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 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.

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.

That Time I Almost Went to Disneyland

Growing up, my family never went on any vacations. One year when I was eight, we traveled to Tennessee for a family reunion. I didn’t know anyone on that side of the family and never made friends quickly anyway. I don’t remember any other time we traveled somewhere that didn’t involve moving. We lived in about six or eight different states before I turned six-years-old. We were always moving to a new place. My father worked for interstates as an electrician and we traveled to where he would work. We settled in Oklahoma and stayed for several years.

I thought my childhood was normal. As I got older, I repressed most of my trauma. Any memories I did have, I didn’t think were that bad. I thought everyone lived through things like that. I looked at photos a lot as a child. I’d see pictures of myself as a baby or toddler and never remembered anything from that time. Most people don’t remember being a baby. I saw pictures from before I was born. These were interesting because it was life prehistory. A time before life. More often than not, my family had to tell me who was in the photos.

One photo from the summer of 1986, the year I was born, showed two little girls standing in between their two parents. The mother was pregnant. The photo looked faded and old in the standard four by six size. They were my two older sisters and parents at Disneyland. There were other photos of the girls on various rides like the teacups. The rumor is they no longer have the teacups ride. At the time, the family lived in Southern California and would for another two years. In those first two years of my life, the family never went back to Disneyland.

I went through grade school hearing other kids talk about their time at Disneyland. I would joke and say I’d never been, but I had the food. They’d look at me in confusion. I would explain my mother was pregnant with me when the family went. They would nod and look awkward until the subject changed. I grew older and older sharing this same story. People would become enraged shouting how they didn’t understand how I had never been to the happiest place on Earth. Before now I don’t think I could have comprehended what happy meant.

I have ridden rollercoasters where they take your photo. My picture would show me grimacing. I didn’t think the rides were as exciting as everyone else. The rides which pushed the limits are the only ones I find exciting. The only rides I actually smiled in the photo. I can think of two. No more. As a kid, I don’t think I would have appreciated Disneyland for what it had to offer. I’m not sure if I will now. It’s rare to find someone in their 30s who hasn’t been to Disneyland. The closest I’ve found is someone was 25 or 26 when they first went.

I’m not saying my family stopped going on vacations after I was born because of me, but I am saying my childhood was not great and enjoying things can be difficult. I’m not sure when I’ll finally get to visit this magical place. Part of me wants to and another part cares less and less each year. I think I will go one day and it’s possible I’ll go alone. Just so I can say I did it. But I think the point of a place like that is to enjoy it with people you love. That’s the part I’m still working on.

Become a Patron!https://c6.patreon.com/becomePatronButton.bundle.js