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Back in December, I had posted here that I wasn’t feeling great emotionally, and I wished I could just be alone with a plate of cookies for Christmas.

Last week, I had an appointment with my psychiatrist, and I was describing this feeling to him, telling him that I had been feeling very flat and a little depressed. I told him this was normal for me, but I knew I would get over it after a while.

Apparently it raises a red flag when you tell your psychiatrist you want to be alone with a plate of cookies, because he offered to increase my Wellbutrin until I was feeling better. I declined, telling him I wanted to wait it out and see if things improved within a few weeks.

He did make a joke about it – he asked, “were the cookies in the shape of Christmas trees?”

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Regardless of what my p-doc thinks, I think this guy approves of my plan:

the streak

Mrs. Fish has an epic streak going. She has not thrown up since 1988. That is amazing, isn’t it? 31 years of flu and bad food and car sickness, two pregnancies, and dozens of daycare kids, but she has not puked in that entire time. She said she has been close a few times, but the streak is unbroken. She is the Cal Ripken of vomit.

I’m the opposite. I get queasy if you look at me the wrong way. I throw up a little in my mouth when the cat barfs on the rug. When my child ralphed up their lunch, I was right there, emptying my stomach next to them into the porcelain throne.

I was joking with her that she keeps the streak alive just for me, but she didn’t respond. Then I said she was going to wait until I die, then throw up for the fun of it. She was suddenly dead serious, and said “Don’t say that. Why do you say things like that?”

My sense of humor is much more morbid than hers. I often talk about being hit by a bus, either me or someone else. Once she said “why is it always a bus, and not a taxi?” Good question. I know people are hit by buses and taxis every day, so it really isn’t funny, but that’s how my brain works.

dismembered

Last night, I dreamed I broke my dick.

In my dream I was, umm, pleasuring myself, when suddenly there was a loud “crack”, and most of my erect penis broke off into my hand. I was so startled that I dropped my dismembered member onto the floor, where it quickly shriveled to its normal flaccid size. I was understandably distraught. I looked at the still-aroused stump, expecting massive amounts of blood loss, but there was none. It had simply separated, like a lizard shedding its tail. By this time I had to pee, and I wasn’t sure how well that would work, so I put the wayward head on ice and prepared to go to the emergency room.

When I woke up, I had to check to make sure I was still intact (I was) so I could pee (I did). Then I thought of the song “Detachable Penis”.

I decided to post this here rather than on my Fakebook page. I think that was the right decision.

leaving the land of blinking yellow left arrows

Anyone who has visited North Carolina was probably initially surprised by the left turn yield arrow. You are sitting at a red light waiting in the left turn lane, watching the red arrow, then a yellow blinking left arrow appears on the signal. You are wondering what to do when someone behind you beeps their horn, impatiently waiting for you to complete your left turn through a gap in oncoming traffic. I’ve never seen these anywhere but in North Carolina, but apparently their use is growing elsewhere.

All this is relevant because my son Dan spent his last days as a North Carolinian this week. This past week I drove down to Raleigh, rented a trailer, helped him load the stuff from his apartment (third floor walk-up – too many stairs!), and drove the trailer back to Ohio. He is staying at our house until he finds a place with one or two friends of his (hopefully soon), and he starts his new job on Monday.

Dan moved down to Raleigh nearly two years ago with a job but quickly had to find something else. He started working for a fast food chain and quickly became one of their go-to shift leaders; they were talking about training him to be a trainer for other new shift leaders. However he was at the same time becoming disillusioned with the demands of the job – time requirements, low pay, poor scheduling – and decided he didn’t believe in the corporate philosophy anymore. Over the last couple of months he made the decision to leave, but he had reached another decision point if he would stay in NC.

He was working a lot of odd hours on a typical fast-food schedule; despite being a shift leader he wasn’t being paid very much; he was barely meeting his expenses, and sometime not doing so, and therefore was starting to run up a balance on his credit card; he hardly ever got to see his friends in town, and when he did he couldn’t afford to do things with them. He had hopes of saving up enough money to move out of his then-current living situation and find a place of his own, and possibly even afford a small house someday, but he could see that would not be possible in Raleigh, one of the more expensive cities in the South. He doesn’t have a college degree and doesn’t really want to have tens of thousands of dollars of student loans to pay off, and I can’t say I blame him.

In short I believe he was running out of money, he decided to leave his job, and saw no real future for himself if he continued to stay in NC. He just wasn’t happy there anymore, and he decided to make a change. He told us his plan to return to Ohio on a pre-Christmas trip to visit, explaining his decision, and I think it makes sense for him. He still has his friends here, he is starting a good-paying job with benefits, and he will be able to save some money living here. He still plans on visiting his friends in NC at least once a year when the comic convention comes to town, and will still keep in touch with everyone online.

I hope he doesn’t see his time away as a failure or as wasted time; I don’t think it was. He gained independence, he grew as a person, and he figured things out on his own. I’m glad he is back just because I worried that something would go wrong and it would be a whole day’s drive to go help him; now he will be just a short drive across town. He can visit just for dinner if he chooses, or stay home and be independent when he chooses.

be of good cheer, or else

It’s the hap-hap-happiest time of the year, isn’t it? So much pressure to be happy and merry, and enjoy the music and lights. You have to be with family, right? No one should be alone for Christmas, they need other people around because everyone must have someone there at all times.

Is it heresy to ask to be left alone for the day? Not in a rude or anti-social way, just to preserve my own sanity. All I want for Christmas is to read by the fire in an empty, quiet house. I don’t need anything more than a thick book, an warm cat, and a plate of cookies.

However … In the words of a wise philosopher, you can’t always get what you want. Tomorrow will be filled with driving, talking, dogs barking, strangers, other people’s chairs, and being mentally uncomfortable.

I shouldn’t complain. I’m safe, warm, and well-medicated tonight; I hope you are as well.

good tidings

Happy holidays and hopefully good mental health to whoever stops by here. That sounds like Dr. Frasier Crane, doesn’t it? Eh, whatever.

I used to love Christmas, then I hated it, then I loved it again, and now we have a mutual understanding. At the moment I’m tired of the music and the commercialism, although I’m being a little hypocritical. I bought stuff for Black Friday just like everyone else. Mrs. Fish love-love-loves Christmas and decorations and lights and music and the Cheesy Christmas Movies™ that run 24/7 on the Hallmark Channel.

Besides, what’s a good atheist to do for Christmas? It would be weird if I observed Jewish or Islamic traditions, so I shouldn’t observe Christian traditions either. How do I celebrate a secular Christmas – or is that an oxymoron? Are Christmas and Christianity inseparable? Should I give up and force the family to buy a Festivus pole? I haven’t given this a lot of thought … maybe next year.

I started joining a group of humanists and atheists for monthly coffee talks to socialize and discuss current events and liberal issues. I guess it is going well, although sometimes I feel like I’m not smart or witty or well-read enough to keep up with them. I know that’s just my insecurities talking. I fit in pretty well, although when the topic of humanism comes up I realize I haven’t thought much about atheism or humanism as a philosophy. I don’t believe in any religion, but what do I believe in, and how should I live my life as a result? What gives my life meaning? Questions for future study, I guess.

My mental health is doing okay. I’ve been a little stressed at work, but nothing like I was earlier this year, and I have not had the same level of depression after adding the bupropion. I don’t really have a seasonal component to my bipolar, so I don’t think that is affecting me.

Nicole is not doing well. Her doctor had her go back to the partial day program again, but then kicked her out because she kept missing days due to “needing a mental health day”. I don’t agree with that decision by the doctor, but I don’t really have any input there. Mrs. Fish has been struggling with anxiety and depression and won’t admit it, but maybe – finally – might be entertaining the possibility of seeing someone about it. She is too stubborn to take cold medicine, but I think an occasional benzo would do her a lot of good.

Finally: I was telling a family member that even though bipolar can be managed, it is still trying to kill you, and the best outcome is to die of something else before the bipolar kills you. They were a little shocked by that statement. Was I being overdramatic? I truly feel that way, because if I were to stop managing my bipolar, I have no doubt I would become very unstable very quickly. That path doesn’t end in a peaceful end.

pause button

I may stop blogging for a while. So many stories, so many things to say, but I get the feeling that I’m the only one watching this channel. There’s nothing wrong, no sudden trigger, I’m just questioning why I continue after 14 years. I still write for myself, but perhaps I post it for vanity’s sake. If I throw words out there and no one notices, what’s the point? Unless my fingers are broken, I can still write things and simply save them on my computer.

Anyway, consider this a long pause, not necessarily a good bye. I’ll post if I have something really important to say. Otherwise, I think the internets will be okay without me for a while.

Having said the above, I know there are a few actual live humans who follow me, because we have interacted on each other’s blogs. I would very much appreciate it if you want to keep in contact. If you e-mail me at fishrobber69@gmail.com, hopefully we can remain blog-friends.

For now, so long, and thanks for all the fish.

just say “fuck this shit”

I seem to have shaken the deep depression for a little while; I’m back to just being a little depressed all the time instead of wanting-to-escape-it-all depressed. Work is no less hectic and stressful, but I seem to be dealing with it a little better right now. A healthy “fuck this shit” attitude seems to have helped, along with adding Wellbutrin to my medicine cocktail. The p-doc, who I still like, seems to think that a little bit of the anti-depressant will not send me spinning off kilter, it will help with the depression, and it will give me a little more energy. So far, I think he was right.

I know most people don’t get to do what they enjoy for work, and work is something they have to do to pay bills, myself included. I somewhat enjoy engineering, I’m somewhat good at it, I just hate all the shit that accompanies the actual engineering part: budgets, schedules, meetings, permits, deadlines, and so on. I enjoy solving problems, doing the math, brainstorming solutions, and drawing things in Autocad. If I could have someone else do all the other crap, I would have a lot more fun.

The other frustrating part is that the workload keeps growing, management keeps hiring more project managers to deal with more projects, but the number of technicians who actually produce the work has actually shrunk. We are expected to accomplish more work with less people, and management will not get us any more help, and instead asks us to work more overtime. Other departments seem to get more help when they need it, but not ours. If this were a temporary thing, we could deal with it. But there is seemingly no end in sight; morale in our department is getting lower, and the constant pressure is wearing people down. People are starting to have a “fuck this shit” attitude toward overtime, because people have lives outside of work too.

Most people’s lives are much more interesting than mine, but that’s a topic for another post.

unfinished business

I’ve been in a pretty deep depression for over a month now, and it’s not getting better. Stress at work has been increasing, and I’m not doing well. I had my scheduled visit with the p-doc yesterday, and he will have me try some Wellbutrin to help with the nearly constant depression. [Side note: I’m still glad I found this doctor, because he actually listens and interacts with me rather than just telling me the same “stay the course” bullshit.]

In the midst of this depression, I all of the sudden get the bright idea that I finally might like to go back to the old hometown and relive some memories, see things close up and personal that I left behind 30 years ago. Sure, that seems brilliant. Call it the Unfinished Business Tour.

I’m not exactly sure how this would work. Fly back to Sacramento, drive to Goldville and Treetown, and then what? Look at the ruins of the houses I used to live in, or get chased off by dogs or drug dealers? Take photos that Google street view can’t provide? Go stand by A-mom’s grave and reminisce about how fucked up life was for both of us? … Maybe. Maybe that is exactly what I need to do. It will be painful and depressing, and it will stir up lots of bad memories, but somehow I wonder if I need to do that one more time just to put some of that to rest for good.

The other thing I would like to do is just drive around in my part of the mountains, smell the pine trees, see the stars away from town, visit the old campground, take in the natural beauty of the Sierras one more time. Maybe I can visit a couple of friends, but maybe I don’t even want anyone to know I am in town. I’m torn, because if I visit one person, then others find out, it becomes a fucking circus, and I want to avoid that if possible.

My wife asked the same question, what would I do if I went. She also asked if it was something I needed to do by myself. I told her I wasn’t sure about either answer. She still has a brother and three nephews who live in the area. I think maybe if she wants to go, she can go, but if she wants to stay home it would also be okay.

overwhelmed and tired

For the first time in a while, I feel like running away is a perfectly sane option. Not really, but you get the idea. I am on call for jury duty this week; most people want to avoid it, but I would love to go.

I am so overwhelmed right now at work. So many projects, so many demands. I’ve been working lots of overtime, but there is seemingly no end to the number of “emergencies” that keep me from getting my work completed. How much more do they expect of me? How much more do I need to give?

I have already shuffled a few projects off to other people, but I really can’t do it again. Everyone else seems to be getting their work done; I’m the only one who can’t seem to get any projects to completion. The others seem to be okay with working their amount of overtime; it is a struggle for me to work my 40 let alone any extra that is expected right now.

I am mentally and emotionally drained every day, and it is affecting my physical health. They don’t realize I have this little time bomb called bipolar ticking away, waiting to blow up my professional life. This affects me more than it would other people, because I’m more vulnerable to external stress.

I’m starting to wonder if I may have to play the “disability card”. If I were to have my psychiatrist place me under work restrictions for mental health reasons, I could force management to shift projects so that I could only work 40 hours. Could I keep that under cover? I don’t exactly want it known that I have bipolar, but if I play that card, the secret will get out. Mental health is one of the things that supposedly cannot be discriminated against, but good luck proving it. Then again, I have the protection of a union position, and I am not seeking any advancement from my current position (like I need any more responsibility, right?).

It’s so lonely in my head right now. Everyone has their problems, and I feel like this is the only place where I can actually unload. You don’t have to read, but thank you if you do.

I realize this is not a well organized or proofread post, but fuck off. I’m tired and I just want to sleep for a week.