Power on

It takes an amazing amount of energy and work to get through the day. Speaking for myself, I know that it takes a lot to get out of bed, shower, work, clean, spend time with my girls, and then try not to collapse into bed too soon. Somewhere in there I have to find time to eat and write. It takes a lot to be me.

And I do it with a chronic illness.

Having a chronic illness makes everything you do seem like you are doing it with a large animal strapped to your back, holding you down on a good day and on a bad day, it is trying to drag you the opposite direction. You walk through what feels like jello, it takes an hour or two to wake up with your body hurting so much, and you fight to hold thoughts in your head through the brain fog. If you take medicine for this you are also judged, weighed, and told how it is just a crutch to make you feel better.

All this for me is made harder in that I am socially awkward. Being an introvert makes it socially draining on me to be around other people. Just talking and interacting with people takes a toll. I take my issue a step further by helping others and providing advise to those who ask. I stop and listen to see what is needed and just to let others talk. I take extra time to ask people about their day and to see what I can do for them.

Why do I do this despite the fact I deal with so much from my illness?

Because we have to be better and overcome our issues. Everyone has them. We all have things holding us back. Be it physical, mental, emotional, or otherwise, we have issues that cause us to not be the best we can be. Our problems are not the issue. It is our attitude. Sitting down and throwing a pity party will not fix things. Getting up, giving it a 100% even in the times we know that we might not win. Just because we don’t like it doesn’t change the fact that we have the power to change our viewpoint on it.

I know what I have been through in both this last year personally and over the past five years with my illness. I have seen the hardships it has caused and the problems to come. I have seen where it has gotten the best of me. However, I do see where I did not let it hold me back. I have seen the problems I have overcome by continuing on my path even when it got hard. I made the decisions that needed to be made and followed through on them. Just because life has gotten tougher does not mean you give up.

I have learned in the hardest ways that I am not perfect. It has not stopped me from trying. Some days are going to be rough and get the better of you. It will happen. You have to decide what to do with the days that does not happen.

What do you do when you have a good day?

Keep powering on and #hugaplushie my friends

The Year of Hell – 2018

As this year closes, I find myself with quite a few people who have not had a very fond year. Memories of 2018 seem to be cutting deep for all of us with personal and private losses. I know for myself that it was a record year for what I have been through.

In the past year I have lost several family members. Deaths of my grandmother, uncle, and grandfather-in-law hit hard at several points over the year. They were spread out so it was not all at once but baring those loses still bore down on me.

This year, my wife and I separated and were divorced. I cannot begin to describe the amount of pain, anguish, and hurt that I have been through in this process. Dealing with the courts, being there for my kids, and being single all have been overwhelming in all cases. I will say that my Ex-wife has done a tremendous job of trying her best and we are very civil. Pain, however, is part of the process and it does not stop.

As with the above mentioned divorce, I have had to: Find a new job, Find a place to live, Get a car, and rebuild a life. Much in the same way as getting a chronic illness diagnosis, in a divorce you have to find a new you. Rediscovering everything about yourself is quick daunting and can crush you. Having now been through both of these has added a whole new level of understanding. Learning to live and work and even play (when you even can find the energy) is completely different and is amazingly difficult. You find strength you never knew you had. Some days, it just doesn’t happen and you have to learn to accept that.

I have lost around a third of my friends in my life this past year. Be it time, distance, personal beliefs, or something else entirely, I have lost much more then I have gained in terms of numbers. Such losses take quite a toll on someone who doesn’t have many friends. Chronic illness tends to get in the way of making new ones or keeping the ones you have at the moment. I will say that I have seen a few friendships grow deeper and the ones who have stayed have been amongst the best of people. Thank you.

In all this madness of this year, it has been a bad year for chronic illness sufferers. The Opioid Crisis has been one of the focuses of the year. My medical insurance has skyrocketed along with my medication cost. I have written more published articles than all my years past combined and most have dealt with these issues. Depression and anxiety with the growing social issues and personal issues have taken a huge chunk of my spirit and I find it hard to find the faith I once did before.

However, in all of this, I have survived. I use survived as it has been one hell of a battle to make it through this year. I come to the close of this calendar and I live. By reading this, you as well have made it. I am so proud of you and us in general. I want to congratulate all of us for making it. I still plan on being here, encouraging everyone, staying the course on being positive in this valley. I hope by sharing my story of this year has brought you hope that if I can make it, so can you.

#hugaplushie my friends

PS – Props to those who get the title reference.

Focusing Life

Life has been rough for many friends and family. I have seen illness, heartbreak, money issues, and personal problems effect almost everyone in my life. It has been a rough and hard year for me and mine. I have had to keep my chin up, keep going and try to find ways of not only keeping myself going, but also the rest of my readers. In my life, I have found a very important philosophy. What you will seek, you will find.

When you are looking for reasons to be angry, they appear like magic. The little annoyances seem to come out of everything. The office chair wheel squeaking, the car that always seems to cut you off in the morning, and the sound of a sigh that just hits your last nerve like a marksman, all of these just seem to multiply. It can be so easy to see and even seek reasons to be angry if we are not careful.

Conversely, seeing someone who seeks out happiness and the joy that comes with it is awe-inspiring. That person who makes lemonade out of lemons, sees the rain as a way to make flowers bloom, or even their car breaking down as a way to meet a new person and brighten someone else’s day just seems magical. I believe we all have met someone in our lives that just seem to do that. These are people who are looking, seeking, grasping at the happiness, joy and peace that comes with it. These are the people who we strive to be at times but we always seem to fail.

Why is that?

I believe our focus is wrong. We are seeking he happiness, joy, good in life but have our eyes on the dark, terrible things that try and grab our attention. It is very easy to dismiss these happy, bright people as oblivious or even not paying attention to the issues. I argue that they see these issues and seek to find the good in life. Why spread the hate, anger, and depression? How does this help those who need help? I am guilty of not focusing on the good. I am seeking to change that. My first step is to look at some positives.

There are some amazing things that have come out in the disabled community lately. I was watching an infomercial on an Up walker or Upright walker. This is one of those medical devices that allow people who would be hurt by being hunched over in a walker, stand upright and keep moving without stress on their back. People with Parkinson’s disease who would not be able to hold themselves up now have a way to be mobile. Amazing. There is an Xbox gaming pad for disabled gamers. This is a customizable gamepad for people who have lost limbs, have limited mobility, or even people who can’t even hold a controller still be able to play video games and enjoy life. Microsoft poured tons of hours of development and research in making a fully customizable device that is able to allow people to still do what they enjoy.

What you will seek, you will find. Try to look for the positives. Start with a week. Set an alarm on your phone to go off each morning to remind you. See if you can find the good in the world. Let others know your success.

Begin again.

I’ve been scared to write for the past while. It’s not something that I have had to deal with in the past. I’ve always found words to be able to explain myself or to vent my feelings or even to help other people out. I find myself more and more afraid of sharing in the most recent weeks.

I went to the doctor here recently and was prescribed more medication. It has been a rough time adjusting to that and my other meds. I am finding it much harder to focus and to write and be creative. It has gotten bad enough that I haven’t posted in over a week which is something that I haven’t done since starting my blog over two years ago. Words don’t flow the way they used to and even the simplest tasks seem harder now days. I’ve even been contemplating not continuing my blog and ending it where it stands now.
I have decided against doing so.
I know my blog has been an inspiration to quite a few people. I have received more than one note or letter from people telling me how much they appreciate me writing and helping them through difficult times. I feel somewhat responsible for helping continue to help people out through tough times in their lives. That is not something I can throw away very lightly.
And so I asked my dear friends, please bare with me over the next coming weeks as I am continuing to adjust to this new life on more meds. I have recently started a overnight stocking job for a large retail company as well to keep things mixed up. I also had some other interesting life news happen that I cannot share at this time. Some of that news was good and some of it was bad. Rest assure I will continue to do my best to help encourage others, and continue documenting my journey through depression and anxiety and other invisible disabilities.
I thank you all who read this. Know that I love each and everyone of you and I look forward to bringing you more words of wisdom and encouragement.

#hugapony my friends.

Pilling around.

I had another doctor’s visit this past week. My regular 3 month follow-up. It was supposed to be a regular check up but this was my first one since my asking about my condition and fibromyalgia. It was a bit hard to accept a negative response when I first asked about it. I was told it was all in my head and I was dismissed. It was not what I thought my doctor who has helped me so much would do to me.

I went in to the exam room and had all my vitals checked (lost 2 pounds at 210, 126/80, 97.1 temp). Chatted with the nurse, who knows me on sight now, about my emotional support dog and how much he is helping. Small talk. She left and I waited in silence.

After 5 minutes my doctor came in.

She asked how I was doing and I told her not very well. My pain had been flaring up quite a bit, life was still very stressful with moving into a new apartment (and dealing with new management and other issues), my wife being in another car accident (she was OK but is doing physical therapy because of injuries sustained), and surviving several other private things that I cannot share here.

She listened as she checked my lungs and commented a word or two of concern when needed. She then said she had been looking over my case and she agreed that she might have been too hasty in her decision to dismiss my claims, especially in light of me having increased pain. She was going to add another prescription to my usual medication to help with the pain.

I was surprised but happy to have her, in my opinion, back on my side looking out for me.

 

I went home and filled all my meds and in the next few days dealt with the addition of more side effects (all three of my meds cause drowsiness and dizziness) and my body trying to respond to them. It has been a rough weekend for me.

I have had to rely on my family and friends quite a bit as I have had more than several moments of having to clutch the wall in a dizzy spell, falling asleep in the middle of the afternoon, not mixing them up or overdosing, and making sure I am not driving. I am not sure people know the responsibility of taking medications. There is a lot more work than people know.

Making sure to keep track of them (there is a fantastic app called Medisafe that tracks when to take something, how many pills you have, and when to refill) is a part-time job. You become a pharmacist, almost, with knowing what to take, how to take it, when to take it.  You have to check in with those around you to see how badly its affecting you because your reality is skewed. You fight to maintain your concentration in the simplest tasks. You get criticized because you are on medication and you are weak and just need to feel better.

I am here to tell you that it is OK to need medication to help you.

I am here to encourage you that it is OK to get help.

I am here to tell you to talk to your doctor to get help.

I am here to tell you to stop listening to those who criticize.

Only you know what you are going through. I understand the struggle and the need for help. I have lived with the pain daily. It is beyond OK to look for help in your life. Lets end all the shaming in being prescribed medication BECAUSE YOUR BRAIN IS SICK. If you had a kidney infection or diabetes, you would take antibiotics or insulin to help your body. This is considered normal. The brain should be treated the same way.

Sometimes it can be therapy (stuffed or otherwise).

Sometimes it takes medication.

There is no shame in asking for help.

I’m not.

#hugapony

 

The Great Unknown.

It has not been a good day/week/month/year mentally. I have undergone many a issue. I have worked harder on finding out more about myself and what is going on. I have worked harder on myself and my illness. I have tried to make things change. I have pushed to have more control over my life.

And I feel back behind square one.

Square Zero.

I am tired of being tired. I am tired of being sick. I am tired of hurting every single day. I am tired of being a mess.

I decided to write what I feel and what goes through my head when I am having a bad day. I wanted to show what goes through my head and what my mind is telling me. I wanted to see on paper and hold my issues in my hand. Try and see the tangible evidence of my mind spiraling out of control. I only wrote for about a minute, but it was not pretty.

I AM SELF-CENTERED. I am an idiot. I am a horrid person. I am a failure. I bring everyone down around me. No one wants me. No one actually cares for me. No one wants to give me anything. No one wants to do something for me without wanting something in return. I always feel guilty, even when sitting and reading. I don’t take care of the kids. I don’t fulfill anyone’s hopes, dreams, desires. I am not attractive. 

I am trying to sort through just went through my head what my mind tells me.

I know I am not a complete failure. (But you fail at so much)

I know I take care of my kids. (You don’t do enough)

I know people care for me. (They are just faking or feeling sorry for you out of pity)

I know my wife and kids love me. (They have to, they don’t have a choice)

I should not feel guilty about sitting and reading. (You are lazy for taking time for yourself and need to be helping others or cleaning or anything but what you want to do)

My mind is a battleground. I wanted share this with everyone. Not for pity or help. But to show that I suffer as well. I fight each day. I have people fighting with me. I am seeking new ideas and ways to help/sort/better myself.

You are not alone, dear reader.

Even holding the card in my hand, I see myself and almost want to take pity on me. I have to write things down to get them out of my head? Worthless. Even now I struggle to be free of my mind.

Even now I hug a pony.

 

 

 

I wish I had Cancer

Cancer is a disease that people can relate to and under. The causal head nod, followed by the “I’m so sorry” makes it so people understand that something serious is going on. People hear it and recognize that a person is going through one of the most difficult things to go through. One of our closest family friends is a cancer survivor. Eight years ago she got a terminal diagnosis. She says her first thought was “Thank God it’s cancer and not depression.”

Depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses don’t carry that same weight. People don’t understand and cannot see the changes. Family, friends, and even doctors all look at you and say “It is all in your head”. While they are not false, this makes it seem like I have the ability to change my illness and “Just feel and act better and you will BE better”. It is easy to forget that these illnesses can be just as deadly.

Here are some statistics on depression/suicide.

  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US for all ages. (CDC)
  • The suicide rates decreased from 1990-2000 from 12.5 suicides per 100,000 to 10.4 per 100,000.  Over the past decade, however, the rate has again increased to 12.1 per 100,000. Every day, approximately 105 Americans die by suicide. (CDC)
  • There is one death by suicide in the US every 12.3 minutes. (CDC)
  • Depression affects 20-25% of Americans ages 18+ in a given year. (CDC)
  • Suicide takes the lives of over 38,000 Americans every year. (CDC)
  • Only half of all Americans experiencing an episode of major depression receive treatment. (NAMI)
  • 80% -90% of adolescents that seek treatment for depression are treated successfully using therapy and/or medication. (TADS)
  • An estimated quarter million people each year become suicide survivors (AAS).
  • There is one suicide for every estimated 25 suicide attempts. (CDC)
  • There is one suicide for every estimated 4 suicide attempts in the elderly. (CDC)

With all this data, why is there such a stigma around mental and neurological disorders? Why are people so quick to judge? Why is it so hard to believe it IS all in my head due to my head having an illness.

It is frustrating trying to explain why you can’t focus on the happy. Your mind looks and seeks the flaws. You go and find thinks to fill the gaps in your day so the anxiety doesn’t catch up to you. You just try to stay ahead of the wave that is threatening to drown you.

And people stare at you.

They wonder why you are so different. They wonder why you can’t just feel better. They just want you to be normal. They are tired of you and all the baggage that you carry. They get tired of you and how you act.

Believe me, if I could just “Man up” and be a better person, I would have done it years ago.

No, I would never want or wish on anyone cancer. It is a terrible disease and I am glad so much time and research goes into it. I just want people to understand that mental health issues can be just as dangerous and deadly. Keeping people’s mental state in order so they can live better lives should be a focus for everyone.

I’ll step off my soapbox now.

#hugapony

Updating life, please stand by.

I have been busy. I have been stressed out. I look at Bilbo Baggins talking about butter being scraped over too much bread with deep set envy. I long for days of “normal”.

I have hit a very rough patch. My meds are fickle at best at the moment. I have been sick for 2 weeks because my anxiety has shut down my immune system. My stress keeps me up nights. I stay up till 3 or 4 in the morning but still manage to wake up at 9 am or earlier because stress and heartburn from my stress wake me up. I stumble out to pills and coffee and spend the next 2 hours trying to find energy or the will power to do anything but just sit.

But it is in very short supply.

People don’t understand that anxiety makes you focus on everything and you can’t stop. You are hyper sensitive to you, those around you, outside events that you have no control over. You can’t push them to the back of your mind. You can’t “just act better”. “Just go make a difference in your life” is not an available option.

Depression then feeds on you as you slide down the hole which anxiety beats you down into.

I am beat up. I will keep fighting. I hope to feel better soon. I hope life returns to normal.

Resetting life is fun.

#hugapony my friends.

Failure

It is 3 am and I cannot sleep. Thoughts flowing through my head as I think back at what today was. I started today hopeful, yet it crashed.

Hard.

I had an amazing job opportunity. It was a contract run for a subsidiary for Google. It was parttime, work at home, with some amazing pay. I could stay with my girls, still watch the kid that I babysit, keep the house clean, and Gail would be still able to do her job.

Unfortunately it was not to be.

The application process was pretty straightforward. I had quite a few verification checks on my credentials as far as the position. It required tons of social media experience and website design experience which, while I did not have schooling, this blog is more than helped me be able to say I have experience running a website and knowing what to look for in one. And of course this blog is helping me with social media connections that I have made.

I then had a test that I was required to take with three parts. With this test came a large training manual that I was supposed to study. I was given a week to be able to go through the study materials and take the exams. Two of the major warnings about the test. First, once you begin the test you were not able to stop. Second, if you failed any single part of the test you could not move on to the next part of the test and you would be removed from the program and not able to reapply.

Ever.

But it seemed fate was not on my side this day.

I spent most of the day studying a good 8 hours or so. I did all the right things. I made sure to have Alpha brain wave study music going. I made sure to study when there were minimal distractions. And it’s been quite a while since college so I have not used to study as much as I used to be. Still, I did all I could to ensure a proper study regime.

As I was finishing this first day of study in the training material they had a “Here’s the website you’re going to be using for your work and to take the test button. Click on it to check it out.” When I clicked on it and inspected the website as they had instructed me to do so, everything decided to make a turn for the worse.

The website decided to go ahead and launch this test, with me only being less than a day prepared for a 7-Day examination. My heart raced as I realize that I just started a test I could not stop. I started working through the test and to my surprise, I felt I was doing well. I understood the material that been given to me. The questions were true/false questions, not my personal favorite but they still were not as difficult as any essay questions that I had taken.

At the end of the test I hit submit and thought I had done the best I possibly could have and felt pretty good about it.

I had a 15-minute wait for an email would be sent to me to inform me that I could start the next part of the exam which should have taken another day or two to prepare and go through it. As I was reviewing the material and going through my information for the next step I received the email.

I had failed.

For the life of me, I don’t understand what questions I had missed. It was an open book exam and the answers that I had given were taken straight from the textbook. Even thinking back on it now I still don’t know what questions I got wrong and unfortunately the test providers would not give me the answers I sought. I was informed that due to security reasons, I could not be told my result other than a pass/fail.

For someone with anxiety, failing a test I think is one of the worst possible things that you can experience. Especially one that you studied and think you’re going to do well. When you’ve studied and you have prepared yourself and you feel a little bit confident (a rare thing for me) that you know the material. It gives you a sense of pride because you’ve done the best you could possible. It is a rare feeling for someone with anxiety because so rarely do we experience pride or that feeling of preparation. For me to fail this test felt like someone had taken the rug that I was standing on and pulled it out from underneath me.

And then came the guilt.

This has been the best opportunity I’ve had in quite a while to be able to support my family in this fashion. I even had the great opportunity of it being in a field that I am currently in with blog writing and the like. This is also was to be a great boon as my family looks for a new place to live and having a nice consistent paycheck with a decent pay was going to be a particular godsend for us. As my mind slowly turned against me I thought about how much I failed my wife and my kids.

This horrific side effect of anxiety is the one that just deeply troubles me the most. It’s where your brain uses all its resources to convince you, you are your worst fear. Most people think that depression and anxiety can be the same thing at times. Depression is the absence of feelings inside you, emptiness. Anxiety is the feeling of everything wrong with you and it’s your fault.

Having both of them as hell.

I went through my regular progression of dealing with my anxiety. I grabbed one blanket I grabbed my pony and I curled up on my bed and just tried to block out everything. I did not have anyone to distract me because everyone had gone to church to leave me to study. Being alone was probably the best thing for me at that moment. Tears welled up in my eyes as I thought of how stupid of a person I was then I couldn’t pass an open book exam. My brain continued the mutiny against me.

My wife came home concerned because I had turned off my phone and she couldn’t reach me. She always does the best she can when I’m in anxiety fit. She got my daughter’s ready for bed made sure I was left alone and make sure that if I need anything just to ask. My roommate at this time came in and saw that I had failed the test on Facebook. He took a moment to pray over me and I really do thank him for taking the time to think of me.

It just takes a few small moments with loving people to break you out.

It’s been a hard day my friends. I hope you have better news soon. All I know is that I have to keep trying and I plan to continue to do so.

Hug a pony my friends.

#stuffedtherapy

image