Sunday July 21st

It’s 2 am sunday morning and my head is spinning. I can’t stop thinking about Chris Herren. I spoke about him in my last post. He’s a former NBA player who went through 14 years of hell because of his substance abuse problem. Now he goes all over the country as a motivational speaker talking to teen age kids, professional sports teams and corporate presentations. In the last 2 days I’ve watched Unguarded an ESPN 30 for 30 where he tells his story. It’s really excellent I suggest you watch it. ESPN just aired another program called the first day starring Mr.Chris Herren where he talks more about addiction. I’ve taken to YouTube and watched some of his other speeches.

Maybe it’s because we’re from the same state and background. Maybe it’s because of how brutally open and honest he is about his life. I don’t know why but I’m obsessed with his story. He was so deep in a hole and has turned things around to where he makes a nice living for his family. Not only that but he’s positively impacted hundreds of thousands of lives. All of this has made me think. Am I still at risk??

I haven’t touched cocaine in 14 or 15 years, I recently gave up booze completely, but, I still smoke weed. I get excited when I’m in pain because I hope I’ll get some good painkillers because I don’t know how to score them on the street. When I do get them prescribed for let’s say a 3 day supply. Gone in one day. I talk so proudly about how I beat cocaine and quit smoking cigarettes and how I made a personal decision to not drink. That personal reason being that booze fucks with my psych meds. So, I am responsible when it comes to managing my mental health…right?

While watching all of Chris Herrens various speeches I keep relating parts of it to my life. Maybe I’ve watched too much, so much so that I’ve convinced myself that I may still be an addict. When he talks about how his heroin habit started with pills, it gives me pause. So I keep running it through my head. Here’s why I think that I may still be at risk. When it comes to smoking pot I don’t hide anything, pretty much everyone who knows me knows that I’m an advocate. The pill thing though, that worries me. I get them prescribed legitimately, but the more I think about my behavior when I have them, the more concerns I have. I shouldn’t feel like I have to sneak pills that I have a prescription for, but there it is. Obviously I am ashamed of my behavior in this situation. I have a legit prescription and immediately abuse it. I must have a problem, I don’t know. I’ll have to talk to my therapist about this one.

Talk to you all later

Saturday July 20th

I usually talk about mental health on my blog. Specifically how it has affected my life and my day to day struggles with it. I want to switch things up a bit, I want to talk a little about substance abuse. I haven’t used any names in my blog to protect myself and my family. I did mention though that I’m from Massachusetts. I want to mention someone from Massachusetts that I admire. His name is Chris Herren. He’s maybe 4 or 5 years older than I am, he was a basketball player, like I was. I played ball but I never had the talent of this dude. For real he’s one of the best I’ve seen. Forget the fact that he’s a fellow Masshole, that has nothing to do with it. He could straight up ball. McDonald’s high school all American, recruited by Duke, BC and almost every major program in the NCAA. A stud. Chris has a well documented history of substance abuse. He was the first or second pick in the second round of the draft. First rounder without the stigma surrounding him. Drafted by the Denver Nuggets, traded to the home team Boston Celtics. I’m sure there are a lot of stories like his in our state and across the country and the world. The point of all this isn’t about his skills on the court or the what if of his NBA career. ( he’d be a hall of famer probably, he was that good in my opinion) Not all the wasted opportunities, or the overdoses, he had 4. This dude is an inspiration because he lived this life and has rededicated his life to helping others. He hit bottom time and time again and made it out. Now, he goes all over the country talking to high schools and college and professional sports teams about addiction. That’s incredible to me. Not only does he still focus on his own struggles, which I can tell you never go away, he also goes all over to help others. I’ve wanted to do what he does, I want to help people.

I’ve had my own long battle with drugs in my past. Like I said I want to help people. Whether about mental health issues or addiction issues. I just want to help. Maybe this blog will help someone, I don’t know. I can only hope. I’ve started rambling, sorry.

Anyways, the point I think I’m trying to make is, are mental health problems and drug abuse related? Can one lead to or be caused by the other? These are questions that I ponder. Being someone who has and does deal with those things, I wonder. I’m not a doctor, I have no medical answers just what I’ve learned from my own life.

I’m going to do a little research on the topic, but I’ll say this. Why do kids start experimenting with drugs? I think it’s different for every case but I believe an underlying reason is acceptance, wanting to be accepted. When you are willing to put yourself at risk to fit in with kids you’ve known your whole life that’s sad. There seems to be an issue of self confidence, or having a poor self image, a lack of confidence or whatever it is. These are some of the reasons I started messing around with booze and pot. At first I did this to “fit in” maybe that’s how it is for everyone. For me, it started there but evolved. I started using these things to escape from everyday life, I loved the way getting high made me feel. What happened next is pretty common probably but every time something bad happened or I felt depressed I would turn to weed, why not it made me happy when I was sad. I developed a dangerous coping mechanism, I was 15 or 16. Sixteen years old and coping with life through drugs. It’s just a little pot right? Who cares, no biggie.

Fast forward a few years. I’m 19 and my dad killed himself. The summer after my disastrous freshman year of college where I wasted his money by skipping class, smoking weed drinking every day and eating as many shrooms and acid that I could. Anyways, my dad, he killed himself. I already at a younger age established a habit of self medicating when life got hard. How do you think I reacted to this? Poorly, that’s how. It started with the usual suspects my old friends pot and booze.

A few months after he died I received about $30,000 in life insurance money. I could write down a million things that I SHOULD have done with that money, here’s what I DID do.

I was doing my thing, masking my pain with pot and booze. One day a friend of mine had some cocaine. He offered me some, I said no. I wish I could go back to that night. I did say no, and I sat there for an hour or so brooding over it. When no one was looking I got my friend alone and said I changed my mind, I want to try it. Well, long story short, $30,000 went up my nose. I could talk all day about my misadventures, my rock bottom etc.

Embarrassed. That’s one word that, for me, that connects my addiction and mental health issues. When I was young I developed a dangerous coping mechanism for dealing with sadness and depression. Why? A combination of things I think. Thinking back I know that I was always battling depression. I knew something was wrong and I knew that drugs helped, plain and simple. I was embarrassed to admit to myself or my parents or any adult that could help me out. If I could go back I would start a dialogue with my folks and get some counseling. Learn some healthy coping mechanisms. Maybe my dad would have been proud of his sons son’s ability to ask for help. Maybe he would have looked inward and realized that he needed help too. Who knows, I can’t torture myself with what ifs, especially when it comes to him. So I was embarrassed, I didn’t ask for help, I did learn the wrong way to deal which had a ripple effect on my adult life.

I’m 39 now. I’ve learned, finally, better ways to cope. I take my meds and go to therapy. The stupid things that I did, the mistakes I made and the hearts that I broke made me who I am. Would my life be easier if I hadn’t done those things, maybe. Can’t think like that though. Life moves forward not back. Those decisions made me who I am.

Writing this blog over the last month or so has been good for me, but, I’m not doing this JUST for me. Someone told me, hey, you started a blog?! Dude that’s sweet you can make money. Maybe I can, someone please tell me how lol. Just kidding, it’s not about that. I’ve had many people help me on my journey. I haven’t helped anyone myself though. That is the point of this blog. If my experiences can help one person, just one other human being, then I have succeeded. Maybe someday, like Mr. Herren, I can do more than writing this blog. That would be amazing, because at the end of the day every human life is worth saving. I can’t help everyone but maybe I can help someone.

Thanks for listening, talk to you all later.

Friday July 19th

In life there are always consequences. For every action there is an appropriate reaction. This applies to all of us. Especially those of us with mental health problems. We can’t use our sickness, disability, complex or whatever the fuck you want to call it as an excuse when we can’t handle our shit.

If you read my previous entry you’ll know that my little vacation was a fucking disaster, and, it was 100% my fault. Of all the times to have a meltdown. There were alot of factors that contributed to the situation, not making excuses, giving reasons. Anyways…..

Before vacation my car started acting funny, had to get it towed somewhere near them, an hour from where I live. This is the freaking day before. So whatever it gets towed, my in laws let us use their car cuz they had the camper. So far so good. Fast forward through the stupid vacation, we get home unpack and drive to the dealership it got towed to to find out what’s going on and to set up a loaner since we needed to get the car back to my in laws. Next day we get the loaner. So all in all everything seems to have worked out, right? Wrong!! There was a cloud hanging over all of this, here’s where the consequences come into play. My wife is super pissed.

She seemed to be cool before we left new hampshire. After all the car drama and stuff she seemed really mad. At me? At the situation? Who knows. I think she’s stewing over something I said in anger while we were away. I threatened to drive home and leave and never come back, didn’t mean it but I know it hurt her. We’ve been home 2 days now and we’ve barely spoken, and when we have it’s been icy. I’m a grown man and can take ownership when I fuck up. I’m scared though. She is my biggest support system and I’m scared that she just can’t deal anymore. If I lose her I’m scared of how I’ll react. Sometimes I think that I need to be set free and be single again but then I come back to earth. I need this woman in my life but I don’t know how to fix this, all I can do now is wait.

Anyways…those of us with mental health issues need support, but, we also need to remember that we still need to take responsibility for what we say and do. The illness isn’t an excuse, it’s still up to us to put in the effort. If you lean to hard on your support system eventually it collapses. Take responsibility, lean gently. Don’t try to use other people as a crutch.

That’s all for now, thanks for listening.

Tuesday July 16th

Hey all, on vacation in New Hampshire……finally. Leaving in the morning but I have some stuff I want to talk about a little bit.

I would like to impress upon people how important good mental health is. Take me for example, I have some problems obviously. The difference between me and a lot of people is that I’ve had a good support system, alot don’t. I take my meds every day, but, it’s not a blanket cure. I still have to work really hard to keep things under control but sometimes I still just can’t. We were able to bring our dog which we’ve always wanted to do. This was a bad idea. The 3 hour car ride was a nightmare, the first night when we arrived she was an absolute nightmare as well. This shot my anxiety through the fucking roof. I won’t mention any names or titles but certain family members wouldn’t let us just deal with her in our own way. They were all expert dog handlers all of a sudden. I took this extremely personally which in a normal situation I wouldn’t have been so offended. So these 2 things are major factors. The real big factor being a simple memory. Friday the 12th was was the 20th anniversary of my father’s suicide. How hard it would be this particular year was unexpected and unwelcome. I really thought this year to be different. I thought it would be ok.

My sister and I wanted to do something special for the 20 year mark. Back in June we did an overnight walk with the AFSP the American foundation for suicide prevention. We entered into this with open minds and hearts. The whole experience was so warm and positive being with all of these people who have lived through the death of a friend or loved one by suicide. Also it was amazing to have this experience with my sister who unfortunately I have distanced myself from over the years. In recent years we have reconnected and it’s been awesome.

After having this positive experience being able to honor my dad was simply amazing to me. This was the first year in twenty that I thought that I’d be ok. I was wrong.

I’m not sure if I consciously let it overwhelm me or if it just happened that way, no idea. So the following Sunday when we left unbeknownst to my wife I had been really struggling with things. So with that hanging over my head and the other factors that I mentioned I was absolutely freaking miserable. So much so that I just let myself filter into anger and misery which incidentally ruined my family’s entire day. We went to Clark’s trading post and I just was an asshole plain and simple. I was rude to everyone, my wife, my mother and father in law my nieces and nephew etc.

The point of all this is to illustrate that even with the help of medication you can still very easily go completely off the rails. Even while it’s happening you know that you’re wrong but just can’t stop. I’ve never been so ashamed of myself. Now….let’s imagine that I WASN’T on meds. There is a pretty good chance that I may have hurt myself or others, or, when later in the day my nephew who is 18 years younger than me, stood up to me about my behavior. Without the meds I would have beaten the shit out of him and the consequences would be extremely dire. Divorce, arrest etc. I’m not excusing my behavior but trying to illustrate that meds DO help, therapy DOES help. Most of us DO need help with this.

There are many understanding people out there, but, this is for you all that aren’t as understanding. We AREN’T looking for attention, we ARE NOT simply unable to handle life. We just need a helping hand or an ear to listen to us. Instead of judging you can try and maybe help a fellow human.

That’s all for today, thanks for listening.

Friday July 12th

Today is 20 years since losing my dad to suicide. Anyone else out there who has been through this, you’re NOT alone. This is hard to talk about but has shaped my entire adult life in both negative and positive ways.

Obviously he had some mental health issues. We had no idea about this until we buried him. I hate living my life thinking about what ifs. But, in this case it’s appropriate. What if we could have spotted this earlier. What if he opened up to my Mom about how he was feeling? What if he could have gotten some real help? What if he never died? How would life be different? That last question I think is what suicide survivors ponder second most, the first question being why.

I used to spend a lot of time pondering this question because of the ripple effect his suicide has had on my life. Maybe I wouldn’t have blown all the money he left me on cocaine. Maybe I would have finished college like he wanted. Maybe I wouldn’t be struggling with my own mental health issues which for a long time I thought wouldn’t be there if he lived. This isn’t true though. Some, maybe all mental health problems are genetic in some way. I was told once by a doctor that suicide can actually run in families. And a few years ago I wanted to join him. Unlike my father I realized that I needed some help. Looking back on my life knowing what I know now I can safely say that I’ve always battled depression. I was already in counseling and therapy and taking meds before I was hospitalized due to my suicidal thoughts. I bounced back though, but not everyone does. The simplest thing you can do for someone that you think may be in trouble is listen. If we can confide in someone about how we feel some of that darkness can be lifted. Obviously that’s not a blanket cure, people like myself need therapy and sometimes medications.

His death has had a powerfully negative effect on my life, but, there is one thing that if he hadn’t died probably wouldn’t have happened. This thing trumps any negative effects on my life. If he hadn’t died I may never gone down the road that led to my wife. I’m so lucky and grateful to her. I got to marry someone who’s not only the love of my life and my soulmate but my best friend. So in some ways she may be the last gift he ever gave me.

Life is hard folks and we need people to lean on. If you know someone that needs your shoulders or someone that needs a shoulder don’t be scared. Open up and talk, I believe that is the first step to getting better.

Thanks for listening talk to you all later.

Sunday July 7th

I hope everyone out there had a safe and happy 4th of July, wife and I had a really nice day which I spoke about in my last post.

This being Sunday I want to talk about something. Do you all remember what it was like when we were still in grade school? That feeling of dread because you have school in the morning and don’t want the weekend fun to end. Guess what? It never fucking ends!! As adults we muddle and grind through the workweek and then Friday come with a feeling of relief and excitement, yay the weekend!! Saturdays are great!! Saturday mean the beach or golf or a workout at the gym where you don’t have to keep checking the clock cuz you don’t want to be late for work. You can do yardwork of that’s your pleasure or spend the day chained to your ps4, whatever you want!! Even if you have kids Saturday’s are fun as hell. No kids for us but that’s a story for another day. Anyways I’m getting off topic. Sundays aren’t too bad either I guess, the only problem is that whatever you’re doing you’re probably thinking “ewww back to work tomorrow.” At least that’s how I feel, every fucking Sunday. When you’re a kid you at least have summer time when Sunday’s are just another day.

I bring this up because sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one who still gets like this on Sunday. I don’t know if it’s my sometimes crippling anxiety that makes me feel like this or if I’m one of a billion people that feels this way. Having anxieties in this life is unfortunately a part of being human. Some of us unfortunately have a very limited capacity when it comes to being in control of said anxieties. I am one of these people. Sundays are awful, I don’t love my job, a sentiment shared by many I am sure. That being said Sunday can be a miserable day. Why? Because people that have anxieties for some reason unknown to me don’t live in the moment. We become anxious over imaginary scenarios that probably won’t even come to be. To some of you that may sound like some sort of paranoid schizophrenia. The two things may be closely related, I don’t know I’m not a doctor. I do know that we are haunted by what ifs. What if I’m late, what if I get sick, what if I have to clean shit off the walls again in the mens room. These are examples of things that happen to a lot of people in their every day lives. Things that you take in stride that you never give any thought to until it happens. Someone with anxiety will think about, stress over and even hide in their bedroom and cry over. And that’s before the thing even happens. That’s the unfortunate life some of us live. Some people will say that it’s just an excuse or we’re looking for attention or any number of ignorant statements. Those are the people that I hope to maybe reach in this blog. Not to say I told you so or anything but to maybe educate a little, I don’t know I’m no expert. I do know that mental health issues aren’t taken seriously by those who don’t deal with them. Also I hope that someone WITH mental health issues will read this and not feel so alone in the world.

This particular Sunday I’m feeling anxious, as usual, but it’s mingled with an excited anxiousness. Granted I do have to report to stupid jury duty tomorrow morning. Hopefully I won’t get stuck on a jury because I can’t afford anymore time off work, literally can’t afford it. I have a million things that I’m worried about but nothing much going on at work, because anxiety lol. To go along with the normal level of Sunday anxiety I’m also excited! Next Sunday we leave for a couple of days to go to New Hampshire. So that Sunday will be full of driving for the 3 hours with a whiny dog anxiety haha. Taking a much needed little vacation. Also this week my older sister is coming up from Florida for a visit! Super excited to see her and my nieces. This isn’t a typical week in my world, there are actually a few things I’m looking forward to, not just a normal week where I only have work to look forward to. I forgot to mention, and I may be more excited for this than vacation, we’re going to meet a doggy that may be a new addition to the family. On our way to where we’re staying we are stopping by a wonderful rescue group to meet 2 potential family members. If we could take them both we would but unfortunately we can only take one of them.

Writing a blog can be challenging, maybe because I’m so new to it. I have so much to say and I’m realizing that you have to pace yourself so that you don’t say everything in one post haha. I’m no writer, again, just a normal blue collar dude doing his best.

Talk to you all later.

Thursday July 4th

Happy Independence Day everyone!! Hope everyone has a fun safe holiday. I haven’t made a post in a few days and wanted to check in…if anyone reads this that is.

Got up before the wife and kid today (the kid being Lady our American bulldog) and went to the park to shoot some hoops. I love basketball and played a lot when I was a kid. Today was probably the first time I’ve touched a basketball in 15-20 years. Crazy huh? Anyways after that the wife and I spent the day at the beach. So we get there and get set up and are chilling looking out on the water when I see a lady about 15 feet in front of us, it’s my mom! Holy shit what are the odds? As much of a pain in the ass my mom has been lately it was good for her that we ran into her. She needed it I think. Maybe it was fate or whatever, I don’t know. Anyway she bought us ice cream so all good haha.

Last night I had a nice little treat for my wife. Our city did the fireworks yesterday. I was able to arrange a little private rooftop viewing. It was pretty awesome.

Anyways I hope you all had a great holiday I’ll talk to you later.

Sunday 6/30

Weekend is over, back to the grind tomorrow. Had an interesting weekend…it got off to a good start Saturday morning. Cut the grass, and was even gonna trim all the hedges. To trim said hedges I wanted to use my moms electric hedge clippers. I knew this would come at a price. Smh. It would have been nice if I could have just grabbed them and gone, but no. She asks me to fix her toilet, ok no problem it was an easy fix. Oh and while you’re here can you put my AC in, ok no problem. Can you tear out the rotten boards on the little ramp that goes to the shed and clean out the shed, ok no problem.

So after all is said and done it’s like 2 hours later and I wanted to do this all quickly, get home, and finish my yardwork. Not in the cards I guess. She wants to sit and have some watermelon, ok no problem. Keep in mind that my sisters and I have a complicated relationship with our mom. Somehow this turns into her basically bitching about one of my sisters the whole time, I’m trying to get her to just let it go. I could go into detail about all of it but it’ll take too long lol. After the failed therapy session I realized that without the help of my medications, I would have lost my shit with her and caused world war family drama, which is exactly what she wants. I love my mom but she’s a black hole of drama.

When I finally escape she seems mollified so that was a relief. The bitch of it is I leave exactly as the storm is starting and holy shit!! Damn near golf ball size hale pelting the shit out of my car. When one hits the windshield it sounds like glass breaking. Needless to say my plans were shot.

That’s about all really, I am proud of myself though. I’ve come a long way since I started my therapy, meds etc. There were times that were pretty dark for me and if it wasn’t for my wife I don’t know if I’d be here. Btw, you’re gonna hear that alot. The fact that I can talk to my mom about real shit and try to work things out without going nuclear is an accomplishment. It wouldn’t happen without a lot of hard work on my part and support from my loved ones.

A lot of my remaining families issues stem from the loss of my dad, that’s a subject I’ll be covering in a few weeks. That’s all for now.

Talk to you all later.

Friday 6/28

This has been so much more of an inconvenience to me than I ever thought possible. I’m referring to a kidney stone, yes a kidney stone. Anyone ever have one? Holy crap. Mine was particularly annoying because I couldn’t pass it and had to have surgery to remove it.

This little fucker has caused me so much freaking pain and missed way more work than I thought. So I had this procedure done almost 2 weeks ago. Part of the process is they leave a stent in there to make sure that there are no blockages due to swelling. The upside to this is that during the initial surgery I was put to sleep, having the stent removed…..nope.

Probably one of the top 5 most awkward situations I’ve ever been in. You go in the room, strip from the waist down and you get a little towel to cover up. Next, the attractive nurse comes in and has to apply this numbing agent on there and betadine all over my joint. So as a guy of course I have a quick flash of a penthouse moment with the cute nurse. I digress. After the stuff is applied to little willy you sit there for 10 minutes alone and naked in this room. Then the doctor arrives. He proceeds to insert a freaking camera!! You know those claw machines at the arcade? Well…this camera apparatus has something similar. Talk about awkward..having this done in a room with 2 total strangers!!

Anyways….this chapter of my life is finally over thank goodness.

Just figured I’d share that experience lol.

Talk to you later

Thursday

You know what’s a royal pain in the ass?! Having to take a handful of pills every morning just to be able to handle life, shitty right?

I think this every fucking day while I’m taking my daily cacophony of pills. Thinking back as long as I can remember I’ve been kind of a pessimist. Ok…not kind of, I am a pessimist. Even with taking my “happy pills” every day I still have this negative way of dealing with this necessary part of my day. Even as I’m writing this I’m realizing how stupid this is. For instance, when taking my pills and powders etc to help make my body stronger when I go to the gym I do it with gusto! When taking my “crazy pills” that will ultimately help me strengthen my own coping capabilities, strengthen my confidence which I’ve struggled with my whole life, and strengthen relationships that my illness and I have tried hard to destroy over the years. All of these ultimately positive things maybe can’t happen if the steps I need to take are taken with a negative pessimistic approach. Right?!

This negative and pessimistic way of thinking has bled into almost every part of daily life. My job really isn’t that bad. It’s a city job and I’m pretty much set for life, and have amaze-balls health insurance. So as long as I play my cards right I’m good. The only downside is if my wife and I want to move someday we can’t take the insurance with us. Still I look at things with a negative lense.

You might be thinking “why do you think like that? What are the medications for?”

Good question.

Without the meds and therapy I’d be a real hot mess. Even though I still think negatively I know that without these meds who knows. I could have burned every bridge, maybe be back on hard drugs, homeless, in jail or a psychiatric hospital. I don’t know.

What I do know is that with them my wife and I are just as much in love now as we were 16 years ago, I still smoke weed but who cares, my relationship with my remaining family has never been better. I can go on and on.

I have a lot to be thankful for. I have so many things that make me happy.

That being said I still have anxieties and feel depressed etc. The meds just make dealing with this stuff less overwhelming really.

Maybe this will give someone out there some insight into the life of someone who has to juggle pills, therapy etc with everything else we adults deal with every day. Maybe no one will read this, oh well. I say that because as I’m writing this I’m discovering that I’m finding something out about myself. Giving me something to work on every day that will ultimately help with my issues. If writing this blog only helps me, then I can live with that.

Talk to you all later.