“I’m good. You?”

The standard greeting that we present to each other usually consists of a passive and insincere variation of “Hey. How are you?” Our reflexive answer is always always one form or another of “fine.” They don’t really want to know and we know that. Chances are we don’t want to get into it, anyway.

Some people are easier to read than others. Regardless of how well we wear it, we each put on our mask and slip into the skin of whomever it is we present to the world. For some that skin is pretty thin and fits rather nicely. These are the types that are as close to being their authentic self for the world to see. For others, that skin is really thick, doesn’t always fit well in places and you can’t even begin to imagine what the person underneath looks like. Some are in between, which is where I’d like to think I fall.

Some days I’m the real me; no mask or skin needed. These moments are rare in the presence of another human being, most often my wife. Other days I have to put on the emotional equivalent of body armor just to get out the front door. I’m not even completely honest on this blog, though it is my personal diary shared anonymously so I’m at least sharing with someone; someone whom I’ll likely never meet, nor know much about. This blog is to be the opposite of the mask and persona that we slip into each day. I want this part to be out there, but not have to worry about any number of ways that could alter my social or professional life.

This week I have to be in character for 5 days straight, less at night for the few hours I get to sleep. I’m wilting inside, rapidly at that. The last three days I’ve spent a tremendous amount of energy in just keeping my composure. I’ve been on the edge of tears off and on, have been irritable and short-tempered. So, I smile, make nice, play the role of a happy well-adjusted person and give my “I’m fine, thank you. Yourself?” responses, taking slight comfort in the fact that the other person may be doing the same. Somewhere behind the space shared between our masks there could very well be two people who’s souls are bleeding out and neither of us can see it. That’s how I feel right now, anyway. I feel like me, the real me is bleeding out, soon to only leave this hollow shell of a persona walking around not realizing that the show ended a long time ago. Sometimes our biology doesn’t match up with what is really going on inside. I suppose that those dying of terminal illness that have every desire to live for years if not decades to come feel the opposite. The really f’d up part with me specifically? When I found out that I had liver disease and it initially looked like my lifespan would be significantly shorter, I was relieved. I’d later find out that it will likely only shave a few years off, though. The look of confusion that the doctor gave me must have been a reaction to my rather raw and sincere disappointment.

How am I? A type of terrible that I can’t find words for. I’m conflicted as well. I want to end this madness. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I care enough about myself that I don’t want to go on needlessly suffering like this. I’ve done as much for pets. There are parts of my life that I really like; love even. My wife and I love each other dearly and enjoy the time we have together. We laugh a lot. In late 2012 I begged her to let me go. Letters were written and were in the glovebox of the car. They were each to those closest to me trying to express that there’s nothing they could have done. They were both thank you and goodbye letters. I’m nowhere near where I was at that time, but my wife made it clear that she didn’t want to lose me. I wasn’t playing some manipulation game or anything. She’d have a right to know. She’d need to hear that it wasn’t her or anything about our current situation at the time. We were having some serious problems then. Go figure.

I’ve lost someone I loved dearly to suicide. That’s a hellish thing to experience, and no matter what the person says, or doesn’t say, there’s always that lingering question of if you could have prevented it somehow. I’ll not put anyone through that. Do I want to right now? Yes – with every fiber of my being, yes. Will I? Absolutely not. When I was at the very edge – right down to the split second before crossing the threshold of no return, I checked into a hospital. Will tomorrow be any better? I don’t know. My depressive cycles go like this. They start hard and fast and leave just about the same. Such is the experience of one with bipolar. How am I, you ask? I’m screaming inside and you’ll never know.

Spent

I think I’ve hit the wall.. The anxiety and depression are wearing on me. The new meds – who knows if they’ll work or not, or there’s the slight chance they could actually make things worse.. I’m getting unreasonable demands at work, which is a first since I started there a year and a half ago. I’m exhausted.. Physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. Oh, and I’m getting sick. I think I’d be able to manage the work stress/demands better, but mixed with being symptomatic with the bipolar, it’s a bit much. I’ve so much more to do, but it’s approaching 10 and I’m spent. G’night. 5:00am will be here before I know it.

I’m still feeling really down. On a scale of 0 to 10, I’m at about a 7-8. It’s still bearable, but at this rate it won’t be for much longer. I saw the psychiatrist yesterday and let her know how things were going with the new medication. She’s changed up the antidepressant meds but kept the mood stabilizer the same. I think that if we changed the mood stabilizer that all hell would break loose in me right now. You know when you have surgery of some sort or an injury that takes at least 2-3 weeks to start to not hurt as bad? You know, it still hurts a lot, but it’s bearable and tolerable, provided you don’t move. That’s basically where I’m at emotionally. If things remain somewhat calm around me, I’ll be able to endure. If someone rocks the boat though.. It likely won’t end well for either of us. I’m not one to ever become physically violent or anything like that. I just have absolutely no energy to deal with bullshit right now. I’m looking at you, certain office in the midwest who wastes my time and energy.

So, I have a new boss, too. He sent out one of those inspiring quote things to our group first thing Monday morning to set the week off on the right foot. Monday was a clusterfuck. I replied with one of my favorite quotes in the afternoon stating that it fit in the context of the day (not directed at him):

“I can explain it to you, but I can’t comprehend it for you.” – Ed Koch

Luckily for me, this new boss has a sense of humor. You’d not believe how conservative the company I work for is.

On an unrelated note – Comcast sucks. I know everyone knows this and they’ve likely even said that more than a few times over the years, but man, they really, really suck. I wouldn’t be so hard on them if they didn’t charge a ton of money every month for internet that they have the monopoly on the local market with, but the actual service itself is haphazard at best. After several visits, different line techs checking outside and such, they’ve come up with nothing. Maybe we’re living on top of the gateway to some dark place or something. All I know is I’m liking having to drive with my laptop and a power inverter to Barnes and Noble, or after hours, sit in a Wholefoods parking lot to syphon bandwidth to get work done. FYI: Wholefoods is probably giving everyone far too much radiation exposure while they shop for organic food because the broadcast distance for their guest wi-fi is not only impressive, but they give guests an actual decent amount of bandwidth. I downloaded a damn Linux .iso from from the outskirts of their parking lot last week. It was like war driving – old school.

Sitting here watching United 93.. Probably nor the best movie to watch when you’re already depressed. Anyway, it has the typical Hollywood (attempted) gut-wrenching scenes of people saying goodbye, knowing that their fates are likely sealed. This makes me think of when I was at my own limit of what I could handle. I know – ever the narcissist. When I was at my breaking point, I had printed and sealed envelopes of each letter to each loved one that I’d be leaving behind. I’d not give them the chance to say goodbye.

I’ve heard some real misconceptions about people who are suicidal, or who go through with it and are successful. I’ve heard of it referred to as a cowardly act, the ultimate selfish act, the “easy way out,” among other ignorant things. I guess I can understand to some degree where they are coming from. They are ignorant. I’m glad they are ignorant, at least in that they have no personal experience in being in not only serious contemplation, much less being in that split second between life and setting in motion a course of events with no option of return or survival. It’s far from a cowardly act – anyone who firmly believes that is an ignorant asshole. To stand there and wonder if your survival instinct will kick in before or immediately after you start what method of choice to end your life and you’ll somehow botch it up or prevent yourself from letting yourself go.. There’s nothing cowardly about that. Fear – fear is more often than not a product of ignorance. When you look death in the face and are indifferent, if not welcoming, you’re far from a coward.

As for a selfish act.. That usually carries the connotation that the person is only thinking of themselves. You think of everyone – everything before making that choice. Certainly, depending on the circumstances, one may think that others will be better off without them or whatever – there’s a lot of things someone who’s in contemplation thinks, but imagine how little one values their own life to even consider ending it, knowing that there are likely others that care. The way that suicidal people are portrayed in the media is sickening. These aren’t all people who are unstable with their lives falling apart around them. Some are extremely successful. Some are productive right up until the day or night that they go through with it. Some you never have any indication that anything is even wrong. I’ve always been highly successful. I’ve used work as an escape – something to occupy my mind when existence was nearly unbearable.

I’ve been touched by suicide. I lost someone whom I loved deeply to suicide. I know my life has value; a lot of value, in fact. I know that I’m an important part of people’s lives. I’m one of the few people that can do what I do professionally. Do I sound arrogant? Possibly. I’m a valuable person. I’m deserving of happiness. I’m as confounded by my own mental illness as anyone. I had a shitty life for the first 25 years. It got better. I made my life what it is today, yet I lack the capacity to fully enjoy it. I don’t get it – it sucks. It sucks more for my wife and loved ones. People will sometimes say “How can you possibly be depressed!? You have everything going for you!!” Yeah – I wonder that myself. It irks me to no end, really. Anyway… I’d never, ever put someone through the hell that one goes through when someone they love takes their own life. Hell, for 20 years, I never even uttered the words that I wanted to die. I was ashamed. How dare I? Especially knowing what’s left in the wake of such a thing.. It’s been 15 years since my best friend took her own life and I still get choked up thinking about her. Part of that is selfish – I want her here. Part of it is a deep aching sadness knowing how much she was hurting. Part of it is guilt for not being able to help ease that pain enough for her to be here. Some of that is anger for her leaving me. Part of that is anger at myself for not having done more (though objectively, there’s nothing I could have done – I know that, but I still feel that way), and then there’s doubt.. All of the “would’ve , could’ve, should’ve” things. There’s always unanswered questions.. Questions that she took to her grave with her, which frankly, are trivial. It happened, but those are the questions that sometimes keep me up at night. Selfish? Really? Fuck you – it’s likely an act of mercy. Believe me – everyone else is on your mind when you’re at that point. I know it is for me, every time I seriously contemplate it. Hell, I worry about the method.. I worry about who will find me. Even worse, if my wife or someone else close to me has to identify me. That’s the last image someone will have of me. That image will haunt them for the rest of their days. I’d rank that as anywhere from 30-60% of what keeps me here from day to day; not having to put anyone that I love through that, much less some stranger.

“Easy way out?” Life is hard – choosing the time to go is harder. See above.

So.. I’m a bit surly today. I had a rather bad day at work. The 12-16 hour days are getting real old, real quick. It’s not the fact that I don’t make overtime, but rather that I just need some downtime. I took my last support call at 8:30 tonight. I left for work at 6:30 today. 3/4 of a bottle of wine later, I’m ready to take my two sleeping pills and a muscle relaxer to try to stay asleep for 6-7 hours (if I’m lucky). Then repeat the whole process tomorrow. My wife and I talked on the phone before she left for work today. She asked if I had started on a new bipolar medication. I had. She said I didn’t tell her – which I honestly thought I had, but her memory is better than mine. I’m not going to continue the medication, though. It’s not helping. Is this depression situational? Maybe. I know I’m burned out at work. I know my wife is burned out at her job, too. Where does my chemical imbalance leave off and where do I begin? Hell if I know… I’d be fine being jacked up on amphetamines during the day, opiates at night and muscle relaxers to sleep. I can see where people might get addicted to things to hide from their problems. I think anxiety and depression are just part of Western life. You’re born into debt. You have to pay taxes no matter what, even if you “own” the land you live on, so you have to be part of the machine no matter how much it ills you. Or you can start a cult. If you get enough of a following, at least you can get the tax break and live off from your followers’ donations.

I’m off to go to sleep.. Maybe tomorrow will be better at work. Maybe I’ll go start forming a cult after work if I can’t sleep. Who am I kidding.. I’ll come home at some ungodly hour, drink another 3/4 of a bottle of wine and bitch on WordPress… Better than the alternatives, I suppose.

So far, not a great start to the workweek.

The client I see today looks like Patrick Stewart and Red from that 70’s Show.

I know that’s totally unprofessional for me to say, but I have to tell someone at least. I can’t stop looking at the dude and thinking that. He’s an awesome photographer, cinematographer and painter. Truly amazing work – I’ve much respect for him and his talent. Great guy, too.

Time to get ready and head out. Today will be another 16+ hour day.. I’m assisting on three $500k potential sales. I’m not a sales member, but an analyst. I have to put together functional proof of concept models and workflows for each.. By Thursday, somehow.

I woke this morning feeling somewhat ok.. Numb, actually. At least I got some sleep, so there is that. The numbness wore off a couple of hours after arriving at the client site that I was at today. It was difficult to get through the day, feeling on the edge of tears. I mastered hiding how I feel inside when I was a child. Growing up an abusive household where showing any emotion was a sign of weakness teaches you to hide instinctively. It’s something that’s not changed in the 20 years since no longer living with my mother and stepfather.

As I sit here and try to articulate what I’m feeling and what’s going on under this calm and collected exterior, I’m so overwhelmed with so many emotions that I can’t even begin to wrap words around them that would do them any justice. The closest I can come is intense mourning. I mourn for the loss of myself; the very core of my being. I see my essence bleeding out and am helpless to do anything about it. I feel intense guilt and shame. I feel so ashamed that in spite of my own best efforts as well as the time, support and genuine caring of those closest to me that I’m falling again. I know that it’s biology that’s making me feel this. I know that objectively, I’ve done nothing wrong, yet I feel guilt.. Guilt for failing myself somehow; guilt for failing those that care for me. I know it’s irrational, but feelings rarely are attached to rationale. I feel both pity and anger for my ending up in this place again.

How much longer will this go on? Not just this moment, but this cycle? When is the line crossed that living becomes nothing more than existing and existing turns into cruel suffering? Being trapped in a body that will likely live for decades to come, long after whatever parts of me that once were here have long gone? This isn’t just painful to me, but painful for my loved ones as well. Those that care about me likely won’t pick up on the subtleties of my demeanor. I’ll still laugh reflexively with everyone else. I’ll still be social when absolutely necessary. I’ll play the part as I always have. Why? Because I don’t want to explain that there’s no reason. I don’t want to listen to someone who’s never been here say something infuriating like “what do you have to be depressed about?” I don’t want to have them get frustrated when I don’t get better and leave like so many have in the past. Knowing that this cycle will continue to repeat itself is terrifying. There are so many illnesses that are terminal, which the end may be incredibly painful, but at least there’s an end to it. This is horrifically painful, it’s not obvious to the naked eye. I don’t fear death – I fear this cycle continuing…

I know this entry sounds rather desperate. In many ways it is. I’m in no danger of harming myself or anything. I’m just stating how I feel. I’ll endure. I’ll go check in somewhere if need be. I’ve lost someone whom I loved dearly to suicide. I’ll certainly not put anyone through that kind of pain.

I’ve a ton of work to do this weekend. One of the things I’ll be working on is that huge project I mentioned in a post not too long ago. I’ll be doing a proof of concept which will hopefully only take 10-12 hours to complete, then present it on Tuesday. That will at least provide some time of a mental escape, provided I can focus. I know the client will go for it, so that should be something to keep me tethered to home as opposed to traveling so much. That will likely help to not feel so…alone? Isolated? I know my wife will be happy that I’m home again for awhile. I’m worried about her happiness as well. She’s having a real tough time right now with a couple of things, but I’ll not write about them. I respect her privacy. Anyway… I guess that’s about it for now.

And so it starts…

Finally home again.. It was storming here tonight. The rain was pouring so hard on the highway that I had to pull over with the rest of the cars and trucks until it let up enough to go again in relative safety.

I’m sitting here on my own couch again, the cat and dog nearby because they missed me, or I give them food and they are sucking up. Maybe both; who knows.. I feel that deep horrible depression starting to set in. It always happens like this – it hits hard and fast with me. I felt somewhat OK earlier, but at this moment, I’m far from ok.. I don’t know what to do with this. If it gets bad again I’ll still be able to function, but will feel dead inside. I wonder how long this will last.. Maybe tomorrow will be ok. Maybe next week. Maybe next month.. Next year.. It’s gone for more than two years at times. Each time it’s harder to come back, and each time a little more of me is lost in it. I already feel like a shell of whomever I used to be.. It’s such a distant memory that it’s hard to even see at this point.

Enough rambling for now. I’ve work to finish up, then I’ll attempt to sleep again.

I really hope this hellish feeling is gone in the morning. I wish my wife weren’t working tonight. It’d be nice to not be alone right about now.