a busy week ahead

I have felt a little better this week. I am not as anxious during the weekend because I can stop thinking about work. I still have issues at home I am not dealing with very well, and I’m not getting any help to solve the problems.

I’m glad to have a short week. Next week will be short also, as I am taking a vacation day to make a 3-day weekend. I’m going to the highlands of central Pennsylvania to do some longer day hikes. I’m hoping there will be only a few people there so I can feel like I have the forest to myself. I’ll post a few photos if they turn out well.

I’m going alone, although I wish my wife could go too, but she’s working hard as usual. She only gets one week of vacation this year, and we’ve already scheduled a camping trip in August. However, we couldn’t leave our daughter alone for an entire long weekend, and she wouldn’t want to go with us as she hates traveling.

In other news, I have my first appointment with a therapist Monday. I’m going to see if he can give me some better coping tools for stress and anxiety and feeling overwhelmed by everything. What I’m doing now isn’t working very well. I’ve been in therapy in the past, and it wasn’t really successful, but I’m willing to try again. I know one appointment won’t solve everything, but I’m hoping to gain something from talking things out and getting feedback from someone more knowledgeable than me.

worries

I’m not doing well. My anxiety was not as bad this week, but I still feel unstable. I’m not doing my work adequately. I’m not taking care of the little tasks that need to be done at home. My brain is foggy sometimes, and I just mentally check out for a while. I’m having trouble focusing on anything more than my immediate needs, but there are so many things besides myself that I need to worry about.

My daughter is really struggling with her mental health. Her psychiatrist moved away, and I’ve been trying to get her to make an appointment with another one. She has severe phone anxiety, and she sits in her room and cries about it rather than making a call. She will run out of medicine soon and that will be very bad for her. In addition she has something physically wrong where she feels constant nausea and vomits nearly every day. She knows she needs to take action, but she is so emotionally fragile that she gets upset and turns into a “fussy baby” (her words). For me, it’s like having a special needs child who needs help doing everything, and I’m not dealing with it very well at the moment.

One positive thing: I got my first vaccine shot a few days ago, with no side effects other than a little muscle soreness at the injection point. I’m hearing that the second shot makes you feel ill for a day or two, but I’m not worried about that. I’m just glad we are taking steps to eventually get back to a normal life. At the same time, I feel bad for all the people who have died and all the families affected.

panic! at the home office

So Friday afternoon I may have had a little panic attack. Apparently I posted something here and then trashed it immediately. Then I started drinking.

I was trying to email a request form to someone for a project, but I didn’t know just what to say. But I got stuck thinking about it, and it never got sent. Then the 10 am department meeting happened, and the department manager started demanding more output than we have been producing lately. Just what I needed to hear. After the meeting, I froze up again.

I took a long lunch, thinking I would take a break and calm down, then get back to work. The getting back to work never happened, and instead of producing more, suddenly I’m producing less. Thinking about this made me start freaking out, and I gave up around 2 pm. I literally got into bed and covered up hoping I could calm down, but it just got worse. I briefly thought about calling my psychiatrist, but I don’t think I could have made it through the phone call, and I didn’t want to get sent to the hospital involuntarily.

So when my shift ended at 3:30, I poured a glass full of scotch whiskey and started drinking with the intent of knocking myself out as quickly as possible. After an hour I was successful, and I slept until about 8 pm.


I fear the manic episode from January has permanently damaged something in my already defective brain. I can’t organize tasks, I can’t follow through, I can’t regulate my mood, I can’t control the anxiety. I can’t stop thinking that I will no longer be able to do my job, and that I will have to find something less stressful for much less pay and worse benefits.

Before the manic episode I was relatively unhappy at work but I was able to cope with the stress and managed to produce work in a timely manner. Now I am completely unable to deal with my mental state. I have no coping skills; I have nothing in the toolbox that I can use to improve my situation. My fight-or-flight instinct has been engaged, but I have nothing to fight with. The urge to flee is overwhelming.

The only thing that helps me relax is when I am doing something new, like yesterday when I drove new roads for a few hours and walked at a park for over an hour. But there are only so many roads within a reasonable distance, and I can’t do that every day. Eventually I have to come back home to my life, and start thinking about everything again.

I will call my doctor on Monday when I am relatively calm and explain the situation, and see if he can recommend something.

ten things

I wrote a long post about work, and decided it was too much right now. The TL;DR is that I’m unhappy at the best job I’ve ever had, but there’s nothing better out there right now, so I need to change my attitude and deal with it.

I had other things to write about, including my recent bipolar problems (I’m a little more stable right now), my recent anxiety-driven excursions (which helped me cope), and saving one of a kitty’s nine lives (I was able to hit the brakes in time).

But I can’t really focus right now on anything coherent. Instead I will give you 10 random facts about me. These were written a long time ago and hermetically sealed in a mayonnaise jar until today. So in random order:

3. I played trumpet, trombone, baritone, euphonium, and tuba during high school and college. I was once in the state honor band. Unfortunately I don’t play anymore.

7. My first post-college job was to perform wetland delineations. I used to know the fauna of the northwest very well. One day I was chased out of a wetland by a pissed-off nutria.

4. I can look at maps and air photos for hours. Google Earth is the best thing ever.

1. I’m addicted to crackers, bread, and anything salty.

8. The last time I smoked a cigarette, it gave me a massive boner. I liked it so much I smoked another.

2. I have actually hugged trees. I love hiking and being alone in the forest. When I was a kid, the forest behind my house was my refuge from life.

6. When I was growing up I wanted to be an engineer. Once I became an engineer, I wished I could be something else: naturalist, writer, musician, baseball player, geologist, or a world traveler.

10. Many years ago I was charged with a felony for violating California environmental laws stemming from a contractor mishandling PCB-contaminated soil. The charge was dropped.

5. I love rain and dreary weather because it makes everyone else feel miserable.

9. I wish I was a cat instead of a human.

11. I’m 1/4 Canadian, 1/16 Mexican, 1/16 Native American, and 100% looney.

good night, loon

I took a short break from posting. I wrote a lot of words in a short time, most during the middle of the night, but the train stopped when I started getting sleep again. Of course now I’m up again at 2:30, so there you go.

I don’t think I can take Latuda anymore. I think it is responsible for the manic spell, and it made me nauseous every time I took the 80 mg dose. I was also extremely tired after taking it, as I was falling asleep within one hour after taking it (then not sleeping well when I needed to sleep). The 40 mg dose didn’t have these effects, but it also wasn’t relieving the depression. I see my psychiatrist Monday, so I’ll let him know the side effects are too much for me. Maybe I will go with just Wellbutrin and my old friend Lamictal and see what happens. By the way, my psychiatrist made a special appointment time for me after hours, which I really appreciate.

The other news is about my bad back. Nearly two weeks ago I was getting in my car when I felt something move in my spine, and I thought, “that’s not good.” I could hardly get out of the car when I returned due to the knife-like pain in my left side and lower back. I have been to my chiropractor twice, and each time the adjustment only lasted for about a day before the pain returned. He said I may have to return to the decompression table, aka the stretching rack. Whatever works, man. I’ll see him Monday as well, but in the meantime I’m alternating heat and ice.

I was happy to see the inauguration went off without problems. I don’t think there was ever a plan to create a disaster on Wednesday; I think the premeditated plot was for Congress to be stopped and for a hostage situation to ensue during the riot on the 6th. Chilling stories are surfacing in court documents about how some of the mob weren’t rioting, but moving purposefully around the capitol searching for a way to get to the legislators. Someone with inside information and detailed knowledge of the building (an “unnamed sender,” said the FBI) was sending messages on Facebook telling the hunters exactly where everyone was located. Speculation about one congresswoman had been rampant, but if the FBI knows anything, they aren’t revealing it yet. I think the true story of the riot will come out, eventually, and hopefully people go to prison for a long time.

Finally, someone recorded 200+ hits on my blog Thursday. Either someone really appreciates my posts, or a bot crawled my site. I don’t know how WordPress’ stats work when the bots come to visit, so I can’t explain the spike. I only have 57 posts, so I don’t see why a human would generate that many hits. If you did, however, say hi.

Over and out.

overload

Once again, it’s the middle of the night and I can’t sleep. When I wake up it is from a dream, from my wife coming to bed late, or from my CPAP mask not fitting properly. Sometimes I can adjust and go back to sleep, but not this past week. My brain is instantly wide awake. I give it 30 minutes to try to go back to sleep, but if I don’t succeed, I get up.

During that 30 minutes tonight, my brain was on fire. I had fragments of up to 10 songs playing in my head. I started thinking of three or four blog posts I wanted to write. I remembered I need to call my doctor. I was thinking about medication side effects. I remembered an abusive voice from the past. I was still irritated about an unfinished word search puzzle. I was thinking about what snacks were in the kitchen. I can’t tell you any of the other 40 things on my mind, because they came and went so quickly that I barely had time to process them.

So I’ve been up for almost two hours now, snacking, listening to the music in my brain, and feverishly writing all my ideas before I forget them all.

I don’t know if this is mania or attention deficit disorder (a topic for another post), but it isn’t good for my sleeping schedule. I’ll stay awake until my brain slows down a little, then probably just sleep in my chair again until morning.

welcome to new followers

I have had several new followers on the site recently, and I wanted to say Thank You! As I’ve said before, I write for myself and my own blog therapy. However, it makes me feel better when other people get something out of my writing, either a shared experience or empathy or just the knowledge that other people have the same problems. I appreciate when a new follower sends a meaningful comment or even just a like, because despite being a hopeless introvert, deep down I enjoy connecting with people who can understand the mess that bipolar can make of your life. So again thank you for following, and even if I don’t reply directly right away, I will say hi when I get a chance. 

On the other hand, the bots, spammers, and click-bait sites that randomly like a post or follow my blog are not welcome. I’m sure you have had them also, sites like “HealthTips Now!” and “StarLinkⓇ” and “ImproveBiz4You” which apparently troll WordPress blogs and have the ability to like and follow without anyone actually reading your post. I’m sure the only reason for this is to make me click out of curiosity, driving their stats and making them advertising money, which irritates me. I wish WordPress had better control over this problem. Apparently you can install plugins to help if you pay for a domain name rather than just having a free blog name, but I can’t justify the expense.

To summarize: real people, welcome; bots, piss off.

[update: within 20 minutes of posting, I had another 2 clickbait sites follow me.]

winners and losers

At the moment we still don’t know who will be president, but it looks like Malarkey Joe will win the vote. That doesn’t mean it’s all over; who knows what kind of malignant chicanery the Trump lawyers will come up with. In addition, in Pennsylvania and Michigan there is the specter of the Republican-led state legislature deciding to reverse the election by appointing an illegitimate set of electors to the Electoral College. Because of the arcane system of choosing the president, and the lack of legislation to protect us against such trickery, this ain’t over by a long shot.

I’m a solid left liberal, but I will criticize the Biden campaign for not working hard enough to discuss the issues facing the country. He made the election about Trump, for or against, and that only served to enrage the Trump cult members. I think Biden should have spent more time talking about what legislation he would propose to help some sectors of the public: working class non-college-educated voters, Latino and Black voters, 50-somethings who will depend on Medicare and Social Security, and everyone concerned about health-care costs. 

Biden might have done better in some of those demographics had the election been about issues people care about. Instead the campaign was all about Trump, and by extension the coronavirus. Yes, the virus is the most important challenge in our generation, but concern over the virus is largely split along party lines, and we see how that plays out.

Finally, many people are hoping the Trump nightmare will end on January 20th, but I don’t believe that will happen. As long as the cult leader has a microphone called Twitter and a press agent called Fox News, he will be able to reach the cult followers from afar. Their ranks are growing and spreading hate and racism and asshole-ism through a country that is slowly becoming more liberal. Obsessed with the culture wars, they will never change their minds.

In the meantime, the rich, ultra-conservative power brokers will continue to use Trumpism as an effective means to justify their oligarchic political agenda. The lower class, the working poor, and minorities throughout the country are the real losers here.

the most interesting mind in the world

Back in December, I was bored, and my mind was wandering. Nothing good comes from that.

I started thinking something interesting might happen, something that would shake up the social order, something that would wake up America and maybe change the path of our country for the better. Instead, we got the coronavirus.

A few weeks ago, once again my mind was wandering, and I was thinking again about something interesting happening just to our family. Maybe we could win some lottery money, or get a new car, or have something positive happen to break us out of the lockdown doldrums we have been in. Instead, we got this:

My wife was in a serious crash about 2 miles from our house. The car did its job and protected her; she wasn’t hurt too badly. She had no broken bones and no significant injuries, she just had a sprained knee, a few bruises, and pains all over. It was 100% the other driver’s fault, as they had rolled through a stop sign and left her zero reaction time before impact. Their insurance is paying for everything, so we’ll see how smoothly that goes.

The next time my mind wanders, I will think of nothing interesting. Normal. Boring. Ordinary. Safe.

In the meantime, we will have to get a new car, at significant expense. We can either replace our car with something similar (100,000 miles, unknown maintenance history), or spend a ton of money and get something newer. I’m leaning toward the latter, even though that will take a serious bite out of our savings account. It’s only money, right?

unwelcome houseguest

Knock Knock.
Who’s there?
Corona.

No joking. We don’t know for sure, but we think Mrs. Fish is infected. She’s sick with something, and what else could it be? She doesn’t have the cough, and only a mild fever at times, but she has other symptoms that are consistent. We’ll try to get her an online doctor’s appointment tomorrow to see what they say (and they’ll say “call us again when it gets worse”).

What else would be that easy to catch for the little contact she has had with the public? She stopped working three weeks ago. She has been careful while out shopping, distancing, wearing a mask, and staying home unless necessary. I have done the same, and I have no symptoms. It’s not easy to catch a flu virus in the wild when you’re not being careful. What are the chances this is the flu, really?

I’m worried about her, but she’s in good health, so I don’t think she’s in any real danger. On the other hand, I’m real nervous about myself getting it. I’m 50, fat, and have elevated blood pressure, which put me more at risk. And I don’t like hospital food.

So Anne is isolated in our bedroom with Netflix and Animal Crossing (our daughter’s handheld game). I have been sleeping in my easy chair (don’t worry, I’ve had lots of practice). I’m doing all the cooking, and I’m running out of ideas (who says you can’t do grilled cheese every other day?).

And tomorrow, I have to tell my supervisor that I have to be restricted from coming into the office because I’ve probably been exposed. I’ve been working from home, but with occasional trips in for printing or essential paperwork. I guess someone will have to print large sets of plans for me this next week.

Update: Her doctor nurse practitioner seems to think it is something else, not COVID, but “get better soon, ok?” They will not test her, because of the lack of adequate public testing in this country. So do we assume the NP is correct, and go back to a semi-normal life, or do we continue to have her self-isolate under the assumption that she might have the COVID? Do I tell my office it was a false alarm and that I haven’t been exposed? So many unanswered questions that a test would help put to rest.

2nd update: Her symptoms seemed to go away after five days, so just to be sure she stayed in the bedroom for a few days after her symptoms went away. No one else has felt anything adverse since then. Again, due to a lack of testing, we don’t know if it was COVID or not, but it seems less likely now.

we were on a break

I thought this would be a good time to write here again, since the world seems to be crashing down around us. I haven’t missed writing until now; in fact it has been a relief not being obligated to think of things to write. There have been a few occasions where I thought “I should blog this,” but the feeling passed.

I’ve been really busy with work in the past six months; I’ve worked a lot of overtime with early mornings and Saturdays. The money is good, but I have had a lot of stress to deal with. Otherwise my mental health has been relatively stable, a little down at times but nothing I haven’t dealt with before – in other words, my normal. I haven’t done very many things for myself lately, although I bought a nice color laser printer for the “atheist holiday shopping season.”

One interesting thing that happened was that I finally found my birth father (he died in 2012), and I have been in contact with several of his brothers and sisters. That deserves a future post of its own.

We had plans for this year. We were planning on spending about 10 days visiting people and redwoods and beaches in California in July; I was considering visiting newly-found family members in San Diego in September; and we were doing our annual camping trip in August. We were even thinking about saving up for a trip to the UK in 2021.

Then the world changed.

the kibosh

At the moment, I’ve completely lost interest in writing in this blog. I have content, I just have no energy to put anything here. I don’t think anyone cares, and I care even less. I’m planning on taking down the archives and removing much of the content that I don’t want to identify with for various reasons.

I’m doing okay at this time, and there’s no single reason for putting the kibosh on this project. I just think there is too much of my personal life on the web right now.

<the rest of this post was sanitized for your protection!>