Category Archives: I Suck

Nicotine Addiction Sucks (Naw, Not Really)

Addiction is never a good thing although I supposed being “addicted” to exercise or some other positive thing is, well, positive. But I don’t think those things are real addictions and are more like well-established habits. I’ve almost gotten to the point where I require a mug of chamomile tea before bed, but saying I’m addicted to tea is totally bullshit and missing the point of what an addiction is. I always brush before work and bed, but once again this isn’t an addiction, just a happy little habit I have that is actually good for me.

Over the past three months I’ve turned into a raging nicotine addict. I should give some back story first because I don’t think no one accidentally becomes a nicotine addict just because. They don’t do it on purpose. There’s always some driving force behind it.

I started smoking when I was around 20 and did it for about five years. I quit, and it was a terrible learning experience because nicotine is stupidly addictive. Anyone who says smoking or vaping is a habit is totally ignorant of the addictive power of chemicals, especially nicotine. Everyone is different, but the havoc nicotine withdrawal wreaked on my mood led to some of worst feelings I’ve ever had. After not having a cigarette for a few hours my mood would plummet into depression, despair, and near suicidal thoughts. I’m not embellishing this either. In one of these states about three or four hours into cold-turkeying my way to being free from nicotine, my mood was total shit. I felt like crying. I felt so hopeless and lost and “strange” that I just couldn’t take it anymore. I took a few drags from a cig and instantly, instantly, felt better. It was obviously nicotine withdrawal. It made me realize that quitting nicotine wasn’t going to be easy. It required a well-thought out plan and fortitude.

Anyways, I eventually quit. But the thing with any addiction seems to be how it lingers with you forever. Before I smoked I had zero urge to smoke, but after I quit smoking there was still some subtle urge to have another cigarette. The cravings never really went away but over time they became so small and harmless that I was able to ignore them completely. Yeah, sometimes I did want a cigarette but it wasn’t needing a cigarette. Especially when drinking or having conversations I found myself thinking that I’d really enjoy a cigarette right now. Then I’d wave the feeling away.

Until about eight months ago that was. It was about the time of this post I think: totally drunken, hungover, and constantly miserable I awoke one Monday completely filled with anxiety, dread, and fear for the upcoming work week. I was hungover, terribly so, and one thing I knew that would instantly cure my state was a cigarette. Just one. Just one to puff on for about ten minutes, get the headrush and calming effect of it, and I’d be able to deal with the day. I bought a pack on my way to work, stood outside my car, smoked, and thought about life. It was like a little meditative break for myself and it was wonderful. Over a week or so this habit — and it was a real habit at the time — was to smoke a single cigarette outside my car before work every work day. Just one damn cigarette a day to collect my thoughts before work. And it was amazing. I continued on this “plan” for about four of five months perfectly. I’d have minor cravings during the weekends but nothing that wasn’t able to be easily dealt with.

Until about November. Once again, I’m a UPS employee and the holiday season is a collective hell for anyone associated with the company. Being shifted to different crews, meeting new people, having your daily work routine utterly fucked with. As someone who loves knowing the future and having a routine this is anxiety inducing to an insane degree. Double shifting and being awake and at work hours earlier than usual. Late nights with broken planes and dealing with any and all of the bullshit UPS tosses at its workers during the holidays. Given this stressful situation it was no surprise that the one-cigarette-per-day-before-work plan eventually grew into a two-a-day plan. I was working two shifts and a cigarette before each shift was the logical and natural progression. And then this turned into a third cigarette after work to “unwind.”

Truthfully, three per day isn’t bad at all. Sure it’s not good health-wise but it’s also not as bad as smoking a pack a day. And how about the cost of it? Still not too bad. I was smoking Marlboro Reds (because as I was reasoned with, if I was only smoking one cigarette a day, why wouldn’t I smoke something pricy and enjoyable instead of shitty off-brand smokes?), which cost about $10 a pack (Yikes! Back in the day a pack was only about $5.), and three per day meant that a pack would last a little over a week. $10 a week is fucking nothing; I was spending more than that on my constant fast-food diet trying to survive the peak season to the best of my ability and this was probably worse for my health than the cigs were. Also consider the fact that all the overtime I was earning was making my checks totally fat. I was grossing over $1,000 per week, so was an extra $10 weekly expense going to hurt me? Fuck no. It was well worth the price for something to aid me through the holidays. I also attribute my nicotine plan for not blatantly descending into alcoholism during November/December which I had done the previous year.

The whole nicotine addiction really became a thing with vaping. Yes, vaping. Everyone on my crew vaped, and they still do. We’re all a bunch of fucking raging nicotine addicts on our shift, with zero hesitation or shame to the fact. I wasn’t vaping at the time but was occasionally offered to try their vapes, which I obviously did. Smooth and varied flavors, heavy-hitting nicotine content, all without the stigma and ease of not needing to go to a smoke area to get your fix.

Once again, not a problem, until one day between shifts everyone was going to the local vape store, Marco’s Vapor. You might remember this post where nearly every vehicle I had was totally fucked and I was driving an uninsured Saturn to work without an exhaust. My coworkers asked me to tag along to Marco’s, which I politely declined, until one said something like, “Okay, no peer pressure or anything, but just get the fuck in the car; you’re going.”

So I got in the car. What else did I have to do? Drive the loud, roaring Saturn to the local McDonalds, scream into the speaker, and shove shitty food in my mouth in a parking lot? At least I could hang out with some friends.

The store was a very chill and laid-back place with a very casual atmosphere. They bought their stuff over the course of twenty minutes while they asked what exactly I was going to buy. “Nothing,” I said. I prefered to not make spontaneous purchases, but my coworkers were getting new vapes and juice for only $60. Hmm. I could have my own vape, my own portable and accessible source of nicotine, and not have to worry about the relatively minor withdrawals that occured anymore. Hmm. But I knew if I bought one it would be a full-send for a second nicotine addiction; there was no way to moderate vaping. Once again, pleasant smelling, no fire or burning material, no hideous smell on your clothes that you have to hide from your family. No bulky packs of cigs or worrying about where your lighter is. No trips to shady gas stations at inopportune times. And no way to stick to a stilly “one cigarette before work” plan because how would you even measure it?

So I bought one. Yeehaw. Here we go. I also bought the strongest nicotine juice amount sold: Big Dick 50 Nic. 50 mg/ml. Heavy-hitting shit. Instant dizziness, lightheadedness, and shortness of breath after you take a hit. If you take a few hits, you get nauseous. It was almost like mild nicotine poisoning with every pull from my new vape.

And here I am two months later ripping on my vape every few minutes. It almost never leaves my right hand. I love vaping while typing. I love vaping while sitting on the couch doing nothing. I love scrolling my phone and vaping. I basically love vaping nonstop no matter what I’m doing. It’s my go-to little buddy. And I seriously have no regrets.

In a way I find a nicotine addiction oddly satisfying and comforting. I don’t get the headrushes or buzzes like I used to, but it gives me a form of comfort that is ever-present that I can always look forward to. If I have some anxiety about something, rip the vape. If I feel tired, sleepy, and miserable, hit the vape. If I’m listening to music and feeling reflective and introspective: vape. Anything that goes wrong, ruins my mood, or stresses me out, the vape is always there to comfort me. If you go long enough without having your nicotine and find yourself on-edge, such as waking up in the morning, hit the damn vape. The nicotine really kick-starts your day just like a cup of coffee. And coffee with nicotine? WOW!

I know I’m just limping off an addiction here, but I don’t really care. Nicotine is a strange drug that you can actually limp off of with no real side effects emotionally. It reminds me of coffee: you wake up and have like five cups of coffee and you’re good to go. It doesn’t ruin your mood or make you totally anxious and depressive like drinking does. And prescription medication? Opioids? Those are well-known to be the worst long-term addictions you can ever have. For some reason nicotine is pretty chill where my life can continue on nearly unaffected, and in some ways even easier, than before I was addicted. I sounds really wrong to say that I enjoy being totally and hopelessly addicted to something, but as far as I’m aware, that’s perfectly how I feel.

This post was originally supposed to be about the benefits of vaping over cigarettes, but kinda turned into a long introduction/story of my nicotine addiction itself. Oh well, next post, right?

Long Distance Drunk

“Hang it up now or never, hang it up again

Doesn’t seem like anything you’re saying or doing or doing is making any sense

Long distance drunk, long distance drunk…”

– Modest Mouse

As stated somewhere, I only drink on Sunday. This has been working wonderfully nearly two months into the year. I get to satisfy my inner alcoholic and give him something to look forward to while not forcing myself to be a really good person and be sober all the time. It’s rough being a raging alcoholic that drinks every day and it’s also rough being perpetually sober with no way to temporarily escape life. One drinking day a week seems like the best solution for me, at least until I slip and fuck up my entire plan.

Sunday, a friend of mine needed some help moving furniture at his mother’s house. This happened around noon and naturally we like to unwind by grabbing some food. We went to Old Chicago around 1:30 p.m.; this was way too early to start my Sunday drinking, but what the hell else are you supposed to drink at a restaurant while talking to a friend you haven’t seen in a long time about really heavy stuff? Water? Juice? Coffee? Hell no. I purchased a big 22 oz IPA that sported a whopping 7% alcohol by volume. This was basically like 2.25 Regular Beers and of course I ended up drinking two of these over the course of an hour: 5 or 6 beers by 3 p.m. (To make the math simple, I’ll consider these two 22 oz IPAs 5.5 Standard Beers.) What a start to the day.

I’ve always had bad experiences being drunk all day but couldn’t seem to recall why these days were so bad. This was probably because I was miserably drunk and had some memory impairment from it. I knew I was signing myself up for another completely drunk day by starting so early, but surely there wouldn’t be any problems, right? 

The problem with drinking is that sobering up is the worst feeling in the world. You feel tired, slightly nauseous, and end up yawning every few minutes. You don’t even have to drink a lot to feel awful; one or two beers makes me sleepy and lethargic. I notice my mood is usually shit as well. You toss some caffeine into the mix to offset the sleepiness and then you get an awful jittery feeling along with a hefty dose of anxiety. It’s terrible and I cannot sober up while awake, it’s one of my unwritten rules in life. When I start drinking, drinking will occur until I go to sleep. Considering I go to bed around midnight (or even later) once I started drinking at Old Chicago I knew I was signing myself for another totally drunken day. And I knew it was a bad idea; some part of me recalled that being drunk all day was a terrible idea that made me very uncomfortable, but I couldn’t grasp the feeling clearly enough for it to matter.

We left Old Chicago and I decided to stock up on beers at the gas station so I wouldn’t have to do it later. Usually I drink a six-pack on Sunday, but since it was 3 p.m. I’d have to get quite a few more beers to make it through the day. For some reason I thought a 12-pack would be “safe” enough (safe from running out of alcohol too early in the day) and was able to talk myself down from a 15-pack. How many beers did I think I’d need to survive the next 8 hours?

I made it home about an hour later and was already feeling the awfulness of sobering up. I went outside to “put air in the car tires,” which wasn’t a lie, and ended up sitting in my car shotgunning a few beers for 20 minutes. I had two and felt somewhat better. This brought my Standard Beer Count up to 7.5.

We had to take the kids to Red Robin for their birthday. This was around 5 p.m. and I was feeling good. I was drunk again, fending off the hell of sobering up with those few beers shotgunned quickly while hiding in the car. One of the step-kids was inside putting makeup on as we all waited for her in the van (she’s always makes everyone late) and I thought shotgunning a third beer was a fantastic idea! That would ensure full drunkenness until we made it to Red Robin, which had an ample supply of beer. Things were looking up. Standard Beer Total: 8.5.

At Red Robin I order another two heavy-hitting 7% IPAs that tasted awful. Standard Beer Total: 14. I don’t even like IPAs, they just have a really high ABV percent so sign me up for a few of them. Struggling through the second beer was where things really started to go downhill. It was a challenge to finish it with each sip making my stomach turn, but you can’t leave undrank beer at a restaurant! I was drunk, like stumbling around and slurring my words drunk, but didn’t feel good anymore. I just felt tired, lost, and kinda confused. Like I had no sense of time or anything and was floating through life in a haze or something. Time didn’t make much sense and looking back at the day just seemed like a blur. Usually more beers clears these dirty feelings up, but on the verge of being unable to function I didn’t have much choice: sober up and feel burned out or drink more and pass out/vomit somewhere and feel like total shit the next morning.

We went to drop one of the kids’ friends off and I was playing some music that for some reason just slapped the shit out of me emotionally. There I was riding shotgun in a van full of teenage girls totally crying over a song I was listening too. It was beautifully embarrassing and I didn’t even care. And surprisingly I still don’t care about it; I have zero regret about my actions. I’m an emotional person and the music speaks to me, okay?!

We get home and I had another beer. (Standard Beer #15. I didn’t think to tally these up Sunday — not that I could anyways…math is hard when you’re blasted drunk — and I’m glad I didn’t. Oof. 15?!) Wife cut my hair. I wanted to take a shower to clean away all those annoying hair clippings so I hauled two more Icehouses upstairs and pound those down while I listen to more music. Standard Beers #16 and 17 — shower beers! Shower beers are some of the best beers, but not the ones on Sunday. They just weren’t doing it for me.

Life was really cloudy by this point and it was only like 10 p.m. I have an outstanding goal to publish a chapter in my Morrowind Fanfic story every Sunday; this was the singular thing I had to get finished. Luckily I had the story completely written and the only real challenge left was to edit and post it. Somehow I realized that there was zero chance this would get done because editing while drinking — let alone being legit drunk — was a terrible idea. I’d have zero ability to edit the story, clean up grammar, and decide if it even sounded good. Looking back it makes perfect sense because I could barely walk without assistance from the walls or talk properly. There was no fucking way I could edit a story in my state. This only made my mood worse too, so I laid on the floor feeling miserable, confused, drunk, but also not really drunk or enjoying myself. Just a miserable drunk feeling. Heartburn, lack of motivation, feeling like a failure from my inability to edit a fully written chapter because I drank the entire day away. And to really wallow in my self-hatred I played the song I cried to hours earlier and ended up crying again to it. Jesus Christ, was this my life?

In my state I finally realized why I don’t do this day drinking thing: it’s terrible. The last time I recall was in the summer where I had a case of beer and was drinking the entire day away. I thought grilling out was a good idea and I vaguely recall standing outside grilling while my dad was visiting while I tried to drink away the exhaustion that kept creeping up on me. Not actually enjoying grilling or cooking but just trying to get the damn thing finished to where I didn’t have to do anything. Total laziness and exhaustion. It’s hard to explain but Sunday cleared things up for me. Drinking all day is a terrible idea. Drinking for a few hours where you pound a six-pack is great — it always puts me in a good mood — but trying to drag it out into a perpetual drunken state does not work. In some ways I think no one is meant to feel that good all the time, as if your mind is worn out by being too drunk and happy. After about five or six drunken hours you feel exhausted, tired, and depressed, and eventually reach a point where more alcohol doesn’t improve the situation. So that was my weekend. Sounds fun, huh?

Quiet Introspection is Awesome

This week I’ve been in a strange mood. The total emotional vomit of the weekend has been replaced by a hollow yet comforting feeling. It feels like I’m myself in my most fundamental way, not trying to search for anything or trying to discover anything, only existing. This is me: nothing.

I don’t recall the last time I’ve really closed up, introspected, kept busy, and was dead to the outside world. It’s strange too, because I’m a huge fan of closing myself away and existing. Maybe that’s part of myself I’d lost in the past few years? My tendency towards “growth” usually forces me outside of my comfort zone into socializing, being open, etc. and maybe this isn’t how I really am. Under the guise of “growth” and “challenging myself” I can ignore the fact that maybe I’m just trying to be something that I am fundamentally not. I’m a quiet, unsociable hermit, so why am I trying to be anything else?

Or maybe it’s just depression. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I think my realization on Sunday might’ve spooked me or something. My tendency to rely on others, constantly seek social approval, and wanting to be ‘special’ or ‘part of the in-crowd’ might be another way for myself to play right into my own insecurities. To recap slightly: my mom wasn’t very loving so I think I carried that right into adulthood as insecurity, self-loathing, and a lack of self-esteem. My thinking goes like this; do I feel pressured to socialize to feel accepted? Just in a general way? Even if I don’t want to interact, do I force myself to (once again under the guise of “self-improvement” or “putting myself out there”) be someone disingenuous because of my insecurities?

I don’t know, but I’ve been embracing a “minimalistic” approach to myself lately. I feel naked as a person, totally exposed, to where I don’t even know who I really am as a person. Am I the person who makes silly jokes at work? Am I the person that is quiet and sulks? Am I a reclusive writer? And I bipolar who is very sociable/quiet depending on my mood? Who am I really? I don’t know and I’ve gotten to the point of exhaustion even caring about it. I am who I am. I show up to work and fucking sit in silence. I don’t ignore people — that would be forcing myself in another disingenuous needlessly hostile direction — I just don’t try to force anything. If I have a question, I’ll ask and if someone asks me a question, I’ll answer. No elaborate replies, not big complex stories, no obvious fake smiles or anything. Just me. Or the most basic and genuine me that I can find, whoever that even is.

We have plenty of downtime at my job. Yesterday we had a three hour break. Yes. I sat in our crew van — a normal 15-passenger Chevy Van — and listened to music. Most people were off socializing or sitting in their own tugs (tiny little tractors we use to pull shit around), and I was able to listen to four full albums. Dead Kennedys Frankenchrist, and Radiohead’s In Rainbows, OK Computer, and Moon Shaped Pool.

As a side note, I’ve really been embracing punk music in my current state. There is something so visceral, cold, and fun about punk music, especially the Dead Kennedys. Jello Biafra’s lyrics are always cynical, sarcastic, and political. What better way to give up introspection than to blast heavy, fast, loud, violent music with lyrics that don’t give a shit about anything emotional? They contrast wonderfully with all the introspective, emotional, and difficult to listen to music I’ve been playing lately. It’s a form of beautiful escapism and I’ll always have a place in my heart for the Dead Kennedys because of this.

Even after we start loading our airplane we have at least a half-hour of downtime. What do you do with all this time stuck in an airplane? Most people talk — people seem to not be able to escape the need to fucking talk to each other, even if the topics are about the boringest, blandest, most unfulfilling shit possible — and obviously I had zero patience or need for it this week. So I sat cross legged in the airplane and stared at whatever object I could find to stare at. Kinda like a loose form of meditation, just accepting that this is me and this is who I am for the next 30 minutes and there was no escape or even purpose to escape. This is Water, I thought.

People on my crew (in general?) can’t seem to stand still or to not talk. One girl walks to the rear of the plane and back, over and over, getting her “daily steps” in or some shit. She’s kinda a health nut so I understand. Another two people can’t seem to stand still — even if they’re not “getting their steps in” they’re still nervously pacing around the plane for some unknown reason. Another few people feel the need to socially interact every moment of their lives. Their conversations are always about the, once again, most boringest, blandest, most unfulfilling shit possible; usually the unholy trifecta which is work, weather, and sports. These people constantly roam around going from person to person or group to group trying to find someone, anyone to talk listen to them ramble. And a few people I consider friends stand and talk in a small group of two to four people about whatever topic they’re talking about at the time. No judgement to them because you can tell they’re having a fun, laid-back, mutual discussion about whatever they’re talking about. There isn’t any twisted social reasoning for their talking; they’re just talking like normal healthy human beings do.

And I sit there and stare not wanting to be apart of anything. I don’t have the urge to. It’s not me being anti-social or depressed, I just don’t want to talk. Or to force myself to talk. Or to force myself to be apart of something. I’m aware of my insecurities and don’t want to play into them or worry about them. So I’ll just sit, thank you, and exist as I am for a half hour. I make a point to not appear too sulky or depressive or happy or introspective. Keeping as blank of a stare as possible is part of the loose meditation. I’m not trying to prove anything to anyone, even with a facial expression.

Sometimes I am curious how this appears to others. “Jeremy this week seems a lot more quiet and reserved than he usually is,” maybe some think, but most likely no one notices or cares; this is how people are. That’s freeing in and of itself. I don’t feel any social stigma for sitting and being withdrawn. I’m doing my own thing and fuck anyone for thinking of it strange or weird, and if it makes me more unique by being totally accepting of myself and my actions, isn’t that what I’ve been after this whole time? The ability to embrace myself, without worry or care, and be appreciated as the naked and raw person that I am deep within?

I’m sure this phase won’t last long. Sunday was me realizing something about myself and wondering what the hell I even do with the realization. A half-week later I’m already embracing myself and reflecting on it all. And I’m sure in a week I’ll be back to socializing for some fucking unknown reason. Sometimes I hate everything being in flux; I kinda like to exist in my current mood for the rest of my life, but that won’t happen. Moods always change into other moods and if there is one thing that is true about life is there is nothing for you to hold onto. You can’t grasp happiness and hold it forever, and as comforting as depression sometimes is, you can’t grasp that either. Something about learning how to surf the waves, “go with the flow,” or some other trite bullshit you’ve heard countless times.

My Parents Suck: Part 2! of ?

This is part of a totally impromptu series about my fucking meltdown and self-discovery process. These are all very uplifting posts as you can imagine. If you want to read more, here’s one about my parents, here’s one about depression, and here are two about therapy!

This is also the fourth post in four days (Technically not because WordPress is on eastern time, so I think I’m like 15 minutes too late. Technically… NEVERMIND!) which is a new record for me. I’m not trying to do marathon posting here and find myself just going with the flow.

I hate to be the person that blames their parents for everything. To recap the last post about my parents: I had a normal family, normal childhood, normal everything, at least that’s how I thought of it at the time. My parents weren’t blatantly abusive, either emotional or physical, and everything seemed okay. While I acknowledge that everyone is formed by their parents, with mine being rather “typical” that I myself should be rather typical too. Maybe I did inherent or learn some negative traits along the way, but since they didn’t beat/molest/degrade me day after day I shouldn’t have much to worry about, especially when you consider other people who are raised in totally hellish homes, starving, being beaten daily, and whatever other punishments they end up dealing with as a child. Others are terribly scarred and I’m not. Right?

Well, apparently fucking not. I’ve grown into the realization that my parents, more specifically my mom, have totally fucked me up unknowingly. And even after you realize this, what do you even do about it?

Firstly, my problems. I’m a terribly needy and insecure person. I’ve written a bunch of posts on how terrified I am of writing and being seen as a bad writer to the point that I don’t write/post out of fear of rejection. I have to force myself to write, post, and to share with others which I’m thankfully making progress on three or four years later. I’m terrified to show myself or to open up out of fear of rejection. I overthink everything socially and the clearest example I can think of is my unusual text message anxiety. I will receive a text and will be paralyzed by anxiety for literal hours trying to figure out what I’m supposed to say as a reply. The perfect reply, nothing too needy, anxious, serious, or overemotional. Overthinking and overweighing every course of action from a simple text message. It always gets worse the longer I procrastinate too; after two or three hours I think it might be too late to even respond. I’ll look like an ass, I’ll look like I don’t care, I’ll look like I don’t appreciate the other person. It’s bad.

It’s even worse if I’m the one doing the messaging in the first place. “Should I even send this message? What if it’s too weird? What if I look too needy?” If I don’t get a reply within a few minutes my mind zooms off into anxiety orbit where I’m certain that I’m just bothering the recipient. It’s unconscious too; I logically know the other person might be busy, tired, or just not wanting to respond at the time. I do it myself. A friend will text me about a video game and if I’m not in the mood to talk about games I’ll ignore it. I don’t hate him of course, this is just how I am, but I cannot reverse this outlook and see people as not being totally evil and against me in every sort of way. Any reply not instantly received is a personal attack against me: a sure sign I’m hated by them and a complete bother to their otherwise idyllic day.

Just apply the text message anxiety to every other aspect of life and you should get the idea what it’s like to reside inside my head. Talking to people: anxiety. Having friends: anxiety. Facial expressions: anxiety. Everything is overthought and fraught with fear.

I’m also terribly needy. When I bond with a person I worry that I tend to smother them and use them as an emotional crutch. Usually this backfires to where they’re pushed away (which makes me need them even more) and even if they’re not I still overexamine, overweigh, and overworry about every interaction we have. There is a constant fear of not if but when they will abandon me, finally see me as the problem I am, and cast me away never to be bothered by me again. Even if they don’t, the fear and anxiety of it is ever present which undermines any true friendship. So I sit in my own little bubble alone for fear of not wanting to bother others, because obviously I am the problem. It’s all about me in some twisted and illogical way that even I know is crazy. But I can’t help it. It takes a conscious effort to get over these thoughts, and by that time I’m usually so mentally exhausted that I can’t socialize, which leads to more anxiety about people seeing me ‘in a mood’ which then pushes people away which makes me worry that I’m pushing them away by overanalyzing everything and being quiet.

In general my life is one of anxiety and self-hatred, which I’ve only recently realized. This constant feeling that I’m a problem, I’m a bother, and that I’m better off keeping to myself.

Why? I asked my sister if she’s this way, having some tiny and vague idea that if this parental-inflicted we’d share the same undermining traits. Sure enough, she’s the same way. She seems to function better than I do, but people are sometimes good at hiding. Her logic was this: “I don’t think we got the right kind of attention when we were younger. She’s (our mother) always been involved in her own life. I always kind of felt like we were just another problem for her to deal with.” Fuck. My mental gears started quickly turning, speeding towards some obvious conclusion.

The therapist seemed to be hunting around for some deep parental cause to some of my problems, hell, maybe even all of them. She asked if there was a time where I was really proud of something and showed my parents only to be met with lukewarm or no reaction at all. I couldn’t recall a specific time because it was so long ago, but I didn’t doubt it happened all the time. Maybe this tipped me off towards a search towards childhood and how I might have been crippled from my parents. But mom. Yes, mom. She wasn’t very loving. She didn’t let us feel secure. We felt like another list of problems to deal with. And if you grow up in a home feeling like a constant bother or problem is it any surprise you carry this into adulthood? It all made sense. I’m insecure, unconfident, and always need attention. I need someone to constantly be supporting me because I didn’t get this love and support from my mom. And is it any surprise I always want females to comfort me? Hmm? For some reason having close guy friends doesn’t cut it — it doesn’t feel right — I always want a female to support me. It’s like I’m constantly searching for motherly support, trying to obtain what I was lacking in my childhood.

Texting people, talking to people, being part of a group, the yearning to be included, I always feel like a problem. The odd man out. The one not really part of anything. The problem, the hassle, the person to be dealt with out of obligation of social niceness more than anything else. I’m never an asset, someone important to be included for their unique gifts, but always included out of self-pity. Someone who needs to tag along just because and not because anyone really wants me around. And it’s wrong, it’s all wrong, but it’s how I feel. Why? My goddamn mom. Really? While never beating me or really cutting me down was never loving or supportive and this damages you permanently just like any other form of neglect. As a child I was just another problem to be dealt with and here I am as an adult feeling the exact same way. I’m surprised I didn’t connect the dots earlier. And so is the struggle of knowing yourself.

I don’t think my father is guilt-free either, and in fact I think he might be the same as I am. I was in a mood yesterday when he came to visit; I didn’t say anything to him out of depression and an inability to interact; I just felt tired and withdrawn. Of course a few hours later he goes full-on Jeremy-Mode and asks me — over text, obviously — if I was mad at him or if he did something wrong to upset me and for me to just tell him and that he wouldn’t visit anymore. Being really pathetic and mopy about how I was acting and making it sound if it was totally because of him for some reason. It was pathetic but I’d do the same thing; assuming I was the real problem, the center of everyone’s negative moods and shitty lives, the cause for it all. And why is he that way? Did his own mother not love or support him enough as a child like my mother did? No, she didn’t: she passed away when he was 13…

I don’t want to blame my parents or to shift guilt away from me, to remove my own ability to act here, because it seems to diminish my own power. I don’t want a pity party or sympathy or anything — I don’t hate my parents — but I am frustrated that I am this way. Obviously there is no ‘redo’ button to fix things — I can’t go back into my childhood and change anything — it’s just something to deal with. I think it is freeing in a way to actually be aware of where your problems came from. It gives you a path forward I guess. It’s also nice knowing that maybe the way you are isn’t just the way you are but because of some external cause. I’m not fucked up by default, I’m fucked up for something outside myself.

So now what? How do you fix this? I don’t know. Changing who you are is a fundamental pain in the ass. Kids are super impressionable when they’re young and everyone toughens and hardens as they age to where it’s nearly impossible to change who you are. But as the therapist said, I’m not stuck as I am. People are fluid and you can learn to change and deal with who you are. The first step is always figuring out what the hell the problem is in the first place, so maybe that tiny little puzzle piece has finally found its place which is nice, but now what? Do I just practice forcing myself out of this point of view over and over again until the neurons in my head realign and make other connections? I think so. I don’t know any other way to change my outlook other than practice.

Therapy Sucks: the Second Session

Note: This is a continuation of this post if you’d like to check that out. And also a continuation (more like “spiritual successor”) of this post. Self-discovery is a fucking pain. Also, three posts in three days? What is wrong with me? Geez. Sometimes when you’re bored and depressed you realize there is nothing else to really do besides write.

“You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you can’t go around it; you have to go through it.”

-Some Guy Named Brian

I’m currently sitting in a park eating Burger King, listening to the Dead Kennedys, and crying for no apparent reason at all. Wondering what the hell my problem is. Do I even have a problem or is this how people are? I don’t know. I hate being a person though. I didn’t sign up for this shit at all but here we are. Feeling totally stuck in life even though I didn’t want to be here. But what other alternative is there? I’m here and I gotta play the game.

I got out of therapy a half hour ago. It was the second appointment and I was terrified of it. The first appointment was nice; I knew I was making the right decision and was feeling empowered by finally taking control of my life and mental health in a meaningful way. I acknowledged I had a problem — depression, anxiety, insecurity, self-esteem issues — and finally took an actual step to solve the problem(s) facing me. I think this is more than most people do. I have no facts or figures to back me up, but I assume the majority of people limp unhappily and unsatisfied through life not giving one true and meaningful thought as to who they are fundamentally as a person. They deny their deep inner issues, tuck them away, and go through life as a zombie; a nearly dead soulless person. Living but slowly wasting away. I don’t want to be that. As miserable as I sometimes am I’m aware that my own happiness should be my top priority. As exhausted as I am I know the only one who will fight for me is myself.

The first appointment was easy. You talk about yourself and everyone likes to talk about themselves. We all feel we’re the protagonists of our story surrounded by relatively meaningless NPCs. The hero is going to the therapist. The hero is talking about his problems. The hero is talking about the struggles he’s facing in his grand adventure which is life. Sure everyone else is a real person, but when you’re stuck in your head it’s easy to forget that fact. I find it easy to talk and never understood how some people hesitate to open up to a therapist. It’s what I’m there for, so why hold back? The whole point of it is to get down to the bare issues and facts; holding back is just postponing the entire purpose of therapy.

Visit number two? Terrible. It’s terrifying to think about how the next therapy appointment will probably get deeper into your soul and your problems than the last. I didn’t feel like opening up. I didn’t feel like fixing the problem anymore. I didn’t want to talk about myself or end up crying on a nice and comfy couch covered in blankets. I was exhausted and didn’t want to deal with anything. As boring as my Saturdays are, I didn’t want to go to therapy. Just, no. Remember all that empowering bullshit I said two paragraphs ago? There was none of that today, only dread.

Somehow we talked for nearly an hour which felt like twenty minutes. I also felt like nothing was accomplished. Like I blabbed on and on and she said some insightful things and nothing was discovered or solved. In fact I feel worse now that I did earlier. Apparently being happy means being proactive in pulling yourself out of depressing and negative thoughts and moods when they arise. I learned a few mental exercises to help drag myself out of the dark places. Think if the negative thought is useful to have in the moment. Is it better served to face the thought later? And maybe make a list of five items to focus on when your mood goes down the drain. Focus on Love, the big universal Love, and friendship and simply how you are existing in the moment. Think of something around you, count something. I know these are good and I’ve used them in the past to some degree successfully, but goddamn am I exhausted. In many ways I don’t want to deal with the negative thoughts, I want them banished. I want to be happy all the time. Can’t that happen? Just put me on some goddamn drugs that make me happy all the time. I don’t want to deal with life, I want to be dead and numb to it all if that’s a possibility.

Therapy seems to bring up 20 questions for every one that it answers. It’s still the second appointment but I feel like I’m getting nowhere, or even worse it feels like I’m making negative progress. Like I’m digging myself deeper into confusion and drifting away from understanding. Where’s the supposed progress? Hilariously, the therapist jokingly called me an “a-hole” when I asked her this question: “When will I start to get somewhere?” “Oh, nothing personal against you,” I said, “I just don’t feel like I’m making any progress.” Just more questions and I don’t want to deal with more questions. Why doesn’t anything make sense? Why do I want things to make sense? Can things please make sense just for once?

I realized I’m a deeply complex person and that I don’t understand a fraction of the shit I do. I don’t make sense. It’s so infuriating and hopeless when you realize you don’t even know or understand yourself. How the hell are you supposed to be happy when all you seem to be is a big, fat, random question mark of a person? There’s plenty of mumbo-jumbo about self-discovering and searching for yourself, but how deep do I go? I thought I was getting to the bottom of things a week or so ago, but now? I feel more lost than before. It’s like I thought my soul was about as deep as a shallow pond or maybe a river, and that I’ve discovered it’s more like the Mariana Trench and I’m totally ill-equipped to explore those depths.

Most infuriating is the fact that if I’m going to get over my problems, I’m going to have to get down there somehow. And it’s so damn exhausting. I have a hard time getting out of bed and five cups of coffee still leaves me barely functioning and able to go about my day. Deep soul searching? Fuck me. That’s a lot of work. I don’t think I’m cut out for it. I’m totally incapable of it. But really I don’t know what other choice I have. I think I’m to the point where I’m so deep into the self-discovery process that I don’t think I can quit. I can’t wall myself up and be shallow anymore. It’s already there: this realization that I need to discover myself, that I have no choice otherwise, and it’s going to suck and even if I’m so tired, exhausted, and burned out it’s something I have to do now.

As a good friend of mine said: “You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you can’t go around it, you have to go through it.”

And as always thanks for reading another rambly, journalesque blog post.

Waiting on Life Sucks

Sometimes I’m surprised at how the puzzle pieces of life and meaning somehow come together when you least expect them to. You’ll find yourself in a period of total chaos and depression only to come out into a field of meaning where the chaos and depression somehow seem to make sense, like it was all planned out in a way, like it was something you had to go through. Like there is some masterful person or entity behind the scenes controlling everything. I don’t know if I buy into the idea of “fate,” at least a strong version of it, but sometimes I catch myself wondering. I somehow stumble into the just the right music or song, find myself reading the perfect book, or talking to just the right person I need to be talking to. And I find myself wondering if this is all due to pure chance — am I just really lucky? — or if it all means something.

I’ve heard about David Foster Wallace’s speech “This is Water” a long time ago. I was reading Infinite Jest years ago consuming all sorts of things about Wallace on the internet. I knew about “This is Water,” but whatever, I didn’t pay much attention to it because it was a speech, a commencement speech from 2005, and I didn’t give a damn to check it out. How impactful can a speech be even if it is sometimes noted as one of the best speeches given in recent memory? I never got around to it. Until last week that is. The universe aligns and I hear the perfect thing I need to hear as I always somehow do.

Here’s a link to it. It’s about 22 minutes long, not a quick little video, but seriously, it hits hard the entire way through. It’s a perfect mixture of being completely soul-crushingly depressing but somehow uplifting. Give it a watch; I highly recommend it. I’ve watched it three or four times in the past week; it almost has a religious importance and truthfulness to it, at least in my opinion.

It’s classic David Foster Wallace. I’m always stressing the importance of main themes in artists’ work (because you get a glimpse into their soul), and Wallace’s work is no different. I already went on quite a bit about being bored at work reading The Pale King and there certainly are themes embedded in both. Wallace is obsessed with boredom and depression. (It is notable that he talks about suicide and how “most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger”: he ended his life three years after he made this speech. Themes in his art aren’t just words or oblique ideas; he’s personally struggling with all of these topics.) The total pointlessness that is everyday life. The fact that life isn’t especially bad for most of us and boredom is seen as a nuisance instead of the Real Problem; surviving the boredom is maybe the primary challenge in life. Learning to live with boredom, uselessness, and pointlessness day in and day out for most of your life. Sitting through the hours and days of nothingness somehow keeping your soul intact despite the banality of everyday life.

Wallace does pull himself back from the brink of making the speech utterly depressing by noting that we all have the option to control what we think about. Even if life is soul-crushingly terrifyingly boring and pointless, we can control our thoughts. We can learn to deal with it. I think that’s what made this so profound to me: it’s not me being bored and too lazy to do anything — countless other people feel the same way — it’s up to me (and everyone) to control how I view and process the boring meaningless world I find myself in. It almost has an underlying current of Buddhism to it, this focus on the problem maybe being in your head and not with everyone else. The world is fucked up, but you can’t do much to change that fact. You get stuck in traffic and what do you do? Get pissed at everyone else or learn to process this totally stupid problem to where it doesn’t bother you so much? The choice is clear. You are the only one in control of you.

I didn’t want to go on endlessly about the speech and only wanted it as an introduction to this post, but it’s a really long introduction apparently. As I said, everything links together in some utterly complex puzzle where one idea bleeds into the other. I’m bored right now, I feel like I’m waiting on life itself, and I couldn’t help but link my mood to the speech I listened to last week.

I’m always amazed at how life, when you look back at the past, you only see a tiny handful of notable events to define the years. I remember graduating college, high school, and getting a my pilot’s licenses. I think of a handful of notable times with friends that seem to define everything even if they are just memories of a few hours. This is how it is with everything. I remember starting my job, and transferring to a new shift, and a few other “big memories” but other than that it’s all I have memory-wise to account for 14 years working UPS. It seems my entire 33-year-long life is defined by a tiny amount of memories. What happened to everything else? Was it all so pointless as to not be remembered?

The natural question to ask is “why?” And I don’t know the answer to it. Life is lived moment by moment but we don’t remember a damn thing about the day-to-day struggles we all go through. I won’t remember typing this. I won’t remember the hours I’ve slaved away trying to write my books. If one of them does somehow “make it” by selling thousands and millions of copies, I’ll only remember that one final event with everything else being a blur. I’ll remember “the success” part. This already happened with my Options Trading Book even if it isn’t successful at all. I don’t remember writing a damn bit of it; all I have are vague and miserable memories of trying to edit the damn thing. But I do clearly remember hitting the “Publish” button (or whatever it’s officially called on Amazon) and knowing that I finally finished it.

It always feels like I’m waiting around for one of these singular, life-defining moments to happen, being trapped in a banal purgatory in the meantime until something does occur. Thursday seems to be especially bad for this. Trying to have patience with the process that is life. Forcing out another blog post like it’s one boring stride in a long marathon. Pissing away the next three hours until I have to go to work. Pissing time away at work trying desperately to pass time until the next notable thing happens. Waiting for a paycheck. Waiting for the next therapy appointment. Always waiting.

I was complaining to a friend about how much I FUCKING HATE WRITING and she said something like “appreciate the process.” It’s hard to do though, but I have been trying to do just that, not only in regards to writing but with life in general. Trying to think that every day isn’t really pointless because it all leads somewhere. You need to take the thousands of boring, unanalyzed, mindless steps in a marathon to actually get somewhere. This blog post is just like that, a step in a process, and I’m really trying to love the process that I’m in. This is life. I’m sitting here typing, listening to music, and after that’s done I’ll wander off and do the next thing I need to do. This is the power that David Foster Wallace found so integral to surviving life in our current age in “This is Water.” The power to choose what you think and how you think. Is life just passing time until the next “big thing” happens? No. Is everyday life boring and stupid and torturous most of the time? Yes. But here I am, typing because there really is no choice. Learn to love the process. Learn to love and appreciate the day-to-day struggles everyone goes through chasing their goals or simply living their lives to the best of the their abilities.

Depression #4,873 Sucks: A Way Forward?

It’s been a rough week. I think I could fare better with depression if I know when it’ll hit me. It’s always a surprise: one minute I’m fine and then the universe and the people in it do something that starts the ball rolling. A trigger for it. I think I deeply care for people and if that isn’t returned I spiral downward. Maybe it’s safest to not care? That’s a certain way to death, but a walking death where your body is alive but your soul is dead. The only way to live, and to truly live, is to love. Even if that love hurts you, I don’t see any other way forward in life. What’s the other option? To wall yourself off and live without feeling for the rest of your life?

I think I’ve weathered the worst of it and I’m in that strange post-depressive state that I can mostly explain as “exhausted.” I’m like 5% happy, 25% depressed, and 70% exhausted. It’s the realization that you’ve made it through the worst of it but where you don’t want to let your guard down. The next wave could happen at any moment. The next trigger could bring you down. Constantly on edge and terrified of the future. Yet the minutes keep ticking pulling you toward whatever inevitable and terrible/wonderful fate awaits. I’m not ready though. Not yet. Let me relax and type this post in peace.

I totally broke down at work yesterday. I was able to drag myself throughout the entire shift but really wanted to talk to someone. Usually I try not to bother people (in a self-loathing state where you think no one cares about you it’s hard to be proactive and contact someone) but it was becoming so damn bad I just wanted to open up. I had to open up. I’d lose my fucking mind if I didn’t talk to someone. Luckily I was able to talk to a good and much-loved friend of mine. He’s a supervisor which makes it even more special because of the responsibilities he had to shirk to tend to me and my problems. The guy has a ton of things to do at work, meetings to attend, yet he found time to talk to me in a dire time of need. I’m forever grateful to him.

We sat in his car and talked for an hour and a half. I nearly cried a bunch of times. He said a ton of stuff, and vented to me about his own problems, while I rambled and blabbed not knowing what I should open up about or what I should “play cool” about; everything came out though. I didn’t care. Even topics I was very hesitant, shy, and ashamed to talk about came out. He knows me better than any other person in the world knows me.

I didn’t know if I felt better or worse afterwards. There was a ton that was said and a ton of stuff to think about. I did realize one thing though and that’s the entire point of this post: depression is a giant neon sign pointing you towards things you need to pay attention to. It’s literally your soul crying for help. And you need to listen to it.

Something about “listening to yourself” and “figuring out what you really need as a person,” you know the bullshit people always tell you. I always viewed this as a negative; I only seen things I needed to improve upon. Knowing yourself is above all knowing your flaws and weaknesses and improving upon them. The view of myself from the start is negative. My depression is my problem to deal with, and that it’s the primary thing that needs to be dealt with. It isn’t what is causing you problems that is the issue, the issue is depression itself. “Just feel better! It’ll be okay! Maybe you’re overreacting.” That’s what I tell myself. I see my feelings themselves as the problem and not something that is a part of me. It’s hard to explain.

I think what I’m getting at is I treat depression like the problem itself instead of a symptom of something else. This might be a trivial realization, but I’ve never had it stick in my head like it did yesterday. To me it seems so profound, one of those “ah-ha!” moments that is so damn obvious I wonder how I didn’t realize it in the first place.

If you really want to know yourself, you can search inside all you want, but it seems if you ignore yourself long enough something will eventually happen and cause you to spiral into depression. Depression is the souls way of screaming out in protest to something in your life, some immense problem that is tearing you apart. It’s well past dissatisfaction or anxiety or discomfort or unhappiness; it’s the final fucking straw where your soul has had enough with something so antithetical to itself that you feel disgusted as a person. It’s not the depression itself that needs fixing, it’s whatever problem is making you depressed in the first place.

Part of this seems to play back into the self-esteem dribble I was really into a few months ago. One of them was “owning yourself” and being perfectly honest with yourself. I’ve been ignoring the causes of my depression for the longest time, trying to play things cool, trying to “man up” and just be happy, all while ignoring what my soul has been trying to desperately scream to myself. Tell myself the depression is the problem, not the symptom of some soul sickness. Just deal with the depression and not fix it. Maybe that’s why I’m so depressed? I haven’t been acknowledging the stuff deep within my soul, only ignoring it, hiding it behind the facade as best as I can. Limp on day to day, week after week, and just be cool. Don’t be weird. Don’t feel too much. Don’t get attached despite having a heart that loves to get attached to people and craves attention. I’m just fooling myself and lessing my value. I am the way I am, and there isn’t anything to be gained by ignoring it. As my friend said, “You are the only ‘you’ in the world. The only Jeremy that is as perfect as you are.” While I still mostly hate the Jeremy that I am, I’m going to have to learn to love him and give him what he needs, because he is a total dick otherwise.

Note: In desperation I finally called and made a therapist appointment for myself. Yay me. It can’t hurt anything, right?