On being enough

Yep, this is gonna be one of those heavy deeply introspective Planet Berserk posts. Since I began this blog I have made no secret of the fact that I am mentally ill. It’s been a recurring theme of my writing, as it’s something I have a bit of experience and knowledge of. I do this blog because it helps me better understand and grasp what’s going on in my head. I’ve done it for a minute or two now and have some readers, which to me is great if you get something out of it. 

Anyhow, I hate to be a guy who constantly pisses and moans about everything under the sun. I do my best to avoid shit like that because it doesn’t help anyone really. With this said, if I write about the stuff I’m dealing with, I can at least get some outside inside perspective. A crude way of phrasing it but whatever. The ability to pick apart my own words from a distance is both crucial and precious to me. It helps me dial down my ego and be somewhat more… clinical I guess you could call it. Plus putting it on a blog that’s public enables without a mandate the possibility of genuine outside aka another person perspective. Perhaps I’m overthinking it but that IS what I do. 

Some days it feels like the deck is stacked against me. I do my best. I hurt a lot physically and mentally and I try my damnedest to be whatever ‘enough’ is. Strong enough, smart enough, hard working enough, I don’t know….. I just always feel like I’m not doing enough or far along enough or…I have no idea honestly. I know it’s my brain being all bipolarish but being self aware doesn’t just make everything better. It just makes your analysis better in my view. 

I’ve made a living with my body my whole life and now it’s revolting against me in the form of moderately active Rheumatoid Arthritis. The methotrexate and Enbrel are certainly helping but I guess my point of mentioning it is that it’s one more thing to deal with on top of being mentally interesting. There’s side effects from the meds, plus having a physically intense job, plus the creeping depression that is always harder to control than mania. I never go full manic on my meds. I get depressed a lot though. 

Everyone in my family has achieved something, all I’ve done is survive badly. At least this is the kind of stuff that creeps into my thoughts when I’m feeling sad. I chronically suffer from being down on myself. I know it’s stupid but it’s a hard habit to break myself of. RA also has a tendency to amplify depression, or so I’ve read. Of course flaring joints don’t have much of a mood improvement effect. 

I do the best I can. I get up and go to work. I try my hardest to keep up with everything life throws at me. Some days at my job I feel weak as all hell and I hurt all over and my wrists and knuckles are swollen and I go in the beer cooler and fucking sob for a minute. Only a minute though. Not getting paid to lose my shit here 😉

It’s been hard on me this summer. All the while I’ve basically been the walking undead. I’ve been fine at work throughout the last two months, but privately I’ve been a fucking hot mess. Hysterical at times. I’m maxed out on my antidepressant that I had cut in half six months previous. I’ve been gradually getting better about giving myself a break and relaxing, but the first six weeks were pure hell.

In spite of all this, I actually feel like I’m enough today. I put in a solid day of work, made some money and had a pretty good time doing it. My baby comes home in less than two days. I’ve never been with anyone so supportive and encouraging and it’s pretty awesome. He helps me believe in myself and I believe in him. We’re just a couple of hard working guys with serious health issues that do our best to hold one another up. That’s what love should be, at least that’s what I think. I know I’m enough for him 🙂

Again, I try not to bitch about my job or my health issues or whatever. I know lots of folks have it worse. I just have to get it out of my head to where I can see it. As I mentioned, this blog being public doesn’t serve any other purpose than giving outsiders a portal into my war. 

Anything else? I had a wonderful birthday party a few days ago. I’m thirty-five now. Got two Iron Maiden shirts and a pair of Iron Maiden socks too! I also switched to methotrexate injections this week which has helped significantly with side effects. 

Hope you enjoyed this disjointed head spew. Time to recuperate and prepare for Sunday breakfast shift.

Regards-

Thom

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The same old troubled waters 

As much of a handle I’ve gotten on things,  I find a lot of the same issues plaguing me. I’m worried about losing affordable insurance now that the ACA is on the chopping block. I’m not saying I’m a huge fan of obamacare,  but I got the best possible deal out of it personally.  I have a tax credit that allows me to get a silver plan with zero deductible and killer drug coverage. 

It has been the recurring struggle of my life,  staying insured as a person with less than perfect health both physically and mentally.  I have been really nervous lately about what’s going to happen to myself and the ten million or so others who bought coverage through the marketplace. Nothing right away, but Florida is really tight with Medicaid so I’m not sure what I’ll do. 

I’m really scared because joint damage can occur in the early years of RA if left unmedicated.  Aside from squirreling away DMARDS for the gaps there’s not a whole lot I can do. There are patient assistance programs available but all that stuff takes time.

There are other issues recurring but the prospect of losing my insurance is the paramount concern right now.  I need to have some kind of plan to make sure I at least have my psych drugs so I can focus on getting the other meds without losing my head. Fortunately I have at least a few months of backup of my psych drugs because I’m used to shit going bad and I stay vigilant with my crazy. 

That’s all for now. I’m nervous and in pain. C’est la vie. 

Muh Festive Tree

This year I only lasted for two days into November to start Christmas decorating. I’m not sure how, but Christmas and whatnot has kind of become a big deal to me.  At least a bigger deal than my teen/young adult years. 

For a while I was kind of mad during the holidays because I didn’t get why everyone went along with what I thought was a Christian holiday.  As I came to learn more about the theft of Pagan traditions (including but not limited to Yule) the more I realized that Christmas is pretty cool,  as well as decidedly Pagan. 

My Christmas tree is a reflection of me, which is why there are skulls, cartoon characters and lots more.  A few angels to keep it on the level 😉 Han Solo, Darth Vader, the Tick, Starscream, Batman and an attractive anime girl as well as a hammerhead shark in there somewhere. Also, yes- that is a DRI patch up there by the lead angel.

Just thought I’d share today’s nerding out. 

-T

When all things are considered…

I’m strangely content of late. It’s actually rather nice. I’m keeping up with my obligations and looking forward to my vacation in Alaska  next week. As for my health,  it’s pretty solid. I’m seeming to get some ADHD coverage from the Wellbutrin I was prescribed for depression,  so that’s a plus I’d say. I’m not sure what my current status is diagnosis-wise. If it is Rheumatoid Arthritis it’s the Seronegative type, as the blood work doesn’t really support this as SED rate, Rheumatoid Factor and C-reactive Protein are in the  normal range . I have to see a Dermatologist to get a biopsy on one of my nodules. If there are palisading lymphocytes then they are rheumatoid nodules, according to the Rheumatologist. At any rate,  I’m not particularly swollen or inflamed right now,  at least not badly. 

    It’s very strange the way my pain and fatigue wax and wane. Most days I feel relatively strong and capable.  But some days I flare up and come home feeling like I’ve been beaten by a golf club. As for fatigue,  I’m a fairly crazy coffee drinker, but when it hits, no amount of caffeine will move me. I had a day or two that I slept way too much and pretty much felt drunk and disoriented no matter what I did to kick myself into gear. My fatigue and stiffness have mostly been sparing me lately, for which I am grateful.  When the fatigue does hit nothing can touch it. 

    So if not RA, then what? My Mom came with me to my last appointment with the Rheumatologist.  At one point she looked confused and said  ‘So does he have RA or not?’. He said, ‘I’d bet my car on it but I’m not ready to bet my house.’. Which I presume is doctor-speak for I dunno. We shall see I guess.  My flares are erratic and won’t bother me for a decent amount of time in between.  I can’t really figure out what aggravates it. I had lots of swollen joints when I first saw my current doctor. That plus nodules which I still have on many knuckles. Also the xrays revealed some erosion.  The prednisone helped a lot but steroids are not for long term use. Anyhow,  the crucial thing is I’m alright and not feeling sick or sore right now.  

    On the Metal front life is good. Last show was a bit of a mixed bag.  Great bands but too much Metalcore filler.  Got to see Brazilian Death Metal Juggernaut Krisiun as well as Nile, Cannibal Corpse,  Revocation and SUFFOCATION SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE DAMNIT! I GOT ROBBED DAMNIT! Oh well.  It’s just that they are the primary reason I went to that show. I was sorely disappointed.  Seeing Master in a month and DRI in December.  Hoping to get my copy of Harald Oimoen’s book signed! Metal Nerd for Life.  Aside from that,  just doing my thing. Finally decided to quit shaving my head too. Ha!

    Creeping gratitude

    I just recently passed the one month clean mark and I must say that things are looking up.  Granted,  life is no less capricious than previously.  I’m still dealing with physical and mental health issues as well as trying to get my life in order.  It IS happening though.  Which is something I was never able to do when I was drinking and drugging.

    First, I’ll delve into  the health issues a bit. My arthritis and tendonitis are still raging and my hypertension has come back with a vengeance. I had to discontinue my ADHD medication due to my pressure being dangerously high. I’m on meds and have leveled out, but I am no longer able to work as a busser and barback. The fatigue from the meds plus the pain in my hands and forearms was simply too intense to push through. I was getting vicious headaches and feeling like I was going to puke or pass out working in the heat. One day when my amazing boss came in and I felt like death I leveled with her and said ‘What do you think I should do?’. She was really cool about the whole thing and moved me to hosting. It’s less money but I’m so grateful to still have a job. 

    The bright spot to all this is that I soldiered through it long enough to claw my way out of the financial hole I was in while I was using. My Doctor has been advising me to find a less labor intensive job for over a year so I’m sure he’ll be thrilled when I tell him about all this in two weeks.  However,  there’s more to the health issues than I’ve so far mentioned.

    The pain in my hands has been getting worse and more frequent.  I’ve been screened many times,  but due to new developments  (morning stiffness,  nodules on knuckles on both hands) he ordered more blood work,  xrays and a referral to a Rheumatologist once again. I’m seeing both doctors on the 24th.  I’m not jumping to conclusions but I am a bit worried. I don’t know,  we’ll see.  As vague as that is it’s the best I’ve got right now. 

    All these issues aside, I am enjoying life more than I ever thought was possible.  I’ve made some new friends in NA and have a great sponsor who’s really easy to talk to. I’ve begun working the steps and am finding it challenging but illuminating. I’m going to NA meetings every day and putting myself in the middle of it all. When I find myself alone and irritable I pick up the phone or read recovery literature. I’m building a support network and dealing with life on it’s own terms as well as I can. 

    I’m trying to remind myself daily of how much love I have in my life and everything I’m grateful for.  Like Death Metal, my Boyfriend, our animals,  my family, my friends and most of all, the fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous.  Sometimes I can hardly believe any of this is real. This is not to say that I don’t have bad days or still think about getting drunk and high. I’m just getting better at managing my feelings in a constructive manner. I have a home group and am beginning to get involved in service.  It’s really awesome.  Next month they have me chairing a meeting.  How’d that happen? 🙂

    I already had a decent relationship with a higher power but The fellowship has simply galvanized it. I feel it working in my life daily. Am I insane? Quite.  Doesn’t make me wrong. I have my life back and am not about to give it up.

    Thank you, NA. Thank you for slowly but surely restoring me to something approaching real sanity.

    -Thom

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    The Reconstruction of Thom

    I’m plugging away with getting my life in order.  Caught up on bills. Credit card nearly fully paid off. This Tuesday will make thirty days clean, which is something I didn’t believe that I could do for the longest time.  Aside from that I’m just doing my thing, sewing some new stuff to my vest later today and doing some NA literature reading daily.

    My program is working fairly well,  though I’m still new to this constructively dealing with my problems thing. My emotional state has been highly variable as well as my health.  The arthritis in my hands as well as my tendonitis have both been getting more severe and getting through a day of work is getting steadily more taxing.  Due to hypertension coming back I’ve had to give up my ADHD medication. It’s whatever.  I’m choosing to look at it as one less thing to have to cough up money for. I could stay the course but my blood pressure meds would be totally pointless and I don’t want to have a fucking heart attack so I just decided to let it go and deal with the fog as well as I can.

    Back to the issue of my hands, I have to go to a Rheumatologist soon.  My pain is getting worse and I’ve developed nodules on the knuckles of both hands.  I’m so stiff in the mornings some days that I can barely pour a cup of coffee.  Whatever happens I’ll deal with.  My Doctor seems to think it may be something more serious than simple osteoarthritis hence visiting the specialist soon.

    Aside from that,  I’ve been my usual beaten down but determined self. I am salvaging the wreckage of my life, making new friends and doing the best I can.

    Not much else I can do, methinks. 

    Priorities

    I have a few, if not a great many. I want to explore the planet and stand in the sun with a will and be dangerous. The Khalil Gibran interpolation aside, I want to challenge myself. I know I’m not an idiot, but I am kind of an underachiever in many ways.

    I try to cut myself some slack. This is a delicate balance in itself. I mean, I’m not incarcerated or held against my will in a hospital having my brain completely twisted with drugs, so that’s a plus I suppose. Honestly, things are better now than I thought they would ever get. For several years I was slowly recovering from my second nervous breakdown. Both came close to totally ruining my life.

    I was on a crazy check for almost five years. The fact that I’m supporting myself and in a stable and loving relationship is still somewhat astonishing to me. I’m not out of the woods, but I made it through several years of total fucking darkness and despair.

    It’s amazing to be with a guy who builds me up and inspires me like he does. He makes me laugh like no one ever has or ever will again. Or something. I’m being obnoxious and glowing so expect a few bottles of pure nauseating sap from the chief harbinger.

    But on to the point (which I do have):

    What is the next step?

    Marriage for one. A trip to Alaska this fall is officially signed in blood and sealed. But then? My man is trying to get into law school and I’m not sure where that will lead us geographically. I need to develop some kind of lucrative skill here so I can live reasonably well, but what?

    I have to accept the fact that I have certain limitations. I mean, I do fairly well for being a bipolar kid on extended release Ritalin with arthritis and tendonitis. However, I’m getting older and I fully understand that I’m not an indestructible machine. My first brush with sciatica was like tasting my own mortality for the first time. It certainly brought me down a peg being barely able to walk.

    I think a lot about what I might be good at. I’m neurotic and detail oriented so I’ve always thought something technical and analytical would be for the best. But I have to start thinking a bit harder about this stuff. Life is happening and all.

    I also think I’m approaching the point where I’d like my spiritual pursuits to go beyond the realm of solitary practice. Maybe one of the Thelemic societies or a Gardnerian Coven (I do not believe that the two are exclusive of one another). I think it is time to turn will into action.

    May it be so for you as well.

    93

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