A Tiptoe Birthday

A year ago tomorrow I sat down in front of an empty computer screen and scratched out a post I titled “Why I Am here” in which I expressed some doubt about my ability to actually maintain an active blog, and in which I declared my desire to share my own experience fighting the demons in the dark corners of my mind. I had recently come to understand that there was strength in sharing and important things to learn from the experience of others. I had been reading a couple different mental health blogs and while I couldn’t always relate to the specifics of a person’s experience I still felt a kinship with many of these writers and realized that despite the differences there are still things we talk about that only others who have tread down the same dark paths will ever be able to understand.

As it turns out I have had a very active year in terms of mental health. Topics have ranged from reflections on the darkest days of my life back when this all started many years ago, to my current struggles. In between readers have been blessed with some attempts at humor and creative writng, my taste in music, observations on the impact of entertainment on mental health, weight loss, and one long political rant. The most important posts for me came shortly after this blog was started when last December I was pushed into a very difficult position and made the decision to discontinue use of the benzodiazepine Klonopin. I had been using the drug daily for ten years and for a couple months this space focused on little more than me surviving benzodiazepine withdrawal. Nearly a year later I am still getting used life without this chemical buffer, and trying to get some balance back.

I would like to sincerely thank all those that have stopped in to read this blog, and in particular those that have taken the time to comment or “like” my posts.  Without your support I would likely have stopped writing here many months ago. Knowing people are reading and care has been a wonderful experience. When I started this I didn’t realize I was stumbling into such a supportive mental health community. That has been the single most pleasant surprise of this experiment.

In the event some are curious I will share a few behind the scenes details. My blog is pretty modest by most standards. Less than 100 posts to this point, less than 100 folks following, and not quite 3,000 page views. I have been very surprised by one stat in particular. My most viewed post has nothing to do with the topic of this blog. Back in the spring I wrote a couple snarky posts about trying to get a decent coffee out here in the sticks. In the spirit of those posts a put up a couple funny coffee related photos. That photo post has three times the individual views of the next closest post on this blog. It also has very few “likes” and no comments. It makes very little sense to me. The post with the most “likes” happens to be my very last post, a poem about insomnia. Be careful folks… too much encouragement and you may be subject to more poetry of questionable quality.

I have two posts that I would call my favorites. The first is actually the least viewed post on this blog. I may have titled it badly, but Downeaster Alexa includes a brief reflection of the impact of the sea on my life. It isn’t the most profound thing I have ever written, but the subject matter is near and dear to my heart. The second post is a piece I wrote on men and depression. It sparked a pretty good conversation in the comments section when it was written, and the ideas put forth are still things I feel strongly about.

In the future I plan to keep going as I have been, mostly writing about my day to day life with the occasional offbeat submission. I have really begun to appreciate music as a powerful medium for expressing emotion and I may increase the amount of music I share here. I added a page to the blog called the Tiptoe Soundtrack that will display all the music I share in individual posts in a central location.

I would like to offer on last thank you to all those that have supported this project and I look forward to seeing you here in the coming months!

-Casey

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Robert Frost I Am Not

A week or so ago I published that long string of loosely connected thoughts describing my own version of anxiety plagued insomnia. I said I was going to use it as a brainstorming platform to put together a real poem. I had been looking into poetry formats trying to understand things like rhythm and meter, and thought it might be interesting and challenging to try and write poetry that followed some set structure. I have to admit I only marginally understood what I was reading, and began to get really lost on the stressed syllable stuff. I know it’s not all that hard, but I have trouble reading about it. If I could actually hear it conversation I have no doubt it would be clear to me. I said I would share the poem here when it was done. Over the last week I have come to understand that it will never be done so I will share in today’s form. Continue reading

Things That Go Bump In The Night

I had the strangest thing happen to me last night. I had had a rough day feeling slightly off and on the edge of an anxiety attack most of the day. I have been generally doing fairly well, and this was the worst I had felt in weeks. I couldn’t put my finger on the source, but was definitely teetering on the edge. With the insomnia problems I have been having I knew that bedtime was going to be a problem. I was up late watching the VP debate and some of the analysis after making it 11:30 before the light was out. Getting to bed late often contributes to the insomnia battle, but I settled in hoping for the best. Continue reading

Conflict

Tomorrow I go see the therapist I have been talking to about emetophobia. In my last post on this subject I pointed out that I thought his theories on possible food sensitivities were bunk based on the large quantities of dairy and wheat I had eaten while experiencing less pain than I had felt in weeks. I also outlined some external stressors and mentioned that I needed to talk to him about the clear impact that a neighborhood conflict was having on the amount of pain I was experiencing. I laid it all out for him and he agreed that the food thing was making less sense. The conversation quickly turned to my aversion to conflict. Questions were brought up about whether it was conflict that was the problem or the way I manage anger. There were also some uncomfortable questions about how I deal with or avoid conflict in my marriage. In the end we settled into a discussion about learning to engage in conflict when it is appropriate and putting fear of consequences in perspective. Continue reading

Credit Jason Zuckerman

Insomnia Stream of Consciousness

I have seen others do this and have always found it interesting. Saturday night I was again thrust into the misery of insomnia. It didn’t last as long as those endless nights in July, but it was accompanied by repeated cyclic anxiety attacks. It was uncomfortable and I found myself wishing I could find a way to explain what it felt like. I began to narrate a stream of consciousness in my head, and the following day I sat down to capture the feelings and sensations of a restless night.

What follows is grammatical gibberish. Is it free form poetry? I have used this as a baseline to begin writing an actual poem. I have never written a poem with actual rhythm or meter. I thought I would give it a try. If it actually gets finished I will share it here if folks promise to be gentle. So here it is, a collage of thought and feeling… Continue reading