Companions

On Thursday, I’m going to meet my Side by Side companion and see if I can help him. I’m pretty fucking awesome, so my hopes are high. I like meeting on the winter solstice too. Literally, the darkest day of the year and here I am holding tightly to the light of hope. To me, it’s an interesting coincidence, since every day can feel like the darkest day of the year to someone who is depressed. This captures the importance of tomorrow in both a literal and metaphorical significance. I am pleased by the nature of such oddities.

I have been visiting the San Diego NAMI office a lot lately and everyone there has been really great. They have turned me on to resources and may have even got my name moved up in the PET waiting list. I was expecting to be on hold until some time next year, after speaking with some savvy individuals. I feel very fortunate that I have been given this opportunity and I won’t miss out. Overall, I feel like I am taking patient, measured steps forward advancing my career and causes.

I live bound to my honesty. It is the backbone of my pride, and helps fend off depression and negative thoughts. I hope to illuminate the strength that can be found within, once one is willing to accept the truth. However foul or unforgiving, the basis of all recovery is to have ones feet in the real world, and work on the rest over time.

I don’t give advice anymore, especially since my in-depth education on mindfulness. I am learning more and more the two aspects of effective communication. Hopefully this peer to peer experience helps me build on my skills. I feel genuinely optimistic about this new direction in my life and know I am already starting to make a difference.

I am proud of who I am to my parents. They see me not only as their son, but a voice of moderation and reason in their sometimes turbulent relationship. I have always been called an “old soul,” despite my insistence that such descriptions are in accurate to my core beliefs. Nevertheless, I have this shamanistic sagelyness to my demeanor that generally appeals. All of these aspects help me be as friendly as lukewarm bathwater. These “medium” qualities help me keep my mother lassoed to the Earth as she rockets away from the surface at mach 8 and scoot the boulder of reason that is my father close to her. He’s just barely holding on to the balloon string most of the time. Now, there is a big piece of elastic underwear holding them together. I’ll let you imagine your way out of that one.

I do hope you all have a happy holiday season. Celebrate however you want, with those you hold dear. Cherish each other. We only have a widow of time together in this world.

Enrolled

I have been busy forwarding my career of mental health advocacy in recent days. I have also begun the process of building my mental health resume with my WRAP certificate. I am taking a Peer/Support training class, enrolled in Peer Employment Training in January and also volunteering with NAMI’s Side by Side program. I just went to the orientation for Side by Side the other day, and Alice already has someone she’d like me to be a companion for. As soon as my background check goes through, I’m likely to start meeting with a mentally ill peer and providing friendship, insight and guidance.

After accomplishments like that, I’m feeling quite good about my progress. I realize things are not going to rapidly unpack themselves towards goals, but steady incremental motions towards my horizon is all I’m hoping to pursue. I know what working 40 hours a week is like, and even in my advanced state of functionality, it’s a hard life to maintain without constant assistance. I support helping individuals find meaning through their workplace contributions, whatever environment they find themselves in. All of us need help finding the meaning and worth in things, especially when the news is negative. I do believe we have to think about progress in order to prevail. I hope to instill a sort of passion or vitality into my companions to help them see that life is still full of possibilities.

My MH career is just getting started, and I already feel the burden of stress lifted far from me. I don’t have to go to a place where I suffer for 8.5 hours in an environment where I am not wanted. I do not have to face the abuse and harassment of my coworkers who I am supposed to coach. I do not have to deal with supervisors who don’t understand my illness and do not sympathize with the way that I suffer with symptoms. Instead, I get to help people the same way I would have hoped to have been helped by those who could have helped me. I see where my boss and my peers went wrong in responding to my pain, and I learn from their mistakes for my own purposes. I know what it looks like to do things the wrong way, which makes me all the more capable of identifying how to do things a “better” way. Learn not only from yourself, but those who you see in the world.

I don’t mean to sound pedantic, but I am very energized about helping. This new career path is along the trajectory of progress towards better health. I know also that this is just the beginning and that many increasingly happy days are ahead. I hope my progress and enthusiasm helps inspire you to pursue mental health awareness. All of us are a community, and we should be looking out for each other. No one else is going to know what we’re going through, and it’s hard fucking work to help people see us. We should defend each other, and help the other percentage of the population understand. I want to start helping. I am helping. I will keep doing so for as long as I can.

Rebuilding Phase

Hello again Blog,

I am having a difficult time coping with my reality-in-transition. Fundamentally, my recovery during the last 4 years has been based on having an occupation and regimented structure to prevent me from becoming depressed and relapsing. I needed something to commit to, and invest in, to further my success along the path of being mentally stable. Unfortunately, due to the nature of my reality at the moment, I am forced to start over as thought it were day 1 out of the hospital.

I spent the first week arguably in a state of torpor. I accomplished nothing, and I was, more or less, getting over the shock of having had a psychotic break aka sulking. I then started re-implementing some ground-level responsibilities. I Made sure I got out of bed every day. Step 1.  Then I took it one further and got in to the shower. The next day I gathered up my laundry and picked some shit up. I have compartmentalized my progress as to not overload myself with a burden I can’t fully comprehend, but not so little that I might be deflated for lack of visible sign of progress. This is my reconstruction. I needed to set up my own schedule, as I was not going to be driving to the office again. I gave myself tasks and set objectives out that needed to be met. Why? Pride, pure and simple: my personal antidote to depression.

Being depressed sucks, and I don’t like the way I feel when I am in that place or any number of other bad places. I avoid going there if at all possible, though often it is not. Nevertheless I still believe that if there is ANYTHING proactive one can do to help ease the burden of sorrow, one should take advantage of that. Personally, I finds pride to be a good remedy to feeling depressed or self-deprecating. I tend to counter bad thoughts with pure action; a demonstrative of (hopefully) positive thought become reality. I give no life to my depressed thoughts, but instead, show it that, time and time again, I will act on my positive feelings and execute things in my life that will raise me up rather than tear me down. It’s hard enough trying to live a normal life with the burden I carry, let alone if I can’t even adequately defend myself from my mental illness.

We all have ways to cope. Personally, I cope via elevation. I find ways out of the hole, since being down there is not any fun at all. Life is a wide open door, with lots and lots of possibilities, even for someone like me. We get so mired in our distorted perspectives of reality that we don’t see how beautiful we are and what we still have yet to give to the world. Even the most severely tortured soul deserves a chance to reconcile and get pointed forward. Optimism is what we lack, just in principle if not truly comprehended. I don’t anticipate it is easy to be optimistic about anything when one is depressed, but that is the perfect time to implement some form of structure to reality. I don’t ever trust my judgement or make big decisoons when I am depressed, ever, anymore. I learned the hard way, and maybe we all did at some point. Then, when we are sane again, and feeling hopeful about life, we write ourselves a little message for the next time we get depressed. Like a little postcard from the future when things will be different, and I won’t feel depressed, because I was doing just fine when i wrote this to myself. Go a step further and leave yourself some action items to take care of to settle acute symptoms and get yourself grounded. I took a class here in town from Recovery Innovations International called WRAP, and during that class, we created our Emergency Action Plans. Mine is still up on the main menu, and has been there for a while (probably could use some updating). I developed those words so that I wouldn’t make the wrong decision when I was at my most vulnerable and depressed state.

I still struggle with all of this, day by day, but I hold on to the concept of optimism even if I don’t truly commit to it emotionally and spiritually. The structure gives me hope that steps forward make a difference, and that’s precisely what I intend to keep on doing. Hopefully this mess with my workplace gets figured out before I have to file suit over it, but we shall see. An update for next post, to be sure.

Stumbling Forward

I got into this mode of living as an independent man to help forward my ongoing mental health, but at the same time I am taxed by being alone. It is a tough balance. I need friends, but not deeply attached friends. I need meaningful exchanges without love or lust getting in the way. I have said it before but I think getting herpes has really helped me realize how alone I need to be to be healthy. Relationships fuck me up, and I will have no more of them. 

I will have women who I care for in my life, but not love with passion. Friends who can share memories and stories and show interest in each other’s lives. The thing I am trying to avoid is love and all the baggage that comes with it. Love has chewed me up and spit me out more than a few times. I’ve learned my lesson. Now I have a chance to prove my intentions as valid. 

Things happen and we respond. Life presents us with new challenges daily. In the end, I’m the only one who’s responsible for my life. If I want to live it proudly or in the shadows, that’s up to me. I was just telling Will about taking something of worth from the poorest deals. There is a truth to be gleaned from great loss and suffering. Maybe what we learn can move us forward instead of back? I didn’t make this road easy, but it’s mine to embrace and plow through. I’m ready for that blog. I did this. This whole thing is on me, not anyone else. I own that and I will do what I can to live true and proud regardless. 

Sometimes it hurts to think about just how lonely and unfulfilled I’m going to be for the rest of my life. That too was my choice and my burden. I’m here because I put myself here. I’m the only one who can make something of worth out of what’s left. I have next to nothing to show for my life and a weight on me I will never be free of. I have come to terms with all of this and vow to push on. Even if no one comes with me, I’m going forward. I won’t turn away in shame. I will face my pain and embrace my ultimate isolation. 

Tomorrow is Wednesday, and I’ll still be the same fucked up me I am right now when I wake up. There is no reset, there is just tomorrow. 

Ragequit

Well I had a bit of a “lost my shit” moment this afternoon, as one after the other disappointing thing happened at work. I basically work with people who put forth the bare minimum effort in their occupations and nothing negative I point out ever fucking changes. I’m so tired of hoping the supervisors will do something and watching them ignore the things that make our workplace a fucking joke. And it’s a joke. I’m surprised we aren’t laughed at more often.

I got on the road and was insane. I cut people off, I was yelling through my window and I nearly rear-ended someone in my fury. Basically, frustration boiled over and I began to hate everyone and everything. Like right now, for example.

Part of me thinks this is still part of the marijuana withdrawal because that tends to make me grouchy. It’s been a week, so it’s kinda late in the game for that to be the case… but I never flip out like this. I’m usually calm and logical, not exploding with anger. My emotions have become significantly more volatile since stopping the weed.

Trouble is, there’s nothing I can do about it without surrendering my standards. I set my goal for the first Friday of next month as to when I would start smoking under new guidelines… but here I am only a week out and I’m suffering. This is just something I’m going to have to push through. I guess.

I’m pissed at everything right now. The world is so fucking stupid it blows my mind. There’s nothing I can do to change any of the bullshit things that happen every day in my life. I just stand up, get socked in the face, and get back up again ready for another. Isn’t life fucking great?

I’m supposed to play D & D tonight but I’m furious. I don’t feel like playing a game I feel like killing someone with my bare hands. I want to choke the life out of some of these worthless fucks at my workplace, then crush their faces in to the floor with my foot. Fuck every single one of those motherfuckers.

God damnit this is fucking stupid. Why do I even bother trying? No one cares. No one gives a shit. I’m all alone out here with everyone in the world with their backs turned to me. Pretending I’m not here. Who gives a fuck what I say?

Goodbye.

Tumultuous

Having a bad start to my day caused the remainder to be a struggle. Even though I worked from home, it was still very hard. Now that I’m near the end, I feel shaky and worn-down. I find myself gravitating towards bed, a haven of safety and comfort. I’m tired, and negative thoughts are floating around. 

I’m back on this point about not dating anyone. I think developing friendships is the best course for me, as I have stated. Needing to feel needed is a perplexing state: it diminishes individuality and triggers anxiety. Feeling needed is pretty powerful, but it can also be a negative addiction. 

My anxiety has really been flipping the fuck out here lately. It’s going to be a while before I can see my doctor and I need to find ways to cope in the meantime. Normally I’d be smoking marijuana to get away from the anxiety, but, we are all aware that this is not a permanent solution. The mental aspect of this thing I have secured, but the chemical side remains fuzzy. 

My friends and I have been getting back into online games in addition to the weekly D & D. Rekindling that fire has been rewarding and presents all sorts of options for socialization. Many good times ahead, I can see. I’m glad to have this back in my life, it has given me something to be happy about. 

Tonight I’m trying to stay up until around 8 or so. I remember when Carly was sad when I went to bed early. Now she doesn’t talk to me for long stretches of time… I kinda wish there was an ulterior motive. At least then I would know. Some people react to my herpes diagnosis with sadness and curiosity… others are fundamentally disgusted and distance themselves (it would seem). People respond to things in strange ways. At least, I’m pretty sure I have this situation read properly. My anxiety projects these negative realities and they feel quite convincing, regardless of whether they are true or not. Usually not. I’ll continue to go on cultivating friendships that matter, if I am indeed right about all this. The virus can prove to be a filter for finding the right sorts of people to surround myself with. 

I have had a tumultuous day, and I’m glad the end of it is fast approaching. Have a good night blog. 

First

I’m back at work again blog and kinda glad. The weekend and all that unstructured time left my thoughts to their negative devices. However, I still faced a similar problem after work today. I had another block of time and only a few ways to occupy it. I am pleased to report that I did not cave in to temptation and did not even have the urge. What I did feel was resolve. I know what I need to do to get healthy and I’m not going to let addictive tendencies derail that. 

I have begun talking to Amanda again, and this has been rewarding. I’d like to be a meaningful friend in her life. I have no intentions other than to have someone to talk to who knows me. She was a big part of my life the last two plus years and I’d be a fool to discount that. The feelings I had for her are different than they were, but there is still real emotion there, and love I would say. Love in a context that is not how it used to be. I realize that this might be dangerous territory, but I am not concerned. I know in my heart what I want out of my life and I know what things will help me realize that. Just like Carly and I have professed to be “more than friends,” so too will a similar dynamic exist here. 

Things are happening in my world. I’m going to be an uncle soon. I’m will be headed out on long family vacations in the coming months. Tahoe in July, then Sacramento in August for my nephew’s arrival. I already bought him a unijammy (as I call them) because it’s the finest piece of baby apparel a budding man-cub can own. 

People are noticing how much weight I’ve lost. 22.8 pounds as of my last check in over the weekend. My work dress slacks don’t fit anymore… or at least, not without a belt. My wardrobe comes from a time where I weighed 285, about five years ago. I weigh 196.8 right now, the slimmest I have been since high school. How? Eating a minimal amount of food and exercising vigorously multiple times per day. I average 5 – 7 miles in my 8 hour shift. Or roughly 10,000 to 14,000 steps. I ingest significantly fewer calories than I take in, and the results are profound. Is it the most healthy way to go about it? No. Then again, my body has been used to eating 1 meal a day for the last 7 years. I’m acclimated. My metabolism is burning fat to fuel the fires and I continue to build muscle in my legs and increase my oxygen intake efficiency ( went from VO2 of 33.8 to 44 in two months). I think things are going perfectly right now. 

This week the motivation is solely on me. I have no step competition to rally to. I have no goal, other than to get a solid mile or more in every two hours and work up a heavy sweat. So what if I’m sweaty at work? Most of the people there are fat and lazy. I’m the only one determined to lose weight and look fit. It’s a litany of bad role models, junk food and beer bellies. Not my crowd, and boy do I stand out. 

Ultimately, I’m proud of where I am. I worked my ass off to get mentally healthy and now physically too. I’m not going to stop until I’m at my ideal weight, and stable in my mind. It’s up to me to hold the line and perpetuate my healthy behaviors. I believe in myself, and I know I can do this. I’m not smoking, I’m perpetuating good behaviors.