My Monsters

Today, just a few hours ago, I had probably the worst anxiety attack that I can remember having. The feeling of fear complete terror, thoughts racing through my brain, the paralyzing feeling that it all triggers. My heart is racing , my muscles are tense and I feel like I am about to have to fight my way out of a horrible situation, so I remain motionless to avoid the impending doom that I know is right there, almost upon me.

What triggered this? A friend’s birthday party.

My wife told me yesterday about a birthday party for a high school friend of mine that was happening today. Here’s where that is an issue for me. I am an introvert, so I find people tiring at best. There were going to be people at this party that I didn’t really know, or know that well that have kids that they bring to get-togethers along with our normal group of friends. So, we are talking about a fairly good sized group. I have to kind of prepare myself for these sort of things. I know how that must sound, but that’s just me. Now, take introversion and mix it up with Anxiety Disorder. Yeah, it’s a fucked up cocktail.

(Want to learn about introverts? Here you go)

So, I start my meditative breathing and mindfulness exercises. I start to feel a little better, then the racing thoughts come back and they have brought a friend. I start seeing these faces in my head of people laughing, with food in their mouths and all of these babies walking about and if felt like they were so close that it was hard to breathe. Now, the fear is back, and the terror. I start doing more meditative breathing and mindfulness exercises and they are helping relax me, but the faces are still there. I keep up with the breathing and meditation until they are gone. Now, about an hour has gone by.

To rewind a bit, I quit smoking yesterday and went back on my eCigarette. It’s been challenging, but I have made it work.  Now back to the present, my wife, while witnessing all of this and supporting me through it, finally says that she is going to the corner store and offered to pick me up a pack. I caved and rather quickly. While she was gone, I did a few more breathing exercises to  relax my body, and I was now completely relaxed. I then started the internal debate on if I could attend this party.

My concern was having another attack at the party. However, my other argument was not knowing any of this until I actually went to the party. So, at the time, I would be be having the attack and not having the attack until I actually went ( Fucking Schrödinger). Then I thought by not going that I was letting the anxiety win, but if I went and had to leave early and disappoint my wife that would be even worse.  Now the racing thoughts were creeping back in and they brought a friend, a headache. So, more breathing and a 800mg ibuprofen.

Ultimately, I decided not to go. I felt like I had defeated my anxiety, but was wounded in the battle by not being able to go. I still claimed victory, but now another one of my monsters was coming to get me.

Depression.

I started feeling down, defeated, and like I had disappointed everyone. Like I was a failure and that I couldn’t do something as simple as go to a fucking birthday party. My wife asked me if everything was Ok, and I told her that now I was feeling depressed and why. She reaffirmed me and offered to stay with me, but I objected to that. Her staying would have just made things worse and I really just wanted to be alone right now. I know I am not a failure, I know that my friends may be disappointed, but they will also be understanding. Most importantly, I know depression lies. I know that when I am depressed, everything that creeps into my brain is a lie.

Right now, I am good to go OK. I feel a little down, but I know that in the end, everything will be OK and that my friends love me and understand what’s going on. My anxiety is gone (finally) and this depression will pass soon. Right now I plan on watching some TV, and just taking it easy the rest of the night. I have defeated my monsters, and I will live to fight them another day.

VS.

We have probably all done this, well it’s more probable if you are a geek or nerd with a plethora of comic book and fandom knowledge that would overload the servers that keep all of our metadata at the NSA. You all have been sitting there, talking and laughing, chilling out, and just having a great time, until someone says those 7 words that will inevitably lead to nerd rage:

“OK, who would win in a fight:”

That’s when shit get’s real. The room goes silent, the air gets cold, and eyes glare with hypothetical bloodlust. Then you call out your contestants and people then form into battle groups. Some will be torn between two fandoms that they care deeply for and start to panic, but a side must be chosen. Finally, when the dust settles, the armies are formed on the battlefield and the war can begin. May your g-ds be with you.

Now, without the hyperbole.

I was just randomly thinking about my own ongoing debate(s) on the whole “Who/what would win in a fight” question and I started to wonder: “What is it about those words, that hypothetical combat scenario that we will never see that will cause such passionate debate among friends?”

Those words will turn that chill, fun time that was happening in the beginning, to a verbal street fight. Even my wife and I have had one of these that is still somewhat unsettled. Ours is between a jet-packless Boba Fett (to make it even) and Daryl Dixon.  Zombie Hunter vs. Bounty Hunter in a fight to the death. We still bring it up from time to time.

I think it’s because we love our heroes and we always want to see them win and no matter who you are, people love to argue debate their points. As geeks, we want to show that we are savvy on the subject and be, or appear to be, the smartest guy in the room. And of course we want to see our heroes win, but more importantly, we want to win. Because, well it’s winning! Who doesn’t like that?

LPT: got a group that isn’t really talking? Try this question. Oh, they’re not nerds? Use animals. My favorite is Lion vs. Hippopotamus. #teamhippo

OK, Let’s try this again. From the top!

I have been thinking about this blog lately and what to do with it. What to post, how to arrange my posts and what my focus of this blog is. I have been going over the stats that WordPress shows you on your blogs performance and I have been noticing what gets views and likes and what doesn’t get views and likes.  Then I started wondering how I can get more people to view and like my posts and how I can attract a larger audience and…

Then I started wondering what the actual fuck I was doing.

I started this blog as a journal, an open journal, that I would post things to to use as a creative outlet and a source of catharsis from the shit my own brain puts me through daily and some of the funny ( to me) stuff that occurs in my life. That’s when I remembered my target audience, me. I write this blog for me and I share it with you. I do like it when I see the views and likes but that’s not the point. The point is to type out thoughts, feelings, and emotions that I am experiencing and just get them out there. If you view it and like it, that’s great. If no one reads the posts that type out, then that’s OK, too.

Even though you would think that my friends would at least stop by and read it, but you know, whatever.

 

F5

Right now, I am at work. I work as a software tech/analyst for a company that you probably have never heard of but more than likely use our products either indirectly or directly multiple times per day. The division I am in handles the hospitality industry and my department focuses on loyalty promotion software. We have thousands of clients all across the globe that use our software for their businesses.

Now, some of you may think that this is a fast paced, skill-intensive job that requires years of schooling, certifications, and a Mensa IQ.  I am here to tell you, you don’t (I barely graduated high school) and that as interesting as my job sounds, I mainly get paid to click the refresh button. Yep, I refresh the tickets in the queue, I refresh the screen to make sure the server that I just told to sync is actually syncing data between our server farm and the customer and then I click refresh to make sure the install that I just launched actually installed. To do all of those things, I either right clicked and clicked another option or I dragged a file from one computer and dropped into another one and clicked a different button to make it sync. None of it is rocket surgery.

On a good day, I may actually get to use some SQL and query a server and investigate an issue that is actually a legit problem or prove that no problem exists at all. Sometimes, I type out step-by-step instructions for the users that are trying to make some minor change to their promotion and I also take screen shots so that they get what I am talking about, but usually I just hit refresh.

When I was working full-time, I did get to dive into some more interesting cases and sift through logs and play detective. I got to use more SQL and put my computer skills to the test. Now, I just take the easy cases and do what I can in my 4 hour shift. I usually only really work maybe half of that because the cases are either low, or they require a call back and no one wants a call at 9pm when they are not even at their site. So, I sit here and go through Twitter, Reddit and click refresh.

I hope that my disability get’s approved soon. Because I may not do this after it’s approved; however I may then even start to miss clicking refresh. Because in that 4 hours, I feel like I have something that I have to do (usually). In that 4 hours, clicking refresh is my mission, it’s my job, it’s my purpose. If it goes, I don’t know what I will do. What will my purpose be? I am sure I will find something to do, but the idea of not having anything is kind of scary and yet somewhat relaxing at the same time. I guess I will be clicking refresh on my life and finding something new.

 

 

I guess we will see what happens.

 

Ronald Reagan? The actor?

One of the things that I have always been fascinated with is the idea of time travel. The idea of seeing the future, or truly reliving the past; however I have always had a feeling of discontent when someone mentions not being able to change the past because of the risk of creating a paradox and destroying the spacetime continuum.

I kind of like the Doctor Who version of paradoxes, you just can’t change fixed points in time. Like you couldn’t go back in time and kill Hitler or prevent 911. These are major historical events. I would think that you could make minor changes to your own timeline without unraveling the universe. Again, you just couldn’t change fixed points in your time line, or change events outside of your time line. Like, you couldn’t go back in time and invent Google, or save someone that died; however you could go back and invest in Google and say goodbye to that person if you didn’t get the chance.

Which brings me to my latest random thought.

Let’s say that the government has found a way to travel back in time, only back not forward. How it works is, you actually go back to a certain age in your own time line and basically relive your life. You retain all knowledge that you have learned up to the point of your departure. The age you return back to is determined by the second digit in your current age + five years (So, if you are 38 then you would start life over at age 13). You will be given a banking account with $1000 dollars to make investments in and you can not make major changes outside your time line.

What would you change? Would you change anything? What events would you like to re-live? What events would you be dreading to re-live? What changes do you think that you would end up making to your future? Or, would you even go back into your past to change or re-live anything?

I am actually almost undecided on this, because of the fact that I could end up changing something of my present that I currently enjoy. Mainly my marriage. I know it sounds sappy, but I love my wife.  On the other hand, I would change the eating habits I had as a kid and maybe go outside to play more often.  Perhaps then I wouldn’t be such a fat fuck like I am now. I would also, like to re-live one particular event that happened when my mom and I took a trip to Sears. The Star Wars craze had died out and Sears was selling off it’s entire stock of Return of the Jedi toys for S-T-U-P-I-D cheap. $1.88 for vehicles and play-sets, $0.88 for all action figures. I would have told her to buy ALL OF IT! Those toys (minus a TIE Interceptor of course) would have gotten shoved into the attic of our house ( which is now my house) and I would have all of this still new in the box.  So, it’s a toss up of having an original 1987 B-Wing new in box or the woman I love.

In all actuality, I think I would do it. I honestly think that I would find my way back to my wife and be a better man, with a hell of a better Star Wars collection, and just have a few less regrets.

I would have also sunk that $1000 into Google’s IPO and be rich fucker, too.

 

 

One Trick Pony.

When I started this blog almost a month ago, I just wanted a space to get out thoughts and feelings that were in my head.  I remember in my first post typing out:

…I am not going to make this a mental health blog (well, not totally), but there will be a lot of posts about how I deal with the illness and with life.

I have noticed that is almost what it has become; however that is what I deal with on a daily basis.  My blog here is where I get more personal, more in depth. Instead of having the random conversation with myself or with some imaginary figure, I come here and type that conversation out.  I use this place to be a haven for these thoughts, and maybe someone will come across them and find some solace that there is someone else out there that also is going through the same things. I know that when I found out that I “wasn’t the only one”, it brought me some peace.

I do want to create posts about other topics than my mental health issues; however sometimes that is what is going on and I need to express it.

That and I am kind of a boring person.

My latest excitement was my pour over coffee maker that I ordered, and this new soap that I tried for my beard and face. I know. I will try to settle down with those type of controversial roller-coaster topics.

The other thing that I am trying to use this blog for is to give me something to do while I work part-time and when I get on disability.  Right now I am doing a lot of sitting on my couch and binge watching Netflix or reading Reddit. I am caught up in the inertia of my couch and I don’t want to be stuck there all the time. I need to create, to get thoughts out, to do something. I just don’t want it to be about me and my struggle with mental illness all the damn time.

So, I will try to bring more to this than just my mental health issues. Mind you, I will still be posting about those, but I will be working on giving this blog a little more substance than just that.

Now, I am going to go make some pour over coffee and start my exciting day of doing…well something.

A Couch Trip with g-d.

Just going through some of my old notebooks and I found the one from my last IPO (Intensive Out-Patient Program) and I started to remember the struggle that I had with that councilor and some of her therapy techniques.  I kind of laughed it off when I first started the group; however I remember that there was a few times that I had to remind her of one little thing about me.

I am an atheist.

When you first start a program, the paper work asks (usually) about your religious/spiritual preferences. I had clearly written: “I am an atheist, I would like to avoid any religious or spiritual based therapy”. So, of course, after the first time that I share anything I was given the Serenity Prayer as a therapeutic tool.  I remember at the break I asked to speak with the therapist in her office and I explained why that wasn’t a good fit for me.

There were a few more “slips” and she apologized almost immediately. However, after reading my notebook and remembering this, I started to think if religion is really used in therapy. I know there are “Christian Councilors” and such, but do therapists use more religious devices in there practice? I would hope not, because the one thing that I have a low tolerance for is indoctrination. So, I decided to hop onto the Google and see what I could find.

Wow…

There were a ton of articles on this subject and the short answer is that some therapists are taking into account their patient’s religious beliefs and some may be using some religious techniques in their sessions.

“Techniques include use of prayer during a session, ways to direct clients to pray, spiritual journaling, forgiveness protocols, using biblical texts to reinforce healthy mental and emotional habits and working to change punitive God images.”

http://www.apa.org/monitor/dec03/religion.aspx

Now, if the patient is asking for this type of assistance, then I get it; however if this is how a therapist is handling all of their patients, then I think that it’s a big issue. Simply for these reasons:

  1. Not everyone believes in a religion.
  2. Not everyone has the SAME religion.
  3. It’s unsolicited.
  4. I didn’t pay for a sermon.

 

Approximately 71% of the US claims to be Christian. While 6% belong to Non-Christian faiths (Jewish, Muslim…etc.) and approximately 23% are “Unaffiliated” (Athiest, Agnostic or Nothing in Particular).

http://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious-landscape/

Just focusing on items 1 & 2, this means that the therapist using these tools would need to be well versed in multiple belief-systems. This way they can handle anyone’s spiritual needs and be ready to tackle the tough questions that will arise when the religion can of worms is open. So, this is now part of the psych classes and is being offered as work-shops and papers are being published on this issue to bring every psychiatrist and therapist up to speed, right?

“Unfortunately, the large majority of practicing psychologists receive no training in religion and spirituality during their graduate and post-graduate education.”

http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2013/03/religion-spirituality.aspx

Well, shit.

This to me just opens the door to indoctrination. If the therapist is now going to use their religion or someone else’s religious techniques in their practice, then they are running the risk of indoctrinating their patients.

indoctrinate – verb (used with object), indoctrinated, indoctrinating.
1.
to instruct in a doctrine, principle, ideology, etc., especially to imbue with a specific partisan or biased belief or point of view.

(Synonyms: brainwash, propagandize.)

This is horribly wrong (even though one well known therapy group has been getting away with it for decades – AA 12 Steps – http://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/twelve-steps-and-twelve-traditions) and really needs to be examined before these tools are used with patients.  I mean, even the father of psychotherapy had very negative reviews of religion in general, so I am pretty sure he would highly object to it’s use in therapy.

Freud refers to religion as an illusion which is “perhaps the most important item in the psychical inventory of a civilization”. In his estimation, religion provides for defense against “the crushingly superior force of nature” and “the urge to rectify the shortcomings of civilization which made themselves painfully felt”.[9] He concludes that all religious beliefs are “illusions and insusceptible of proof.”[10]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigmund_Freud%27s_views_on_religion

“Religion is comparable to a childhood neurosis.” –Sigmund Freud, The Future of an Illusion, 1927

Neurosis (noun): a relatively mild mental illness that is not caused by organic disease, involving symptoms of stress (depression, anxiety, obsessive behavior, hypochondria) but not a radical loss of touch with reality.

My main point with this is that with this new movement to include religion in therapy, it should be something that YOU initiate and that YOU bring to the discussion and that you take in account that your therapist isn’t going to be an expert on your faith (You may want to seek out a faith-based councilor if that’s something that you want). I would only suggest that if your therapist suddenly starts trying to lead you in a drum circle, invokes the power of Odin, or brings out a keyboard to sing hymnals to cure your issues, that you may want to run like hell. Even if they do use some religious techniques, they still should be using a lot of science and medicine to address your issues.

I just know that I have fought off indoctrination in the therapy room and the doctor’s office a few times and it wasn’t fun and it usually ended the relationship between me and that person who I trusted to take care of me.  I hope that you don’t have to go through that same frustration.

Thanks for reading.

 

Peanut M&Ms

Today hasn’t been a good day.

But,  let’s rewind to yesterday when I had to take my wife to the ER. She was having chest pains and shortness of breath,  so we loaded up and went to the hospital at 3am. Turns out that it wasn’t any kind of cardiac event or anything with her asthma, but probably something with her esophagus or her muscles in her chest. My anxiety was a little up yesterday, to say the least.

Today was my mom’s 1 year checkup for her bladder cancer. Her cancer is in-operable because of her shitty kidneys, diabetes, and the billion other health problems she has. So, her Urologist checks on her bladder and sees if they can shave off any more of the tumor and if it has spread to anywhere else or moved to a different stage. Believe it or not,  I had a full nights sleep and woke up to head out to meet her at the doctor’s office. When I get to the hospital where the office is located,  the road is blocked. So,  I drive around trying to find a way to get to the garage.

There’s not one.

I drive around,  now late,  frustrated, and annoyed because Google Maps is telling me to go through the road that is blocked, and the signs at the hospital don’t tell me anything about an alternative route. Finally it happens,  the annoyance and frustration turn to panic and my anxiety skyrocketed. Now I am behind the wheel and having a panic attack.

I pull over and breathe. I try to get control, but it isn’t working. I tell my phone to call my wife, who is still recovering, and it’s not working. Now I am almost in tears,  screaming at Google Now to call my wife. I finally calm down enough to make the call and I finally just tell her that I am coming home. I will do damage control later, but fuck it I can’t do this.

I start the drive home,  with the AC on and the windows down in 35 degree weather,  smoking a cigarette and trying to collect myself. I call the wife (without yelling at my cell phone) and pick up some Whataburger and then I stop and get the one thing that I have to have when I start to get depressed. I pull into the neighborhood Race Trac and buy the biggest bag of peanut M&Ms that they have.

This goes back to my first dealing with the depression side of Bipolar disorder. I have no idea why,  but when I start feeling depressed,  I crave the damn things. I don’t eat them any other time; (I actually prefer either the peanut butter ones,  or Reese’s Pieces when it comes to sugar shelled candy dots.) however when I start sinking,  they are my go to.

So,  now the anxiety is mostly over and I am sitting here feeling like a failure and a shitty son with a bag of peanut M&Ms at my side like an old friend.

The Great Texas Shrink Hunt: Part 3

After researching 23 doctors, automatically eliminating 14 of them due to either:

  • Distance
  • Payment Type/Insurance Not Accepted
  • Previous Negative Experiences

Then re-analyzing the remaining 9 and getting rejected due to either:

  • Not Accepting New patients
  •  Being Retired
  • Not Accepting My Insurance

I finally have found a Doctor…

That has a Physician’s Assistant that has availability and accepts my insurance!

I may not get to actually see the actual doctor until May, but I have my foot in the door with one of his PA’s that can get me my medication and hopefully won’t be a complete fuck up.

So, I finally bagged one! I just hope it’s a keeper.

Paula Was Right.

We had an interesting event happen tonight. We ordered a pizza (that’s not the interesting part) and they forgot our bread sticks (still not there, wait for it). So, we call back down to the pizza place and they apologize and will send someone over promptly.  So, the pizza guy gets here and the conversation at the door regarding our forgotten bread sticks is taking a bit long.  I start to wonder what the hell is going on up there (Read as: my anxiety is putting god awful images into my head) so I grab some pants and head up front. Before I can get out of the bed room, my wife appears and has the bread sticks and a free giant cookie (score!) and has a worried look on her face.

The pizza guy, in his wisdom, backed into our driveway and drove off into the ditch.

My wife is almost in a panic because she wants to help this guy and solve the problem. I on the other hand, don’t see it as our problem and this is where we usually collide. However on this occasion she left it to me because she “knows how I feel about these things and that we are opposites on these situations”.  I agree and I go to talk to the guy on our front porch who has driven off into our ditch.

I greet the guy and I advise him that I do not have the capability to pull him out of the ditch. I let him know that, unfortunately, the neighbors that we are (somewhat) friendly with are not at home, our next door neighbors are sketchy as hell and that I don’t recommend them, and that there are some other neighbors across the street that seem like good folks with a truck.  When I then ask if he could not call in to his boss and explain what happened, he let me know that he could, he needed to, but he would probably get into trouble.

Sorry, bro.

He let me know that he was going to make a call and I let him know that if he needed anything to just knock. Then I went back to my sandwich and my free cookie.

I came back into the house and back to my wife to report what happened. She didn’t look enthused. The rounds of “what if’s” started: “what if he is cold”, “what if he doesn’t get help? “. I re-assured my wife that the pizza guy would live to deliver another day and that all would be well.  That’s when she mentions the opposites thing again and I told her that yes we handle human interactions completely differently and that we balance each other out. Where she would have invited the guy in, made him hot cocoa and wrapped him in a blankey; I would have pointed out possible solutions to the problem that he could take and assisted as well as I could have while minimizing my interaction and liability.  You know, the “right” way (IMO).

That got me thinking about opposites.

Opposite: 2. contrary or radically different in some respect common to both, as in nature, qualities, direction, result, or significance; opposed:
(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/opposite)

My wife have some very common traits and qualities; however when it comes to this one thing: helping people (financially or with a dilemma beyond our capability) we are polar opposites.

Simply:

I am a cynic , my wife is an optimist.

My wife is a giver and I am a still a cynic.

 

Now I am not heartless,  if I see a starving kid on the street, then I am going to go grab him something to eat.  Not for karma, not because of the universe, and not because of some god, goddess, or spirit, but because it’s a hungry kid on the fucking street; however when I see people with a covered up stroller begging for money so they can “Get X for the baby” and that baby hasn’t made a peep in 20 minutes on a noisy street, then I am a bit cynical about your intentions with the cash you are asking for and even if you have a kid in that stroller at all.  Sorry, but I am not sorry.

My wife however has been so kind hearted and giving to the point that she has had her charity abused by people.  She was taken advantage of financially and put in real danger by some “neighbors” at our old apartment. She had her heart broken by ” a good friend” after she took advantage of her kindness. So, when these situations arise, I talk to her or just jump in the situation when shit goes too far. There was a saying that I found for her (and later found was a quote by Henry Ford) and I wanted her to take it to heart:

“Givers have to set limits because takers rarely do.”

Henry Ford

 

As I am her opposite in this one aspect of our life together, she does the same for me. Because I can go beyond cynic at times and become so full of apathy and disdain for people that I go full-blown misanthropic.

misanthropy: (noun) hatred, dislike, or distrust of humankind.

Yep, even my normal modus operandi when things for me is to hate mostly everyone, or at least mistrust them.  I look for the angle, the con, the “how am I getting fucked by this” factor with pretty much every interaction that I have with a human. If we meet at a party, I will tell you now, I will be civil , I will even be charming, but I probably don’t care for you.

Now, to be honest, I am not a sociopath, or a psychopath, I have been tested ( not joking). I am just highly introverted, and I am severely emotionally detached; however if I have sunk into the full depths of my misanthropy, then  I don’t like anyone. I don’t want to be around people, ANY PEOPLE. My wife has a way of pulling me out of this by at least getting me to get out and seeing at least one friend. Of course it them ends up being multiple friends and I usually end the night with a smile on my face. So, again, counter-balance.

So, if you and your SO are opposites on something, don’t look at it as a “deal breaker”.  It may end up being the strongest aspect of your entire relationship and the one that you end up cherishing the most. You just got to figure out how they fit and work.

So, good luck with that.

 

And if you haven’t figured out the title, yet. I will just leave this …

Here