Storyteller | Combat wounded veteran | Metalhead | Designer | Bleeding on a page just makes it more authentic: https://benjaminsledge.com

A former soldier explains the emotional vacancy of “the fatherless generation”

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“Men are so quick to blame the gods: they say
that we devise their misery. But they
themselves — in their depravity — design
grief greater than the griefs that fate assigns.”

―Homer, The Odyssey

I don’t have the group picture from the day my dad visited my fraternity house at Oklahoma State University. It was awkward compared to the “Mom’s Day” photo we would snap a few months later. …


Obsessive calorie counting, exercise, and rabbit food for meals are becoming a trend. Why?

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It’s the search function that always gets me.

Even in researching this article, I found myself second guessing decisions. Shouldn’t have had those Dr. Peppers. The breakfast tacos and barbecue didn’t help with my #gymgoals. Maybe I should run more?

It’s ironic that I feel this way given that, years ago, I sat down with a family member and had an extremely difficult conversation. I’m worried about your eating habits and obsessive exercise. You know… the 12 mile runs and rabbit food for dinner. You won’t even eat pizza anymore. The very thing I confronted my loved one about was…


Depression has been recorded throughout history for 8,000 years. What are we missing to help those struggling?

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Imagine you’re bitten by an animal in ancient Egypt that causes your life-span to extend to 8,000 years. The catch is that the infection from the bite also causes severe depression. Desperate to understand the cause and find a cure, you visit with the priests and shamans in your town. They’re convinced it’s a demon or evil spirit and try an exorcism. That doesn’t work, so they try beatings and starvation.

Not wanting to endure the abuse any longer, you wait a few thousand years until medicine advances and migrate to ancient Greece. The physicians recommend physical and mental exercises…


They’re meant to complement your life

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The girl in the Facebook photo enraptured Jason. They’d messaged a few times on Twitch, bonding over similar interests while they watched live streams. With time, they both discovered each other’s social media profiles. Soon they were messaging back and forth at all hours of the day, captivated by each other’s similarities.

The pandemic had put Jason in a precarious situation, as most of 2020 he felt somewhat isolated, but with this new fling he felt invigorated. Much to his chagrin, Jason discovered they lived in the same city, and even attended the same college. Soon they began meeting up…


We have more mental health resources, medication, and programs than ever. Why do the alarming numbers continue to rise?

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The blue pill with a fifty milligram stamp wavered between my thumb and forefinger. I rubbed the small tablet between my fingers, unsure of what to make of this new routine that was to happen twice daily. My doctor assured me it would alleviate many of the problems I was dealing with, help me sleep, and make me feel better. I assumed it’d work like aspirin — take two and the headache subsides — so I opened my mouth and popped it into the back of my throat, followed by a swig of water. …


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One of my favorite shows is Cobra Kai. If you’re unfamiliar with the show, it’s a continuation of the Karate Kid saga from the 1980s, only this time the script is flipped. We discover the old bully — Johnny Lawrence — isn’t as bad as we once thought. His rough upbringing, unloving father, and brutal sensei, sent him down a destructive path. Now he’s trying to make amends, while still dealing with a rivalry from the old hero, Daniel LaRusso.

As a kid, I got beat up and picked on, so I resonated with the Karate Kid. With my long…


Whether child or adult, everyone wants a mission that matters.

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The paper in front of me carried the distinctive teal lines used in every classroom. I stared at the empty paper, wondering what I should write, but looked at the question scrawled across the green chalkboard once more. Glancing at my peer’s papers, I saw words and pictures scribbled with the oversized №2 pencils we each used. None of them held the answer I was looking for.

Before time was up, the muse of inspiration struck and I grinned ear to ear and began scribbling. The picture was one I’d drawn a thousand times, while often daydreaming about the day…


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Today, I began getting texts from friends and family.

“Have you seen this disaster?”
“What a ******* day.”
“I feel like crying watching the news right now.”

Stopping to see what everyone was talking about, I abandoned an article I had for you on joy and purpose (which I’ll send next week). Instead, most people’s attention is on the alarming season premiere of America: 2021 (that’s a joke. Perhaps a poorly timed one, but I mask pain with sarcasm if you haven’t caught on).

I suppose I should preface this email by telling you we never get political at HeartSupport…


A look at Christmas traditions that dig at the roots we developed during a difficult year.

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*This is week 3 of my year end/Christmas reflections. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

The question was fair, but I took a moment to answer.

I’d been fiddling with the fire, placing another log onto the coals. My house lights were dimmed so that the fire was the primary source of illumination giving it a cozy holiday feel, but the problem was that one log was too green and kept fizzling out. Adding more seasoned wood until the fire became a roar, I finally sat down and then responded to the question at hand.

“I would have…


When my friends and family staged an intervention, the revelation forced a painful change

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*This is week 2 of my year end/Christmas reflections. Read Part 1 here.

I was drunk and high on Percocet when I kicked in my girlfriend’s door.

Her roommates quickly grabbed their phones and began dialing 911. One of them had the sense of mind to call my roommate, who wrestled me to the ground, and took me home before the police showed.

When I awoke the next morning, my parents and three roommates were in the living room, and I knew I’d screwed up. The problem was I couldn’t remember much of what transpired, so they had to recount…

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