World Kindness Day

World Kindness day is November 13 and World Kindness Week begins the Monday of the week with November 13. After the events of the last few years, and the many years crammed into 2020, kindness is needed now more than ever. There are a couple of Buddhist sayings that always come to mind when speaking of kindness. The first is, ‘Be kind whenever possible. It’s always possible.’ And the second is, ‘Be kind to all creatures. This is the true religion.’ Kindness is the quality of being friendly and considerate. There are many who believe kindness is a weakness and these are the people who would do harm to others.

When someone is kind to you, it can lift your spirits and put a smile on your face. What happens to you if you’re kind to others? Some benefits for a person who is kind to others include elevation of dopamine levels in the brain, which make us feel good. It can also include the feeling of emotional warmth leading to a healthier heart, reduction of inflammation slowing the aging process, reduction of emotional distance helping couples feel bonded, and contagiousness that often sets off a pay-it-forward ripple effect. There’s one important message I have for everyone regarding kindness. Always be kind to others and always be kind to yourself. That last part is harder than people think. Be kind.

James Pack is a self-published author of poetry and fiction.  Information about his publishing credits can be found on his personal blog TheJamesPack.com.  He resides in Tucson, AZ.

World Mental Health Day

In 1992, the World Federation of Mental Health established World Mental Health Day. In almost 30 years, knowledge about mental health a grown a great deal. The biggest goal for this day is awareness. Even today, there are many people who don’t understand the vast mental health issues people struggle with every day. Even the most recognizable disorders such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) still lack awareness in the general public. Worst of all, people with no medical or behavioral health training claim to know about these disorders and spread false information.

I use this blog and others to share my own experiences. I share my first-hand account of struggling with PTSD and how I learned I had PTSD with two goals in mind. First, I want to bring awareness to people who know nothing about mental health issues. Second, I want others who experience the same things to realize they’re not alone. Many people suffer from poor mental health and don’t realize it. And many have no means to seek help. They may not have insurance. They may not have the means or ability to access medication. They may be afraid to take medication or think they don’t need any.

Help spread awareness about mental health by sharing your story. Only share what you’re comfortable sharing. I have found it helpful to talk about my experiences. It was one step I had to take among many to begin the path to healing. I’m still healing and still have a long way to go. Never give up. Never surrender.

James Pack is a self-published author of poetry and fiction.  Information about his publishing credits can be found on his personal blog TheJamesPack.com.  He resides in Tucson, AZ.

National Suicide Awareness Month

September is National Suicide Awareness Month and September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day. You never know what other people are going through. Be kind whenever possible; it’s always possible. Maybe this is something you don’t show much concern with because it had never affected you directly. You never know who in your life may decide to take their life. Even if you think someone is self-harming because they want attention, that doesn’t make their pain less valid. Existence is pain. Sometimes that pain is overwhelming. We can overcome that pain if we seek help from both professionals and from people in our lives.

If you’re hurting, or think your life is meaningless, there are plenty of places to seek help. If this post speaks to you, I want you to leave a comment. I may not respond, but if you feel alone, look at some of the other comments. Many people, hundreds of thousands, feel the same about their lives. You’re not alone because so many people have the same feelings. Reading articles from TheMighty.com helped me when I was looking for some comfort. I felt people there were in the same boat and I felt less alone. I’m sharing the resources listed on The Mighty website below.

Suicide Prevention Resources

If you are feeling suicidal, there is hope. 

You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255

You can reach the Crisis Text Line 24/7 by texting “START” to 741-741

You can call The Trevor Project, an LGBT crisis intervention and suicide prevention hotline, 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386.

You can call Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 if you live in the U.S. Call 877-330-6366 if you live in Canada.

To find local resources in your area, visit To Write Love On Her Arms.

If you are hard of hearing, you can chat with a Lifeline counselor 24/7 by clicking the Chat button on this page, or you can contact the Lifeline via TTY by dialing 800-799-4889.

To speak to a crisis counselor in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454.

If you are a veteran (or your loved one is a veteran), you can reach the Veterans Crisis Line by calling  1-800-273-8255 and Pressing 1. You can also send a text to 838255.

Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

For additional resources, see the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education).

You can read the following stories from people who’ve been there (from The Mighty):

And for additional messages of hope, click here

You are not alone.  

National Cheer Up the Lonely Day

Tomorrow (July 11) is National Cheer Up the Lonely Day. With social distancing, isolation, and quarantine, this holiday is important now more than ever. I’m certain many people have never heard of this day. The holiday was founded by Francis Pesek. His daughter, L.J. Pesek said he “was a quiet, kind, wonderful man who had a heart of gold. The idea came to him as a way of promoting kindness toward others who were lonely or forgotten as shut-ins or in nursing homes.” July 11 is also Francis Pesek’s birthday. I have yet to find any other information such as when Francis was born or what year the holiday was founded.

Autophobia is the fear of being alone. While many may not have the full-blown phobia, everyone at one time or another is afraid of being alone. For me, I’ve feared people would leave me which added to my insecurities and caused me to drive them away. I created my worst fear. When one feels this way, the smallest gesture can have the biggest impact. Sending a short message, an email, or letter can brighten their day. On social media, tagging a friend or sharing a link or post in a direct message (DM) can bring a smile to their face.

Remember, if you spend most days having conversations with several people, that doesn’t mean everyone else does. You may be the only person one of those people talks to for the entire day. There was one time a couple years ago when I went an entire week with no contact or conversations with anyone outside of work. I felt ignored and unwanted. I know others have felt this way. It takes little effort to remind people that you care about them. It’s also important to not assume someone is lonely because they spend a lot of time alone. Don’t jump to conclusions. Just tell them you care about them.

James Pack is a self-published author of poetry and fiction.  Information about his publishing credits can be found on his personal blog TheJamesPack.com.  He resides in Tucson, AZ.

Pride Month

June is Pride Month. It’s about being proud of who you are and your sexuality, whatever it is. Homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, pansexual, demisexual, asexual; it comes in all shapes and sizes. The point is being proud of who you are. I identify as demisexual. This means I cannot reach full sexual arousal unless I have an emotional connection with the person. I’m not going to go into further details in this post. 

June is also PTSD Awareness Month. May was Mental Health Awareness Month so we’ll continue spreading awareness. June 27 is PTSD Awareness Day, and I’ll share more about that around that time. I have PTSD from various traumas I’ve experienced since childhood. This also caused me to have anxiety and depression. I have spent the last few years attempting to overcome some of my issues. I succeeded in some places and failed in others. 

The biggest thing for me is to no longer feel ashamed of having a mental illness. And to no longer feel ashamed of past transgressions. I’ve made many mistakes. I’ve lost people I cared about because I wouldn’t face my problems. I won’t feel sorry for myself anymore. I ask that everyone have pride in fighting against a mental illness. Be proud of the progress you’ve made. The point of Pride Month is to love yourself. So, bring awareness to your community and be proud of everything you’ve overcome.

James Pack is a self-published author of poetry and fiction.  Information about his publishing credits can be found on his personal blog TheJamesPack.com.  He resides in Tucson, AZ.

Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I have dealt with my own mental health issues for many years. I have a long way to go in my recovery, but writing has always been helpful and therapeutic. Not only do I write for this blog, but I also write on my personal blog as well as fiction and poetry. I have also written for The Mighty. A site that covers many different kinds of mental and chronic health issues. I deal with childhood trauma and many other traumatic events. This has caused anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress.

I spent years trying to make sense of these things. Early on, I wasn’t aware of all my symptoms. I wasn’t aware of how I allowed these painful memories to impact my daily life. As I overcame one obstacle, another would take its place. A never-ending battle. I press on doing as much as I can and trying to stay positive. After two years of writing for these sites and on my own, I decided to compile many of these blog posts into one collection. I share my thoughts in my collection Mushaburui: A Mental Health Journey. It’s on sale in paperback and Amazon Kindle.

My hope with that book is to help others realize they are not alone. I hope others read my experiences and they get the desire to keep fighting. Calling myself a mental health warrior helps build confidence in myself. I want to help build confidence in others. I want others to know they still have a fighting chance.

James Pack is a self-published author of poetry and fiction.  Information about his publishing credits can be found on his personal blog TheJamesPack.com.  He resides in Tucson, AZ.

Learn to Love Yourself in the Alone Time

I have spent the last several months going to work and going home. Not much socializing. Sometimes once a month I would go out if invited to something. I was trying to save money. And I was trying to work on myself. I went to counseling and did other activities to pull myself out of depression. I don’t have insurance so that was the best I could do. I remember feeling alone often. I looked for ways to stay busy and distract myself from how I felt. I wished I could afford to go out and spend time with even one person.

As I was getting to a better place with my finances, the pandemic happened. Everything shut down. I lost a lot of work. Other than concerns for my income, my daily routine didn’t change much. I couldn’t read a book at a coffee shop, but I could live without that. I had grown more comfortable with myself and didn’t mind the alone time. I still feel alone but it doesn’t bother me as much. I’ve grown to a place where I enjoy cooking again. I read more. I write fiction more. My creative ideas are never ending.

During the pandemic, there were videos of celebrities feeling upset during social distancing. This reminded me of how I felt. I realized there wasn’t anything wrong with me or how I felt. We were all reacting in a normal way to isolation. I hope people are discovering new things about themselves. If you’re bored during isolation, you need new hobbies. If you’re alone and uncomfortable, you need to love yourself and enjoy your own company. We all should set time aside to be alone. It’s important to our wellbeing. Find your happiness in the alone time.

James Pack is a self-published author of poetry and fiction.  Information about his publishing credits can be found on his personal blog TheJamesPack.com.  He resides in Tucson, AZ.

7 Ways I Changed from Hunting the Good Stuff

I spent some time in the Arizona Army National Guard. They had started a program called Master Resiliency Training (MRT). Arizona had one of the highest suicide rates among soldiers. They sanctioned this program to help soldiers “overcome adversity.” The Psychology Department of the University of Philadelphia created the program. After a few years I had forgotten a lot of the training. One thing stuck with me though I never practiced it. It was called “Hunt the Good Stuff.” A simple exercise of writing down three good things that happened to you that day before bed. And writing why those things were important to you.

I remember a Major telling everyone about when he first heard about this exercise. He thought it was stupid. His instructor told him to try it. What did he have to lose? The training went for three days. He noticed by the second night of “Hunting the Good Stuff” he was sleeping better. This Major also had two young daughters whom he didn’t know how to connect with. One night at dinner, he asked his family to tell each other three good things that happened to them that day. His family started doing this every night. His daughters start talking about their good things before anyone else. He was able to learn about and connect with his children with this exercise.

Over the last couple years, my life has had many ups and downs. After so many things chipping away at my resolve, I grew more depressed and negative. I got so negative that someone close to me told me they didn’t want to be around me anymore. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I felt I had hit rock bottom. My job offered six free counseling sessions and I took them. I started a “Hunt the Good Stuff” journal. I still have a long way to go but I’m 1000% better than I was. That was five months ago. This one exercise has done more for me than I ever imagined. I wish I had started doing it sooner.

1. When I Look for Good Things, I Find Them

When I first started this exercise, it felt daunting. I wasn’t sure if I could find three things to write in this journal every day. I had to think for a few minutes. The more often I did this, the easier it got. I used to get angry and sad because my mind autopiloted into negative thoughts. When I sat down and thought about the good things, I always found good things. Perspective and attitude do play a role in one’s mindset. Reflecting on something good, no matter how small, every day has helped to change my way of thinking.

2. Others Noticed a Change in Me

It took several weeks before someone said anything. My sister mentioned noticing a huge change in me. A better change. My coworkers noticed too. One of them wanted to take photos for a work Instagram. I joined in and enjoyed being in the photos. I overheard someone say they had never seen me smile so much. Coworkers were happy to see me when I went to work. They were excited to work with me that day. Positive thinking has led me to enjoy the people I work with even if I don’t enjoy the job itself. 

3. I Gained More Self-Confidence

I talked with a coworker about some of the things I had been doing since I felt my life had fallen apart. I mentioned my counseling and “Hunting the Good Stuff.” I thought she would say that she noticed I was happier. But what she said surprised me. She noticed that I was more confident in myself. I never would have guessed that would be a result from positive thinking. It makes sense. Being positive had made me act sillier and have fun without the concern of what others might think. I can’t remember the last time I was like that.

4. My Attitude Changed; I’m More Positive

As expected, positive thinking has led me to see the world in a positive way. I don’t always assume the worst from people. I rationalize things differently. When someone says they forgot about plans we made because they didn’t put it in their calendar, I understand. I’ve done that too. Before I would assume, I wasn’t important to them and that’s why they forgot. Sometimes people get busy and it has nothing to do with me. I don’t make plans as often now, but I don’t get upset if things don’t go to plan.

5. I Changed How I Talk to Myself

One of the things I started along with “Hunting the Good Stuff” was a positive affirmation. The person I was close to who didn’t want me in their life anymore gave this to me. I repeat the phrases, “I like myself. I love myself. I deserve good things.” I once repeated these words over and over for about 20 minutes. This helped but writing three good things every day helped too. My internal monologue has changed. I don’t call myself stupid when I make a mistake. I don’t say negative things to myself as often. It’s still there now and then, but less frequent.

6. I Sleep Better

It doesn’t work every night. Some nights I’m still restless or only sleep a few hours. But overall my sleep has improved. I have dreams more often. Fewer nightmares. I sleep longer and deeper. I don’t always feel energized, but I don’t feel drained upon waking up anymore. I give myself a couple hours in the morning before work. I allow myself time to ease into the day. This has added to my daily productivity and attitude when going to work. Most of the time, I can go to sleep at the time I want to start sleeping.

7. I Enjoy Things Again

I used to have a general crabby disposition. Even when I used to enjoy something, I didn’t show much enthusiasm. I find myself feeling good after doing things. I go to movies alone and reflect on having a good time with myself. If I go to a party, I socialize for a bit and enjoy some food. I walk in with no expectations and walk out having had a great time. I get more reading and writing done because I enjoy doing it more. 

I’m surprised how much this one activity helped change my perspective on life. I still have hard days where I have to force myself to find good things. The last few weeks I’ve moved from at least three good things every day to four good things every day. More and more days are having five to seven good things. As of writing this, I’ve been practicing this exercise for over 150 days. That’s five months. I may never get back the people I lost when I was negative and depressed. But I will do everything I can to not make the same mistakes twice.

The good stuff is always out there. You just have to look for it. Happy hunting!

James Pack is a self-published author of poetry and fiction.  Information about his publishing credits can be found on his personal blog TheJamesPack.com.  He resides in Tucson, AZ.

When You’ve Gotten Comfortable Between a Rock and a Hard Place

I’ve always managed to work through any depression. I may be completely down for a couple days, but I force myself back up and keep going. I recently hit another depressed time. A few things built up over a couple weeks. It all happened fast, and I didn’t have time to process one thing before another kicked me down. I was ready to start dealing with each thing and I got another blow. I was negative for a couple days. Given the circumstances, my reaction was normal, but it was a strain on those closest to me. 

One of my friends told me they needed a break from me and my negativity. That’s when I broke. I knew it wasn’t forever. I knew they weren’t telling me to stay out of their life. But it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I had never felt lethargic before. That night I learned what lethargy feels like. My whole body was numb, and I walked on auto pilot. I cried until I ran out of tears. I spoke with another friend for a couple hours. They told me I had been more negative recently.

They noticed a considerable change. I hadn’t noticed. I didn’t realize how far into the sludge and the darkness I had gone. All the other things that pushed me down looked like a result of my negativity. I felt none of it would have happened if I had taken care of myself.  I had an opportunity through the company I work for to receive six free counseling sessions. I don’t have medical insurance which I always used as an excuse for not finding treatment. I admitted that I need help and I’m trying to find it. 

I threw out the alcohol in my home for fear of becoming like my alcoholic father. I’m giving my loved one’s space, so I don’t drag them into my misery anymore. Looking back, I can see how I’ve been moving towards this point for the last two years. I did so much for my healing and still managed to lose myself along the way. This reminds me of the story of a toad in hot water. Put the toad in hot water, it jumps away. Put the toad in cold water and slowly heat it up, the toad will boil to death.

I’m the toad and the negativity is the water. I didn’t realize how bad it got. I didn’t realize how much of it was my own fault for not taking care of myself. This is less about blaming myself and more about holding myself accountable. Now that I know I’m accountable, I have to be accountable for my happiness as well. I don’t know how long this will take. I’ve been sharing my personal stories on blogs for two years. It’s helped me heal. I will continue writing, but I need to focus on myself and my own goals. I still have stories to share. It’s my favorite things to do. Fair well for now. Don’t stop fighting.

10 Things That Help My Mental Health

More often than not, I struggle most days. I’m sure I pass for a normal adult. But sometimes I’m having a panic attack. Or every little noise makes me irritable. Every day has some amount of stress. The days I struggle with the normal stress are extra difficult. There are a few things I use as coping mechanisms to get me through most days. Sometimes I never leave my apartment and focus on a few of these things. I don’t think I could get by without this list. These are the things I need the most and sometimes don’t get enough.

1. Caffeine (Coffee/Tea)

It’s not uncommon for me to have several cups of coffee throughout the day. I’m trying to cut back by drinking tea in the evenings. As long as I get caffeine, I’m satisfied. Caffeine is a pain reliever. This is why I drink so much. If I’m not drinking coffee, I’m pills for pain relief. The pain is muscle aches. Hypertension. Even when I’m relaxed, I don’t feel relaxed. Caffeine doesn’t make the pain go away, but I don’t notice it as much. I also use the cup or mug as a barrier. I feel safer with that barrier between me and the world.

2. Quiet/Silence

Finding a quiet place is difficult sometimes. Noises don’t always bother me. On bad days, nowhere is quiet enough. Not even my home. Libraries are great if seats are open. Sometimes I must have my back to a wall to feel safe. Sometimes the ambience of a coffee shop is soothing. On the worst days, listening to other people talk is so irritating I can’t be in public. I struggle with friends who feel if I’m not talking that means I’m angry. Usually I need to warm myself up to interact with others. That usually takes a couple hours and a couple coffees.

3. Writing

Writing is one of my passions. I couldn’t survive without the written word. I can convey my thoughts and emotions in written form better than verbally. It’s my way to vent. I get all my emotions out. It prevents me from bottling up everything. It has also helped me work through many of my mental health issues. Sometimes comments from others going through similar situations is enough to help me stay positive. Sometimes writing fiction is a great way to escape. I wouldn’t be who I am today if I couldn’t write down my thoughts and feelings.

4. Human Interaction

When I say human interaction, I mean spending time with loved ones. My support system. I haven’t always had a support system. I never knew how much being close to others could affect my life. I get upset if I don’t talk to this small group of people every day. Their interaction, or lack of interaction, with me can determine if I have a good or bad day. Sometimes we may not speak or text. But we share pictures or memes and it reminds me they’re thinking of me. That thought alone is enough to pull me away from the darkness of depression.

5. Reading

Many people read to escape. They want to imagine a life different from their own. This is part of why I enjoy reading. It’s helps my mental health because it clears my head. If I’m reading, I’m not overthinking something or stewing in negativity. I can focus my mind on the story, and this alleviates my anxiety. This is especially useful if I read before going to work. It’s relaxing and helps prepare me for any potential stress. I’ve gotten into the habit of carrying a book with me everywhere. I could go several days without reading but I always have a book with me in case I need it.

6. Walking

Any kind of exercising can help one’s mental health but not everyone is built to spend hours at the gym. I lose interest in anything over a half hour. When I was in better shape, I could do 45 minutes. Walking, however, is something I can do all day every day. I stopped using my car so I could walk more, and I enjoy every minute of it. Recreationally, I can walk for an hour listening to music from my smartphone. I walk to work or to coffee shops or wherever. It’s exercise and I enjoy it.

7. Staying Busy

When I start running out of things to do, I feel depression spinning its ugly head in my direction. Keeping myself busy with work or projects, even games, helps me focus. When I’m focused on a task or project, I’m not having negative thoughts. I’m less concerned about what may or may not happen. Just like prioritizing tasks, I prioritize my thoughts. Worrying won’t get the job done. I stay busy so I don’t have time to worry. But I don’t get so busy that I feel overwhelmed. I keep a balance between projects and fun. Sometimes my projects are fun.

8. Hugs

This is a difficult thing for me. Hugs are important for everyone. It helps one’s mental health overall. My problem? I don’t like other people touching me. I’ve worked on this over several years. Strangers should definitely never touch me. Acquaintances I’ll give a pass now and then, but I don’t go out of my way for hugs. The handful of people closest to me are the ones I accept hugs from without question. It’s taken me a long time to develop this. Even to allow myself to accept it from close friends. Overall, I don’t get many hugs. But when I do, it changes my world.

9. Photography

I’ve always had an interest in taking pictures. I recently acquired a new camera and I love it. I want to take pictures every day. I don’t know if it’s the task itself, or the act of creating something that makes my soul happy. I’m a creative person. I enjoy creating things. That may be all it is. Or maybe there’s something about photography that brings me more joy than other things. Regardless, it will always be a fun hobby and I recommend it to anyone looking for a creative outlet.

10. Sustainable Income

This is something no one thinks about until they don’t have it. I was unemployed for half of 2018. My mental health hit an all-time low during this time. Most people don’t think about how much financial stability affects their outlook on life. It was eye opening for me. It’s easier to find the good in the world when I happy to have food on the table and a roof over my head. No one can appreciate the small things in life until they no longer have the small things. Having enough money to survive with a little extra is enough. I don’t need all the money in the world. I only need enough.

All these things work for me and I recommend them to anyone looking for something that will help. I will caution that what works for me will not always work for someone else. Still, none of these things will hurt anyone if they try them. It costs nothing to try something you might enjoy.