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I've been banging away on my keyboard. Here's some new articles. In The Armed Citizen, we have: Soldier, Officer, CitizenAccoutrements for training, and What’s your Tueller Distance? In the book reviews there's Prepared: Surviving Worst Case Scenarios. Enjoy!

Spread This Word

If you haven't read my posts from the start of this blog, I was a Mental Health Counselor for several years. I dealt with people who were in terrible situations, some caused by their own malfunctioning biology, some by external events.

Some of the saddest cases I dealt with were those who engaged in "non-fatal self-injury" known by most people as "cutting." While the reasons that cause this coping skill are different for each person, the reasons why are either the person feels emotionally numb and need to feel something, even pain, or they do it to convince themselves they have control over their body because they are in an untenable situation they have zero control over.

If you know of or find someone who engages in this behavior, NEVER NEVER NEVER try to get them (by whatever means) to stop that behavior. This is their "mental steam valve" and if you take this away from them, while this behavior is not good, worse things will happen. Cutting is a symptom and coping mechanism for a far deeper and serious issue.

I became overjoyed to have this article brought to my attention by a friend: This Girl’s Therapist Suggested Drawing On Her Body Instead of Cutting, And It Worked Beautifully. This is a great solution to the cutting symptom and why you shouldn't try to stop someone from using a coping skill (even a negative coping skill) You redirect the behavior into a positive skill. This redirection allows the person who continue to engage in their coping skill without doing further harm to themselves. The article at the bottom even gives drawing tips, hint and ideas on what and how to draw.

This won't work in all cases, however coping skills redirected from a negative to a positive skill provides the needed coping and redirects it into an empowering direction. Once the self-harm is stopped, help the person to address the reasons for the self-injury.

I don't need anger management

This is not going to end how you think. Really.

I don’t have anger issues, really. I am very laid-back, happy and deferential when it comes to 99% of my interactions with people. That last 1% however can screw up and put a negative spin on the rest of my day.

I have been on “that side” of the phone, as a CSR (Customer Service Representative) and help desk. I always tried to be helpful and giving of information and resources. It seemed to me that giving the information would improve the customers’ experience. Some help desk/CSR banks though have intentionally gone the other way. This department of this company seems to ascribe to the “Piss them off so they won’t bother us” school of thought.

My work history has been unsteady lately. Out of the past 31 months, I have been unemployed 14 months and underemployed (30% base pay cut compared to the 5 year job plus no benefits) 17 months. When I got the underemployed job, I worked with the bank that holds my car note to fold the three payments I was behind into the end of my loan. The lady I worked with was sweet, kind, attentive and caring. Six months ago, I had to file for bankruptcy because my expenses were more than my income. Being severely underemployed will do that to you. Due to various delays I have not fully discharged the bankruptcy yet.

I covered all of that so you have the context of my call transcript below. I am now (again) three car payments behind. So I called the bank again and was routed without choice to the bankruptcy department because I am still in Bankruptcy.

Me: Hello, I am calling because I am three payments behind on my car and I need to speak with someone about what I can do to roll those payments onto the end of my loan.

CSR: We don’t do that here.

Me: I did this exact thing back in December 2014. What do you mean ‘we don’t do that here’?

CSR: We don’t do that here.

Me: Okay, what you're saying is the Bankruptcy department can’t do that, I understand. Who would I have to talk with to make this happen?

CSR: We don’t do that here.

Me: [Looking for my ball-peen hammer]
Me: […pauses to keep from shouting…]

Me: Could you please volunteer some information so I don’t have to be extremely pedantic and exacting in my questions in order to try and gain some information you have that could solve my issue???

CSR: You have to reaffirm your debt to get it out of this department.

Me: [Found the ball-peen hammer, debating to use it on the phone or my head]
Me: […pauses some more to keep from shouting…]


CSR: Your lawyer must fill out and return the appropriate paperwork to us.

Me: [Sarcastically] THANK YOU. I just want to tell you that you could have prevented the last five minutes of my life from being excruciatingly painful merely by being slightly forthcoming in the information. If you had said the first time you opened your mouth, ‘We can’t do payment rollovers in this department. The loan has to be transferred out after you reaffirm the debt.’ I would have been understanding instead of aggravated.

Me: Now that we got that out of the way, is there a way you could inform me if you are about to take my car for non-payment?

CSR: No.

Me: [Puts hammer down. Looks for a power drill with a paddle bit to drill on myself]
Me: “Bye.” [Hangs up]

At that point in time I was aggravated to the point I was going to call into question in a very detailed and graphic manner the genetic relations of her prior three generations and use very impolite language. Normally I would do this and use language suitable at a ladies afternoon cotillion but I was rushed and not in the right frame of mind.

I didn't, because at the last second before I opened my mouth I realized she could have been under orders to not be helpful (yes, there are help desks that do that). Maybe she had a bad day herself and my yelling at her and belittling her more than I did wasn't going to improve the attitude of either one of us.

I learned a while back that in any interaction I have with another person I should always ASSUME GOOD INTENTIONS. This means that I should never think the other person is intentionally trying to ruin my day. That does not preclude that they might be a mean person, however you should always assume that the other person is fighting a battle you will never learn about. This bad news will affect how they interact with others, but you should never let their attitude spread to you then you take that and hurt others.

I illustrate this point using a story from Stephen Covey:

Stephen was coming home on the subway, trying to unwind after a stressful day. At one stop a man gets on with several children. The man seemed unconcerned that his children were running up and down the car, screaming, fighting with each other and being very unruly. Stephen walked over to to the man to tell him to control his children, but at the last second something in the mans demeanor gave him pause. Instead, Stephen sat down next to the man and asked, "What happened?"

The man replied that he and his children were heading home from the hospital, where his wife and the children's mother had just died a few minutes ago. Stephen's attitude changed 180 degrees from "yell at him for not controlling his children" to "How can I help?"

I apologize to the lady I spoke with. It was my failure of control that caused me to be upset and yell at her. I try to leave every person I encounter better than how I found them. I failed with you.

Why I do not celebrate today

I have placed this in the Recovery category rather than the Personal category because this is about my recovery. I have not spoken about my issues that led to the creation of this blog in a long time. I think today is the day to break that streak.

Why do we enthusiastically celebrate a child's birthday? Why the swats, with "one to grow on" and the extra candle? Because as late as the 1950's, a significant number of children died young. They died from diseases we have either eliminated totally (Smallpox) or rendered irrelevant through general medical science and vaccines specifically. Diseases like Whooping Cough, Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Polio ravaged children back then. Today they are almost unheard of because of vaccines. I am one of the last to be vaccinated against Smallpox. They don't vaccinate against that anymore since it has been eliminated.

Because a child's' next birthday was never guaranteed, we held out hope that the child would live to next year by placing next years candle on this years birthday cake. The same basic concept goes for the "birthday spankings."

Once I reached adulthood, my birthdays never really mattered to me. I was amazed that one day I was considered a child and under the law a non-entity and property of my parents, yet the next morning I was magically an adult, able to enter into contracts, serve my country and be ultimately responsible for myself.

I continue that tradition today, and I'll tell you why.

When Robin Williams died in 2014, a lot of people said, "It is a tragedy he died so young [at age 63]." I regard that he lived until 63 as a miracle. In the 1970's and early 80's (up until his friend John Belushi died), Robin was self-medicating his depression with cocaine and alcohol. If he had completed suicide or overdosed on something like a speedball that took Belushi's life in say, 1981 at the height of Mork & Mindy, that would have been the true tragedy, because we would have lost him 34 years earlier when he was 29. Think of everything he had done after Mork & Mindy, then think those roles would have been performed by other actors or maybe not at all.

During my dark days of 1999-2002, I stood toe-to-toe with Death and got into a staring match with him several times. Each time, I made Death blink first. I could have missed out of all the experiences I have had with my wife and son between then and now or will have with them in the days yet to come. People with a mental illness die on average twenty years sooner than a person who never experiences depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or any of the other mental illnesses.

I don't celebrate the anniversary of my birth anymore, because I celebrate every day that I wake up. I thank my God that I am alive and able to get out of bed and move forward each and every day. At this point of my life, because of what I have been through, every day is my birthday.

Crisis Intervention Team

Yesterday, a story was broadcast on The PBS NewsHour Weekend Edition. It was on the Crisis Intervention Team, which are police officers trained how to handle and deescalate a situation involving a person experiencing a mental health crisis.

I used those services in my dark days during 1999-2002. I was on a first name basis with these guys. It was this program that kept me in the hospital when I needed to be there and not in the county lockup, with an arrest record and probably a couple of felonies on me.

Here is the article. I show up about 7:30:

If I had acquired the felonies I had earned back then, I might be getting out of prison about now. I would not have been who I am now if I had that holding me back.

The CIT is one of the groups of people that not only kept me alive, but helped me get the help I needed. My wife, my friends and the CIT helped me become the advocate I am today. I am honored that I get to pay back my debt to them by being part of one of the classes the future CIT officers go through to be CIT certified.

If your local police or Sheriff's office does not have a CIT program, urge them to contact the Memphis Police Department CIT program today.

Took some hits this week

I posted up on Facebook at 1AM this morning (that's the 1am BEFORE the time change) that I was having difficulty sleeping. This is why:

On Tuesday, I was interviewed for a weekend news article by PBS about the Crisis Intervention Team. During that interview, I talked about a lot of things that were going on in my life at the time I "partook" of the CIT's services. Today, I participate in a presentation for about two hours of their 40 hours of training to give them a clear insight into what's going on inside someone who is having a crisis. I did one of these classes and then I was interviewed right after. The interview by itself was quite intense and draining for me emotionally.

When I have to speak to a group of people, I can "turn up" my mania somewhat so I am outgoing, happy, funny and all that. But I pay a price for that manic swing. For several days afterward I am "depressive." Not a full blown depression, just a taste of the worst parts.

One of the subjects I covered in the interview was my relationship with my sister. She is eight years older than I and the last time I spoke with her was on her birthday in December of 2002. I was fresh out of my last hospitalization and I had called her to wish her a happy birthday. There were icicles hanging off my phone by the end of the call, her response, while polite, left no ambiguity about our relationship. Because, you see, I called her once while I was hospitalized, begging for help. Her response was, "You're faking it." When I started really getting out of control and violent, my wife wanted to send our son up to my sisters, so he could have a stable childhood and she could concentrate on getting me the help I needed. My sister refused to take our son in, because, "I don't want 'him' [me] showing up at the house."

The last time I exchanged emails with her, I received the same response, polite and very cold. She even said, "Do not friend my children (who were 38-42 years old then) on Facebook, your radical views (this blog) might hurt their careers."

The next day was the 14th anniversary of my fathers passing. He died sometime on that Sunday morning, in my sisters home in Hospice. I was in the hospital (yet again) and called to try and speak with him, when my oldest nephew who answered the phone told me, "Grandpa died overnight."

My father was a stoic, quiet man who got things done without fanfare or notoriety. A Navy veteran of WWII, he started out as a welder, worked his way up to shop foreman, then graduated into the front office and told the fabrication shop how to do their job. His sense of humor was very quiet and punny. He would hit you with a pun and be out of range before you understood what he really said.

Right before he retired and I joined the Navy, my mom and dad were taking a walk around the neighborhood, and stopped to talk with a neighbor. The neighbor asked him, "Garth, now that you're retiring, what are you going to do as a hobby?" My dad looked left, then right, shrugged his shoulders and said, "Sex." About a month after that, the Pastor's wife (we both sung in the church choir, the Pastor and his family lived down the street from us) came up to me after the service and asked me, "How is your fathers hobby going?" I said something like, "All day, every day."

Growing up, I never had everything I wanted, but I did have everything I needed. I suspect he had Asperger's Syndrome. He was a 60 year Mason, and Master of a lodge he was a charter member of. He tried to interest me in Masonry several times and I never took him up on it. It took me digging through his things seven years after he passed to find a set of his old Masonic books. At that moment, I swear I could feel his hand on my shoulder and his voice in my ear, "It's time you joined." I started the process to become a Mason that afternoon. It has been his legacy that has driven me to become Master of my lodge, to be able to understand and perform the ritual and become a better man, citizen, husband, father. Dad, I miss you.

Do not worry, this will pass. Hurt and regret are scars that heal over time, yet when you move a certain way, the scars let you know they are still there. Such is the case here. Thank you to all who responded to my prayer request this morning.

The "conversation" I'm glad I never had

I found this image the other day on Cyanide and Happiness and it brought a lot of intense thoughts and feelings back from those days when my illness raged through my life.

Back then, I wanted to die more times than I could count. The physical, mental and emotional pain of my bipolar disorder was at times unbearable. What made it worse was watching myself traumatize my family repeatedly, powerless to stop myself. The weight of my pain plus knowing the terrible things I was doing to those I love drove me to several serious attempts. I have stared into the eyes of Death himself and made him back down.

If I could say there was one thing that kept me from completing a suicide was my son. I didn't want him to have a "conversation" with my grave like this.



Hallmark needs to make these cards

I have needed to send and receive all of these cards for years. Where can I find them?

My Recovery Song

I have 731 songs in my iPhone. The artists go from Adam Ant to ZZ Top. Glenn Miller, Jethro Tull, Bib & Rich, Coolio, Kid Rock and a ton more. I listen to these songs for many reasons. To laugh, to cry, to be inspired and more. I have one Recovery Song. This one song reminds me just how often I stared into Deaths face and I was able to walk away. I am extremely lucky I am still here. I truly believe God has kept me here for a reason. I try to live every day as an inspiration to others. It warms me whenever someone else tells me, "Because of your example, I didn't quit." Here is that song.

Please come now I think I'm falling
I'm holding to all I think is safe
It seems I found the road to nowhere
And I'm trying to escape
I yelled back when I heard thunder
But I'm down to one last breath
And with it let me say
Let me say
Hold me now I'm six feet from the edge and I'm thinking
That maybe six feet
Ain't so far down I'm looking down now that it's over
Reflecting on all of my mistakes
I thought I found the road to somewhere
Somewhere in His grace
I cried out heaven save me
But I'm down to one last breath
And with it let me say
Let me say
Hold me now
I'm six feet from the edge and I'm thinking
That maybe six feet
Ain't so far down
Sad eyes follow me
But I still believe there's something left for me
So please come stay with me
'Cause I still believe there's something left for you and me
For you and me
For you and me
Hold me now I'm six feet from the edge and I'm thinking
That maybe six feet
Ain't so far down

To me (YMMV), the singer believes he is at the end, and while he's fighting for life, he's thinking that giving up wouldn't be that bad. Despite that, he still fights.


Depression Kills

Since the moment it was made public that Robin Williams had died, accolades has come from a lot of people. 99% of them talk about how happy he was, the high-energy and comedic genius he was. Robin Williams was something else, something that very few people saw. He was a tortured soul. Robin Williams Masks I didn’t know Robin personally, so I can’t speak for or about him. What he went through I understand though, because I have experienced something similar. When someone is that high energy, that level of funny, there is generally something going on behind the mask.

Because when you hit highs like Robin did, there are lows just as deep to go with them. It pains me to write this, because it brings up my own memories of when I was at my lowest. I remember having a loaded gun in my mouth, as I laid in the master bedroom of my emptied house that was days away from foreclosure. I remember walking out into traffic, not caring if I was hit or not (I was. I broke my wrist and leg). Or standing on a chair, noose around my neck in a little outbuilding at the house I was renting that I had barred the door shut. The police and my wife were outside, trying to talk to me. In each case, I was overwhelmed with physical and emotional pain too great to bear. I didn’t want to die, I just saw no other way to stop the pain. I just wanted to stop the pain. I felt trapped, scared and alone. My mental perception and reasoning had decreased to the point that I saw no other options.

Reading articles about what was going on with him in the days up to his passing, I found that his finances were depleted. Two expensive divorces and a drop in income was forcing him to sell off places that he held dear. He no longer rated to star in big movies, he was down to supporting characters in sequels, and was working on a TV series that was cancelled to provide a basic income. He was also recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.

So Robin, at the age of 63, saw his life slipping into twilight. The diagnosis of Parkinson’s and its inevitable decline and result opened the door enough for the depression to whisper in his ear, “It’s time.”

Depression kills. There is no other way to say it. If you have a friend or family member with depression, don’t say “get over it.” You wouldn’t say something like that if they had cancer. Ask them what they want and need. Then LISTEN. Listen with the intent to understand, not with the intent to respond. If you have depression, get help and support. I know you don’t want to, do it anyway. I beat it, I believe you can as well. Robin Williams Happy


My apologies

I'm sorry for not posting more, either of news analysis or my goings on, but my fast-cycling has been acting up. I have been having manic episodes and when I do, productivity drops to zero. Nothing to worry about, I've set myself up in here so even if I hit a Manic 10 there is nobody to hurt and no permanent damage can be done to anything.

I have been going to the stop-n-rob next door (Memphis slang for 'Convenience store') and impulsively buying a lot of Pepsi and other high sugar foods, knowing that it can bring on or exacerbate a manic swing. Impulse control has been really difficult of late. Like I said, measures are in place to make sure it doesn't get out of hand. The worst I can do is bounce off the walls, screaming and crying.

Now that all of the excitement of the holidays are over, hopefully I will settle back into a Depressed 3 or 4 and work from there.

Wish me luck.


Unlikely allies

I am reluctant to go into Rush Limbaugh's life at all, let alone his addiction and subsequent problems. But this story just kind of leapt out at me.

Geraldo Rivera and Susan Estrich have come to the defense of Rush and his being persecuted by the local DA in Palm Beach County.

This is so unusual that the Devil himself must be turning up the thermostat.

Estrich contends the real issue is that "a lot of people are mad at Rush Limbaugh because they think he is a hypocrite."

She continued: "Well you may or may not agree on that, but the last time I checked hypocrisy is not a federal or state offense. And I don't think that is a basis on which we should prosecute people."

Rush made one comment on drug users in 1993, long before he had back problems and years of untreatable pain. Even so, Rush was talking about the people who voluntarily choose to use drugs. His usage was based on a need to get rid of intolerable pain. I myself ruptured my L5S1 disk a few years ago and luckily the surgery was a complete success and I had no further pain. I can imagine myself hooked on opiates to get rid of the pain if I had to live with it. To live with the pain would take a Superman that I don't think anyone is.


I'm at 8

While I am felling better than yesterday, it's not by much. Getting to have lunch with my family yesterday and do some shopping with them helped with my mood. My family still loves me. We are apart because of my condition and lack of emotional control. That's it. If I could handle normal stress, If I could be a positive asset for my wife and her struggles, I would be home today. But that's not going to happen for a long time, if ever.

This time of year has been very rough with me ever since I got sick. Most of my hospitalizations have been in the winter months. My wife thinks I have Seasonal Affective Disorder on top of everything else.

I'll shoot for a 7 tomorrow to start off the new year.

I feel horrible

No, I don't have the flu, but rather peaking at 9.5. The only reason I got out of bed this morning was to feed my birds. I got really bad like this last year around Christmas too. The time of year when you're supposed to be the happiest I'm at my lowest ebb.

It really sucks not being with your family, knowing that if you do spend more than a few minutes with them, you get out of control and become a danger to everybody around you. It really sucks to know that they need your help and you are unable to give it to them.

I'm going to crawl back under the covers and call in sick. Maybe something this afternoon.

Family update

Well, the family had a emergency at 2:00 am this morning, necessitating me walking up and taking care of it temporarily until the landlord can fix it. Between last night and this morning, several conversations ensued between my wife and I, and I found out her condition has taken a turn for the worse in several regards.

I am totally useless to her, considering that I have no transportation to help and I cannot handle my own life, let alone support her in her hour of need. That's what tears me up inside, not being able to be there. If I were there, I would quickly build up from the pressure and explode, becoming violent and out of control.

It might suck to be me, but it sucks a lot more to be my wife. Not only is her medical condition serious, her husband is more of a liability than an asset. The only person she can lean on is our son, and he has his own set of problems.

If anybody can help, it would be greatly appreciated. A miracle would really come in handy about now.

Today is bad; tomorrow is worse

I've been peaking at about 8 on my depression scale all day today. I have not been interested in anything at all today. Right now I'm pigging out on chili dogs and M&M's.

It's bad not being able to be with your family, especially when they are within walking distance. Not being able to see them hurts deeply, even when there are severe problems that exist between you and them.

So today has sucked, and tomorrow will be a complete waste for me. Except for feeding the birds, I may not get out of bed. Some Christmas.

Do me a favor, when you and your family is opening presents tonight or tomorrow, give them an extra hug for me.

The time is now

Closet time now, comments later.

Not doing well

I am working on an article about socialism, but it is overloading me. I have already been in the closet twice today and I am looking at a 3-peat very soon. I have been unable to search the news sites beyond what I got for the article.


Some Housekeeping

I wanted to clear some things up about myself and my family and why I am not with them. It seems appropriate to discuss this with the holidays coming up.

I write this blog because I have difficulty putting my thoughts into audible words. It takes me several hours to write a piece like this. I write out several thoughts, then I have to put them into an understandable sequence and expand on them to make them comprehensible. This is one way I communicate with my case manager and medication nurse, my two major mental health caregivers. I have to because I can't fully explain myself during my appointments.

Dealing with a mental illness is a lot like being in recovery. It's something that you have to battle every day. Complacency about the problem leads to a relapse, which in my case can be fatal. A relapse for me means I eat a gun, or step in front of a bus, or something else equally gruesome.

I am still emotionally unstable. I haven't been stable since the first time I crawled into the closet. It doesn't take much to push me into the closet. The only thing the medication does is level my playing field to a hill instead of a vertical cliff. With everything I do to make myself as stable as possible, it still isn't enough. I still have to head into the closet on a daily basis to combat the overloads I experience.

My family has serious fears about me. My instability has already put them through multiple terrible incidents. Serious issues exist between my family and I and because I cannot stabilize the load I already have. It would literally be suicide for me to try and take on the additional burden of my families problems. Especially since I do not have the capability to actually do anything to help out. The most I could do is commiserate with them, which does nothing but stir everybody up. I can't do anything to help out because I would get halfway through solving the problem, then fall apart and abandon the project, leaving things worse than if I had done nothing at all. I know this because I have done it before on several occasions.

My wife and son love me, but they are scared to death of me. For the sake of everyone's survival, I cannot be in their life. They have cut themselves off from me for their own survival, both emotionally and physically. They are already in a bad situation right now, for multiple reasons. But as bad as things are, it would be worse if I was around.

More people commit suicide around the holidays and I can see why. This should be a time of great joy to spend with family and friends. My family is only 2.5 miles away, but for all practical purposes they might as well be on the moon. I see little reason to celebrate anything this year. With my family afraid to deal with me, there isn't a lot that keeps me going.

The only thing that does keep me going is the fact that my family is dependent upon my disability money. If I blow my head off, that money ends. And for as bad as things are for them now, it would get a thousand times worse.

I'm stuck where I am with little hope for improvement. I don't have any bootstraps to pull myself up with anymore. The drugs barely work and therapy doesn't address the issues hindering my progress. Even though I don't have my family any more, they are the sole reason why I get out of bed in the morning. They are the reason why I must continue to exist.

It's not a lot, but it will have to be enough.

Can't write

As I write this, I have several open windows bookmarking things I want to comment upon. But I can't, I'm too busy beating my head into the wall. I don't know why, but I've been like this all day. So it's closet time for me and hopefully I'll have lots of juicy stuff for you on Sunday.

Too Much

Any time I think I can really go back to work, I do several things in a row. This morning I did all of my personal grooming, vacuumed around the apartment, cleaned Rocket and Corkys cage, then walked down the street and paid the rent. When I started news scanning was when I fell apart.

That got me two hours in the closet. Oh joy.

Of course, Rocket and Corkys incessant screeching didn’t help either. They got three trips to the bedroom this morning. The only way to get them to shut up is to either put them where they can’t see me, or let them out so they can fly over and sit on me. When I let them out, I have to wear a towel over my back and shoulders so they can chew and poop on that instead of on me.

I have such an exciting life, don’t you agree?

Manic swing

I have been having a lot of compulsive thoughts lately. That’s what drives me into the closet. I need the darkness and the quiet to get my racing thoughts under control.

I forced myself into a minor manic swing this afternoon, running around the apartment. I was picking up and rearranging minor things so I wouldn’t have to deal with the obsessive thoughts. I lost. I ended up in the closet anyway.

Obsessive thoughts are like a significant other that won’t let an argument drop. You’ve given in to all the demands, you’ve said, “I’m sorry” a dozen times, but they still don’t let it drop. Your SO is still in your face, telling you all kinds of hurtful things, and you can’t turn away or stop it. You’re stuck in the middle of it and the best you can hope for is a comfortable place to ride out the storm.

This is what prevents me from rejoining the regular workforce. I doubt a regular employer or coworkers would understand why I have to spend lunch curled up and whimpering under my desk.

Closet time

I did some shopping this afternoon, enjoying a nice walk in the beautiful weather. Ever since I got back, my condition has been deteriorating. I’ve already spent a couple of hours in the closet, I’m out for a bathroom break and I’m going back in, probably for the rest of the night.

Something is wrong, but I can’t put my finger on it. I know I don’t feel right, but I can’t explain it. I really wish I could see my case manager twice a week. At least I could bounce stuff like this off of him, and let him make the Mental Health Professional decisions for me. I used to see him twice a week, but budget cuts did away with that.

I want to write, I’m beginning to think that I need to write. But it doesn’t help when your side-effects deny you the ability to concentrate. My eyes and other muscles twitch, it seems like someone is playing around with the volume control with my hearing, it feels like I’m always tired. Things like that, and that’s just what I can think of through the mental haze I have right now.

Back in I go, trying to conquer the obsessive thoughts.

Off my feed

I seem to have developed a weird side-effect of my Abilify. I keep waking up throughout the night. Before I started this drug, I would wake up once about 2:30 am, roll over and go back to sleep. Now I seem to wake up every 30-45 minutes and not fully fall back to sleep.

I’m still getting up at 8:40 and feeling okay (other than my normal side-effects) but this sleep thing is really starting to get me upset. I like to sleep. It gives me a break from all of the obsessive thinking I do about all of the problems in my life.

Let me clarify what obsessive thinking is. When you are presented with a problem, you define the problem, think about some general possibilities for a solution, then work within the general solutions to make the specific solution that addresses the problem you defined. Then you go out and fix the problem. You do a lot of this process unconsciously.*

Well, I get stuck in the “define the problem” stage. I am up to my eyeballs in this problem and all I can do is spin around in circles like a dog chasing its tail. This is where I’m in the closet crying and banging my head on the wall. I spend a lot of the time in my closet.

*It was part of my Navy training as an Electronics Technician to be a problem solver. I carried that system throughout my life and it has always served me well. Before I was sick, I used to be the “go-to” guy when tough problems came up. I usually solved the problem with a subtle, inventive solution. At work.

At home I used the brute force approach and upset my wife to no end. She knows how inventive I can be, especially at work, but when it comes to personal problems I act like a bull. Head down and charge forward. “If brute force doesn’t work, you’re not using enough” and all that.

I don’t know what to do. I’ve gone through this at a low level of Abilify (10mg/day). Now I just started 15mg/day and I am wondering if this sleep problem will get better or worse. Maybe it will stabilize in a week or two, I don’t know. I’m stuck with it for at least another 3 weeks.

New Happy Pills

I visited my medication nurse today, and voiced concerns about the side-effect problems I have alluded to you before. She responded by cutting my Geodon by 2/3rds and starting my on another anti-psychotic, Abilify. While I don’t have schizophrenia, it does have properties useful in treating biploar disorder as well. I hope it addresses the issues so I can get a modicum of normalcy back in my life.

While the urge to blow my brains out is taken care of, the cost in side effects is a serious life-impacting problem that calls into question why I am going through the effort in the first place.

Living with mental illness is like being in recovery. You have to beat it every day, it’s never far from your thoughts and your life is forever changed because of it. The cost if you fail can be catastrophic, not only for yourself but your family as well.

Closet time for me

For some reason, I am peaking out at 8 on the depression scale. No reason, but I am contending with thoughts of hurting myself. I am cowering in the closet hoping this will pass soon. Until it does, no posting.

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