Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Lester Flatts, Earl Scruggs, and Drugs

Once long ago I heard Lester Flatts and Earl Scruggs do a song on "The Beverly Hillbillies."  The song, "Can't Have Your Kate, and Edith Too" is about a guy who, clearly, wants to be with two ladies at once.  Maybe not at the exact same time; I don't know what kind of things Lester and Earl were into.  But in its way it's a timeless song, hitting on the nature of love and relationships.

I've been having panic attacks, bad ones.  I've also been depressed for quite a while.  So yesterday I went to the doctor and she put me on Paxil.  Now, I've never taken any kind of drug to treat depression.  I suppose I always thought that I didn't need them.  Maybe I should have taken them years ago; I don't know.  In any case, I'm on them right now, as I type this.  On top of the Paxil the doctor also gave me Adivan, which is much stronger than I anticipated.  I took half a Paxil and an Adivan yesterday afternoon, and more or less lost the day to a haze.  Today as an experiment I took only the half tablet of Paxil.  I still feel spacey.  Maybe it is "hangover" from yesterday, maybe it's the pill, maybe it's just me.  I don't know.  At least I slept last night.

Back to Kate and Edith and Lester and Earl; these pill make me wonder if I'm in a similar situation.  Specifically, can I have my brain (which we'll call "Kate") and my medications ("Edith," if you will)?  Can I still be the same person I was once I've altered my brain chemistry?  I don't know.

I think the depression really took hold when my cousin Ryan died.  He was like a brother; we were raised together, often in the same room.  We went through the same crazy family and home situations.  He was only eight months younger than I am, and he died from a massive heart attack back in November, right on his living room floor.

This event changed me.  It made me sad and angry and bitter.  I was angry because he died, having never heeded any advice about diet and exercise and stress.  I was so angry that he died that I didn't grieve for him, not until just a few nights ago.  It was long overdue, and it helped me.  Not only in getting over a death, but in learning to let go of misplaced anger.  To deal with things.  I'm very slowly learning to deal with things.

And now I'm on Paxil, and my fear is that it will just bury the things I haven't dealt with yet, but need to deal with to get out of my self-imposed mental cages.  In exchange, I'll be in a better mood and not suffer panic attacks.  But at what cost?  A lot of the things that this drug treats are also aspects of my personality.  I'm quiet, reserved, almost painfully shy.  Will that change?  Will it change my thoughts and attitudes towards social conventions and behavior, between right and wrong?  I just don't know.

I suppose that it is a risk I'll take, at least for the short term.  Maybe it is an important step in learning to let go of the idea of control, maybe it is a clean solution to not allowing myself to be happy, or maybe it's a huge mistake.  The only certain thing is that I can't remain the same person I always thought I was supposed to be.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Life is Hard

Sometimes, during the course of human events, something horrible happens to a person. Maybe a person does something horrible.  Most likely both, at some point or another.  I think there is a natural tendency to want to bury it, to hide it from the light of day in some dim recess of the mind, slated to be forgotten.  And there it will remain as the months and years and decades pile dust over it until it just sits, a vague semblance of its original form.  Maybe you can ignore it.  Maybe you can forget it altogether.  But it is waiting, just biding time.  Eventually you'll stumble across it, and all the distance you've gained from it will transform into inertia.

When it hits you, it hits you like a ton of bricks.

A lot of crazy things have been happening in my life.  For a while I allowed myself the luxury of believing external forces were at work.  That I was Good, and Evil was befalling me to test my mettle.  During these turbulent past few days, just last night, I realized that I am not Good.  I'm just a person, as weak and as thoughtlessly cruel as anyone else.  I don't feel like a bad person...just different.  A lot of things aren't as I thought, but I'm realizing that I have a much bigger role than I wanted to believe.  And I'm realizing that not dealing with events as they unfold is much worse than the alternative, because nothing can stay secret forever.

So there it is.  Maybe I've reached the gold standard of maturity, dealing with things no matter how much I don't want to and with more regard for the truth than for its possible consequences.  Sometimes it feels like self-sabotage.  I have to do the work all the same.  Whether it is with faith that things will work out in the end or with the idea that uncertainty is better than stagnation, it has to be done.

A big part of this, for me, is giving up the illusion of control.  The idea that I can guide the course of my own life, eliminating the things I want to forget, pretending or more likely working very hard to believe that things are going the way I wanted them to go, is false.  There are other people, and everyone in my life has some degree of influence.  Sometimes admitting it is hard, seeing how little control over your own life one actually has.  It is for me.

I almost feel like a different person.  It's a horrible realization, but it's more than just that.  It's an awakening. It's a realization that all the uncertainty I've fought against cannot be overcome.  It's also a rallying cry, a stark declaration that life is different now, and that growth and change are natural and inevitable.  A sign that you have to embark upon a dangerous and difficult path of learning greater truths about yourself, things you may not really want to know.

When it happens you have the choice to continue trying to ignore and pretend, or to take the journey, with all the dirt and pain and confusion that being human entails.  It's daunting.  It's necessary.  It's scary and exciting and hard work, a long trek through the twisted halls you've created in your own mind, a labyrinth filled with the monsters and pitfalls you've encountered or created.  It is a long, dark tunnel that, once entered, once made real, is real.  There is no turning back once you take the first steps. And as a wise person I happen to love says, "the only way out is through."

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Welcome back, I guess

It's been a long time since I've written anything here.  A big part of that was knowing that people I knew were reading this.  I've always suffered from insecurity, and it felt too intrusive.  Too much like people would get to know the me that I hide from myself, running the risk of someone making me look at myself too closely.

Turns out I may have to get to know myself.  There are major changes coming over the next few months.  I don't want them, but I can't stop them.  I have to learn to cope.  I have to learn to live my own life.  I'm sad, and angry, but mostly just panicked.  And I can't keep everything to myself any longer.  It's too much.  I can't handle it alone, I need help.  My friends are there, even though I know I'm being terrible company.  I don't want to tax them too much, but I am so thankful for everyone that has listened without judging.  It made me realize I have more than I may have thought.

There is no such thing as fair.  That may be the first lesson I'm learning from what will become my new life.  I can't ignore past mistakes or the reality of the future.  I can look at it as a nightmare horrorshow, my life disintegrating before my eyes as I'm powerless to stop it.  Or I can look at it as an opportunity.  A chance to grow and change, maybe to be happy.  It is hard to see things that way.  So hard that panic keeps overwhelming me, leaving me almost crippled, unable to breathe, my heart beating wildly, blood pulsing so hard that I can hear it, a desperate surge singing through my ears.  But even from the bottom of a pit if you look up you can see the sky.  Maybe it is a very slim, very distant sky, a sky that will take weeks or months or years of scrambling to reach.  But it is there.  It has to be there.  I have to find it.  I have to believe that one day my hand will reach the edge of the pit, and that I'll be strong enough to lift my head back into the light and air.  That I'll be able to come back to the world.

So I'm going to try to open up a bit.  To not be so guarded, to not be afraid to know myself or to let others know me.  For so long I feel like I've been hiding, like I was afraid to connect with other people.  It's hard to be alone amongst your friends, to hide your thoughts and feelings from everyone.  I'm having trouble still; being this honest is hard for me.  I don't want to get into the gory details just yet, but I may.  No one has to read this, but I'm afraid I may have to write it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Completely Awesome Blog Post

At work Friday during the meeting I had a great idea for a blog post. Something new, exciting and directly related to These Times We Live In. Sadly it happened during the Friday meeting, and I did not write it down immediately. Then a coworker I'll call "Don" started screaming about something crazy and I forgot all about it. Sorry about that.

Instead you get this update on the gutters - they are still under the weather (ha ha ha). Some dude is coming out tomorrow to give an estimate, but I'm leaning towards this woman named Joyce because she was nicer to me on the phone. I haven't heard back from Joyce yet; she was going to come by either yesterday or today. So I may get to meet Joyce in person.

In other coworker news, two of my coworkers have been dating in secret for months and months. They told me a month or so ago, and I hadn't caught on to them, mostly because I don't care what people do in their personal lives. All of my brainpower is tied up in other projects. They claim my not realizing they were a secret date couple is an indication that I have poor detective skills. I maintain that I wasn't applying my detective skills to them.

But I digress. As it turns out they are moving just down the street from me, which means that now I have more friends nearby, but no more time in the day. I often find myself trying to tell people that I would, in theory, like being friends. Sadly I can't fit it into my schedule. Work, the rigors of Dungeons and Dragons, hitting the range, playing guitar, tending to my 71st level wizard's auction house interests...all these things take time. I barely get any recreational reading done as it is, and then people want me to spend time with them?! What the hells, man? As the driving paragons of industry said of yore, "this dungeon ain't going to run itself, yo."

Truer words were never spoken.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Social Media and Stuff

Hello readers! It's been a really long time since I discovered people were reading my blog, freaked out about it and quit writing. A lot has happened since then. I know I could easily see how long it's been since I've posted anything here, but rather than push a button and find out I'm just going to say it's been years and years. Not a whole hell of a lot has happened since then, but I'll lay it out anyway.

First off, I live in the same house, work the same job, and drive the same car. That pretty much covers everything most Americans are interested in so I thought I'd get it out of the way up front. Everything is fine, except that we have to have the gutters repaired, as it rained inside our house yesterday. Tracy rigged a temp fix. She is a badass, and that's why I married her. I'm not looking forward to paying a guy to do this, but I don't even know if I could make myself climb a ladder that high. My house is really, really tall. So there's that.

The main thing that happened in the intervening time is that I quit smoking. It's been over six months now, but I had to sequester myself away for those six months for the sake of society at large. As it turns out if you smoke for years and years and then just quit it can make you irritable. I'm irritable to begin with, so it made me damnably cranky. Still, no one was folded, spindled or mutilated so I'm calling this a success, with a downside. The downside is that, as a smoker, you likely wind up with a bunch of friends that are smokers. So after you quit you have to stay away from your smoking friends in order to avoid temptation. So that sucks, especially if you only have three nonsmoking friends and one of them is Steve.

Anyway, I'm back. Tell your friends, tell your enemies, go tell it on the mountain.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I'm a quitter!

So, as you may know I cancelled my Facebook account last week. I was at work and having a bad day, and got one too many friend request, whiney post, whatever; I blew my top. "Up yours, Facebook!" And with that bold cry, I deleted my account. It was easy. It was also easy to reactivate. Deleting and reactivating your Facebook account is exactly like logging out then logging in again, with one extra "are you sure?" step thrown in.

Anyway, Facebook missed the hell out of me and welcomed me back with open arms and promises not to be such a butthole in the future.

The real reason, I suspect, that I quit Facebook is that I quit smoking. I count the official quit date as New Year's Day, as I had my last one on the Eve. That last one was the first in about four days; I had gotten sick and went on the lozenge. So I had my ceremonial last smoke New Year's Eve, more out of a sense of transition than actually wanting one. Then I woke up January 1 and went cold turkey.

Cole turkey meant, for me, no smoking, no more lozenges, pills, patches or gums. I'd tried all these things with some degree of failure in the past. There is a secret weapon. I did not have the secret weapon in the past. The secret weapon is actually wanting to quit.

So, 19 days in and I feel great. I still get cranky from time to time, but the mood swings are lessening, or I'm getting accustomed to them. My brother in law said that the last time he saw Tracy and I he thought we were super hopped up on caffeine; turns out we just have more energy. I do feel great.

Friday, January 15, 2010

New Post for the New Year

I've been terribly neglectful of my blog. I'm afraid that a lot of the free time I used to spend here has been squandered on World of Warcraft and Facebook.

The day before yesterday I fell into a terrible mood. I was having a fine old time at work, came home and whammo; it hit me. Bad mood, dude; bad mood. It stuck around too, lingering overnight and hitching a ride to work with me the next morning.

That "next morning" was a Thursday, the day at work on which I often find myself with a goodly deal of down time, much of which is used to check Facebook. So there I am, checking my Facebook, noticing that I have a ton of friends whom I don't see on any regular basis and some of which I haven't actually seen in like fifteen years. This struck me as, well, gratuitous to say the least. I don't mean to be callous, but I don't care what these people are up to. Shane Tharp can espouse his love of Civil War Reenactment and call the President Barack Osama, but I don't have to listen to his stupidity or care about who got a little bunny rabbit over the holiday.

It's not that I just don't care; it's that hearing about all this actively makes me angry.

A while back I went through and arbitrarily deleted people I don't really know from my friend's list; this seemed like a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Then I started getting the letters. Complaining, cajoling, wondering what happened to all the good times we never, ever shared. I relented; I re-friended a few of them. But the letters never stopped. The last one I got had this tinge of self-pity to it, and it put me over the line.

I'm done with Facebook. Account deleted. If you're reading this, sorry; I didn't "defriend" you specifically (and yes, I've already gotten emails/instant messages with "wtf" in them). I just can't take it anymore. I can't pretend I give a shit what cute thing your kitties are doing. I can't pretend to care about the vacation you went on with a bunch of people I've never met in my life. And I damn sure don't feel like reporting what I've been up to for the benefit of seventy people I never, ever talk to in real life.

As for my other eight friends; you all have my email, cell number and will see me on weekends whether you want to or not. So you eight are the ones that really suffer.