Tales of Medications

Already it’s happening.

This morning I wanted to write a piece about how my Vegas weekend with the husband and our boyfriends went, but I lost the desire to do so without even opening up a word document. I thought to myself, “why would I want to do that?” And it is all because of anti-depressants.

I started taking them last week because I was stressing about the upcoming weekend. I was worried how it would turn out, plus I had little to no sleep that week, work was(is) slow, my diet had turned into a parade of sugary pastries and bread, and the weather was total cloud cover for 5 straight days (in a community that rarely, if ever, gets rain). In my infinite wisdom I thought I should start taking my meds again, and here we are.

My mental health has been a constant battle since I started taking them at 18. The doctor deemed them appropriate because I just happened to see him after a break-up from my then boyfriend. Of course I was depressed. I immediately started taking Lexapro and that seemed to work for a while. I didn’t write anything in that time frame, at least none that I can remember. But I don’t remember it taking away my personality. For whatever reason the doctor removed me from those and thus began the sampler platter of medications. Each one more misery inducing than the last. The final one was sertraline, which I have copious amounts of, even though my doctor has removed me from all medications some time ago. I keep them around for moments when I think my depression is flaring up. However, this time I am not entirely sure it was emotional but rather situational. That’s the biggest problem when it comes to drugs. I think we over prescribe them when in fact it may just be a change of lifestyle.

My fretting for the weekend was for naught though. Everything went absolutely fine and it was a really fun weekend; other than me having a freak out on the 4 hour drive home, because I have been trained to give the driver attention and when I in-turn don’t receive the same I get irritable. But, instead of voicing my concerns in the moment I stew in them until I am unpleasant to be around and make everyone uncomfortable.

The only thing this weekend taught me was that Vegas fucking sucks. I use to love going, but it has gotten entirely too expensive. They’re pricing out the average vacationer who goes for a fun cheap weekend. Those days are long gone. And for me, so is Vegas.

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Writing Through the Depression

Writing has always been my outlet, ever since I was a kid. Primarily because I am (what I have been described as) a very cerebral person. Living in my head is a dark and dangerous place and putting it into written words always gives me some sense of peace I could otherwise not find elsewhere. I typically don’t speak my thoughts because they are random and I easily get lost trying to find the right word, especially if I am speaking to someone (I talk a lot to myself). I have discovered that most take what I say as gospel and that is not how my mind works. I’m constantly working things out. Which is why I choose writing more than anything else.

The only problem with my writing is that it gets me into trouble sometimes. I always assume whatever I write on my blogs will be lost to the depths of the internet, but sometimes it finds its way into the hands of others. It’s irritating but the nature of the beast, and more often than not it doesn’t ever get discovered. I find that comical for a few reasons but the number one being I have shared my site with others in the past but no one can be bothered to ever look. Unless of course they’re mentioned in the thing and then all of a sudden it’s a hot commodity. Otherwise no one gives two shits. It’s like inviting a friend to the play you’re in, or the stand-up show you’re doing at the local open mic, or if you’re performing anywhere. People can’t be bothered. In my younger days I would let it bother me, but now I just shrug and realize that’s the gamble no matter what.

Yesterday I was feeling way down. I got to the point that I wanted to isolate from my entire life. I liken it to “running away.” The very thought of just leaving everything behind and hitting the open road crossed my mind but unless I’m carrying cash that isn’t going to happen. Plus, how would my sudden disappearance affect those in my life? It’s always that thought that keeps me grounded.  It’s hard pushing against the current of my depression but I know I have to make an effort or suffer the consequences of severe depression.

Last night I returned to my “finished” novel to restart the process of editing. For once in a great long while I did not get upset. When I found myself spinning my wheels, I told myself to just start back at the beginning and re-read again. It was nice. Then whenever the voice of my inner critic attempted to creep in, I ignored it and thought “I can do this.” Even this morning I told myself (as I doubted my efforts) that I am just out of practice. To get to a better place I have to keep trying. It’s like that lawn mower that’s been sitting in the garage for months. It takes a couple pulls to get it going, and even when you do get it started you have to let it run for a bit to get it to where it’s able to do the job it was designed to do.

For my own sanity I am not going to make any grand pronouncements of finishing my novel by a certain time-frame or even at all. It always ends in misery and self-loathing. Instead what I will do is feel proud that I got to the task and am content with the results.

Tales of Pink-Eye and Cancer

My this has been one hell of a week.

It began on Monday where I made an eye appointment because my eyes were red, itching, and would not stop crying. I was certain when I made the appointment with the optometrist that it was probably pink-eye. The doctor however looked at my eyes and deemed it allergies. I was skeptical because I have had allergies my whole life and never had I experienced JUST a reaction in my eyes, but as he was the “professional” I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

The following day, Tuesday, I finally had scheduled a CT scan that I had kept putting off because I had no time to do it. My work schedule has been (and is) hectic, so I never had the time but I figured that since I was so panicked about the blood in my underwear (coming from somewhere it should not ever if you’re a dude) I should make the appointment and follow through.

I went for my exam and during the procedure while they were injecting the dye into my vein it collapsed and instead of coursing through my body, probably, about half of it went into my right bicep. So for a couple days I had a bulging arm, much like popeye. After the procedure I felt silly going because I hadn’t had any further symptoms from the initial shock (aka blood.)

By Wednesday, the “allergies” only got worse and so I made a very quick follow up appointment. While rushing to that I get a call from my doctor. They had gotten back the results of my CT scan and it showed that my spleen and my prostate were enlarged and I was being referred out to a urologist for further examination.

After that lovely phone call, the optometrist (now a plucky, quirky young woman) told me I did in fact have viral pink-eye, the super contagious kind. This was after touching my eye with her bare hands (Smart) and swabbing my eyes with a giant q-tip. The cotton swab must have been just for fun because she did nothing with it and never mentioned it was being sent anywhere for testing. Her answer for my diagnosis was “good luck” and a referral to another optometrist.

Later that same day I got a call from the Comprehensive Blood and CANCER Center. They were following up because I was referred to them by my general practitioner (GP). They needed info to get the ball rolling, one piece of which was my blood work I had done the week prior.

The following day they called again to schedule a consultation for November where I (imagine) will be told I have prostate cancer.

To be fair, I don’t know this to be my prognosis. I am making a giant assumption but all the signs point to that and just like my certainty of having pink-eye I am certain that this is the case.

A few things come to mind, one of which (if there is one) god has a sense of humor. Prostate cancer is slow but trying to cure can result in sexual complications. I won’t die from this cancer, it will just kill any semblance of ever having sex again without the aid of a pump (hard pass).

I found out about a year ago that my uncle had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and instead of doing anything about it he let it sit and it has now spread to his bones. At the time I didn’t understand how one could do that. “It’s such an easy fix.” Sitting in the same position I can see where one would refuse to do anything, as that is the road I will most likely take.

The boyfriend, upon hearing my decision, was quiet. He didn’t really have any response. The husband however was annoyed and told me that my decision was bull shit and I was going to do whatever it took. While I respect his opinion more than likely I won’t be doing anything. What worth do I have if I can’t have sex? I know that’s such a petty thing to think but the psychology behind never having another erection is staggering. I remember a statistic about the army spending thousands on viagra, and I get it. For a very brief time I couldn’t get an erection and maintain it and it is a huge mind fuck for one to endure. (At least it was for me.)

As of right now, this is all just theory. I don’t have solid facts to determine anything or if what I assume to be reality is in fact true. The most comforting thing I do have is that I have two men who have repeatedly told me that they will be there for me and that is what’s getting me through, between my sudden outburst of tears (though those could just be from the pink-eye.)

Exhibit: Addiction

I am broken. All humans are, but I sometimes feel more fractured than most.

These past couple days I have found myself beaten and downtrodden. With all the things that are happening in the world (the cruelty, the callousness, the secrecy), to the death of my “bear cub,” to the stress of my impending licensing exam, I have found it hard to see the “bright side.” As a result, my addiction has reared its ugly head and shown me, without a doubt, that I am a sex addict.

For many, it’s not a real addiction. Supposed “sex therapists” have denounced it because there isn’t a substance in which one abuses. However, fun fact, the rush one feels during orgasm is just as powerful as a shot of heroine. So, there’s that. Regardless of the few naysayers, there is a program out there (I am apart of) and rehab centers that deal with the addiction.

I’ve been in the program since the summer of 2009. I should have been in a lot earlier because my addiction started with pornography when I was around 12. Back in the old dial-up days, I use to peruse galleries of images and would not stop until I had viewed every image. (In a gallery of 400+ pictures, that is quite the task.)

At the time, I was also a “devout” Christian and the images I viewed (and have only ever searched) were gay. So the addiction cycle of shame and guilt came all too easy to me.

Over the years it has progressed to insane levels and taken me into directions and places I never thought I could or would go. But that’s the nature of the beast.

The notion most people have is that “it’s all about sex.” And, speaking for myself, I know that to not be the case. There is something else attached to the whole situation to where I have tricked myself into thinking that it makes me feel better. It likes to make me think that it is some temporary band-aid in times of distress or sadness. When I was younger I used it to soothe my conflicting feelings about my sexuality. In the waning months of 17, I wielded it to cope with the break-up I didn’t see coming and subsequently never dealt with.

Where it becomes crystal clear, is that I have a husband and a boyfriend and my mind immediately goes to wanting to hook-up (or what we call in the program as “acting out.”) If it was about sex the need would be met, but it is still there as an “answer” to what ails me.

Some may be surprised to know that there is more to sex than just the act. There is the chase of finding someone physically attractive, the provocative and alluring conversation heightening the excitement and anticipation, the ritual of saying certain phrases or doing things in a particular order, and then there’s the ultimate goal of meeting with this person who one has deified… All of it is consuming. Yet, what follows (for me especially) is the shame and guilt, making one feel worse than they did before and thus perpetuating the cycle.

The piece I find bizarre, is the act of not doing something destructive makes me feel sick.

I attempted to break my sobriety. I reached out to someone, made a plan, and then, when I fought hard against the want and desire to do that, I found myself feeling physically ill. I sounded like a mad man, repeating the same line over and over again, “just don’t download the app.” Yet, what did I do? I did exactly that, disappointing myself. My immediate act though, was to flake on the person I had spoken to and thus ending any chance of doing something that would have hurt my husband and boyfriend, and, primarily, myself.

So, I live to fight another day!

Everyone that needed to know of what was transpiring knows.  Now comes the task of trying to find something healthy and productive to pull me out of this goddamn funk.

One of them is writing.

Looking Out/In

I can’t stop myself. My new normal has become reading into situations, scenarios, and responses like they’re a New York Times bestseller and the secret to life’s happiness is between those lines. I truly don’t want to, but it is default. So, fuck me.

Today I took three separate events and combined them into one that sent me into a depression spiral I fought hard against. I only pulled out of this nosedive when I finally spoke to my husband about it and got something I didn’t even know I needed. For once he told me I was right. Granted it was because we have somehow switched roles and he is the one not reading into things and I am, and he finds it irritating. To that end, he told me I was correct when I had previously told him the same, it is annoying. So, there’s that.

I even try to read into what is me “reading into” things actually means. There is no end to it! What I have concluded is that it’s me trying to gain some sort of sanity in the chaos (granted a self-perceived chaos) and taking the power into my own hands. However, that is not at all what it does. Doing it actually makes me crazy-er. Almost like I’m trying to force something that isn’t there because of a perceived threat. To that I say, that is insane.

My goal going forward is to try and be calm about all of this. It is what it is. There is no deeper meaning. There is no smoke from a fire. It just exists in this neutral land. A world between worlds.

I think a large part of it is public perception. I’m looking through a lens of social “norms” to what all of this means. It’s silly. Usually I don’t give a fuck what others think and feel. Their opinions don’t dictate my life. Yet, here I am backtracking on my own character. For what? A fear of loss?

What seems to exacerbate my overthinking is taking my “Ethics of Living and Dying” class at the local community college. It’s definitely forcing my own introspection. I guess that means it’s a good one, seeing as how it compels me to look and learn. The only byproduct from all of it, is my self-inflicted pain.

Speaking of that class, I had an essay to write and I found myself at a complete stand-still because I was OVERTHINKING the entire thing. I was attempting to do it in a collegiate prose which went against the whole point of the assignment. What I have gathered is that he wanted us to look at our own mortality when faced with a terminal illness. What does it mean to have it, the effects on one’s life, and how would we respond. I could be wrong, but the way in which the assignment was to be written appeared to press that own self-analysis.

The ultimate conclusion is I just need to chill the fuck out. The “answer” I’m seeking, for whatever reason, will not be found in me analyzing every minute detail. It will come in living through the experience. That is life.

UPDATE:

In the course of writing this I got a call from my sponsee who shed some light onto my fears that I didn’t even take into consideration.

Basically I was laying all of this out to him over the phone and he said it was brought about by my husband’s disclosures of past events. The light clicked on in my head and I was so relieved. He’s right. It’s me stressing about all of it and coupled with the events of the day it just brings about a whole other set of problems. Goddamn his perceptiveness. I’m such a proud sponsor-papa.

 

Lost at Sea, a Letter of Confusion and Mental Health

I am almost certain I am going through a mid-life crisis. At least, I hope it’s not “mid life” because I would like to think I’d live past 64. One side of the family has early death rates and the other lived into their 90’s. So, who fucking knows?

When I was 25 I thought I was having a quarter-life crisis but I quickly discovered it in fact was due to the Prozac I was taking. In my own trials, I discovered that when it doesn’t work it has the opposite effect. Instead of making me not-depressed it made me erratic and I made broad sweeping decisions about my employment that made me look like a fool. In the end I survived my irrational choices without damage.

Having that memory in the back of my mind, I worry that this is just another one of those moments, however I am currently not on meds and that may play a part in it. All I am certain of, is right now I am in a very weird place.

It all began at Christmas time. I had lost all desire to shop, sure I put up the decorations but my usual Christmas cheer was AWOL. The only reason I ended up purchasing gifts at all is because I would have looked like an asshole come Christmas day and everyone I care about had gotten me something but I had not returned the favor. Social decorum kept me in check, but deep down I wanted no part of the holiday.

I sought the help of my psychiatrist and he came to the conclusion that I might be bipolar type II. The diagnosis angered me, as if I was somehow “broken” but I thought I would humor him at least. (He is the professional after all.) My doctor prescribed me a medication that made me very, very uncomfortable physically and emotionally. The most significant side effect was during that time period it made me really question my relationship and where it was going. I volleyed between staying together and splitting up. Although no side had more power over the other. They were equally matched in every way. It was almost as if it was making me bipolar. For the second time in my life, I felt truly insane.

Still on this medication, and grappling with these emotions, I asked my husband for a temporary separation. Well, I didn’t ask for it. He offered it up in the moment and I took it. For a week (probably less) we lived apart. Eventually, he came back home and we haven’t really discussed anything since then. Which the fault lies on both of us, but probably more-so on myself.

Yet, I am still in this peculiar area of where I have no idea where I’m going or what I’m doing. Most importantly, what I want. I have this type of personality that I fear and hesitate to make the “wrong” choice. I sit there and suffer, contemplating everything down to a fine point, until I expect everything to make sense. What unfortunately ends up happening is I gain no clarity. I see the merits on both sides and still sit in the middle; undecided.

When I returned to my doctor for my trial period follow-up, he told me he had fallen into a “conundrum.” He had no diagnosis for me that seemed to stick. We had tried the depression and the bipolar type II and found no success. His final suggestion to solve our medical quandary was for me to have psychiatric evaluation. The prescription pad leaflet for it still sits in my center console of my car. No appointment date set. I fear what the conclusion will be.

My biggest concern is that I will come back with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder or something equally as drastic. I worry daily that it would show me that I don’t know what love is and don’t have the capacity to return the emotion. Like I’m some kind of sociopath. Such results I would see as a death sentence, that I am fundamentally, at my core, fucked up beyond repair. However, I would NEVER view such results for someone else in that manner. I would be supportive and try to be there for them. (I think.) I just don’t have that kind of kindness for myself.

Currently, I loathe to say it, I am lost. I am in uncharted waters of which I have no map and see no land on the horizon. Yet I am still captain of this ship and it will inevitably keep moving regardless of my choices.

Damming the Depression

Like many Americans I suffer from depression. I was diagnosed when I turned 18 however I think it had been an issue for some time prior to that. As an adult I realized my true personality, which is that of an overachiever looking for recognition of my intelligence. I was also this way prior to puberty but during my teenage years I couldn’t have cared less about anything and everything. It could have also been because I was grapling with my sexual identity from the perspective of a devout Christian but who knows.

Either way I was prescribed anti-depressants from that day on.

My relationship with these pills has waxed and waned frequently over the years. I go from thinking “I can never not be on my meds” to “maybe this is what is keeping me from writing?” It is this cycle that I live my life through. It would appear that I am coming to the moment of “I can never not be on these pills” again. But have I taken them? No, because “they keep me from writing.” Which is funny because so does depression.

I made an appointment with a therapist for Monday. And I am genuinely looking forward to it. I’m curious if I’ll like her and if she’ll call me by my actual name. (I had a therapist that went in for the “come to Jesus” message of the session and botched it by telling me I should ask myself “what does Jason want.”)

I want to like her and I hope it helps. The thing about therapists is you have to find the right one that works well with your personality and shares somewhat basic ideals. I have seen a few in my day and it took some time before I came to one that could keep up and seemed to like me. He is also the one who has since ignored my subsequent calls. Yet, as I outlined in my earlier post, it could be because I kept bouncing my checks.

Prior to this, and on a different insurance, I started seeing this addiction therapist and she had a very dry almost cold personality but there was something about her that intrigued me. Maybe it was because I could tell from the lines on her face that she herself had battled addiction and knew what she was talking about. Unfortunately I had to let her go because we switched insurance and I happen to get the day of my appointment mixed up in my head. (Happens often).

As the days go on I become frequently sadder. My Facebook feed being the biggest instigator of these emotions. It should be noted that I have since deleted it from my phone.

My husband this morning remarked that his Facebook feed was nothing but recipes now and I retorted, rather jaded, that mine was nothing but trump. The man is destroying everything in my eyes and I can’t help but feel soooooo insignificant. There is nothing I can do without buckets of money or power. Of which I have none. My husband, in an attempt to make me feel better, said we are all insignificant. He’s sweet for trying.

The thing that has really been upsetting is this dick had decided to side with the religious Reich and build his new platform under family values. I laugh sometimes because the hypocrisy of him taking a stand for them is hilarious and them accepting it is a downright riot. Yet here we are. Two cruel and callous forces combining their lights to take on the evils of the homosexual agenda.

These thoughts inevitably lead me to the realization that some of my friends and family voted for this monster and because of him they could potentially (and most fucking likely) take away my rights as a gay man. They may have not done it intentionally but they have when they elect someone that has an agenda that wants to destroy my community. I know that they find me repulsive, they say so in all of the literature and words, and it is from that knowledge sprouts two paths of thought, I either return their hatred or do what Christ says and turn the other cheek. I may be agnostic but I was raised in the faith and my mother (who exemplifies what it means to be a Christian) taught me well.

So another day I drift closer to a dark depression. I try not to be so maudlin, for instance I am currently out in the sunshine, taking a break from bike riding. It is that exercise and the return of Will and Grace that has brought me the most joy. It’s pathetic and it’s true.