A Painful Loss

A painful loss - sun rays beaming down on lake surrounded by hills

Unexpected Encounter with Death

A painful loss

You know it’s coming

Like a breeze in the distance

The signs are obvious

He’s symptomatic

The heart fails

Like he’s impaled

Bradycardia it entails

Rushed to the animal hospital

He’s 14 years of age

Put him down they say

It’s his end of days

But how can we?

He’s been my baby since I was 20

A Painful Loss – As Technology Steps In

A pacemaker it is

20k it costs

It’s only money

But it’ll help prevent an early loss

The doctors say it’s risky

He’s already old

There’s sound coming from the backroom

The veterinarian walks in

Bleek is moving and eating

His appetite is back

His life-force is intact . . .

The pacemaker is working

The medical team claps

He’s discharged back

But will he truly recover from this procedure?

He’s 14 or 104 years old in dog years

Nevertheless we hold back our tears

No one at home and all alone

He starts to eat and drink

Death missed its shot

Bleek is back on top . . .

Six Months Later

He’s doing great

Running in the park smiling

We can’t believe he’s striving

My little boy with white whiskers

Blind since a young age

When he wandered in our yard following a bigger dog

Left at our door as delivered by an angel

Every day remains a blessing

Death retreated in the distance

But not so fast . . .

Bleek suddenly stops eating . . .

He ate something unknown off the grass . . .

Oh no, please Bleek what’s wrong now?

He’s diagnosed with pancreatitis in March 2022

Not eating well, he starts slowing down

Death are you back striking at him again?

But his appetite slowly comes back

But it doesn’t last long

He’s eating out of my mom’s palm

Does he even want to be alive?

Bleek tell us, are you okay?

Staring Death In The Eyes

Saturday afternoon I still remember the day

Laying in my bed at 1pm chilling away

My mom FaceTimes me

Yay I get to see Bleek!

It’s not a happy call, truly bleak indeed

I see him standing on the grass barely holding himself upright

She’s afraid he won’t last much longer

Does we put him to sleep?

I realize death is here to keep

Sunday arrives and it’s Easter

Back on FaceTime and Bleek looks like he’s in a coma

I’m shocked staring at the screen

3 days before going back home . . .

Is he really going to die before then?

As my mother cries and holds him like a baby

His eyes glow and open up

He takes his final walk around the house

He’s not giving up . . .

But then lays down with a sideways collapse

Back on the couch to relax . . .

That night death settles in the air

His breathing becomes heavy

With sadness in the air . . .

My mother wakes up at 530am

Bleek still on the couch downstairs

In a pool of diarrhea and vomit . . .

Immediately she places him in the car

20 minutes into the drive . . .

He takes his last gasp of air

And gives up the ghost . . .

Three Days Later

As I drive on the PA turnpike back towards New York

Staring at the hills and mountains

75 mph I cry

Thinking that Bleek died 72 hours prior

Couldn’t he live a little longer

I just wanted to hold him a little stronger . . .

Let him die in my arms during my vacation

Why did life have to take him away

3 days before my vacation . . .

Maybe Bleek chose this fate

Dogs do understand what we say

Did he know I was coming home for a few days to stay?

Did he choose to give up the ghost

So I don’t see him in such a state of disbelief?

I arrive home and unpack in my bedroom

Immediately I cry in disbelief . . .

Bleek is not here to watch me unpack as he used to do . . .

But I feel his presence as if he left a goodbye

Perhaps before he died he left me a spiritual message

“I’ll always be by your side”. . .

A Painful Loss the Day After Easter

As I drove back home 4 days later, while on the PA turnpike heading back to New York, for a split second it sounded like I heard his cry. It was a similar cry as the one he would do when waiting downstairs for me to come down from the second floor. And today, 4/29/22, as I was chilling on my laptop, I thought I heard his cry again in the background . . . I thought to myself, “It can’t be. It must be a dog outside whining or something. But I thought to myself… would I really hear a similar dog’s cry from a fourth floor apartment?”

I have been praying to God to send messages to Bleek on my behalf because I truly believe that he is in heaven. I have also come across articles that state that animals’ souls have lower vibrational energy than human souls and that it’s harder for them to send us spiritual messages from the afterlife; angels and other spiritual guides often help them. Could it be that Bleek has tried contacting me twice in the form of a very distinct cry which I attribute to him? What message is he trying to send me?

I kinda knew since March that Bleek wasn’t going to live into 2023, but I never thought that his death was going to happen so soon; definitely not 3 days before my vacation back home. One of the most painful parts about this experience is him dying 3 days before going back home. I can’t comprehend the timing and why I couldn’t just hold him one last time… It truly was a painful loss.

All I wanted was one last time . . . But if Bleek is making contact with me from the afterlife, then I will keep praying for his wellbeing. I do believe animals have souls and God provides them with an amazing home after their life here on Earth, with us human companions.

What is your experience?

Evaporation of Time

Evaporation of time, it’s 2019

Next moment of clarity it’s 2022

Time never said goodbye to you

Month by month

Memories by seasons

Reminiscing for various reasons

We learn from our past

But don’t be weak

Confrontations a task

Time waits for no one

It floats too freely

Rarely uses its breaks

We become too needy  

It doesn’t matter

It’s time . . .

What is Time . . .

It’s not genetic

But we were born with it

9 months in the womb

We didn’t choose that

Time knew us

Before we knew ourselves

So, in that case

Time comes before all else?

Is it an illusion of the mind?

A landmine that explodes

As we become alive

Shatters our perception into a million pieces

If time didn’t exist

Would we be whole like Jesus?

Or am I wrong and just being dramatic?

My creative mind at work

My bad

Let’s get back and clarify it.

Time is The Mechanism of Life

God created it as a guide for our lives

It provides structure and direction

Through time and light

For without it we would be even more lost

No sense of structure

What sense of cost?

The jungle would run wild

Day and night would cease

Light or dark wouldn’t matter

Call it brain freeze . . .

But it is the glue to humanity

Something that can’t be altered

It can’t be copied

Its code is impossible to retrieve

God created it

And you can’t receive

Many will come and one has already been

Why he keeps trying

I might never understand within . . .

Trust the Process – Evaporation of Time

Mind games will always exist

The chemistry of the brain

Too complex to not persist

Mental health must be treasured

Mental illness often persists

Work it out like you do your body

Once you get better

You won’t feel sorry

You realize

Time was there

And it helped you all along  

You just never trusted it

Cause you weren’t ready to go on . . .

Never Coming Back

It creeps in the background and you’re never coming back

The thoughts spike in

Your mind allows them within

You lose control

Paranoia like a swirl

Is my mind being attacked?

You lose confidence

You rewind laps . . .

Analyzing your sanity

But no this can’t be!

There’s a war on your mind

It fluctuates in severity

Sometimes it stings

Most of the time you’re okay within

Never Coming Back – An Alternate Dimension?

Never coming back

Yeah, that’s how it feels

You lose touch with reality

As you fight to maintain presence in actuality

No it’s not the metaverse

We’re not there yet

But psychosis in meta? Oh forget it

Addiction runs rampant

Many lose touch with reality

They fight through the psychosis

To obtain that obsessional feeling

Their high surpasses any importance or meaning

The hijacked mind

Can it even function evenly?

If you find a way

Let us know

The community is waiting for answers

You best know.

Surfing Your Way Back to Reality

You drink 10 bottles of water

Not only that

You splash your face ten times

Dang . . . still doesn’t work

Last call for alcohol?

Maybe . . .

But even that tastes bad

Can gum save the day?

At this point you’re desperate

Anxiety mixed with psychosis

A mental cyclone, like overdoses

Whatever you do

It starts to work

You start to remember logical thoughts

And patterns of your true self

Yes, this makes sense again

I’m not psychotic!

But mind games manifest at the wrong time

You start doubting yourself

At the wrong time . . .

This is getting tiring

My mind draining

I’m running slow like an old tire

Rolling bushes are faster to retire

Time becomes your friend

Or at least you think so

But the liver is on your side

Metabolizing to heal you

You still think so . . .

It’s starting to work

Your reality becomes thicker

You realize more and more

It was just psychosis

And now no more

How thankful you are for your mind

You become more appreciative

Life and time . . .

Complain less and appreciate more

Your mind is a treasure

Through Christ, life ever more

Metaverse and Mental Health

Running Away from Your Anxiety

Imagine a world where reality no longer matters. People are no longer motivated to be successful, to educate themselves or to work hard. Some will even toss their morals straight out the window. Reality will no longer matter because virtual reality will become the norm. Whether morning, noon or night, in this world, people will have fallen in love with the metaverse. They will longer feel alive in the real world. Religion? Forget about it. Virtual reality will become their newfound religion. The metaverse and mental health are going to cross paths in many ways. This article will focus on the metaverse and anxiety.

With all the anxiety that we’re already experiencing since March 2020, the metaverse will become an escape for the masses’ mental health problems. Who needs antidepressants for panic disorder when you have the metaverse? Why see a shrink when you can put on a headset and escape reality? When you feel like rushing out of a room due to a sense of doom from your panic, you will instead put on a headset and escape into VR. For all the good reasons why one should have to take care of their mental health, they will all vanish in an instant when the metaverse will go mainstream.

Some will do it consciously while others will not pay attention to it; running away from anxiety will become the norm for many. It will be easier to enter the metaverse when feeling anxious and waste countless hours in another state of consciousness. When returning back to reality, people will feel miserable because their anxiety will still be present. They will do the bare minimum to get by, thinking all day long about the metaverse until the first opportunity to reenter it. Reality will become a hurricane of anxiety! People will no longer have any motivation to treat their mental illness; the metaverse will be their medication.

The Metaverse is Not a Solution for Mental Illness

No virtual reality platform, video game or illicit and unstudied substance will ever be a proper treatment for mental illness. People will continue to use these avenues as ways to escape their suffering, but no shortcut has ever properly treated a mental illness. The treatment of a mental illness often requires three important factors:

  1. The courage and desire to seek help
  2. Therapy
  3. And oftentimes, medication

The metaverse and substances will never be a treatment for mental illness, but more of an escapism. It will be easier for people to enter another world than to spend countless hours with a therapist or take a chance with psychotropics. I am not here to blame the metaverse, but only to spark food for thought. Many people abuse substances to attempt to treat anxiety and depression, but drugs only make their symptoms worse. Who is to say that people will not attempt to treat their illness with the metaverse?

Use the metaverse for entertainment and psychiatry for your mental health concerns; don’t mix the two.

The Metaverse

Mental Health and Virtual Reality – Do they Mix?

The metaverse is a virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users. People will be able to wear a device or log onto a platform on their computer or television and enter the metaverse. What you will be able to do in VR is endless. Imagine being able to play table tennis, hang out with friends at virtual bars or go hiking on your favorite Appalachian trail. Everything you’ve always wanted to do in real life, you will be able to do so in the metaverse. While it sounds good, you can also imagine all the downsides that VR will bring to society.

So how is the metaverse going to affect mental health? Well for starters, people might become more disconnected in real life. Especially with the COVID-19 pandemic not going away, they will be more tempted to stay indoors and hop into their VR niche. It’s going to be much easier to come home from work and put on a headset than make an effort to meet up with friends. People will rely even more on technology to socialize and lose more of those in-person benefits such as touch, physical closeness and empathy.

The Metaverse and Psychological Addiction

Everything you’ve always wanted to do, you will be able to on the metaverse. Ever wondered how heroin feels? You obviously don’t want to try it in real life, but what if the metaverse will offer “heroin bars?” You will be able to consume the drug and feel as intoxicated as in real life! This might lead to higher addiction rates, despite being virtual experiences! Also imagine all the people who are struggling with their love life. What if the metaverse can offer prostitution, perhaps even for free? All you will have to do is hop into VR and experience a “virtual sex session.”

Everyone is excited about all the positives of the metaverse, but we cannot ignore the negatives. Look how hooked we are to our iPhones, internet and Netflix. Now imagine taking these experiences and intensifying them by 100x, literally transporting our consciousness into an alternate reality. Your brain is going to release great amounts of the “feel good” neurotransmitter called dopamine. My concern is when you’ll tap out of VR and come back down to reality. What will happen to your dopamine levels? For all the people who complain that “reality sucks,” they will likely be tempted to spend more time virtually. Repeat this process enough times and we can likely see society developing a “virtual reality” addiction.

The Positives of The Metaverse

Okay, not everything will be bleak. Perhaps many people who are lonely, avoidant, anxious or depressed will find relief in the metaverse. They will be able to socialize with others without the fear of feeling rejected as in real life. They will be able to conquer their phobias and anxieties by titrating experiences at their own pace and comfort level. People with depression might be able to enjoy any activity they desire, which they could not otherwise in a depressed state of mind at home. Those who are shy and avoidant will be able to interact with others at their own pace. People who are autistic will more easily connect with others who are also autistic and enjoy similar activities. Perhaps some people will also meet their partners in the metaverse and fall in love!

Let’s be realistic; you’re never going to be able to experience all the activities you’ve ever dreamed of. In reality, work, relationships, stress and other factors always tend to get in the way. But in VR, you will be able to go skiing, skydiving or visit Paris for the first time within the comforts of your home. Technology is going to become so advanced that skydiving will likely feel as if you are actually falling in the sky. Maybe you won’t even have to leave home to go to work. Your employer will provide you with a number or code that you will be able to use to clock in virtually and work from home. Sitting at home and working virtually rather than sitting in traffic for an hour will likely result in reduced stress!

For people who have always struggled to exercise and get in shape, the metaverse might become an easier outlet to get started. Don’t have enough money to afford a Peloton or motivation to head to your local gym? No worries! Just hop onto VR and start cycling away. Building confidence while exercising virtually might prove to have a beneficial effect on your mental health.

The Future is Virtual

In conclusion, it’s too early to predict all the positive and negative aspects of the metaverse. I’ve touched upon a few of them above just to get our minds to anticipate what the future might have in store for us. But as with any new technology, there will always be some downfalls that we need to prepare ourselves for. Everyone will be susceptible to different pitfalls and we will have to manage them when the time comes. But if we can at least anticipate them before the metaverse goes mainstream, we can mentally prepare ourselves beforehand so we don’t experience any major surprises.

What are your thoughts on the metaverse? Do you think that society is doomed and this is just another form of control by the elite? Or do you believe that VR will bring more benefits than risks? I’m tempted to believe that it will be an equal mix of positive and negative aspects. I believe that the COVID-19 pandemic and virtual reality might make us more distant in person. This will cause us to rely more on technology as a form of communication. I also believe that we are going to become even more disconnected from nature than we already are. Think about it, who wants to go spend time in a forest when you can just hop onto VR and do it from your couch? My main concern is that humanity will consciously transition from reality into VR and experience great difficulty transitioning back.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Seasonal Affective Disorder

When the Sun Sets, the Sadness Rises

Couple more hours ’till 7pm… The sun approaches 5pm and your sadness is thriving. You scratch your head wondering why this repeats year after year. You hate the darkness; it makes the day feel shorter. A shorter day means less time to have fun. Less fun means more isolation. More isolation attracts sadness. Feeling sad means you’re in a rotten state of mind again. And the pattern only continues as fall progresses into winter. Once winter arrives, you pray that you can see spring again; or at least people with seasonal affective disorder do.

The key to avoiding sadness is learning how to be positive regardless of changes in your environment. You don’t have control over what happens around you, but you have control over your mind. It’s when you lose control of your mind that you become most susceptible to outside forces. And when this happens, you become an easy target. In this case, time is the outside force. As fall approaches, it gets darker out earlier in the evening. When winter arrives, 4:20pm becomes your last hit before the darkness settles in at 5pm.

So What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

SAD is a depressive disorder that causes people to become sad during seasons with shorter daylight hours. In addition, less sunlight during the winter months also contributes to symptoms such as fatigue, sadness, weight gain, loss of interest in activities, etc. The most common months to experience SAD are January and February. Other symptoms may include:

  • Craving carbohydrates
  • Hypersomnia
  • Loss of energy
  • Pacing and the inability to sit still
  • Feeling worthless
  • Difficulty thinking
  • Suicidal thoughts

The disorder usually starts between the ages of 18 and 30. Treatment involves light therapy, antidepressants and/or psychotherapy. SAD goes away during spring and summer, but therapy and medications help alleviate the symptoms sooner. Seasonal affective disorder occurs due to a biochemical imbalance in your brain, believed to be caused by shorter daylight hours and less sunlight. It’s unknown why some people experience SAD and others do not. It definitely does not help if you live in a location that lacks sufficient sunny days during the year.

What is your experience with SAD? If any, what have you found to be helpful?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Feeling Sad for No Reason

See Where Sadness Takes You

Don’t hide from your sadness; see where it takes you. Observe how it makes you feel and what thoughts it brings to the surface. We all tend to shy away from sadness and use the unconscious, immature defense mechanism known as denial. We all tend to carry on like sadness is “Not for me.” But it is for you! You have to stare sadness in the eye and tell it, “You’re back. What are you going to teach me this time?” Feeling sad for no reason is not a thing. There is always a reason as to why you’re feeling sad; you just have to discover it.

Sadness should not bring you embarrassment; it happens for a reason. Your job is to find out the reason and learn from it. If you suppress your sadness, do you think it’ll go away? Maybe only temporarily. Suppression means that you are consciously moving a negative emotion or thought into your unconscious mind. This prevents you from experiencing the negative emotion or thought. But oftentimes, it comes back out at a later date, causing you to feel sad again.

Feeling Sad for No Reason – There is Always a Reason

Many people don’t want to learn about the reasons behind their sadness. It’s easier to suppress your thoughts or medicate yourself with substances. Many people drink alcohol, smoke cannabis or consume hard drugs to counteract their sadness. Drugs are great tools for alleviating sadness, but they only work temporarily. Once you come down from the high, the sadness resurfaces, sometimes even more powerfully. Don’t be afraid to seek the reasons behind your sadness.

When you’re feeling sad, this is a sign that something needs to change in your life. I know it’s not easy to make changes when feeling sad, but it’s worth it. Sitting there and feeling sad all day long does not accomplish anything. You need to be honest with yourself and discover the reasons behind your sadness. But also just discovering the reasons is not sufficient. You need to implement the necessary changes to avoid feeling sad again. If you’re lonely, then make the effort to be social and meet up with people. If you’re drinking too much, make the effort to cut down on the booze. There is always something that you can improve on that will prevent you from feeling sad again.

You just have to seek, implement and change.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Nobody Cares Work Harder

Whenever you find yourself complaining about the difficulty of your job, remind yourself, “nobody cares, work harder.” After training your mind to work hard over many years, you start deriving pleasure from the process. Anyone would prefer to relax and not have to work for a living if they had the opportunity, but even then, happiness is not guaranteed. Hard work has the potential to bring you satisfaction which often translates into happiness. But you must balance your hard work with free time and leisure activities. If it’s all work but no play, then happiness will fly away.

Whenever you are experiencing those long grueling days at work, remind yourself that you are not the only one going through them. Happiness will be your reward before your turn off the lights at night. But you must enjoy what you do. This cannot be reiterated enough. If you went to college and are now working a job you dislike, somewhere along the way you made a mistake. Rather than continuing to devote the rest of your life to something you don’t enjoy, make a change today. You control your present which influences your future.

Nobody Cares Work Harder and Stop Complaining

A common mistake many people make is complaining a lot about their job. The complaints are endless and often quickly pile up. One of them is that their job or schoolwork is too difficult and demanding. Nobody cares work harder! People don’t care about the process; they are only impressed with the results. In reality, the results don’t matter that much. What matters is the hard work you clocked in for many years to achieve those results. Why don’t people care about your hard work? Because it’s not attractive. They don’t want to hear about your complaints. People want to see the fancy cars and flashy clothes that your hard work earned you.

Besides luck which cannot be depended on, the solution to getting impressive results in life is working harder. No one can put in the work for you; only you can do it. So stop complaining and work harder. Don’t forget to also keep your dreams alive. Dreams provide the sugar that keeps your work effort bitterly sweet. Without some occasional sugar, your hard work becomes dull. Don’t make the mistake of working hard without dreaming. I like to remind myself of this formula:

60% hard work + 40% dreams = 100% success

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Peaceful Life

A peaceful life matters a lot. Once you learn how to carry yourself with peace and comfort, life becomes much more enjoyable. Practicing living in peace and comfort is not an easy task for many people. Life circumstances, negative emotions and even mental illness often get in the way. But once you learn how to harness peace, your days will progress more smoothly, helping you achieve a happy state of mind. But when you lose touch with your inner peace is when your days become inflicted with pain and misery.

So how do you go about instilling a peaceful state of mind? The key is to slow things down by absorbing every moment of your waking state. A lot of us feel rushed and tempted to power through work and activities, forgetting how to relax. Powering through the day gives us a sense of accomplishment, but at the expensive of our mental health. Instead, you want to slow down your perception of doing things while preserving the quality of your work. This can be done by practicing mindfulness and learning how to enjoy being present in the moment.

A Peaceful Life for Your Mental Health

Imagine all the people living life in peace! No more temptations to do each other wrong. Life would involve unconditional love and envy would cease to exist. Rather than feeling rushed, your perception of time would disappear; life would just be. You would no longer feel rushed to get done with work and get back home. Instead, you would cherish every moment of life while bathing in a peaceful state of mind. People would no longer make fun of each other because peace would overcome insecurity.

Now the above describes a fictional scenario but the point is that peace can bring you comfort. But the question is how do we obtain peace? With today’s hectic society, it sometimes feels impossible to find peace. As I mentioned above and in many previous articles, practicing mindfulness is key. The difficult part is not the actual mindfulness; it’s easy to sit and just think. I personally find that the most challenging part is getting myself to sit down and actually doing it. Right when the thought of mindfulness comes to my mind, I think, “but it’s so boring!”

If you can overcome that initial resistance that prevents you from doing mindfulness, then you’re golden. Once you sit down and get in that moment of mindfulness, the act is not difficult. You tap into a peaceful state of mind and become one with the present moment. You learn how to disconnect from your environment and focus on your inner thoughts and emotions. Once you practice mindfulness enough, you’ll start to notice that things don’t bother you as much. You’ll realize that your resilience and tolerance to stress and adverse outcomes improve. And once you overcome stress, your mental health also improves.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Influenced by the Environment

Everything regarding the way you interpret reality stems from the most important organ in your presence: the brain. How you think and view the world is based on your personality and interpretation of your surroundings. If you can match your personality with an accurate portrait of society, then you will experience a more realistic experience. But once you allow your mind to be influenced by outside forces, you become more susceptible to programming or the manipulation of your mind. You become influenced by the environment to your detriment.

So take what you can from society that is still good and add it to your arsenal. But always remember that it’s your mind that is most precious; keep outside forces in check. Protect your mind for it roams openly in a dangerous land, ready to be attacked by invisible forces. These invisible forces do not care for your sanity. As a matter of fact, they prefer that you join the sheep and obey without questioning. When you ask less questions, you make it easier for them to control you. Their ultimate goal is to control the masses because it makes them feel superior, as if they are God. But they will never be God.

How do you Know if you’re Influenced by the Environment?

If you believe everything you hear or read in the mainstream media, then you’re being influenced. Of course, almost no one will admit to “believing everything” they hear in the media. “Everything” is obviously an exaggeration. When I say everything, I mean generally being in agreement with what is televised on a daily basis. Many people are glued to CNN, Fox News or BBC without questioning what they see or hear. They were quick to stick out their arms for new mRNA vaccines as soon as they were released to the public. Many don’t question the fact that the vaccines came out within a year or that mRNA vaccines were released during a pandemic out of all times.

Why don’t people question? Because they put too must trust in their government and find it easier to trust a large entity than small sources. They believe that if they start listening to small sources, they will be labeled as a “conspiracy theorist.” Little do they know that the CIA supposedly invented the conspiracy theory tactic. They did this as a form of protection from the masses seeking the truth. But hiding the truth from a population of 7.9 billion is impossible; it will always leak. So as a form of insurance, they created a psychological tactic that labels the truth-finders as “nut jobs,” with the mainstream media as their pawns.

I’m not saying that you need to become a conspiracy theorist. Just keep an open mind to alternative stories and explanations, because the truth always lurks somewhere in the middle. Think outside the box.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

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