My Name is Matthew, and I am a soldier. I have an interesting view that I share from time to time with the folks I encounter as I walk the road. Some of those people have encouraged me to seek out ways to help others or simply share my views or ideas with more people. I will blog on many subjects, from things that piss me off on a daily basis to more important issues such as dealing with chronic depression and the struggles that ensue as a result. I will be taking bits and pieces from emails and rants that I have verbalized as well, so if you see something we have talked about please, smile and nod...Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


                Every person has it in them to be something GREAT. Every single person, I am convinced that if we all took the time to understand ourselves we could discover our strengths and our weaknesses, all  that is left to do is capitalize on one and then the other will work itself out over time. Work WITH your strengths and the weaknesses will slowly be dealt with.

                A man, is not just a male human being at or above the age of 18. In my opinion a man has certain qualities or he simply is a grown child. The qualifiers for me are relatively simple. As a young man we learn the difference between right and wrong. To know that difference and attempt at all times to do the right thing regardless of who is watching is a degree of integrity. A man has this integrity and doesn't care who is watching or isn't watching. A man does his best to do the right thing at all times. No one is perfect and I’m not suggesting that cutting corners isn't warranted in the right situations. I’m not even suggesting that there is no grey area out there. The entire human race lives and breathes in this grey and it must be appreciated, observed, and understood. If you have the mindset that there is simply black and white in this world, right and wrong, then I personally believe that you are misguided. Yes, there are some things that are pretty cut and dry. If you lie, simply to gain something for yourself with no care of who you hurt, I would say that you are doing something wrong. However, if you omit the truth in order to spare someone great pain, instead of an outright lie, what you have done is obscure the truth in order to spare someone suffering that would serve no purpose. There is always an extenuating circumstance. No one should be able to judge another person. You are your own judge. Understand though, that you alone are responsible for your own actions. Nothing can spare you the guilt, or anger, or frustration you will feel if you do something wrong simply for personal gain. A man, in short, is honest. Once we learn what it means to have honesty and integrity, as children growing older we seek to conquer. Well, one thing we can conquer is a home. A place to stay, and dwell. A man is someone who provides for his own. A man will provide a home, and safety for his family. A man is interested in keeping those close to him safe and secure. You can’t do that if you don’t provide for your family. If the only way you can do that is writing a novel, then you can do that. If you need to work two jobs to put the food on the table, you do that. A man, is not afraid of sacrificing for those he loves. As a young man I took an oath in a program designed for young men. “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my Country”. I took that seriously then and I take it seriously now. As a young man I went to church, and I devoted hours to prayer and understanding of God. I’m not here to preach that, what you believe in is on you. I would pass on the same wisdom my father passed on to me though. Whatever you chose to believe, whatever you chose to say you believe, you might want to completely understand it before you say you belong there. People make assessments and assumptions about those they encounter. Human nature dictates that when we approach someone we gather information about them. A simple, pure example of this is the interactions between children playing on a playground.

“Hi!” Ryan says to the strange boy in front of him at the playground.

“Hi!” The young man responds.

“I’m 5, how old are you?” Ryan makes an attempt to assess the other boy by age.

“I’m 7, my name is Ethan, what’s yours?” Ethan then offers some personal information in an attempt at forming a basic understanding beyond age.

“I’m Ryan, I can run really fast.” Ryan gives his name to Ethan and expresses a desire to show his physical strengths.

                The encounter progresses and eventually the boys play hard running around and exploring the playground together playing Army men and having fun. A person observing this from the outside would take for granted that the very basic simple things we do as people is so simple and clear. These young men were doing what we as adults do every single day. The exchange. This is me, this is how I see myself, who are you? How do you see yourself? Can we be friends? This is relevant because, as a man, we must advance past this level of thinking and seeing the world.  We have to learn that once the simple definition process is over, we must learn how to interact with other people on a level of understanding. A man, for example, will not only make the assessment of friend or foe, he will go so far as to think do I need to help this person or stay out of their way? He may ask questions to decide if this person is going to help or hurt them and their family. Everyone has the ability to affect us, when you walk down the street or through your office even. Take a moment and try this if you can. The next time you go to work, fake a smile. Smile as big as you can at everyone you encounter. Even if you are having a rough morning. You spilled your coffee, you got to work 5 minutes late or worse. You did everything wrong in the morning and are having a horrible Monday. Yes, even then, fake a smile. Approach everyone you meet with a big smile and a kind word. See how many people return the smile. You are infectious. Suddenly the people you work with are happy, if only for a moment. The next day, don’t say anything at all, just get in your head how angry you are about the state of the Economy or the weather or the fact that your date didn't appreciate the flowers you got her last night. Get this look of contempt on your face and walk through your work like that. See how many people ask you what’s wrong. See how many people scowl back at you. See how many people don’t act like they take notice. We are lost in our own little worlds and we don’t allow others to affect us, or we lie to ourselves and say that they don’t. The fact is, they do, and we allow it to happen without knowing it. I work in an auto repair shop, our hours fluctuate and go crazy from time to time. I am a middle manager and I don’t always get my hands on vehicles. More often than not I am trying to help my team out and ensure that my people are being taken care of and getting work done that I organize for them to do. Our hours were CRAZY for 3 weeks straight, everyone was down and tired of working such insane hours. I came in to work, smiling and “happy”. I put on some upbeat music and started acting goofy.  I bounced around the shop giving my people High Fives and talking about how awesome it was that it was finally FRIDAY. My men went from being completely miserable to happy and excited. They went from moping around to being happy and getting work done. They asked me if I had been taking illicit drugs or had a particularly eventful night with a woman. They asked me if I had too much coffee. Suddenly I was the subject of conversation. I didn't have the heart to tell them that I was just as miserable about the hours that they were. I didn't have the heart to tell them that I was simply manipulating them to get more work done and pass the time in a productive manner rather than sulking about the horrible hours. The work got done, and we went home. A man, can understand this and change his mood and attitude to have a positive effect on those around him. A man is patient and kind, and understanding. A man has the basic understanding of the world around him enough to know when to tone things down and deescalate the situation. A man also understands that failure is not always something to be avoided or feared. Sometimes all you can do is fail. Sometimes failing can lead to the greatest successes. When we try something that doesn't work, we know that, and we calculate that it didn't work. One less thing to try next time. We have the ability to learn from our mistakes. Men should be aware of this and not be so childish when things don’t go according to plan. In Combat we have this effect called the “fog of war”. This is something used to describe the chaos that happened when things get hot and heavy. In too many situations men get lost in the confusion of the moment and get bogged down trying to multitask. It’s okay to understand this effect and properly compensate for it. With a moment or two of preparation, the effect can be minimized and sometimes eliminated. If you know for example, that you are about to perform a complex series of moves. You can set yourself a list of point to point planning. From here I’m going there, from there to there and so on. That way when things get crazy you know where you are, where you were, and where you are going. If you put it on paper or in your head, you can adjust on the fly without losing the whole thing. If you only know your end state, you may get lost in the middle and not do what you set out to do in the first place. A man, in short, can keep his head. All this is just my opinion and not a clinical fact or some form of a doctor’s reference book. A man understands his strengths and weaknesses. He knows that he’s not good at multitasking, for example. Most men can do simple things if we are used to the operation, but for the most part we are lousy at doing many complex tasks at once. What a man can do with this is understand that and compensate or account for it ahead of time. A simple pad of paper and a pen and 4 or 5 seconds of notes can solve the whole issue. Another silly “weakness” men have is our pride. It gets in the way. Some men reading this book read that last bit about the pad of paper and pen and go “no way, I’ll look like a fool taking notes all the time”. You may, your coworkers may think less of you for writing everything down. I’m not going to speculate what your coworkers will think of you. What I can promise you, is that if it makes you a better worker, your boss will notice and you may end up with a raise. You may end up preforming better than those who are poking fun at you for always having your note book. The way I see it, if it makes me a better worker, screw them. If I can go through my entire day, without asking my boss one question, because I took notes and got that out of the way in the morning, and I get everything done, I’m a success. If I can manage my team and keep my guys busy all day long and get more accomplished than the guy or girl next to me, then I did a good job today. I don’t care much for how. I don’t care if I had to pack my lunch and eat on the fly because I worked through lunch checking and re checking my paperwork. I want my boss’s job, and I want to work in charge of those people whom I work with now. I don’t want to sit still.
              What makes a man super? What makes a regular man something extra ordinary, is the ability to go beyond the basics. To see an opportunity and capitalize on it is one thing. To be hungry for the opportunity and search for it and find it hiding in the corners of life, is what sets us aside. To actively hunt down and find the secret little parts of the world that wait those brave and strong enough to climb the tree for the ripest juicy fruit on the branch. You have to be willing to fall out of the tree. You have to be willing to get bit by the thorns. You have to be willing to risk the fall. You also have to be confident enough to try. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

That's one way of looking at it...

Hello again. I was recently talking with some people about life and how things can get you down and you just need to face the man or woman in the mirror and see what it is that you are made of. Sometimes you don't know until you are tested. Sometimes you aren't aware of how strong or courageous you can be until the right things happen to test those qualities in you. I'm aware that I have many good qualities in me, but sometimes it's hard to see them in the mirror. I am also painfully aware of my flaws and faults and wrong doings. I'm aware that I have many things to work through. This blog has been a step by step through my battle with depression and ever day life. I have tried to write things out that kept me going as I moved through space and time with my issues and I tried to think of things to offer people who may be going through some tough times as well. I know that I'm not the only person in the world who feels down and sometimes can hardly move because life simply eats at me.
      I was hit in a lower region recently when a doctor told me that he was going to have me tested for bipolar disorder. My brain kinda did a double take. I'm not trying to sound arrogant but I thought, "isn't that what crazy people have?"... I know, I'm bad. I apologize, it isn't my intention to call people crazy, I just thought that I wasn't in any sort of category like that. Funny how I could be absolutely okay hearing that I have major depressive disorder with moderate severity but hearing that I would be tested for bipolar disorder was like hearing that I might have stage three cancer. I know, I know, NO COMPARISON WHAT SO EVER. The dramatization was to further illustrate how ignorant I was about the situation and why my nerves were kind of rattled. ME? Bipolar?? WHAT THE HECK ?! Yes, that's the reaction you would EXPECT from someone with Bipolar Disorder. Matthew, you just may be a little bipolar. And so what if I am? God made me this way for a reason.
       I am a passionate person, anyone who knows me knows that I care very much for little things and I try my best to help people out. Why would it freak me out that they may have yet another label to stick on me? It doesn't define ME or who I am. Such labels don't change what makes ME MATTHEW. I'm ME, so what if I am also a Brother, Son, Cousin, Friend, Sergeant, or any other silly label or name you can stick on me. The key is, can I be happy? If there is a little magic pill out there that can take my swings and my depression and level me off so that I don't feel so down so fast, so that I don't have mood crashes and sudden crying fits, why wouldn't that make me happy? Why shouldn't I be excited to find out if there is such a pill? What if there is a better treatment more targeted to help me get through day to day life without. A way to avoid such inconveniences as crying fits and the sudden bits of depression that take me from being a happy guy to the quiet guy in the corner wishing I could vanish into the chair on which I sit?

         So another way of looking at things is to simply enjoy the fact that there may be help out there for me. There may be someone who is willing to do what they need to in order to make my life better and help me move forward without slipping so suddenly. The trick of the matter is, not to be scared. Yes, I'm scared, I'm nervous from time to time. Hearing that they were going to test me terrified me, again, I was afraid of the label. I didn't see what it could mean. I didn't see the implications. WHY should I be scared? The worst thing that can happen is that they find out that I'm not Bipolar and they have a better view of what is going on with me and may yet be able to refine my treatment and help me. Either way, no matter what happens I'm going to move forward.

       So don't be scared, is that it? Don't be afraid of moving forward? How simple is that? How many people out there are so scared of change that you go out of your way NOT to change? You stay in bad relationships, you continue to drink excessively because it provides temporary relief for whatever you are scared or hiding from. You do whatever it is that you do, knowing that it isn't the right thing for you because you are scared of changing or finding a better way to do things. Trust me, I am there myself, I'm not without sin. I plan on having a beer tonight to calm my nerves. Then again, maybe I will just keep drinking cranberry juice and water. Who knows?

          I wish you all the best of luck, thank you for reading and whatever comments you may leave. I appreciate your time.