Anxiety & Depression make 2015 complicated year.

It’s hard to say I’d wish away a year of my life when I reached a weight I’ve been trying to reach since my mid-twenties. This year I lost 21 pounds; the year before, another 21; and for several years before that I slowly shed the 18 pounds that once had me at 200 pounds. I’m now at 140 pounds … a pretty ideal weight for me, and a weight where I can see muscle that blubber’s been covering for years.

It’s difficult to feel bad about a year I made so many friends via social media. Some expanded my gardening horizons, others had civil disagreements with me about politics and culture — I love civil disagreements about politics and culture.

How can I say I really didn’t like 2015, when my wife and I took an awesome vacation to Maui? I hiked the Haleakala Crater; I snapped photo upon photo of lavender fields; I milked some goats, and I jumped off a waterfall. How can I feel bad about that!

Where’s the unrest in having yet another bumper crop of veggies from my garden. Lettuces for me and the neighbors. Tomatoes for gallons of pizza sauce. Potatoes that made decadent mashed tatters. Squash that’s still making some really good soups. And much, much more.  What’s more:  How can I feel torn about a year when I learned about and wrote so much about good food and possibilities of a turnaround in the decline in bees?

How can I shake my head at a year when I helped rally over 1,600 people to give heartfelt statements of home in support of a $25 million legislative win for affordable housing and homelessness services — some of which will directly help youth my organization will soon offer housing for?

Why am I troubled when I have an awesome and supportive relationship with my wife? Together, we hang out with a puppy, Franco, who is alive with joy and hope. Our home is beautiful, and we have plans to make it even more so.


I’ve had a really good year.

Okay. I don’t want to wish away 2015. I just wish it hadn’t been quite so painful. I wish my mental health meds had just kept working so that on March 26, 2015 I didn’t have to run from my cubicle as a major panic attack hit me.

I wish that the struggle to find the right mix of meds wasn’t still taking place — a process that’s lasted from May until at least the end of this year (although, my doctor and I are getting close).

I wish I hadn’t spent nearly 2 months bed-ridden when I wasn’t at work. I wish I hadn’t lost my ability to do much of any exercise (even walking) for 4 months. And I wish I hadn’t had to completely revamp my workout schedule just so I could spend early mornings working to flood my brain with endorphins and serotonin and fatigue my muscles so Anxiety won’t tense every nerve in my body up.

While I am so pleased that the deep and debilitating Depression I experienced for a few months is now gone, I am still pretty angry that Anxiety still messes with my life. When I’m not prepared for It — when It catches me by surprise or unsurprisingly overwhelms me — I say and do foolish things, I embarrass myself, and my body hurts a pain that’s just as real as any other massive physical pain.

It’s not hard to see how Anxiety finds ways to invite depressive thoughts back in, even though they don’t stay very long.

I’m angry that this guy — Michael Dahl — who loves music, could only enjoy it for four months of this year. I’m upset that I couldn’t pick up a book because of lack of energy and actual mental blocks for at least a few months. And I’m upset that despite the beauty of my garden — which the pictures give evidence of — I failed to see it … I pretty much remember none of the beauty.

But enough of the woe is me.

I am a more fit Michael Dahl. I made new friends. I traveled and spent a good batch of time in Maui. I gardened well. I rocked advocacy. And my home life is awesome.

Depression and Anxiety did not rob me of any of that awesomeness!

Take that Depression and Anxiety. Your breath stinks, and I bop you in the nose. You are mean.

Oh, and in me being so open about this terrible struggle, I’ve managed to help others who needed someone to talk to or who needed some prodding getting help themselves.

I did that.

For that — for that alone — 2015 was a pretty good year.