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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?


Monday, November 18, 2013

Adiós, Carro...

The strain of familial and workplace stress finally got to me and caused me to break my sobriety last Friday night, though I suppose I should say that I chose to break my sobriety as a way of taking personal responsibility.  Regardless, there goes four months of sobriety down the U-bend.  I finally just said "fuck it" and drank and smoked and played my video games.  I spent all day Saturday in bed (with a wicked hangover) being too depressed to get up until 6 p.m.  I didn't stay up very long before going back to bed.  Sunday I managed to drag myself out of bed sometime around noon and then ran around doing a lot of dreary chores.
 
The real problem is that my relapse has returned my thirst, which continued sobriety had kept at bay, and now I want to take refuge from my feelings and worries by running to the shelter of mother's beer and hard cider.  For example, today I can find little enthusiasm for being any kind of responsible adult and can hear the voice of temptation whispering in my ear...

Less Than Zero (Assuming 0 = 250)

On a more positive note, I have gotten my weight back down below 250 pounds.  I bit the bullet and weighed myself the other day.  My previous histrionics aside, my dragging myself out of bed at 6 a.m. hasn't been totally in vain.  I've added some strength training, which I hate, but the best way to get into shape is to do both cardio and weights.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Don't Ask Me Why

I had a total breakdown in my mood this afternoon.  I was actually crying on the drive home from work.  I had all but given up on my sobriety and then, inevitably, was shadowed by darker impulses that haunt me still.
 
When I used to share these moods with others, they invariably asked "Why?" and "What's wrong?"  But those questions rarely have any meaning for me.  That's the problem.  I have to constantly distract myself in order to see life as anything but unmitigated suffering—for myself and every other living thing, and my mood is constantly in danger of drowning in a sea of emotion.  It's no wonder I have the personality of an impulsive, insatiable addict.  I must constantly infuse my psyche with hits of pleasure to keep from disintegrating into worry and despair.  I run around in a constant, desperate flurry of effort to pique my interest and find enjoyment in something, anything.  Besides, it's not as if you have to look very far for things to make you unhappy, with all the indignities of life and the ceaseless burden of conscious existence.
 
Personal Roundup
 
I am frustrated by my attempts at weight loss.  I've been doing all the right things as far as my exercise program, but I wonder if I undo it all at the 11th hour with my evening binge eating.  I'm not sure if I've lost weight; I'm too scared to weigh myself.  If the scales tell me I'm just the same after almost three weeks of intensive effort, I'm pretty sure I'd give up completely.  When I look in the mirror, all I see is literally a disgusting sack of fat.  It hasn't given me hope that my hard work is being rewarded by positive change.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Mr. Roboto

"I just work here.  This is just a job."
 
This is the second week of implementing my new policy of keeping my private life out of work.  The more I think about it, the more convinced I am of my error in using my job as a social outlet.  So I've been strictly "all business" while going about my day.  I'm not a dickhole about it or anything.  I'm still polite and friendly and say pleasantries like, "Good morning."  But I don't initiate personal conversation, and I self-disclose very little or not at all.  I'm not even sure anyone's noticed, which is just fine by me.  {Redacted}, and I have made brief small talk when initiated by someone else so as not to be rude.  But I mostly keep my eyes open and my mouth shut.

Personal Roundup

I've been doing fantastic with my exercise regime and pretty good with everything else.  My eating has been flawless during the day, but then I freak out and eat everything I can fit in my mouth at night.  The time change and early dark is really hard on me.  I've been feeling low when I get home, so I eat to fill my time and the hole in my heart.  I've also spent money I shouldn't have on non-necessities, but I've managed to keep a closer eye on my finances.  I've planned out a budget to carry me through the end of the year and January of next, factoring in all the expenses for the upcoming holidays.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Just Won't Die

{Redacted.}
 
The whole situation has stressed me out to know end.  I'm feeling some distance with my family, and I don't really feel there's anyone I can call to commiserate with.  I spent the entire weekend busting my hump trying to clean up my apartment to make my environment more conducive to positive change on top of continuing to hit the gym Saturday, Sunday and today before work.  I gave serious thought about breaking my sobriety today.  I thought about doing worse.  But it would just be "I'll show you!" acting out, and I'm better than that.  As it is, I'm going to take my meds and just go to bed.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

All In the Family

There's nothing like family to make one's barely-contained neuroses spill over the sides.  I'm amazed at how such a short interaction can awaken so many dormant unresolved feelings.  It's no wonder to me that I'm grinding my teeth down to stubs in my sleep.  Basically, I'm annoyed with every single person I'm related to, but that's what unconditional love gets you.  I love my family, and I'm incredibly blessed to have them in my life.  But the fissures in our relationships run deep, and it's not always easy to keep the proper perspective.
 
Shake That Booty
 
I've managed to get myself to the gym five times out of the last six days, which is like working out twice a day for a year for a normal person.  Considering how poorly I treat my body, I have surprisingly unrealistic expectations of my workouts.  If I stick to my diet and exercise for a couple of days, I expect to see Hugh Jackman staring out at me from the mirror and am continually shocked to see Jabba the Hutt instead.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Blabby McOvershare

{Redacted.}
 
Looking to Myself
 
One of the most valuable things I learned in therapy was that I have no control over people's opinions or reactions.  The only thing I can control is my behavior.  Because I'm socially isolated and just plain lonely, I think I have made the mistake of trying to fulfill my need for social connection at my place of employment.  With someone like me, that is asking for trouble.  I'm going to try very hard to switch off my personality at work and adopt an entirely neutral persona.  Always polite, always friendly, always helpful, but never revealing anything but superficial charm.  In my private world, I am focused on moving my life in a more positive direction, and I should keep chanting my professionalism for poets mantra in my head:  "I just work here.  This is just a job."

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The State of Things

All in all, I'm doing well as well as doing (or not doing) all the right things.  I just wish my mood weren't so consistently in the toilet, but such is my lot in life.
 
Hell Is Other People
 
I find that most of my problems are caused by other people.  I am unable to talk to my family in any meaningful way about my life, and I really don't have many close friends.  Besides, a lifetime of intense, unfulfilled desire has turned my emotional need into a hole with no bottom.  Just ask the friends I've "worn out" over the years.  So I pretty much try to keep things to myself.
 
The problem with that strategy is that my need to connect and to talk out my feelings overwhelms my conversations during the normal course of my day, particularly at work.  This invariably leads to regret and the wish that I'd just kept my mouth shut.  So I think maybe I'll process things on this blog and return to holding my tongue in my interpersonal interactions, hence my return to the blogosphere.
 
Today's Drama
 
{Redacted.}

Personal Roundup

I'm doing really well compared to last time, except for my spiraling debt, obviously.  When I'm drinking, I rack up expenses indulging my vices, but when I'm sober, I rack up expenses indulging my nickel-and-dime whims to keep my sobriety intact.  Now that sobriety has become somewhat habitual, I'm trying very hard to tackle my debt.

Days Sober: 105 {+97}
Weight: 252 pounds {-10}

Debt: $13,957 {+5,085}

Friday, July 26, 2013

First World Problems

Part of the negative chatter that reverberates in my head, particularly when I'm trying to improve myself, is a feeling of guilt for being absorbed in my own problems when I have lived such a charmed life compared to 99.9% of humanity.
 
Working downtown, I see people trapped in the misery of their lives every day.  It's tempting to believe that everyone has the resources to make the most out of their lives if only they would apply themselves, but I have less and less faith in that proposition.  How many of these poor souls walking around grew up in an intact home with loving parents willing to rescue and assist them whenever life turned sour?  I am one of the lucky few to have that, which is why I feel guilty about my failure to thrive.

Wallowing in self-pity isn't helpful or productive, and we should always be mindful (and thankful) for the blessings in our lives.  But failing to spend the energy to improve myself doesn't help anybody less fortunate than myself in any way.  And one of the greatest things I ever learned in therapy is that I can't assist anyone else until I'm in a stable position myself.  We all have to live our lives within the context we find ourselves in.  We all have to tend to our own needs with the tools and resources we have at our disposal while hopefully being kind and generous and open in our daily interpersonal interactions.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Shy Little Bunny

I don’t actually have anybody to talk to, so here I am.

I’ve been so good, but it’s been so hard. I just feel so tired and unhappy all of the time.  And yet I haven’t had a drink since July 8th, and I’ve been trying to eat better (not great, but better) and take a bit of exercise. All of this while holding down a demanding job and dealing with a never-ending stream of family drama.

Every single day of my sobriety, I’ve said, “Fuck it! I’m going to drink.”  Being constantly dysthymic means that stealing moments of pleasure by drinking, smoking and playing my video games is an almost irresistible siren's song.  I want to indulge myself, but I'm actually holding out for a longer-term payoff.  I've even superstitiously kept the beer bottles and used ashtray from my last drinking session around because I didn't want to dramatically clear them away, only to fall right back into my pattern of usage, as I've done so many times before.  Of course, any attempt at making better choices ramps up the negative chatter in my head to the point where I'm constantly on the verge of a panic attack at the inevitability of death.

My Game Pausing Strategy

I can't even be a simple drunk without being a complete freak about it.  All summer I've been drinking several times a week while playing the first two Mass Effect video games, but I have to carefully co-ordinate my alcohol and my gameplay so that I have enough of each and my progress of inebriation matches my progress in the game.  (By the end of the night I'm too drunk to follow and process what's going on in the game.)

Anyway, right now I'm at the endgame for Mass Effect 2, which is longer than the regular missions without any convenient pauses where I can save and stop.  Since this disrupts my normal drinking pattern, I've used it to disrupt my drinking itself.  I know it all sounds kind of weird, but I'm a weird guy.  The point is that it's been working for me.  Since July 8th, I've actually been in the grocery store with my hand on beer and have been able to talk myself down from giving in.

The problem is that I've been excited about the prospect of diving into Mass Effect 3.  You have to understand that, given my psychological problems, being enthusiastic about anything in my life—even something as irrelevant as a video game—is absolutely intoxicating to me, if you’ll pardon the expression.  But I'm afraid that if I get back into the normal rhythm of a new video game, I'll end up falling back into the rhythm of drinking.  I'm probably going to have to hold off on the pleasures of Mass Effect 3 so that I can hold on to my sobriety.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Snap...Crumble...and Plop!

I feel as if I am close to the breaking point, and not in a good way.  Still, a good friend is coming to visit during the long Memorial Day weekend, so that's something to look forward to.  It's mostly unlikely I'll go missing/dead/institutionalized between now and then.
 
The rain water falls through a crack in the ceiling
And I'll have to spend my time on repair
Just like the rain, I'll be always falling...
Only to rise and fall again
{The Thompson Twins, "If You Were Here"}

Sunday, May 5, 2013

It's Worked So Far, But We're Not Out Yet

2013 was supposed to be my year.  I dried out over my 2012 Christmas vacation with the intention of hitting 1/1/2013 running.  Unfortunately, my momentum didn't last long.

I'm unhappy most of the time.  I'm not trying to be a sad sack, and that's not a plea for sympathy.  It's a simple statement of fact and in line with the monstrously random and indifferent nature of existence.  Even on a good day, I have to devote an inordinate amount of energy to staving off depression and anxiety and keeping my mood above water.  Most days are not good days as I am a powerless, unfulfilled white-collar serf with no passion for anything in life.
 
The point of all this is explaining why I drink.  An evening of drinking, smoking and playing some video game is the only outlet of pleasure I can come up with.  All the self-destruction seems worth it for that small window of happiness and enjoyment.  Also, I can only ever care about how I feel right now.  Present self-discipline and denial in the hopes of some vague future payoff rarely has any traction with me.
 
The Story Up Till Now
 
I've been drinking regularly for the past several weeks and months.  I drank last Wednesday night.  I didn't drink the next night (as I can usually hold my resolve for 24 hours), but I still stayed up too late.  I was exhausted all the next day at work.  I calculated that my personal excesses and the resulting lack of concentration and focus at my job has put me 25 hours short of the billable hours I should have for April.  (That is very bad.)  Anyway, I had planned to drink Friday night; I was even in the store after work to buy beer.  But I managed to walk away.  I wish I could claim some kind of steely determination or insight.  The fact of the matter was that I was too fatigued to even muster any enthusiasm for getting wasted.  I went home, fed the cat and went to bed.
 
Saturday and today I moved forward with tepid resolve, starting by actually getting out of bed before 8:00 at night.  (I've spent I don't know how many of the past weekends entirely in bed.)  I've done some cleaning and took two garbage bags of beer bottles to recycling.  I've done some stuff for work, though nowhere near what I needed.  Frankly I'm pessimistic, but there is "nothing better" for me to do.
 
Personal Roundup
 
My sobriety stands on the edge of a knife, my body is a disaster, and my livelihood is in peril.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

No One Ever Knows or Loves Another

I feel like no one really "gets" me.  One could easily argue that no one really gets anyone else.  And fuck me, but I haven't had a circle of friend that I relate to in over a decade and a half.  Don't get me wrong...I have some wonderful people in my life, but I feel estranged even from those old friends with whom I've shared so much.  I feel alienated and disconnected.  A large part of this is an "all or nothing" mentality of whatever personality disorder most aptly describes me, but I feel myself pulling away from those few still left in my life all the same.
 
Tired Old Hack
 
I've decided to shut down my other blog and leave this one on a "need to whine" basis only.  No matter what I do, people don't want what I'm offering.  I'm almost to the point of giving up on my dream of writing altogether.  But that would inevitably lead to thoughts of self-destruction, as I can conceive of no other purpose to my existence.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Dreams of Avarice

While walking at lunch last week, I lost myself with luxurious abandon in the most pedestrian of fantasies:  winning the lottery.  I buy lottery tickets twice a week almost every week.  Though my employment situation is far less dire than it used to be, the infinitesimal hope of these tickets is often still all that gets me to put one foot in front of another.  (I used to play numbers of personal significance and saturated with meaning, but now I just get randomly generated tickets as I have made peace with the fact that life is a random event at the mercy of an endless stream of random events.)  In my defense, I take this fantasy to a very bright place.  I don't imagine how I would crush all of my enemies; I imagine all of the people I could help.  Paternalisticly, with a Jovian air, but helping nonetheless.
 
But my lofty optimism came crashing down as cruel reality drowned me once again, and I knew in my heart of hearts that this dream, like all of my dreams before, would never come true.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Living in Quiet Despair

I have been desperately struggling with my mood for I don't know how long.  I was jazzed with the idea of making some positive changes in my life at the new year, but my depression has made short work of it.  My energy level is so depleted it is all I can do to get out of bed in the morning and go to work.  (I spent the entirety of the last two weekends in bed.)  I've also gone back to my bad habits.  But the reason I blow my sobriety by drinking, or blow my diet by eating crap, or blow my budget by spending money on stuff I can't afford, is that I'm frantic for anything that will give me any amount of pleasure.  My unhappiness devours all of my best intentions in exchange for brief glimmers of pleasure.
 
My only saving grace is that I live in quiet despair.  I don't really drag anyone else (anymore) into my struggles to keep my head above water.  I just silently let the crush of time slide me further into obsolescence and oblivion, pouring all of my angst into a blog no one—not even my closest family or friends—actually reads.

Dark Thoughts

But a lack of pleasure isn't the bottom floor of my seasonally-affected disordered mind.  I teeter on the terrifying ledge of plummeting into the canyon of a panic attack and occasionally grapple with more sinister, borderline schizo intrusions such as a vision of a solipsistic apocalypse.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Derailed

Well, I kinda fucked up my best beginning-of-the-year intentions.  I drank Saturday night, and that derailed all of my other efforts.  I've been feeling kind of low, and part of me believes the drinking/smoking/video game scenario is the only pleasure I'm capable of experiencing.  I think part of the problem even before Saturday was that I was already letting my diet, exercise and budget slide.  It's in my nature to have to be disciplined in every aspect of my life, or none at all.
 
"Surviving, Not Thriving"
 
That's how I describe how I live most of my life.  I can hold down a job and live independently, without even much outward appearance of unhappiness, but I'm just doing what has to be done.  I'm not really putting anything extra into life or getting anything particularly positive out of it.  I still have plans.  God help me, at 43 years old, I still have plans.  But my past gives me no justification for being sanguine about the future.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

My 15 Minutes

Well, I may have peaked in fame. My blog is the number 1 and number 3 returns if you plug "adventures in anhedonia" into Google, and for some inexplicable reason I had a record 52 page views on Dec. 28th.

Unfortunately, I don't show up at all if you use any other search engine. (Google owns "Blogger.com")  Neither my new blog nor "Michael St. John" (as myself) shows up anywhere either, no matter what search site you use.

Just think, all my friends will be able to say "I knew him when..." As in, "I knew him when he wasn't so desperately clutching at straws."

Page Count Update

My page hits for this blog are still aspiring to double digits, but my newest blog "What Not To Do" has been doing amazingly well, at least for me.  I've had over a thousand page views since yesterday.  In a previous post , I theorized that self-absorbtive nature of "Adventures in Anhedonia" isn't the only reason I'm struggling for readership.  This blog is all over the map and inconsistent in tone, content and updates.  In my new one I'm focusing more on entertainment with a more unified theme and regular biweekly updates.  Please check it out.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Staying the Course

I have been having the worst time concentrating and remaining focused!  It's really been a problem the past couple of days.  I have no way of knowing if it's a short-term problem, such as my body and psyche adjusting to the positive changes.  Or if it's something more long-term, such as seasonal depression or a depressive episode on top of my dysthymia.

So far so good as far as keeping my nose clean.  I'm not going to drink tonight, and I have some measure of confidence that I won't be drinking tomorrow night.  My diet, exercise and budget have kinda taken a nosedive, but I'm hopeful of getting them back on track.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Thirsty

I let myself get too tired again, and I wanna drink ... wanna drink ... wanna drink ... wanna drink ... wanna drink ... wanna drink ... wanna drink ... wanna drink ... wanna drink ... wanna drink ... wanna drink ... wanna drink ... wanna drink ... wanna drink ... wanna drink!
 
But I'm not.  Tonight.  Tommorrow will be the real test.  Or maybe even more so Saturday...

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

It's A New Year, Bitches!

Time to take back control.  I've never liked clichés, but I've decided that I simply won't accept any more excuses or any more delays.  Granted it's only day two of the Great Turnaround, but I've sabotaged other attempts in a lot less than 48 hours.  It's the drinking that's going to be the thing, I think.  I had convinced myself that spending a night drinking and smoking with a nice computer game was the only pleasurable thing in my life.  I'm not exactly convinced otherwise, but I did get a good week and a half of vacation to dry out.  So that's gotta count for something.

Of course, every positive step demands a command performance of my "Anxieties on Parade."  Everything from deep-rooted paranoia to fears that I'm going to set my house on fire because I left my bathroom light on crowds the stage of my mind, singing and dancing a chorus of self-defeat.

Personal Roundup

Days Sober: 12
Weight: 262 pounds
Debt: $8,872