Finding the good where it all (seems to be) is bad

DISCLAIMER: It is important that you explore treatment options that are good for you and pay attention to how it’s working for you.  I am not a clinical psychologist and am solely relating my experience with my own depression and how it’s working for me.

Let’s face it, with today’s political climate there’s been a surge of anxiety, depression and anger across the country. Depression however, is nothing new in our society – it’s something I’ve struggled with for most of my adult life and at one point, depression along with its vile cousin anger almost ruined my life.

It was 2003 and I was diagnosed with PTSD related depression – stemming from traumas I experienced as a child and young adult. I had suicidal thoughts and even attempted to take my life at one point. It has been a very hard, rocky and often dark road towards recovery. While I still experience myself feeling incredibly depressed I have to say that my outlook in life is more positive these days than what it was a few years ago. What did I do?

One of the first steps I took in order to not let these crippling feelings continue to rule my life was recognize there was a problem with myself. Many people don’t know what’s happening to them and therefore don’t know they need help, and often refuse any assistance that their friends and family might offer. It’s not easy, for years I didn’t know there was something wrong with me or my extremely negative behavior. I labeled it as being “tough” and excusing as a tool that was very much needed to survive in a city like New York. There were moments of clarity though when I knew that I was not right with the world and what was in it, but those moments dissipated quickly.

However, I became fully aware of what was happening, what I was doing, what I was going through when I was exposed to a different lifestyle other than my own…I made friends with a girl who had a vastly different life than I did and she showed me that life can be different – that while you can start off in a dark place, like her mother did when she emigrated from Taiwan to the US, you can make a good life for yourself and your family – you just have to want it bad enough. Her mother had a real hard life acclimating to the new culture and a horrible experience in her relationship…but she was such a sweet lady and I wondered who she remained sweet and seemingly untainted by the bad. I never found out about her, but I found out about me – and who I am today is nowhere near who I was during my 20’s.

Still, after being exposed to her life, her family and their positive energy it took me a while to realize what was happening to me and how that was preventing me from attaining good opportunities in life – for years after meeting “Mum” I still viewed the world my angry eyes through the darkness cloak of depression. I should note that all of this; was after three years of counseling that led to me just being more angry about everything. Counseling or therapy can work for some people, so please, explore that option before anything else.

I was lost for so long and was tired of feeling like useless, unworthy, most importantly I became tired of feeling emotionally and physically heavy, but I didn’t know what to do or where to turn to, since counseling didn’t work so well for me. I turned to alcohol and made effort to escape my reality every night as I danced, drank, danced, and drank twice as much as I danced. It was a morning, after one of those crazy drinking nights that I realized that I was withering away to nothing. I realized that I was slowly achieving what I failed to that night in my apartment in the Bronx when I decided that I wasn’t worthy of love or life.

I looked at myself in the mirror and saw that the usual glow to my skin had become a gaudy ash tone of green, and like that day, I decided to make a call for help because my life was and is still worth something. So I did…by asking for guidance from God (or the universe, or whatever you want to call it, or prefer) and instead of going out with my friends I stood in and waited for an answer. It was the first day of being open to something good – thankfully it wasn’t the last. Years later I realized that good things start to happen when you’re open to them. Not a moment before.

With that said, I’m going to say that suffering from depression is very crippling, it’s something that many people can’t get over – and I still struggle with it, as well as struggle with (albeit brief) suicidal thoughts – but I make it a point to stay focused on what helps me move and work through the emotions as best as I can. I write down my feelings, and even make lists of things I have done so far, and the things I want to do, sort of like a pro and con list of what makes me such a great asset to life and those around me – a pros and cons list of why I love myself and why it’s so important to me for me to stay alive and emotionally balanced.

As a person who finds that staying busy and creative is a positive, I make sure that my mind is clear and active. When I go through those weeks of darkness it’s painful, not only emotionally, but also physically. Those weeks that I experience migraines, paralyzing pain throughout my body and other physical conditions that are challenging, I try my best to stay focused on the things I need to do in order to get my work completed and done by making lists and jotting down activities in my calendar. While some can classify me as a workaholic since I focus so much on work, but honestly, working on writing, film techniques and listing all the other things I need to get done for the current and next day helps me. Listing to-do’s, helps me go through the motions and move through the day, even if I don’t smile that entire day, or when I do I feel as if I’m falling apart internally enables me to feel good for working through the darkness. When I’m feeling better I revise whatever I created and give it a dab of positivity as I see fit.

Another and important thing that I do is I meditate, a lot. Meditation has helped me get a better outlook in life, clearing my mind, my heart, my soul from all the negativity and all the things that kept me incredibly angry for so long. Once that happened I began to love myself both emotionally and physically. I was also able to see the things I was capable of doing and achieving, what’s more, I was able to open myself emotionally to the world – something so many people are afraid to do because they’re afraid of being hurt. This last point is quite ironic, because I’ll be the first to admit that I was completely shut down by past experiences with being hurt. Experiencing emotional, physical, mental and sexual abuse from people who were closest to me and supposed to protect me as well as repeated sexually assaulted by a former romantic partner, and the countless of failed romantic relationships in my adult life – I had my fare share of pain, which led to destructive behavior that crippled me for so long. It also led to that suicide attempt in my early 20’s.

As soon as I let go of that fear, that anger and opened myself to the world I was able to feel more freely and recognize all sorts of emotions, be them good, bad or neutral and accept them as they are happening. Because of the ability to recognize feelings I’ve been able to freely talk about my traumatic experiences with those I’ve think are able to handle such harsh and traumatic events. I’ve also been able to recognize and accept feelings of love in different areas of my life and welcome warmth and happiness with an incomparable ease. I’ve even had people say that they feel happy and calm when they’re around me – so I know I’m doing something good and what I’m doing is working, not only for me, but for those around me.

Another thing I’ve been able to develop is an honest indifferent to the negative thoughts and words of others. It is because I know what’s true in my heart and life that negativity doesn’t bother me anymore. It’s like a sense of purity that comes over me and a short term curiosity of “what would motivate them to do that?” but that doesn’t last long (no more than a day or two). But that’s more important, I don’t feel like I should go after them and make their lives miserable. It’s also important to note, that while I an indifferent to negative talk, I do not allow it in my life because it will permeate and therefore contaminate all the good I’ve accomplished these past few years.

So, how do I see the light in the dark? I am open to the good things I’ve done and plan to do. I block out the negative and meditate after I work on my list of things to do. I acknowledge every emotion I have and try, my best, with an unbiased heart and mind to understand other’s reactions to their lives when it comes to directly dealing with them, as well as realizing that we don’t have complete control of what happens to us. We can only just experience what’s going on, and try to find a solution to any given and immediate problem, but sometimes, there isn’t a solution and things just have to be ‘left alone’ just like some people should be left alone or out of our lives.

As of today, I have to say I rarely drink, so much so that one beer gives me a buzz and that’s more than enough for me and while I like to spend time with my friends, I like to do so completely sober because it allows me to fully enjoy the experience.

November Update

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Salt Water will be undergoing more edits

With all of what’s happened during the past few weeks it’s been difficult to keep myself together with my work, but here are a few things that’s happening or that are scheduled to happen this month.

  1. I moved to a new location – we’ve known that I’ve been looking for a new place to settle down and I’ve finally found one that I’m incredibly happy with.
  2. While I haven’t had much time to sit down and work, the few moments, hours I’ve had to do so I’ve realized that I’m not happy with the final cut of Salt Water and will be working on the edits once more. Once I’m incredibly happy and super satisfied with it, I’ll release it (thank God I didn’t release it already!) and submit it to film festivals, and later on upload it to my YouTube Channel.
  3. I’ve started to think of the perfect way to edit the pilot for the Silent no More docu-series. I do need a bit more footage, and do some additional recording myself – then it’s going to be perfect.
  4. There’s an upcoming surfing event (the Saturday after thanksgiving) and I’ll be covering that for the No Boundaries X Magazine – a publication that focuses on extreme sports and healthy lifestyle here in Puerto Rico.

What’s going on with the Film Festivals?

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Forced into Silence is still competing at Film Festivals! 

So, I’ve been waiting to hear from the 11 festivals I’ve submitted Forced into Silence to and while I’ve been accepted to one – and voted to win the Best Documentary award for that festival, there are other festivals that the film is still “in consideration” and others that have already rejected it. Why? Well, I don’t know, since they don’t give explanation for their decisions. I’m thinking it could be anywhere from the fact that I used Google Hangouts (because of budget restrictions) to make most of the film happen or the topic of choice of the film – again, I don’t know. However, I’m still hopeful that it makes the cut for those other festivals it’s still in consideration for. I also keep on getting invitations to submit to festivals. It’s all confusing and exciting, so I’ll keep you guys posted on that as I am informed of decisions, invites and more.

Political postings and rants

It’s been a tough couple of few weeks for me and my fellow liberals – and although I’ve never made a posting about politics, the results of an election, but I felt that this was more personal than any other election. I’ve been accused to be part of the snowflakes that are too delicate to deal with a real Presidential candidate by those in the alt-right – to which I say: “I’m too progressive to regress to segregation, religious registration and prevent a possible genocide of any kind” therefore I made a post about how I felt the political outcomes of both countries I’m directly involved with affected me personally.

Moving forward…

20160802_163946I’m putting together a group of amazing people in order to launch a podcast for those who need to hear about how to take on challenges in this world. So many people come up to me and confess to me their admiration for how I deal with issues in my life and ask for advice and that has inspired me to make a podcast to give people a new perspective as to how to see and deal with issues in their lives. I’m often told that I put things in a viewpoint that perhaps they would have never thought of – and maybe the podcast will enable me to help people that aren’t just my friends. Right now it’s an idea, so it’s going to be a while before I get that off the ground and running – still, stay tuned!

And since it’s November, happy holidays to everyone out there!

Dudes, I’ve been nominated for an award!

liebster2I’ve been blogging here and there for quite some time – and I’ve never heard of this particular award. While my most recent recognition was being part of the 2015 Selection of the Rincón International Film Festival, I’ve never nominated for an award. So you’d be right to think that I’m more than excited when my nominator Steifannie on left me a comment November 7, 2015 announcing her decision to bestow me such an honor. Naturally at first I thought ‘wait, is there such an award?’ and I proceeded to investigate by way of Google and found it to be a real thing – and if you, like me, don’t know much about the award, here are the details: The Liebster Award is an award given by bloggers to other up-and-coming (and particularly awesome) blogs. It’s a way of connecting and encouraging others to keep going with their online presence, promoting the arts in any way possible. The rules changed from nominating bloggers with or fewer than 3000 followers to currently only being able to nominate bloggers with or fewer than 200.

The rules are quite simple:

  1. THANK THE PERSON WHO NOMINATED YOU AND LINK TO THEIR BLOG ON YOUR LIEBSTER AWARD nomination POST. 
  2. COPY AND PASTE THE LIEBSTER AWARD nomination BADGE INTO YOUR POST. 
  3. ANSWER THE 10 QUESTIONS YOU WERE GIVEN WHEN YOU WERE NOMINATED.
  4. COME UP WITH 10 QUESTIONS YOU WOULD LIKE TO ASK OF YOUR  NOMINEES (please look below).
  5. NOMINATE 10 BLOGGERS WHO HAVE 200 or less FOLLOWERS and let them know by COMMENTING ON ONE OF THEIR POSTS, and linking YOUR LIEBSTER AWARD nomination POST, along with A SHORT MESSAGE.

I’ve already completed both Steps 1 & 2, so here is Step 3: The responses to my nominator’s questions:

  1. WHY DID YOU START BLOGGING?

To reach a broader audience with my short films, written stories, etc., as well as to grow my online presence as a filmmaker.

  1. DO YOU KEEP A DIARY, IF SO WHY? IF NOT, WHY NOT?

I wouldn’t call it a diary, I would call it a “story idea notebook” and I write in it quite often with ideas for films, some poems, and some (TV/Web) series ideas.

  1. WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ON THE GROWTH OF YOUTUBE AND YOUTUBERS? 

I think it’s interesting…I like how it gives a platform for people who have dreams of becoming a performer at any capacity. However, with the good there is often a bad, and the dark side of YouTube is quite dark….and unnecessary really.

  1. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE FILM EVER AND WHY?

I cannot pick just one, but you can certainly read my list of 25 Films that have inspired me (1st edition) to get an idea….

  1. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE FILM TRAILER AND/OR POSTER AND WHY? IF YOU DON’T HAVE ONE, PICK A TRAILER AND/OR POSTER YOU’VE SEEN RECENTLY THAT YOU’RE EXCITED ABOUT!

Here are my favorite movie posters – why? Purely for narcissistic reasons (hint: they are my own movie posters…lol)

Forced into Silence riff pasado poster 2

  1. WHAT DO YOU WANT FOR CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR? 

To just be happy

  1. WHAT IS THE BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT YOU’VE EVER GIVEN?

A cabbage patch doll…when I was like 5??

  1. IF YOU COULD DO OR BE ANYTHING, WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP? (EVEN IF YOU’VE ALREADY ‘GROWN UP’!)

I’m already doing and being it J

  1. WHO WOULD YOU BE IF YOU COULD BE ANY CHARACTER FROM A FILM?

This is a hard question….since I like so many films. I’d be Merida (Brave) Skeeter (The Help) Maleficent, Pocahontas, Samantha Jones (Sex and the City), Lieutenant John J. Dunbar a/k/a Dances with Wolves (Dances with Wolves), Mrs. Boss or Lady Sarah Ashley (Australia), Ms. Gruel (Freedom Writers)….you get the point – the strong, curious, authority-defying, game-changing character in each film.

  1. WHAT IS YOUR TIP FOR SAVING THE WORLD?

I don’t know, try to be good to others, do no harm, plant/save trees…spread the goodness within…

BONUS ANSWER:

Although she didn’t ask this question, I liked it so I’ll answer it:

  1. WHAT ACCOMPLISHMENT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?

There’s really no way to just choose one thing. I have to say that this year has been full of surprises and accomplishments I only dreamt of having a short time ago. I was very proud of myself when I wrote, directed, and (limited) released my first short film – that was something I thought would never happen. Another moment of accomplishment was when I was invited to be a speaker at the La Guardia Community College in New York for my work on (ongoing production) Forced into Silence , being interviewed by the Award-Winning podcaster Dr. Vibe for his aptly named The Dr. Vibe Show. When my first short documentary, Forever Boogies, made the 2015 Official RIFF selection….I could go on forever, so I guess I can say the years 2014, and 2015 I’m most proud of so far

Step 4: Here are my 10 questions for my nominees:

  1. Why made you want to blog?
  2. What do you blog about and why?
  3. Is there any accomplishment that you’re most proud of? What sets it apart from any other accomplishment?
  4. (I think this is a great question) What do you wish you knew more about and why?
  5. What is your favorite film/book/television show and why? (if you have one of each, list all of them)
  6. Is there anything or anyone who inspires you the most, why?
  7. What are your ambitions for the future? Where do you see yourself going? (Be it by blogging, or any aspect of your artistic expression – e.g. writing, film, drawing, etc )
  8. Other than sharing your thoughts with the world, what do you care about the most?
  9. If you could meet any person in the world (past or present – alive or dead) who would it be and what would you ask them?
  10. What do you wish your legacy to be – that thing that people remember when they hear your name?

Although some of these questions might seem challenging, I’ve come to realize that if you ask people challenging questions, it pushes them to think of what they want out of life and how to start making it happen. This is my unique way of helping others realize their potential and their true passion in life.

Step 5 – Part of being nominated for the Liebster Award is to nominate other bloggers, here are my (careful) selection:

  1. SHE SHAPES THE CITY

This relatively new blog shares photos and stories of women who are changing the face of Nairobi – dazzling photos of powerful women that are changing lives in their unique ways can be seen along with a short post about this particular and spectacular woman.

  1. MARK, MD, MPH

Want to know how mental health relates to today’s society? Mark keeps his posts easy to read and relatable to the ongoing challenges of the ever-evolving present day, tackling topics like that of trans-person health care from a parents POV, analyzing pop-culture shows and their relevancy on mental health like Kimmy Schmidt. It’s a great blog that every person should follow to learn more about mental health, an issue that is not often spoken wisely about today.

  1. PRISON PHOTOGRAPHY

A compelling blog that shares the rarely seen drawings of prisoners around the nation, how their mental health is affected by incarceration and the goings on of life behind bars. It features also a healthy dose of essays, and reference papers. It’s moving, it’s daunting, and eye opening. FOLLOW IT!

  1. BIBLIOKLEPT

You obviously like reading if you’re here – so, if you like vintage books, but don’t know where to start, Biblioklept is the perfect place to do so. Concise reviews that accompany vintage book covers give any reader a list to start off their reading at any time of year – not just for the summer.

  1. THE BOOKSHELF OF EMILY J

Another blog for book reviews, but this one also features life lessons, opinion, and literary reviews. It’s easy to navigate, read and will keep you entertained both on and offline (when you read one of the reviewed books of course).

  1. POST SECRET

Want a fun, daring and interactive blog to follow? Post Secret is a way for its audience to share stories without revealing their identities. It’s a great site that will make you shake your head, laugh, and think if you have any secrets worth posting (without the risks of course!) It will also let you in the lives of people – and surely will make you feel less alone with your deep dark stories…

  1. THANK YOU FOR SWALLOWING

Don’t be fooled by the (seemingly offensive) name, this blog is full of poetry penned by people from around the globe on various topics ranging from trans-life, birthing, leaving a job you hate, etc. – great content.

  1. OTHER SASHAS

Sasha Martinez journals online about her reading, more than reviews, she gives an insight to how reading pretty much anything makes her feel and it’s great. She’s fun to read and has a great collection of photos for each post. Go follow, enjoy and try to keep up with such a voracious reader!

  1. THE MONSTERS UN

Want a fun blog where monsters meet at the United Nations? Search no more

  1. SERIAL WORD ABUSER

Reviews of anime, comics, films, campy movies and more can be found on this fun blog. Go follow it and be a witness to the series of abused words.

There’s so much good content out there! It was incredibly hard to make a selection – but this is my final list. I hope they accept the nomination and help promote other amazing blogs that aren’t in or haven’t reached the spotlight.