Tag Archives: anxiety disorder

Home in 4 hours.. I miss my own bed.

Friday… Finally.. This week has been exhausting, physically, mentally and emotionally. I’m going against medical advice and chasing two 9oz glasses of Moscato with a Klonopin. There’s a good chance that I’ll be sleeping on the plane ride home.

It’s slowly been creeping into my psyche that I’m somewhere around middle-aged now. Aside from the increasing amount of gray hairs atop my head any my hairline in full retreat of my forehead, skin is getting a little loose here and there. Luckily for men, aging isn’t necessarily put under scrutiny, so I don’t have social pressure telling me that I need to defy aging entirely. So, what am I getting at, here? I still feel like someone in his 20’s. When I look at my wife or some attractive female, I feel the approximate mental and chemical reaction of that of a 13 year old boy. I guess I’m simple to please in that way. Anyway, mentally and physically I don’t feel like I match up. Emotionally I feel younger, but physically it’s a roll of the dice depending on the day.

I’m guessing I’m not the only one that feels like this. I wonder if transitioning to the next stage of life feels the same for everyone, and if so, if this is a continuing trend well into old age. I know my father struggles with the fact that he’s simply not able to do the things he was once able to do, and it’s rather distressing for him. H’s always working on several projects, some home improvement, some rebuilding engines or whatever. I know I feel this in other areas of my life, I need more than 4 hours of sleep per night, which is something new within the last couple of years. To function now I need a minimum of 6, ideally 7-8. My body aches, too, but usually in the areas of previous injuries, so I guess I’m lucky there. My wife is younger than me by nearly a decade, and luckily her energy level is about the same as mine, though as many men discover in middle age, or those on psychotropic medications, the mind may be willing and eager, but the lower plumbing certainly isn’t on the same page sometimes.

I’ve reached a point in my life that I can do the things I’d like to do. My working life is such that opportunities present themselves for me to go to a city and do something I’ve wanted to do, mostly because I’m already there and usually can afford to do whatever it is. The thing is though, I tend to sit alone in my hotel room and not venture out. I have my kinda-sorta friend at the hotel I frequent in Pittsburgh who runs the restaurant there, but I rank that friendship slightly above that of a working relationship with a therapist. A therapist is someone you pay to sit in a room and listen to you for approximately 44 minutes, followed by a minute of scheduling and payment. They are in essence, a paid friend. Non-paid friends can bolt at any time if they so choose, hence part of the reason you pay someone to listen to you speak of your inner demons and such. So, my hotel friend, she’s paid to be there, and as a customer she has to interact with me to some degree, but she does go out of her way to chat when I’m there. So, at least in one city, I don’t feel completely isolated.

If you could do essentially what you’d like to do, what would you do? I used to have lofty ideas about photographing all over the place, meeting people of different cultures and such, making friends in different cities and places and overall be more social. What I think I want to do and what I actually do are clearly two different things.

I’ve found that overall, people, myself included, don’t have a clue as to what we really want and don’t actually know ourselves too well. This usually plays out in romantic relationships, as you or someone you know falls deeply and madly in love with someone who’s totally not right for them. I had one ex whom was absolutely stunning – modeling stunning. She practically oozed sexuality. The way she dressed was provocative, she was highly intelligent with sharp, quick wit and was a f’ing force of nature. What guy wouldn’t fall for such a woman? Thing is, I wasn’t nearly as secure as I thought I was, we didn’t have much in common and I seemed perplexed that when she didn’t change how she dressed or carried herself once we were a couple, the same things that drew me to her were unsettling later. I’m far more secure now than I was then, but still, attraction aside, that’s a relationship that would never work.

As far as lifestyles go, I’ve tried on many skins over the years. I’ve been “open minded about everything” guy, “earthy/outdoors” guy, “artist” guy, “free-spirited” guy, “asshole” guy (this comes more naturally to some than others, but I was tired of being treated like a doormat), and the list goes on. I’m comfortable with whoever the hell I am now, but scarcely know myself. Approaching 40, I guess it’s time to stop trying to fit into some other skin and learn what my own looks like and go with it. The older I get though, the less I think I understand about the world around me. I’m learning, mind you, but many of my previously held thoughts and beliefs I’m challenging. That’s either a sign of maturity or neurological decline.

I think I spend too much time in my own head… Time to get ready to board.

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Return to therapy?

To go back into therapy or not – that is the question.. Why is this even a question? When I was around 13 I went to therapy for a few weeks and stopped going. I don’t know why, but apparently I simply refused to keep going. I needed help at the time, and wanted it, so I don’t know why.. Anyway, fast forward a few years, and at 19 I started with therapy again. That was an ongoing process off and on up until earlier this year. I’ve stopped going in the past, sometimes on my own, and other times because the therapist didn’t believe I needed to be there anymore.

Here’s a little backstory on my own termination with a therapist or them deeming it no longer necessary. I don’t have any distorted thought processes. I don’t believe that there’s some higher or terrestrial power out to get me or do my harm. I don’t believe that I deserve less than the next person, nor do I believe that I’m exceptional beyond reason (professionally I can do things that others simply can’t or at the very least, won’t dedicate the time and effort to aspire to). I don’t have an over-exaggerated sense of self image in either direction, meaning that I don’t feel that I’m a good or bad person; I’m pretty neutral on myself. Overall, I try to do the right thing and when I make mistakes, I don’t beat myself up over it unless it’s not something I can repair in one way or another. If I can’t repair it, I give it due pause, learn from it and move on. Dwelling isn’t healthy. Everything that happens in life, no matter how good or how tragic is an opportunity to learn, even if the lesson is to not do “x” again. My stepfather for instance was a learning experience in that I know how not to treat another human being 97% of the time, and even the other 3%, it damn well better be justified. I’m not perfect and don’t strive to be, but I make every effort to not be a dick to others, even if I loathe them. I don’t obsess over the past or the future; in short, I live in the moment while making loose plans of the future. I don’t hate myself. For the most part, I really like who I am. I don’t waste time and energy on hate/anger/vengeful wishes and intent/brooding, etc. It’s counter-productive and a waste of energy. I’m generally accepting of people, even those whom are very, very different than myself. I can respect others that don’t hold the same beliefs as me, or more commonly, that they hold beliefs that I don’t hold relating to spirituality. I’m not quick to react in the moment unless it’s necessary (think life-threatening to myself or others). If I feel intensely about something and it’s at all possible, I’ll rest on it and make a decision later once I’ve had a chance to calm down. I’ve learned not to trust my initial feelings or thoughts on some things. I didn’t grow up in a healthy environment, so hypervigilance isn’t something that’s easy to turn off. That’s ok – nobody is perfect, I realize this, I realize that I react to intense emotional situations with a very cold and calculated demeanor that’s focused on minimizing damage and/or the threat. It serves me well sometimes. If something calamitous comes up, when others freeze, I lose all emotion and get done what needs to be done. In short, I’m rather well adjusted, all things considered. Am I perfect? Hell no! Does that keep me up at night? Hell no!

So, back to whether to go back to therapy or not..

From what many, many mental health professionals and experts in their field have told me, I suffer almost completely from a chemical imbalance. The diagnoses have changed over the years, but Bipolar II is the most recent and it seems to fit the bill best. A mood stabilizer late in 2012 quite literally saved my life. I wrote more about the path leading up to just before that diagnosis here (http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-848934). Sadly, I’ve found myself in the same paradoxical thought process. The depression is bad. Suicidal bad. I know some people throw that term out there for effect, but I’m serious – there’s not a waking hour of any day that goes by of late that I don’t think of going through with any number of methods that I’ve come up with over the years. I always thought the question from mental health professionals “do you have a plan?” to not be a good barometer of where I am in the suicidal scale. I’m an intelligent and resourceful individual. Lock me in a padded room and if I have a strong enough will, I will find a way. Intent – intent is what to be concerned about. So, I have intense will, but little intent. I can’t say honestly that there’s none, The chance is less than 10% though, so there’s that.

What can I gain from therapy at this point? I have plenty of “tools in my toolbox,” which in therapist terms means that I’ve been taught a plethora of coping mechanisms. It’s true – I can endure, regardless of how low I get. I have many times in the past and am confident in my resolve if I get to the lowest of lows in the future. I’ll pull though; it’s a cycle and it always passes. Always.. I’m just shy of 38 right now and expect that barring some freak accident or a drastic decline in my own ability to cope, that I’ll last until at least 70. I have liver disease which will slightly shorten my life, but not significantly, provided I don’t take to alcohol to self-medicate, or some other thing that’s hard on the liver. I can go to vent, but again, I let go of things pretty quickly overall. Work is work – I try to separate that from my personal life. If I want to complain about work, I have co-workers. That’s free and they won’t ask me how I feel about that – they already know. Therapy to me would be a stalemate. There’s no truth that I’ll learn about life or whatever that will be a switch to flip to move me into the realm of happiness. Chemistry can be battled with other chemistry/meds, but psychiatric drugs still have a long, long way to go before they are truly useful. Will that happen in my lifetime? It’s possible. At this point I’d say it’s 50/50.

I guess I’m back to the original thought I had on the matter – is it worth the time, effort and money? That time could be spent doing any number of other things that are bearable when I’m down.. Sleeping.. Masturbating.. Trying to talk my wife into sex.. Binge-watching a TV series until really late at night, working, then repeating the process.. Eating a good steak.. See? Lots of good things, some of which are totally free!

I suppose I should get some more work done. My damn flight is delayed, so I may as well knock out some of tomorrow’s stuff. As it stands, I’ll not get to sleep until around 1:00am since it will take me at least that long to drive to the next place after landing.

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.

March 6, 2013 – A mix of things.. Time to get off of my butt.

So, the last couple of weeks have been interesting. Continue reading March 6, 2013 – A mix of things.. Time to get off of my butt.