Today

Here it is, 3:00am and I can’t sleep. I downed to sleeping pills and two klonopin with a heavy could shots of liquor, which I’m feeling the effects of now. I know.. I know better. I need to wrangle my liquor consumption under strict control.

So.. What’s keeping me up? Horrible depression. Worse than it’s been in the last few years. I’m at a loss. Thoughts of suicide plague my mind every few seconds to every few minutes. It’s not about anything specific. No triggers that I’m aware of. I’m just exhausted.. Physically and emotionally. I’m tired.. I’ve been worse off than this before and I know I can endure through it, which I will, but this suffering seem like cruelty at this point. I’ve been over self-medicating with alcohol.. Strong alcohol. Take a small drink glass, fill it half with vodka, add to Kahlua and some Baileys to top it off and you have my version of hard chocolate milk. I down about a glass a day that’s filled to the brim. Tonight’s poison was about a 1/3 of a glass of B&B – packs a punch with very little consumption. Equivalent of three shots. I’m hoping tonight’s choice with a couple of klonopin and a couple sleeping pills will knock me out because I need to be online for work at 8:30 and have much to do.

In a few hours we’ll be seeing the fertility clinic to discuss our options. I had a vasectomy 18 years ago and the chances of a reversal working after 15 years is 2%. I don’t care for those odds, so we’ll explore the more invasive techniques offered by the clinic. I don’t mind 2-3 weeks off with an ice pack on my nether regions. It’s part of the goal. I had that vasectomy because the depressions were so bad that I was certain I’d not make it to 30 by my own hand. Turning 40 within the next year, priorities have changed and it’s a step my wife and I are ready to take. I’ve no expectations. If they say it’s simply not possible, the adoption is the next option. I don’t need a child to be part of my own genetics to love them just the same. Some guys get hung up on that, but I don’t. It’s not blood that make a family, it’s the ties that we make.

Here’s the dilemma, though. I suffer from deep and debilitating depressions. I’m in the midst of one of the worst in years. Every minute of every day have visions in my mind of piercing my carotid arteries and bleeding out as quickly as possible, probably taking some aspirin or alcohol beforehand to reduce the chance of clotting with thin blood. Please pardon the graphic nature of that, but after considering many, many options, this seems like a sure-fire way off success. Too many things can go wrong with pills, gunshots aren’t always successful, jumping ha a good chance, but it’s not guaranteed, getting hit by a car or a train at high speed have likely outcomes, but there’s no guarantee. The list goes on.. The last thing I want is a botched attempt and my loved ones having me on life support in an ICU or my being in a vegetative state being a lasting reminder and a constant source of grief by simply being alive, if only physically. Why the urge? I don’t know. All I know if I’m mentally and physically exhausted. I take my meds religiously. I see the therapist weekly. I do the homework in trying to find the root cause of this, but all things point to a chemical imbalance.

At 39 and having dealt with this pretty much the entirety of my life, when is it acceptable to say that we fount the good fight, but it’s time to call it? Doctors can do this with resuscitation attempts. Oncologists can help the patient and family decide when the fight has reached a futile point. Even we can choose when a pet is suffering to the point that their quality of life has turned to one of suffering. Why can’t humans do the same? I know some miracle drug may come along that will over me peace and a sense of well being in my lifetime , but that’s a hell of a gamble.

So, onto the choice to have a child. It’s a conscious choice. It will cost a boatload of money to do so since it’s all elective surgery as well as the IVF. I don’t mind the money part. I’m prepared for that. But.. Is it selfish to want to bring a child into this world knowing that I feel this way more than 60-70% of the time? I can put on the good act, but kids have a way of picking up on things. I don’t want to pass my instability onto our child.

Life goes on… If we have a child, then I’m locked into surviving no matter what for a minimum of 20-24 years. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I don’t want to hurt my wife or our child. I love my wife dearly. I loved my best friend who took her own life many years ago. I loved her as a friend and more than a friend. It took me a decade to just begin to process her death. How could I possibly do that to someone else that I love? The endless questioning of what could have been different.. What could I have said.. Could I have been a better friend.. All of that comes up regularly, even after so long ago. I don’t want that for her. I like my life with her. When she’s around I feel some semblance of peace. Some days that’s all that keeps me going.

So.. Is it selfish having a child with me being a train wreck of a human being? I’m ready for the challenge and am high functioning even when I’m extremely depressed. I can do the necessary parenting things regardless of mental state. Maybe this will give my life some sense of purpose as opposed to just waiting for the clock to run out.. Maybe not. I have to work through that with the therapist.

Hmm.. 3:47am. Time for sleep, I guess.

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Duality

I am and have been living two lives for a long time. They are seemingly incompatible.

Life number one is that of a middle-aged successful professional who’s happily married, has a house, two cars, two dogs and a cat. I have friends, albeit at a distance. I’m becoming closer to one that’s local – someone I didn’t expect to become a close friend with, but she’s a good influence on my life and is a good objective third party. I don’t have to put on the act for her. I can be myself. I don’t have any interest in her other than a platonic friendship, and the same goes for her. I don’t consider myself to be close to anyone at work, but given the amount of travel, that’s not entirely surprising. Most of my interaction with colleagues is via email and brief telephone calls. I’m outwardly friendly, happy, and have an honest can-do attitude. I’m customer focused and work internally to ensure that clients are taken care of while still maintaining the financial goals of the company that employs me. I’m well-known within the company, well-respected and well-trusted as a problem solver an innovator. My wife and I have decided to have a child or adopt, depending on what’s medically possible 18 years past vasectomy. There’s a good chance we’ll be able to have a biological child where I’m the father via sperm extraction. I’m excited at this prospect, though I’m getting about a 15-20 year late start to the process.

Life number two is that of a married man who struggles to get through each day because of severe and unrelenting depression. Not a waking minute goes by that I don’t think of finding the nearest sharp object and going for my carotid arteries. I’m heavily medicated with psychotropic medications and go between insomnia and hypersomnia. Most days I get through the workday and am exhausted by the end of it. I go to my hotel room, or go home and go to bed shortly thereafter. Most of my existence is in my own head as I don’t trouble others with my internal struggles. Logically, ending my life has passed from being an illogical idea to a  logical conclusion to a life spent fighting and losing that fight.This life is one of exhaustion. This life is one wanting a way out with causing as little damage to those closest to me.

So.. Where does that leave me? I’m living both lives. As I write this, I hope for some terminal illness – that’d be easiest for all involved. But, I’m also planning on having a child. I know I can endure the depression and all that goes with it for at least the next 20 years. Well indefinitely, really. I’ve been on the other side of suicide. I loved her so much; the one that committed suicide, I mean. I know what that pain is. I know what that aftermath is. I know the endless days and nights of asking why. I can’t possibly do that to someone else, so this is a life sentence.. A life sentence of suffering. That’s not fair to me. Exiting early, that’s a life sentence for my wife, our future child and the few that care about me. So, regardless, I stay. I live that second life in the shadows. In silence aside from here. What am I to do? I don’t know.. Endure, I guess. That’s my only real choice, isn’t it?

 

Brutal, brutal week so far. I can’t wait to be home this weekend.

My wife tells me that the next door neighbor raked the leaves from the tree in our front lawn on his side of the property line over to ours. I’ve only met the guy a couple of times in passing. I don’t want problems with neighbors, so Saturday morning after my MRI (at 6:30am), I’ll go home and de-leaf the lawn. Saturday afternoon – sleep. Sweet, glorious sleep. Sunday – more sleep if possible. I hope to catch the neighbor guy and let him know that I travel, so I may not be able to keep up on things like that until the weekend. If he has a problem with that, I guess he can keep raking things to our side of the property line until I’m able to get to it. I just seems petty.

The harsh realities of having a job with a lot of travel

This isn’t a long whining post. This is just a description of what it’s really like for a lot of people like myself in a similar position of traveling at 50% of their job and being regional support within their home area, which really means anything within about 200 miles each way is “local.”

My work week (this is two extra days than I’d normally travel):

Sunday – 5 hour commute to hotel from home.
Monday – 13 hour day.
Tuesday – ~13 hour day, depending on traffic.
Wednesday – ~16 hour day, longer if there’s traffic and/or road construction.
Thursday – 8 hour day.
Friday – ~14 hour day.
Saturday – ? (play catchup)

For those that don’t want to do the math, that’s a 69 hour week. That averages out to be a little over $25/hour. I’m salary, so anything over 40 hours is forfeit. I’ll let someone do the math on that if they really want to know what I make a year.

This is indicative of a ravel week where I’m gone 5 days and cover two cities, in this case, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. I travel at minimum every other week with 3-5 overnight stays. In the summer, I drive. The airlines are too unreliable. The week before last my flight kept getting further and further delayed that I’d have to stay over in the connecting city and not get to my destination until noon the next day. I had to be there at a client site at 8:30am. I can’t miss an appointment, and I can’t be that late. I had them bank the tickets (good up to three years, but it’s a $200 change fee per ticket), then drove my own damn car because getting a rental would have been even more time, wouldn’t have been pre-arranged so I’d not get the corporate rate (1/3 the cost of renting a car regularly) and arrived at 1:30am. Great start to the week, right?

This is the reality of business travel for a job. In my position, I’m booked out several weeks in advance. There’s no flexibility in that. A customer can’t wait until I’m free again in 6 weeks. I work when I’m sick. I load up on decongestants, mucinex and afrin and get through the day. That’s just the schedule and logistics.

The other part of having a traveling job? Loneliness. Crushing, horrible loneliness. I used to think that a job like this would be cool with the travel. I get to see different cities, can go sight-seeing, try local restaurants, etc. The reality of it is that the travel alone takes a lot out of you. My job is very mentally challenging, and therefor very draining each day. When I finish, I don’t even want to sit at a decent restaurant for dinner. I just want to get back to my room and lay down. So, I’ll grab some Wendy’s or Chipotle, go to the room, reply to the ~20 emails that actually need my response from throughout the day, figure out how the hell I’m going to mix in time for conference calls at customer sites. The secret to that? Buy the client lunch, usually a few large pizzas or Jimmy Johns. Whatever – I may or may not get to eat. Usually not – while they eat, I sit on a conference call. I’ll make the notes and recommendations that night. Who wants to be social after that?

My traveling socialization is with the hotel bartenders at the hotels I frequent. We’re all on a first name basis. I know the names of their spouses, kids, who’s having health problems in their family, their life events, etc. I don’t always have to pay for drinks, so that’s a plus. I have to be careful to not drown my loneliness in alcohol, though. I’ve been doing that at home when I’m actually home. I go through about 1 – 1 1/2 bottles of liquor a week. Mostly vodka mixed with kahlua and bailey’s; heavy on the vodka. You know the normal short drinking glasses? A drink for me of late is one of those filled to the top with no ice. I’m guessing that’s not mixing well with the whole liver and kidney disease thing.

Weeks that I’m home? Usually 8-12 hour days, depending on how far the clients are from me. That’s just so I can sleep in my own bed at night. I don’t mind weeks at home. The time in the car is made bearable with Pandora and audiobooks. I get to see my wife a little, too. She works every other weekend, so I get to see her for about 1/2 hour when she gets home before she goes to sleep to be somewhat rested for her next shift.

The loneliness isn’t helping with the depression. My depression is almost entirely chemical and fairly well-controlled with a heavy cocktail of psychotropic medications. I’ve read about studies though that confirm that people that travel as much as I do for work do feel isolated and depressed. They don’t offer many good suggestions on how to cope with it, either. One of the top suggestions is to go to the hotel bar and talk with other business travelers. Good one, Harvard researcher – mix loneliness and depression with alcohol. Anyway.. That’s my reality of traveling for a job. My experience is far from unique. It’s not just within my company, either. Others that I’ve sucked up my introversion and spoken to that I’ve seen at the hotels at nearly the same frequency as myself express the same thing. If I were single I’d likely have questionable encounters with people just to have a warm body next to me. It’d not a sex thing, it’d just to have some human contact.

So, before you take that high-paying travel job, consider what it’s really like and ask yourself if it’s worth the money. On the plus side, you get to live all that travel time on someone else’s dime. Nice hotels, good dinner per diems if you choose to actually eat somewhere, nice locations (usually), and you don’t put miles on your own car. I tallied up last year’s travel to see what could possibly be considered extra income for living expenses for half the month. It was a staggering $26,000. That’s how much cycled through my credit cards that I use for travel.

Is it worth it? I don’t know. The economy is still too weak for me to consider anything else. If I took a support role for a 40 hour week that would require relocating to either Chicago, New Jersey or Long Island. We bought a house. We don’t want to move. We’re planning on having a child, which because of my vasectomy 18 years ago will require rather invasive surgery to get sperm. Since it’s elective surgery, insurance won’t cover it. That with the IFV it will be about $12-15k. My wife will stop working after the child is born for at least 4-5 years. That’s a $67k/year loss in income. And I’ll get to see my child in passing. I wonder how she’ll deal with the isolation of being a stay at home mom that so many female friends in similar positions describe.

Is it worth it? I’m writing this at midnight because I can’t sleep. I have to get up at 5 this morning to be to a client on time.  I guess I should attempt to sleep again.

Well, it looks like I’ll be leaving Facebook for awhile. This election polarized us more than I’ve ever seen in my 39 years. I’m not happy with the result, but will live with it. But for now, it seems so, so many people are content with bitching, bickering, name calling, insulting, and overall dehumanizing each other over the support of one person or another. I’m just sick of it. I’m sick of all of it. Our system is broken, but people are convinced it’s us versus them; them being the other half of the population. Most of us want the same things for ourselves, our families and our communities. The instant you bring a political party into that discussion though, respect is lost and what was a dialogue turns into people just waiting for their turn to talk/yell. Hopefully people will start to chill in a few weeks, but I don’t see that happening this time. We’re going to hear about every single inconsequential thing this man does for the next four years. It’ll be worse than the damn Kardashians.

Maybe it’s time to go be a hermit.

#chillpeople

It’s official, the appointment has been made.

I researched a ton of fertility clinics. There’s one out in Massachusetts that I may go to for a second opinion. He’s the one the pioneered vasectomy reversals and other surgical options. That said, I’ve made the appointment with a more local clinic that offers many surgical options for males that have had a vasectomy more than 15 years ago. For the record, after 15 years, there’s a 2% chance of the reversal working and it can apparently take up to a year to have any positive results. As fun as that sounds between the sheets, making a baby is the focus. So, this place can do more… invasive techniques. The cost for such a process is staggering, but they have a 98% success rate, so I’m guessing it will be money well spent.

If that doesn’t work out, option two is donor sperm. A lot of guys seem to have an issue with the idea. I don’t. I don’t need a biological link to love a child. 

Option 3, adoption. My wife would want a baby. I’m more leaning toward a slightly older child because they need homes too and we still have many formative years left to work with. We’ll discuss that option further. I’m not digging my heels in on my stance, but want to be fair to kids that may have a harder time getting adopted. 

Because I’m terrified of being a father, but not much beyond what’s normal, I’ve find a therapist to work with to go through some of my childhood issues and get some direction on some things. I literally have no good frame of reference as to what a healthy family looks like from day to day. This therapist can do sessions via Skype and insurance will cover it, so I can see her on a regular basis regardless of my brutal work travel schedule.