Morning Meltdown

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This morning I awoke at 7:30 or so because of my back (the alarm doesn’t go off until 9:00) and I did my vitals and brushed my teeth. Went to prepare coffee for both of us, which usually means putting sleeves on the cups (we use the plastic reusable Starbucks cups: they’re durable, they’re stackable, and they cost a buck apiece), putting one scoop of xylitol and two scoops of creamer into the cups, and preparing two reusable K-cup filters’ worth of regular coffee per cup, then using the small cup button on the Keurig when brewing. I was planning on prepping both cups for me and my wife, but only brewing mine until she awoke.

I got as far as getting the sweetener and the creamer in the cups when I suddenly was overcome with doubt that I had done it correctly – I thought I’d only put one scoop of creamer in each cup instead of two. I opted not to toss what I’d done and waste the xylitol, since we were pretty low, but instead just set them aside and quietly freaked out over screwing up the coffee. I went into the bedroom and snuggled up to my wife, who woke up and asked me what was wrong. I told her and she tried to reassure me that everything would be okay, but my brain, in the time it took to realize what I thought I’d done, stand there for about fifteen seconds contemplating my options, and then slowly pad into the bedroom with the gait of someone that’s guilty of committing a grievous offense against humanity and was caught doing it, wasn’t having any of it. I’d hit full meltdown mode and I was refuting everything she was trying to reassure me of.

Somewhere in there I got sleepy again and felt that it was wrong of me to have woken her up while I was still sleepy. Again she refuted me and asked me where my evidence was that I had done wrong. After getting her frustrated to the point that she was starting to kick herself for not fixing my problems, we both went back to bed and didn’t wake back up until 11:00. The sleep was the reset that we both needed.

The problem that I have with this is that I have the tools to refute my brain weasels on my own, yet this time I failed to use them – just like I’ve failed to do so very often throughout my life. The version of reality that my brain tries to convince me of is the only thing that I can hear, even in the face of overwhelming concrete evidence against that alternate reality. Maybe I wasn’t awake enough to bring those tools to bear – I oftentimes have morning meltdowns and that might be one of the reasons why. Maybe it’s because I felt like I had to be awake because I woke up and it was light outside, and my body really wasn’t done sleeping, and I was dealing with that fight that my body and my brain were having with one another. I really don’t know what caused it this morning, but I knew that it was almost instantaneous, the feeling that I had massively screwed up and the overwhelming need to be comforted through it.

Things worked out this time, but next time something like this happens I’m going to try and be more critical of it, refuting the brain weasels best I can. (Incidentally, if you’re wondering why this doesn’t work all the time, well … I wish I had an answer for you. If we could just talk or breathe our way through our emotional crises like this, we’d put the vast majority of therapists out of work. A lot of times events like this morning have a deeper root than we’d like to admit, and sometimes it takes digging deep to find the root problem and work on that. I think this was one of those times. I couldn’t point to a single instance from my childhood that would have formed the behavior that I exhibited this morning, but I can tell you that I was under a great deal of pressure from my parents to excel at school, and I think that’s one of the reasons I didn’t, to rebel against the pressure to be the golden child. Or I could have been kicked in the head by a horse when I was a kid. Who knows. Also, that bit about the horse actually happened to me, but that’s a blog post for another time.)

Building a Distraction

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Yesterday evening we went to go pick up another Brené Brown book, I Thought It Was Just Me, that I think will be helpful. The Gifts of Imperfection is coming to a close and I’m probably going to spend some time with it taking notes before starting into the next book. I read for comprehension this time through, next time I’m going to read it with the intent of following through on the questions she asks throughout the book.

While we were at the store, my lovely wife surprised me with another LEGO Architecture set. This is my ninth set, plus I have the Studio. One of the early sets they had was a rudimentary model of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, currently the tallest building in the world, but they discontinued it for some reason maybe a year or more ago. Yesterday, I found out the reason. They’ve re-released the Burj Khalifa as a vastly improved model – bigger, more complex, more detailed than its predecessor. After a rare dinner out (thank you, loyalty rewards program, for the $25 off!) we came home and started to build.

As usual, my wife separated and sorted bricks and I built. I was amazed at how well built this model is at its core. It felt like an architectural project, with several internal elements designed to reinforce the model as it grows taller and taller and larger design elements that were constructed before being added to the full model. The methods used to realize this set were plenty and as creative as anything I’ve ever seen in a set before. It took about two hours before the spire, the final element that took twenty steps on its own, was added to the rest of the model. The finished piece towers over the rest of my collection at 15.4 inches tall. It’s truly a beautiful thing.

As much fun as I have admiring it over on the top of the bookshelf that I display my collection on, I had just as much fun or more actually building the thing, so this afternoon when my wife asked me what I wanted to do, I told her I wanted to break down the model and reconstruct it. So that’s what we did, and it was just as much fun the second time around as it was the first.

The best part, however, is that it’s worked to completely distract me from my recent downward spiral. We can’t go buy a new model every time I get depressed, but this was a special treat and I cannot thank my wife enough for letting me have it. The timing was perfect.

Slowly Emerging

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Last night after I posted my extremely terse blog entry I self-medicated with food and drink – we went to one of our favorite restaurants and I split a plate of poutine with my wife and had half a Cuban pressed burger (think Cuban sandwich with a burger in it), along with a cider. The waitress greeted us and immediately went into the types of ciders they had, since she remembered us and remembered I was a cider drinker. That was a good feeling, knowing that I’m enough of a regular to be recognized. Came home and went to bed in short order.

I’m admittedly not much better than I was last night. I woke up in a great mood, quickly switched to angry at myself for no reason whatsoever, and then soon after that slid back into depression. It’s five after three in the afternoon as I write this sentence and I haven’t been out of bed for long.

Logically, I know there’s no reason for me to be feeling the way I am. I know that everything is proceeding according to the prophecy, and that the events of yesterday are behind me. So I don’t know why I’m back into this well here.

Part of it is a lack of something to do, I think. We had plans to go to a friend’s for a cookout but we canceled them earlier this morning when I was in and out of bed for vitals and meds and I really wasn’t in a good headspace. There are several things that we could do, but I’m reticent to bring them up in case it’s a bad idea, so my brain is telling me that it’s best for me to sit over here and stare mindlessly at the computer like I do so often, just waiting on something better to happen to me.

I really dislike this feeling, this complete lack of momentum to get anything done with my day. I’ve done most of the checklist items up to this point in the day, and once I finish this I’ll be done for the foreseeable future, at least until my alarms go off for my afternoon meds and vitals.

Yet another boring post about my boring life. At least I’m at a point that I can write today.

 

Drawing a Blank

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At three separate times today the subject for today’s blog post crossed my mind, and just as quickly exited before being stored in even short-term memory. This stuff was popping up in the “hey wait OOH SHINY” part of my memory, and I am certain that that is the medical term for this phenomena.

I could write about one of my favorite comic books coming to life this week in AMC’s Preacher. Forewarned that the series would not be mirroring the comics in any way at all, and that material from the comics wouldn’t really start showing up until episode ten, I went in clear of expectations. I was not disappointed. The pilot episode was darkly funny, action packed, brutally violent and gory and just downright weird – which is precisely the spirit of the comics themselves. I have high hopes for this series.

I could write about what they’ve done to poor Steve Rogers in the comics. The internet kinda blew the doors off this one – screw spoilers – and collectively grabbed their torches and pitchforks over the plot twist that they say has been planned for two years and hinted at since 1940. I’m not going to even honor this development by naming it in this blog. What they’re doing is absolutely wrong. There are little kids with Captain America plastered all over their bedrooms crying their eyes out over what they’re doing with him in the comics. You can tell me they’ll retcon this just like they retcon every ludicrous storyline that’s ever done in the comics, and I’m certain they will, but the damage is already being done to the core audience. Rethink this course of action, Marvel, before sales figures force your hand.

I could write about one of my fellow DJs who at this very moment is possibly on stage with his band Super Mega Everything competing for the chance to play the Haight Ashbury Street Fair in San Francisco later this year. This is a huge deal for a NorCal band and would put them in front of thousands of attendees. I really hope it goes well for him and his band tonight. He’s a really decent guy and this would be an excellent opportunity for him to broaden his fan base.

I’m pretty certain what I intended to write about isn’t any of those things, to be honest, but they’re what’s popping into my head now, so this is what you get. Lesson learned: when inspiration hits, don’t put it off – sit down and write.

 

The Gift of Show Day

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I have a radio show for three hours later this evening.

There have been times that I’ve dreaded it. Physically, this is one of those times: the other night I ate a piece of pie that had been heated to the point that it burned my esophagus going down and now swallowing almost anything feels like a punch to the solar plexus. Mentally, though, that’s not the case.

The show requires that I connect with our audience through our IRC channel and optionally another gaming outlet. That connection does me a lot of good, since it’s conversation with a lot of people about a lot of things. It allows me to interact with people I wouldn’t otherwise be interacting with, and lately I’ve been craving that interaction.

I think when I’m feeling better (it actually hurts to talk somewhat) I’m going to try one of those alternate outlets in addition to the IRC channel. I think the environment would be a good one for me mentally speaking and the audience would be appreciative of the dual presence.

I try to stop short of promoting my shows here on WordPress, although I will do so on Facebook. The show focuses on Rock and Roll Hall of Famers and so the music is across the board, just like the Hall, and somewhat whiplashy from song to song. If you have an interest in checking things out, send me a message and I’ll try to answer as soon as I can.

Roadblock Reframing

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I got a lot of good advice about yesterday’s panicky, frantically written post on both WordPress and Twitter. I want to thank everyone that commented and tried to talk me down off the ledge; it eventually worked.

More than one person essentially said “this part of the book is not written about you.” I tend to disagree; the subject matter is relevant to my life. The problem that I had is that I saw one phrase and hyperfocused on that, to the point that the rest of the chapter wasn’t even a blip on my radar. I let that one little bit of cognitive dissonance run amok with the book and with my blog, and I apologize for not having better control of the situation.

It’s true, I am on the internet most all day. I only take a break when I’m doing chores around the house or on those rare occasions that I’m watching a movie. But the internet isn’t a situation that I can’t stand to be away from; if it were, I wouldn’t be able to go to SCA events and forget about my smartphone with the exception of it being my alarm for my medications and vitals throughout the day. The internet is my primary conduit for communication with others, and that’s what I crave, a lot more than the usual content. The things I do on the internet are just filler for the times between conversations.

So yesterday’s panic attack was over nothing, as they usually are. Thanks again to the folks that helped me reframe the situation in my mind into something much more manageable.

Roadblock to Change

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As I’ve said here recently I’m reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown. For the last two days I’ve been reading “Guidepost #3, Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness.” I split my reading at the section entitled “Numbing and Taking the Edge Off,” and I read today from that point forward to the end of the chapter.

This section defined addiction as “chronically and compulsively numbing and taking the edge off feelings” and then went on to give examples of what people can be addicted to. The last example given was the internet.

From the moment I wake up until the time I go to bed, all day, every day, I have my computer on and I’m sitting in front of it compulsively searching for anything to occupy my time. Sometimes I spend hours just staring at it hoping that something will change and I’ll actually have something to engage in. I take breaks long enough to get things done around the house, but I’m never far from the internet and I’m never away for it for long, unless I have an appointment.

Am I addicted to the internet?

Do I have a bigger problem than my mental illnesses?

How do I know how much of this is searching for something to occupy my time and how much of this is the complete inability to step away from it at all?

Am I really disabled, or just addicted?

This passage is basically causing me to question everything I do with my day and it’s starting to convince me that what I’m doing with my day is wrong, that I need to shut down the internet and find something else to occupy my time, or just sit and stare at the walls, anything to keep from feeding the addiction.

I don’t like this feeling.

I’m not sure whether the book is even speaking to me with this, but it seems to be because I can’t put down the internet. I’ll skip watching almost any streaming media service like Netflix or our own movies or what have you because I have to be connected. What if someone needs me for something and I’m not available? I can’t have that on my conscience.

I think I have a problem and I don’t know how to solve it.

I HAVE to be on the internet twice a week for my radio shows. The rest of it is just me goofing off and not moving forward. I’m not accomplishing anything with my day at all. i sit and do literally nothing all day long and it’s a problem.

But how do I solve it when I can’t figure out how to detach myself from the internet?

I think I’m panicking for no reason. Or am I? is this what my life really is all about or am I living a lie? Is it impossible for me to get better, because I can’t stop with the internet? Will this completely shut down any further progress on this book?

I was given this book by a former therapist of mine and now I’m kind of wishing she hadn’t. I don’t like being called out for what I actually am – a stupid addict unable to rip himself away from his fix for even a moment.

I don’t like that what this therapist gave me is causing me to panic. She was supposed to be helping me, not making things infinitely worse.

But should I break who I am an rebuild myself entirely into something new in order to overcome my obstacles in life? Isn’t that what I’m supposed to be doing with my disability, fixing the problem and getting back to work? I don’t know how to fix this and I only have a year left before I have to go back in for a review and there’s a good chance they’ll tell me that I’ve been wasting my time not getting well and that they’re going to yank my disability and then I’ll be right back where I was before it kicked in, not contributing to anything around the house and just being a time and money sink that is wasting everyone’s time. I can’t have that. I can’t be that person. I have to get better and I have a year to do it.

I feel so stupid and anxious right now. How could I have let this take over my life as completely as it has? I don’t know what to do.

Has anyone else read this book? Can you help put it into perspective for me so I can stop panicking about wasting the last two years of my life hiding behind a laptop and not actively addressing the things that have to happen in order to get me back to work in a year? I’d really appreciate some feedback. I’m not really expecting any but this is my problem to solve anyway so I better just suck it up and fix what’s wrong with me somehow.

But how?

Oops

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Remember from a couple days back when I reported that two checks had hit our credit union and we were down two thirds of the money that we’d just deposited? And how we had to wait until today to go into the local branch and start to resolve the situation?

I was planning all the things that would need to happen – our money would need to be transferred to a new account, direct deposit and auto-pay information would have to be updated, we’d have to wait until new cards came in for that, we’d have a whole new series of numbers to commit to memory. I wasn’t looking forward to it.

Well, we went into the credit union this morning and told them what was going on, and that’s when the other shoe dropped.

The checks that we deposited on Saturday afternoon through the mobile app were from a place that our account hasn’t seen before, so to protect themselves, the credit union put a hold on part of the money before it would actually hit our account. It’s a very common practice and our online banking made it look like fraudulent charges were pending our account, so we naturally assumed someone somewhere got a hold of our banking information and helped themselves to our money.

All the frustration, all the anger, all the worry … was over absolutely nothing.

So the credit union was very helpful and released the two holds, so we could have access to all our money which has by now already largely disappeared into paying bills. Being an adult isn’t fun a lot of the time. You have to do things that you don’t like doing or there can be some real consequences. I was very, very happy, however, to watch that money get pumped into the places that we owed it.

The only question that remains in the cleanup from this incident is – why didn’t the guy in fraud prevention that told us we had to go into the branch just tell us that these were our own checks that had had a hold placed on them? After a moment of reflection, it’s pretty clear – the guy in fraud prevention didn’t have full access to view our account, otherwise he would have been able to open the case himself instead of having another employee do it come today. Without looking at their side of our account, he wouldn’t have any way of knowing what was really going on.

So life is back to normal, financially speaking, and that’s a good thing.

A Break from the Stress

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After yesterday’s adventures with our credit union, we decided two things. First, neither of us had any business trying to put together a show or talk on the radio. Since we discovered the two bogus transactions about the time we had to start putting together a show, there just wouldn’t be enough time for us to settle down and focus on music long enough to generate a playlist. Second, we desperately needed a break from the stress of having our checking account compromised again. So we settled on going to the late show of Captain America: Civil War.

Here is my assessment of the film.

It started out kind of tense in the beginning when the thing happened to the people and the beginning of the conflict in the movie started to germinate. The conflict got worse as the movie went on and there were several fights between the various characters in increasingly intense action sequences and some funny bits too and then the movie came to its climax and all the characters dealt with the events of the movie in their own way. It was a nice touch when they took the ghost mask off Mr. Jenkins in the end and he said “And I would have gotten away with it too if it hadn’t been for you meddling Avengers.” Aw crap, so much for spoilers. Sorry.

(Seriously, though, one minor spoilerish detail if you haven’t seen the movie: Keep an eye out for the motorcycle stunt. That’s all I’m going to say. And in a warning that shouldn’t have to be given for a Marvel movie, stick around through the end of the credits. You’ll thank me.)

The movie was just what we needed: a hard jolt of distraction at the end of a very stressful day. Now to get through today with plenty of rest to deal with talking to the credit union tomorrow morning.