My Latest Painting

I wanted to share this because I’m pretty proud of it. I really like to focus on abstract art, and sometimes I like creating art that conveys a message about the current world. This one is based off the current year, and is titled “2020”.

The message is pretty straightforward. Despite how crazy of a rollercoaster 2020 has been, through all the ups and downs, there will always be hope for the future.

Goodbye Social Media

I’ve noticed something about myself during the past few months. I’ve come to realize just how much of an impact social media has had on my life. It wasn’t just an occasional way to pass time, it was pretty much an addiction to me. It was a dopamine rush, a sense of validation, and as depressing as it sounds, it almost felt like I was somewhat deriving some kind of meaning from it.

We all hear about how social media just shows highlight reels of our lives. Well I was a prime example. Out drinking with friends? I had to put it on an Instagram story. New personal record in distance when I was biking? It became a new post on my snapchat story. It felt like I was creating this narrative of how awesome life was at the moment, and the satisfaction from being out with friends or breaking personal records almost felt like it wasn’t being about the activities themselves, but from the validation I could get from these activities when I post them on social media.

It’s stupid, I know. But it almost became a habit. It was just the norm to me at that point. And continuously I found myself surfing through my social media and comparing my life to others. I kept having a feeling of FOMO, aka, the Fear Of Missing Out. If I was just hanging out at home on a Saturday night and opened up Instagram to see people out partying instead; I’d immediately feel like shit and think, “Wow, my life sucks.” I kept seeing all the achievements other people posted on Instagram, and it made me forget about my own personal achievements. I would also keep thinking about how I could one up these people and plan for completing a new personal goal just to post it on social media as well. And when I did things like make new posts that didn’t get as many likes as I wanted to, I felt dissatisfied and would get urges to delete those posts because I would think about how I could’ve done so much better.

After a while I started to realize just how toxic this was to my mental health. Yes, I’m in a better place than I was compared to years ago. But I still kept holding myself back to being in an even better place because of consistently letting my mind drift back to being in the fake reality of social media. Instead of enjoying the actual world in front of my own eyes, my eyes were just glued on my phone. So, after all these insights were made. I decided to delete most of my social media. To be specific, I deleted my Instagram and Snapchat account, then I deactivated Facebook. The only reason why I didn’t fully delete Facebook was that deactivating it still lets me use the Facebook messenger app on my phone, which is a much more effective way of messaging people in my opinion. However, deactivating Facebook still meant that I couldn’t use the rest of the app itself.

In a funny way, I felt “lighter” after doing this. Like I didn’t have this pressure to keep posting on social media for that validation. However, it’s still taking some time to get use to. Sometimes when I’m bored I find myself opening my phone just to remember that I can’t open my social media accounts anymore. It was a strange emptiness, but I realized that I can fill that emptiness with things that are much more productive. Such as getting more involved with reading books again and re-focusing on writing. In the short amount of time that my social media has been deleted, I’m already starting to feel a little better about myself. My goal in the long run is to really start fully being in the moment, and instead of filming that beautiful sunset for an Instagram story, I’m watching it with my own eyes and not through my phone.

Finding peace at 2am

Looking back at my life I realize I really went through some turbulent times. Life was never easy. No, sometimes it was really hard. But I acknowledge that I’m able to get through it. Despite some of the shit that I had to go through. And there were periods in my life when I was stuck in the bottom where I felt like the world just wanted to smack me around and toss me to the wolves any chance it got. Of course I never really talked about my problems to my friends, during those periods I always felt like I was a burden for opening up about shit I’d go through. I’ve since improved from that mindset, but I remember how those darker periods left me with bitter feelings about the world for some time.

It took a lot of work, a lot of discipline, and a lot of help from my support system to help bring me up to be a better place. And to think a few years ago I was going hard on McDonalds any chance I got because the only way to fill the empty hole inside me was with more McChickens. I guess in the end something just told me to kept going. Bipolar type 2 and OCD are like a ball and chain you carry around, they fucking drag you down and some days the weight of the ball just gets unbearably heavy. During those periods all I wanted to do was lay down a give the fuck up.

I think when you’re really in the depth of mental illness all you can think of is the NOW, how right now is terrible, how right now is insufferable, how right now is full of despair. In that state it’s too hard to think about where you might be years from now if you put in the work to make life better. And it’s totally understandable, because when you’re feeling really low from mental illness, taking that first step to getting better is INCREDIBLY difficult. Too all the readers who don’t have to deal with mental illness, you’re pretty damn lucky. To all those who get it, yah I feel your pain, shit sucks.

BUT, if you can find it in you to take the first step to getting better, the second step is a little easier, then the third, sometimes you might fall back a step or two, but you know you started your journey to getting better. So you keep going regardless. For me it was finally seeing a psychiatrist to officially diagnose me, then going through trial and error with a fuckton of meds before I finally found the ones that helped stabilize me. Then finding tactics like cognitive behavioral therapy to teach me how to ignore some of my thoughts from OCD and my unrealistic perceptions caused by my Bipolar 2. Then it was finally being open with friends and people close to me, which was such a big relief. Then it was incorporating healthy activities outside of meds and therapy such as exercise like cardio. The final step for me personally, which is optional for people, is psychedelics. To me it was the added whip cream and cherry on top of the cake that helped my life out. But like I said, they’re not necessary, but can really be beneficial if used for therapeutic purposes.

After all this you realize how much work it can take to get better from mental illness, but you realize it was all so completely worth it. Because I’m much better than where I was before. I’m not going to lie, even after all of this, it can still be very hard. Some days can still be low, but I remember that I can never let myself get bad again. So I put my chin up and put in the work and strive on until things get better again. I realize now that this is the hand I’m dealt, things may never be perfect, but I know I can make the most of the hand that was given to me. And despite some shitty cards I’ve been given, I’ve got to say that I’ve made a pretty fucking dope life for myself. And for that, I am thankful.

Nature and Cardio, the world’s best stress relievers

I’ll be honest, I’ve been feeling mentally drained lately. It’s been several factors that have been leading me to feel low in mental energy. The main reason is seeing the world as it is right now. It’s both depressing and inspiring watching the current events unfold. Honestly, when did 2020 become a fucking movie with thirty different twists every ten minutes?

It’s amazing to see people rally together to bring about social change within our culture, specifically with the Black Lives Matter protests. Being able to be there with the crowds was inspiring too and very new for me. It was also great to see the government actually listening and doing something about plights that people have been dealing with. 2020 will be written up as one of the most influential and powerful years in human history, you can count on that. Despite all this, I can’t help but still feel sad about everything else going on in the world. Covid is still a thing, and it’ll be a long while before society fully re-opens again. My city has made slow progress in returning back to normal, but there’s still ways to go. And I’m not even going to get started on the current presidential election and the two candidates we have to choose from…lord help us all on that one.

In my personal life. Work has been up and down, at the moment I’m use to working on a covid unit now. Every patient is almost the same. Things can drag, but hey; at least we got hazard pay. But it’s been really dawning on me lately just how much healthcare and being a nurse isn’t meant for me. If I could go back in time I’d probably slap freshman year college me in the face and tell myself to follow my dreams ahead of time. As for my clothing brand that I’ve been setting up, things are stressful. I just realized the importance of trademarking a company, and went through a shit ton of work to pay for an application for it to be trademark. I was resisting the urge to slam my head on the table through the whole process of learning how to do it. On the bright side, I’ve got some great pictures with the clothes with my amazing friends who have been supporting me, and I’ll be marketing the brand soon to the public. But I can’t help but get pangs of anxiety with thinking about the actual release of the clothes. What if I mess up with shipping and handling? What if people don’t like my clothes? What if I’m not successful? Honestly, fuck that noise. I realize I need to keep my head up and believe in myself. Anxiety about doing something new and daring can be scary. But I know I won’t give up.

With all these things adding together, you could say I’ve been feeling stressed. And I know I needed a break. And in my opinion, the two best ways to relieve stress are nature and cardio. I got some of my close friends together to go hiking in Devil’s Lake State Park in Wisconsin. We had a fun road trip to the park, only to find that everyone else had the same idea to visit the place that Saturday and there was zero parking inside. So we found the closest available parking…a whole fucking mile and a half from the state park. Oh well, we walking from the car to the start of the trail. It was a long and steep trail that lead to an overview of the entire park and the lake.

Getting to the top was one hell of a struggle. It was steep, it was hot, it was humid, and it went on for what seemed forever. But fuck it, I wanted to get to the top more than anything. We all pushed ourselves and eventually reached the peak of the mountain. I was exhausted and drenched in sweat, but man was it worth it. The peak of the trail involved several rock formations that stretched out towards the lake. You could actually stand on them and see everything from below. Holy shit, it was one hell of an amazing view. You could see the whole landscape for miles. And the forest along with the lake was a sight to behold. Me and my friends stayed at the top for a while, just taking it all in. I thought to myself, “This is what life is all about, enjoying it and appreciating the world around you, and if you could conquer this trail, you can conquer anything”. I took a deep breath of fresh air. And felt revitalized.

The view from the top of Devil’s Lake State Park

The next day, I decided to take my bike to the trails near my hometown. I wanted to push myself, it wasn’t just a casual ride, but a competition to myself to see how good my endurance really is. I biked in the evening and kept biking until it got dark. While I was cycling I also took a little time to enjoy the nature around me and the beauty of the colors of the sky during the sunset. I hit close to 18 miles by the end of my ride, but I made sure that I was staying at a relatively fast pace the entire time. I felt exhausted. But at the same time I felt my stress literally dissipating. I had this renewed sense of peace. The problems going on in the world were still there, but I accepted them and felt optimistic about the future. The problems in my personal life were still there, but I was ready to tackle them head on.

Taking a little break during my bike ride to enjoy the sunset

All in all, if you’re feeling stressed. Get the fuck out there and enjoy the world. And get a workout in there while you’re at it.

A Brighter Future

It’s been a crazy week since the terrible murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minnesota. Since then there’s been a major call for social reform in American and even in several western countries. People are coming out into the streets and demanding equality for African Americans at a level that is unprecedented compared to the past few years. Protests haven’t just been in major cities, but have extended to the suburban areas as well.

I’ve been lucky enough to be able to participate in one of the protests in my city as well after finally having a day off from my night shifts at work. And my goal is to go to more and continue to support this cause. Last night the protest I was at had a certain energy that was in the air, it was an energy that was filled with a rollercoaster of emotions from the crowd. Everything from anger, to sadness, to hope. It was all felt through the thousands of people present at these protests. However, everyone their had the same goal in mind: to push the our current society into doing something about the systematic racism in our justice system and our culture as a whole.

Throughout different news outlets, it seems like different narratives are being created regarding the protests. Most of it seems to focus on the rioting and looting going on. As well the violent clashes between protestors and police officers. One thing I feel that needs to be pointed out is the lack of coverage from the peaceful protests, which vastly outnumber the ones that involve rioting. It’s like all we seem to be focused on are the people breaking into and setting fires to small businesses, or the officers who seem to be to be inciting violence themselves instead of keeping things under control. But this takes away from most of the people who are out protesting with goal of following proper order, and the officers who understand people have the right to protest and are allowing them to do so freely without letting things get out of hand.

In my personal opinion. Major shifts in pushing forward to a better future are very hard to accomplish when the methods of doing it are viewed in a negative light. These protests are doing great in shedding light on the major problem of inequality affecting African Americans, but it feels as if the message is being shadowed by the protests that devolve into riots on the side. And let me be clear, I understand the anger behind the rioting, and I understand that they’re currently happening because America has failed to listen to previous peaceful protests and allowed the killing of African Americans by policemen and racist whites to continue, but it’s very hard to bring about support when the media is getting people to start seeing these protests as opportunities for looters and anarchists to wreck havoc because of the destruction that some of the protests have caused. For everyone reading, I just want you know to know that this isn’t the norm, and that most protestors are doing just that, protesting for a better future. Please do not equate a protestor to a rioter.

As for society itself, I definitely do see major changes happening to our culture after all of this. Now, the importance of educating others about inequality is more prevalent than ever. Current times have also forced people to really examine their own personal biases that they aren’t consciously aware of and now they have the opportunity to try to fix them. This has been the turning point for western countries, and I believe that the world is watching and realizing how important this issue is. I choose to remain hopeful, despite the current events. I know that a brighter future is ahead of us, and it’ll be because of the collective effort of this generation and previous generations standing together to fight for what’s right.