political blues

I have had to back away from following the daily news cycle. School shootings, political maneuvering, and the culture wars have left me disgusted, and it’s difficult to have hope sometimes.

I’m pretty far left on the political spectrum, and it disheartens me to think that the wing-nut conservatives are doing what they set out to do for the last 40 years. They have skewed the system so they are in power in all levels of government, including everything from school boards to state legislatures to the Supreme Court. They have gerrymandered legislative districts so that a popular minority can win elections in purple states. They have run a highly successful propaganda campaign that has fooled people into thinking their needs are important to the people in power. They use the right-wing media to whip their devotees into a frenzy and disrupt the respectful, adult conversations that used to be more common. They use the culture wars as a dividing issue to dupe people into voting against their own best interest for policies that serve the rich and powerful.

I dislike most of the people I work with, including my so-called friends, when they start regurgitating talking points and conspiracy theories that they heard on right-wing media. Instead of thinking for themselves and voting for people that represent their interests, they vote for whoever will “stick it to the Libs.” My work-friend AJ is a nice guy, but is disgustingly conservative; I disagree with almost everything he says. He started talking about the Former President, saying “I’d vote for him again tomorrow; I don’t condone him as a person, but…”, and then I stopped listening. He apparently has no sense of ethics or integrity if he would vote for someone he finds repulsive just to get what he wants.

In short, AJ is an AWPAC – an Angry White Person Afraid of Change. I’ve recently invented this acronym, and I want to make it stick. AWPACs are highly conservative, complaining that “this country is going in the wrong direction” and saying that “things used to be better”. They are against inclusivity, sensitivity, multiculturalism, abortion, gun control, pronouns, immigration, government, public schools, vaccines, environmental regulations, climate change, and electric vehicles. AWPACs are for white Christian rule, discrimination, male-and-female-only gender roles, more military spending, more police spending, private schools, drilling for more oil, and sticking it to the libs. They don’t seem to care about the collateral damage that 40 years of conservatism has caused, such as more school shootings, increases in mental illness, corporations in power over our government, damage to the natural environment, greater economic inequality, and loss of opportunity for young people without affluent parents.

AWPACs see change as a threat to a system of White Christian rule that has lasted for 400 years. They are afraid of minorities having a greater voice in government and society. They hate anything that gives more power to the people without power. They forget that their ancestors probably came to this country through immigration, but they want to shut the door on opportunity for others. They don’t believe that liberals should win elections, and change the rules of government to ensure that is the case moving forward. AWPACs disingenuously cry for freedoms on one hand, but consistently vote to restrict the freedoms of millions of Americans that don’t look the same or agree with their regressive policies. They will use slimy tactics and dishonorable people to get what they want. They don’t care how you feel.

Many of my work friends are AWPACs. I need to reevaluate those relationships and ask myself if I want to be friends with people who think the opposite of my beliefs in so many ways. I would like to find new friends whose values are more aligned with my own. Unfortunately I suck at meeting new people and making friendships. I tried joining a Meetup group a few years ago, but they didn’t make me feel very welcome, and I was too intimidated to meet them again.

At least I have my blog friends … unless you leave because of this post.

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stressed but not depressed

It’s been a few months since I had a true depressive mood swing. I have been a little melancholy a few times, my concentration is terrible, and I have had anxiety issues. However, my overall mood has been pretty even since December. I’m almost not sure what to do without having the feeling of the dark cloud following me. It’s easier to accomplish things and make decisions when you don’t think your world is going to end tomorrow.

I have been stressed, however, because it’s been rather busy lately:

      • We successfully found a new psychiatrist for my daughter; the doctor has plans for treating her ADHD along with the bipolar-or-maybe-schizoaffective disorder. I hope the doctor will be responsive to messages or phone calls in case things change or don’t work well.
      • We had roof leaks probably caused by ice dams on the roof. We had contractors and insurance people here last week, which was the easy part. The hard part was dealing with the three very loud fans which operated for about 5 days straight to dry out the ceiling. The three of us and the cats almost went nuts.
      • Our dishwasher died, so during the middle of the leak mitigation we had a new dishwasher installed. Actually, the second dishwasher was successfully installed; the first one was 1/2 inch too tall for the cabinet space. We bought from a local small business, so it was easier to work with them than it would have been with the orange big-box hardware store.
      • We have airline credits that expire at the end of March because we canceled a vacation due to Covid in 2020, but a major airline (starts with A) will not extend the date to use the credits. We really had no plans of going anywhere, and during spring break time it would cost more to stay somewhere fun than it would to just lose the credits. Instead, we are going to visit my mother for a few days. I haven’t seen her in over 4 years (since the Butterfly Incident), and she would be happy.

Anyway, off to work (at home), where I will fight boredom and struggle to stay focused on tasks. Yay.

allow me to recapitulate

It has been an interesting year so far. Manic episodes, sketching house plans in the middle of the night, COVID vaccines, no more masks, mentally preparing to work from the office again, and the Giants still in first place bitches! (yeah, you, LA fan). 

Anyway, I feel like it’s a good time for a bulleted list, so here is a recap of the first 6 months of this year:

  • In January I began a strong manic episode for about 6 weeks, possibly encouraged by trying Latuda for bipolar depression. I had extreme anxiety and a couple of panic attacks, I couldn’t sleep most nights, and I was very restless. My OCD rituals became much stronger and nearly impossible to control.
  • In February I began to come down from the manic state but the OCD and anxiety continued in full force, and it was very difficult to work or be “normal” at home. 
  • In March, there was very little improvement, and I worried that something had permanently been damaged in my brain from the manic episode. (I still think that is the case, but I’m learning to manage it.) I was very concerned that my continued employment was in jeopardy, and the resultant worry fed my continuing anxiety.
  • In April I discontinued Wellbutrin and went back on Abilify, and my anxiety calmed down somewhat. I was officially diagnosed with OCD. I also began seeing a therapist for help to deal with the anxiety and OCD behaviors. My daughter spent a week in the hospital with a vomiting syndrome.
  • In May, the anxiety began to decrease significantly, although the OCD rituals were still a problem. I finally got to go on my planned hiking trip to Pennsylvania, which was calming and satisfying. We had a multi-family barbecue for the first time since COVID, since everyone is vaccinated now.
  • In June (earlier this week), I applied for a new position at the company I work for. It would be a promotion, although the pay would be about the same. I don’t think I have much of a chance, but if you get an interview, anything can happen.

Looking forward to the rest of 2021, who knows what will transpire? We do have a few plans:

  • As of July 6th our company will begin a hybrid work schedule, which means I will be able to work every other week at the office again. Maybe I will remember all the people who I used to see every day.
  • In August we will have our annual family camping trip at a local state park. We had to cancel in 2020, breaking a streak of 12 years. 
  • In September my wife and I will take a short vacation to celebrate our 30th anniversary. We’ll probably take a bigger vacation next year, but my daughter can’t be alone for more than a couple of days, so we’ll see what happens then.
  • In November we will be seeing Genesis in concert. 

… and off we go.

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.

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?

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.