Well…

Things are alright. I’m working hard as usual. I work at a burrito joint as a prep cook in the mornings. Not exactly my life’s ambition, but considering I was unemployed for years, it’s a start I suppose. It’s actually not so bad. It’s the same company I started working for part time when I was still on disability. After two years I switched locations and went full time, effectively terminating my SSDI. As I sit here absorbing King Diamond’s ‘Fatal Portrait’ album I realize that I’m actually something of a survivor. The first two years I worked 15-20 hours a week and could barely handle that. Worse still, I absolutely despised the job.

Allow me to explain a bit further. Sorry, I spaced for a moment as Andy Laroque and Michael Denner’s delicious riffing seriously distracted me. A friend of mine who worked there basically gift-wrapped the job for me. I just had to apply. I was still nervous as hell because by then I had been largely unemployed for the past three years. I started as a prep guy, but there was more to it than just that. I was also a dishwasher and a front of the house employee (bussing tables, cooking whatever the hot line needed more of on the grill (open assembly line type of situation). I was running around like a rat on meth trying to keep up. Some days I simply got buried and left three or four hours late. I couldn’t leave until the responsibilities of the day were complete, no matter how ridiculous.

I was losing my bloody mind. I was also zonked out on Lithium the whole time. It was icky beyond words. I was horribly bent out of shape most of the time. Then something cool occurred. I was cast in a production of ‘Guys and Dolls’ around the time my relationship with my girlfriend of four years was crumbling. This was a clear case of theatre saving my life and sanity. I had so much fun with this show that nothing could touch me. I split with her and moved home to start over. Happens to the best of us I guess.

So I kept working at burritoland. But a guy I worked with told me about the other location he worked at with a different franchise owner and slightly different way of operating. I was intrigued. I went in, got hired as the same job (or so I thought).After a few weeks I told the other store very politely that I was done and went full-time at the other, closer to home store. Right around this time I switched from Lithium to risperdal. Both this and the new job were huge improvements. It was so much better it blew my mind.  I could just be a cook and not do three jobs at once. I don’t mind having to do dishes but all that plus front of the house was too freaking much. I’ve worked there six months now and am fully off of social security benefits and it’s going just fine. Sometimes the grass IS greener on the other side.

So what else is up with me? I’m psyched to be going out with muh Man to see a movie Wednesday night. I have a bit of nerves for an unrelated reason though. My Dad left me a voicemail the other night that made me a bit uneasy. He said something like ‘I have a few things to talk to you about.’. My Dad has kind of a highly serious air even when he’s totally relaxed so I could be misinterpreting. But I remember what I did on Facebook that day. My hairdresser/theatre friend got married to his boyfriend that day and I congratulated them on Facebook. I think my Dad may have been perturbed by this.

My Father’s side of the family are conservative Catholics. Wonderful people but highly intense. As a bisexual man, I’ve always worn a cloak of heterosexuality around them, save for one Aunt who happens to be my Godmother. We don’t talk about it much, but she’s aware and is totally cool.

I’m not out on Facebook. Most of my friends know this about me but I’m not an ‘Advertise it with a neon sign’ sort of guy. I just try to be myself insofar as I can. Too many family members and not well known people are on there and I’m really intimidated by the prospect of how the men in my family would react.  Social networks carry with them some immense social pressures. I’m really not in the closet with most people. With my family it’s different I suppose. I’ve always known it would come up eventually. Still, I’ve played keep away for so many years.

Damnit. I never thought I’d accept this sort of cowardice from myself. I’m so desperate to not upset them that I’m upsetting the hell out of myself. Incidentally, what I’ve described is part of the reason bisexuals are despised by the gay community. They call it hiding behind heterosexual privilege or something. They think when the chips are down we put on the mask and play it safe behind a mask of ‘socially acceptable’. It isn’t like that, though I have asked myself these kinds of questions.

I don’t know. Maybe they would shrug it off. Or they might call me a sodomite and tell me some shit like ‘turn or burn’.I don’t know what to expect. I’m pretty sure they would not get it. It’s a generational thing I guess. My Dad is a good man. When I was a kid I got caught in an Atlantic riptide. My Dad went after me and pulled me to shore. I at least doubly owe him my life. He’s a very cultured man with incredible taste in music and literature. A man of relentless integrity. A man who’s flaws I can easily see past. I don’t know. Maybe someday I’ll summon the testicular fortitude. Just not today *sigh*.

I know sooner or later the cat is going to escape the bag. I mean, if the show Dexter taught us anything it’s this:

NOTHING STAYS BURIED FOREVER.

In the meantime I’m just delighted to find someone I can be myself with. Honestly, this is some of the most intense romance I’ve ever experienced. He’s strong yet delicate, witty yet absurd and just so very sultry in his geeky way.  I don’t really know why I let the family crap bother me. It’s me I have to live with, yanno?

On that note, have a pleasant evening.

-Thom

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Contradictions….

So many things which seem to be the purest form thereof….are not. Whether one is talking about chemistry of the romantic and neurological varieties, or a really stunning recipe, or a crossover album or WHATEVER- Some things which seem like a bad idea on paper or in theory turn out to be stunning testaments to human ingenuity. It all depends on how you approach it.

Some of the Metal music I adore is honestly pure schlock and cheese. But it works despite how cartoony it may appear on the surface. A great deal of my friends are people I never thought I would ever have any common ground with. Variety is truly the spice of life.

So it goes with many things. My current boyfriend and I actually have some things in common, which is highly unusual for me. I usually find myself awkwardly mismatched and grasping for the words at any moment. When I saw him recently we listened to some Brian Eno, some Lycia, some Jess and The Ancient Ones and I even managed (being a devious bastard) to slip some Mortuary Drape in there. He isn’t an obsessive listener and just told me to surprise him. Still,  he was pretty receptive to everything I played. Important plot point this is. He and I are very different people but we seem to be a good fit.

Back to contradictions, let’s talk about the chemical management of the bipolar one/adhd stuff. Risperdal and Adderall. The most potent dopamine blocker on the market combined with the most powerful stimulant. You would figure this would be a clear case of canceling one another out, ja? Not the case. The risperdal generally keeps me calm as a hindu cow while the adderall makes me think more.. I guess you could call it linearly and logically. I can plan ahead as I go and not get sidetracked by every stupid little thing. I’m hoping I can use this to help me conquer some sort of schooling soon. I went to trade school for HVAC but my back and shoulders are in no shape for that sort of work anymore.

I’ve started this blog for a few primary reasons.

1. To have a place where I can speak relatively freely and release pressure.

2. To get myself back in the habit of writing.

3. To offer what perspective, insight and support I can to the community of mental health bloggers on wordpress.

Blogging here has been an immensely valuable resource for me in the past. Whether it’s for just blowing off steam. sharing strategies for coping or just having a place to share/be oneself this is a wonderful community. I’ve had to narrow my audience a bit as I’m not really ‘out’ with about half my family. So there goes publicizing on facebook. Still, I’m doing it more for peace of mind than the gathering of followers.

So that’s about where I’m at. Enjoying my mental health sabbatical and getting my affairs in order. Medicare dragged their feet on striking me from the rolls so I nearly lost my tax credit for my current insurance. Got it sorted out though. As it stands though I’m kind of in the weeds. I was on Social Security Disability for five years. My case was flagged for termination while I was still barely functional because I started working part time. I was still a mess though.

I filed for an extension of benefits while my appeal was being reviewed. However, something changed. After about nine months after I filed I got taken off of Lithium and put on Risperdal. I was a  literally like a new man after about a month on Risperdal. I abandoned my appeal indicating to them that my condition had drastically improved and I was no longer interested in pursuing the hearing. So I got stuck with the bill because I signed an agreement stating that I understood I may have to pay the appeal payments back.

So I owe about a year of SSDI back. Eleven Thousand dollars. Ouch. I’m a person of modest income so this will take a long time to pay off. However, I have made arrangements for monthly payments. It’s a bitter pill to swallow as I feel I’m being punished for getting better. My condition was well established as causing impairment and the change for the better was abrupt. Still- what can I do?

In spite of this all, I feel good. I know I’ve changed for the better because the old me would be going completely to pieces over this kind of stuff. Experience really is the best teacher.

That’s about all I have for now. Be well.

-Thom

 

P.S.- One final thing- regarding the title ‘Planet Berserk’: My nickname among friends has been Berserker since I was seventeen years old (32 now). It is what it is 😉