One thing, when done right, can change your life...

the spot of joe me as a kid

Author's Update 4/26/18:

As I gain more experience, and unlearn many patterns to live more freely, I realize the past is irrelevant to the future. I am keeping this up, but I want to note that my relationship with it has evolved. I blame nobody, I have forgiven everyone, and I seek to move forward, focusing on the positives. I realize a lot of my troubles were brought on by my intense focus on the troubles and my constant friction to battle what I could have just accepted. Going forward, I focus on what I desire, what I admire, what I like and I see my present and my future becoming bright because of it. More posts will share this understanding as I learn new ways of interfacing with the world, the universe and myself.



Author's Note:

This post gets deep and dirty into some of the more intense moments of my past. It can explain a lot of the reason why I'm so motivated to better my health and explore. I like to seek explanation from the past as to what my motivations are in the present. As I seek to deepen our relationship, readers, and to gain your trust, I'll be opening up about more of myself.

If you're related to me, you might want to stop now, as I will be transparent, demons and all, some of which are also our family's demons. We're family and we've healed to a great extent, but I'm cautioning you.

Please, feel free to comment, what ways are your present motivations influenced by your past?



Three years ago I was a hot mess.

By hot mess, I mean I was unstable. I'll tell you how, but first I want to give you some context.

The year was 2000.

The year was 2000. After visiting the hospital overnight for a look into stomach acid problems (they stuck a probe down my throat to monitor my stomach levels), I packed for our move from comfortable, stable Hershey, PA, where I had good friends and a great school, to San Ramon, California.

I knew nothing about California, and I didn't want to leave my friends behind. I had gotten close to some great guys, and I was just 7. Seven Years by Lukas Graham speaks droves to me.

Cue 2002, my parents divorced, and my Mom moved with my brother and I to a city in California an hour away. My dad moved to a different place.

Until 2007, my parents would inhabit 10 houses in 5 different cities, with my brother and I bouncing between them like a pinball machine, not always in the same place.

I was angry and I internalized it since whenever I expressed my anger, my parents took it as a mental illness and brought me to psychiatrists to prescribe medicine. To this day we argue about the validity of my "diagnoses" and if you're reading this, Mom, I'm sorry. But I have to tell the truth.

On top of all this chaos and abuse, I was sent to a group home in 2007 since I lashed out a lot at home. I lived there under their care (sometimes abusive, sometimes very genuine and understanding depending on who was working that day) until I was 18. When my parents elected to bring me to a living skills situation in Florida using one of their favorite diagnoses, "Asperger's" to stick me.

And stick me it did. I was at the point where I was diagnosing myself. I believed what they were saying, and I went towards medication at the first sign of frustration, rather than calming myself down and being a reasonable person. And the medication did horrible things to my mind and body. I would confuse hunger for intense pain, I would be unable to feel certain emotions, living instead in a perpetual fog, I would be unable to remember what I had done that day, I would confuse myself with others.

My dreams were often nightmares, and with the worst medication, I felt very terrified. I'd have panic attacks out of nowhere, for reasons either attached to my past or purely induced by the medication.

I began to question my deep belief coached to me from infacny that I was sick, and finally the light clicked...

So when I was 22, with the help of a therapist and a wellness counselor, a light clicked on in my brain. I. Was. Not. Sick.

I had been taught my my family, coached even, that I had problems, and to display myself as troubled. From an early age I was made to show my sickness and trick doctors into giving my family, mostly my mother, the attention they grew to love from the doctors. I began to question my assumption that I was sick, and finally the light clicked...

The wellness counselor I met had been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease and at one point had debilitating symptoms. After seeking medication (which didn't work for him) he used his knowledge in nutrition to radically change his lifestyle. He became vegan, ate organic, drank tea all the time, and helped others when he could.

Eventually he recovered to the point of being able to resume his gig as a Marine's drill instructor. With Parkinson's!

I knew this had to be the guy who would help me.

My therapist, a Rogerian, person-centered therapist, showed me the empathy I needed to process the internal conflicts I experienced while realizing who I was and what I had gone through. She was completing her residency when we met, and now owns her own practice near Chigago, IL.

We naturally grew together, as I was searching for someone who could listen to me. She gained my trust quickly by listening unapolagetically to whatever I needed to say.

So I left the living skills program and weaned off my medication with their help, replacing the habits of taking powerful and harmful pills with healthier ones, and changing my diet to help my body, rather than plunging it into sickness with medication, like I was taught by my sick parents.

But what was that one thing that changed my life?

I dared to ask "why?"

I questioned my reality.

I dared to take a step forward even with my entire family trying to hold me back. I gained a huge amount of respect from a couple people in my family afterwards, with equal amounts of fear from a few others. I don't always like the attention of declaring this past, but I know I must keep it fresh in my mind. And when I need to bring it up, I can remind myself of how proud I was for moving forward towards my own goal.

I went through debilitating withdrawal from my medication, to the point of where some nights I was reduced to curling up in a bathtub, screaming in agony from the chemical fire my nerves were under. But I recovered. Today, the few people I've told did a double take.

"You? This? It's hard to believe this was your past."

And while I wasn't as sick as my parents made me believe, I learned that it is a virtue to free oneself from one's past and be bold enough to dream.

This is why I love freedom. This is why I feel so free on the road, and this is why I am qualified to write about self-improvement, self-awareness and maximizing your freedom towards living life on your own terms.

Thank you for reading. I hope my site can allow you to search within yourself, find your dreams, find your demons, and forge your path towards your perfect life, living on your own terms.

Unchain Yourselves, readers.

~Joe Buchoff