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On Leaving Caves, Pushing Boulders, and Fighting Monsters

Dec 14, 2017 Tony Hammack

With all that has been going on recently, mainly prep for my Complex Analysis final (trust me, it is more scary than it sounds), I have not had to time to outline and plan the next installment of Crisis. Who knows when I will finish with that project. However, I still have a few ruminations I can share.

People ask me why I write. It is simple really, it is a way for me to express myself. It is a way for me to be heard.

You see, long-form writing is the best way for me to communicate my thoughts and ideas. There have been times in conversations where I mumble, stumble, and speak in indecipherable English; this is absolutely annoying. This is a lingering trait from my childhood; evidently, speech therapy did not achieve its goal.

My friend called me a hypocrite for my last writing, The Crisis of Communication.. She called me out for my poor communication, and the irony of me writing about that.

I do not disagree with her. I am awful at communication. God bless my friends! They have it so rough; I give these half-baked thoughts and ideas and they know not what I mean. They are such patient people!

But, we are all hypocrites in some way. We say one thing and do the opposite. For many (including myself), this practice of trial and error is the most effective way to learn. What I mean is, we do dumb things and face those consequences then we try to share with as many people as possible to not do those same things. Wise people are not those who repeat the mistakes of others, but learn from them. There are myriads upon myriads of things I have done that have totally contradicted my intentions and goals. I am the utmost hypocrite.

Now Tony, must you confess this about yourself on the internet where all can see that you are a fraud and failure?

Yes, because it is important to admit that I am not perfect and never will be. I will always do things contrary to my goals and beliefs. And, I will keep warning people to not make the same mistakes I have. If I do not help others make the same mistakes, what type of man am I?

One who would let another down the same road of suffering I have traversed?

No. That is not the man I am. I will continually call out what is wrong about myself and what I see in others. If anything, it is the most basic and worthy thing a human can do, helping bring others out of the cave and not let them stumble the same way I have. I want others to do the same for me. I want to get better.

So, if I am this hypocrite, how can I overcome my faults/failures and make progress to be the man I want to be?

I do not want to blame any of my faults/failures on being bipolar, but it certainly has hindered my progress. About every one to two weeks, I alternate from a mood of being healthy, myself, and productive (known as hypomania) to a depressed state. Looking back since high school, this cycle of being up then down again and again is ever present in my life.

It is incredibly hard to make improvements and changes in life when it feels like I have taken two steps forward, then two steps backward. Essentially, I have not made progress at all.

I am not sure how I have completed four semesters of graduate school, because more than half of the time I have been mentally hindered by bouts of depression.

Hope has been the hardest thing to come by; each time I experience success and progress, I revert back to my initial state.

A friend asked me in her office if I was okay with bipolar being a part of my life. I almost burst into tears then and there. Each day I think that what I am going through will only be for a season.

I do not want to accept that this is permanent.

I do not want to live in this miserable way, where there is no victory but just survival.

I do not want to be like Sisyphus, a life without victory; I want to be like Odysseus, the man who fought monsters to come back home.

The changes I want to see made in my life are not external changes like working out each day or reading a book a month. I mean, those are worthy goals (which I do also have), but I have these long-term goals that affect my inner self.

I want to make progress in communication, in expressing myself, in being emotionally healthy, in reducing my social anxiety, in developing self-control and self-discipline, in increasing self-esteem, in being a noble and honorable man, and in being a man of character.

I talk about these goals often, and my friends have told me how far off the mark I am from these goals. They politely (and often impolitely) share that I am a hypocrite for saying that I strive for these goals yet horrifically fail at often them.

I strive to be better each day. In those days when I am in a good mood, I take advantage and try to accomplish as much as I can because I know the day is coming where it takes all I can to get out of bed and eat something that entire day. I am not the man I want to be, and it is even harder being bipolar. But, I try to be better; that is all I can do.

I write because it is therapeutic; it is a medium where I can speak and be heard.

I write because I enjoy it.

I write because I want to help others not make the same mistakes I have.

I write because I want to get others out of the cave.

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