Vanity or Sanity?

February 17, 2012

“I’ll trade your vanity for my sanity.” I said to Marcus in 1995.

We never made the trade.

I’ve had another blah day today. I had to do a “Stress test” at my Cardiologist early this morning. My mom likes to take me there to make sure I am ok etc. I slept at my mom’s last night.

I was instructed not to drink caffeine for 12 hours before and no smoking after midnight last night. Yes, I have a heart condition and I started smoking again. Not even close to half as much as I used to. I don’t drink that much coffee. But that’s not the point. It was rough waking up and staying up then going for a stress test. I was stressed from not having coffee and smoking.

I was there for over 3hours and or was mostly waiting around and 2 photo sessions after putting fluid in me for the machine. The only “test” I took was a 10-15 minute treadmill until my hear rate was up to 150 beats a minute. The Doctor was fun to look at except for her wedding ring. Well, it was a nice wedding ring. You get the idea.

I left there so groggy for some reason. Mom took me food shopping. She took me. I paid. Ha. Then we did lunch and I finally bought a coffee. A “French Toast Latte” actually, with 4 shots of espresso. I drank up and had a smoke finally. Ahh. I drank the whole thing and my ass was still dragging.

I came home with mom. I sleep here some Friday nights so I can help my uncle Saturday mornings. I helped my mom with a few things and cleaned out my broken down car in her driveway. I donated it to Purple Heart and they are picking it up on Monday.

It’s a sad loss. I loved that car but it needs too much work and I can’t afford it right now. I did score a bunch of coins from it. SO I took a walk to the bank to cash them in. TD bank charges 6% on the coin machine if you don’t have an account with them. I’ve and accounts with them for years even when they were Commerce Bank and they never charged. Now I don’t have an account and they charged me over a dollar and I ended up with just under 17 dollars. Oh well, it was still found money.

I took a walk into town to get some smokes and splurge on a Starbucks coffee (half decaf at this point) since I had some extra money. Chatted with the friendly kid at CVS I see every week about cigarettes mostly. My old friend from when I worked at Starbucks was working and we chatted it up a bit. One of the girls I used to see there almost every night a couple years back looked up at me and smiled. I smiled back. I used to think she was cute. She still is. I just don’t always think about these things all of the time. Just at my Doctor today.

“Are you the same guy..?” She asked then paused.

“That used to be her every night? Yes.” I answered.

“You lost a lot of weight. You look great.” She said.

I thanked her and almost told he she looked good too but wasn’t sure if that’s what I’m supposed to say or not anymore. I talked to her while she made my drink.

“You used to drive that big red car right?” She asked.

“Yeah. I’m not driving it now.” I said.

“What are you driving?”

“Nothing.”

“Where do you live now?”

“Fairview.”

“Where’s that?”

“ It’s on the edge of Camden near Collingswood. Where do you live?”

“Bellmawr.”

“Cool. Nice seeing you again.”

“Great to see you. Stop in more.”

I took my drink in a great mood. I gained a little of my weight back in the past month and have been a little self-conscious. I hadn’t shaved in a week and my hair was un-kept today so “looking good” was the last thing on my mind. It felt good to hear it. When I first lost the weight after a month or so recovering from my heart surgery months ago I was so confident. I was able to wear clothes I couldn’t fit into for over 4 years. That faded away fast with other priorities making me forget.

It occurred to me that I didn’t even feel bad about not having a car or even a job because “I looked good” to quote my friend John, even when I was at my worst.

I guess it was a good day. Because other people’s opinion’s of my looks makes me feel better than my accomplishments.

In reality I’d rather have created something like a piece of art, poetry or a novel than look good but I was nice to hear it.

I’ll keep my sanity (the little I have) and you can keep your vanity.


Existing in Pain – Daily Rant 2 Days Late

July 15, 2011

Note: I wrote this on Friday but haven’t had the chance to post it. I’ll give you an update at the end.

Woke up way too early. Trouble breathing. Asthma? Then the stomach turned and I had to go. To the bathroom. Funny. I have no bath but I call it the bathroom. I went. Felt a little better.

Face hurt. A little at first. It always starts with a little. It got worse.

Trouble breathing. I was smoking. Maybe I smoke too much. Then the racing thoughts and the heart followed. I made coffee. Good for asthma. I heard. I heard a lot of things so I drank coffee and a lot of water with my 4 morning meds. The stomach and heart beating anxiety kicked in as I tried to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I had to be somewhere to help a friend with a ride this morning. The meds were kicking in. I started to feel a little better as I got dressed and mapped the address of my friend. The breathing was like hyper ventilating. It came and went. It went when the pills kicked in. Pills. Have to take ‘em if I don’t want pain or anxiety. I did.

I got a text just as I was psyching myself up for a long ride. It was my friend’s boyfriend canceling the ride I was to give. The long trip. Over. Now I can stay home and try and relax. Or feel pain and anxiety.

It goes away eventually. Drugs kick in. Feel better. Wear off. Feel worse.

Need a nap. No nap. I guess the stress is up there. Anxiety.

Watched a couple of movies. Did a few tings on the internet. Hurt. Can’t breathe.

All over the place. God. Bad. Breathe freely. Breathe naturally. Breathe short and slow. Loss of breath. Chest pain. Face pain. It’s all running together.

I look up the symptoms and talk to friends that have similar conditions. They confirm that it’s just a panic attack. Combined with my face pain. It hurts.

Don’t want to complain. Complain. Complaints. Revealing my pain to you and everyone else is  . . .  like getting a mew therapist.

Just repeating my day out loud. No answers. Just venting.

Conclusions come after solutions after diagnosis. Am I sure it’s not just  another panic attack in a way I haven’t experienced.

Experienced. Weird pain. Something different.

Do I need a hospital or not?  Go to bed and sleep. Get up early tomorrow to do some work for my uncle.

Good. I’m falling asleep as I write this.

Note: Aftermath- I was hoping that a good night sleep would be the cure. It wasn’t. I woke up at 6:30 am with the deep breaths and panic for no reason. I was tired but that was normal. I drank less coffee and took my morning meds, More face pain. I took pain pills. Everything kicked in by the time I got to help my Uncle at cleaning offices. I was just tired from all of the pain and anxiety the day before. I made it through the work hours. Then I had to go home shower etc and pick up a model for a photography project. It was an all day event but now and then I felt the anxiety and shortness of breath but had to keep going and took anxiety meds. I got through the day and went to sleep early. Woke up today feeling a little bit of the breath thing and anxiety and it slowly went away and I helped my Uncle again and now I just feel emotionally hungover. Tired blah. I made it.


What is Your Problem??

December 28, 2010

Monday night. Monday nights were unlike any other night in my life for the last 19 years. I’m not supposed to break my anonymity but everyone that has read my blogs even semi-regularly or even knows me as a person knows that I go to AA. I have been going for over 19 years even during my relapse in 2008. The Monday night meeting has been my “home group” the entire time. A home group is that one place that a person commits to being there every week and takes responsibilities like setting up the room and making the coffee etc.

 

I rarely missed my Monday night home group until the past 4 months or so. Maybe more. I can’t remember. I started getting anxiety attacks really bad close to meeting time for several weeks in a row. Then I would find other excuses not to go. I would get sick or something. Even last night I should have been at my home group meeting and I had a bit of anxiety and depression then I had a bad allergy attack to top it off. I just discovered I have a shellfish allergy. I ate an egg roll without thinking tonight. My roommate has also been doing a lot of cleaning lately and I am allergic to every product he uses. I really appreciate the cleaning but I can’t breathe and my throat is closed up. I took some Benadryl and it worked but that wasn’t my point.

 

I love to go on tangents.

 

The point is that the anxiety and hesitance of going to my home group meeting has bled into the rest of the week and I rarely go to a meeting at all. I still pray and meditate and maintain a semi-spiritual state of mind but I’m not actively helping others in the way of going to meetings and sharing.

 

Of course this leads me to judgment on my recovery from alcohol and drugs and working the 12 steps. It’s a known fact that people with addictions like mine have little success on their own. Even though I feel like being alone most of the time, I rarely feel lonely. I am comfortable with where I am at despite the occasional anxiety attack. I pray every day. I am overall productive and creative with the various projects I am involved in.

 

I am ultra self-aware a lot of the times. I can’t figure out my aversion to going to meetings. I’m not consciously working the 12 steps but when I look at my life I am doing what’s in front of me and living a decent life doing the right thing.

 

Sometimes I rack my brain as to why I don’t want to go or get anxiety from the idea of going. I have a few concepts but they might not hold up in court. I thought it might be the increase in the number of people in the home group. It could be the girl I secretly like but won’t admit to myself or anyone else that it’s true.

 

I feel disconnection with the people I’ve known for years, Some I can even call family. It could be the recent return of an ex best friend after a close to a 5 year hiatus. I feel uncomfortable around him sometimes and he jumps right back into his role of “king” AA, which gets on my nerves.

 

 

I do force myself to go to a meeting every now and then but I either get anxiety or I get really bored with it. I get nothing out of it. Then again that describes many social situations for me lately except for the events that I have to be at. Most of the time anyway.

 

I’ve come to accept this new me. The loner. The isolator. The writer. I just have problems when it comes to going to meetings for some reason.

 

It could be that although I am comfortable with the new private me, I am not comfortable with the social me yet.

 

Maybe it’s not a problem at all and I am over analyzing like always. Maybe I’m just temporarily uncomfortable with going out and it will pass or maybe my new life is just that- “new” and I have to adjust and maybe I won’t go to meetings.

 

I still don’t drink and I still believe in the 12-step program as a way of life. I am living it in my own “loner” way.

 

I am positive that whatever the problem is that I will be fine. I will survive. (Cue Gloria Gaynor)

 


Acceptance is the Answer to myyyy…….. Blah!

December 16, 2010

“Life is great. My head’s a mess” I said when asked how I was doing by someone I haven’t seen in while.

He knew exactly what I was talking about. You see usually in the 12 step groups I go to people that are recovering usually say the opposite. Life is horrible but I’m doing well. I can handle life on life’s terms. So can I. I can’t handle my mind on my mind’s terms all of the time.

I’m a changed man. For better and for worse. A few years ago I went through some major mind altering changes. I was drugged for Psychiatric reasons and for physical reasons. I was in a horrible relationship that we both knew was horrible but kept fighting to stay with each other. As the relationship drew to an end and the drugs were affecting me more and more I turned into  recluse. I didn’t want to be bothered with anything or anybody. I went to work, I came home and wrote a bit then that was it. I ended up relapsing and gave up 16 years of sobriety. I hit bottom pretty fast emotionally and spiritually so I went t the people I knew could help me. I got help.

I was more than eager to change my life and people saw it. I got better in the emotional and spiritual sense but I remained a recluse. I soon moved back in with my parents for financial reasons and to help my ill adopted father. I always have to clarify that since I actively see my biological dad. That’s another story. My adopted father died the middle of last year and I stayed with my mother. Despite my sadness and increased anxiety at work and home I kept on writing and living. I found myself going out less and less.

This past year has been one of major growth and acceptance. My mind is still ut of control at times no matter what I feed it.

Long story short too late as an old friend used to say) I lost my job of 6 years, came into some money, finished and published my first novel, collected and republished my Serial Killer Coloring Book, moved out of my adopted mom’s into a 2 bedroom house with a friend, started a new business venture (http:novaboon.com) with my friend and housemate, I landed a high paying new job,  and just today there was an article in the Philadelphia City Paper about me and my evolution into a novelist. It was in reality a great year. I don’t always feel that great about it but the facts are the facts. I still get anxious, manic and depressed at times. I’ve grown a beard and my hair a bit to match my mood and it seems to fit. I’ve taken a liking to being alone. I am the opposite of everything I used to be.

I have also developed a slight agoraphobia. I have panic attacks when I go into public sometimes. It’s unpredictable but for some reason when I have to be somewhere like work or something I get by. It’s the social settings that get me, Then again I can get anxiety just sitting on the couch or driving my car.

I recently thought of something my adopted father once told me. “Learn to accept yourself. The good points and the bad things. Accept who you are.” He said. This is exactly what I am going through now. I am in the process of accepting myself for who I am right now. I am not the same person I used to be. I don’t care what people think for the most part.

“life is great and my head is a mess” but I have accepted myself for who I am anxious or not.

 


Laziness or Fear?

September 22, 2010

I’m not lazy. I’m motivationally challenged. Seriously, if it doesn’t give me instant gratification or I’m not getting paid to do something I am not motivated to it. Whatever “it” is. In this case it’s packing, cleaning and moving in a week and a half. I look at the tasks in front of me and get a surge of anxiety and panic seeing all that is in front of me. My head knows that I have plenty of time and can do it in baby steps but my anxiety tells me to panic and freak out. I do a little of both. Actually, I panic more than work.

Most of my life things almost always fell into place for me. As I get older I find I actually have to do the work. Now that I have a God in my life I want to sit back and let things happen but it doesn’t work that way. Many religionists say that “faith without works is dead” meaning I have to do the footwork. The job will not just appear. I have to look. The move will not just happen. I have to pack and do the moving then unpacking. Money will not just magically appear. I have to go out and earn it. The girl won’t appear. I have to keep my eye out. The list goes on.

Everyone around me is excited and happy about the new house I am moving into. Everyone except for me. To my room mate and my friend who is renting me the house it’s a brand new adventure in a really beautifully furnished house. To me it’s work, responsibility and a major change in my routine. I’ve been pretty spoiled since I lost my job the end of May. I’ve been busy but I’ve been doing everything that I want to do. Sitting on my porch writing and creating has been wonderful. Low rent. Minimal responsibility. Money in the bank to cover me.

Now it’s going to all change and I feel my world turning upside down. It frightens me. It creates anxiety. I’m moving into the real world and I’m afraid that I can’t handle it. My savings have dwindled. My unemployment isn’t much. I have a lot of bills. I haven’t lived with anyone besides my parents and girlfriends in years. I hate to publicly admit my fears but they are there. Despite my daily contact and dependence on God I am still afraid of the unknown. I can’t shake it.

Sure I suffer from a few disorders that are sometimes crippling but so do a lot of people that live responsible productive lives. Writing about it helps ease the anxiety but it also keeps me away from actually doing anything to help with the move. Any little thing or commitment that I have seems like a big deal to me right now. Even small things like making coffee or emptying the ashtray seems like a major chore.

This too shall pass. I know this to be true. Next month Ill be settled in my new dwelling and probably have a job lined up or an additional source of income besides unemployment and I’ll look back and wonder why I made such a big seal out of everything. That’s what I do. Worry. Repress. Get anxious. Put it off until it has to be finished then do it. It’s done. So is this rant about myself. Thank God.




My Anxiety Belongs to me. You Can’t Have It.

September 13, 2010

I want to write, discuss, talk or whatever it is I’m doing right now, about anxiety disorder and panic attacks. Since I feel one coming on I figured I’d write about it while I am experiencing it. Why not right?

Anxiety disorders and panic attacks are defined many ways in different medical dictionaries, doctors, psychiatrists and the people who are inflicted. Personally, I never understood the attack until I actually had one years ago as a result of a reaction to an anti-depressant. Then I didn’t have one for years until the stress of my last job combined with being diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. I discovered that high anxiety goes hand in hand with the time worsening bi-polar disorder if untreated. I treat both on a daily basis with medications. Nothing too heavy. I’ve been down that route too and it was zombie land for this guy. Me.  So, I can only describe what anxiety and panic attacks are for me.

Remember that nervousness you would get as a teenager when you wanted to kiss a girl or boy in your heart and stomach? It’s like that multiplied by 30 and even 100 depending on the attack. My heart rate goes way up and my stomach has those nervous butterflies then the feeling goes through my entire body while my thoughts race uncontrollably. Usually negative thoughts. Sometimes the thoughts go so fast I can’t think at all. It’s as if too many thoughts create an empty mind or something. Sometimes I sweat and feel like I’m going to pass out but usually it’s the nervousness inside and out that I suffer from.

My anxiety makes me feel immobile and trapped unable to move. It’s crippling at times. Some would say I have agoraphobia because when I am feeling the anxiety and I am supposed to be somewhere I find myself unable to go. Sometimes unable to move at all except to get up and go to the bathroom or move from one room to another.

Luckily I don’t suffer from this everyday. When I was working my last job I had them 3 or 4 times a week at work and once in a while before bed. Now it’s down to once or twice a week. Recently, I’ve been getting them on Friday and Monday nights. I have no idea why. Sometimes the anxiety is triggered by things I don’t want to deal with and things I put in the back of my mind. If something upsets me I get them too. Lately it happens for no reason on the surface and I am afraid to dig for the root cause because it may trigger another one.

For almost 19 years I’ve been going to AA. Yes. I’m an alcoholic too. I’ve been a member of the same meeting group on Monday night ever since. It’s baffling to me as to why I am getting panic attacks on Mondays lately. The closer it gets to the meeting time the more it builds up. Last week It started around 6:30 PM and lasted until 10 PM. I took extra medication and it still wouldn’t go away. I used to be comfortable there withal of my friends that I’ve known for over 15 years and some 18 almost 19.

The new crowd might have something to do with it. Lately it has become a big meeting with 40- 50 people attending and I am used to it having 20 or so. Yes. I’m also claustrophobic as well. This has become worse over the years especially when the anxiety attacks started. It might be the ex-girlfriend that attends that I am mad at. It could be the young lady that rejected me when I asked her out. It could be the loss of friendship I feel with some of my long-term friends there. Oh boy. I’m thinking too mush. Remember I said I felt an attack coming on. Its been getting worse while I am writing.

I love when people tell me to “just man up and get over it.” The same wit drinking. “Just use your will power.” “Your not bipolar you just have ups and downs like the rest of us.”

It’s like any other disease or disorder. If you don’t have it you won’t understand it. I’m just writing about it hoping it will cathartic. It isn’t. At least I had something to write about and you have something to read. I’m going to go hide in a corner now.


I Can’t Run Away From My Mind

August 15, 2010

The past 2 days have been a living hell. This week has been pretty bad but I’m not feeling so great. Earlier in the week it was the weather that was killing me. That and the pressure of either finding a job or figuring out the hoops to jump through at the Unemployment office to get money for an education for my new desired “career”. I put career in brackets because it’s not what I want to do. It’s my “settle for”  “career”. I want to be a professional writer. I am technically but I mean make a decent living on my writing. My next choice is Drug and Alcohol counseling because it seems like the most rewarding and something that I have enthusiasm and confidence to do well. You know, a feeling of contributing to society. But this pressure and anxiety is getting bad and makes it difficult to go outside. I’m not kidding.

I moved in with my adopted parents in March of 2009 to help take care of my sick father who died in June 2009. We’ve been through and I guess my mother and I are still going through mourning. His Birthday was a couple of days ago. Also my mother and I make great living companions. We didn’t see much of each other because she was going out and I was working and going to AA meetings all of the time. When we did get together and eat or go out and hang out we enjoy each other’s company. Back in April of this year we decided to up my rent at the end of the summer and I that I would stay here for at least another year. She is eventually selling the house and moving into a senior type housing project. We were happy about the decision etc. Then came the unemployment.

I was fired from my Job of almost 6 years for bullshit reasons on May 26th of this year. It’s along story and I already wrote about that. I jumped right into unemployment and I had money away believe it or not and moved onto my creative endeavors with full force. At the time I believed that unemployment would provide free health care. It doesn’t. I had planned on enjoying the time off and getting writing done and creating and promoting. I was going to casually look for a part time under the table job to supplement the little amount of unemployment money. The halthcare situation put a damper on things and my mother has been on me about getting a job or going to school. I feel like a little kid again. The passive-aggressive behaviors have returned. “Yes, mother. You are right. Etc”,

I was really enjoying my summer besides the heat. I finished editing my long awaited novel. I self published another 2 books while I am waiting for my friend to do the final cover design of my novel. I’ve been writing almost daily and making short videos for YouTube. I’ve been forcing myself to go out and socialize because I’ve become extremely anti-social in real life. It still exhausts me even though I enjoy it. I gave no thought to a job or career until a few weeks ago.

I was at an AA meeting and I saw someone that worked at a Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Center. The thought hit me that I would like to do that. I asked her what I need to do to get into her field. She said that the place she worked would hire me and are looking for people. The train you and help you get your proper credentials. The only problem is that you have to be 2 years sober and I am a few months short. She gave me a number and name to call and told me to try anyway.

I called the next day and the woman told me to call back in October. So, at first I put it in my mind that I would get that job in October and I wanted to ride it out on my savings and my unemployment checks. My mother disagreed. She wants me actively doing something. After 2 months of writing and getting my books together she feels it’s time to get a move on. She’s a great mom that asks very little of me around the house so when she wants me to do something I feel obligated to do it. The pressure is on me and I keep repressing it.

I went through the motions slowly by going to different orientations at the Unemployment office. It’s been helpful and confusing. Their web site is tough for me to navigate properly for some reason. I found out that certification is costly and so is the education needed. To top it off  the job site of unemployment has a “in demand” career section and your choice has to be in demand. Drug and Alcohol counseling is not. I’m wondering if I should just forget about it until October or just get a job and say fuck it for now. Maybe get a job until October. It’s definitely causing friction in the house now.

My mom  has one daily rule. My car has to be out of the driveway by 1-{30 am unless otherwise noted. On Friday she needed me out by 9:30 am and I didn’t get up on time and she was going away for a week. She left in a bad mood and it set me off in a bad mood. There’s nothing like the feeling of disappointing your mom. Well, my mom. The panic attacks and isolation has hit what feels like an all time high ever since she left. I thought I would feel free once she left but I feel the opposite. Ever since I was adopted at age 11 I have had my adopted mother’s voice in my head reminding me of the right thing even stupid shit like putting down the toilet seat. You can probably imagine the things I hear her saying now.

There was one point where she thought that I wanted to be mentally ill and collect social security and disability. She has no time for dealing with the mentally ill. Physically ill she can handle it and has pity and understanding but not mental illness or addictions. Maybe she’s right. Maybe not.

The problem is that you can’t see my Bipolar disorder or my anxiety. It just looks like I’m lazy or super motivated. I’m not lazy. I’m ill. I have to remind myself of that because I have no defense. The medication isn’t perfect. Even God can only do so much. I have to deal with it and live in my skin as best as I can moment to moment. One day at a time.

I feel a little better but I’m still anxious.


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