Archive for the Family Category

1/52 – Marriage

Posted in Family, Mental Health, Personal Thoughts, Year of 52 with tags , on January 7, 2018 by Neal

On January 3rd 1998, this incredible woman said “I do”.

For some, being married for 2 years is considered a milestone of epic proportions, especially given the current divorce rates of the world. Being married for 20 years can be seen by some as freaky, unnatural and amazing.

It’s cliche I know but Mandy and I have known each other since high school. Our final senior year she set her sights on me and for the first 6 months of the year I was totally oblivious to her many attempts and hints at catching my eye. Yes I was a little slow on the uptake but that’s just who I was at the time. When I surprised her on her birthday with jewellery and flowers I think she was relieved that I finally got the right idea. I’m not going to say everything was perfect from the first day. Being an introvert I kept a lot of my thoughts to myself and that caused various conversations of raised voices and tears from both sides in the beginning. Not to mention the typical ridicule and torment that comes from teenage friends as well.

Recently one of the young ladies I work with asked me for advise on relationships. She’s having issues with her partner and since I’ve got a successful marriage, what was my secret…. Gee talk about putting someone on the spot. It got me thinking and lost at the same time. After all we have had enough ups and downs in our marriage to create the world’s most extreme roller coaster. The only real advise I could give her was that being in a relationship is a seesaw of give and take. Sometimes you will be the one leading and making all the decisions, other times you will be the follower and just doing what you have to keep the peace.

The two of us have been far from typical in our relationship. We’ve fought about family, finances, children, friends, pets, possessions, professions and holidays. Given each other gifts and surprises ranging from large to small. After all I did buy her a Ferrari for her 20th birthday, she just never specified what size she wanted. There have been some downs thrown at us by the world that have stretched our commitment together but we worked out ways around the problem and grew from the experience.

Many, many years ago during one of our seemingly all too frequent discussions, Mandy gave a response to something I said that took years for me to understand. This was during an extremely low point in our marriage and things could have swung either way from that point on. I had commented how I felt taken for granted and that she didn’t need me at all in her life. Her response “You’re right I don’t need you in my life. I can look after myself. I can handle the finances. I can care of the kids. I can do what ever I want so I don’t need you in my life. What I do want is for you to be a part of my life.” Now keep in mind, for some guys we don’t see a distinct difference in certain words, they tend to have the same definitions. So you can imagine how hurt I felt at the time being told I wasn’t needed in her life. It took me many months of self discussion and reflection to finally realise what she had meant. We don’t need each other in our lives. A need implies that something is required for each of us to live. Sure we need food to live but not hugs or kisses. We need a house to keep us warm in winter but not hugs or snuggles. We need to breathe but don’t require words of adoration to keep living. My view of needing Mandy in my life wasn’t accurate as I could still live without her. I wanted her in my life which had more meaning to it than needing her.

Writing this I can’t help but think of all the cliches that people tend to write about their partner. They go on in flowery prose about how amazing that person is and that they are the embodiment of perfection. Seriously some stuff is so sweet it would cause you to gain 50 kilos and diabetes from reading it. How many times has someone complained about their partner’s negative qualities? Could you imagine the Hallmark share price if they changed their cards to using the truth instead of flattery?

This has morphed into something totally not what I had in mind. I was going to use a heap of comparisons and examples about our life together. Instead I’ll leave everyone with this bit of personal wisdom that may make a bit of sense to some.

A successful marriage is based on wants and not needs. You marry someone you want to spend your life with, you do things together because you want to support the other and help them succeed, you want them in your life to bring joy and laughter to it but also work through each other’s problems to become better.

Mandy, it has been a long road with lots of holes and detours so far but I’m sure that the longer we travel together the easier it will be for us to find smoother paths in our journey.

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Batman – Nuff Said

Posted in Cosplay, DC Universe, Family, Mental Health, Personal Thoughts on April 28, 2017 by Neal

Depression 1001 : Work 0

Posted in Anxiety, Burnout, Coping Mechanisms, Depression, Family, Mental Health, Personal Thoughts, Reasoning, Self Doubt, The World, Work on April 28, 2017 by Neal


The last 2 months have been very strained for myself personally. Complications with work, family and myself have seen my attention to details and life in general slip. I didn’t think things were affecting me as much as they apparently were, guess that’s the old depression mind trick for you.

I’ve been trying to transfer stores so that I can be closer to home and also get a change of pace. The store I currently work in has its challenges but they tend to be the same things over and over each week. Plus being here for 2 years has started to make me a little shop blind to some obvious issues. But it would seem that my depression has finally started impacting my work. 

My first unsuccessful request was turned down due to a lack of self confidence in managing staff issues. I’m probably a bit too soft at times when it comes to staff problems. Being more assertive and knowledgable in company procedures would likely improve that aspect of myself. On top of making sure my self confidence was on the up I can see myself improving in that area for sure.

The big eye opener I had recently came in the form of a site visit by both area and state manager. The feedback I got was a real slap in the face. Several months ago the things they pulled me up on never existed. Yet despite all the effort I put into maintaining the store I had totally overlooked or dismissed the importance of some things. I could have come up with a wide range of excuses but that would have been passing the buck and not taking ownership of my own mistakes. I spent that evening mulling things over a lot as I came to realise my standards in the store had slipped, more that I had considered possible for myself.

Suffice to say this did not sit well when I tried another transfer request. I knew after the visit the chances of transfer were very slim. After all the past doesn’t count when looking at current standards. Top it off with a rather bad business audit a few months earlier and I totally get their concerns. 

So now I’ve laid out a new battle map on the table. Depression and anxiety may have me cornered but that isn’t going to stop me from fighting. I’m slowly taking back the Self-doubt pass and the Family plains are being reclaimed a bit each day. The daunting task of assaulting Mount Work has begun. I’ll break down the fortifications and reclaim my ability to work without distraction. 

This is one of the many fights ahead that I plan on winning. 

Musings of my Mind

Posted in Anxiety, Burnout, Coping Mechanisms, Depression, Family, Mental Health, Personal Thoughts, Reasoning, Self Doubt, The World on April 24, 2017 by Neal

Warning — will be discussing some personal things that some may find concerning. Despite what I write about I have never nor will I ever intend harm to myself or others. 

Asking someone about their depression is like asking how long is a piece of string. It’s all subjective and theoretical unless you can actually measure it. But how do you measure an intangible level based on random chemicals and emotions? Then you get people who don’t understand things and assume you can just brush off depression like dirt on your clothes. That would be nice to do but it’s not that simple. 

The tricky part, is that depression isn’t usually caused by just one thing. If it was then tackling it on a social scale would be so much easier. “Everyone with depression, look at this cute baby video and be healed for 30days.”  That would be so much easier than having these internal battle campaigns that resemble World War 2 at times. For me, my depression is always tagging along with several common factors. Family finances, family interactions,  work issues, personal feelings of self worth, sexual adequacy, life conflicts, social media idiocy of the world at large. Some of these pair up with self worth issues so I get bogged down in a cycle of self loathing and anxiety. 

Then there is trying to explain things when I’m worried about sounding pathetic to others. My mind and mouth don’t operate on the same wave length, so while I say one thing a moment later it’s been processed and I counter the comment rendering it all pointless. Now the flip side of that is if I take time to think things over it quickly devolves into a case of “my fault” with a “what’s the point” chaser. This sounds confusing doesn’t it? Well that’s just the tip of the iceberg. 

There is an aspect of my mind that some people might find concerning but it isn’t related to my depression. In fact it’s been a part of me for as long as I can remember but I never speak of it because of the response people will give. It’s a fatalistic curiosity with the real world. “How much damage would I get in the car if it hit a tree? Would people miss me is I was no longer around? Would your hand melt in a fire like in the movies? Can I dive from a building into a waiting hay cart and just roll out as in the games?” Sounds silly and you are probably wondering if I need an intervention.  I promise I have no intentions of enacting on my curious musings. The logical part knows that no good will happen while the illogical ask why not. It’s just random stuff that roams the maze of my mind. I also don’t have the money or resources to test my questions out so will leave it to the likes of the Mythbusters.

A lot of people will automatically assume a person with depression is on the high end of the self harm or suicide spectrum. Unfortunately this is true in many cases but it’s not the norm for some. The media tends to portray depression in a negative light often which does influence views. The idea that depression should be kept a secret is being slowly replaced by acceptance and understanding. People are finding strength in sharing their issues rather than withdrawing from the world. 

Remember if you have concerns for someone talk to them. If you have concerns for yourself please talk to someone. No one can know for sure what’s happening in the mind of another person.

In Australia Beyond Blue

What A Messed Up World – part 2

Posted in Family, Food, Mental Health, Personal Thoughts, Politics, The World on April 24, 2017 by Neal

What is a “lucky country”? 

Is it lots of land and freedom to live we’re you want? Is it the ability to protest or disagree with the government and not fear reprisals? How about wealth that makes you not want for anything? Religious freedom? You could probably ask thousands of people and you would get a mix of these things plus many more definitions. In fact the idea for a lucky country is so broad that it all boils down to a simple common factor, it’s people. This is what makes a country lucky in my view. Without people all you have is land that no one uses. People shape a country, give it focus and direction. That being said we can easily loose sight of what it means to be in a lucky country. 

My wife recently got back from a missions trip with her school to Cambodia. She was talking about some of the things that could be said and not said which we would normally take for granted. Yet the biggest thing that stood out to me was the resourcefulness of the people there. For a developing country they certainly don’t take anything for granted. Wallets made from recycled tyre rubber, iPad cases using recycled paper and fabric, laminated newspaper wallets and pencil cases, coffee cup wrappers made from upholstery scraps. This might not seem like much but for many it’s the difference between eating that night or going hungry. 

Perhaps it is necessity that creates a lucky country? How many of us would spend 13hrs a day sifting through garbage piles looking for materials to use or sell? After all many of us take what we have in life for granted. We have food, roof over our heads, safe place to sleep, if something we own is broken we toss it out and usually get a new one (seems to include spouses as well if you look at statistics 😁 ). Without a necessity we don’t seem to have a driving force in our lives. Keep in mind I am being very general here so it’s not the same for every individual. 

If you read stories of life during the two world wars, there are loads of examples of people using their ingenuity to help keep things moving with limited resources. Recycling was an everyday thing. Growing your own food made it possible to extend limited rations for many valuable days for those not on the front lines. Those fighting also used creative ideas at times to get by with their own limited resources. 

To me a lucky country is made by its people. Those who take what little they have and find ways to live a full life. People who help their neighbours to thrive. Diversity of cultures and nations that learn together to be a greater country as a whole than a country of singular people.

Why So Negative?

Posted in Anxiety, Burnout, Coping Mechanisms, Depression, Family, Mental Health, Personal Thoughts, Reasoning, Self Doubt, The World on April 19, 2017 by Neal

My mind isn’t working properly these days. “Well no kidding you have depression. Of course your mind isn’t how it should be” some will say. Others will simply say “It’s only in your mind. You can get over it” or they’ll say “It’s all with the choices you make so make positive ones and think positive all the time”.  Sounds logical and easy doesn’t it? Perhaps it is, after all depression is a state of mind right? The mind is the most misunderstood organ in the human body and we know very little about it in the grand scheme of things. I can just think happy thoughts and before you know it I’ll be flying around like Peter Pan…oh wait I need fairy dust as well. Damn there goes my easy commute to work.

The real problem for me I suppose is the crossed wires I have in my coping processes. For most of my life I have tended to look at the negative side of a situation. If there’s a problem or situation I put up the negative aspects first instead of finding a solution that has a positive outcome. It’s just how I’ve always thought of things. List the possible faults and then diagnose a process that fixes things. Odd I know and trying to explain that to people can be very difficult. For the last couple of years I have worked hard on giving positive responses to situations, despite my natural trends. It’s not very easy for me but to help improve my interactions with family and friends I’ve been giving it 99%. But the stupid thing is I keep falling back into old habits and I end up at the bottom of the hill again and have to start climbing again. Not a simple thing when the depression keeps throwing boulders to stop your ascent.

Yet I know my wires are crossed. At work I put on this fake happiness in front of customers. Sure I still talk about the negative stuff to them but I laugh it off and smile the whole time. The quote I give when asked how I keep going is a stupid one because it only applies to work. “I can either laugh about it or cry in a corner, which doesn’t get a thing done” So while at work the introvert puts on all the pomp and ceremony of an extrovert just so the day goes by without complications (some I can’t control but such is life). However when I get home that facade is lost and I find myself ready to curl up in a corner and ignore the world. It’s not gone straight away. Sometimes I can keep things on the brighter side for a few days but eventually the stress of home life sheds way too much light in my imperfections. Don’t get me wrong, my life isn’t close to how bad some people have it. I have family, a house, clothes, food, a job…things we all tend take for granted. Each of my self criticisms has a tiny voice in my head, gnawing away at the foundation of normality that I put in place to function. Over time they get louder as things are added to each voice. “Not enough money to pay certain bills, that’s cause you are a shit financial planner. You spend way too much time dealing with work stuff at home. Why can’t you have nice conversations with the kids? Not a lot of food in the house because you can’t manage the money properly.” Little comments like “can we have hot chips for dinner or do you have to work on your day off” suddenly get amplified out of proportion by my mind and depression.

Self-doubt seems to be the biggest voice in my head these days. I want to talk about things but the internal dialogue with anxiety and depression really ruins things in a hurry. Though if I simply blurt out things before I have time to think it usually doesn’t make sense and then I have to think on it to explain things and we’re back at square one again. Silly right? Said my mind was a mess. It’s like doing these blog posts. If I just write on a whim and let my fingers do their own thing, I can generate stuff that is of interest yet may not make sense. When I start to reread what I write and focus on giving an articulated view with deep thought I get stuck in that self-doubt circle that catches me when I think too much. The part that troubles me the most is making things sound like a cry for attention and pity. A sort of “Oh look my life is so bad and I feel so helpless….” feeling I can’t stand when I see some of the posts on my Facebook feeds. I’m not looking for attention so much as trying to reveal how my mind works. Depression and anxiety isn’t just the same thing for everyone. We all have it affect and impact us differently and at differing levels. Sure some people will see this as attention seeking while others might see it as a constructive way to defuse the mental time bombs to limit the damage when things finally come crashing down.

One thing I know for sure is I need to get rid of the negativity while I’m at home. I need to bring the work facade home with me so that when I get out of the car and walk inside I’m not a miserable old man. I have a good life and won’t allow depression to direct how I interact with my family and friends. Going to take some time to rewire the pathways for that to happen but I will make that change. Stay tuned to see how things go 🙂

I Can Wait Till Tomorrow

Posted in Cosplay, Family, Parenting, Personal Thoughts, The World on March 13, 2017 by Neal

My youngest boy is a strange little man at times. He’s got the gift of the gab, can sweet talk like the best and is a world class negotiator. I’m sure some people think I make these stories up but even I would have a hard time thinking up some of his responses to things. The amazing thing I find about him is the limitless imagination he seems to have at times and an ability to come up with some very interesting things when he plays.

A classic example is when I work on costume parts for some of my ideas. When he was 2ish I was experimenting with foam Halo armour when he grabbed some of the parts to use as a Shell-Phone from the Nickelodeon’s version of Ninja Turtles. After some negotiation I got my parts back after making a quick throw together for him.

This then lead to him wanting to be a Ninja Turtle so I put things that I was working on on hold to experiment with some ideas. The end result was an unusual turtle shell, made from sign board and foam, and some foam weapons.


Since I experiment with my building at the moment he tends to end up with some of the parts that are too small for me or the other kids. For example the Demagol helmet that was too small for me fits him perfectly so I can use that as a test and give it to him when finished. The funniest part though is his 4yr old concept of time. He asks me to make all sorts of things and my usual response is “I’ve got a lot of things I’m working on. I’ll try to make it when I can.” I know sounds like I’m making excuses not to do things for him, the trick is I’d be making stuff for him all the time and not have time for my own things. His usual response is along the lines of “that would be great” or “when you finish yours”. 

His latest response has been the best so far. He comes out and asks me to make him a Stay Puft costume as he likes the char from Ghostbusters. I gave a usual response that I would when I have some free time and it may take a while to make and design as it’s a little complicated (I like to give my best to costumes for him to show I value him). He simply nodded and while walking back to his room shouted “That’s ok. I can wait till tomorrow to wear it”.