Posted on 19 November 2016 by Michael Dahl

“I hate you, winter.” A poem by Michael Dahl

I hate winter.  Outside hurts.  And as someone who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder in addition to chronic (treated) Depression, I detest November through February.

The words to the poem below came to me as I was driving Rebecca to work and a jerk was tailgating us on a slippery road.  It was late January 2014 — the year of the Arctic Blast. Our car had not yet warmed up, so my shoulders were scrunched up trying to cover my neck.  The sky was gray.  I was in pure misery.

I submitted this poem to Minnesota Public Radio for a conversation on Minnesotans and their feelings about winter.  They read it, so I was plenty prideful that day. read more

Posted on 6 November 2016 by Michael Dahl

on a good day

On a daily basis, I am actively involved in efforts to stay ahead of my Anxiety and predisposition to depressive thoughts. It’s a lot of work, but work well worth it.

On a good morning I remember to take some of my meds — the two different types of “chill pills” that don’t need to be taken with food — right away. This prevents the onset of two hours of hell which will begin about an hour or so after I wake up if I don’t take the meds.

On a good morning I spend time contemplating reasons to be grateful — like for my funny pup, Franco. To make this practice of gratitude a habit I created the blog “Snazzy Images.” On it I share and write a bit about my favorite photos of beauty, peace, and fun in the world. read more

hoping for the best
Posted on 4 November 2016 by Michael Dahl

A string on 17 good days, and the return of snazzy.

Yesterday, someone passively asked me, “Michael, how you doing?”

“Snazzy, how about you?” was my reply.

That was momentous. I’ve only started attaching the word “snazzy” to myself for the past few days. (I, of course, have wished snazzy upon others for quite some time.) To attach it to me and how I feel has rarely been the case for the past 19 months.

Oh, and I’ve caught myself joyfully whistling while walking my pup, Franco.

“WHAAAAAAT!”

I don’t want to overstate my condition. My wife wisely tells me to take it one day at a time. But it bears repeating: I’ve had a string of 17 good days. read more

Posted on 30 October 2016 by Michael Dahl

clawing my way back out of deep Depression and severe Anxiety

I’m going to start with the moral of this story: If you think you are Depressed or experiencing Anxiety, if you find your emotions are out of whack with what normal circumstances would warrant, seek help.

I am a fan of a three-pronged approach to chronic Depression and Anxiety: doctor prescribed medications, talk therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Life is too precious to let these mental illnesses run roughshod over the normal life you deserve to live.

The following is my most recent story of dealing with chronic Depression and Anxiety: read more

Posted on 27 October 2016 by Michael Dahl

capitalizing “A” and “D” for Anxiety and Depression

Side note:  I will be writing soon about my recent successes in minimizing the Anxiety I feel daily. But I felt it “proper” (pun intended) to again describe why I capitalize the first letters “A” and “D” for Anxiety and Depression. You can criticize my writing skills or command of the English language for many reasons, but the use of capital letters in this — my — case are not mistakes.

I capitalize the “A” and “D”  in Anxiety and Depression for a couple reasons. First, I imagine them as powers unto themselves — proper (not common) nouns. While I don’t write much about Depression anymore — 15 months ago I broke free of that demon — I do, at times, write about depressive thoughts that are often the result of the Anxiety I endure. But depressive thoughts don’t plague me for days on end and curl me up on my bed as I wait to fall asleep.  They are just thoughts, not enduring states of my mind. read more

Posted on 22 October 2016 by Michael Dahl

five days into much better mental health (part 2)

With a little over five days since my mental health med doctor tweaked my meds, I can report that my mental health has improved a lot.

In part 1, I shared that I still experience full on Anxiety for about 2 hours each morning. My sternum and throat are very tight, I can’t shake bad thoughts, and I am fearful of the day ahead. But a mixture of morning meds bring my mind back to calm usually by about the time I get to work.

Obviously, at any point during the day, if placed in highly-stressful situations, I still become anxious. And I believe under those circumstances I experience much more Anxiety than someone without mental health problems would. So my therapist is helping me with coping mechanisms to survive these times. read more

Posted on 22 October 2016 by Michael Dahl

five days into much better mental health (part 1)

This past Monday my mental health med doctor tweaked my meds a bit once more. It was a game changer for the better — much better.

I went from being a guy who was almost constantly at least a bit anxious (and quite regularly much so) to someone who has difficult mornings but the rest of the day feels, for the most part, okay.

I wake up nearly every day calm and well-rested … at 4 am! The meds I took the night before are still working their magic as my mood is usually quite good.

As quietly as I can, I head downstairs to have a cup or two of coffee as I surf the web, work on blog posts, and read the newspaper. Sometimes I do these things until 6 am. Other days I head for the gym at about 5 am. read more

hoping for the best
Posted on 18 October 2016 by Michael Dahl

fingers still crossed

Yesterday I saw my mental health med doctor and believe I was treated to the best of both worlds. After talking about my differing levels of Anxiety depending on my use of the “use only as needed” chill pills, I reminded her I was saddened that we didn’t continue tweaking the meds that are not potentially addictive and don’t create dependence.

She then told me that: (1) she wasn’t overly concerned about my use of chill pills on a regular basis as I am taking such a low dosage. (I also thought, “I have not developed a dependence on them after years of use.”) (2) After I told her that I was continuing to see my therapist to learn ways to address Anxiety proactively as well as when It’s already attacked, she said she was willing to amp up slightly the meds that are not addictive. read more

Posted on 16 October 2016 by Michael Dahl

rote pleasures

Picking produce, weeding the garden, clicking snapshots, and improving my blogs are just a handful of the rote pleasures I try to work into my days as often as possible. The aim is to flood my brain with serotonin (a calming chemical) as a way to crowd out Anxiety (and its fight or flight chemicals of adrenaline and cortisol) from my brain.

Today, I did just that by spending a couple hours walking through my neighborhood clicking snapshots of autumn in St. Anthony Park. I took 80+ pictures and, when I made it back home, winnowed them down to 10 of my favorites. read more

Posted on 15 October 2016 by Michael Dahl

a mixture of emotions

For the past few weeks I’ve been on a bit of a rollercoaster ride. Of course, I have periods of anxiousness (i.e. situationally-induced, and / or when I cut back on my “as needed” chill pills). And then I have periods of calm (i.e. when life is good to me, and I take my as needed chill pill morning, noon, and night … as my doctor has temporarily allowed).

I know. I’ve written plenty about this in prior posts.

Related to the hard times, I get sad with the idea that a very uncomfortable level of anxiety is something I’m going to have to manage, and only as I learn and master the management techniques — which means changing how my brain somewhat-naturally acts and reacts to certain situations — will my anxiousness be reduced. (It can take a long time to change how the brain acts and reacts, by the way.) read more

Posted on 9 October 2016 by Michael Dahl

creative mind, happy mind

I’ve just realized — while daydreaming and walking my pup this morning — that one of the major ways I keep myself in a better mental state is to engage my creative side. Blogging (e.g. writing posts and dreaming up new websites and formats) is one of my major avenues for expressing myself. Taking and sharing photos — mainly of my garden and travels, but sometimes appearances of Squish and Mr. Fender) are also major outlets. Imagining funky advocacy campaigns, drawing garden sketches, daydreaming while walking my pup, piecing together set lists for Sunday Evening YouTube concerts … each of these are places my brain naturally goes … well, at least when my mind is in a healthy place. read more

Posted on 1 October 2016 by Michael Dahl

lack of joy and scared of the future

The title of this post may seem weird if you’ve read many of my posts declaring how I’ve been getting better in my struggle with Depression and Anxiety. Those posts were and are telling the truth.

Depression has been in my rearview mirror for over a year now — although I still do have depressive thoughts (more on that later).

And, as for Anxiety, yes I’ve been getting better. But in that case, “better” is not, “yay, everything is hunky dory.”

Without anti Anxiety meds, I would really, really be in a terrible place. And without the help my therapist, I would have fewer healthy coping mechanisms to help me weather and shorten periods of Anxiety and panic attacks. read more

Posted on 24 September 2016 by Michael Dahl

Mental Heath: Good Vibes, Vomit, and Math

Good vibes

I know I’ve been writing a lot lately about my Anxiety. As such, I’ve received a number of get-well wishes and prayers from friends and colleagues. Thank you. The empathy and good vibes have certainly helped me out and witness the community of support I have.

But I don’t want to leave the wrong impression. While my struggle with Anxiety continues to be a daily experience, I am not getting worse. If anything, I’ve felt a bit better because my mental health doctor has allowed me to take my “use as needed” meds morning, noon, and night (if helpful) for short period of time — two to three months. read more

Posted on 18 September 2016 by Michael Dahl

Feeling alone and weak in the presence of inspirational quotes.

I love the Nelson Mandela quote, “It always seems impossible until it is done.” It inspires me to work for seemingly impossible reaches of justice (e.g. ending homelessness and hunger). And it helps me keep up my confidence when others publicly label me an idealist as they reach for more “realistic” goals.

Regarding struggles with Anxiety, I just read a quote that went something like this: “Worrying doesn’t take away tomorrow’s troubles; it takes away today’s peace.“ It inspired a small “A-ha” moment that I suspect will grow as I play around with ways I can use it in my life. read more

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