about.  Well, this person knew my family and my brother during the time that he took his life.  She basically said that was trying to phrase her comment lovingly but she was concerned that I hadn’t moved on from my brother’s death and that it wasn’t healthy to talk him so much or so openly, Maybe I would benefit more from counseling and then also said that I wasn’t “qualified” to help those who are suicidal because I don’t have a degree or certificate. Wouldn’t I feel guilty if  I gave someone advice and they took their lives. And at some point the comment she said that my brother would want me to move on.  I was sort of stunned and didn’t know to react and I said nothing, deleted her comment and put her on restricted in Facebook ( she is still my FB friend but cannot see my posts).   It was a hurtful thing to say in opinion to someone who has lost a loved one to suicide, she doesn’t realize that when I talk about mental health, it is helping other people and what I interpreted was that she was uncomfortable and wanted to silence me. I am not going to stop speaking out about mental health or suicide prevention and if someone doesn’t like it, than that is too bad.  So I made the decision to not respond at all, I am afraid I might say something hurtful that I will regret so it’s best to ignore people like that, it just makes me sad, is all.

So yesterday, the day after the suicide prevention Facebook live, I had probably the most incredible day in terms of advocacy.  I got a very long message from a friend who I grew up with and she seeking advice about helping her disabled clients. This is someone I really care about and I was so honored that she came to me, seeking advice and that I could be of help to her. I mean, usually I might message her with an issue and that may be the first she came to me with one.  It makes me feel like what I am saying and posting is truly making a difference and sometimes I am so caught up in it that I can’t see it. And then after that ( in the same day mind you) , I got this message from a therapist that I follow on Instagram and she had seen a video I made about being on the autistic spectrum and wanted to know how I came to be diagnosed and what were my symptoms. She was asking because she had a client with similar issues who was wondering if she had autism.  The therapist was coming to me and using my story as a means of diagnosing a patient. I mean, again, it’s it’s just you know, like unbelievable, it’s like a dream, where finally  I  feel I am understood and needed and all of that pain and anguish has lead to helping people, just wow, you know.  And then I did an Instagram live with this woman who is an author that follows me.  And we just talked about writing and using our experience to build our characters and it was so great.  Right afterwards, I got on with another person who I have connected with and had like the greatest chat and it was wonderful to talk to someone who “gets me” and wants to help others like I do.  And I never thought in a million years, I’d be going live with people.  It was quite a day but it did leave me drained because it was a lot to process.

I want to end this post by saying that I at the disabled ministry and I was talking to this guy and here’s the thing, I have trouble connecting with males and sometimes I’m intimidated by them. So this guy is a big guy and boisterous and at first intimidating.  But as I got to know him, I realize how much he cared about the young disabled adults, this person is gentle and kind and accepts everyone and very involved with church. I actually told him about my issues with math and told me to call him for help.  So I saw him today and I was telling about the advocacy and everything that happened. And he was so excited for me, he was “dude I’ve got chills, this is amazing” and I could tell he was really interested in what I was saying. I guess my parents told him about my brother and he thought it was great I went live to talk about it. It was just nice to talk to someone in person who was also excited about advocacy, it’s amazing feeling.  I feel this is God’s calling for me and I am just so optimistic about advocacy and will try to continue  blogging and updating everyone. Thank you for all your continued support

Dave

Writing for NAMI

I just happened to be on the NAMI ( National Alliance of Mental health) website and I saw a section where people could share their stories in 800 words or less ( Only 800 words, come on!)  This is what I am going to submit. I think it is short sweet and to the point. What do you think?

I refuse to stay silent about mental health and how it affects me.  I was paralyzed by the stigma all of my life I started speaking out and talking my depression/anxiety openly online. Through my writing I have been able to reach so many people. I remember when I first started sharing, I heard “You are not alone” and it was such a powerful statement because I had felt so alone all my life, I felt ostracized and made to feel that my mental illness made me inferior to others. “You are not alone” soon became my motto.  When I share my struggles and my story, not only do I get the support and love I need but someone else is helped as well by reading my words, it’s a powerful feeling to go from feeling stigmatized, mocked, alone and helpless to finally being a voice for others and getting support back as a result, it’s a responsibility that I don’t take lightly.  I have a mission through my writing to break the stigma of mental health and I have to face my own fears and  anxieties about sharing my struggles. How much should I share? Am I sharing too much? What are my friends and loved ones going to think about me being so open? Will they judge me? Well so far, the amount of  positive support poured in has been more than I ever could imagined. So, for anyone afraid of speaking out about mental health, there are so many people who need to hear your voice, you have no idea the people you’ll be able to reach by sharing your story. Even if you don’t get a response or feedback, people are listening and taking what you say to heart. Don’t be silenced, be a voice for the voiceless.  And never be afraid to ask for help.  My name is Dave and I am mental health/disability advocate, a writer and one determined person, I won’t give up and neither should you.  I am honored to be an advocate and hope to reach as many people as I can.  I would like to get involved with NAMI somehow and I guess this is a good start!

To those that suffer in silence

Getting mental health support from others has been life changing for me and I really appreciate it. I think I get so much support because I am willing to be open and outspoken about my own struggles and I encourage others. But what makes me sad is there are others who much worse off than me. people whose depression is so bad that they can’t get out of my bed and they have the inability to express themselves in a way that they can be understood. They suffer in silence and they don’t get support because no one knows they’re suffering and they are in so much pain. Some end up taking their lives because they have been holding to this hurt for so long and have no one to turn to when they need someone to talk to. At the end of the day, they need the most support and yet they don’t receive it. It’s the paradox of desperately needing help but not knowing how to reach out; therefore help doesn’t arrive. It really hurts to think about those people