Sunday, May 15, 2016

Depression Survival: Boredom Has Been Good To Me

Boredom Has Been Good To Me

“Let us endeavor to live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.”

Mark Twain

Rebecca Anhalt, founder of Healthy Mind Better Life, wrote a blog July 31, 2015, titled “Can Boredom Trigger Depression?”

In her blog, Rebecca quoted J. Eastwood from his article in Sage Journal, “The Unengaged Mind.” Eastwood stated, “Boredom is wanting but being unable to engage in satisfying activities.”

Eastwood wrote there’s an inability to connect to internal and/or external stimuli. Anhalt described the results of a loss of connecting to external stimuli can be loneliness and hopelessness. She described it as nothing in our environment holds our attention. A loss of internal connection can make one feel disengaged from thought processes. Anyone with a history of PTSD may uncover suppressed, negative thoughts or situations.

Being unable to connect may lead to negative thinking or unhealthy attitudes. Some negative thinking may be: Black & White (All-Or-Nothing) thoughts, overgeneralization, unreasonable expectations of ourselves, jumping to conclusions and blaming others. I smiled reading these because many are part of my character.

I agree with Rebecca Anhalt when she wrote that boredom could also lead to positive experiences. Creative juices might begin to flow or we might find purpose in life.

Boredom has been good to me and I have found purpose in life because of it. I seek out projects, new life experiences and look for the deeper meaning to life. It’s probably my liberal arts education in undergraduate school that has led me to a lifelong learning process. I love to learn new activities. I sometimes counteract the wave of depression by looking for new hobbies to learn, stories to write or pictures to draw.

Experiencing new events improves my self-image and re-affirms a belief that I can achieve anything I set my mind to accomplish. In some cases, these activities offer an adrenalin rush.

In my book, PALS: Part Two, there are short stories about catching alligators by hand at night in the Florida swamps, having lunch with guerrilla fighters from Nicaragua and rafting some dangerous waters around America.  Experiences that fill me with the adrenalin rush help me combat my life-long clinical depression. I feel alive when I am in those situations.  

In my book, The Shade Tree Choir, Krame pressed his nose to the dust-covered screen in his bedroom window that hot July night. He made himself a promise nobody would ever again hurt him and one day he would get away from his abusive home life. He became focused and succeeded in achieving anything he set his mind to do. I am Krame. That book is about my childhood.

I am better at some things than others. We all are. I am not good at golf but find it fun to play and to learn new techniques – like how to properly hit a ball into the woods. And of course, it’s fun to learn new ways to cheat without getting caught. I don’t keep score and people I play with know I don’t take the game seriously. I enjoy learning all I can about fishing. I throw all the fish back that I catch. Someday I wish I would catch more. There was a time I studied and learned how to white water raft. Two of the several places I rafted included the Grand Canyon and the Gauley River in West Virginia. The motto for the rafting company on the Gauley is, “Where Nobody Hears You Scream.” Trust me, people heard me scream.

I took horseback riding lessons that led me to cattle drives and eventually working cattle on horseback. That experience further led me to writing and performing cowboy poetry. After years of travelling America and performing my cowboy poetry, I was given the honorary title of the Cowboy Poet Laureate of Tennessee. Our governor and General Assembly gave this honor to me.

Boredom led my childhood friend and I to open a clothing store selling second lines of blue jeans. We called our store “Sons-A-Britches.” That experience led me to sell T-shirts to physical therapists in America. I printed the spine on the back of the shirt and on the front was printed, “Physical Therapy, The Backbone of Rehabilitation.” I did that for a short time. I became bored with it.

I was a co-owner of a hospital supply business, a B&B and owned a speaking company based on a book I wrote about stress management. I read an article one Sunday in the Miami Herald about a lady who wrote a book on that topic. I remember thinking how I taught my patients stress techniques and could also write a book. It didn’t stop there. I created a company where professionals could receive continuing education credits by attending my classes.

One day I was bored and wondered what my next project might be. Quiet time offered the ideas to flow into my head and I produced two training videos that I sold in America. One was how to safely move patients and the other was how to prevent back injuries for the equestrian. That video allowed me to write articles for several international journals.

I believe that if we are quiet and let our minds relax there will be doors of adventure that will open. I learned how to make soap, pottery, simple jewelry, baskets, woodworking and stained glass. I recently started teaching myself to draw.

From Sketchbook to Scrapbook, is the name of a book of art my sister and I created together. We don’t sell it. We made it for our own personal enjoyment. It was the first thing she and I ever did together. That was the best part. We did it for ourselves. We did it for the enjoyment.

I have written many books in a variety of genres and am now working on a couple children’s books. In addition to writing the books, I am doing some of the artwork. I write for only me. I draw for only me. I do these things for my personal growth and often because I was bored.

I think the neighbors down the street are happy I learned to play my saxophone and play it only for me with all doors and windows shut. I especially like it when the coyotes sing along when I play. Playing my instrument is like golf. I enjoy it but am not very good.

When was the last time you jumped up and started to dance? When was the last time you let that little kid out and had some fun? I love to be spontaneous and try to suck the marrow out of life. It’s one of my methods to control my depression. I am attaching a link below to give you an example of being a kid and doing something totally out of character. It’s called, “Reggae-Rap by Old White Guy.”

So, I challenge you with this thing called boredom. The next time you might be bored or hit with a wave of depression maybe relax and see if doors of opportunity open. Go sit in the woods, along a river or on a cliff and let the wind do its thing with your mind. You may find a new adventure.

My drawing at the top of this blog represents two things to me. The mosaic pieces show there are many methods to treat your depression. One of those for me is to draw. Secondly, I believe we are all made of those mosaic pieces from life experiences and each of us is a beautiful piece of art. I plan to add many more to mine before I am finished.

Some Links

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