Imperfection: Mental Health Awareness Month 2023

As with most of my series, I like to spend a lot of time writing theses articles. And gradually, over the course of months, they eventually come together; like pieces of a puzzle that somehow just fit.

So here I am in my cycle of writing and rewriting as I dive deep into my own mind and answer the questions I don’t want answered. I write so I don’t numb the pain and so I can truly feel what I feel. And the question that has been ringing louder than any other in my head is “Mike, but…”. I’ll get back around to the question in a while, for now I simply write.

Craniosynostosis in a nutshell

For those who don’t know, Craniosynostosis affects about 1 in 2000 births. It is more common in men than in women and it has a few different types depending on what sutures fuse together when you are born. When you are a baby, eventually the sutures in your skull will fuse together. If they fuse too early, the brain won’t have room to grow and will instead push against the skull, causing deformity (as well as other issues) if left untreated. There are shaping helmets (I never had one) to help the skull keep a normal form after surgery, although more mild cases supposedly do not need the helmet for the skull to retain it’s form. When I was born, I had the surgery where they operated on my skull essentially making more room for the brain to grow and ensure my brain didn’t push against my skull. To my knowledge, the surgery was successful.

Why Am I writing about?

That is the question. So originally, I wanted to talk about my Craniosynostosis and then I thought it’d be easier to talk about imperfection as a whole. Writing helps, I’ve used this series to conquer my personal demons and I hope this is the start to a long overdue conversation with myself. The Mental Health Awareness Month series on this blog has always been about personal growth and with writing comes clarity.

To Add…

When I choose a topic, it forces me to think about the topic. I am constantly reframing the question posed to be suitable for general consumption; this is very different than writing in my journal. Craniosynostosis has been a topic I’ve spoken about in hushed tones and has become a defining narrative in my life when I never wanted it to be. The hope is given enough time, I’ll finally be able to accept myself for me and make my fractured self whole. A part of me would be fine never publishing this but that defeats the purpose of the exercise. It is only by talking about it that I can work through it and find acceptance.

The Ugly

Mental Health isn’t something you can wrap a neat bow on. Consider this a trigger warning of sorts. This article has been written over the course of months, edits are made here and there. To write this article, the benefit is digging deep, so for friends and family reading this, you most likely never knew I even had any of these thoughts. My outward demeanor is cheerful and positive and part of that is because I’ve done these deep dives. They are capturing a moment in time and by having written it, I can look back in the future to truly understand my mind. But it is ugly, it’s not pretty, not everything has a positive spin. The problem is people don’t talk about what bothers them, it is easier to dismiss how someone feels if it makes you uncomfortable. So I am making an effort to normalize these conversations, especially for men.

Acting like it’s fine when it’s not

I am the frog and the water temperature is being raised. This article, on imperfection, will still strive for a level of perfection. A wrong word here, an overstep there, and it loses validity. Imperfection. And therein lies the problem, my birth defect has led to an obsession with perfection, for better or worse. I feel like I always have to prove my worth, that people take a look at me and think of me as lesser. That no one will give me a chance at love and… You can see how the mind works. Isn’t it crazy to think? But it’s a prevailing problem in my life.

A Mike, But… Kind of problem

So this article is about the disjointed and of feeling lesser. Less than. And of having no anchor in this world. I was born with a facial disfigurement and I have let it become all consuming since someone first commented on it in 6th grade, roughly twenty years ago. And I’ve never gotten to talk about it, honestly. My whole life I have been told I look fine when I have never felt fine. And the older I get, I’m starting to realize it is more a question of trust. I have never really been given the opportunity to explore my trauma and it has become my everyday. An all consuming feeling of never being good enough. Years of meditation, exercise, a focus on mental health, all to be in anguish… Life has a sick sense of humor. Most days I want to curl into my shell and shy away from the world, to let the darkness win as I can no longer see the light. I watched my life collapse before my very eyes. Career and Love life never manifesting, panic slowly creeping in like a cancer. There have been moments where I’ve felt like collapsing only to realize I’m the only one to pick myself up. Are these thoughts true or delusions? Clearly delusions but in the US we have a problem of stuffing down the bad feelings until they become a poison. So this year, I lean into the negative I’ve held on to for so long and let it happen.

I’m extremely sensitive to any comment regarding my face as I have, on multiple occasions, had people make comment that it is different. When people have mentioned this, I have no way to discern if it is positive or negative; or simply a statement, an observation if you will. Since I have never officially been in a relationship, I have used my defect as the de facto reason. With my Career failures, I have now adopted the philosophy that perhaps it is how I look that is the cause. That no matter how hard I try, because I had my skull taken apart and put back together as a baby, I am destined to fall short. Hence a ‘Mike, but…’ sort of problem. Like ‘Mike’s nice, but I’d never date him because of his face.’

I have spent a lot of time pondering how my birth defect could be a benefit and wish I had an answer. Truth is I don’t. But I can’t run with the narrative that I ugly, that I am unlovable, and that my intelligence and hard work mean less because I am disfigured. Am I disfigured? I don’t truly know. I never had my birth defect addressed growing up outside of a reiteration that I was normal. I never had a “So what if you are disfigured, what does it matter?” talk. The “you’re normal” conversation, while I’m sure well intentioned, never really addressed what I wanted it to address. I simply wanted to understand that why if I was normal, others would comment that I was different. A definitive proof that I was normal or at the very least, how my difference was a strength.

Feelings vs. Reality

At the moment, I have body dysmorphia over my Craniosynostosis. When I look in the mirror, I hyper fixate on my face. Over the years, I’ve become more relaxed on my thoughts towards my image, but the lingering resentment of my birth defect is still there. I see asymmetry and it causes me to implode, where now I shrug and say “It is what it is”. There is not so much a healthy conversation as me believing it isn’t worth the energy to be upset over it. I would love to view myself as perfect the way I was born, I really would. There has been this constant struggle with myself as I grapple with what my mind wants to believe versus what I know to be true. I know everything I just wrote is irrational, that in reality it is all in my head; I could go talk to a friend and they’d tell me honestly that it’s not a big deal, that they don’t even notice it. But that’s not the point of this article. The point is convincing myself and acknowledging these are my thoughts, for better or worse. Not the thoughts I think I should have, but my actual thoughts. I’m tired of telling myself to just believe what others tell me without actually addressing how I feel. As much as I love myself and know how far I come, I know I have much further to go. Sometimes it is ok to say “FUCK” and just lean into how you feel, however that is. This article is the first step to undoing years of self abuse. I never thought I would talk about this yet here we are.

Remember, this Mental Health Awareness Month, if you see someone struggling, reach out. We should never, ever feel like we have to suffer alone. And if you’re struggling, reach out. A better world starts with lifting others up and not having to hide ourselves from the world. People are imperfect and I think it’s those flaws that make us beautiful. As always, thanks for reading!

Sustainability Month 2021: The Oregon Wild Fires

If you’ve read the blog, you know there’s been some debate over whether or not I would have time to write articles for a month dedicated to sustainability. According to the research I did, a sustainability month doesn’t exist. There is a month in October which is weirdly limited to higher education and after that there is Earth Day in April. Those are the two I found. Of course April is World Poetry Month and since I write quite a bit of poetry, I opted to forgo a month dedicated to sustainability entirely. But then late at night I realized I could do it any month, so why not July? With my schedule, I can plan ahead and not worry about a mad blitz to write an article the week of.

September 2020

My Birth month and now the month of perpetual fire. Where once Autumn brought a cool breeze, now the winds howl and bring an inferno to set Hell loose on Earth. A decade ago this would have been a wild dream. And as I thought about it more and more, I realized we are living in a world that is in decay. The planet will survive but we will not. The children born after my generation will be worse off then we were to no fault of their own; for them, they will inherit the apocalypse. We are looking at the last generation of human beings and in the twilight of my years, as the sun sets on my life, so too will the sun set one last time for our planet. The year twenty one hundred.

An interesting prospect, no? Our parents have answers for the economy and life yet how does one go about even expressing the devastation that will be wreaked upon our lives? Perpetual war, terrorism, and a global pandemic will pale to what we will see by the end of the century. Imagine a world with an Amazon Rain Forest turned kindling, Coral Reefs as bright as the stars, and Mega Storms the likes we are only now beginning to see.

My first few decades were filled with hope, now more and more I am filled with a sense of impending doom. The forest fires seen in Oregon could have been improper forest management, sure. But a part of me knows that this will not be the last time I see fire of the magnitude I saw.

And do we act?

Throughout my Life, I’ve had the pleasure of watching Documentaries starting all the way back with Planet Earth in 2006. There’s a lot of beauty in our planet and I would’ve loved growing up decades earlier to truly appreciate that beauty. A time when there were few people and growth wasn’t the only mindset. I’ve only ever lived in a time where there have been cities and people are nigh unavoidable. There is always hope but we are walking a fine line between seasteads and “The Road” right now. Forget “Fahrenheit 451”, we’d be lucky to end up in that dystopian reality. I truly believe that if we don’t act within the next decade, it will be like toppling dominoes.

The Fear I Felt

The sky was blackened and clear blue gave way to an orange glow. For a couple weeks I had a taste of the apocalypse and all I could do is watch the fire consume Oregon as it crept towards my doorstep. I never saw the blazing infernos fortunately but I had my things ready in case our alert status changed. High winds the likes I never heard howled throughout the nights and made what was already bad, worse. I thought trees were going to topple and we’d all be blown away. Then, the other night, I heard the winds once more. A “freak” occurrence they called it but I had to wonder if this reality wouldn’t become all too common…

This is the start to my first ever Sustainability discussion. I’ve been looking to weave causes into my blog for a while now and the Wildfires of 2020 seemed like the perfect opportunity to talk about a terror that is still relatively easy to ignore at the moment. I wrote the bulk of the article when the fires were still fresh in my mind and while not all the articles for Sustainability Month will be like this, I thought it important to talk about. It’s a worse case scenario and I’m hopeful that it’ll only ever be a bad dream. Next article I’ll be talking about going vegan, so take a breath and recover if you are sitting agape in horror.

Goodbye Social Media: Mental Health Awareness Month 2021

This year, Mental Health Awareness Month is planned. The topics I have picked in advance and am gradually adding to over the course of months. With this more organized approach to my series, it’s the perfect opportunity to gradually document my social media habits as I begin to shed them.

As of now, I’m about a week into uninstalling Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and Hinge on my phone. On my Computer, I have unbookmarked the social media sites; if I want to hop on Facebook, I manually have to type the URL. I have always considered myself not to be an avid user of social media. I post a little but not a lot. The other night that changed. As I was scrolling through my dystopian doomsfeed I realized that I was miserable. I derive no joy from Instagram. Most posts are meaningless and add no value to my life whatsoever. I have friends who post a story a minute and others who have lost sight of the silver lining. At best, people are posting about food or doing another selfie. At. Best. In this brief moment I realized that we are living in a dystopia and that all hopes for a utopian information age have all but been lost. Then I looked at Facebook. For every post I saw, I would see a targeted ad. And Twitter? Literal Hell. Negativity is unavoidable and a platform based solely on growth and engagement? Disgusting. Hinge? More endless scrolling in what would ultimately be a relationship death spiral. Match, get bored, match again with the 1% chance I get lucky. The very principle of dating apps diminishes the premise of a relationship itself.

So here I am, a couple weeks in and I feel better. I still log on to Facebook and Twitter but not obsessively. Youtube has become more slightly frustrating as I’m noticing the recommended section is solely designed to influence behavior. If Youtube removed the entire right half of its site, I’d be perfectly ok with that.


Since 2017, after graduation, Linkedin has become the bane of my existence. Habits Facebook and Instagram instilled carried over to my everyday. I scroll, I like, and am told that it should one day have a payoff. And it doesn’t; Linkedin is a showcase of the superficial, a shrine to those who are lucky. It glorifies an unrealistic percentage of people and even then it frowns upon whenever grit is shown. My recommendations are now for Call Center work and systems that I assume were meant to help, have become my literal Hell. Our Social Media lives have become an episode of Black Mirror.

The Mental Drain

It’s all been exhausting. That is the best word I can use to describe my experience other than soul sucking. Social Media has broken people. We’ve been made to believe that it is the world and since we cannot tangibly see those who have turned away, the lie is easy to swallow. Even with all my other mental health habits well established, Social Media I never saw as posing a threat to my overall well being. I thought I could control it and I was wrong. I thought I was smart enough to keep a fine line between reality and fiction. I was wrong.

A Couple Months Now…

About a month into my social media cleanse, something bizarre began to happen; sites that never emailed me before began to “check in”, to let me know “all that I was missing”. That was Instagram. Facebook? Where it once told me if someone was having a birthday, I have wrought its fury and now receive email notifications mentioning individual actions my friends have taken. In this dystopian hellscape of a world, I know it is only a matter of time before its probing yields success. The emails have gone largely ignored other than mere curiosity and now horror as I watch the information age turn against me as I ignore it data.

Every Other Ad

As my language skills progress, the algorithms become confused. I know this because I get ads in German, Spanish, and now the occasional French. What was initial excitement has now devolved into questions that I’m not really liking the answers to. I’ve been giving information freely to Big Tech all throughout my 20’s thinking overall the benefit outweighs the cost. It took a Pandemic but I finally see the value in privacy albeit a little too late. There’s enough data to be on the cusp of dictating my behavior and that scares me. I worked at a Call Center? Here are some Call Center jobs I think you’d “enjoy”. Here’s a book, here’s what your friends are doing, and the list goes on.

Dating Apps: When Hinge turns into Fringe

If Hell exists on Earth, surely it exists in the form of our ever connected age. Dating, has become a matter of quantity over quality. The sacred has become a mad dash for people to be coupled and as I’ve found, strictly virtual dating is opt for failure. I’ve longed for a meet-cute and a chance to hold on to a moment of love that is more than a fleeting, long lost grab at the wind.

I have no solution

As will no doubt be a theme with this month, I have no easy solution to the problems I now find myself facing. Will I cave and reinstall dating apps? Perhaps. Will Facebook and Instagram manipulate my habits enough to shift what is now strictly a computer only affair to a once-again obsession I never knew I had? Perhaps. Will Twitter continue to be the societal destabilizer it has always been? Most likely. There is no avoiding the information age, that much I am certain. And it may become impossible to live with, if we are not already there. So all I can do now is try to disconnect while I still can and hope others are doing the same, that people are rejecting the notion that every moment must be digitized and that it is ok to exist in your own bubble, even preferred. And for the love of God, have the actions to back it up. Words are cheap, actions are not; in an age of little action and many words, wouldn’t it be nice to plant your feet firmly in the ground?

Deleted Posts and private posts: A 2020 musing

So today I felt like writing. Some days are like that. Roll out of bed, drink some coffee, and write. In honor of the 5 year anniversary of the blog, we’re going to be taking a look back and simply enjoy the stories that have been told throughout the years. Half a decade is a long time to be doing anything and I’ve been writing for the better part of 8 years. I’ve been a reader and a blogger throughout that time. I’ve watched blogs grow and die yet what you don’t see are the posts unseen. The articles made private and the ones deleted in the blink of an eye. I used to have a thousand drafts of articles never written, ideas never allowed to blossom. I tried a revival series once upon a time, taking my drafts and using the titles as prompts. Some were a few weeks old, others years old.

Writing is tough. If topics aren’t covered gracefully, people lose interest and at worst, you are offending people. One of my now deleted posts was one of my first posts on religion. Nothing crazy but a post I deleted nonetheless. Finding your footing is hard and all too often we’re afraid to stumble. Another discarded draft was on gun violence, back when people weren’t all too numb to the record setting shootings we have in the US. Another, a late night ramble made private concerning my relationship status, which is still very much single. We live in the information age and for the most part I’ve enjoyed what technology has brought to offer. I have a voice and that’s beautiful.

I always try to stray away from these ramble topics. I like content focused articles but honestly, ramble writing is therapeutic. In that sense, the blog hasn’t changed so much in the last 5 years. My writing has become more focused over time but a ramble is still a ramble. This post would be easy to delete, to stop half way through but I always find it an interesting perspective looking back. By keeping my posts, I’ve essentially created my very own time machine, where I can remember exact moments where I was in a given moment. My young adult life, well documented, for the world to see. So now, when I write, it’s with the intent to publish. And to be honest, I regret deleting my earlier posts. God and I have a complicated relationship but reading my thought process at a time when I was full blown atheist was fascinating. Over time, the article will fade into the abyss, but I have to wonder if I’ll ever tackle religion again in its full beauty. And gun violence? I wouldn’t even know where to start; it used to be a top concern for the US but years of inaction have left the point mute.

And that’s it! Just felt like writing today in a more relaxed tone. Over the coming months I’m getting an itch for poetry and short stories so we’ll see what happens later on this year. I’ll be trying out some writing workshops here and there as well, so we’ll see if there’s any noticeable change. And my book? still very much a work in progress, just a lot of research and fear of publishing but I’m committed. And if you like what I write, please like, follow, and share with others who might enjoy my writing! This year I’m making the push to grow the blog so I can eventually write full time. In a perfect world, I’d be traveling, writing, and learning. We’ve already surpassed 2019 in terms of everything, so we’re on the right track. The year is shaping up to look a lot like 2018 but I’m confident that we’ll surpass 2018. I have a lot planned for the year and I’m excited. Below is a link to my Patreon and Ko-Fi, I do everything on this blog by myself, so the donations help! Whether it’s a one time donation or a subscription, I cannot express how grateful I am for any support.

Support this blog!

And that’s it! Let me know what your thoughts are! I am always open to feedback!

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