How to Fight Depression and Suicidal Thoughts

Suicide, anxiety, and depression are curable. There is hope.

Suicides spiked 10% after Robin Williams took his life. My sincere hope is that doesn’t happen after Bourdain’s passing. Many genuine people are encouraging friends to talk to friends, and that helps… but I think it’s important for people to speak about their struggles with suicidal ideation like Bourdain did. When people like writer Yashar Ali dealt with depression for the first time, he knew who could help him, and it was Bourdain. Those of us doing well have to leave a roadmap for encouragement to those that aren’t.

How can someone like Anthony Bourdain take his own life when so many people love him? Is he at the top of his field? When he financially wants for nothing? Age and years of drug abuse likely robbed him of a healthy chemical balance. When you face depression, darkness follows close behind.

Depression Strikes Despite Circumstances

I have struggled with depression and suicidal ideation my entire adult life. To be honest, the last four months have been very difficult (It’s easy to hide with enough practice.) Due to a medicine switch, I decided to leave serotonin drugs for something else. The lack of serotonin led to some days of despair. There’s no rhyme or reason to it beyond that. Despite some personal turbulence, my life is terrific. I’m excelling in my physical, emotional, and spiritual life. (Thanks to my support system, I’m doing great, so please don’t worry.)

How do I know when I’m dealing with depression? It creeps up on me. It’s not as simple as “I’m feeling very sad today.” While that exists, imagine your emotional life as a Jenga set. Over time, little pieces get removed. One little self-esteem hit here. One little rejection there. One missed workout here. One week of bad sleep there. Eventually, you’re wobbling and wondering why you’re about to fall.

I’ve spent three years seeing a therapist who walks me through my thought and behavioral patterns. I know all my modes of self-destructive behavior. I remove Jenga pieces by emotionally eating and guilting myself for it. I isolate myself from the ones I love by pushing them away through harsh barbs of sarcasm. In therapy, you see all the ways you’re validating the idea that you’re not worthy of love. They then coach you on how to defeat this wrong thinking.

How Does One Fight Depression?

Healthy self-worth is the anti-virus of the mind. It’s essential to update it through self-care regularly. Get exercise, get sunlight, get good sleep, go to therapy, read books, meet friends and family face to face, eat nutritious foods, attend a religious service, journal, and talk to yourself the way your best friend would. These things are essential to keeping depression at bay.

I also have a plan when I feel like the water is at my neck. It’s reaching out to friends to help check my thinking. If some thought or behavior needs correcting, then I know they will be honest. If not, they tell me I’m irrational. I also will schedule a therapy appointment as soon as humanly possible. After those conversations, I’ve processed the underlying issue and have put together a mental strategy to combat what caused the attack on my self-esteem in the first place.

In my 20’s and post-divorce, I spent 90% of my time in a depressive state. I would say it’s less than 10% now because of changing my approach.

If you’re reading this and deal with depression or suicidal thoughts, I want you to know that none of this was as hard as I imagined. The journey of letting others love me, accepting that others love me, and loving myself has been incredibly rewarding.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

There’s life on the other side, but you have to choose to do something. Just pick one thing a day and put one foot in front of the other. You may move back two steps, but never stop crawling forward. Today, pick a therapist by going to your insurance website and making an appointment. It takes five minutes. (It’s like dating. Don’t like them? Try someone else.) tomorrow, go for a long walk. The day after, get a book called “The Undervalued Self” from the library or Amazon. Just do one thing a day.

I can tell you that there were times where I couldn’t do anything for me because I thought I wasn’t worth the effort. I began making changes for other people, and it ended up being for me. If you’re not willing to change your circumstances for you, then do it for the family weeping over your casket if you don’t. (The idea that no one would care is bullshit. That’s the idea that you should no longer allow in your mind.)

Suicide, anxiety, and depression are curable. There is hope. It just takes you deciding you are sick of living miserably and doing something about it. Within a couple of months, your entire life can be different. Trust me. It’s worth it.

P. S.

If you love someone with depression, reaching out when you see behavioral changes is always appreciated. As is patience and empathy. Hurting people will sometimes vent their pain on the safest people in their life. Give them grace. Ultimately, they have to fix themselves, but knowing they are loved and supported is an important step to lifting out of depression.

Undercutting of Trump Moves from Russia to Mental Fitness

The Atlantic
January 3, 2018

The Atlantic has published a thorough piece on Trump’s sanity called Is Something Neurologically Wrong With Donald Trump?

The Russia investigation failed to bring Trump down, so the press and Democrats are now pivoting to Trump’s mental fitness. I am torn. I don’t want to set the precedent of questioning the sanity of those I disagree with politically. Trump makes this a very easy case for his enemies to make, though. Obviously, I am no doctor, but I do think the recent slurring, the declining verbal ability he’s had over the last three years, and his lack of impulse control are worrisome. Watch interviews from the 1990s, and there is a significant difference. Something is off with him. The revelations in this new book are only fueling the fire.

Psychiatrists aren’t allowed to comment on politicians due to something called the Goldwater Rule. Section 7 in the American Psychiatric Association‘s Principles of Medical Ethics says it is unethical to comment professionally on public figures. Trump is putting that to the test.

Mental fitness will be the next front Democrats and the Washington press will fight on to undermine Trump, and his behavior only helps make their case. Trump’s insistence on seeing Hillary Clinton’s health records should apply to Trump himself. Given his immense power, he should undergo medical testing with transparency as other Presidents have.

Facebook Is Deleting Accounts at Direction of the U.S. & Israeli Governments

Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept
January 2, 2017

We don’t need to have sympathy for monsters, but we do need to realize that the mechanisms created by a government are used in times of crisis to silence more voices. It is a nibble at the edge of a cookie until it all eventually disappears.

Glenn Greenwald:

Just as one might cheer the censorship of someone one dislikes without contemplating the long-term consequences of the principle being validated, one can cheer the disappearance from Facebook and Instagram of a Chechen monster. But Facebook is explicitly telling you that the reason for its actions is that it was obeying the decrees of the U.S. government about who must be shunned.

It’s hard to believe that anyone’s ideal view of the internet entails vesting power in the U.S. government, the Israeli government, and other world powers to decide who may be heard on it and who must be suppressed. But increasingly, in the name of pleading with internet companies to protect us, that’s exactly what is happening.

The Real Story of Collusion Emerges in the Mueller Investigation

A friend recently asked me to boil down the Russian-Trump investigations. What were the smoking guns? What had he supposedly done wrong? The truth is that no one has articulated clearly and accurately what Trump or his campaign had done wrong. I offered the following analysis:

Incredibly, the educated guess has become a reality due to leaks, likely from Republicans on various Congressional committees, which are exposing the seedy inner workings of the FBI and the special prosecutor’s investigation. One text, in particular, is a damning piece of evidence.

Trump Declares Jerusalem the Capital of Israel

Lookout fam… The internet is about to be filled with foreign policy experts.

The truth is that no one knows how the Arab street will react in the short-term. The long-term? There will never be peace as long as Israel exists and the governments of the U.S., Russia, and China are willing to ship weapons to Israel and Muslim nations by the billions. America will have a vastly diminished role in the Mid-East peace process, but so what? We are only involved in it so President’s can be the “one” that solves this problem. It is a vanity project. The sky is not falling and the world is not coming to an end.

This is Trump delivering on promises to his base. Trump is the first President to not pretend that he is everyone’s President. He is the President of his base. He is just not faking that he cares about the opinions of his opposition

Digital Lynchings Aren’t New – Fatty Arbuckle

No, none of what we are experiencing is new.

“At a raucous, three-day party in September 1921, a young starlet became severely ill and died four days later. Newspapers went wild with the story: popular silent-screen comedian Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle had killed Virginia Rappe with his weight while savagely raping her.” – It wasn’t true.

If You Refuse to Condemn Predators because of Politics, You’re Disgusting

November 10, 2017

Now, I’ve had far too many people shouting, “Guilty until proven innocent!” at me over my comments on this issue, as if they’re too dumb to know that the second half of that phrase is “in a court of law.” Not to blow your mind here, but I’m actually not a court of law, and I’m allowed to believe whatever I want — and personally, I believe that Roy Moore was a predator with a penchant for teenage girls. No, not because I’m some p***y-hat-wearing snowflake (as eloquent as that argument is) but because of logic. As my colleague David French notes, there are a lot of reasons to believe these allegations: There are multiple accusers. These women didn’t come to the press seeking attention, they simply answered the questions when the press came to them. They have witnesses corroborating their stories. Finally, the woman with the most serious allegations, Leigh Corfman, voted for Donald Trump in 2016 — making the political-hit-job storyline laughable at best.

The Childish Thinking of Gun Control Advocates

Liberals give me grief when I say it’s wise to wait a day or two to comment on a mass shooting event out of respect for victims, and to give themselves time to learn what happened. We now know that the Texas shooter should have been in jail or prevented from getting a gun. Various levels of government failed to keep 26 citizens alive, so it’s juvenile to argue that more of what failed will prevent the next mass shooting.

What stopped more deaths? A well-armed citizen protecting his community. If ever there was a tragedy that should give the left the imperative to stop reacting and reasoning like children, this was it.

The criminal justice system doesn’t actually protect the victims of domestic violence. How about we fix that?

Prayer Isn’t Welcomed in the Midst of a Tragedy?

I ranted a couple years ago on We Are Libertarians about the trend to switch prayers to “healing vibes” on social media. Somehow, prayer became a shameful act to display to social media friends despite Barna research saying 94% of Americans have prayed once in the last 3 days. Pew says 55% of Americans pray daily. In the wake of the Texas shooting, prayer has been mocked by progressives and Hollywood. Using their favorite weapons, shame and bullying, they are trying to silence public displays of the freedom of speech and religion.

Prayer to whomever or whatever is an act of contrition and reflection in an effort to become a better person. Some faiths say that signal of obedience makes God move in places he might not have before. Moments of tragedy are the best times to do a self-inventory and ask where we can change ourselves to be more loving and giving.

The vague “do something” where no policy is prescribed actually does nothing. It is vanity to show off for friends. Mock prayer, Keith Olbermann, but it is more effective than anything you’ve done in your “career.”

Our Flag and Anthem Are Bigger than Just Our Military

I love and respect our Flag, Anthem, and nation because of American values embodied in the Declaration, Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Our founding principles gave liberty and freedom an opportunity by flipping the relationship between ruler and citizen upside down. In America, citizens rule, and the government has to ask for permission when it wants to interfere in our life.

Our Founders knew our desire to give up our power and wrote down the values that would keep the spirit of Americanism alive.

The very first thing written? The freedom to speak and petition (protest) your government when citizens feel an injustice is taking place. Never again would a citizen be punished for doing their civic duty: speaking up when the government forgets its place. Nothing is more American than an American peacefully protesting injustices within the government. In my mind, there was no greater patriot in the 20th century than Martin Luther King Jr. Without firing a shot, he changed the hearts and minds of the American people, and they, in turn, changed our government.

Most of the Founders didn’t want a standing Army. They felt the homeland could be best protected by armed citizens who could protect their families, communities, and states. They didn’t dream Americans would have military bases in 170 countries while operating 7 fronts as we do today. I think many of the Founders would be absolutely puzzled that we are arguing over the common sense principle of self-protection coming under attack this week.

I think they’d be equally as shocked that half of our country have narrowed Americanism and the flag down to honoring a standing military and military intervention. Our Flag and Anthem mean so much more than the war powers of our current government.

I do believe our Flag and Anthem represent the fallen and our veterans, but not our policies. In my mind, Americanism is directly opposed to much of what this current government does. It stands for free markets, freedom of association, the right to peacefully live our lives without government agencies harassing us or killing us. Yes, it means honoring the memories of every person that gave their life for this unique experiment, both in and out of uniform. Many thousands of Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep this a shining beacon of hope. That includes those fighting in foreign wars as well as Americans like Emmitt Till.

I’m surrounded by political and religious refugees from Burma. They are wonderful neighbors, and they are adding a lot to our community. Storefronts that sat vacant for years are now thriving, for instance. America represents hope to them. They will lay down tonight in their secure and clean home without the fear of Burmese government agents killing or stealing from them. They will send their children to good schools tomorrow while they make more money than they’ve ever had in their life.

When I stand for the Anthem, my eyes water because of the hardship my great-great-great grandparents endured in leaving their German hometown and moving to a strange land so that one day their ancestors could be prosperous, healthy, clean, and endowed with all the rights given by our Creator. It’s for my Grandfather that nearly died in Okinawa fighting an Imperial menace that threatened the lives of millions of Americans. It’s tears of thanksgiving to God that I live in a country where I can start a media outlet that openly criticizes the ruling class without any fear of retribution.

So yes… the Flag and the Anthem ARE about soldiers that fought and died for this country. It’s about so much more. If Mike Pence and Donald Trump and any person reading this want to reduce it to only that, then they’re being decidedly unpatriotic. They’re being a propagandist, and that is UnAmerican.

PJ Yinger on the Early Days of the BOB & TOM Show Art

PJ Yinger is the graphic artist for the BOB & TOM Show. He is also the trumpet player in the BOB & TOM Band. He is also the one that shepherded me into the B&T universe. He shares with us the process of making the 65 B&T albums over 30 years as well as the the changes in graphic design since the 1980s. PJ is also the designer of the new WAL and CSS logos.

Will Russia Gift Edward Snowden to Donald Trump?

In a continuation of the ongoing war between President Trump and the US intelligence community, NBC News is reporting:

That’s according to a senior U.S. official who has analyzed a series of highly sensitive intelligence reports detailing Russian deliberations and who says a Snowden handover is one of various ploys to “curry favor” with Trump. A second source in the intelligence community confirms the intelligence about the Russian conversations and notes it has been gathered since the inauguration.

Read the entire article here.

The US intelligence community is so concerned with the Trump administration’s ties to Russia, especially National Security Council chief Michael Flynn, that they are reportedly withholding security briefings from Trump to keep them out of Russia’s hands. Interestingly, this information comes from the Observer, a publication owned by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Snowden reacted with joy that he’d been vindicated.

Why would Russia consider this a gift? Trump expressed the following opinion of Snowden before the election:

More to follow…

The View of the 2016 Election From Moscow, Russia

Chris Spangle is joined by Heather Black, a Hoosier in Moscow, Russia. She moved to Russia in early 2016 and shares that country’s view of the 2016 race and Donald Trump’s election.

What do you tell your kids? Teach them American values

These are American values. All candidates exhibit the best and worst of all of us, so teach them the good stuff. Modeling anxiety and fear doesn’t help them or you.

  • Tell them that America used to be a mean place that didn’t think everyone have the same abilities and chances that others had. But America became a better place. People in the past didn’t think that women or people with different skin colors could vote. Now, we have a black President. A woman nearly won.
  • Every person in our country can be successful if they work hard. Sometimes you may lose, but you get back up and try again. You may lose again, but along the way you’ll make a difference. Effort is never wasted.
  • Not everyone will treat you fairly. It doesn’t matter what others think of you as long as you love yourself and have people around you that love and support you.
  • People will disagree with you. Debating ideas are a good thing. If someone disagrees, you don’t have to feel emotional about it. People can be wrong while still being good.
  • The President says some things that aren’t nice, and you shouldn’t be like that. There will always be people around you that do or say things that aren’t good, but you don’t have to do what they do. Be your own person.
  • Teach them that character isn’t tested when you’re doing well. It’s when things are hard that defines whether you’re a good person or a bad person.
  • Teach them the government is irrelevant and that taxation is theft. We don’t need it if we just live by the Golden Rule. (Ok, as a libertarian, I am hoping you’ll teach them this.)
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