19 May 2017

Mick Jagger Bogarted My Meds

I know it’s been a while since I’ve written anything.

I may have mentioned it before but there are stretches where I’m literally incapable of writing anything. It’s not that the muse isn’t present, it’s just that the will is weak.

For me, writing used to be easy and fun. Now I have to be in the right frame of mind and physically up to do it. So it comes in spurts.

Anyway, I’m in the process of switching meds. My psych is switching out my Lexapro for Cymbalta. And it just took me two minutes to remember the name of the drug. Hell, I’m just popping pills so much I can’t even remember what I’m taking!

I’m on the one week weaning which is always a fun time when you’re taking two SSRIs at the same time. How have I been feeling? A weird kind of mellow is how I would put it.

I’m mellow but confused and forgetful. And, I’m dropping almost everything I touch.

Still, mellow like a hash buzz is better than the Midnight screaming meemies. For those of us who have been trying to find the right med combination for decades, the period between switching one to the other is partly opening the presents on Christmas morning and partly dread. You don’t know the longer lasting effects until weeks pass.

Why Cymbalta? The psych feels it will give me more energy, less lethargy, perhaps an appreciation of golf on TV, I have no idea. I remember I was on it once but I don’t remember why I got off it.

Such is life in the Wide Wide World of Psychotropic Medication.
Good points:

Occasional Zen-like moments of introspective tranquility – even at work

Better sleep

Bad points

Appearing and feeling occasionally drunk; balance issues.

Loss of extemporaneous speaking prowess.

Weird points

Zen state causes me to stare at inanimate objects and contemplate their existence. Staring at a lock on a door: “Wow, always wondered just how locks work with the keys and all that. Fascinating construction. Wonder what metal it’s made of? Beautiful man!”

Earwigs – the songs you hear or just appear in your head become mantras that last a long, long time. Currently, walking down the hall:

Laughter, joy, and loneliness and sex and sex and sex and sex
Look at me, I'm in tatters
I'm a shattered

Cool beans bro.

No I’m just groovin’ to the morning vibes. Don’t ask me how I drive. Man alive, thrive on jive.

I’m a cool poppa, 54 going on 21; what the Hell, it beats curling up in bed hiding from the world, shaking and sweating into the sheets. God love Big Pharma.

Rats on the west side, bed bugs uptown

I’m a creative. I write. I’m in control of my brain though I’m feeling my emotions drain. It’s vanilla shit but the vanilla beans are fresh and I’m satisfied.

Spacing out at the keyboard, wondering how long this will last

My brain's been battered, splattered all over Manhattan . . .

Shadoobie, my brain's been battered

my brain's been battered;

brain's been battered;





08 May 2017

OK, So I Lied

I've been nicely strong-armed back to a blogging group on Facebook in which we work to increase each other's blog awareness.

I've never been a part of such an effort but the people who run it, run it like schoolteachers. To wit: you get an assignment every Monday to link a FB post to this FB page. Then other members read and comment and like and well, I'm still trying to grasp it completely, but I thought it would push me in a more positive direction and keep me writing.

They are strict - do the assignments, don't fake it, or you're kicked out.

Writing is hard work. For me, it used to be a breeze but depression knocks the winds from your sails in many ways, especially bipolar depression and my traveling companion, anxiety. So it's very tough for me to write regularly - the muse comes in spurts. Heh heh (forever 12).

Anyway, I had a great time in New York City but when I came home I crashed very hard and am still not in a good place. The sick reason is that I was having so much fun I completely put work and all other troubles out of my mind.

You may think that's a good thing - but the way my mind works, when I came back on Wednesday, the shock of going back to work was too much. You see, when I worry, I'm prepared. Yes, I count the hours until I get back to work but it prepares me mentally for whatever may happen.

To forget my troubles for four days invites a sort of mental illness tsunami in which ALL of the worries come back at once. It's easier for me to deal with them continuously. As a consequence, I told my wife we'll probably not take a vacation like this for a long time.

Yeah, it sucks big time.

In addition since coming back, I've been having heightened anxiety and work flashback which have really thrown me for a loop since I haven't experienced those in many months. I see my shrink on Wednesday and we need to talk about this. The Ativan isn't working like it should - I'm taking more - and I feel like I'm on the verge.

Being 'on the verge' is not a good place to be, believe me. I even departed FB for the weekend because I realized beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was harming me. How? When I get really angry, anxious, worried or lonely, I post things that I should not - I'm trolling for attention and I become one of those people I dislike on FB. It also feeds a bad spiral that causes me to become more depressed, anxious and mad and post more.

I think it's therapy - it's not. It's coming apart in front of a small audience of friends, many of whom do not know how to take it, And I'm putting those friends in an uncomfortable situation. Facebook is a drug - it can be good or bad but when I'm in a serious state it's a bad drug.

Twitter seems different but that's because I try to avoid getting into flame wars and only deal with people in my interest circles. Yes, it's an echo chamber (so is FB) but people like me can't, and I really need to stress this, can't let their emotions drag them into something they regret. And when my emotions are on a hair-trigger, that is not a good thing to exhibit on a forum more public than Facebook.

I recently finished binge watching '13 Reasons Why' which will be the subject of another blog post.

PS: I told you all that my writing would reflect the mood I was in on a particular day and I wasn't kidding.

05 May 2017

The last worthless blog post that you'll have to read

PS: Read John Pavlovitz. He writes about what matters much better than I. He's who I wanted to be I guess.

I am home sick with a migraine.

Probably caused by stress.

But that’s not why I’m writing this.

I’ve been hit with depression since I returned home from my vacation on Wednesday that has gradually become more severe. I think that the severity is due to the stark differences from spending four days in Manhattan truly enjoying myself and the reality of coming back to work in a place that is like a real haunted house – one I can’t escape and keep telling myself that I should be grateful to work for in light of how much they pay me for so little work I actually do.

I used to work in jobs where I felt I made a difference but lost them all because I couldn’t control the emotions caused by a condition I didn’t even know I had.

But that’s all over now and I finally accept that.

Circumstances have forced me to accept that.

You know, I could go on like I usually do in these boring screeds but in this case let me TRY to be mercifully brief for all seven readers.

My skills are deteriorating. I can’t stand the world I live in anymore. I have overburdened my wife with my illness. I hate myself. I can’t take the fact that I could have been much more than what I turned out to be if I had been able to master my illness earlier in life. Some people can live with that, I can’t.

Nobody really wants to hear anyone whine. Trust me, this will be the last one.

When one door closes, another one opens. But what if it doesn’t? How do you force the door? After over 30 years of being an ‘escape artist’ in life, the door is closed.

I’m tired of being told about attitude and outlook and re-invention and ‘finding your muse’ and all that hippy-dippity self-help crap that makes its purveyors tons of money while leaving more frustration in its wake among the people who bought the snake oil. Live in my head for an hour and tell me how possible all of it is. When your brain reminds you of every regrettable thing you’ve done your whole life and what a shit you are for doing it, it’s hard to see out of that fog.

The fog – the forgetting of words, keys, names that keeps getting worse. A once sharp mind struggling to put coherent sentences together. Blanking out in the middle of a thought or task. Looking at words written just ten minutes before and finding them unrecognizable.

Fuck it, I’m overwriting again. I won’t explain myself to anyone anymore. No one can understand and I don’t give a shit anymore if they do or not.

What I really wanted, all I really wanted, was someone to talk to. I’m a two-time failure with support groups; I won’t go into why. I’ve had 30 shrinks. I’ve taken boatloads of pills. But all of those could have been bested by having someone, anyone, who understands all of this to talk to. Not even someone with bipolar/anxiety/depression but someone who would just be willing to listen.

I’ve tried.  Believe me, I’ve tried. On Facebook, someone sneezes and 40 of their friends rush to comfort them. I know, being a guy, it’s much harder. As a man, emotionally and physically, I’ve been a failure. The guys I went to school with and those I have met along the way couldn’t understand a person like me. Ergo, most of my friends have been female. But still there is a big gulf of understanding. Sometimes they listen but after a while, I get the sense that most of them wonder when I’m going to get my shit together and start pretending to be happy and successful – like everyone on Facebook does. Except me of course.

My posts the last day or two have hinted at my deteriorating state. I’m going to go back and erase them. It really is an embarrassment to bleed all over a semi-public forum if you’re a guy. I have to admit that as it went on, the posts were kind of an experiment – would anyone read between the lines and wonder if I was in some trouble (I am) and reach out.

Well if someone had, I would not be writing this.

I’m done.

I have a function on the 12th that requires me to be on Facebook at least until then. After that, I need to suck it up, be strong, and separate myself from posting and replying. I’m not cut out for this. It’s too much of an emotional roller coaster and people like me shouldn’t play the game because, eventually, we’ll always lose. I can’t pretend to present a smiling happy successful face to the world when it really doesn’t exist. And everyone has problems and mine are no greater or lesser or worth the trouble for anyone else to acknowledge.

I read other people’s lives in their Facebook pages and wonder what cosmic crimes I committed that I couldn’t have that – that even when I stumbled there would be people who would reach out – first online, then in real life. We all still have phones in those computers.

But again, I’m whining and I know it. And I’m going long and I don’t care. Since I was a little kid it’s been this way. I can remember the first day at school each year at Notre Dame Elementary when I was so excited to think that maybe this year would be different – this year I could make real friends and be accepted into the group. I would sit there on the first day trying to catch someone’s eye to talk to. But they were too busy talking amongst themselves about the vacations they took and the things they did during the summer that my parents could never afford. And I would feel this invisible wall descend around me between me and everyone else. And it hurt. Every year. And it hurt like hell.
I know I’m not attractive. I was always the fat kid with the funny last name and the intelligence that even my own mother warned me was going to be threatening to others.

I’m tired of trying to be someone I’m not to fit in. I’ve tried to be other people so many times that I really don’t know who I am.  I’m tired of trying to lose weight, meet the right people and get involved in outside activities, clubs and groups only to crash and burn every time because of some facet of my personality or illness.

I know now, it is best for me to be alone and wait.

I’m lonely but I’ll just have to get over it. At some point it will end and I will be grateful for it.
There will be no more vacations. If I must work where I am, then I need to be there to not only protect my job but not to let myself think that it will get any better. This is your life – adjust; until it becomes too much which it will at some point.

So that’s it. I used to be a writer but now I can’t write for shit. I used to be on radio now no one wants to hear me. My time has come and gone. The mental health organizations want young good-looking faces for their writing and speaking staffs. No one cares about middle aged white guys with mental issues until we become a statistic – ‘my God, look at the rates of suicide spiking for this group!
‘Well, having been on top for so long on the backs of others, they’re just getting what they deserve.’

I’ve never felt on top of anything.

As I wrote above, I have nothing to say that hasn’t been said about my condition by others who can now write circles around me. It was a decent ride; I had a lot of luck but I don’t see the worth in wasting my time writing something that no one really wants to read. I don’t feel like wasting any more time struggling to be fit or sociable when my long track record of failure in those areas is a testament to futility.

This is the last entry of the last blog. The last worthless effort to be heard and understood – and, really believe me, to try to find others like me – to write for all of us old guys who have felt the pangs of suicidal ideation but kept going trying to find peace in a world that really wishes we’d just shut up and hang ourselves already.

I’ve just looked at the word counter on the bottom of the screen – 1,400 words of undiluted bullshit. 

So I’ll stop here.

25 April 2017

Boring Man Goes to New York

There are, it seems, 10,000 blogs in English talking about various mental illnesses. Mine is one of those.

Of course, I want to talk about other things as well, with an emphasis on sharing my experiences in midlife dealing with bipolar2 and anxiety issues.

I don’t think I’ve been doing a very good job of it. I’m not good at self-promoting. I feel I have something to say but, really, are my experiences any better or worse; is my writing better or worse than the other 10,000 bloggists? I read some incredible blogs, some that literally want to make me stand and cheer.

I look at what I write and it seems flat.

I really used to be better than this. I was a columnist for two daily newspapers. I’ve been a journalist most of my life. I used to get a lot of kudos for my columns and it kept me going. I enjoyed writing them. I am acutely aware, right now, that my short sentences must sound like a jackhammer on the brain.

In the last several years, I have forced myself to write through the illness for my own mental health. This does not always produce entertaining or enlightening material. And let’s face it: no one wants to read vanilla blogs.

It is a great sadness to me that writing only comes when it comes. Several days go by and I just can’t do it, even though I have something to say. And when I do, it all seems so flat; sort of the writing equivalent of a flat affect personality.

Is it the medication? I think that plays a part. When I miss the highs and lows I also miss a lot of the creative spark that could send my writing flying in all kinds of exciting (and dangerous) directions.
Am I more afraid? Perhaps, but I’m getting over that. Pretty much everyone who knows me knows what I’m dealing with. There are certain things and people I can’t write about, family being one of them.

I think it is possible that I fear wasting the reader’s time. I’m probably doing that right now.

Author David Foster Wallace worried extensively about his medications hashing his creativity. A switch in medication led him into a downward spiral resulting in his suicide. Considerations of dropping medications for the sake of creativity are not to be taken lightly.

As much as I miss a lot of the old me, I understand why I must stick to my medication. The mania that was so self-destructive is held at bay and the depression, well . . . it’s handled as best as can be expected.

My psychiatrist has suggested subbing Celexa for Lexapro when I get back from New York. I doubt it will make me feel like a ‘new man’ whatever that means, but I’m more willing to experiment (with her supervision) than I would have been two years ago.

The basic problem is I can experience all the lows but the highs bring with them a certain glib silliness without the energy and creativity I would like to experience again.

My psychiatrist said I should mentally prepare myself for our (my wife and I) upcoming trip New York City. I told her that I was doing that by imagining every terrible thing that could happen to us.
Why do I do this? Simple – it’s insurance for the anxiety. If I go through every bad thing that might happen, if it does happen, I’m mentally prepared for it and it’s less of a big deal than being surprised. If nothing happens and I have a good time – it’s a bonus.

This is the typical thinking of people with anxiety issues. It’s why so many of us find it hard to relax and have a good time. Going to New York is me pushing myself far out of my comfort zone on the off chance that I will actually enjoy myself. It beats sitting on the couch wondering: what if?

20 April 2017

My Story in 'My Life and Mental Illness'

Here's the linkhttps://mylifeandmentalillness.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/keiths-story/

Here's the main page: https://mylifeandmentalillness.wordpress.com

I'd like to thank Maria for including my story in her blog. I am one of many people who are telling their stories in the fight against the stigma surrounding mental illness. These stories show that we're your friends, co-workers, family and people you meet everyday.

May, by the way, is Mental Health Month. Follow that link to find out all about what's being done to raise awareness and fight stigma. Also, a major point is that awareness is not enough - services have to be available and affordable or society will continue to pay the price.

I recently found out that in parts of rural America there may be one psychiatrist or psychologist for an area containing 50,000 people? And even if people find a mental health professional nearby, many times they don't have insurance - you know the drill.

In a way, mental illness touches everyone - probably someone you know. Like any other illness, it is treatable and people do recover and are productive members of society.

I am very lucky to have such a supportive wife and Facebook friends that put up with my screeds. Many people don't have such a support system and that's what this month is really all about.

I hope you'll take a few minutes and read these stories and look at some of the materials linked above.