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A new start…again

11 Oct

New Life Chapter One Typewriter

Here I go again, repeating a now-familiar pattern:

  1. Melt down mentally and financially, avoiding work, bills, friends, etc.
  2. Finally quit whatever substance I’m using to self-medicate (and/or numb)
  3. Days/weeks of bed-ridden depression, anxiety and absence of self-esteem
  4. Slowly get back into basic personal routine – sleep, moderately healthy eating, etc.
  5. Revisit long-neglected doctors – mental and phsysical
  6. Start some form of group therapy – finally trying AA this time*
  7. Build on healthy routine – including household chores, writing and exercise
  8. Reach critical mass of healthy routine, lifestyle and mental state
  9. Begin new job hunt – and/or in this case – return to full time role
  10. Secure quick, early wins and build from there…but not f–king it up this time

I’ll give you one guess where I am now. Hint: if you’re at 3, you’ve gone too far, again.

If all goes well, you’ll learn more, and I’ll have progress to report, the next time you check in, including thoughts and progress on AA. This may be the key to not screwing it up again; I can barely afford to do it this time, let alone another. Too many loved ones, kids and dollars at stake, and not being the dad, husband or man I want to be.

Thanks for reading…

Skipping church and other signs of trouble

18 Feb

It’s been a little over 36 hours since my return from the long weekend and, as expected, it’s been a brutal, depressing and anxiety-ridden road back to my own reality. Since I’ve been back I:

…had another B2C (straight from bed to couch) day yesterday, paralyzed by anxiety and lack of confidence with even the smallest of tasks.

…feel even more overwhelmed than I expected, mainly because our water pipes froze while we were away, adding another major task to the ever growing to do list.

…skipped church (group therapy) last night, probably when I needed it most, and in itself a warning sign that I’m neglecting my own self-care (more on this topic to come).

…let my own judgemental, pessimistic outlook on my return become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The good news? I’ve been looking after my 2-year old nephew who’s home sick from daycare, so I’m out of the house and being (to my mind) productive. What’s more, I’m feeling the proven therapeutic effects of spending quality time with a toddler.

Anxiety peaking as long weekend ends

17 Feb

My wife’s at the wheel as we make our final approach back into the city from the long weekend away. I’m in the passenger seat, teeth clenched in a mild panic attack as I think of the weekend behind us and the week that lays ahead.

It doesn’t help that we’ve spent 12 hours in the car over the last three days, or that I’ve been totally out of any routine.

I know, welcome to the real world, right? Nobody likes going back to work after a long weekend. But that’s life. Suck it up buttercup.

Well, it’s just not that easy when you’re crazy. For every day I’m away from my routine – during which my meds, meals and more can go untouched – it takes me at least as many to get back into it.

While tomorrow morning may bring a harsh return to reality for most, I fear with near certainty it will bring me a harsher, overwhelming return to anxiety. That I feel this way already almost makes it a forgone conclusion, another self-fulfilling prophecy.

Fuck me: I just found God in Axl Rose

14 Feb

Well, not God or gods exactly; more like inspiration, faith (in myself), and like any religious text, prophetic words I desperately want to prove wrong.

After hunting it down with the six words I remembered from the lyrics, I was listening to a favourite song from my high school days, Estranged, by the metal rock gods Guns n’ Roses. It’s long one, deeply personal as metal ballads go, with lyrics I found both relatable and prophetic at the time. Predictably, I saw the song as foreshadowing the breakup I knew was inevitable with with my high school sweetheart:

When I find out all the reasons
Maybe I’ll find another way
Find another day
With all the changing seasons of my life
Maybe I’ll get it right next time
An now that you’ve been broken down
Got your head out of the clouds
You’re back down on the ground
And you don’t talk so loud
An you don’t walk so proud
Any more, and what for.

Now as I listen to it some 20 years later I still love the tune and find its lyrics moving…but in a different way. This time around I’m afraid they’ll be prophetic, not resigned to the fact. I don’t want to find another way. I don’t want there to be a next time. I don’t want to be out here drifting all alone:

Well I jumped into the river
Too many times to make it home
I’m out here on my own, drifting all alone
If it doesn’t show give it time
To read between the lines
‘Cause I see the storm getting closer
And the waves they get so high
Seems everything We’ve ever known’s here
Why must it drift away and die?

Today I hear these words with a mixture of fear, dread, drive and (I hope, just enough) faith. Faith in myself. Faith that I can stay on track to recovery and return to the real adult world. And most of all, faith that Estranged is a just words on a page, not a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The need for speed…amphetamines for beginners

5 Feb

After two B2C* days in a row, I’ve got a new sense of purpose and vigor this morning. It’s not because of an early walk or a healthy breakfast, nor from any coping strategy to get my mind into gear for the day.  I did none of these things…but I did take my amphetamines.

In addition to my longstanding battles with depression and anxiety, I was diagnosed a couple years ago with adult ADHD.  My wife was the first to be convinced of it, before my psychiatric team even explored the diagnosis, but it would take some time for me to come around.  I had a problem with confidence and drive, not with my attention span.  Besides, ADHD is a disorder for kids, not adults, right?

Only because of my wife’s persistence did I eventually and reluctantly accept the diagnosis.  Along the way she introduced me to great resources like TotallyADD.com and held my hand through several self-diagnosis tests like those from Psychology Today, Psych Central and Totally ADD.  In the end, my symptoms matched up so closely that in hindsight the ADHD diagnosis was a no-brainer.

Just accepting the diagnosis, knowing that much more about how my mind operates, brought a wave of relief.  With a new mental battle front I learned about a whole new set of tools and coping strategies – making lists, setting attainable goals, establishing routines, etc. – to manage my ADHD.  My psychiatrist added a medication to the mix that would prove to be a silver bullet: Vyvanse.

Being a stimulant I expected it would make me anxious and jittery.  I already felt there wasn’t enough time in the day and I was sure that Vyvanse would only speed up.  It turned out to be the opposite; from the first day I took it, time slowed down for me and gave me room to breath.  I was no longer in a mad panic to solve all my life’s problems in a day.  I could see pathways to completing intimidating tasks that until then seemed impossible.  I actually started checking things off my to-do list instead of eternally adding to it.

In short, it worked.

It sounds crazy (of course it does) but I’m actually of two minds on Vyvanse and my success with it.  On the one hand, I see it as an effective medication and part of my overall daily treatment for a clinical disorder.  But for whatever reason, there are other times when I see it as yet another addiction, my daily fix of amphetamines.  I know this is what I do (beat myself up unnecessarily) but feeling guilty about taking medication that works is, well…crazy.

* Note: (B2C above refers to “bed to couch,” where I spent Monday and Tuesday)

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