Tag Archives: Anxiety

“Plz call me ASAP”

“We need to talk” is about the worst thing to hear from someone, especially from a significant other. You guys might feel the same way about hearing this sentence. For some reason I will instantly start to have a mild anxiety attack trying to figure out what exactly I did wrong. Logically, I can find absolutely nothing most times, but I still feel guilty for some reason. It’s a similar feeling to buying alcohol at a gas station. I feel like I’m doing something wrong despite it being perfectly legal for me to buy alcohol. Or when you see a cop on the street and you start wondering what crime you’ve committed because surely there was some crime you did commit. You’re guilty as fuck, of what you’re not sure, but guilty nonetheless.

I’ve been telling my wife to not do this to me. To not text me at work with a “We need to talk” without some preview of what exactly we’ll be talking about. Family members? Fine. Our relationship? A bit scarier. Does she have general questions or did I do something I’m unaware of? Am I going to get chewed out? Tell me something! We can talk in person, but damn do not text a general we need to talk. It sends my blood pressure and heart rate into the stratosphere and I dread every minute until “the talk” actually happens.

And then “the talk” is usually about something not that bad and I’ve stressed-out for hours fearing absolutely nothing.

No big deal really, just another misunderstanding between two people in a relationship that you have to iron out. I don’t even want to blog in-depth about that isolated gripe because it isn’t a big deal. But today I woke up to a text from my mom saying “Plz call me ASAP”. It’s not exactly the same thing as “We need to talk” but pretty damn similar. It was really jarring to wake up to that. Part of me doesn’t even want to complain about it; I haven’t woken up that fast in quite awhile. To hell with an alarm on my phone, I’ll just have my mom start sending me alarming and vague text messages around noon.

After reading that text my brain did something like this: “Someone died. Okay. Who died? Grandma? Was there a car wreck? It could be someone else too. Who’s hospitalized? Did someone try to kill themselves? No, it has to be grandma. She’s old and it’s only a matter of time. She’s basically wanting to give up on life anyways. Should I call into work or tough out whatever major thing just happened? Keep to my routine or mourn? Will I have to be strong or supportive to the rest of my family or will they be okay? Should I help clean out her house? Just yesterday she was alive and fine and oh my God what actually happened?” Brains are cool and it did all of that in just a few seconds.

So still in bed like thirty seconds after waking up and looking at my phone I give her a call. “Plz call me ASAP”. What could it be? I’m dreading what she’s going to say and it’s awful. I haven’t even had a cup of coffee yet. 

It goes to voice-mail and I hang up. Plz call me ASAP? Must not be that big of a deal if it went to fucking voice-mail…

My dad calls me ten minutes later and I dread answering that. I’ll discover whatever Plz call me ASAP as soon as I answer it. Oh no, more anxiety and fear and I’m still in bed without my coffee. At least my vape comforts me.

“Have you talked to your mom yet?” He asks.

“No. She sent me a text saying to ‘call her ASAP’ and I called. It went straight to voice-mail.”

He sighs, obviously preparing to tell me the awful news of my grandma’s death a few hours earlier. I fearfully listen as he says, “Your mom’s car is broken down. It’s in the shop. She called me and wanted to borrow money but I don’t have that kind of money!”

Plz call me ASAP. That was it? She needed to bum money off me? Instantly my mood went from fearful and anxious, full of dread, to a full-body-and-soul eye-roll. Jesus Christ, I love my family. Sarcasm obviously. Not that I hate them, just shit like this makes me want to punch a wall.

It reminded me of a time a year ago when my mom texted me saying something like, ‘Please visit grandma. Her health is going downhill and she probably doesn’t have much longer.’

I was at work and asked her if grandma would hang onto life until the next day. She said she didn’t know. She probably used that dumb phrase ‘it’s touch-and-go’. I worked and worried, running through the last time I saw her in my mind. Was that the last time I’d see my grandma?

Surprise surprise: she’s still alive. Her health didn’t go downhill at all last year. She fell, got kinda sick, and kept trucking along like she does. I think my mom might exaggerate stuff a little bit.

There’s probably certainly a blog post about my mom’s car and all of that trash in the near future, but let’s not get into too deeply here. Her car stalls out and dies, lacks power going uphill, and the stealership says she needs a new catalytic converter. Her warranty (which covers drivetrain issues) doesn’t do shit for her. It’ll cost her $1,500 to get it fixed. An automotive repair shop that she likes, Wick Automotive (Check out these reviews. Wick’s does seem like a decent place. And no I’m not paid to say that.), said they’d fix her car for only $1,000. But then she’d have to pay the stealership $160 to even get the car back thanks to a ‘diagnostics charge’ or some shit. Say it again: Stealership. (Consider this: I offer to fix someone’s car. I say, “Bring it over, lemme look at it!” They bring the car over. I find out what’s wrong with it, but it’s too complicated for me to fix. “I can’t fix this, it’s beyond my skill level. Sorry, you’ll have to take it somewhere else. Just pay me $50 for looking at it though.”) Should she have it towed to Wick’s? Should she drive it to Wick’s? Is it even the catalytic converter or maybe just a clogged fuel filter? And she only has $700 so, “Jer, do you think you might be able to help me out?”

[Insert future blog post here.]

If you’re reading this, don’t be that guy. Do not send texts to people that they could use their gloom and doom to misinterpret. If it is gloom and doom for real, I’d prefer it said right away. “Call me ASAP. My car is fuuucked!” If you need to actually talk in person to someone, give a preview. “We need to talk. Nothing big, just I want to complain about [family member].” Fer fecks sake, use the “We need to talk”s or “Call me ASAP”s sparingly over text message. They sound important and terrifying, they give the textee severe dread and anxiety, and please to the Lord Jesus H. Christ don’t use them in everyday speech.

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Insomnia Sucks

Looks like I’m doing this again. I’ve always been a night owl, but being a night owl is a bit different than having full-blown insomnia. Going to sleep late/waking up late is fine — at least you’re sleeping — while insomnia, the total inability to sleep, is hell. That’s been my existence for the past two days and it is not enjoyable. Anyone who has suffered through it knows exactly what that special hell is like.

I had a severe bout of insomnia years ago. I think I was awake for three or four days. Memory of this time is fuzzy, luckily. I watched a YouTube video about anesthesia a few days ago and it reminded me of insomnia. Apparently some anesthetics don’t stop you from feeling pain, they stop you from remembering the pain. Isn’t that a terrifying thought? In a way memories are all that your sense of self is; if you don’t remember something it’s almost like it never happened to you. Back to insomnia. Luckily I don’t remember the first episode very well. Nothing concrete sticks in my mind about it. All I remember is some fuzzy feeling that I was miserable, terribly miserable. I recall desperately trying to nap at work during one of my two-hour long breaks. I think I did nap for a bit and felt a little better. I suppose it’s nice that insomnia wreaks havoc on your ability to form memories. Once it’s over it almost seems like it never happened.

This time isn’t nearly as bad; I only suffered through one/two day(s) without sleep. I awoke at 1 p.m. on Monday and didn’t fall asleep until 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, more than 24 hours without sleep. I slept until 3, a whopping 1.5 hours of sleep, so I could drag myself to work. Work was awful and I tried sleeping on break to no avail. After work I was tired and felt like my body was physically falling apart, but somehow I ended up staying awake until 5:30 a.m. reading The Wheel of Time. 40 hours awake with 1.5 hours of sleep. It was bad.

I slept okay last night, but still have trouble falling asleep. I have severe anxiety about insomnia which only makes the problem worse. Those vague memories from years ago terrify me, and laying in bed hoping to sleep while being terrified of not being able to sleep only makes it harder to fall asleep. It makes you feel like a dysfunctional human, a total failure of an organism. Sleep is as natural as eating food or breathing; can you imagine the insomnia equivalent of those two? Desperately wanting to eat or breathe but unable to do so. I’m thinking asthma is a good analogy for the later, and maybe a stomach virus or eating disorder as an analogy for the former. Do any other species have insomnia? Is this just a problem with being human, a problem with higher consciousness itself? It seems being as aware as we are is a downside in many ways — we’re prone to overthinking and worrying, stuck in the past while living for a vague future — and maybe this is another example of it. Do other animals have brains that are so overactive and filled with fear that they cannot sleep? Maybe they do, but I doubt it.

Sleeping is easy: you just have to stop your brain from having thoughts. Easy right? You get to think about whatever you want. No, that’s not how it works. Anyone who has casually tried meditation knows that this is harder than it seems. Have you ever read a book only to find out you read a paragraph only to have no idea what you’ve actually read because your thoughts just wandered away to whatever random shit popped into your mind? The mind seems to hate being idle, to have absolutely nothing to think about, so it just makes shit up. Meditation, having no thoughts and perfectly clearing your mind, is nearly impossible. Here, try it now. Stop reading and think about nothing for a half-minute or so. I just tried it. I looked at the wall and noticed the reflection off a picture of the TV that the kids are playing Minecraft on. One of them just said, “Come back in Kitty Cat,” and this simple input kicked off a chain of thoughts in my brain. Nothing important enough to cause insomnia or trigger bad thoughts, but enough to have a thought. It’s like thousands of needles popping the void bubble of zero thoughts over and over again. Once you have perfectly zero thoughts, one just appears out of nowhere making you start all over again searching for that perfect zero-thought void.

Yesterday in bed I realized how shitty controlling your thoughts actually is. My brain would not shut up. I thought to myself, “Okay, I just need to not have any thoughts. I’ll lay here and think of nothing. If I start to think about something, I’ll shut it down.” It worked for about five seconds. It felt like I was batting thoughts down like a person swatting flies or mosquitoes away from them. The act of not thinking was a thought in itself. It keeps your brain working trying to not work. Even when I didn’t have a thought I started to notice the strange patters of color that you see sometimes with your eyes closed. Even without a thought my brain was making up shit visually. With my eyes closed I’d notice how the colors flowed and note the shapes they took, and this became a thought. I also noticed how Talking Head’s “Burning Down the House” was continually on loop on the border between conscious and subconscious. Even without having actual thoughts things were still happening that I was hopelessly paying attention to.

This is what millions of people suffer through every damn day, and how do you even fight against this? It’s literally your brain, the thing that is YOU, not letting itself sleep. It’s doing what it evolved to do — thinking in a higher fashion that any other known creature — yet it undermines itself and the body in the process. Sometimes I hate my brain. Most of the time I hate my brain. I wish I was a goose; they seem happy enough eating grass and shitting everywhere. I doubt a goose stays awake until the sun comes up thinking about not thinking and how hard it is to do. I doubt a goose is kept awake at night thinking about it’s inevitable death, or the size of the universe, or how strange it is to exist, or asking itself what the hell is consciousness anyways?

Not to be a total miserable person here, plus people seem to read blogs to find out useful information and not hear someone whine, but maybe meditation is a solution? It’s not as easy as popping a few Xanaxs, but maybe by training your mind, letting it Git Gud at not thinking, you’ll learn to have no thoughts. And with no thoughts comes sleep. It’s like any other skill; practicing it makes you better at it. You know, that’s what I’m going to do. Maybe I can report back on it in a week or two, but probably not knowing my blogging history. Thanks for reading!

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Socializing Sucks

There was a time when I thought I was a closeted extrovert. For those who don’t know extroverts are people who get their batteries recharged from social interaction. They’re the people that sit at home bored losing their minds and then go hang out with people to pick themselves up. There were a few times where social interaction put me in a manic mood, like when you have a deep conversation with a friend or really connect with someone. Maybe that is me? Maybe I’m an extrovert?

I always thought I was an introvert because I was shy. But shy and introverted are two different things and I suppose you can have shy extroverts and outgoing introverts. (Who the hell are those people anyways? Anyone have examples?) Also being introverted doesn’t mean you hate social interaction and I think this causes a bunch of introverts like myself some problems. I love social interaction but end up thinking something like, “But I’m introverted. I don’t like people. Why do I feel lonely?” You can see where the problem is hopefully.

After this week I’m certain I’m an introvert. I’ve been as close to a social butterfly this week as I possibly can be and I’m exhausted. Part of it is probably due to not drinking and recovering from that mess, but a lot of it is from socializing.

Therapy last Friday wasn’t good. I admitted to drinking and feeling miserable and noted how damn insecure I was about the upcoming shift change at work and possibly losing friendships that I cherish. She gave an obvious suggestion: keep in touch with them over vacation. You know, show that I value them as friends. That was my ‘homework’ assignment for this past week. Just be somewhat social and “check in” on my friends while I’m away.

What I found was eye-opening. I knew I had severe anxiety at texting people and I regularly won’t respond to a text I deem “important” for fear of saying the wrong thing, or not wording what I want to say perfectly, or maybe because I’m scared they won’t reply back. Sometimes I’ll need to be drunk to have the courage to reply, and that leads to “drunken-text anxiety” the following morning. Let’s make this clear too; these are just regular texts to friends and nothing more. Texting a love interest and having anxiety is understandable but I’m just an anxious mess apparently.

So I dove into texting and trying to hang out with a few friends I haven’t seen in a long time. I was forcing myself to reply to messages in less than a day and practiced just, you know, replying like a sane and relaxed human being. And you know what? It actually worked! By the end of the week I was texting and replying like a fucking champ with all the casualness in the world. If I didn’t get a reply, oh well, who gives a shit? The conversation was probably over anyways.

My friend from North Carolina moved back this week and I texted him asking if he needed help moving. He said that’d be cool so I drove over Thursday to help. His parents had already moved most of his stuff up to his second floor apartment and I only helped with a TV and it’s stand. His parents are super cool people so interacting with them wasn’t too bad, but the anxiety was still there. Hanging out with this guy is easy mode because he’s about the most outgoing and extroverted guy in the world. It reminds me of how extroverts in high school sometimes adopt the quiet, introverted kids to be their friends. But I’m proud I did some work to actually reach out to him and helping is always fun. As an introvert you can’t count on the extroverts to do the work all the time.

My wife and I drove to Davenport Iowa to see my sister and her girlfriend Friday. I need to write a post about how much I hate driving, or did my past drunken self already do that? We were only there for two hours and I was dead for about half the time, once again partly due to not drinking, partly due to the two hour car ride, and partly due to socializing. Shit, even socializing with my sister drains my battery. Meeting her girlfriend for the second time was also stressful, but she’s an extrovert (I think) and better at carrying a conversation than the other three of us, so talking to her was enjoyable, but still draining. I did my best to ask her about herself because introverts can’t rely on the extroverts to always make the conversation. We made it back home after another two hours and I sat on the couch dead for a half hour before jumping into Kerbal Space Program to recharge them batteries.

Aaannnd yesterday. I hung out with a guy I used to work with a decade ago. We have a fun backstory beyond that; we used to date sisters! I never talked to him at the time but he got hired at UPS and we became friends by association. “Oh, you’re the guy that’s dating my crazy ex’s sister. Cool!” Eventually they broke up so now we get to bond over having crazy ex-girlfriend sisters. Yeah, to hell with them.

He wanted to hang out two months ago but I blew him off and disappeared into the ether like I do. I texted him earlier this week admitting as much. “Hey dude, sorry I disappeared for a few months there but I’m on vacation this week. Want to get together and do something?” Man look at me, being the guy asking people to hang out! He came over today and we talked outside for an hour before grabbing some food. I tried my best to be “present” in the conversation but damn do I have almost zero energy to work with. My social battery came from a five-year-old phone apparently. We only hung out for three hours but once again I sat on the couch and just spaced out after he left. I’m so damn tired and exhausted even though I did nothing physical at all.

And there’s the whole visiting my Gramma/Uncle/Aunt/Cousin that I mentioned in this post. It was the same thing: an hour of mild conversation followed by me getting sleepy and lethargic and wanting to go home and play video games. But it’s family so it’s not that big of an achievement.

Achievement. Yes, I think that’s what it is. It sounds silly but a week ago I was stressed about vacation, being bored, feeling lonely, being forgotten by my work friends, and drinking to mask it all up. I sobered up and even if that was shitty and stressful by itself I still managed to face the anxiety and stress of social rejection and text people. It’s not that bad either; what exactly am I so worried about? And I really went above and beyond by hanging out with a few friends and family members that I haven’t seen in quite a long time. I think today I’m going to be a total introvert and just relax. Maybe read a book or play video games or garden of all things.

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Hangxiety Sucks

November what? The 26th? It’s late November? Already? The demons of Thanksgiving, Christmas, peak season at UPS, the hell of Winter, and the struggle of buying gifts is already upon us? When did all of this happen? I’m not ready for this. It was only a few weeks ago that it was July and everyone was miserable in 100+ degree heat indices. Right? 

Sober September was great enough and it was the happiest I had been in awhile. I’ve said before in some post before that surprisingly I don’t have anxiety when I’m not drinking. It has been so long since I’ve been sober for an extended period of time that I’d just accepted anxiety as part of my natural state. Sure, Jeremy is somewhat anxious, but it was never a crushing and terrible thing that I couldn’t work through until I made alcohol a part of my everyday existence. But here we are and I have no choice but to deal with it and work through it. Life is always a struggle to fight through your problems and this is mine currently.

Sober September quickly turned into Intoxicated October and Not-Sober November which is where I am currently. And it’s the absolute worst time of the year to realize that maybe you should stop drinking, that it does you no good, and that it’s a crutch you use to limp on by in life. Fucking stand up on your own and live up to your potential, right? But it’s cold and dark and work is hell and stress is high and despite any meditation on the matter I can’t help but feel that life and everything is spiraling apart hopelessly. Add in the second/third wave of COVID-19 looming over all of us and I don’t even think I want to attempt sobriety just yet. I just don’t think I can pull off during this point of my life. Maybe I’ll just camp out until things finally fucking calm the fuck down…eventually…whenever that actually happens…maybe January?

Anyways, hanxiety. It’s a term I found on Reddit a few days ago and it has struck me with its personal resonance. If you can’t tell, it’s a portmanteau of hangover and anxiety which makes its meaning quite clear: hangxiety is the anxiety you experience while being hungover. Apparently the Irish have a term for it (according to some random Reddit user): The Fear, which is quite fitting really.

(Note: here’s a link that is pretty damn informative about ‘hangxiety.’)

It’s comforting knowing there are terms so fitting to my current state used by a massive part of the internet population. It removes the ‘personalness’ of the problem — maybe it’s not a problem with you our your mind but with the alcohol use/abuse and is something chemical — which makes it a ton easier to deal with. When there are a bunch of people experiencing the same crap that you do you don’t feel quite as bad about it as if you were going it alone and thinking it was some issues with you a person or something. All of us borderline alcoholics are in this together, in some nebulous struggle against a molecule of all thing, and it gives you a feeling of camaraderie. It’s not just you going it alone and a ton of us experience this ‘hangxiety.’

Apparently hangxiety is a medical side-effect of alcohol use/abuse. It’s as natural as any other drug side effects and it’s not something to beat yourself up over. Sure, you’re drinking way too much and may have fucked up temporarily, but the next day side-effects are as much of an issue of biology and chemistry as they are to your possible drunken texts to your ex, if you sent them or not. As said before: don’t beat yourself up over things if you can help it. No one who is prescribed opioids beats themselves up over the ability to shit (as opioids stop you from being able to take a dump) so us alcoholics shouldn’t fret over the next-day anxiety, guilt, and stress that we always experience.

(Big Note here: obviously alcoholics and those prescribed prescription drugs are totally different, but I’m trying to say don’t personalize the side-effects of the drugs you’re taking I guess.)

Alcohol is a depressant, and as the brain and body’s way of dealing with this is to increase the ‘flight or fight’ response of your body so you don’t die. By drinking you’re basically slowing everything down and your body speeds itself up with its funny tricks so you don’t pass away. It’s a battle of chemicals; as you dose your body with things that slow you down, your body increases the things that keep it going like cortisol: the stress hormone. Do you ever notice how you wake up anxious, on edge, fearful, and terrified after a night of drinking? Thank cortisol and your super-effective brain and body for this. You’ve dumped a bunch of depressants into your system and your body is fighting it and what did you expect to happen? Welcome to the hell you’ve brought upon yourself. And you have nothing else to do but accept it with open arms and own it because it’s all your own fault.

This is the hell I’ve been in for about two months now, and despite being in this hell I’m surprisingly adapting just fine to it. It sounds awful, but I’m used to waking up after four or five hours of sleep totally stressed out and feeling guilty for some unclear reason despite not drunkenly texting my ex or doing other silly shit. Sure, I didn’t do anything to feel guilty over, but the feeling is there and ever-present and it feels real. It’s hard to shake a feeling of guilt despite knowing you’re not guilty of a damn thing. I suppose with this outside opinion from thousands of Redditors I’ve detached myself from the hangxiety in a way. Yes, I was drinking a bit too much and brought it upon myself, but the hangxiety itself is just a byproduct from my stupid life choices and not a problem on its own. I wasn’t guilty, a failure, or held some vague form or regret for any real reason: it was just the booze changing my brain chemistry.

It might be the functional alcoholic speaking here, but I’m getting to the point where I totally ignore and disregard my hangxiety. It’s just a passing feeling and if I fight through it, chill out, focus on being at peace with my life, and I find I can get through it just fine. It does seem like everything in life is a tradeoff, and if you do accept functional alcoholism into your life you can still learn some sort of lesson about stress, anxiety, and depression even if it’s at the expense of your greater health. I’m not saying people should willing drink to induce the temporary hell that is hangxiety just to deal with general anxiety, but damn if I haven’t been learning things over the past few months about dealing with stress and anxiety.

As for my hyped-up, hopeful closing statement: if you are a total drunkard who wakes up after a paltry three or four hours of sleep totally stricken by The Fear: you’re not alone. While I’m not facing the actual problem of alcoholism here, I am trying to give you some comfort over your hangxiety. It’s just a temporary side-effect of drinking heavily and if you give yourself time and turn your thoughts over to more comforting things you’ll find that you can fight through it. Don’t fret, don’t worry, it’s not a big deal and you can work through it. Despite you bringing these feelings upon yourself, remember above all else try to love yourself! No one is perfect, you can eventually work through your issues, but please don’t put extra effort into beating yourself up! Hangxiety, while awful and difficult to deal with in the moment, is just a temporary effect of alcohol on your brain and body and has nothing to do with your mental state, even if you might think it does. Hangxiety doesn’t speak to your mental state or fortitude, security, or safety in any way and should be totally disregarded. Don’t put too much emphasis into how you feel in the moment and try your best to work through it. Like me, you might find that it’s not a big deal at all once you face it and deal with it the best you can. It’s only a passing shadow, or something…

Maybe it’s best summed up by Sam’s speech in the middle of The Lord of the Rings movies:

“I know.
It’s all wrong
By rights we shouldn’t even be here.
But we are.
It’s like in the great stories Mr. Frodo.
The ones that really mattered.
Full of darkness and danger they were,
and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end.
Because how could the end be happy.
How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened.
But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow.
Even darkness must pass.
A new day will come.
And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.
Those were the stories that stayed with you.
That meant something.
Even if you were too small to understand why.
But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand.
I know now.
Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t.
Because they were holding on to something.”

-Samwise Gamgee

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My Election Anxiety Sucks

It’s October 30th. The 2020 general election is in four days. And if you want to make four whole days seem closer than that, just covert the days into hours: 96 hours. That’s it? That’s it.

Sure I have general anxiety over the election, probably from lurking around on Reddit for too many hours each day. The famously left-leaning r/politics sub has me feeling there’ll be about a 50% chance of some civil unrest, or heaven forbid a full fucking civil war, and as much as I think this won’t happen — and might not even be likely to happen — knowing that the country seems to be in a pressure cooker social environment doesn’t make my anxiety-prone self feel any better about the situation.

Worst case scenario? Who cares. I can always stay inside, hunker down, make adjustments to my stock holdings as needed, and not involve myself with whatever actually happens. You know, go to work like normal, drink beer, drink coffee, play video games, write, and eat food like normal. Even if everything does go off the rails it doesn’t have to involve me.

That’s my general anxiety over the next few weeks that seems to be hauling towards us, for better or for worse, like a train zipping down the rails. But my anxiety is a bit more acute because I volunteered to be an election judge this year.

I’ve never been an election judge before and I really don’t know why I signed up two months ago. I mean I know what happened two months ago but it doesn’t makes sense now. I wanted to do something crazy to serve democracy. To help the election. To feel like I’m doing something instead of sitting on my ass in perhaps the most important election in my lifetime. With all the old people (who usually serve at polls from what I’ve witnessed) being at high-risk for COVID, and maybe not wanting to volunteer this year, I assumed there might be a need for younger people like myself to serve. We can’t rely on old poll workers forever because they’ll eventually die; someone has to take up the job. To take charge of what needs to happen instead of constantly thinking “someone else will take care of it.” Elections need people to do the actual work, and why shouldn’t that be me?

So one night I got blasted drunk, printed and filled out the form, and mailed it before I could sober up and change my mind. The application to serve as an election judge was in the mail and sober Jeremy just kinda dealt with it like rain or something else totally out of my control: “Well, this is happening now, so…okay.”

Until a few weeks ago that is. I received a manilla envelope in the mail with my election assignment. It had a handbook for election judges and precinct for November 3. I would be working about a mile away from my home in a Baptist church with fellow judges Edna, Marvelene, Lisa, and Lunetta. Fuck, things were getting a bit more real for me. Worst of all, they listed the other judges’ phone numbers and written in bold, red ink saying UPON RECEIPT OF THIS ASSIGNMENT – PLEASE CONTACT THE OTHER JUDGES (PRIOR TO ELECTION DAY) TO MAKE ARRANGEMENTS FOR SET-UP OF PRECINCT ON MONDAY. It also said that THE CONTACT NAME ON THE TOP OF THIS SHEET IS THE CONTACT NAME AT THE POLLING PLACE FACILITY. ONLY ONE JUDGE NEEDS TO CONTACT THEM TO MAKE ARRANGEMENTS FOR SET-UP TIME ON MONDAY AND ENTRY INTO THE BUILDING AT 5:30 AM ELECTION MORNING.

So as of Friday — the weekend before the election — I obviously haven’t contacted any of the other judges. And as far as I know no one has tried to contact me. I do have an unlistened voicemail on my phone from a strange number, but I’m still too nervous to actually listen to it or even check the number. Maybe it’s one of them wondering if I was even in existence?

This is where all my anxiety comes from. I have to contact people — strangers — that I’ll have to work with for over twelve hours this Tuesday. It’s up to us five to actually contact each other, to contact the church, and to schedule some time to set up the precinct on Monday. How can I feel such anxiety over calling a damn phone number? Aren’t I supposed to be a fully-functioning adult? I also have to work with the general public; didn’t I learn not to do that when I worked at Sam’s Club? Why the fuck did I sign up for this? Why the fuck did August drunk-Jeremy decide this was a good idea anyways? Doesn’t drunk-Jeremy know that Jeremy, drunk or not, hates social interaction, is terrified of irregularities, and hates waking up early?

And then there’s my raging nicotine addiction. Apparently we can’t leave the polling place. How am I supposed to vape? At work I hit the thing every ten or fifteen minutes and on election day I’ll be dealing with a highly stressful situation and am going to require my nicotine! I imagine I’ll be doing something like this while trying to work out times to sneak a hit from my vape:

And…and waking up early. I don’t even fall asleep until 4 or 5 a.m. — the time I need to be at the fucking polling place — and usually don’t wake up until 2 p.m. How the hell am I supposed to manage this without making my day hell? Should I go without sleep over the weekend to tweak my sleep schedule or just YOLO a sleepless day on Election Day itself? Just jump right in a deal with my shitty situation totally sleepless and miserable.

There is a temptation to just not show up on Tuesday, but that seems like taking the coward’s way out. Just fucking do it. It’s one day. It can’t be that bad. I’ll manage. And what about all of that ‘serving democracy’ that I mentioned at the start of this post. Urgh, there’s no way this will be enjoyable at all.

This post hasn’t done anything to serve the general reader at all and I must admit it was just me writing so I feel somewhat better about the situation. It’s highly uncomfortable and I feel the need to get it out in some way or another because I’m borderline freaking out about Tuesday, not with anything to do with the election itself but for the silly situation that I put myself in for some reason. Like this whole thing goes against my entire personality and insecurities and I feel like a total idiot for getting myself into it. What was I thinking? Other people are better suited to things like this and for some reason I didn’t realize that at the time. Let the extroverts and old people deal with elections and being judges. Let them be the people to call strangers to work with and sit in a chair for over twelve hours checking signatures. I’ll just silently show up and vote and let others do the real work of democracy. It’s not for me, but apparently it is because I fucking signed up for it.

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing also sometimes post stories.

Or my Facebook page where I don’t do much of anything at all, but I do appreciate more followers.

Alcoholism Sucks: The Slow Descent

So it’s 3:20 a.m. and I’m pounding my seventh beer. I feel slightly better about life but not quite okay with it. It’s a struggle to drink enough to feel okay with life but not drink too much to lose your mind to the drunken haze. And with every drunken day that passes that line becomes thinner and harder to follow with less margin for error.

I don’t even know what the point of this post is but I hope it eventually gains some direction. Typing is hard and I’m hitting the wrong keys all the time. Constantly smashing the backspace button to erase any signs of my drunken typing while desperately trying to stay on topic. Maybe it would be a fun project to let the errors stand as-is and just display it to the world: this is what drunkenness looks like. That’d be fun, right?

I find it interesting that many bloggers have a “recovery blog” where they write about life away from alcoholism while no one seems to document the descent itself, which even in the midst of beI find immensely interesting. No one signs up to be an alcoholic and everyone that ends up as such seems to be totally caught off guard that it could, or was, happening to them for years. I’m in the fucking depths of it and the world seems so damn twisted, confusing, and depressing that I doubt anyone who hasn’t experienced it could imagine it. Here there is no hope. Here there is no progress. Here there is only limping along day after day just trying to survive the best you can, beer after beer. There is no outlet. There is no escape. You wake up hungover and try to get to the evening when you can drink again. One more escape after the last, until something happens, something to change the addiction. Something to change the hell of life.

After the past like two months of drinking everyday I just don’t care to work on anything. I haven’t anything in the past month due to the drinking. Not that I haven’t had anything to write about, it’s just that while being perpetually drunk it’s hard to string any coherent thoughts together. It’s hard to let your mind fester on a certain idea and let it lead to a natural conclusion. Alcoholism seems like a fucking blur: the past few days don’t mean anything, the past few weeks seems like a puzzle, and the past few months seems like some barely recountable dream that you’re not sure you actually lived through. When I try to recall the past couple of months I can’t seem to come up with anything. Sure, I lived through it, but I have nothing to show for it except vague memories, dream-like states and experiences, but it doesn’t seem like it was me experiencing them. It seems like someone else was there and I have no personal relationship with the memories at all.

The Descent

I don’t even know why I’ve been drinking so heavily over the past few months either. Surely part of it was due to my month long vacation and drunkenness, but besides that I have no idea. Well, maybe I am aware of a few other important issues but I don’t feel like discussing them here. There’s a bunch of stress in my life currently, and stress seems to be nearly as bad as alcoholism is. Stress wears you down and drains you, especially over long periods of time, and this is certainly part of it. Alcohol eliminates stress for a time, but it seems you must pay the debt back later. Any stress you eliminate with alcohol comes back the next day and if you continue to avoid it by drinking it’ll snowball into some intense hatred of life and anxiety, which only makes you drink more to avoid it further on.

It’s such a subtle descent that it’s difficult to realize how dangerous it really is. I had my first drink at the age of 17 and have fended off alcoholism until now — 17 years later. I’m 34 and never had any real issues with it — sure there were signs here and there but no obvious problems — until now. 17 years later! Half of my life I survived with a casual relationship with little to no abuse until now? Why did I fall at this time? What happened? If I wasn’t an alcoholic ten years ago, why am I one now?

For fucks sake, it sneaks up on you when you least expect it. With 17 years of not really having a problem I let my guard down. I decided I could drink once per week in 2020 and was fine with controlling the demon until a few months ago. Then something happened. I don’t even know what it was, but here I am drinking every fucking day. What happened? How did I fail? How did I become this person?

You don’t even notice it. A drink here or there in social situations just to ease your anxiety. A few drinks on the weekends to help you unwind. A drink on a weekday to help you deal with a stressful day. A drink the next morning to let you deal with the hangover. And then a drink after work because it was a bad day. And then another drink the following morning because you’re hungover from the drinks after your bad day. And…and before you know it you’ve been drinking for a fucking month or two struggling day after day just to survive life itself. It happens so slowly that you don’t even notice it, but eventually you realize it’s there. It’s you. You’re the alcoholic. You’re the person you never thought you’d become. But here you are, at 3:47 a.m. writing a blog post after eight beers trying to confess your soul to some strangers on the internet. You feel like you can’t escape and you feel like you’re in too deep. How do you even escape the person you’ve become?

A Way Out

I talked to my therapist about this a week ago. I said I felt fine, that I was doing okay with depression and social anxiety and that I felt pretty damn good really, but that I was drinking every fucking day for some reason. She gave some vague advice that I loved, “Perhaps you’ve gotten over the past issues you were struggling with and now the next problem presents itself. Understanding is like an onion, and maybe you’re moving on to understand the next layer.”

I sat dejected on the sofa and joked asking, “How many layers does this onion have?”

And she replied, “The layers never end…”

“So it’s an infinite-layered onion? Well…Fuck.”

And this gave me hope but also with a slight tinge of meaninglessness. An infinite onion never allows you to reach the core –to where you never fully discover your true self — but maybe I’d moved on from my other issues to confront the next issue: alcoholism. Progress, right? But it’s still strange. You’d think as depressed as I was months ago I’d be drinking a ton then but no, somehow when everything finally started to improve elsewhere in my life the drinking became uncontrollable. So maybe this problem is manifesting at an opportune time, the next problem to solve, the next layer of my personal onion, and it’s up to me to face it.

Two of the supervisor I work with (whom I consider friends) mentioned something about “Substance-Free September” where they elaborated on giving up any substances they struggle with for the upcoming month. They looked at me and said, “Hey Jerm, you want to do this with us? Substance-Free September?”

I gave them a glassy-eyed stare as I knew the one thing I’d have to give up would be alcohol; I was dreading giving up my singular coping mechanism for life. They kinda laughed and I eventually choked out, “Well, I’ve been drinking every day the past three months so maybe I could give up drinking for a month, but…fuck...”

I had been so used to drinking everyday that I wasn’t sure I could do it.

There is a certain appeal to involving others in your life choices. It seems easier to be sober if you haven other people you’ve made a pact with. It’s not just me making choices for myself when I’m suddenly accountable to others. It sounds strange but I’m a very competitive person: if I’m in a “competition” I give it my all just to prove that I’m a badass and if it comes down to me not drinking for a month, I’ll fucking try to prove everyone wrong and beat their asses with sobriety.

And I think this might be a way out, at least a temporary escape from the haze of alcoholism, if even for a month. A competition, a deal, a pact between a handful of us at work that maybe we can try to make it through September without any of the substances we’re terribly depended upon. For one of us, it’s marijuana. For another one, it’s nicotine. Another person is hooked on nicotine and alcohol, but to a minimal degree for each of them. For myself it’s obviously alcohol, perhaps one of the hardest to stop because I’m so goddamn depended upon it, and I think I got the short end of the stick here. But it’s fine because I want a way out. I want to escape, and I think this might be my first step forward. I’m terrified of Tuesday, September 1st, where I might have to face the world in all of its terror and beauty without anything to cope with it all. It’ll just be me and over the past few months I don’t know if “me” can even deal with it without freaking out. But I’m ready to accept it, face the challenge, deal with the struggle, and toss myself into the hell of sobriety after being almost perpetually drunk over the past quarter year.

I suggest anyone who reads this considers getting on board with Substance-Free September no matter what your issues are. Maybe just as a commitment to yourself knowing others are in the same September sobriety boat as you are. It doesn’t have to be anything major either — caffeine, soda, meat, cocaine, xanax, sleeping pills, whatever you use as a crutch — because any tiny act to make your life better can pay immense dividends in the future. We can all be strong by being sober and dealing with live as is without anything to assist us but our own selves. Let’s do this guys and gals.

Deleting Facebook is Awesome (and Something about the Riots)

“The raging mob has lost its nerve

There’s more of us but who goes first

No one dares to cross the line

The cops know that they’ve won”

-Dead Kennedys, “Riot”

Christ, what a time to return to Facebook. I deactivated my account two weeks ago, more or less, and reactivated it Friday. Why? Because I’m trying to do the whole writing thing. In short I have my shitty author’s page on Facebook and I’m not quite sure how much traffic actually gets driven to my sites from there, especially to Wattpad. I think most traffic at this blog comes from Google search results (which is good) or WordPress itself, but nothing else seems to have that benefit. By trying to get my life and writing back into some semblance of order, well, I’d need that damn author’s page back.

I don’t have to explain much, but boy did I jump back into a total dumpster fire and was probably the worst time this year (so far!) to get back on social media. You know something has people hyped when there are countless posts about #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter with zero subtlety to the subject at hand. Sure some posts seem to realize that this is a messy situation, but there’s always the majority that are either totally for the cops or against the cops, and in turn for black people or against them, although it’d never be worded that strongly. No one says they’re ‘against black people.’ Something about rioters breaking property and that’s…well…that’s just taking things a bit too far. Fuck everything in the world right now. But before all of that let’s talk about the pros and cons of deactivating your Facebook account.

Deactivating/Deleting Facebook: How the Fuck do you Do That?!

First off, deleting your account is permanent. You cease to exist on the site and when you commit to this option, it’s final. All of your pictures, posts, and other bullshit are permanently deleted from the site with no option to get any of it back. Before you delete your account, maybe use the option to ‘download your data’ or whatever, which packages all your shit into a handy .zip file (at least that’s how it was a few years ago) so you have all your photos and such. Deactivating is also exactly what it sounds like; it’s temporary until you reactivate your account by simply logging on and your stuff still exists, it simply isn’t accessable by you or anyone else. Consider deactivating like a social media coma whereas deletion is like social media death.

Facebook naturally makes it difficult and unintuitive to deactivate/delete your account. Why? Because they want you addicted to the shit so they can rake in that fat advertisement money. In short the more people on the site the more people they have to advertise to and charge advertisers for. I don’t want to get too detailed here because I don’t even remember, but somewhere in the ‘settings’ menu you can find a tiny and hardly noticable text link that says ‘deactivate/delete your account.’ It’s not a big, fat, giant, noticable button, so hunt around until you find it.

Oh, there it is. At least on the desktop version.

It’s not over yet because Facebook still tosses a few random desperate questions at you seeing if you really want to leave the site. “Are you sure you want to deactivate your account? Think of the friends you’re leaving behind!” as if the only place to interact with people in our apocalyptic society is on Facebook. Deactivating Facebook also comes with the option to ‘automatically reactivate’ in a set time frame, if you choose to do so. No, fuck you Facebook, I’ll choose how long I want to disappear for. They also ask you why you’re leaving, as if you owe the multibillion dollar company a reason for leaving. Once again, fuck Facebook.

To reactivate your account, you simply log in. It’s way too easy and the temptation to log back in is way to high. Just be warned of this beforehand.

Another fun fact about Facebook account deactivation is that, and this is a big one for many people, Facebook Messenger still fucking works. Your actual profile is gone, you don’t have to worry about seeing peoples’ shitty social media drama and Hot Opinions, but you can still message people on the Messenger app. Go figure, right? Some people who only use Facebook for the messenger app should take note of this. There really is no downside to deactivating.

What Happens After you Leave Facebook?

In short you become happier and less burdened by the worlds troubles. I’m serious. You’re not bombarded by a constant stream of hype and outrage and in your cute little home/apartment the world almost seems not that bad. Sure, you might be aware of everything spiraling out of control but it never seems as ‘important’ as what social media would lead you to believe. It’s a kinda mild detachment from the world’s problems that, while they’re still occurring, they’re not being constantly thrown into your face about how polarized and opinionated everyone is. The power is placed on you if you want to give a damn, be an activist, or whatever.

You’ll also have a ton of free time on your hands. I don’t think any of us realize how much we lurk around on social media when we’re bored and taking this away gives you tons of free time. Sure, you’ll be bored at first and wondering what the hell you’re supposed to do, but you’ll adjust fine. It’s similar to weening yourself off a drug or alcohol, it’s hard at first and you feel kinda lost but then you get your shit back together and work through it. When bored, the temptation is always there to smash the Facebook app icon and scroll mindlessly for some length of time, and when this is gone, you’ll feel lost like you don’t know what to do with yourself. But use it to your advantage and do something to benefit your own life. Stop giving into the boredom and pissing away time on social media.

I suppose you also might get in tune with who you’re real friends and family are, not just the Facebook friends that you might believe are ‘real friends.’ I have a handful of people who I interact with regularly on the site even though I never talk to them or see them in real life. This isn’t a real friendship and is only a vague ghost of what a true friendship is like. Quarantine aside, go hang out, text, and talk to real fucking people. Ask them about their lives, their hobbies, and get to know them. Sure, you might know know what their latest Hot Opinion on [topic] is, but who gives a fuck anyways? If you’re really curious, ask them. Facebook is not real friendship.

About the Riots: Outrage on Social Media

This is a prime time to deactive/delete your account too because social media is insanely toxic right now. I try to do at least one post whenever one of these ‘social outrage’ incidents happy not because I really have much to say about it, but to rake in views. How many people are Googling ‘Riots’ and ‘Facebook‘ right now? Might as well seize the opportunity right? Something about turning lemons into lemonade. Not that blogging about people rioting, dying, and police brutality feels good or is a noble cause; no, I’ve just realized that no matter what drivel I write here will be totally useless. The only person I’m actually in control of is myself — the only thing I can ‘fix’ is my attituide on things — so I might as well make a post. God, I sound like a selfish asshole here, but hear me out.

This seems like fifth of sixth post I’ve written about the pointlessness of social media outrage, and the last one that comes to mind was my silly post about The Little Mermaid casting choice. Remember that quaint time? Despite that being relatively harmless and unimportant considering what is happening now, the same fundamentals seem to be true: solidarity between opposing groups. Simplifying arguments. Groupthink. Outrage. No subtlety except to prove your point. “Delete me if you agree with [opinion], I don’t want a friend that believes [thing].” And so on.

And…I don’t even want to think about or analyze anything right now. My mind always boils down it down to something like this: will anything ever change? Probably not. I’d love to see real change, but it never comes. Remember Trayvon Martin? Nothing happened. Remember the Parkview shootings? Nothing. Remember all the high school kids protest for real change? Remember how nothing actually happened. Remember the Las Vegas shooting? Nothing happened. Remember the one preschool that was shot up years ago? Nothing. Remember Ferguson, Missouri? Nothing. I hope you see a pattern here. Despite people being more passionate this time around, I have no hope for real change to occur and I’m actually hoping the protesters burn everything down because maybe that’s what we need to give us real, lasting change, not that I’m hopeful. Why? Nothing has changed before, why would this time be different?

Ah, there goes my pessimism again and my mind is racing. I still can’t decide if this post should be about deactivating Facebook, the riots and the bullshit social media outrage over this Hot Topic, or my reaction and pessimism to it all. Maybe it’s a good example of what I was talking about: you can obviously see how pessimistic and shitty my mood was in the last paragraph, and why is this? Because I’ve been on social media for a half week and my mood is already degrading. It’s…ah…it’s a fucking mess. I think I’m done here. There isn’t anything to say that hasn’t already been said before. Somehow I think by not saying anything I might be saying more than everyone else screaming on social media for change that’ll never come.

One last thing that is obligatory for any ‘bitch about Facebook‘ posts: I wrote a book a year ago that was just one long rant about how shitty social media is and how it’s the cause of everything wrong with our society. Or it’s a microcosm of everything wrong with society. If you’re interested, please check it out, it should be free to read on Kindle Unlimited or whatever the hell it’s called. And if you really enjoy it or are interested, consider buying it. It’s only like $5 $3.

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics every whenever I get around to it. For example:

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing.

Or my Facebook page where I don’t do much of anything at all.

Free Write: May 26th 2020

This is part of my effort at getting my life to have some direction. To be honest, writing always makes me feel better, even if it is kinda pointless and directionless like journaling is. There’s nothing to show for it publically so that doesn’t feel useful in terms of blogging or stories, or whatever, but it does seem to help.

It’s fun to look back at old posts where I basically say “if you’re depressed, just think of better times that will surely come and keep busy,” as if keeping busy is really easy to do when depressed. Being depressed makes you feel everything is pointless, and what’s the point of doing everything if it’s pointless.

That’s the mood I’m in today, but my mood is improving. Currently I’m at the point knowing that progress is progress and you have to move forward somehow because there is basically nothing else to do. Yes, life is total shit, but what else is there to do besides move forward? The other option seems to be wallowing and giving in to the pointlessness, and that seems more pointless than pointlessly trying to move forward.

So moving forward today is what I’ve been doing. Or trying to do at least. At 4 p.m. I told myself I was going to head to the store to buy supplies to change the oil. Why not? My plan was to change it once a year with fully synthetic oil and when checking the last oil change discovered it was May 28th of last year, nearly a year to the day. I wondered if last May was just as shitty where I decided to change the oil just to have something to do. There were other things to do as well: mow the yard, change the brakes in the Civic, and clean up the basement, but maybe one thing is enough to show for my current COVIDployment. I’m going to get this blog post out as well, another tiny victory to show that I’m trying to pick up the pieces and move forward somehow.

One problem with changing the oil: it’s not the most fulfilling sign of progress. It’s not something that makes you proud or anything. I finished the oil change and kinda shrugged and went back into the house to write this post.

Today is my third day without beer, and before that I drank nearly a 15-pack of cheap gas station beer everyday for a week. It’s the worst binge drinking period I’ve ever had. It’s funny how you can do so good for so long — basically having a six-pack every Sunday for four months — and then instantly spiral out of control when something goes awry in life. This is probably why it’s easier to accept either alcoholism or sobriety and not perpetually straddle the fence between the two extremes.

Obviously, I’ve felt like shit the past three days, but today I almost feel normal. Like maybe everything isn’t falling apart, that I’m not about to die of delirium tremens (apparently you need to drink at least a month straight to have life-threatening withdrawal from alcohol), and that maybe I won’t lose my job by being off work for more than a week. And even if everything does crash around me that maybe I’ll get by just fine. It might take awhile, but in the end maybe, just maybe, I’ve got this.

I’m really stressing out about work as it was my anchor while sailing the strange seas of the COVID pandemic. I’ve said before I was glad I still had a job and that nothing had changed for me, but here I am. I was only sick for a few days and now feel I overreacted about possibly having COVID and only want to feel that I did the right thing by being tested. I didn’t show up to work diseased and take half my crew out of work or anything, but I can’t help but feel like a slacker, like I somehow subconsciously gamed the system, and took advantage of the situation; at the first sign of sickness I run and get a COVID test and delete myself from work for reasons that even I’m not consciously aware of. Or maybe I didn’t and I did do what made sense at the time, even if I did overreact and I only had a temporary cold. Luckily, I also think I don’t have Lyme Disease so that’s good, right?

And maybe it had to happen, me really stuck with no direction forward faced with sitting at home while my friends and coworkers bust their asses out in the heat, humidity, and thunderstorms. Maybe I did need a break from it all, some time where I’d be forced to deal with boredom, anxiety, alcoholism, writing, reflecting, and home issues where I didn’t have a work distraction to keep busy with daily. Despite this, I still feel like a goddamn loser slacker.

I’m waiting again, waiting to hear some news about my test, a phone call, an email, a letter: something. So I can get back to my routine which I miss apparently. I like feeling useful and having a schedule. I like a purpose. I’m waiting to hear about my car that’s been at the dealership for a week and a half with no news at all. Hell, I’m waiting for my vape juice to show up in the mail, if that shows how desperate I am for something, anything, that I can be happy about. Something that shows that life is moving forward, that there’s progress somewhere. Well, I wrote this blog post, so that’s some progress I guess.

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing.

Or my Facebook page where I don’t do much of anything at all which I deactivated and the link doesn’t go anywhere now. Check back later though!

1,000 Monthly Views is Awesome

Back to writing I guess. The past half-week has been a mess regarding any structure and motivation in my life. It’s been total chaos with me having some sort of alcohol and cough medicine fueled breakdown that’s left the past few days a total blur to me. Thinking past that, I’m trying to put together how my life was before all of that so I can discover the past and what my path forward should be. I think I was in a pretty good mood last week? My gratitude journaling has kept mostly strong and had my mood decent for the past two weeks. And was I working on stories or something? I don’t really remember. Where did all of that past positivity go?

Oh, I did write a post about dyeing my hair; I’m glad I could at least toss that together before everything fell apart. But maybe it was obvious everything was about to fall apart because I was dyeing my hair in the first place. Since I wrote it on Sunday I was pretty drunk so don’t recall that one very much. I think it’s fitting to transition into my weekend and the small signs that I’m breaking down or really on edge for some reason. I really think it’s the COVID getting to me. Besides dyeing my hair, I also let one of the kids paint my nails. I cut my hair pretty short a few weeks ago. Doing tiny little things that I haven’t thought through with the likely motivation to get away from myself or something. Reckless decisions to cope with whatever is bothering me so much in such a subtle but undeniable way.

So whiskey on Sunday and a terribly confusing hangover Monday: the typical Monday dread and anxiety, but worse. And I felt like I couldn’t cope again. A random idea popped into my head: maybe I should call into work for the second time in three weeks, get totally drunk again, and go live in the woods for a week. I’ve been wanting to live in the woods for the past few months but never got around to doing it. A reckless idea that would surely lead me to enlightenment, self-discovery, or at the very least being so isolated and bored that I’d write an entire book in a few days. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

So that’s what I did. Lived in the woods for a week single fucking night. I’ll make a few posts about that misadventure later, because nearly everything about this grand idea fell apart quickly. I was miserable. I was super depressed. And the next morning, Tuesday, with only a few hours of sleep and being even more hungover and anxious, I had a full-fledged panic attack. And that’s still terrifying to process even days later. Panic attacks never seem threatening when you’re feeling fine — obviously you can make yourself chill out through pure willpower — but in the moment it’s nearly impossible to do. It really does feel like you’re life is falling apart and you’re losing everything you enjoy. It feels like you’re losing your sanity. I managed to dragged myself to work functioned somewhat and went back home to sleep in a real bed and be around people. It was a dark few days. Literally. The woods are dark, lonely, and depressing at 3 a.m. Panic attacks are dark and terrifying. I’m glad it’s all over and I can write a blog post and go to work just like I always do.

I feel fine now. Once again trying to peice together whatever structure in life I had, recalling what goals I have and what I need to work on. I fucked up the Morrowind story again this weekend and I’m trying to not hate myself too much for it. Just move onto the next week. And here at this blog I remembered I was supposed to give an update on that magical goal of having 1,000 views in a month.

Yeah, I did it. I did it! As shitty as I feel about my poor work ethic it’s nice to actually reach a goal. One thing I noticed while reflecting on my New Year’s goals was how most of them are recurring goals and how much those fucking suck. Compliment someone daily: failed. Post weekly on my Morrowind story: failed. Drink only on Sunday: failed. The problem is when you commit yourself to doing something weekly — 52 times a year — or even worse, daily — 365 times a year — you’re going to fail at least once, probably more. It’s hard to pick yourself up and move on after having “failed” even if you mostly did good. Sure, compliment people for a month straight and miss a single day and you can hate on yourself all you want, doing what people naturally do and see the negatives while disregarding the positives. It wasn’t 30 days of success with a single day of failure. No, you failed the goal. You’re a failure, end of story.

So it was nice to actually reach a goal that is a clearcut and singular goal, none of this recurring bullshit. I can check it off, I succeeded, and I can live with feeling proud about it for a day or two, which as long since passed.

Now the question is, what do I do now?

My first idea was to chill out on this blog and focus on my short stories or whatever other creative writing I’m trying to do. This takes notably more motivation to do and while I know it’s what I should pivot towards, I’m a total slacker at actually doing it. Maybe that was part of my reasoning behind living in the woods. This blog still tempts me though, especially by seemingly failing upwards somehow. I haven’t done a damn thing this month and I think I’m already past 350 views; it seems the more I slack off the more my views go up. I know this is just a temporary fluke and if I slack off long enough my views will tank, but it is amusing to watch. But this blog tempts me; if I’m already at 350 a week into the month, how many views can I have if I do just a few more posts?! Chasing those views sure is addictive. The high of having more views with little effort is immediately appealing compared to writing fictional stories and not getting many views.

So, whatever that rant was is over. In short I made it to 1,000 monthly views and can actually check off one of my yearly goals. It’s a nice victory to have, to be able to point at something you’ve wanted to do and say, “I did what I set out to do. Good job for me. I can feel proud,” even if the high of it is depressingly temporary. But life is all about moving forward and accomplishing one goal means you must think about what your next step will be, and sadly I haven’t thought that far ahead. I thought I’d reach 1,000 towards the end of the year and not in April. Maybe that’s why I’ve been spiraling out of control the past week. Who knows. I don’t.

And obviously thank you to anyone who reads my writings!

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing.

Or my Facebook page where I don’t do much of anything at all.

Rambling Writings About COVID Anxiety

Note: This post is an objective mess. It’s mostly me rambling about whatever. I don’t know what my main topic is, although I think it’s something to do with anxiety. Since the post is so chaotic maybe it’s a prefect example of anxiety at work. At least that’s how I’m going to justify posting this utter piece of rambling garbage. Also, 1,000 monthly views! I’ll write a post about that sometime soon.

I think I’d be prepared for a zombie apocalypse. Or even a nuclear one, the world ending event where you and everyone else is blatantly aware that shit is, in fact, going down in a real way. Where you can and must drop your daily routine and go into survival mode. Or helpful mode. Or war mode. Kill to defend your family. Kill and forage to eat. Money doesn’t matter. Form into tribes, get weapons, tap into the dormant instinct to survive that is tucked deep down within us, but also hiding dangerously close to the surface looking for a reason to escape when needed. The fracturing of society and the collapse of all the bullshit things that we keep ourselves busy with, replaced by one thing: survival.

I wasn’t ready for this, whatever the hell it is. Is it a future collapse of society, the precursor to a world war, or the first rumbling of the next great depression? Or is this our Spanish Flu and in a few months we’ll be back to normal saying “Phew. It’s over,” where we can finally reflect on what actually happened? Nobody knows. It’s undefinable. I don’t know whether to dump money into stocks or stock up on camping equipment and canned food (Record unemployment, tanking oil prices, yet stonks only go up for some reason; it makes zero sense). Do I save up a store of cash or buy random shit for my hobbies on Amazon? None of us know anything and I think that’s the real anxiety inducing thing about COVID-19.

And sorry for another post about COVID, but this is the hot topic of our time, probably rivaling the attacks of September 11th. Already more people have died due to COVID than the attacks themselves: over 50,000 60,000 70,000 compared to 3,000 and the only real difference is no actual person is to blame. I don’t think there’ll be any geopolitical fallout over COVID so maybe it’s impact will be less than the September 11th attacks despite the massive loss of life. But without anyone to blame it’s even scarier in a way; it’s just the universe doing what it does best, which is moving forward without giving a damn about us lowly humans. Were small and insignificant and this entire thing makes it stark. I saw a post on Facebook asking…well…let me find it and screencap it:

The comments are even better. Would’ve screencapped the whole thing but editing the names and faces out was too much work.

I’ve never been more comfortable with my “soft-atheism” than I am now. Sure, I’ll give credence to the idea of a “greater power” or whatever, but a kind, loving God? Nah. Hard pass on that, especially now. And if it is all “just a test of our faith” or some other bullshit rationalization, I’ll pass on the faith entirely. If this is the God we have that requires blind faith and worship, killing tens of thousands of people for reasons, surely there is a greater one truly worth of worship out there somewhere.

(Note: Nothing against religious people here, to stress that. If you get fulfillment and enlightenment and your life is improved by believing in something, I’m all for it. You do your thing and I don’t really care.)

Rant aside, we’re a species on this fine planet of ours competing with everyone other species to do exactly what were doing: survive. Sometimes the especially nimbly evolving ones get a new random upgrade thanks to genetics, the flu flukes it’s way into COVID-19 and hundreds of thousands of people die. There is no one to blame — this is simply how shit works.

And I think it’d be easier to blame someone. China, the president, and sure while things can always be made worse through total ineptitude of our leadership and mixed messages, there is nobody to place direct blame on for COVID. As always, if you think this is a Chinese weapon, or a Democratic hoax to tank the stonk market, go feck right off.

I thought I had a point I was trying to make here. Oh yeah, I’m still mildly freaking out. Maybe more than mildly. I don’t know. I’m having a difficult time explaining how I actually feel currently. The world is not the same that it was and I have mild terror over it. It’s such a slow and creeping change compared to the sudden DEAL WITH IT OR DIE change that zombies or nukes would do. Is this the final month of the outbreak or are we just getting started? Is the curve flattening or are cases underreported? Are we going to have a round two of this thing? Will it become the new and upgraded seasonal flu? Even more than usual the future is foggier than it typically is, which is pretty fucking foggy by default.

I’ve realized I’m a terribly insecure and anxious person, although I think I hide it well sometimes. I love my routines and being able to expect a certain normalcy from life. I have anxiety over the weekend wondering what my job assignment will be during the upcoming week. If I know before Saturday, I’m fine, but not knowing lets my mind wander around and play mental chess trying to analyze every single possibility that will face me at work. Not that this has anything to do with COVID — I’m just proving my anxiety here — and COVID only makes it worse.

I hate change. I hate insecurity. I hate not knowing. I’m really curious if this is a human thing to have or if it’s just me. Does anyone really like change, like really? Or is it just varying degrees of opposition to change? I don’t know. Help me out here guys. I want to do a massive post on change and how I hate it despite knowing it’s good in some vague “personal growth” way (I read a book called Who Moved My Cheese which was all about accepting change and how it’s good), but the post just isn’t coming together. There’s too much to write about regarding change.

So COVID has taken my already anxious and insecure personality traits and cranked them up in a subtle but noticeable way. My work routine is fucked. My shopping routine is fucked. Tiny changes everywhere I look that aren’t a big deal but when they all pile up and are viewed together, they seem like massive changes. The way I naturally keep six feet away from people now, or try not to breathe too heavily, or the lines outside Walmart, or the constant ads for facemasks, things like that. I’m donating blood today and have anxiety about all the tiny policy changes that they may or may not have enacted. Will they make me wear a mask? Will I be sent away if I don’t bring my own mask? Will there be COVID questions to answer? Will they have to stay six feet away from me as they jam a massive needle into my arm? I don’t know anything and I hate not knowing.

I’d say the worst is work though. It’s where I spend nearly all of my time when I’m not at home (because there’s nowhere else to go) but the fact that work hasn’t changed much has it straddling the fine line between being comforting having a routine like a job but terrifying due to all the little changes taking place there. My safe spaces, the routines I take comfort in are now changed, altered, or not present anymore. Work is still work, but it’s also not quite the same as it used to be.

We have 11-person vans we ride around in. Some people take tugs to grab equipment and stuff while the others ride around in the van, myself included. I’m a big fan of the van because it’s where I get nearly all of my social interactions in my life. It’s where I listen to music with others and where I talk to my friends. Thanks to COVID, the van — such a tiny aspect of work but somehow my comfortable zone to exist in — now has a limit of four people. Some of us ‘van people’ must get tugs and sit in isolation for most of the day. It’s oppressing in a way when you’re used to a certain amount of socializing and you’re removed from it. Even the possibility of not being in a van puts me on edge. I’m a total introvert but this doesn’t mean I don’t need social interaction. Sometimes I think I require more. Even if I haven’t been cast to the tugs decisively and am still ‘defending my van seat,’ I have a great deal of insecurity about it. Every day before work I stress out about if I’ll be able to sit in the van or if I should just give up and grab a tug. Take one for the team. Sacrifice myself to the tugs so others can enjoy the van.

The tugs are also shit because while having two seats only one person is allowed in a tug. If I did end up in a tug I can’t even have a buddy ride around with me. I can’t ride with someone else. I can’t give rides to people who are walking. I’ve realized I enjoy helping people and doing these little favors for people like offering them a ride makes me feel useful and appreciated, like I’m doing something small and good to help the world, and this has been taken away.

Or even in the plane pushing cans! We all have to wear a mask/bandana when we’re in the airplane which doesn’t sound terrible, but you’ve probably never realized how often you use facial cues when talking to someone until you have a conversation where you can only see the other person’s eyes. It’s almost like talking over a phone — something seems lacking like it isn’t real interaction — and it just doesn’t feel like talking to a person should feel. It’s like you’re detached from them while standing and talking to them. You say something and smile and no one can really notice it as much. Are they aware you were being sarcastic and joking or does your lack of a visible smile make you seem like an asshole? Usually you can tell and it’s not that hard, but not seeing someone’s mouth or cheeks when their talking does throw you off a bit. I almost think everyone feels this way because nearly everyone in conversation pulls their mask down to talk, probably unconsciously, so their mouths are seen. Once again, another small change thanks to COVID that makes me slightly uncomfortable and insecure.

There’s too many small examples to explain.

And I feel like I can’t properly complain about it or say how I feel because it’s so fucking stupid. I sound like a whining crybaby talking about my fucked up routines and how the things I use to anchor myself to life have been fucked up. Who cares? People are literally dying and I’m worried about not being able to give people rides in a tug. People are out of a job and I’m complaining about where I’ll sit in a van at work. At work at a job that has had zero impact from COVID. I’m lucky. Somehow I stumbled into the perfect job for a pandemic. “Essential Employee”: that’s me. But I can’t help how I feel, and figured I’d whine about it a bit. I think the entire “social isolation” thing didn’t get me worried much, and now that I’ve been living with it for the past two months, I’m surprised that I’m actually breaking down really fucking slowly.

It’s not all bad though. I’ve finally realized that everything “bad” doesn’t need to be seen as bad at all. Whatever you view as bad says something about yourself and how you view the world. Through this COVID bullshit I’ve realized that, yes, I love my friends and coworkers. I love talking to them. I love being around them. Even sitting in the van with a group of friends and listening to music is wonderful. I never realized it before until it was taken away. The “bad” isn’t what happened; it’s how I view the situation. And apparently I love helping people, doing tiny little insignificant things to make their lives easier. Pick up my coworkers from the guard shack on friday, bring my bluetooth stereo into work for the music, offer rides in tugs, buying gum from Amazon for people, and so on. So maybe when all of this is over I can take these few gems I learned about myself and apply them. This is who I am, and I probably shouldn’t deny it.