Clarification 

I’m not THAT depressed.  I’ve been kind of moody and mopey lately, but that comes with being a Bipolar person. I AM feeling significantly better since the Wellbutrin was upped, I just lost sight of this when I wrote my last post. I have a way of magnifying things when I’m upset and was pretty bent out of shape that particular day. 

I’m actually having a pretty excellent week. People are still getting on my nerves but I’m dealing with it to the best of my ability. I can’t just hide out from the general public forever and I don’t intend to try to.  I’m actually pretty good at hosting,  to be perfectly honest.  It’s just the fact that for all my bravado I have a pretty fragile ego. This is something I’ve been trying to work on lately because pretty much any kind of job I’ll do involves some degree of human interaction.  

I am making what I consider a positive change, though. I talked to one of my managers about picking up some maintenance shifts. It bugs me that I have a bunch of tools that I never use. I’m already an early riser and I thought it would be good to have some stable income without much of the aforementioned dealing with the public. If I have to continue hosting it’ll only be two days out of my week. I’m hoping I can squeeze some bussing in there too as making tips is where it’s at. 

So yeah, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I was being ridiculous and things are actually pretty good right now.  I see the Rheumatologist next Friday and I’ll deal with the new meds when I get them started. It may take some getting used to and may hit me pretty hard but I’m not going to bury myself before I’m dead if you’ll excuse the expression.

Seeing the Psychiatrist next week and aside from asking for something to help with sleep I’ve got mostly good news for him. 

The Birthday  (which I DO care about ) presents have started rolling in. Got a couple Anti-inflammatory Cookbooks and two awesome albums. The  Key by Nocturnus and Mortal Throne of Nazarene by Incantation.  The Metal Demon within is highly pleased 🙂

Aside from that,  just doing my best like always.  Each day is a gift. May it be so for you too.

-Thom

Clarification 

I’m not THAT depressed.  I’ve been kind of moody and mopey lately, but that comes with being a Bipolar person. I AM feeling significantly better since the Wellbutrin was upped, I just lost sight of this when I wrote my last post. I have a way of magnifying things when I’m upset and was pretty bent out of shape that particular day. 

I’m actually having a pretty excellent week. People are still getting on my nerves but I’m dealing with it to the best of my ability. I can’t just hide out from the general public forever and I don’t intend to try to.  I’m actually pretty good at hosting,  to be perfectly honest.  It’s just the fact that for all my bravado I have a pretty fragile ego. This is something I’ve been trying to work on lately because pretty much any kind of job I’ll do involves some degree of human interaction.  

I am making what I consider a positive change, though. I talked to one of my managers about picking up some maintenance shifts. It bugs me that I have a bunch of tools that I never use. I’m already an early riser and I thought it would be good to have some stable income without much of the aforementioned dealing with the public. If I have to continue hosting it’ll only be two days out of my week. I’m hoping I can squeeze some bussing in there too as making tips is where it’s at. 

So yeah, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I was being ridiculous and things are actually pretty good right now.  I see the Rheumatologist next Friday and I’ll deal with the new meds when I get them started. It may take some getting used to and may hit me pretty hard but I’m not going to bury myself before I’m dead if you’ll excuse the expression.  

Aside from that,  just doing my best like always.  Each day is a gift. May it be so for you too.

-Thom

Variable existence

Lately I have been fighting a potent combination of despair and fatigue.  I’ll have a good day or two and go right back to feeling gut punched and worthless.  I’m really not sure what to do about it.  I try to avoid bitching about it on the Internet but by the same token this blog is one of my very few mechanisms of catharsis.  When I get fatigued no amount of sleeping or coffee gets me right.

I already doubled my dose of Wellbutrin and don’t see the doctor until nearly two weeks from now.  Day to day I feel pretty much vile and lifeless.  Not all the time, mind you. There are periods of relative calm interspersed therein. I’m just thinking my ego might be too fragile to be a customer service person. I just can’t seem to let it go when people are nasty to me. I take a lot of pride in what I do and it just crushes me when people walk on me. There was a time long ago when I was a halfway decent actor so that works somewhat in my favor but all I’m doing is barely containing my seething resentment towards the general public.

I’m just feeling like I have no future lately. No marketable skills or education and a body and mind falling to pieces before my eyes. I try to put on a brave face for those around me in the interest of not being a selfish jerk but honestly I’m dying inside daily.

I miss theatre sometimes but I can’t go back. That part of my life is over. I miss my friends and I miss spending time outdoors.  Everyone is just too caught up in their grind and that’s just how it is.

Between depression and fatigue and anxiety I’m just slowly but surely losing my will to be.  I’m not suicidal or anything,  just adrift and hopeless feeling. I have a birthday coming up and I couldn’t give two shits. I’m terrified that the combination of quitting my prednisone and starting a DMARD is going to wipe out what’s left of my strength.

I’m sorry if this seems like a bitchfest. I just had to admit that I’m feeling like garbage lately. Here’s hoping for a better day.

Rheumatologically Speaking

So yeah, my appointment with the Rheumatologist finally came. I’ve been eagerly awaiting getting to the bottom of the situation with my hands. I spent the first twenty minutes at the Diagnostic Clinic filling out intake paperwork,  then I went upstairs to meet my new Doctor.  He asked me about the problems I’ve been experiencing,  took a detailed history and upon examining my hands and other joints had two words to say : Rheumatoid Arthritis.

I’m not gonna lie,  I’m a bit shook up. I’m glad to have caught it relatively early on, but it’s still a bit scary. I’ve seen what advanced RA does to joints and it’s horrifying to say the least.  The first line meds to treat it are essentially immune suppressants.  It’s much more than arthritis,  it’s an autoimmune disorder that manifests itself in a plethora of ways including arthritis.  What it means is that my immune system is attacking my joints.

I brought lab results and xrays and these proved to be the clincher for the diagnosis.  He looked at my xrays with me and said ‘See these shadows near the joints? That’s decalcification.’ I don’t have a ton of bone erosion yet but ANY is frightening enough.

The Rheumatologist is pretty cool.  Nice laid back Black Man of about forty or so. He told me, ‘I can’t cure this for you, but it can be managed and long periods of remission are possible.’. He gave me paperwork for a bunch of lab tests and said ‘For the next few months you and I are going to be BFFs.’. We shook hands and he sent me on my way.

As I said, I’m a little funny feeling right now.  It’s starting to sink in.  But I’m not going to use over it or let it screw up my program.  I’ve worked too damn hard to turn tail and run.

I’m a little scared but I refuse to let it conquer me. Time to activate the Celtic Fire in the blood. I’m coming up with strategies for taking it easy on myself and am not going to bus tables more than two days a week.  Non-consecutively. I have to make money but I’m not going to kill myself to live. Hosting is relatively easy money and I’m fortunate to have added it to my restaurant skills.

Aside from that news, life is about the same. Upped my Wellbutrin due to some creeping depression and feeling far better for it. In love with my Boyfriend and life. That’ll do.

So I have a connective tissue disease, BFD.
Time to let Mr. Berserker out of the bag,  methinks.

Until we meet again,
Thom
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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. 

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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Rebuilding

My name is Thom and my life has been a mess for pretty much as long as I’ve existed. I’ve been deliberating over what to do about it for some time. I’ve done so off and on for the better portion of twenty years that I’ve struggled with substance abuse.

I’ve had my share of moments of clarity and dramatic realizations and what have you,  I just haven’t taken them very seriously up to now. So why have I chosen to do so now? Let me illustrate my plethora of reasons:

1. I can’t get any money saved. Ever. I’m always riding the ragged edge and I have gotten quite worried about doing this long term.

2. I have a family and great friends that I’m sick of letting down all the time.

3. I love my fiancee and want us to have a stable future.

4. I’m growing increasingly concerned about my physical and mental health and the very real danger I’m exposing myself to by living as I have for so long.

5. My younger brother looks up to me and currently has more clean time than I do.

6. I just can’t do this to myself anymore.    I’m sick of sobbing and feeling hopeless and lost.

I went to an AA group today. First time in four years. It gave me hope and it’s right by where I live so I don’t have to worry about getting there.

I’ve lived near a recovery clubhouse for nearly a year. I’ve walked past it countless times either drunk or high or both. Never been able to stop wondering if I should go inside.

I nearly ruined Mother’s Day by being in a really bad emotional state from drinking earlier that day. Only a few, but enough to turn me into a mess and worry my family.

I’m not an idiot,I just act like one rather often. I know I’m playing a dangerous game mixing booze and weed with my various meds. I know it has to stop now.

I love my man so much. He asked for me to marry him and I gladly accepted. I want the mental clarity I need for us to have a prosperous and long life together. I don’t want to be anything but there for him in every possible way. Which in order to do requires me to be there for myself.

To say that I have a bit of emotional baggage would be a grotesque understatement. My Dad finally knows I’m gay and isn’t thrilled with it. I have dealt with this and a number of other things by heavily altering my consciousness for longer than I care to admit.

I won’t lie, I’m horribly afraid of dealing with life on it’s own terms. The fact that I work as a barback is another problem. Being surrounded by booze is turning into a bit of a trigger for me. I don’t know what I’m going to do but this is me trying desperately to change my life.

Suicide in slow motion no longer interests me .Prosperity- now that’s intriguing.

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.

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I wanted….

I wanted this post to be a serious exercise in exposition. Maybe talk about love or something else reasonably intense. Perhaps reflect on the steady changes that the last few years have been composed of. Alas, it is not to be.

Alright, then what? I guess that I can use the old ‘Update on the State of Life’ motif again. It’s a bit tired but tried and true. I do occasionally enjoy it as well. I don’t have much going for me in this world except for a hopelessly overclocked brain, a great ass and something of a way with words. Words are both something that makes sense to me as well as something that I can control and manipulate.

So that said, things are going well. There are a few things that could use improvement, although on the whole everything is much better for me. So where do I begin? Oh yes. As I previously stated, I’m working in Clearwater Beach as a busser and barback. The money is great and it’s going quite well. I stayed dedicated with my job search and went to the interview even after I already got hired somewhere else. It turned out to be a good move.

Of course, this probably would not have happened if I hadn’t started taking Wellbutrin for depression. Getting on it is one of the smarter things I’ve done for myself along with telling the assholes at my previous soul-crushing job to fuck off.

Things are lovely on the home front. Looking forward to breakfast tomorrow morning with Shannon as well as going to open a checking account later on in the day. I live right by a branch that is open until 6 during the week. I pass by it on the way home every day so it’s the logical choice for a place to do my financial crap.

Shannon is trying to find a day job. I hope he does. Loving a third shift person is kind of like being an army wife or something. Wouldn’t trade him for the world, though. We understand one another in a way I’ve never known with another human being. I am so in love it’s freaking nauseating.

The animals are their usual charming selves. Roxy and Browski are chilling around the other couch and dozing. Not sure what Ms. Marci is up to but I’m certain that it’s inexplicably cute.

I decided to abandon the vocational rehabilitation idea as I simply can’t argue convincingly that my mental health issues are really holding me back that much right now.  I kind of feel like an idiot to be honest. Since I was diagnosed bipolar ten years ago I have never taken antidepressants. Even when I really needed some. I was diagnosed during a lexapro induced mania and stayed FAR from this whole class of drugs for ten years . I wonder how much unnecessary suffering I put myself through out of being afraid of antidepressants in general.

I finally got to where the risks associated with these meds were ones I was willing to take if it meant possibly not feeling vile. My doctor advised me that fetzima and Wellbutrin were the meds that were somewhat less likely to cause problems in the bipolar. I rolled the dice and hoped for the best.

It’s been like night and day. I keep thinking of what the Golden Dawn people say ‘Long hast thou dwelled in darkness. Quit the night and seek the day!’. For me , it was as simple as admitting that I was outgunned and admitting that the help I was afraid of using as well as asking for was needed beyond doubt.

I’m still hanging on.