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 no done it intentionally but they have done so. 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. 

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Hello, Writing, My Old Friend

I have missed writing. A lot. It was something I have turned to time and time again because I have this need to emote every thought and the written word is my medium of choice. In the past it has been acting or “singing” (it’s in quotes because whether I can carry a tune is debatable) but writing has always been a constant. Ever since I was a little kid I have wanted to be a writer. And to be a “writer” one has to write, so why have I been so lazy about it?

I am in a constant battle with myself over whether my anti-depressants are necessary or not. While at times they seem mandatory, there are others where it feels like in the end all they do is turn me into a zombie. I have no emotion and the things I tend to feel passion for or about dissipates and I am left with apathy. I hate it. But I have read that it is the “emotional rollercoaster” that those who suffer from depression or bipolar disorder like. They like the crazy manic mood swings that typically accompany the disorders. And I may just be another statistic in that regards.

One of the biggest reasons I hate taking my meds is that I will literally be in the midst of writing, because it has called upon me, and for whatever reason the action hasn’t held my attention or I lose interest the in the thing that was ushering me to the task. So I inevitably hit “save as draft” and it sits in my blog forever unpublished because it’s unfinished. I hate that with every fiber of my being, because in my mind and in my heart I feel like this medication is taking away my personality and my voice.

However, the dark reality is that at times I need them. My emotions become to overpowering that I end up making irrational choices that from a distance are totally out of character and detrimental to my health. So it is that fear which keeps me tied to this prescription.

This never-ending battle has grown in fervor recently because of a particular episode of the “Well Red” podcast. It is episode 15 if you’re interested, which discusses the idea of dreams and dealing with the reality of achieving them. Everything they said I agreed with, which happens quite frequently with me and audio show. At one time I may not have, as I was an artistic dreamer that didn’t see the forest for the trees. Everything was possible as long as I “believed.” My husband comes along and straps blocks to my balloon. Now, that sounds harsh, and it is, but I needed it. He pushed me to think about what I wanted realistically and to not be the “head in the clouds” kind of person. At one time I resented him for it but now I love him more because of his ability to be honest with me. He wasn’t saying I couldn’t do it, he was just giving me a healthy dose of the reality that it may not happen and if it doesn’t to not be destroyed because of that “failure.” (I don’t want to use failure in this instance, but until my mind comes up with another more appropriate one it will have to stay.)

If you haven’t had the pleasure of listening to that podcast, do yourself a favor and do it now. These gents are super intelligent and such advocates for the gay community. I couldn’t love them more than I do, without knowing them personally. I’ve been binge listening to the whole series thus far and have only come across 1 episode I didn’t like and that was because the person they were interviewing reminded me of a toxic individual I removed from my life. Other than that… they’re hilarious and I could listen to them all day, and have.

Listening to Trae’s story about holding a job during the day and doing stand-up at night, with kids, has reminded me that it is possible to try. Success, however, is all about luck and timing. And that won’t happen if I don’t keep at it or even make an attempt. And this show has reignited that spark in me.

Writing has taken a backseat lately because of my pills, as previously mentioned, but also because of my obligation to complete my appraisal courses and working to get my AA in journalism from my local college. Something had to give and it was writing blogs or working on my novel. But… as of last Monday I have completed my appraisal courses and can now get my license.

It’s funny, the first thought I had after passing my course (other than immense relief and the want to break down crying) was that I can finally get back to working on my novel. And I mean, immediately after. I was walking away from the testing center when it came rushing to my mind.

It warms my heart to know that no matter how much time passes or what obligations get in the way, the thing I return to time and again is writing. If only I could figure out this pill situation…

Starting back at 1

How does one just throw away 27 years of sobriety? I keep asking myself that question as I think of my father who did exactly that. 

For whatever reason my father, that takes anti-psychotics to treat paranoid schizophrenia, decided it was a good idea to buy a fucking 30 pack of Coors Light and drink 19 of them in quick succession. 

The result is just as one may expect, he blacked the fuck out on his driveway, landing face first in his attempt to get the mail. 

One of the neighbors saw him and called 911 and he was rushed to the hospital. 

Then at 8:30 I get four calls from both my mother and father, one after the other. My heart starts to race thinking my aunt from my previous post has passed. 

I listen to my father’s voicemail and he non-chalantly informs me that he’s in the ER and needs me to pick him up because he fell after having a beer. 

I just don’t understand. Why ruin something you built so hard to build? He put so much distance between him and his past that for whatever reason he risked it all, including his life. 

What I hate the most is that I get it. Being an addict myself (not with alcohol) I know what it’s like to use something to ice the pain. He’s icing the pain and he was willing to destroy everything for a momentary solution. 

I asked him if he was on antidepressants and his big box of pills seems to contain everything but those. He laughed at me when I asked him. Clearly he doesn’t see the problem. 

My husband was furious with my father when he got to the ER. I’ve never seen him that angry before. Honestly it was weird. At one point I asked him to bring it down a couple notches because while it was deserved and justified it wasn’t helping the situation. No matter how angry one is with someone fucking up with their vice getting angry and making him feeling like shit is 100% counterproductive. 

After dropping my dad off and discovering his 6 beers was really 19, I went home to recoup. I had had enough and listening to him lie and tell me what he thinks I want to hear was frustrating me. There was nothing else I could have done. He was an adult man acting like a child. At least with a child you could have it committed to rehab or a psyche ward but someone that is coherent and present (most of the time) there is absolutely nothing one can do. My husband and I racked our brains trying to come up with some kind of solution. What it boiled down to was leaving him to make his own fucked up choices. 

The next morning (today) I went over to see how he was doing and if he had gotten more booze after we left. I didn’t find any in my quick search, but with my dad that doesn’t mean shit. He tends to hide his poisons. 

I found him wrapped in a blanket on the couch, staring blankly at the TV. I know how he feels, if he does feel any shade of remorse. I really understand. So, with a fresh perspective I tried to tell him what it is I would want to hear after I fucked up. I basically told him to keep calm and carry on. I let him know that we are all so angry because we love him so much and don’t want to see him do this shit to himself. 

He just stared at me. 

In the end I took his car key, cash, and credit cards. There is money hidden somewhere in the house but I don’t know the location and he is only aware of one of them, I guess. (So my mother thinks.) 

I really looked up to my dad. I never realized that I did until he disappointed me. I took his positive change for granted and without it I feel lost. It’s almost as if my whole childhood is a lie. He is lie. He is a fallible human being. 

He was my hope that I could get over my own demons. 

Today I remind myself that I don’t want to be him. I don’t want to let my past transgressions dictate how I handle situations which baffle me. 

Definition of Insanity

Let me preface this post by saying that I am crazy. As in a legit form of mentally unbalanced. I sometimes wonder if I am bipolar, however when I was tested for it many years ago I was diagnosed with depression instead. If that diagnosis was correct, that is something I still suffer from to this day. For all I know it could be my mental sorrow that is making me feel this way.

For the past six months I have been working the 12 steps of recovery (currently on 4) and doing some serious inner self-examination. I know what I have done has barely gotten into what really lies beneath my facade and I could definitely be doing more. Regardless of my level of dedication, what I have learned is still just as profound: I am a hurt little boy fearful of rejection and being discarded. 

In my process of breaking down past resentments I found a reoccurring theme of people “betraying” me or “ditching” me. As I wrote them out I honestly could have copied and pasted the same response to each of my mental inventories. 

What I find interesting is that even though I haven’t gotten to the part where I examine my part in all of this yet, already I subconsciously have been putting the pieces together and seeing that I may be the cause of my pain.  

I think I am guilty of playing games with people, friends, acquaintances, to test their loyalty. My tests are cruel and unnecessary, but because I had someone hurt me in the past, I have made a mandatory obstacle course each person in my life must run because I am fearful of being hurt again. So instead of just thinking it was that one person who was untrustworthy and moving on with my life I let myself believe all people are not to be trusted. 

In doing that I have inadvertently (or on purpose) made myself a perpetual victim. 

No one will ever live up to my standard of loyalty. Ever. I expect entirely too much and no one will ever reach the “Josh Standard of Friendship,” and to make matters worse I only hold these trials with those who don’t deserve it and in doing so ignore those who are able and willing to step up to my unnecessary challenges. 

What is even more peculiar is that I walk this strange line of wanting to have a deep connection with someone and wanting to isolate myself from everyone. It makes for chaotic thoughts that drive me insane and act out in damaging ways. 

Right now I want to pull away from all of my “friends.” I want to distance myself from everyone I know and I cannot explain why. That’s a lie… I am hurt because these weird games I play with people to test their “loyalty” fail and because of it I am hurt and want to run away. 

And yet I know these things and I don’t care. I want to cry. I want to scream. I want to start all over because nothing and no one will ever live up to this image I have in my head. I have these expectations on companionship that no one will ever fulfill. And try as I may to let them go I cannot. I cling to them like some sort of security blanket. Quite possibly because I want to remain the victim forever. I want people to feel sorry for me. I want someone to reach out to me and care for me because I DO NOT care for myself. I hate myself. And in the end I don’t trust myself… 

The desire to recoil into the shadows of my own misery is very strong but I have to fight them because I know I will expect people to come after me, comfort me, and give me the love I so desperately crave but they WILL NOT. Ultimately no one cares and they will chock up my manic actions to me just being crazy; and they will be right. 

Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results and that is what I am doing. Even though I KNOW I have to let go of these antiquated ideals of friendship I won’t. I downright refuse, thus proving that I am mentally unhinged. 

Two skipped heartbeats

A new month is upon is and for me it feels like it’s brought more change than should be allowed, mainly heartache.

I’ve been in a twelve step program for the past five years. I won’t tell you what because we’re not there yet in our relationship. Just know that in this group has been someone who through this time has become very close to me. I’ve thought about him becoming my sponsor once or twice but I can’t deal with any sort of rejection so I always dropped subject. Whether or not, the man has has a profound affect on me.

He’s an older gentleman and as most do he has retired from his job. But what prompted this change wasn’t his desire to spend his days golfing, it’s his grandchildren. They live in the middle America and with his retirement has come a new location to call home. While I am happy for him at the same time I will miss him terribly.

As it turned out his last meeting was yesterday and I missed it because I instead chose to sleep. So I missed my chance to say goodbye. But there is some worth in social networks, he won’t be truly gone. Just the regularity of our visits and his imparted wisdom.

After waking late in the afternoon I had two voicemails on my phone. One of them was my mother calling to inform me of my cousins recent doctors visit. They found a tumor on her colon. As of this moment she has no idea if it’s cancer or not, that will be defined on Wednesday. What we do know is that a month ago she lost her mother, my aunt, to the same thing.

My aunt fought hard for four years, exceeding the doctor’s predicted life expectancy. But right on the heels of her family dealing with that constant agony comes my cousins diagnosis.

This year has this far contained the most gut wrenching, earth splitting, changes that sometimes I wonder if I will make it through unscathed.