Keep On Keeping On.

They call it stormy Monday but Tuesday’s just as bad
Wednesday’s worse and Thursday’s also sad

– T-Bone Walker, “Call It Stormy Monday” (1947)

Monday mornings. They are never easy. After two and a half weeks of not having to wake up early to go to the office, it is especially difficult to get going.

This morning I was rather horrified also to discover that there seem to be far more grey hairs on my head than there were a month ago. Have I not noticed them before or has the stress of recent events caused that? It is, unfortunately, a possibility. My inner state these days can easily be described as highly agitated and stressed.

How long can I keep going like this? I have only had two therapy sessions but I am already wondering whether I need to ask if SSRI’s are right for me. As much as I yearn for an emotional relief, I am apprehensive about mixing Methylphenidate with an SSRI. Is pot a legitimate alternative?

For the first time in years I’m getting heart palpitations and irregular heartbeats. I haven’t had to endure that since before I was diagnosed with ADHD-PI and started on Methylphenidate (Ritalin). It used to help control depression and anxiety as by-products of ADHD-PI but somehow this is no longer enough.

For the sake of myself and those around me I have got to figure out a way to want to live and to figure out how to forget the woman I love.

Day 19. Struggle.

Lately, it has been a struggle to keep writing. The novelty of having to write at least one post a day has worn off and the boiling geyser of feelings has subsided. Now it seems that all there is left is dull ache of sorrow.

Sunday night I had been able to get myself to the theatre and do a pretty good improv show. In the fit of irony, the universe has arranged that in the very first scene I did in the workshop before the show, my scene partner’s character broke up with my character. All I could think of is “Shit! Just don’t start crying.” I managed not to do that. There was a small crowd but it was better that way for me, though I imagine, not for the theatre. As smoothly as the show went, I still struggled with trying to keep positive. It is not easy for me at the best of times and I am not going through the best of times at present.

Getting back to writing though, the challenge of doing one post a day or more has been beneficial in establishing a discipline of writing. I need that structure now to help me get through this shit.

It should also be of help in my therapy. I am actually supposed to write two letters: one to my dead grandfather and one from him. The first one is relatively easy. He is on my mind a lot and I think of the time we could have been having together often. The second letter will be hard. I can’t even imagine what to write. It has been almost 19 years since he passed away. I remember his face but not his voice. I rarely think in my native language these days and that puts me even further away from trying to access him deep in my psyche. What would he say? How would he say it? At best, that letter “from him” would just be me saying what I think I know I should do. I wish I could hear his voice. I wish I could listen to his advice. (I will definitely need to do a post inspired by him, about him very soon.) In the meantime, I will have to find a way to keep at it.

In improv we say (I believe Meisner pioneered this) “if you are stuck in the scene, state something that is true. This writing challenge has been doing exactly that for me: a way to say something true about myself in order to keep going. A constant lighthouse of stability and common sense to keep me away from the rocky shores of dark, evil thoughts that would eviscerate me.

I am taking this life one day at a time.

I just have to keep on writing one post at a time.

Standing Fast.

I’m having trouble concentrating. Although this should be a happy morning, the reality seems to be leaving a lot to be desired. I am invited to a BBQ at my old climbing partner’s and long time friend’s house. Normally free food makes me giddy but somehow today it has lost its allure. Later on I will be going to the theatre to try to get back into improv. I took time away from it for a few weeks to try to get some perspective.

There’s a maelstrom of “what if’s” and “if only’s” swirling around in my mind. I turn around onto my stomach and put the pillow under my chest for more comfort.

The time stops.

Somehow surviving the washing machine or maybe coming off something else a single strand of Her hair is laying on my bed sheets.

image

My heart starts beating harder and harder and it becomes difficult to breathe and to keep typing this post. My mind is burning up with sorrow.

What do I do? I know I will not just get rid of it. I can’t!!!
What if… If only…
I don’t know anything any more.

Day 18. I Think Of You. (Letter #4.)

I listen to music and I think of you.
I walk in the streets and my feet keep taking me to you.
I run away but my mind stays.
I take to a new road, one to take me away from you.
When I look at the road ahead, all I see is a hopelessness with your face appearing through the fog.
When I run back, there’s nothing but a a memory of you, full of pain.
So I stop here that is nowhere.
I fall to my knees and scream into the void.
I search for you with my mind but all I find is more pain.
I try to eat but food has lost its taste.
I try to drink but instead of sweet release your image shines brighter in my mind. It gains in power and its brightness sears your face deeper into the recesses of my id.
I scream to the heavens to take me but my darkness, my everpresent darkness keeps dragging me down.
I am hellbound and I welcome the prospect of new pain, different paid, for it will surely distract me from the pain of your memory.
I reach for a blade, for the pills, for the booze but nothing can free me. I am locked in the prison that is your memory. I am dying, locked forever in the bottomless pit of its darkest dungeon.
I am yours and yours alone, my love.
I am nothing to you and it kills me slowly. And yet it is as though I am being kept alive.
I become a spectre, a mere apparition devoid of matter for my substance has been burned away.
I hear happy sounds of brass Instruments. A small orchestra is singing of hope in the key of major. But my life is stuck in minor for there is no hope for me.
My heart starts beating harder bringing fresh memory of you. It is trying to burst out of my aching chest.
Alas. It beats in vain. I live in vain. I am alive yet dead. I am no more.

Day 17. The Sleeping Beauty.

One of the symptoms of depression is not sleeping enough and having trouble falling asleep or sleeping way too much. Although there have been times recently when I had trouble getting to the land of Morpheous because a certain lady was on my mind, I generally fall in the latter category. Once I fall asleep that’s it. Either I will wake up 12 hours later (weekends) or when my five alarms finally get me up (weekdays).

To make a short story long, one of my flatmates had a party. I have not been in the party mood as of late so I headed of to bed. Apparently the party got so loud that the cops have been called in and gave my flatmate a fine. I slept through the whole thing.

Day 16. Back To Real Life.

The last two weeks have been an emotional whirlwind. I managed to take time off work to deal with everything that was going on but the “vacation” (holiday for the British readers) is over and I am back in my office day job, the bill-paying kind.

Needless to say that my anxiety level is pretty high but that normally that is the nature of my occupation at the best of time. What makes this worse is that over the past few weeks I have completely fallen apart and became an emotional mess.
What makes it better is the fact that I feel like I’ve hit rock bottom and I have worried myself out. Plus, there is not so much as hope but rather a direction I am moving in instead of just flapping helplessly in the winds of change.

Today us also my second appointment with the head doc.

I’m hoping that I will be able to get in the groove of things and get my mind of the heartbreak. Of course the danger in that is that I will just start avoiding things like before. And that has me worried.

I feel also that in my current condition it will be impossible to hide what is going on with me from my colleagues and bosses for long. *THAT* should make for an interesting conversation!

On the interesting note, my boss has me investigating blogging for our company website. At least on that front I am already all set.

Yours Truly: Front and Centre (Part II).

About a week ago I started to write this post but I needed to do a lot of soul searching and remembering. So I published the original short post you can see here. In order to preserve the continuity, I will reproduce the part about me growing up here again.

Childhood

You see, as a child, although I had quite a bit of anxiety already, I was fine being in the thick of fun performing in dance recitals, plays, and so on. In fact, like my father, I am a natural extrovert. With the onset of ADHD-PI (or ADD, as it used to be called) things have started to change. Of course at the time I had no idea about any of that alphabet soup, nor did anyone else in my backward-ass place of birth. The way to deal with unruly kids was to pump them full of tranquilisers and stuff them in the room with padded walls. As my attention began to wonder quite a lot, I became more and more introverted. (The running joke/explanation was that I had “deep inner world.” So as much as I tried to concentrate, there was only so much information that would sift through the inattention filter. No matter how much I studied, my marks kept getting more and more depressing and so did I. The level of anxiety though, kept going up and up. That wouldn’t do in my society of birth and so I did the best I could (and my best was quite good – too good, as it turned out) to put up the appearances of normality and to lock down any out-of-place feeling or impulse.)

The Move

Eventually my family moved to the more civilised part of the world but by that time a host of damage has already been inflicted. At the best of circumstances, it is hard enough being a teenager. Pair that with feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, fear augmented by the fact that suddenly everyone around you speaks a language you only have a cursory grasp on, and what you have is a recipe for disaster. Within a short time I became a complete introvert. I yearned though to be accepted and put all my efforts to try to be “normal” like everyone else. Throughout school, college, university, things kept getting progressively worse. There was a smaller burnout when I failed several courses because I couldn’t get myself going to school but I managed to recover from that through sheer willpower and an inbred dose of duty to the cell of society known as family. By that time I had almost no friends. I spent all my time either doing chores, or studying, or locking myself inside my brain and getting away into the fantasy world of books and television.

Obsessions

Here’s a thing about ADHD in all of its variations: if the task at hand is interesting and exciting, we can concentrate the shit out of it. Or is it on it? Regardless… My life has always been ruled by obsessions. My mind would get stuck on the idea and I would torture it to death until a new one came along. Each new obsession would get me excited and I would be able to function better overall for a period of time. This has been the case up to and including present time. I suppose I got so obsessed with the idea of being in love that when it was torn from me in such a cruel manner my world has completely disintegrated once again.

The Change

My culturally enforced devotion and natural closeness to my family, as well as books and TV, managed to keep me going for quite some time. But eventually things fall apart. I hit a  wall again. Though it took me a several years to realise, one event became a catalyst in the emotional slide at the time. One early September morning, I woke up very early contrary to my natural inclination to sleep until the neighbours start asking me to turn off my way-too-loud alarm clock. So I settled nicely in front of CNN morning newscast. Lewis Black once joked that between a headlines panel at the bottom of the screen, and the sidebar on the right showing you the state of the stock market (“so you know somebody’s getting rich but it ain’t fucking you”), and the weather on the opposite side bar, “and in the middle there’s this fucking head that’s talking at you”, watching CNN gives you ADD. For my already jumbled mind, however, that visual cacophony was heaven of stimulation. The news anchor appeared to be sitting on the roof of the building or somewhere high up and behind them I could see a city skyline with a plume of smoke rising. It would seem that a horrible accident has occurred and a passenger jet has somehow struck one of the towers of the World Trade Centre. As I was glued to the screen I noticed something that the anchors sitting with their back to the scene did not realise straight away: I saw the second plane heading for the already smoking complex. At that point this was no longer a coincidence, nor an accident however terrible. And the world has changed forever.

(First) Disintegration and The Big Lie

Whether 9/11 played a role in me falling completely apart within a short time or whether it was a coincidence is impossible to say with any certainty but my outlook on the world and life in general has soured quite a bit. By that time I was having an inordinate amount of difficulty with school and I began hating my chosen subject of study with passion. Within a semester I flunked out. Of course being me I could not bring myself to admit this to anyone and so I lied. I kept going through the paces of going to the university library and looking for a job all the while putting up appearances of getting up every morning to go to school. Needless to say that eventually that mirage has dissipated to reveal the ugly truth.

First Glimpse

The summer before 9/11 I came across a checklist for detecting whether a child may have ADD/ADHD. At the time I remember thinking “Wow! This describes me to a T!” However, after discussing this possibility with my summer coworkers, they have all reassured me that it couldn’t possibly be true. What no one, including me, has considered was that after years of locking down my feelings, impulses, and thoughts, it were unlikely that I would exhibit any outward signs of ADD/ADHD that educators and child care specialists are trained to look for in the subject. And so I ambled on, punching my way through learning, all the while trying to come to terms with the ugly reality that I was just too stupid for university learning.
Following my flunking out, I banged around from one meaningless telemarketing job to another. Since confidence is paramount to being a good salesman, it is only logical that I would keep getting fired from those jobs. And since I kept my situation secret from everyone who knew me, my feelings of hopelessness and despair were getting progressively worse.
Eventually my non-student status was found out by my family. It was bad but not as bad as I feared it would be. Everyone in my family held at least a masters degree except for my maternal grandfather (more about him at some later post) who apparently had similar problems to mine in school.
With the renewed dose (however small) of confidence due to the end of the world being slightly postponed, I eventually found a job to my liking and decided to make that area my professional career. I knew it would never amount to anything and be stuck in an entry level position for the rest of my life, but at least I had something and I made some friends who did not think I was a freak.

Things Are Looking Up

That ADD/ADHD checklist kept bothering me. So I went to see my old college psych professor. He said that my concerns were genuine and referred me to several professionals who could talk to me about Adult ADD. The assessment for ADD/ADHD apparently costs $800–$1,000. My family thought that this was a frivolous waste of money since I clearly could not have had ADD/ADHD. I was just inattentive and it was my own fault. (Only took a better part of a decade to convince them otherwise.) And so I went on, sinking deeper into the depression, unable to cope with my desire for better life, a life I knew I could never have. Eventually though I saved up some money and went to be part of a university study on Adult ADD that required only half of the standard fee. It wasn’t because I was convinced that I had it (though the possibility did exist as faint hope in the back of my mind). No. It was rather because IQ testing is a component of assessment and I needed to prove to my family that I was just not smart enough to go back to university like they wanted me to do. After an 8-9 hour ordeal I was thanked for my participation and told that I would be contacted by the person leading the research. They did and I learned that I wasn’t a cretin and that I had a particularly nasty case of ADD-I or ADHD-PI, as it is now called. My family was doing the I-told-you-so song and dance, conveniently avoiding the part about me actually having a serious problem.

The Present and More Obsessions

While I rode the high wave of knowing that there was an actual problem that I could deal with, the future looked bright indeed. I would discover new hobbies (obsessions) and dive deep into them. For a long time photography and hiking were my go-to ways to deal with the world. I discovered a local blues festival and fell in love with the music. It spoke to me on a deeply emotional level and it still does. When I hear those sounds, they transport me to a world with no pain, no worries and they mend (if only for a while) my worried mind.
Unfortunately, all those doubts, fears, misery, suicidal thoughts, feelings of inadequacy that lasted for over two decades did not manically disappear from my heart and soul. Masked by distractions of work and various obsessions they festered in the background, slowly rotting through my inner self deep inside my own mind.
Then things got pretty bad around late 2012 and kept being pretty bad for several months. I tried to concentrate on the good stuff: going to the gym to climb and improv. We did some pretty fun long form shows and I felt ecstatic. That didn’t last long. It never did. Whatever event, achievement, good thing would distract me for a bit would not dislodge the deep-seeded darkness within me.
And then I met Her. I liked Her but was not all that impressed. But there was something. It intrigued me. So we went out for a bit but She said she was not really interested in me romantically but wanted to remain friends and continue to hang out. I was fine being friends as I liked Her and so we spent a lot of time together. I met her friends and she met mine. For a while at least, the dark clouds maybe not receded but disappeared behind Her glow. Eventually we got together and I was lost. I was in love and I started to realise how unworthy I was of Her.

The darkness came back.

I fought against it but I fought alone. I fell into familiar patterns that have been reinforced by years of not doing anything about my issues. I started losing interest in most things and started getting the same weird aches and pains. Breakup followed soon after. As much as it was an inevitability, it still floored me. When She started seeing someone else right away I came undone. I disintegrated.

And that is where I am now. I started therapy and this blog. I have gotten a lot of support from my circle of friends and this new blogging community that I am discovering. I wish I could say things are looking up. The road in front of me is long and fraught with pitfalls and obstacles. But I have a support structure and people that care. I do not wish to let them down and there are many others who went through much worse and darker shit and came out on the other side. They are my inspiration and my strength.

This new voyage I embark upon, this is my forlorn hope.

Day 15. Doing The Work.

As I have mentioned it last week in Moving Forward, my therapist gave me some homework. It is called a “Depression Wellness Plan” and consists of a printed handout 11 pages long. I have known for a couple of weeks now that I should have sought professional help years ago. However after reading this document has made this so much more real. It keeps talking about what is activating my depression. The answer to that is nothing. It’s just on 24/7and has been on non-stop for the better part of the last two decades. It also tells me to be careful as negative thoughts, if repeated enough, can become automatic. Ditto. My first daily thought for most of the last 10-15 years has been “I don’t want to exist anymore.” That is it has been my first daily thought until about three weeks ago and since then the thing I say to myself the moment I awake “I need Her back in my life!” Interestingly enough, I look forward to getting back to the days when I just wanted to die in the mornings.