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Chris Degenaars

By Christopher Degenaars 09 Jun, 2017
I wasn't going to write this. I watched the series, and wanted to, but I didn't.

However, after seeing the new that a 23-year-old in Peru boy committed suicide and has allegedly copied the series by leaving behind a list of names that he had recorded tapes for because they were the ones to bring him to the point that suicide was his way out, I felt I needed to do this. 

I have kept no secrets around my depression, I have been very outspoken on how serious I take mental health, because not only have I lost people to suicide, I have been there myself. 

I know the feeling, the feeling of nothing but loneliness, like no one cares, like even when you are around tons of people you still feel like you are standing in an open room. That lonely feeling that makes you feel so lost in the world that you feel the only way out is to end the feeling, to end your life. 

When I watched the extremely controversial Netflix series  I was agree, unlike many of my friends who loved the show and believed it had such a "great meaning," I was angry at Netflix. At the show. At the idea that it was going to help .  

Netflix has a huge following, they have such a massive reach, they have the ability to really make people think on topics because of how they produce shows, and I was really hoping with this show they would utilize that hold on peoples attention by encouraging people to stop and think. 

In general, the show goes through a high school girls life who was bullied, after she commits suicide, she leaves behind tapes, that ultimately makes the entire situation even worse. 

I have gone to school after a classmate killed themselves the night before. I have gone to school after a classmate was murdered by his brother, and guess what...it sucks. It sucks for a long ass time. But the school came together, we all helped each other, and we got through it because we accepted what happened and decided to remember our friends and all the happy times we had together. 

What this show does, what this show encourages, is to force people to pay, that revenge is okay, that suicide is this glamours way to "get even."

Rather than encourage people to treat each other better, and how to HELP someone who is being treated wrong or is going through a hard time, it encourages us who suffer from a mental illness to get revenge by making everyones life hell and then killing ourselves. 

So no, I didn't like 13 Reasons Why.   No, I don't think it helps people like me . No, I'm not going to kill myself. 

Don't get me wrong, Netflix brought something to peoples attention that has been ignored and overlooked for way too long, and for that, I am thankful. This show did force people to realize that suicide isn't a joke, and that people go through things every single day that we can not even begin to comprehend. But at what cost? 

Everyone has their right to have their own opinion on the show, on the 23-year-old kid who had his entire life ahead of him but ended it because of a girl, on how you treat others, on how you help others.

But before you say 13 Reasons Why has helped, really think about what it is doing. Think about what it is encouraging, the pain that it makes seem is okay to cause to others, the "eye for an eye" mentality. 

Let me tell you something, let me - the person who has sat in his room and was ready to end his entire life at 14-years-old - tell you something...when I was sitting there, each time I was sitting there, with only one thought in my mind: "I want to end this all, every bit of it, I want to be done" when I was thinking that, I was NOT thinking I would want someone else, no matter how much pain the caused me, to have to experience that feeling. 

And I bet you most people who have tried to end their lives would agree. 

I would never, ever, ever wish that feeling I felt on ANYONE, not even the people who made me feel that way, because damn...that is a scary scary feeling...
By Christopher Degenaars 21 Apr, 2017

Like seriously…it does…I promise…

Many don’t know this, but I was raised in a household with an alcoholic who was emotionally and mentally abusive to a women who he   loved , who was stuck in a hole of not knowing if she could raiser her only son on her own.

For many years now I have suffered from depression, suicidal thoughts, and constant unknowing of why I am even here.

It was an uphill battle. It still is. For a long time I never believed anyone who told me it would get better. I figured it was a joke, it has to be one, how could life get any better when I was in this downward spiral. Even when my mom got out of the marriage, it then was “what bill should I pay first? Which can we go a few weeks without if it gets shut off?” It was not knowing if the bills would get paid, if the lights would be shut off, it was not seeing my mom much because she was working 60, 70, 80 hours a week so I could live a better life.

Yet, people still told me it will get   better , even my mom told me that.

And honestly, till about 6 months ago, I didn’t believe them. How could I?

Sure, the therapist who is getting paid $200/hour will continue to   get better . Or a relative who lives 500 miles away and can walk away from the problem I have to live with can say it. But really, how would it?

I don’t blame them for telling me it. They wanted to help. They tried to, but at the end of the day it is hard to believe them knowing that they aren’t living through it.

And what does “better” even mean? Like one less hour of being yelled at? One minute of an actual smile out of 23 hours and 59 minutes of thinking of ending my life?

Better means different. I don’t want different. I want happiness.

Life does get   better   though. Honestly, it truly does.

When you are young you are living by someone else’s rules, you are living someone else’s life basically, I had a lot of freedom, but I wasn’t free, I wasn’t an individual yet.

When I graduated high school, it was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. When I got a job I loved, it was like life was happier, the world was better in my eyes. I saw more good than bad, and when I saw bad I forced myself to see the good in it.

Does it really get   better ? Can you really be happy?

Yes. If you want it to be better, whatever your definition of   better   is, yes. You have to want it though. It doesn’t come easily. It doesn’t come overnight. But it does come with the right mindset.

Life does get   better .

By Christopher Degenaars 03 Apr, 2017
More and more I have found comfort in talking about what I have gone through mentally for a long time. It has become a big part in who I am now and also in how I have been able to talk with friends who suffer from similar situations. 

It hasn't been an easy path to this genuine happiness, but I don't think anything worth while is "easy" and it shouldn't be. I have had my setbacks and struggles, but the fact I don't fear waking up to the reality I am living is well worth the trip. 

There were two main things that allowed me to open up and let myself actually be happy. 

Self-Awareness and practicing Mindfulness

It started with being aware of who I am, what I can do, and what I can't. Something like a self-audit almost, realizing what I was good at and what I wasn't, and being able to accept that. I always loved writing and always loved helping others, combining these 2 things have allowed me to connect better with people and grow a better relationship with them. 

I also had to realize in this process of being more self-aware that I cannot rely on other people to make me happy nor can I worry about making them happy. The only way for me to be happy and to make other people happy, was to focus on making myself genuinely happy. Which is a process that was and is scary, because it means focusing on yourself and not spending so much time on everyone else. For me, that was hard, because I was used to always helping other people. 

When I was able to truly understand my self, I was able to be mindful of my situations. 

I do a lot of meditating to help practice mindfulness, sometimes up to 3 times per day when stress and anxiety are overtaking me. This has allowed me to better connect to myself and also to better understand my circumstances. I was no longer letting little things bother me, because I understood that there was a bigger meaning behind it all. 

All things are connected. When we realize that we are not just a person, but the physical being of something much larger that connects with all things in life, we think very differently. 

When you realize and truly believe that your thoughts today will directly impact the circumstances in your life forever, you are willing to make a point to be a better person. 

I was very lucky to have the mindset to adapt to these things easily, I know how hard it can be feeling like there is no hope. That is just an endless dark hole that you are just trying not to open your eyes in, and wishing you would just hit the bottom. I was able to take these mindset shifts into my life easily and make a full 360 to how I thought which allowed me to actually go out and live my life. 

Until you are willing to find the thing in your life that is holding you back from actually living - then acting to change it, you will never be happy. 

You have two options in life: to run your life or let your life run you. The choice is yours. 
By Christopher Degenaars 24 Mar, 2017
The other night I was on my way to meet with a family-friend about building a website for the charity she is the president of. Before that though I was up at 5am to get in some time on the trainer, then was at the office at 7:30am till about 5pm, and then went straight to the bike shop to finalize the April marketing strategy for them. Before I had even met with this family-friend I had already been working for about 12 hours, that got followed up by a phone call with someone I am doing some ghost-writing (they pay me to write like I am them for something they don't have the desire/time to do themselves). By the time I was finished with everything, I looked at my phone to see it was a very productive 17 hour work day. 

Most people...almost everyone really would complain about that. Would have opted out of the 10pm phone call so they could go party. Or skipped the morning bike ride because they were tired. At the very least, most people would complain about something during that day.

I couldn't though. I tried to find something that was wrong, something I wish wasn't happening, or just something to make me angry...it just wasn't possible. I was doing something I absolutely love to do for every single hour in that 17 hour work day, and not many people get to say that. 

Things have been crazy busy lately, and that makes me so freaking happy. Like I am getting pulled in every direction, trying to help a bike shop be a leader in the industry for marketing, trying to ride my bike, trying to tell our clients stories and help them do it, and I love every second of it. I really can't think of anything else Id rather be doing with my life than EXACTLY what I am doing. 

It did make me think about how much has changed in a short time. 

Since October (when I started with Long Drive Agency ) - I have become a full-time employee in an industry I was told I never could be in. I have lost a lot of "friends" but have formed some amazing relationships with new people. I don't go out, instead I learn more about what I am doing and what I can do better. I don't dread Mondays...and boy did I used to! The best part though...I am genuinely happy.

For so long I was faking a smile and pretending to be happy with everything, because it is what I thought I HAD to do. It wasn't though. What I really needed to do was find what makes me happy, what I loved to do and loved to talk about, what I could see myself doing every single day for the rest of my life, and I needed to chase it and follow that thing. 

It is absolutely mind boggling to think that I am still just 18-years-old. One of the things I am always fought on is my age, and I never really thought about it, but when I see my friends Snapchat videos of them at a party on a Thursday night, it kinda makes me realize I am doing things differently than most. I still have upwards of 80 more years of this, of living my actual dream. 

Which is why I wanted to start The Journey to 30 series, so that one day my kids, or grandkids, or even great-grandkids can see my life - see the process. 

The craziest thing is - I am just getting started.
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