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The Journey

A gamer's experience with depression and the road to recovery.

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Pet Peeve

Savage Josh
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We're all gamers. We all love to collect things related to different games or whatnot because it's something we like to do.

Maybe, if you're a miniature builder, you like to pin your joints.

For the love of all things.

STOP SAYING YOU HAVE OCD.

You don't. Having OCD is pretty fucking awful. Let's not trivialize those that actually have severe problems by calling our desires a mental illness.
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Mon Jul 7, 2014 3:42 pm
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Letting it go: Why Frozen continues to resonate

Savage Josh
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When I first saw Frozen, I really enjoyed it. It immediately became one of my favorite Disney features after a single viewing.

Now, several months later, countless times through the soundtrack, a few rewatches, and other reading on the movie, I'm finally starting to understand what might be sticking with me.

Elsa's life (sort of) mirrors my own struggles with mental illness.

In her early life, Elsa is told to conceal, don't feel - pretend something she's not. When I finally came out with my issues, I did not have those close to me telling me these sorts of things, thankfully, but society certainly made it difficult to take the steps to get myself better.

The part that resonates with me the most right now is the "Let it Go" sequence. The song is about Elsa realizing that she doesn't need to hide her talents and effectively, screw everyone else for not accepting her as she is. I think up until a few months ago, this is exactly how I felt about my battle with depression. I was gonna talk about it and if you didn't like that, well, screw you. I let it go.

At the stage I'm personally at now, I'm more following Anna's footsteps. I'm trying to use my experience to create safe places for others suffering from mental illness. We can fix this hand in hand.

Society has a long way to go towards accepting mental illness - but we can get there. Those of us that are advocating - we must work together to create places where those that are suffering in silence can feel comfortable in speaking out about their own problems.

Admittedly, it's probably a highly simplified look at things - but for me, Frozen has provided me with some context in how I fit in my advocacy efforts and it's goddamn magical.
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Wed May 28, 2014 7:03 am
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Mental Health Week 2014: My Story

Savage Josh
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I posted this on my blog at joshbazin.com, but I wanted to share it here too.

---

I don’t make it a secret that I suffer from depression. Since discovering, understanding, and learning how to manage my depression, I’ve done my best to create a dialog in my personal social circles regarding mental health.

My first bout of depression started some time during my time as an Engineering student. I wasn’t having the same success in University as I had enjoyed in High School. I feel this contributed to my my initial downfall. As I repeatedly fell short of my expectations, negative self-talk took over. Once I realized something was wrong, I brought up my feelings with my girlfriend (who is now my wife). She was very supportive and encouraged me to seek professional assistance.

I visited the University of Alberta’s Counselling & Clinical Services. I began seeing a psychologist and began taking antidepressants. It took time, but I eventually realized that ultimately, my chosen career path was NOT the one really wanted. Withdrawing from University was an incredibly difficult decision. First off, I was worried about being a disappointment to my parents. Secondly, I wasn’t sure what the hell I was going to do with my life, since for as long as I could remember, I was going to be an Engineer. That was how I had self-identified.

My parents were very supportive of my decision. I am very thankful for that. I took time away from school, spent some time in the workforce and found a new path.

Nearly two years ago was my second major depressive episode. It was also when I realized that depression was something I’d always have to be aware of. This bout was brought on by feelings that festered as I grew more and more dissatisfied with the work and environment I was in. I recognized the signs of what was going on early enough so things never got out of hand – but I was in deep enough to need to start medication again. Through the medication and counseling, I was able to identify what was causing me the stress, anxiety and other negative feelings that resulted in my depression. I worked on methods to help me cope with what I was feeling. I shared my diagnosis with my manager, in hopes that it could perhaps create a positive dialog in the office. Unfortunately, that plan backfired. Yes, I was given tools to further help me – but, the office culture did not really change, nor did a useful dialog form. It was at this point that I realized that if *I* wanted to be treated differently and if *I* wanted to be able to discuss my struggles in an open and accepting environment at work, *I* would have to take up that torch and carry it.

Today, I’ve been in a new job for half a year. I enjoy what I’m doing now – the decision to join the company I’m currently with continues to prove to be an excellent choice. In fact, when I caught wind of the Not Myself Today campaign, I took the opportunity to share the campaign with my supervisor, resource manager and the VP of HR. The VP encouraged me to write about the importance of mental health in the workplace on the company intranet and also added her voice to the importance of mental health issues in the workforce. I will be a volunteer with Partners for Mental Health, and will continue to speak about what I have experienced, what I hope people would do for others in my situation, and to encourage those who think they need help to find it.

Talking about my struggles is often hard. Especially in a more professional setting. But it is worth it if just one person seeks help, no matter the cost to me.

I suffer from depression. I always will. My mental illness is really no different than having diabetes. I have to make the right choices to prevent complications from consuming my life.

This has been my story (so far).
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Thu May 8, 2014 3:16 pm
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Positives in the absence

Savage Josh
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August. Seriously? It's been that long?

How time goes by.

For my (former) readers, I'm sorry it's been such a long time since an update. I'm here, I'm alive, and I'm doing well. I sincerely hope all of you who reached out to me when I started this are also doing well.

I am happy to report that overall, the last three to six months have been fairly stable for me. Yes, I've had bad days, but those are FAR fewer than previously.

I'm almost five months into a new job, which has been great. Things have been slower than I had hoped at this point, BUT, I figure if I complain too much, I'll just get drowned in work sooner rather than later. So, right now - I'll just take what I can get, and do what I can to learn more.

I'll be visiting my doctor in a week or so to discuss things regarding my medication. I think that I am ready to start pulling that back a bit. Though, I have a few things going on that I'm concerned about - but I'm not sure it's medication related or not - that will wait until the doctor.

I've also tried to be supportive of mental health initiatives online and building awareness and promoting organizations that are in place to help.

So, any of you wish to share anything?
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Fri Apr 11, 2014 5:56 pm
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Food porn

Savage Josh
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So, last week I had had the chance to get away with just my wife for a few days while the kids stayed at home. Aside from the obvious sleeping in and not having to deal with constant whining, my wife and I had the chance to go to a number of fantastic restaurants. Calgary is rapidly becoming very well known for having some of the best restaurants in the country.

Our first night, we went to the Palomino. It's a smokehouse/bbq/live music venue. I had the Canadian Cheesesteak with Garlic Fries (vampires, beware) and Cheddar grits (my first time having grits).

The food was tasty. I should have gone for something else, this wasn't quite what I really wanted in hindsight, but what can you do? The fries were fantastic and the grits were just meh. I didn't love them, didn't hate them.

The next day, we went on a tour of the Minhas Brewery. My wife doesn't drink beer, so I had 6 samples of beer before lunch. Surprisingly, I found an IPA that I didn't hate outright. After a few sips, I actually was enjoying it. I might have to look into this style a bit more.

With lunch, I had a Rani Lager. It's an Indian style lager. It was a little sweet, but went great with the hot sauce that we got with the pizza we had for lunch.



That night, we went to Candela Lounge. It's a tapas bar. We arrived and the place was fairly packed. We couldn't get a table, so we sat at the bar, which turned out to be a great experience. My wife decided to be rather adventurous with her drinks, so in turn, I was as well. We had the bartender create stuff based on nothing more than a short list of 'dislikes'.
Calamari

Braised Beef Pad Thai

Japa Sliders

Chicken Lollypops

Buñuelos


There were so many other items on the menu we wanted to try, but we were stuffed. I was also introduced to the world of Bourbon. Highly recommended.

When we finally crawled out of bed, we went to the Pfanntastic Pannenkoek Haus. It was around 11:30 on Sunday when we arrived. After an hour wait to get in, we had some great breakfast. Was well worth the wait.

Bacon, Sausage & Egg Pannenkoek


The last image I have is from Char|Cut. It's a fancy Steakhouse that has a lot of in house smoked meats. This was our appetizer. It's basically bacon jerky.

Lonzino


Oh, and this was in the park behind my hotel.
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Tue Aug 6, 2013 3:55 pm
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Kindness

Savage Josh
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Its been some time - I haven't had much to report and well, I'll be honest, I don't really like posting 'more of the same' sort of things. I've had good days, I've had bad days and days in between.

Now, there's been a bit of change that I'd like to talk about, plus something else (which, I have talked about before, but would like to put out there again).

Last Friday my wife and I took off for the weekend without the kids. It was an extremely nice break away and was very relaxing. I enjoyed some fantastic food, some fantastic drinks and.... sleeping in.

I've been back to work for a couple days and I've been feeling fantastic. So that's great! I just really, really, really needed some significant time to 'recharge' without worrying about if someone was going to wake up at night or whatever, I guess.

Now - my challenge. I've got two stories for you. Keep in mind these are (gigantic) examples and are by no means the expectations I have from others.

First, I'll talk about Jen. Jen is a person who works to make people's days better. She leaves sticky notes on bathroom mirrors that say 'you're beautiful', she organized an event to spread kindness around our city. After her well publicized event, she went on vacation to visit family. She got 500 km away from home and her vehicle's engine more or less blew up. With a $4000 repair quote and a $1000 tow to a location that could actually do the service...things haven't gotten better. Anyway. This is where I came in. I've never met Jen, but I was inspired by what she does, and frankly - the universe was completely screwy in lumping all this bad news on this person. So, I decided that Jen needed her day Made. I'm a few days into the campaign and I've raised a bit over $1,000. I'm really happy to see all the people in my community (and some from outside of it) coming together to help this amazing person out.

Next, a couple from France (we assume). My wife and I were out for dinner at Caesar's Steakhouse in Calgary. We were seated near a table where a couple had been dining. We ordered our drinks and it then became apparent that there was some sort of issue with the couple's method of payment. The man had rushed to a bank machine, which had not worked. We continued with our appetizers. The man was clearly becoming more and more stressed out - going in and out of the dining room making calls. My wife was looking rather distressed about the situation. I asked her what she wanted to do. She informed me she wanted to pay for the couple. I said that I had no problem with that. So, she went over to the couple and let them know that we'd take care of it for them. They were taken aback by the offer and after it was clear that my wife wouldn't take no as an answer, they agreed. So, my wife found their waiter and informed him that we'd take care of it. From what my wife said (as I was at our table), both the waiter and the restaurant manager didn't want to take the payment! Sure, it was a $150 bill, but it was something we were willing and able to cover. After she was finally able to pay the bill, the couple was grateful and tried to get our information so they could pay us back. We refused, instead telling them to pay it forward. We also discovered it was their last night in Canada, so we felt good in that we probably turned the night around and made their last night memorable for a good reason, rather than a bad one.

So. My challenge to you. Find a kindness you can do for someone else. Take a page from Jen's book - write a post-it and leave it for someone to find. Buy coffee for someone. Mow a neighbor's lawn. There's so many things you can do that will make a big difference to someone, even if its a little thing for you to do.

And, if you're up for it - post it here.
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Thu Aug 1, 2013 4:09 pm
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Looper

Savage Josh
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Edmonton
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I forgot my medication today.

I'm on Effexor, which, unfortunately, has a short half-life, which means that some patients (like your favorite depressed RPG playing blogger) can experience SSRI discontinuation syndrome after missing a regular dose.

Now, without getting too technical...

My brain feels like it's doing loops in my head. If I turn my head too quickly - dizzy. If I change what I'm focusing on (ie, from my monitor to someone at the door to my office) - dizzy. Loops. Fun joy fun.

Or not.

If the medication wasn't working for me, I'd definitely be approaching my doctor about trying something different since I'm (more than) occasionally forgetful about my pills.
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Wed Jul 3, 2013 8:04 pm
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Environment

Savage Josh
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Edmonton
Alberta
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Rain, Rain, Go Away.

I HATE YOUR FACE.

Seriously though - its been REALLY terrible weather here lately. Sure, not nearly as bad as those to the south of me in Calgary, but...I'm complaining anyway.

Yesterday was a good day. It was also sunny as all heck.

Today so far has been pretty blech. Its raining and gross outside.

At least my office isn't 50,000 degrees today.
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Tue Jun 25, 2013 4:48 pm
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Brain, slow down.

Savage Josh
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Its almost midnight here. My brain is going a million miles a minute. I lay down and all I can think about is...stuff. Nothing in particular, but just this, then that, then this...

Its incredibly frustrating when you know you're tired, yet...you can't sleep.

Jerk brain.
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Tue Jun 25, 2013 6:53 am
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Rational thought need not apply

Savage Josh
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Today is slightly better than yesterday, though, yesterday ended on a much better note than it started off with.

However, I wasn't writing today to talk about how I'm feeling (in particular) today, but a much greater obstacle that I've struggled with is the lack of rationality to why I feel down.

Yesterday's post is proof that yes, I do have a positive impact in people's lives and I do matter to others. Hell, I have a steady job that pays well. I have a great set of kids (well, most of the time...but parenting is a completely other subject...) and a wonderful wife.

Yet, in my head, I do nothing of value. No amount of evidence can convince me otherwise. I mean, look at other people my age - One is running for mayor - and he's got a good chance of winning. Look at this person and all the neat things they do, etc, etc. I DON'T matter.

But those big things - would I ACTUALLY feel better about myself for doing them?

Not bloody likely - because those things sound terribly boring and awful. But what do I want to do? Hell, I don't know.

And maybe that's the thing that bothers me the most. I don't feel like I have a passion for much of anything. And the things I do have a passion for unfortunately, can't pay my mortgage.

But, coming back to the point (maybe). I know I'm lucky. I know I make a difference to many. But, unfortunately, depression doesn't care about reality. It creates its own reality that's...REALLY FUCKING STUPID.

Good days will come back, I know this. But in the meantime, getting through the day can be challenging when you're constantly warring with your own image of reality.
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Thu Jun 20, 2013 3:43 pm
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