As the end of the weekend approaches I was looking for a little perspective to enter the coming workweek with. I posted this video last May and I want to share it again. I do not offer this as an example of how things could be worse, I don’t believe in ranking misery and misfortune, but I do believe it can help us to get out of our own head and see a larger view of the world. More than anything I see this video as providing inspiration and strength. I was sent this video by a young man who has survived Leukemia. Four years ago I did not know who he was, but I received a call from the Be The Match Foundation telling me that I was the match for a 16 year old boy. I donated marrow and a year and a half later I met him, and had the privilege of watching him graduate from high school. He has been through an unbelievable ordeal that began when he was only seven years old, but he has survived with a sense of purpose and his sense of humor entirely intact. He and his family have repeatedly thanked me, his grandmother had tears in her eyes and hugged me tightly when we met the first time, but I have said all along that this has been a gift that traveled in both directions. Sometimes our lives need a little perspective.
It has been a month since I maxed out my Wellbutrin dose. Within several days of increasing the dosage I began to feel a little better, and that mild improvement has remained though I don’t think I gained much more after that first week. Over the past month I have been able to better manage my anxiety, or more accurately there has been less anxiety to manage, so I have felt better, but not as good as I would like to feel. I have been tossing around trying the Zoloft experiment, but the Mrs. and I have been talking more and more about a second child. The likely Zoloft side effects could make the conception process a lot more work than fun. Continue reading →
Another week brings another source of stress. As one fire gets put out at work another flares up. I have spent the week demanding that my boss contact several of my customers and talk with them. Tell them something, anything really, but take some of the pressure off me. I told him straight up that I have no problem facing the music when I created the problems. I have broad shoulders, but I am being buried by a shit storm that he made. He seemed to get it and made a couple calls for me. They guys I work for aren’t bad guys, they just aren’t the savviest businessmen you ever met. Continue reading →
Last week I was supposed to be on vacation. I didn’t actual drive around like a normal week, but I did handle a lot of work related crap each day. I have a number of bad hard problems created by my employer that put me in ethical quandaries that are simply trumped by my financial reality. This makes me sick. I feel like I am selling my soul, but in this economy I don’t feel like I have much choice. The mortgage is due the first of every month and my child meets me at the door each night ready for dinner. The bank man needs to get paid and the boy needs to eat. It is no more complicated than that. Except it is. Much more. “Golden handcuffs” was the term used to describe my circumstances. If only. If they were made of gold I would not be transferring money from savings each month to pay my bills. More like copper or tin handcuffs. Just enough value to keep me off the street. Continue reading →
The last couple weeks have been a confusing time for me. I have found myself in somewhat unfamiliar territory emotionally and physically. About three weeks ago I made a casual observation that my mind had become somewhat muddied. My cognitive processes seemed much slower and my memory had gone to pot. I was having a great deal of trouble recalling names from the previous chapters of my life, and I couldn’t seem to remember to do anything. Theses memory problems were most troublesome because I work as a salesman and forgetfulness is bad for business, but as time passed they worried me a little more.
Along with the mental cloudiness my temper was getting much shorter and as time passed my wife and I barely spoke without ending up making some sort of short, frustrated, and angry comment toward each other. About a week ago I began to notice I was doing things that made no sense, like forgetting steps of repetitive tasks I have completed thousands of times, and was becoming distrustful of myself which in turn was causing a marked increase in my anxiety levels. I had just come to the realization that I was beginning to slide downhill quickly when this weekend the tension with my wife exploded into a real open argument. She basically asked me what the hell was going on that I was repeatedly doing things that made no sense, or failing to do things that were obvious. It seems the greatest source of frustration on her part was that I had turned into a complete idiot. Continue reading →
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!
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 →