Welcome to my World

Where else can you get a really good look at a train wreck of emotional dysfunction
and not be right in the middle of the thing?


Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Week Is a Week

[Y]ou did it for a week, which admittedly for you is a record.
{Saffy, Absolutely Fabulous}
 
Well, I actually managed to stick with my diet and exercise regimen for seven days, so things have been going all right.  I exercised every day and didn't binge eat or consume any extraneous sugar, and I couldn't tell you the last time I was able to remain so disciplined.  I've already lost a couple of pounds and have gotten my BMI down from morbidly obese to garden-variety, "I'm a middle-aged American" obese.  So that's progress.
 
I even managed to basically stick with my budget as well, although I still ended up adding to my debt.  Obstructive sleep apnea is the newest focus in my endless quest to find some relief in my depressive symptoms.  My health insurance co-pay to see the sleep specialist was $50 just by itself, which tanked my checking account, and I had to use a credit card to buy groceries for the week.  Even with insurance, my part of the sleep study a week from today is going to run $1,000 or more (and that's before I get a CPAP machine), so my efforts to pay down my debt have once again been derailed.  However, I do think it's important to see if I can get better sleep, and I'm hoping it makes a significant improvement in my energy and mood.
 
I haven't done anything with my writing, though I've made some strides in getting my desk at work in order.  I had to e-mail HR about only getting a third of my billable hours during the first week of April, and while they were nominally supportive, I was upset with how they characterized the extent of accommodation they've had to extend me for my depression.  I also have to anxiously wait for the second shoe to drop when the attorney I actually work for sees my billing for last month.  I'm trying my best to keep things in perspective and not let it all get to me.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Mayday Mayday

The ketamine infusions were a bust and a thoroughly unpleasant experience.  I guess it's not a complete mindfuck for some people, but it certainly was for me.  And the setting where I got my treatment was lacking in many ways as well.  The only thing I accomplished that week was finishing my playthrough of Dragon Age: Inquisition.  I thought a lot about the game while tripping balls on the ketamine; it became a sort of focus for my mind.  Whenever you destroy a demon in the game, they sort of bleed out of this reality and back into the Fade, the realm of spirits.  That concept stuck with me as the drug distorted my sense of time and reality.
 
 
I came back to the desperate, lonely stress of my life and my job with no psychological gains and continuing to wish for the courage to end myself.  In the next few days, when I turn in my billing for the month of April, I'll have to explain my lack of hours, for one week in particular, as the result of my issues with mood and attention.  HR knew the purpose of my trip, but I'm not looking forward to how that loss of billing will go over with the attorneys I actually work for.
 
The only thing I've had any energy for is my anger.  I've been harboring lingering anger towards everyone I know because I irrationally accuse them of not being solicitous enough while I deal with my severe depression alone, even as I often ignore those who've touched base with me.  I've even been slightly angry with my parents, the people who gave me $3,000 with no strings attached simply in the hopes that the treatment might help me.  When I analyze that anger, I realize that it stems from the fact that they don't rush in and take care of everything in my life as if I were a child, so my emotions are more suited to someone who's five not pushing fifty.
 
The Power of Lowered Expectations
 
I've decided that I just need to focus on the practical and stop expecting a change in mood.  I have two options: kill myself or deal with my life.  Since I'm not going to do the former, then by process of elimination, I have no choice but to devote myself to the latter.  My sobriety has been a major stabilizing factor in my life, and I need to remember that and give myself credit.  There are three areas of my life that I need to improve in order to further stabilize things: my weight, my finances and my writing.  My every waking moment needs to be moving those three things forward and none of them backward, so I've chosen this arbitrary date of May 1st to, once again, take steps in that direction.
 
I'm not going to worry about finding a better or less stressful job.  If something comes along, fine, but I'm just going to force myself to invest as much energy as possible into the job I have now and reflect on the financial foundation it provides.  I need to focus on my billing on a going-forward basis and weather the storm last month will create.  Doing so will reduce my stress and give me back my non-work time.  I'm not even going to worry about publishing, just writing.  (The three stories I submitted to the new writers contest were all rejected out of hand, by the way.)  I can't do anything about whether or not my writing will ever be appreciated.  I can only invest the time to organize my ideas and create a body of work.  I'm not going to worry about the world or politics or public policy or public opinion.  I can't help the world, and the world can't help me.  I barely have the psychological resources to keep my life going and won't wallow in guilt that I can't help others, even with their much greater need.  I have one thing to offer the world: my ideas and my writing.  And the world can take it or leave it.  (Leave it, if the past is any indication.)
 
If I get a handle on those three things while continuing my sobriety, then maybe, just maybe, I'll be in a position to work on the only two goals I've had in my life for the past 30 years: finding a relationship and getting published.  There is nothing better for me to do than to build up the things I actually have some control over and put off worrying about the life goals beyond my control until some future time.  I'm not happy, and I don't anticipate being happy, or even being able to enjoy pleasurable things most of the time.  I need to stop chasing pleasure and give up on transient enjoyment just like I've given up on drugs and alcohol for a year and seven months.
 
A Stacked Deck
 
You know, I've realized that it's been a repugnance towards hope that has been driving the engine of my depression these past several weeks.  I just couldn't stomach forcing myself to do anything positive when I knew my mood wouldn't follow and it would all inevitably collapse again.  The reduction to pragmatism I've outlined here sounds well and good, but even it is driven by that detestable emotion.  My past dictates that it's a matter of when, not if, my resolve once again fails me.  Our minds have evolved through the ages to protect us from the fickle chaos that is the true nature of reality and the fact that all of our lives come to nothing.  Hope is the face of that lie.  I've had to come to grips with the cold, hard facts that, for someone with my problems, it isn't a matter of finding help; help (in any real sense) simply doesn't exist for me.  I've pretty much pursued every available option without success.  But I have no viable alternative, so wearing this perspective will have to do for now, until I once again bottom out emotionally and need to construct another narrative to blind me to the inevitability of despair.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Riding the Crazy Train

The mind can go either direction under stress-toward positive or toward negative: on or off.  Think of it as a spectrum whose extremes are unconsciousness at the negative end and hyperconsciousness at the positive end.  The way the mind will lean under stress is strongly influenced by training.
{Frank Herbert, Dune}
 
I had my first ketamine infusion today, and it was extremely unpleasant like a very bad trip.  Ketamine is a dissociative, and I found myself in a terrifying psychic space where time had little meaning and each thought rippled further into a constrictive prison of the mind.  The whole fundamental nature of existence and reality, undefined and yet forever inescapable, seemed to dissolve into a chaos of endless fear.  I had at least 2-3 panic attacks and was sure I was going to have a heart attack and die.  I managed to ride it out, but I'm anticipating tomorrow's appointment with trepidation.
 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Amended Assessment

But quick as a shot came the sickness, like a detective that had been watching around the corner and now followed to make his arrest.
{Alexander DeLarge, A Clockwork Orange}
 
Every goal that I have for myself—writing, getting myself in some kind of shape to attract a mate, unburying myself from debt—inevitably, invariably gets derailed by my mental illness and depression.  I try so hard, running with any improvement in mood, pouncing on any momentum and believing that, this time, things will be different.  That's why this blog often seems bipolar when reading through the entries, even though I don't suffer from that particular affliction.  The most apt metaphor for me is someone with one foot nailed to the floor, forever limping along in a circle—getting nowhere—while life just passes by.  My efforts always devolve into pleasure-seeking: expensive calories, movies/TV and video games (now that I've managed to stay away from alcohol and drugs) while practical matters of my job, fitness, finances and personal environment get thrown over, even as they weigh me down with stress and feelings of failure.
 
I spent most of last week wishing I had the courage to end myself, since cowardice is often the only thing that stays my hand.  As I get older, it seems harder to believe the lie that one day things will be better, and I have very little use for my existence.  My psychiatrist says that there is nothing further he can do for me pharmacologically.  He suggested I take a leave of absence from work and go into intensive outpatient therapy, but that would just cause me more problems while likely solving none.  I have no social support to speak of and spend most of my non-work time alone.  It's not that I don't have wonderful people in my life who care about me, but my need is so great that it wouldn't be fair to overwhelm those people in what would be an endless drain.  And I'm not at a place where I could nurture new and healthy relationships and haven't been for some time.

The Audacity Delusion of Hope

I have just arrived in Atlanta today to try a week of ketamine infusions, a new and somewhat experimental procedure, once more grasping at hope.  It has only recently been used for the therapeutic treatment of depression, and this is the closest place to me that offers it.  My time and monetary investment in TMS didn't work out "as my hopes have flown before."  Even if this new treatment helps, it's unlikely to last for any significant amount of time, and I don't have the resources to make bimonthly trips out of state for something that isn't covered by insurance.  As it is, my parents had to give me the $3,000 to cover my trip and treatment, which they generously gave to me freely out of kindness and love.  I do feel tremendously grateful to have such caring parents, but my mind always warps it into guilt for having so many advantages over other people and yet still can't get it together.  But I've been desperate, and the desperate will try almost anything.

On a more sanguine note, I did have an auspicious fortune in my Chinese food last week: "Traveling to the south will bring you unexpected happiness."

My Healing Brain

Once I managed to stick with protracted sobriety, especially after a year, I really expected more of my brain to come back.  My depression has a measurable effect on my cognition and memory, but I anticipated the avoidance of recreational chemicals to clear out some of the fog.  While that wasn't the case for the longest time, I do think I'm seeing some improvement.  I still have the attention span of a fruit fly, but I think my focus has clarified somewhat.  I've been replaying the Dragon Age: Inquisition video game, which has an extremely complex and multifaceted story built upon a richly established set of lore.  I've noticed myself being better able to remember details and tie things together more easily.  The same has been true of the recent audiobooks I've been listening to in the car.  So that, at least, is something.

I am the Inquisitor

Personal Roundup

Sobriety: 1 year, 6 months, 2 weeks
Weight: 241 pounds
Debt: $24,200

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Next President?

But sir, with all due respect: That's the argument of a five-year-old.
{Anderson Cooper}

Friday, March 11, 2016

For the Marty Tells Me So

I have submitted three of my short stories (the only three that are finished, in fact) to a new writers contest.  Just today, I also submitted some of my poems to two magazines.  I include a link to this blog on all of my manuscripts in the vain hope of creating a brand around my pseudonym and artistic endeavors.  My friend Marty suggested that perhaps I shouldn't include a link to a blog whose last entry four months ago sounds like a suicide note, so I decided to post an update.
 
For six weeks in November and December last year, I underwent transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) at a local psychiatric clinic.  The technician who performed the procedure on me every day also provided daily counseling, and she was an incredible help.  I really thought the TMS was making a difference.  But halfway through my treatment, I came down with a mild case of strep throat, and it seemed like all of my progress got derailed.  I don't know how much it ended up helping me or not.  A couple of month ago, my psychiatrist started me on a new medication.  I seem to have responded quite well to it, and the sexual side effects of the previous medication have gone completely.  I have also managed to remain sober for a year and five months now, and things seem much better, at least compared to the constant depressive symptoms I'd been experiencing.
 
I'm trying to capitalize on my improved energy and motivation as best I can.  I managed to go to the gym more than twenty time last month, and I'm doing my best to eat better.  I've applied for another job where I would make more money and wouldn't have to bill my time.  The first interview last week seem to go well, and I'm hoping that I get a second.  I'm trying to organize my writing and have made an effort at publishing with the aforementioned submissions.  All in all, I've decided that my first, best destiny is to write and that I need to focus all of my attention and drive into moving that forward.
 
Boomerang Cat
 
About the time I started my TMS treatment, I received an e-mail that a cat I adopted a couple of years ago was turned into the humane society.  In 2012, one of my two cats (Bailey) died, and I decided to adopt another cat because the remaining cat (Pfeiffer) was so close to her lost companion.  I went to the pound and took possession of an older male (christened Dewey by my friends' daughter) and brought him home to meet his new sibling.  Dewey tried to walk up and be friends, but Pfeiffer made his life a living hell.  After a couple of months I decided that I wasn't going to be able to keep him.
 
I had a few false starts rehoming him, but he always came back to me.  I finally found a situation that I thought would be ideal until I got the e-mail as a result of the microchip I never switched over.  I don't know how long he'd been out on the street, but poor Dewey was a terrible mess.  He was all but skin and bones, and he had sores all over from flea bites.  However, lots of food and TLC has brightened his outlook.  Now that Pfeiffer has passed away, he has the apartment to himself and me to cater to his every whim.
 
A King on His Throne

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Rambles

killing myself seems like the only viable option what am i living for when every day is a struggle against misery and unhappiness i force myself to put one foot in front of the other like navigating a nightmare and do all that is expected none of which i want to do i try and try and try and try chasing a will-o-wisp of hope that never comes true anger bitterness loneliness and unfulfilled potential are my only rewards how much longer should i try when it's already too late bang and then gone no note no grand gesture and they can sort out the mess i leave behind i'd probably clean my toilets though but already i make the mistake of thinking of after "even the atheist thinks he'll find an answer" but of course it's all moot when i'm overridden by fear fear of death fear of pain fear of hell so i endure cursing Other with every breath

Monday, October 5, 2015

In Brief

Spent most of yesterday in bed in spite of having so many stressful work things hanging over my head.  Went to my parents' for dinner last night for my father's birthday.  Didn't tell them I was a year sober.  As I left, my father told me, "Cheer up."  Went to bed wondering if slashing my veins at the elbows would bleed me out or just make me pass out.  Went to bed crying.  Woke up wondering if I had the courage to just give up and lie there until they hauled me away.  Went to work.  E-mailed my boss about the time I would have to take for TMS treatment, but she never responded.  Believe she thinks I'm weak and too much trouble.  Spent most of my lunch break wondering if I had the stones to buy a gun.  Stayed at work until 6:45 p.m. finishing at least one thing.  Bagged the gym.  Came home and ate.  Wrote this.  Going to bed.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

One Year Sober

So happy birthday to me.


A Lost Cause

I'm tired of fighting...I'm tired of fighting
Fighting for a lost cause
{Beck, "Lost Cause"}

I was really hoping that I would see a measurable improvement in my mood at this stage in my sobriety.  I have to rethink my expectations for my mood and its impact on my life, even with protracted abstinence.  I also have to rethink my tendency to use my efforts to stay sober as an excuse for my lack of progress in any other area of my life.  In spite of my high hopes, I haven't noticed any real improvement with my new medication, either.  I don't feel any worse (if you don't count the fact that it's chemically castrated me), but I certainly don't feel any better.  I guess I thought I would be in a different place than still having every day be a constant struggle and occasionally wishing I had the courage to kill myself.  I'm still angry, unhappy, unpleasant to be around and jealous of the good fortune of others.  And, unfortunately, my experience doesn't support a foundation for hope.
 
However, in another display of unwarranted optimism, I had an appointment yesterday about a recently-developed procedure for depression using magnetic fields, which sounds like New Age witchcraft, but it's actually based on sound science and administered by a psychiatrist.  Of course, the real challenge is how I'm going to pay for it and convince my boss that I need to take off two hours a day for the next six weeks.
 
Take Me Away, Dragon Age

Now, as when I began this most recent journey of sobriety, the only thing that remotely interests me is the anticipation of playing the same much-beloved video game that I was anticipating back then and all the DLC I have yet to experience.  I just try not to think about the fact that a virtual world and a virtual romance have infinitely more significance and gratification for me than my supposed real life.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

How Will I Feel?

One drawback in my middle-aged efforts to improve myself and put together some sort of life is the fact that I never know how I'm going to feel at any future time.  The intensity of my moods so colors my perspective & my motivations/goals & my ability to simply cope that I never really know where I'll be at mentally.  Trying to make long-range plans with that kind of handicap is particularly challenging.  I see it as trying to construct a building while all of the measurements are constantly changing.

I've been operating on the near-religious faith that continued sobriety and positive changes will result in a more level, dependable mood.  But I have to wonder if I actually have any rational foundation based on my personal experience to believe that.  Will I ever be able to construct anything like the life I envision, or will my mood forever defeat me?  Seeing that I've spent close to three decades chasing this mythic utopia, I'm less sanguine about the potential for reality versus the fantasies that have sustained me.
 
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