Tuesday, April 19, 2016

#22pushups a Day for #22KILL – Week One

I was challenged to post a video of myself doing twenty-two push-ups a day for twenty-two days by my friend, Matt Coombs, on Facebook. The “22Kill Challenge” is intended to bring awareness to the estimated twenty-two veterans every day who take their own lives. As somebody who has struggled with suicidism since I was fifteen years old, I know how hard it can be to carry this burden on your own. I believe #22Kill's plan to bring awareness to this veteran plight is a noble one.

I never served in the military, but my brother, Ryan, did. The day he finished infantry training at Camp Pendleton, a drunk driver plowed into the van he and 10 other marines were in, ending their liberty, and for some, their service. My brother died the next day, so I accept this challenge to honor his memory and to help raise awareness for suicidal vets.

To you veterans who served, you served with honor, and we do not forget you. Don't carry this burden alone. Reach out and let people help you. If you don't have family or friends who you can rely on, try Veterans Crisis Support 1–800–273–8255. Many times, suicidism is something you can ride through, like a hard campaign with heavy shelling. You can do this.

For today, I challenge my friend, Nathan. He doesn't bother with social media, so I'll make sure he sees this video.

You can read of other ways to support suicidal loved ones in my book, Saying "No!" to Suicide. Below you'll find the rest of the week. Each video has a short message at the end. Thanks for your support!

Day Two

Day Three

Day Four

Day Five

Day Six

Day Seven

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Three Pluses to Learning in a Fishbowl

Journals can be traditional and electronic

I’ll be flying out to the Mental Health America convention this summer to discuss blogging about mental health as a form of therapy. I’m looking forward to the new experience. I’ll get to meet peers and talk about a subject of which I feel passionately. I’ll even get out of my state again, something I don’t do often enough.

Obviously, blogging about your mental health takes a bit of gumption. While you may hope to connect with other individuals who share your experiences, or maybe you dare to inspire, you also open yourself up for criticism from strangers. Sometimes they see your struggle and wonder why you have the nerve to put yourself out there as a shining example. They came looking for guidance and found somebody down in the muck with them instead. Consequently, they feel betrayed. Even worse, they might read only one article and decide to pass judgement on your entire life.

Wow. Why do I do this again?

A reader commented recently that my “Writing in a Fishbowl” series was a train wreck, and she was right. It truly was a nightmare experience. There I was thinking that I could just sit down and finish a small project in a matter of a few days. What a joke, right? Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. I was a living embodiment of Murphy’s Law. If you followed along, you may have been embarrassed for me. You may have cringed. You may have even lost respect for me. Those are the very reasons my own family doesn’t often read this blog.

For me, however, the fishbowl was illuminating. How fortuitous that everything that could go wrong did go wrong while I tried to finish a big project! Now I have proof of my obstacles—painful, detailed proof. Since I want to do more streamlined projects in the future, I needed to know just how tall those obstacles were. I needed to know how much rope I’d need to scale them. I needed to know which obstacles I had control over and which were outside of my control. The fishbowl project let me notice the chaos in detail as it happened. It was an exercise in mindfulness.

So why blog here? Why not just buy a journal like people used to do and keep all the awkward blemishes of my life private? What point is there to writing in a fishbowl where everybody can look in and judge?

There are three simple pluses to public journals, but only you can decide if they offset the negatives listed above.

  1. Connecting with Others
    One thing that blogging about your mental health struggles has over journal writing is that it can be very public. Nobody cares about my old journals. Not my daughters. Not my brothers. Not my friends. Maybe one day a grandchild or great grandchild will find them to be a novelty, but honestly, I’ll be long gone before seeing any pay off. Blogging, on the other hand, lets me connect with people now.

    Although obscurity may hide your posts from people at first, eventually, readers that find your writings will reach out to you, whether on the blog or in private.

  2. Helping Others
    Not only will you feel less alone by blogging about your mental health struggle, but there are many people out there who will find inspiration in your accomplishments, as well as comfort in knowing that they aren’t alone in their own struggles.

    Some may put you up on a pedestal and fault you for not being perfect, and there is nothing you can do about that, but most will see you for who you are: a real person sharing your struggles to help others.

  3. Accountability
    One of the best benefits I have received for blogging my mental health journey is the accountability that comes with public posting. Even if readers come and go, or merely lurk quietly in the shadows as many in the mental health community do, when I prepare something for public consumption, I remind myself that means the public will read it! What will people learn by what I write? What can they gain by visiting my blog? What can they take away?

    Private journals can become secret echo chambers where your most negative thoughts find voice. Frankly, blogging can become that way as well. Instead, I try to keep in mind that what I write is read by others, so I make sure that I put my best work out there. Even my fishbowl experiment was written with that in mind. It began roughly, especially during the height of the chaos, but it ended with great insights that I hope others will be able to learn from.

Blogging about mental health can be terrifying when you first start out. You’re pulling the curtains back on your closely guarded feelings. You’ll likely feel exposed and vulnerable at first. However, if you refine your writing craft, and hang in there, you’ll create a connection with readers, and, perhaps, learn from the experience.

I wrote about the importance of journaling in my book

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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Disqus: Love It or Leave It? Feedback Wanted

Disqus logo

One of the main reasons that I implemented Disqus was because of their robust anti-spam features. The other reason was because of their strong social media support. Over the years, Disqus evolved to be their own social media network, and the social media tools I loved (like being able to easily post a comment AND have it simultaneously post to Facebook & Twitter) were removed. Another reason that I switched was because Blogger's comment system seemed to give people trouble.

Well, comments are way down, and people send me comments on Twitter, Facebook, email, and privately instead of posting here. They all begin their messages the same way. "I tried to leave a comment on your blog, but couldn't." Not even my oldest daughter is able to leave comments, and posting on my blog is one way that she feels connected to home while she attends school in Germany. After I received only two comments during my "Writing in a Fishbowl" series, I've begun to think that Disqus isn't a good fit for my blog anymore. Maybe it's time to reinstate the Blogger comment system. It's linked in now with YouTube and G+ accounts, and still supports alternate logins from other networks. I'll still require logins to cut down on spam. Sorry, guys, but you have no idea how popular my blog is for spammers without all these protections. They absolutely LOVE that I have over 800 posts over eleven years here. They hunt out the older posts, thinking I won't catch them. I'd rather write more content here than spend time pruning spam comments off the blog.

Of course, I could be like a lot of big time blogs. I could just ignore the spam and let you scroll by all those "work out of your home", "have more time to spend with your family", "I've made crazy money with this one simple trick!" posts…

I've started a poll at the top of my blog to get your feedback. I'll run it for a week. I hope that you take time to vote. You can even leave comments here, too—assuming you can get through the Disqus wall. Or tweet me @SplinteredMind or email me (link in the footer). I'd really like to know what you think about the Disqus system. At this point, unless I see a groundswell of support for Disqus, I'm leaning towards removing it. That means losing lots of great comments. I won't make this move lightly. However, if keeping Disqus means losing new comments going forward, then maybe it isn't worth the archive.

Keep in touch!


If you find my articles useful, please help fund this site by starting your Amazon.com shopping here , or share the article using one of the methods below. Thank you. (Affiliate links to Amazon.com are sprinkled throughout the site.)
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