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.

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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.