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Finding Perspective

Monday, March 16, 2009 , Posted by Bradd McBrearty at 1:20 AM

Blogging in general is very therapeutic for me. Typically, I’ll blog to work through specific emotions. Those times when you want to hike to the top of a mountain just to shout into the wind and proclaim to all of existence that you are here, and the world is going to learn to deal. Usually I am an open book and the stranger on the street can know how I am feeling just as easily as my girlfriend or mother.
That’s been much less true recently. Mostly because I’ve felt very conflicted. It’s hard to blog about a specific emotion when you have two very strong influences competing for dominance. The biggest reason for this is I hate to lay blame, or make excuses. Typically when I find myself making excuses for my decisions I take a step back and try to look at myself and see what is really going wrong. I’ve been trying to take that step back since Thanksgiving. Sadly, with little progress, but I have managed to gain some perspective on my life, and on my actions, both deliberate, and indirect.
The last year of my life was most defined by two specific events; A serious relationship with a loving girl, and getting an excellent job in my chosen field – 3D artwork. However before the year was out, both of those things – the two things I want more than anything in life – had slipped through my fingers.
So I stand back, put my pride, emotions, logic, excuses, and friendly advice aside and ask why. The single most important thing I can do in the coming year is to not repeat the mistakes of last year.
In trying to take full responsibility for these two failings I came to one conclusion – a lack of focus. This is actually a recurring theme in my life.
For example – I’ve always been fairly articulate in writing, and as such never took the next step to elevate my craft to the level of a professional writer. I simply rode the talent I was naturally given as far as it would take me. The same is true of my piano and guitar playing. I got as good as I could without really making the sacrifice of my time and other social activities.
It’s hard for me to admit but the same holds true and echoes over into more important aspects of my personal life; specifically my religious devotion, and personal relationships.
I’m a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I believe it is the plan for our happiness in this life, and eternal salvation in the life to come. And yet, even with this knowledge my actions aren’t completely in line with my convictions. Specifically, I recognize that I am lustful and lack charity towards others. I let base pride overrule my potentially noblest characteristics.
In relationships I know that I invest as much effort as I can without giving up my selfish habits.
I’m not referring to anything malicious or even out of the ordinary. The habits I refer to are the simple guilty pleasures like enjoying a lot of alone time. It’s hard to express to someone that even though you love them, you still want time alone to think or write, to play music or just reflect. I know that I come off as cold and distant and I don’t really know how to change that without attempting to restructure the very core of how I see myself.
This resistance to change is the pride and selfishness I see when I attempt introspection and self examination.
I’ve buried this next bit under the previous wall of text so that only those who really wanted to endure my tirade would reach this point. Consider this Basecamp-2 on the ascent of my snowy-self-reflection.
I went to the doctor a while ago. He referred me to a liver specialist and a Psychologist. The liver specialist sent me to a radiologist, and the Psychologist sent me to a Psychiatrist. I learned three important facts: One – A combination of bad diet, poor exercise habits, and stress was causing my liver to misbehave. Two – Never stop taking medication specifically prescribed by a medical professional just because you don’t want to take pills (thus admitting to yourself that you are sick.) Three – I suffer from a conflict of external locus of identity, meaning that my personality is so heavily based upon achievement that when said accomplishments are not recognized I’m prone to horrible depression.
-This is all getting terribly serious, so here’s a funny aside-
I went and got a full chest scan done so the doctors could analyze what was going on with my liver. The next day I went snowboarding, and as many of you know, broke my sternum, and dislocated all the ribs on my right side. (*Still in lots of pain*) So, two days later I was back getting another chest scan. I had the same orderly putting the ultrasound goo on me both times – but the second time it was almost unbearable just to be touched. She said, “I better not see you back here later this week, or I don’t know what we’re going to do…” which made me laugh. For the record, laughing with a broken sternum and cracked ribs is incredibly painful- and so I ended up in tears with a grin on my face. A painfully hilarious metaphor for my life in general lately.
Moving right along. I fell in love a while ago. If there’s such a thing as love at first sight this was it. If there is such a thing as a soul mate, she was mine. Something beyond the conscious mind was immediately familiar about her. But I couldn’t have her at the time. She was dating another. Got married even. I don’t know if I’d call the tragedy that led her to being single again a miracle, but I found her back in my life. In one of our first heart to heart discussions she told me about a close friend that she’d lost because he was taking Adderall, and it negatively impacted his moods and personality. I’d been prescribed Adderall and an antidepressant earlier that year. I tried to hide it from her, which made me feel terrible, knowing that she was against those specific drugs. I eventually stopped taking the medication and stopped seeing my doctor, telling myself that I could manage, and that having her love would be enough to make due.
Even though the events of my life were all good, and I was surrounded by positive friends and a loving family, I began sliding into apathy- my personal manifestation of depression. It got so bad that I didn’t care about or enjoy anything in my life. The artwork I was making was average. I was having a hard time paying attention to long conversations. Reading was an impossible chore. I was going nowhere and didn’t really mind.
That not totally true. I was dragging a girl, the companion to my soul down into my apathy day by day. She is an incredibly articulate writer. While reading some abstract poetry she’d sent me I made a connection, somewhere, subconsciously I knew that the path I was on could only lead to heartbreak and disaster for us both. The next time I saw her I tried to explain the abstract darkness that is unprovoked depression to her without admitting its name. In the end every word she spoke stung like icy water on bare skin. One true emotion cutting through my apathy, reminding me I was still alive. They were just little comments here and there, but it was more than I could bear. Partly out of pride, mostly out of shame I took the low road out, and left her hoping that with time I can find cages for these dark beasts that gnaw at the corners of my mind. Praying that I wouldn’t drag her down into my personal purgatory.
The moment I was single again, freed from the fearful burden of ruining the person for whom I cared most, things immediately began improving. I saw doctors. Got back on a health plan. Good friends came to my rescue. Though you may not know it, if you’re reading this you very well may have saved my life. For every moment of deep binding apathy, I have moments of adrenaline filled mania. More than a few times I’ve planned out my own funeral, wishing the world a better future without me in it. My loving family has unknowingly taken my by the arms and shoulders and carried me from the brink more times than I care to reflect on. This is how I know I have a Heavenly father watching over me. In every one of those moment when I was ready to abandon myself, my family has directly intervened on my behalf and seen me through to better times.
Caring friends have then picked up the slack and ignited my spark for life.
I don’t want anyone to read this as a call for help, or grasp at sympathy. Largely I’m sharing these thoughts as a memorial to the terrain I’ve conquered, and as a way to say thank you to everyone who has crossed my life in the last year.
In seeking out an answer, I realize that thankfulness was the missing key. Dreadful personal pride isolates us from those who would love us most. It is impossible to be charitable and self-centered.
“He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” -Matthew 10:39

Currently have 4 comments:

  1. I noticed you had a new post up and was eager to see what was new regarding your European street scene.

    I was instead granted the rare opportunity at seeing what makes Bradd's mind tick. Good to see you being honest with yourself and to hear your testimony. Something you're pretty good at hiding, but are brilliant when out on display.

    Just more reason to why I think you'd make a great teacher in the Church and at school

    my two cents
    -The Chad

  1. Johnny says:

    Your welcome for saving your life.

    Now, just like the mighty Wookie, you owe me a life debt. To pay this debt you must become my copilot. I can't make the Kessel run in 5 parsecs on my own.

  1. Johnny says:

    I just had this thought....

    This may be a bit off color, but I have to tell you that I find it ironic that you are having liver issues, and I am not. yet.

    Maybe you should re-think your stance on liquor.

  1. Matt says:

    Very meaningful and inspirational!
    You're not alone, brother.

    Thank you for sharing!

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