#mental health

World Mental Health Day

From Wikipedia:

World Mental Health Day (10 October) is a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. It was first celebrated in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organization with members and contacts in more than 150 countries. This day, each October, thousands of supporters come to celebrate this annual awareness program to bring attention to mental illness and its major effects on peoples’ life worldwide. In some countries this day is part of an awareness week, such as Mental Health Week in Australia

  • 1 in 5 (or 43.8 million) adults experience mental illness in a given year.
  • 1 in 25 (or 10 million) adults experience a serious mental illness.
  • 1 in 100 (or 2.4 million) live with schizophrenia.
  • 2.6% (or 6.1 million) of Americans have bipolar disorder.
  • 6.9% (or 16 million) suffer from severe depression.
  • 18.1% (or 42 million) live with an anxiety disorder.
  • 90% of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness.

And yet:

  • Only 41% of adults with a mental health condition received help and less than 50% of children 8-15 received mental health services.
  • Only 36.9% of those suffering from anxiety receive treatment.
  • Less than 20% of Americans with moderate depressive symptoms sought help from a medical professional.
  • And 4% of young adults with self-reported mental health needs forego care.

These numbers are scary. As one with Bi-polar (“luckily” I’m type “2”, my manic phase is spending money, not rage), I understand the problems faced and the stigma that admitting you have a mental illness can bring.  I take my meds as directed, and they usually work. However, like everything else, some days they don’t.

I’ve walked into a car dealership and bought a new truck, on my lunch break, just because I felt it was time. I’ve also laid in bed wondering how many sleeping pills I had left, and would it be enough?

I have never acted on any of the suicidal thoughts I’ve had. I’ve come close, but my fear is that I’d screw that up too and be in a coma the rest of life and become even more of a burden on my family.

Many times mental health is not understood in the same way as physical health. If you have the flu, your coworkers usually don’t want you around because you’re contagious. But if your depressed or having an anxiety attack, and take a day off, they don’t seem to understand. I have been a firm believer in “Mental Health Days” long before I was diagnosed.

Here’s a link to a story out of the UK of a boss that “get’s it.”  Go read it and come back, I’ll wait for you.

Back now? Hope you enjoyed that story. It’s reassuring that there are other people in the world with the compassion to allow someone to take a needed break.

There are way too many different types of mental illnesses for me to list here. I know that several of friends, both in the real world and the online world, have some of the issues. I’d just like you to know that I’m here to listen to you. I’m not trained in counseling (although I was a paramedic for most of my military career), I will gladly listen and offer whatever help I can. There are millions of us out here with similar problems. We can help each other, along with trained medical folks. Get your counseling, if it helps, take your meds, meditate, follow whatever faith practice you like. We can do it.

Peace,
B

 

Anger & Resentment

I have just come from two doctors appointments today.  The first was with my primary care physician (actually her Nurse Practitioner) to find why after more than 18 months of dieting and exercise (including the cutting out of all alcohol, watching my carb intake, both Paleo & Keto plans) I have continually gained weight, without adding any noticeable muscle mass. In my Army career (and honestly my entire life) upper body strength has always been lacking. Push-ups, pull-ups and such were so tough I usually only made the minimum to pass.  Sit-ups weren’t so tough, but still not easy.  And I won’t even go into the 2 mile run.

This afternoon I meet with my respiratory doctor. I know have an official diagnoses of COPD/Emphysema and now need a nebulizer four times a day, along with 2 daily inhalers and a rescue inhaler.  I’m turning into my dad. He had emphysema and used a nebulizer for years. But he smoked 2 – 3 packs of cigarettes a day for many years. I have smoked maybe 10 cigarettes in my life.  I would say it’s not fair, but then no one ever said life would be fair. How I came to have the lungs of a 2 pack a day 20 year smoker is beyond faith.

Let’s talk about my mind/brain. I’m bi-polar type 2. Have been all my life. There is a good possibility that all of these conditions can be blamed on the fact that my mother smoked and drank while she was pregnant with me.  Not that I blame her. In 1958 it was par for the course, doctors didn’t know any better. so nothing was said.

So who can be blamed? Some might say, the sins of the fathers have been passed down. I don’t believe that, since I don’t exactly belive in the Christian God. At honestly, at times like this my belief drives me further away from a “true and just God”.

While I admit I never was one to “treat me body like a temple”, the  military made sure I was in the best shape I could be. I know my body has broken down over the years, I’m 58 now, not the 17-year-old kid who first enlisted. But dammit, I’m still too young for this shit!

I want to see my granddaughters graduate high school. Maybe get married and give me great grand children. Now I’m not sure I’ll make it to retirement. Wifey® and I want to buy an RV and travel the country. For all I know, I’ll never leave this house again.ZXZZZX

I go see my psych doc near the end of the month. I want to talk cannabis oil with him. It has to be oil, since my lungs are so fucked up I can’t smoke a joint. I’m hoping it will alleviate some of the bi-polar problems so I can deal with these other issues with a “sane” mind.

But for those that hold to the maxim that “God won’t give you more than you can handle” I say bullshit.  It’s not in the Bible. I’ve looked, Wifey® has looked, and my seminary friends have confirmed this fact. And I have to ask why was I born broken? What sin did someone in my family do that caused me to be the scapegoat? It couldn’t possibly be for the Messiah to prove his claim.

I am ready for it to end. I am not contemplating suicide, so don’t go calling anyone. But I wish it was over. And as I’ve said before, it would have better if I had never been born. As my sons like to say “No good can come of this”. I truly hope that when I die my conscience doesn’t go somewhere, that I just get reabsorbed to the universe and hopefully stay there. maybe become the “star-dust” of another spirit, maybe on another plane of existence. But not to come back to this hell on earth.

I never wanted this to become a “whiny” blog, so I’ll stop here. But I will say again. There is no “True and Just God”. Someone prove me wrong.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep looking for sign from Brigid, maybe she’ll bring me peace.

Peace,
B

Home Repair as Therapy

This last weekend Wifey® and I got busy in some home repair work. It had started about 3 months ago when I pulled up the very old, stained and smelly carpet from the dining room and hallway. We’ve been in this house for 20 years now, and the carpet was installed just before we moved in. It was a very nice carpet, but dogs with bad bladders, kids and spilled drinks, kids with dirty feet and just life in general beat it to death.  It was time to go. So I ripped out some of it and hauled it away.  But the living room area was too much for me to do by myself, plus there were still pieces of the carpet under the china cabinet and the computer desk. I just cut around those since I couldn’t move them by myself. Not to mention the carpet tack running the perimeter of the floor that still needed to be removed. So that was Saturday. We emptied the china cabinet of all the glassware and breakables, cleaned off the two small bookcases of their breakable items.  So basically every flat surface in the house now is covered in stuff.  Mostly breakable stuff. And the cat loves to jump up on the table and walk around the breakable stuff.  Just waiting for a big crash in the middle of the night.

floor4

We finally removed all the carpet tack in the dining room and hallway, which wasn’t easy since the floor is Terrazzo and the nails they used were quite large. Many chunks of floor came up, hopefully the primer/leveling solution will fix that.

Sunday was the living room. This room still had the carpet in place. But the biggest problem is this room was added by the previous owners. As such it has just a concrete floor, and it’s not quite level with the terrazzo floor. This meant that the carpet installers had to add an extra layer of padding to make it close to even.  The padding they used was this thick black rubberized stuff. And I swear they used 900 gallons of glue to put it down. We spent 6 hours scraping by hand to remove this padding and glue.

0827171116

As you can see did one half the room moved the furniture around and did the other half. We even had the granddaughters “help”.

floor2

By 2PM we had most everything done except under “Spike the Tortoise” cage, which my sons insisted that I couldn’t help with, they had to do it. That meant waiting until after 6PM for the older one to get off work and come over.
0827171322

So we sat around and had lunch and made a beer run of course.

The new flooring will be delivered on Thursday, and I’m taking Friday off from work to start the prep work. We will start the installation of the new floor on Saturday.  With any luck we hope to get the living room and dining room done over the three-day weekend. I would really like to get the hallway done too, but it may have to wait.  Then it’s the four bedrooms to go, probably one per weekend until we’re done.

So not only is this project helping improve the house, it has, for now, dispelled the depression I have been fighting for the last two weeks. It seems to be that having a project (and not just a hobby), it what keeps me afloat. My depression was nowhere as bad during my military days as it is now, due to the mission that was always before me.

And I have to give a big thank you to Wifey®. Not only was she the catalyst for getting this project going this weekend, she turned in Wonder Woman!  For a tiny little woman, she held her own in scraping the floor, moving furniture and pulling up carpet tack.  AND she fixed us (including the kids) lunch AND did the laundry AND washed the dishes! I would still be pulling up the tacks in the hallway if I was doing it all by myself.  Thank you baby!

Check back in a week or two, I will post more photos as we continue the work.

Peace,
B

It’s Been One Week (Since I Had A Beer)

(With apologies to The Barenaked Ladies)

Well, I’ve made it one whole week.  And what a week it was.  As I’ve posted before, the job is causing lots of stress right now.  To quote one of my favorite movies;

drinking

Last night we took the girls for Mexican food. Somehow I had the will power to just have a glass of water and not a Negro Modelo as I usually have with Mexican. It didn’t help the heartburn any though. Today’s grocery shopping will be even more difficult when walking down the beer aisle.

Which leads to this.  Lots of folks have told me when you quit drinking lots of “good” things happen.

  • You’ll sleep better.  Bullshit. I have had more weird dreams in the last week than the rest of my life combined.  It used to be if I dreamed, I didn’t remember them when I awoke. Now, the weirdness just keeps following me all day long. Most of the dreams seem to put me back in the military, but I don’t recognize the locations.  One dream was supposed to have the whole family back in Fort Greely. It was very lush, with palm trees and other tropical like vegetation.  Problem is, Ft. Greely is in Alaska.  Damn near the middle of Alaska.  It’s rather remote (89 miles to the closest McDonalds when we were there). It did reach 95F one summer, for about 15 minutes.  But it was usually about -50F. Needless to say there is no lush tropical vegation. In fact all there is are gnarled pine trees.  And not much snow as it was to cold to snow. Yes that’s a real thing. Too damn cold to snow.
  • Your digestion will be better.  Again, not true.  I have had the worst heartburn for the last week. Now this may have a different cause. My insurance will no long send me Nexium for the usual $9 co-pay, it went up to $40. But, I can get a generic brand for free. So I gave my doctor the list of alternative choices and she picked one. I started that one about two weeks ago, so it may not be working as well, or it’s taking my body some time to adjust. So the jury is still out on this count.
  • Your mind will be clearer.  Clearer than what?  I still sit and stare at my computer at work trying to remember my password. It’s not all that difficult of a password, and I have to use it at least 50 times a day, but still, I sit and ask myself “What’s the password again?”. Not to mention I mistype it constantly. But I never did take typing lessons, so that part is understandable.
  • You’ll have more energy.  Maybe this goes along with the dreams and not sleeping well, but I am dead tired by 2PM every day. That makes going to gym in the evenings just about impossible.
  • Your mood will be better. Seriously? The frustration level is through the roof. (See this post).  Wifey is constantly reminding me to mellow out.  And I need it. It seems the granddaughters and the stupid end-users at work get the brunt of my frustration. Sorry folks.

So having said all that, I still plan on going 30 days or so without beer to see if things clear up (7 days isn’t a long enough time for a valid test). I have dropped two pounds during this week, so maybe it will facilitate some weight/fat loss.  And I’m sure some of this is age. I am getting to that special age where you go to bed just fine and wake up in stage 4 of something or other. As my brother says, “We ain’t spring chickens any more.” (Were we ever?)

I’ve posted the video that I stole the title for this post from below.  I like this song a lot for several reasons.  I really dig the cars; the General Lee from “Dukes of Hazard” and the Grand Torino from “Starskey and Hutch” (complete with requisite hood slide).

I also like the line;

“I wear my mind on my sleeve, I have a history of taking off my shirt.”

I really do feel like I’m losing my mind some (most) of the time.

And what about the line;

“I’m the kinda guy who laughs at a funeral”.

 

At my grandmother’s “viewing” (what a stupid concept – have a wake instead. Get drunk and tell stories. Not just walk up to the casket and say “He/She looks so natural”.  They’re dead. (“He’s dead Jim!” ~ Bones McCoy) Say good-bye and go get a drink, and pour one into the coffin for the dearly departed as well. Can’t hurt.).  Sorry, where was I? Oh yes, my grandmother’s viewing, we were in a small room in the funeral home off to one side. Apparently there was a rather large funeral going on in the main chapel. Even without the booze, a staff member had to come in several times to ask us to keep the laughing down.  We were disturbing the funeral guests.  We were just sitting around telling stories of Nanny, as we called her. Easily the best viewing of all time, hands down, if we had some booze we would probably been asked to leave.  Hell, I’ve been thrown out of better establishments. I can’t wait for someone to say “He looks so natural” when I’m dead. I plan on being cremated, so if an urn of ashes looks “natural”, then I’m worse off than I thought.

So I present to you The Barenaked Ladies and “One Week”, enjoy! (And I can’t understand half the words either…)

I think somebody should have made me sign a waiver or something before I started this.

Peace,
B

 

Elon Musk Are You Listening?

(Note: I have been sitting at the house this morning waiting on a repair man to fix my (former) beer fridge. So basically I’m now 4 hours late for work)

Daytona Beach and the surrounding environs aren’t all the big. The U.S. Census estimates the entire county population at 529,364. That’s the entire county, we’re only a small slice on the eastern edge.  So why is traffic so damn bad?

It’s takes me 25 – 30 minutes to travel the short 12 miles to and from home to office. Now some it is to blame on the traffic lights.  I swear there is a section of about 3 miles with a light every quarter-mile. And I seriously doubt they’re timed for anything other than a NASCAR driver (the Daytona International Speedway is just down the street). I very seldom get my truck out of 3rd gear in this area. I like to call this the “red light district”.

But that’s not what pisses me off the most.  Here’s my drive in today. Granted it was about 12:30PM so traffic would be naturally heavier than my usual 7:20AM drive time. But it’s not the volume of traffic, it’s the idiots.

First – Sitting at a red light (still in the residential area – nowhere near the “red light district”), I’m second in a line of three cars.  A fire truck is coming at us, but still a good mile away. What does the first car do? Why just sit there and wait for the firetruck to pass of course. They could have very easily pulled up far enough to allow all three of us to get through the intersection and pull off to the right, with plenty of time and space to spare. But instead, they sit there. And after the fire truck goes by, the idiot goes through the intersection, running a red light I might add, and almost causing an accident.

Second – Same street, different driver, another red light (still not at the “red light district”).  Apparently this one has no clue what “right on red” means. Sits through an entire red light, with no one coming waiting on the green. It’s only legal in ALL 50 STATES to turn right on red. Where did they buy their license? K-Mart?

Third – Approaching the “district”.  Guy in left lane doing 30MPH in a 45MPH. Oblivious to his surroundings. Guy in the right lane, with right turn signal on (bonus for using a turn signal) is apparently lost as he is slowing at every possible right turn to see if that’s where he needs to go.  Me? I’m stuck behind them both.

Here’s a video that sums it up, there will be more below, so you can continue reading while listening if you wish:

If you think I’m only stressing because I gave up beer five days ago, you’d be wrong. Even though I am questioning that decision, that fact remains that I have been screaming at other drivers for years.  Now I not one to lay on the horn and flip the bird. I yell and scream in the comfort of my personal sanctuary, the truck. And I do my best not to “act out” when the little ones are with me. Well, I do try, doesn’t always work.

So I wonder how people who live in big cities can drive at all. My brother lives in a suburb (or “bedroom community” if you prefer) of Atlanta. No way in hell I’d live there with all that traffic. One thing I will say for the Army is that they tend to make their facilities in smaller towns. Of course there are some that are located next to bigger cities, but not that many. And of course, once the Army (or any military branch for that matter) moves in, the community will grow. Not always a good or bad thing.

Now I have the 5PM “rush 15 minutes” to look forward to on the way home. I wonder what kind of idiots I’ll see on this trip. Probably the usual, no turn signals, 10MPH under the limit in the left lane, slowing down for green lights “in case it changes” (my mom was famous for that one), coming to a complete stop before turning right and so many others.

So what does this have to do with Elon Musk? This; Sir, you have made the Telsa automobile a success. You have made the Space X project an even bigger success. I mean, landing a rocker booster on a platform floating in the ocean? How could you top that?  Easy – Star Trek transporter. If anyone can do it, it’s you.

Just think, when you’re ready to go somewhere, program in a set of coordinates and push a button and like magic you’re there. Forget something, just go back the way you came and get it, then back to where ever you were going to begin with. Quick and easy.  No idiots getting in the way.

So please Elon, I begging here. Otherwise I’ll have to arm my truck with photon torpedoes to clear the road, and no good can come of that.

Think about it? Please?

Peace,
B

Killing Lunch Time (or is it killing me?)

Sitting here at my desk, my meager lunch finished and music blaring in my headphones.

As I’ve posted before, my wife and I have been trying the Paleo and/or Keto eating plans.  Seems that my body does not care for either one.  The highest my blood pressure has been since starting these is 94/62. Basically I should be in a coma. My blood sugar has dropped extremely low, and the A-Fib has returned. So obviously, I am stopping the plan. We did learn somethings we will carry forward such as limiting our carbs to a greater extent. As I also have a cholesterol problem, and keto is known to elevate cholesterol, my doctor also advised me to stop.

Part 2:

Not the best day at work I have to admit. When I was promoted to this position it was for two main projects. Both of which have been pretty much stopped cold. Our city commission has cut about $780K from the city budget for next year, with a chance that it could go deeper still. This means that while my main project is funded for this year, as of October 1st, it may not be. So phase two (not to mention phase three) may not go. And with the issues we are having with phase one, it may get canceled even sooner. If the council cuts the budget ever deeper, there is a possibility that lay offs could occur. So I am rather concerned about my job future.

And of course with all this going on, the Bi-Polar depression is in high swing.  The usual visual and auditory hallucinations are going full blast.  Like Jackson Browne says in “For A Dancer”;

“It’s like a song playing right in my ear that I can’t sing, I can’t help listening.”

Things move in and out of the peripheral of my vision, thumps and whines in my ear all the time.  Hence the headphones.  At least then I know what I’m listening to and I can shut out the world for a short time.

Hopefully tonight’s gym time will work it all out.  Or I’ll die.  Either is acceptable.

Peace,
B

 

On Being Bi-Polar

As I look back on my life I realize now that I have been bi-polar my whole life.  I was finally diagnosed about 12 years ago, but the signs were there at an early age.

I remember lying in bed crying for no reason, and my mom, not understanding, gave the usual remarks of “What’s this about?” “Stop it!” and “Grow up”. But there wasn’t anything I could do about it.  Back then (mid 1960’s) bi-polar wasn’t a diagnosis yet.  They used the term “manic-depressive” for adults but for an eight year old boy, it was “just a phase”.

But I never grew out of “that phase”. In my high school years, I would still have times of uncontrollable crying and depression. I just learned to hide them better.  Plus I had a record player that I turned up real loud to mask any sounds. There would be days I hid in my room listening to music. I would leave for school, only to stop somewhere and wait for my parents to leave for work and go back home.  The only reason I passed high school is I have an uncanny knack at test taking.  Plus the curriculum of the 70’s was so repetitious it was easy to catch up on the days I did go.

Since my diagnosis I’ve gone through many different medications, psychiatrists and a therapist. Nothing has ever brought me to what I would consider “normal”.  I seriously doubt anything can.  While I have had quite strong suicidal thoughts, I have never acted on them. BUT, I do have the constant feeling that the world would have been much better had I never been born.  (It should be noted that I was not a planned pregnancy.  My parents took a second honeymoon and brought me home. As I am quite a bit younger than my three siblings, they were mostly out of the house by the time I was a teenager. I got to go on RV trips with my parents that they never did.  And while some of them were jealous of that fact, they never had to feel the “odd man out” vibe I received.  There were many discussions I over heard when they thought I was sleeping, “We can’t go there with him” and such.)  My wife seems to think that this mental status means I would rather be dead than married to her.  Nothing is farther from the truth.  She is a rock and the main reason I have not committed any rash acts.  What it does mean is that, if I had not been born she could have found a better man to marry.  Someone who didn’t drag her all around, going from Army base to Army base.  Her children with this other man would have had a better chance at college and more opportunities in life.  I am nothing but a boat anchor holding everyone down.

There is also a fair amount of social anxiety mixed in as well.  I’m rather introverted (this blog is a major and difficult step for me). I do not care for parties or crowds, I won’t even attend the office lunches here at work.  Small talk frightens me.  Being a “geek” of types (I do work in an IT department), I am not one to introduce myself to someone in a non-work environment. And women? Forget it!  Think Raj on Big Bang Theory. Unless I am forced into a conversation with a woman (such as a server or co-worker) I just stand back and do my best not to stare.

So the meds keep me from major depression, but not by much.  I still tend to drink too much.  But according to my late mother in law, I’m a “happy drunk”.  So to me at least, beer does improve my mental state. At least for a while. If I am an alcoholic (which I do probably qualify as) it would be a “High Functioning Alcoholic” (is that really a thing?).  I have no alcohol related incidents, I do not miss work or family time due to my drinking and have never placed beer above the requirements of my family (paying the bills etc.).  I can, and have, gone without beer when I thought the cost could be put to better use. And no, I will not go to an AA meeting. So don’t tell me to.

I’ve read a few books on bi-polar.  However they were all written from the outside. That is they are for people who have to deal with bi-polar people in their families or elsewhere. Nothing I’ve found has been written by a bi-polar person that describes what they’re going through and how they are coping with the disease.  If you know of such a book, please leave a comment with the title so I can find it.

So what is a high functioning alcoholic bi-polar person to do?  Leave a comment if you wish.  And I hope I didn’t depress you.

Peace,

B