Say Hello…

To my little friend Wodos the Pikachu. Isn’t he just the most adorable thing ever?

As you can see he is a Thelemite type of guy, with a fondness for spikes,  ripping Death Metal/Grind core and denim. At least that’s how I’ve styled him πŸ™‚

In all seriousness, I was having a great deal of trouble with anxiety and whatnot leading up to and after the hurricane. Having this little guy has done a lot to keep me grounded and calm. I don’t really give a shit if it’s ridiculous because it helps me. 

As you can see, I made a little Metal vest for him. Also a collar because I wanted him to have the unicursal hexagram pendant πŸ˜‰ I had a lot of fun with this project. 

Why Wodos? It’s a reference to a meme in my battle jacket group. Someone selling a patch on eBay inverted the logo of the German Thrash band Sodom and sold it as a Wodos patch. Metalheads went berserk. 

Anyway, hope you enjoyed meeting my service Stuffie πŸ™‚

-Thom 

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Feeling sufficient

Sometimes I seriously feel like I’m playing with a stacked deck. I’m not sure where this developed but I rarely feel that great about myself. I know I’m not a bad guy but most of the people in my family have at least some kind of meaningful achievement whereas I’m constantly getting down on myself because I’ve done so little. I’m not as bad about this as I used to be. In a lot of ways being with Shannon makes me less apprehensive and does a great deal to build up my spirit. 

Sometimes I believe in myself. It’s a difficult frame of mind for me to get into, but it does happen. Sometimes I’m just so bent on not being arrogant or whatever that I go to the opposite extreme and either sell myself short or tear myself down somehow.  I’m working on this for real because I like to entertain the idea of having some artistic and creative potential yet to be realized. This is one way in which my Man is extremely encouraging with me. I mean, honestly I tried to put a Battle Vest together for years and never got anywhere with it. It’s amazing how much of a lift it gives your spirits when the person you’re with doesn’t think everything you’re into is stupid.

To put it bluntly, my Darling inspires me. He lights a creative fire under my ass and fills me with laughter. He and I are far from perfect but we’re perfect for each other and I can’t wait to marry him. He’s fiercely intelligent, nurturing and so compassionate. I hadn’t intended to turn this post into me gushing about my Man but here we are. I’ve never felt as loved or as safe in anyone’s arms. Now if we could just find him a day job I would be so happy.

Sometimes I feel insufficient, or perhaps insignificant. Shannon’s mental health background helps quite a bit, he’s pretty good about knowing when to let me be. I mean, I kick myself hard enough in the ass every day to appear normal, but I’m always going to be bipolar. I know I’m not either of those I words to Shannon, or my family. 

Let me be real for a moment. I don’t know what to do with my life. I had two severe mental breakdowns in my twenties and I’ve been pretty much adrift ever since. I don’t have a great deal of confidence in myself, but I’m trying to change that. At least giving myself credit for not being a jerk, for still working my ass off with mental illness and RA. I mean, I suppose there’s dignity in not being a deadbeat at least. 

This summer being home alone really wrecked me. I was hysterical most of that time. Didn’t do much outside of go to work and come home and be miserable. I was so happy when Shannon came home and it’s been such a blast. Only problem is my emotions got kind of weird over the summer and I can’t seem to shake it. It takes very little to upset me and make me cry these days. I don’t know how I became all fragile like this and it’s kind of disconcerting to me. 

Aside from that I’m basically alright. I just don’t have much of a social life these days and I miss my friends. It’s hard with opposing schedules and me not having a car. That is a major reason my job prospects are narrow , public transportation here is a joke.  

I’m sure I’ll figure something out here, just kind of bummed out lately. That’s about all I have at the moment. Sorry for being such a downer. 
-Thom

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 πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ™‚

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

Sacri-licious

I know it’s not a real word. Stop oppressing me. I’ve been enjoying myself in the kitchen lately and don’t mind bragging a bit.  Yes,  I am a fan of my own cooking. I’m a big believer in comfort food. This morning I woke up with swollen joints in a decent amount of pain.  Took some analgesics and distracted myself from all that noise by making tacos at nine in the morning because I can. It made me feel better,  though that ache is still there. 

I’ve been on Arava for three weeks and am still not noticing any change. I just hope it doesn’t make my blasted hair fall out like it’s known to do. I was thinking the new med was starting to work until yesterday.  I had several pain free days without any NSAIDS and thought I had hit a clearing. Then I started flaring again.  My Rheumatologist has instructed me to be sparing with my bottle of prednisone so I’m not taking any more before I see him next week.  If I still have a lot of swelling when I see him he may add another med, hard to say. I’m back on a steady dose of Tylenol and Motrin for the time being.  

Mentally I’m much calmer today than I have been since returning to Florida. I had an interview for a job by the mall today which I freaking nailed. The beach is a dead scene lately and I had to go where the money is. I can’t live off two days a week,  much as I like my beach job. So, yeah. A bit more relaxed now that I’ve found a new job.  I’m usually pretty good at staying on top of my brain cooties, but the financial anxiety had been wearing hard on me.  

I’m doing fairly well otherwise.  Sometimes I can’t believe how lucky I am.  I wouldn’t have thought of pursuing this particular job if a work friend hadn’t told me to come check the place out.  She also put in a word for me,  I think. I left that place today with a satisfied smirk on my face and a spring in my step. 

It’s nice that some people still remember and practice karma. I do my best to put out mostly positive energy and be a decent person.  My great struggle in this life is not letting experience make me inexorably cynical. I can’t remember who said this but one quote sticks out in my mind: Snark is the modern disease. In so many walks of life it seems like nothing more than a vast sea of smiling back stabbers with no thought process outside the context of petty one-upmanship. At the risk of sounding like a hippie, I’m not letting these types lay waste to my true nature. 

Perhaps I should clarify,  I’m not referring to the concept of a higher self or whatever. I’m talking about the true incontrovertible raw essence of self. The will, if you like. Crowley tells us that every man and woman is a star with a unique and distinctive orbit. The Law of Liberty applies to all,  or it applies to none at all.  Some people absolutely crack their minds trying to wrap them around such a broad and sweeping ethos of tolerance and respect for others. Thou hast no right but to do thy will, save for if such will inhibits the liberty of another.  Thelema is truly the embodiment of the global citizenship notion which has become so popular in recent times. 

Now I pause and rub my knuckles in a contemplative state. As I glance at the time I realize that I’m due for nighttime meds. I’ll try to keep the rest of this post succinct. I’m okay. I was in an icky state for a few weeks but I made it through for now. I’m highly grateful for the quality time with my Boyfriend and our animals that I’ve been awash in of late. These are the things that keep me whole and pure. Which brings me back to the essence of self.  Beyond all the layers of experience,  the infrastructure of interaction with others, and how we see ourselves is the raw entirety of one’s being.  Not physical attributes, nor any shade or filter of presentation may obstruct the indomitable gleam of (for lack of better terminology) the inner light. It is the light which permeates and moves through all objects and things living or not,  that which the ancients rightly viewed as the active living will of God.  

Know thyself, and the rest will follow. I’m not the smartest, best looking or most successful person out there. I’m just a guy who knows who the hell I am. I refuse to let this world dull my glow. 

I’m not really certain what the purpose of this post was, but I’m running with it.

 See if I do not. 

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The screws tightenΒ 

I must confess that my stress is getting the best of me right now.  I came back from Alaska to find my schedule at work absolutely slashed.  I’m using this week to update my resume and look around. I’m not sure anything else on the beach is a safe bet. Tourist season is currently flatlining and I’m scrambling like mad to pay my bills on time. I’m already feeling pretty weak from the meds I take and the timing could not be worse. 

I’m trying to stay positive and proactive about this but lately all I want to do is hide out in bed. I am fully aware that this does nothing for me but it sure does look alluring right now.  

It only makes sense.  I had such a great summer that the bubble was bound to pop sooner or later.  Le sigh of exaggerated discontent. I used to be able to find work so easily. Now it takes the right alignment of the stars and maybe a blood sacrifice to so much as get a single response.  
Press on, I must. But I feel like fucking garbage and it just won’t stop.

As long as we’re being honest….

I’m doing my best to deal with the recent news. I don’t feel particularly sick right now and my strength and endurance are both pretty good.  Still, I’m aware that my body is waging war on itself and am a bit unsettled.  I have multiple swollen joints and nodules on my knuckles.  If not for those we probably wouldn’t have gotten the diagnosis for a long time.  I’m grateful for this but scared because everything I’ve read indicates that nodules are associated with a more aggressive disease mechanism. 

I’m not just going to take it lying down. I’m improving my diet, working out and staying active. I plan to ask my Rheumatologist what supplements I should be taking.  I’m not wallowing in self-pity or seething with a bunch of ‘Poor me! Why me?’ bullshit. Still, I have to admit that I’m a bit scared. This is one of those illnesses where the treatment can be as rough as the disease itself.

Again,  I don’t feel sick right now  and I’m not going to start soley based on a diagnosis. The prednisone has been giving me some relief and I’m not hurting too badly right now. I just figured this would be a better place than Facebook to get some things off my chest. 

Here’s what really frightens me: I was on SSDI for bipolar disorder for almost five years.  When my case was flagged for termination I appealed and took it up the chain of command. At the time I was severely depressed and struggling with mood issues. After over a year of appealing my medication was changed from lithium to Risperdal. The improvement was astonishing.  I began working and dropped the appeal. Then I got stuck with the bill for my benefits while on appeal (11790$ or so). I’m paying it back at the rate of fifty dollars a month.  My big fear is that Rheumatoid Arthritis will cripple me and I won’t be able to get any help. This is a thought that has been keeping me up at night with apprehension. Essentially I’m being punished for getting better.

My boyfriend is trying to get into law school.  Specifically to be a Disability Attorney.  I’m hanging on to the dream that he’ll be able to help me with this before something bad and RA related happens. The odds are not in my favor. According to Johns Hopkins website sixty percent of people with RA become disabled within ten years of being diagnosed. 

I am trying not to give in to fear and go about my life.  It’s entirely possible I’ll have great treatment results and go into extended remission.  I just don’t know and the future is intimidating the living hell out of me.

I was hospitalized frequently as a kid. I know the drill. I have to fight and keep fighting hard. This is what I keep telling myself when I want to cry, which has been quite a bit lately. I’m not going to use or drink over it and I’m not just gonna sit around and be sick. To hell with that.

I am in desperate need of some inspiration.  Pray for Thom please.

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On recovery

Well, it’s been fifteen days since I’ve had any drugs or alcohol.  At first it wasn’t that big a deal.  I felt way better all around and thought it would be a cinch.  Deep down I knew that this would not be the case.

I AM a lot better all around,  make no mistake.  I’m eating way better, sleeping better, have more money and am in general functioning at a significantly greater level. For the first week or so I wasn’t even really thinking much of using.

However,  reality is setting in. This is both a wonderful and terrifying thing. My brain is working much better than during the twenty-some years I was stoned, drunk and otherwise altered. Sounds awesome,  right? 

Not entirely. I am finding myself absolutely flooded with emotion and anxiety of late. As long as I keep busy I’m fine. I’m going to NA meetings every day, talking to my sponsor regularly and beginning to do step work. It’s when I stop moving that the floodgates open wide.

All the mental turmoil I’ve drowned in a haze of substances is bubbling to the surface whenever I get down time. I’m doing my best to develop some real coping skills but it’s harder than I thought just to relax and take a breather.

The day I decided to give it all up everyone seemed to want to sell me drugs. I’ve been strong so far and kept my distance.  I’m trying to ‘Run with the winners ‘ as they say. If I have shit on my mind I pick up the phone and call someone who is committed to staying clean.

Still, I feel exhausted. My body hurts and my thoughts are scattered about when I stop moving. I have issues with chronic pain and used opiates in various forms for many years. I thought I was self-medicating but what I was really doing was murdering myself one dose at a time.  Suicide in slow motion barely articulates the hopeless routine of self-destructive behavior I was locked in to.

I kicked the poppy derivatives and thought I had myself under control.  After all,  I never lost a job to drugs and always paid my bills, albeit badly and barely. No matter how well I was doing I simply could not stop drinking and smoking weed. I never had a spare cent to my name and frequently went hungry in the name of maintaining a buzz.

Today is my fifteenth day of complete sobriety. I’ve caught up on bills and noticed many positive changes in my life. It’s scary, though.  It’s as if I’m learning to live all over again from point A or square one or whatever.  I’m having issues with anxiety mainly as well as some depression.  My meds are keeping this stuff fairly well in check but psych drugs can only do so much. I’ve thoroughly convinced myself of one ironclad truth: I WILL NOT GO BACK TO LIVING LIKE THAT.

I’m tired of hurting my family, my friends and myself.  I’m simply sick of being sick. One of the things that has really stuck with me is something I read in a recovery related book: Your bottom is wherever you choose to stop digging.  I didn’t ruin my life as badly as many people do. I am certain, however that I could and would have if I had stayed the course. 

I have a somewhat strange concept of God or whatever.  But the night I made the decision to change my life was the first time in years that I honestly through bouts of sobbing asked my deity for help. I don’t want to fucking do it anymore and I can’t do it myself.  Trying has nearly killed me too many times to count. 

Lo and behold,  little blessings are already revealing themselves to me. I made a Metalhead friend at the groups,  which is something I haven’t had in ten years.  I have food in my fridge.  My job is so much less of an ordeal to soldier through.  Little by little,  I’m rediscovering the friend in myself that I was sure I had exterminated.

I’ve seen recovery work genuine miracles for friends I was sure were going to die from their addictions. It’s time to work on my own.

All systems go. Today is the first day of the rest of my life and in spite of all the crazy shit in my head I am cautiously optimistic .

If you know me personally,  just be aware that I haven’t been myself for longer than I care to remember.  You just might find yourself getting to know me for the first time.  I don’t think that I’m a bad guy, just a little dark and messed up.  But I’m working on it. 

That’s a promise.  I  leave you with a photo of one of my favorite bands of all time. Napalm Death. I’ve seen them live three times and plan to do so many more.

Your humble narrator –

Thom

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