Tag Archives: Anxiety

“It Didn’t Start With You” Is Depressing

Upon the recommendation from a friend, I’ve been reading the book It Didn’t Start With You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle by Mark Wolynn. And if the subtitle doesn’t give you enough information about how depressing this book has the potential to be then I don’t know what will. Just from the title I knew I was getting myself into some shit with the book, and a few chapters in I don’t seem to be wrong with that assumption.

I wrote here about some ‘breakthrough’ I had where I realized how my mom’s lack of love while I was growing up most likely fucked me up in a way that I wasn’t even aware of for 98% of my life. I thought I had a normal childhood — as average as anyone else’s — but no; tiny scars are still scars and are they even tiny when you have nothing to compare them to? I’d realized that I always feel lacking, like I always have something to prove, as if my self-worth is based on the approval of others. It seems my entire motivation in life is to gain approval from others; I’m a directionless mess until I have someone to seek approval from. This is the wrong mindset to have — you need to get happiness and approval from yourself — but I seem to be unable to change it. Only making a few tiny steps in progress here or there but never seeming to actually get anywhere. It’s like I’m trying to do a marathon but am crawling. Ten feet done and 138,000 more to go. I’m getting nowhere.

Anyways, I thought this book would go along similar lines, and it has been, if not to a more extreme degree than I imagined. The basis of the book in the first two or three chapters seems to be that hardly any of us know how much shit we actually inherit from our fucked up families. Making matters even bleaker is the author’s insistence that it isn’t only how we are raised that fucks us up (obviously being raised in an abusive home is going to fuck you up) but how things transmit from generation to generation through DNA and genetics. Once again don’t take this to mean that if you have a family history of cancer that, duh, you might get cancer; it’s much more subtle than that. Depression, stress, anxiety, and substance abuse all seemed to be transmitted to offspring somehow even if there isn’t a direct genetic reason for it doing so.

In the first few chapters Wolynn talks about studies on mice and stress in offspring. Baby mice were removed from their parents which caused depression in them, but most surprisingly, their own children — the grandchildren of the original mice — also suffered from stress and depression. Even though the third generation of mice weren’t separated from their parents, because their parents were traumatized this transmitted to them. The author also talks about how grandchildren of Holocaust survivors also seem to suffer from greater stress and anxiety than others. Despite not suffering themselves, or their parents suffering, somehow their bodies and genes “remember” the hell their grandparents went through to where they also suffer negative consequences.

And this is depressing as fuck.

We all like to think of ourselves as unique and separate individual beings not affected by anything but our own life and experiences. Sure you might’ve had a shitty childhood, but you’re still you and have free will, so you can always break the negative traits with sheer might, right? It doesn’t seem so. Even if your childhood was great, you could still be fucked up somehow from your grandparents shitty lives and upbringings. Plus there are four grandparents; more chance to get something fucked up given to you. And it almost seems inevitable.

Reading these first few chapters my mental state took a nosedive. Not trying to be the victim, I did keep thinking, “I didn’t ask for any of this. Why me? Why did my family have to fuck me up in this way?” It’s not so much feeling sorry for myself and more like feeling totally stuck with no actual ability to fix anything. It’s like being dealt a shitty hand in poker or something; sure you might be able to find a winning hand, but the smart bet is to give up and fold. Hope for something better to be dealt to you in the future. Except in life we’re only dealt a single hand and I’ll let you guys think about what “folding your hand” in life might mean.

I’m sure the book will take a more uplifting turn midway as most books do: there isn’t any point in explaining a problem unless the author has a solution. It’d be a poor self-help book if it didn’t give you a way to, well, help yourself. I think it’s the same with every problem. You first need to discover the problem before you can fix it. Trying to be positive here, the human brain is a magnificent piece of machinery even if it is flawed in countless ways. Think of learning a new language or learning an instrument. With each practice session your brain connects new neurons and pathways that allow you to really learn a new skill through physically changing the structure of your brain and how it works. I’m pretty sure the same thing is true with Big Problems like depression and anxiety. Maybe if you practice facing anxiety and having Happy Thoughts you can rewire your brain to not be as fucked up as it typically is?

I’m only 25% through the book but it is interesting and eye-opening; I’m sure I’ll have more to write about it later. One thing that does bother me is trying to even discover my family history. I only have one living grandparent. Sure I can analyze my parents in depth, but it seems the deeper part of my family history has been more or less erased. Did my grandparents grow up during the Great Depression? Is that why I’m so insecure with how much money I have? Is that why I hoard money for ‘safety’? Am I as detached emotionally as my father? Am I as crazy as my mom? Did she have a shitty upbringing that led her to be angry and detached with my sister and I growing up? Who gave me my fondness for alcohol? And what about my sister? Why does she date very controlling and borderline abusive people? Where did that come from? Even if it’s not me, I still think it could shine some light on our mutual upbringing and give reason to some of my own flaws. More questions than answers. Always more questions than answers…

Streak Day #30: Untitled

“So, how have you been the past two weeks?”

Perfect. Happy. Depression was a thing of the past. Totally conquered. I had finally discovered myself. A toolkit of ways to fend off the bad vibes and thoughts. Perfectly comfortable in my skin. Cool, confident, and quiet. Problem solved! Problem solved…Problem solved?

Two days ago. Spiraling. Pointlessness. Anxiety. Depression. Dread. More sleeplessness. 5 a.m. with the sun coming up wondering what exactly life is. Benadryl to sleep; a drug to crutch along. Sleep at any cost. Where’s the purpose? The point? What am I meant to do here? Wasn’t I out of the woods? Wasn’t I happy? Weren’t those damn pills magical and finally fixed me?

“Where do you see yourself in the future.”

I shrug. “I don’t know. I feel like I’m floating through life too scared to make any choice.”

“Sometimes it helps to visualize where you want to be in the future. This will give you purpose and something to work towards.”

Every path is miserable, only changing certain pros for cons. More money, less happiness. More possessions, more responsibilities, less freedom. More attachment. More stuff. More freedom, less security. The grass is always greener everywhere else. Not knowing what I’m meant to do. Knowing there is nothing I’m meant to do and it’s up for me to decide. Being unable to decide anything for fear of what misery each path holds. And all paths hold misery; I always make the wrong choice. Is floating such a bad thing? Is pointlessness such a bad thing? Is there anyone that knows what the hell they’re meant to do, even if there is nothing we’re meant to do? Is anyone as blindly confident that they know where to go? Is this another form of blindness? Is blindness happiness?

Five steps forward and six steps backwards. Seven, perhaps. No progress. No sense of empowerment. No moving forward. Self-discovery? No. Self-confusion and self-loss. When I think I find myself it disappears. Too much effort, too much work. The tools in the kit take too much work to use. Constantly being on-edge, looking for the next crisis. Playing chess with your own brain, trying to bring up thoughts as pawns to try to stop yourself from checkmating yourself. And the opponent is so much more motivated than you, the bad vibes are effortless. The chess grandmaster in your head; checkmated in less than ten moves. When are all my pawns gone? When do I run out of motivation to fight? When does it become easier to give in?

Awake after twelve hours of sleep: still tired. Still groggy. Still sleepy. Five cups of coffee, eight cups of coffee: still tired. But shaky. Just enough semblance of being awake to function. Nicotine, caffeine, give me any -ine you can find, maybe I’ll eventually wake up. Constantly shaking and tired. Constantly anxious. Enough awakeness to write low-quality posts. Not enough motivation to work on a story. Writer’s block that never ends. The constant fight towards some goal you don’t even have. And the tiredness. And time always moving forward. And you not moving anywhere at all except towards old age, failing mind, and death. Float along the river until it’s too late to change your course.

And sleeplessness at 5 a.m. once again. Still tired but awake.

“Is it possible that I like being miserable? Is that a thing?”

“Yes. Misery is easier than working to be happy. It takes less effort.”

The comfort of depression. Not caring. Knowing you don’t care. Knowing you’re functioning as a basic animal just staying alive. Food not for enjoyment but so you don’t feel more miserable. Water because your mouth is dry. Work because of bills and money. Write because there is nothing else better to do. Silence around people — you’re a piece of shit and are miserable to be around — why make everyone else miserable by being a piece of shit? Blaming your mood for being a failure. The comfort of depression. The comfort of giving up. Thirty years of nothing. Thirty years of zero progress. Thirty years of depression. Of never knowing yourself. Of never knowing anything. Of being totally lost, blind, and stumbling through life. How many more years?

“I woudn’t say this if it wasn’t true: you are making progress. I can see it. You just need to keep discovering yourself and moving forward.”

Values. What are my values? I don’t know. Blank slate once again. I am a nobody. The blank whiteboard waiting to have a purpose. The blank piece of paper waiting for a story, a picture, or spilled ink: waiting for anything.

I’m not cut out for self-discovery. I’m an idiot hiding under a mask of being smart. Maybe I shouldn’t know myself. Maybe I should stay blind to everything. The trivial defines me. Deep down? I don’t know. Why do I do the things I do? No clue. Ram through another wall and find another. The wall is well-constructed this time. Smash through this to find an iron gate. And another taller iron-gate. On and on from one problem to the next.

“Self-discovery is like an onion; it has many layers.”

Infinite layers. The radius never shrinks, the circle never gets smaller. One layer leads to another layer. There is no core. There is no bright and shiny center. So much goddamn effort to peel anything away. Years of grime and dirt that doesn’t make any sense. If it does makes sense you can’t do anything with the sense it does make. One more layer down and onto the next. More confusion than before. More paralysis than before. More dread then before. Why am I this way? I hate myself for being this way. Helplessness knowing I can’t be anything else. This is me, and I hate it.

“Bring yourself to the source — whatever that is — and bask in it. Recharge.”

“Think of the love you hold in other peoples’ lives. Think happy thoughts. Think how you’re part of the whole.”

“Decide where you want to be in the future. It’ll help give you something to work towards.”

“Break a large goal down into smaller goals. Take small steps towards the goals.”

“Decide what your values are.”

“Think, ‘Is this thought useful to have right now?'”

“Maybe set boundaries with yourself in your interactions.”

It’s Friday. March 27th, 2020. 5:09 p.m. Now what? Always: Now What?

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.

War Sucks

Well, we’re in the eighth day of 2020 — and the new decade — and it already seems the world is spiraling into chaos. That didn’t take very long, now did it?

I’m sure everyone is aware, even vaguely, of what has been going on in the Middle East lately, specifically Iran. To recap if you’ve totally been under a rock: the US Trump (we/us because I’m a proud ‘Merican.) decided to kill/murder/assassinate a big, important Iranian general. Making this action even more terrifying was that fact that he was killed in Iraq; he was in an allied country! Right away you should realize that bombing a target at an international airport of one of our allies is a bad idea. Iran was pissed and threatened us, and Trump, our wonderful commander-in-chief, taunted the shit out of Iran on Twitter. Yes this is how the world works now.

I was hopeful this would be the pinnacle of the entire crisis. Like Trump and Iran would swing their metaphorical dicks around trying to show the other up, and then we’d all forget about it after a few weeks. Nope. I was at work a few hours ago when I heard the newest news: Iran had attacked some of our airbases with missles! Oh. Shit. What would our Dear Leader Donald J. Trump do now? I’m almost certain a retaliatory attack is inevitable, and I’m haunted by the possibility that Trump tosses a few nukes towards Iran just because. I have the sinking feeling that this might be the brink our country is about to go careening off of and my anxiety skyrocketed. I’m on edge. I’m terrified. What if today is the September 10th or the December 6th — the taken-for-granted calm right before the world inevitably changes? I hope this post ages terribly and I can look back in a month and say, “Well, I was worried about nothing!” But until then…

One of my resolutions this year is to only drink on Sunday and I nearly failed today. War? Were we really on the brink of an actual war? For what? What’s the reason? It feels like dominoes falling where we just push the reason back to the last cause, and so on, until nothing makes sense anymore. Iran attacked our bases. But they did that because we killed their general. But we did that because he was a bad guy or something. But he was probably a bad guy because Trump sanctioned Iran and withdrew from the nuclear deal that was in place. And he did that because Obama negotiated the treaty and he attempts to undo anything related to Obama. And so on. Nothing here seems to call for an all-out fucking war though. It’s like a bunch of kids fighting: “I didn’t start the fight, MOM! HE HIT ME FIIIRRRRRSSSTTTT!

I wouldn’t call myself a pacifist because some wars do seem like noble causes and inevitable. The last war in my opinion that was “worth fighting” was World War 2. If we never became involved in WW2 the world might be a very different, darker, and scarier place. We were attacked by an actual country, not a few random ragtag terrorist working on their own, and they had an agenda to wreck the shit out of our navy to dominate the Pacific and protect their empire. It wasn’t a NATO action or anything: Japan attacked and we did what we had to do. The attack on Pearl Harbor also got us involved in kicking Hitler’s ass, which was good for everyone. The war made sense mostly: there were Good Guys (us and our allies) and the Bad Guys (in WW2 there was also THE REALLY BAD GUYS). And before that? The Civil War. It was unfortunate but our nation’s history up to that point almost made it inevitable. Once again it’s an example of a massively important war that shaped our country’s history afterwards. We got rid of slavery. We kept the country united. While war is never a wanted thing, sometimes it almost seems required where there simply is no choice besides standing by and watching the world descend into chaos and evil.

What about Vietnam or Korea? Bullshit, relatively pointless wars with us getting involved via NATO. The Bad Guys here didn’t seem that bad: they wanted to unite their countries but were communists instead of capitalists. I don’t understand why thousands of soldiers had to die for that bullshit. What about Afghanistan and Iraq part 2? There were no Good or Bad Guys there; sure the terrorists were bad, but they’re not an actual country or a well-equipped military. They’re hidden and nebulous. This still didn’t stop us from getting thousands of our own people and civilians killed. About 3,000 people died on the September 11th terrorist attacks; more of our people died avenging the attacks in endless years of war than died in the attacks themselves. Something seems wrong there, doesn’t it?

This possible war seems like one of those latter examples, and even an extreme example of it. If this does turn into a full-fledged war, what will the narrative of it be twenty years from now? What was the grand plan and evil that we had to fight against? Islam? “Terror?” There is nothing. It’s pointless. It’s a war myself — and I’m assuming the majority of Americans — are against.

I think of the average Iranian citizen and how I feel about them. If I seen an Iranian in public, would I harm them? Would I kill them? No. What would I do? I’d probably ignore them because I’m socially inept, but I’m sure I’d smile and maybe say “hi.” I have nothing against them as a people, because they’re just like me. They wake up, go to work, feed their families, and they want the same thing that I do: to simply be able to live their life the best they can. I bet there are thousands of Iranians sitting at their computers trying to type bullshit blog posts, just like I’m doing. I think of how these random, average Iranian citizens must feel about the possibility of a bomb plummeting into their house at night and killing their family. Is this what we’re trying to do here? Mohammed in Iran just wants to write his blog, eat some tasty food, and relax. But somehow when we start talking about “terrorism” and “evil” and “retaliation” we forget about the average person — in the US or Iran — that simply doesn’t fucking want a war. There is no grand sacrifice when your life is lost in a pointless war.

Update a-half day later: This was a post that I churned out at 11 p.m. when the world was still on edge. I decided to post it at 10 a.m. in the morning to actually get some readers, but this was almost the time Trumpy decided to actually address the nation. It seems I was wrong, and as much as I’m a person that likes to be right, this is not one of those times. I’m so happy that maybe this post was a bit anxious and fearful and that it turned out to be unnecessary. Either way I got to vent and felt better about it. I also don’t think we’re out of the woods yet: Trump could get restless in the next month and do some more dangerous shit. But for today? Things seem to be much better than they were 15 hours ago.

My Parents Suck

I think the primary challenge to the new blogger (at least one as anxious as myself) is getting over the fear that someone they know — friends, family, or coworkers — might read their writings and judge them, perhaps harshly. Anyone who has blogged for more than a few months knows this is an unfounded fear: most people don’t actually give two shits about what you’ve written let alone recalling the fact that you’ve been writing in the first place. I recall my cousin asking me about this blog a year or so ago: “So you’ve have, uh, what’s it called? A blog? And you write? That’s really cool. I haven’t actually read any of it yet though…” Yeah. No shit. No one in the family does and I’ve stopped worrying about them reading it a long time ago. I feel like I can bash them all I want and no one would ever know.

This post will be a little different though if you read the title again. My parents do “follow” this blog on Facebook even though I don’t think they’ve read a single thing I’ve written. Ever. It seems fitting for the topic at hand, doesn’t it? Despite not reading anything I’ve written, I think them seeing a big, fat, blue and white banner saying MY PARENTS SUCK might get them to change their minds, if only temporarily. I’m not going to post this on Facebook. I’m not scared they’ll read this, I’m just worried that if I write this in the frame of mind that they could read it I might not be as open as I would be otherwise. And if they do read it? Who cares? It might do them good to read it and especially so if I wrote it as blatantly truthful as possible because I thought that they wouldn’t read it. So this will just be a secret between myself and those who find it themselves.

I don’t think kids realize how much their parents affect them growing up. I’ve always felt separate and unique from everyone else and being a child was no different. I’ve always felt like myself and never considered that my family/parents where shaping me as a person. Obviously being around parents/guardians as an impressionable kid will change you, it just never felt like it at the time. As a child you also have no outside perspective as to how other parents really are. All you are aware of your narrow personal situation are are hopelessly ignorant of other families. You don’t realize that other families can and are horribly fucked up or immensely better than yours unless you have knowledge of them. In short, being raised in a fucked up home can easily lead you to think the situation is normal. You grow up inevitably altered and perhaps even damaged without even being aware of it. It’s scary.

As an adult I’ve grown to appreciate how many flaws probably stem from the damage my parents inflicted, usually unintentional damage. And I want to stress that we (my sister and I) didn’t not have a bad upbringing with a capital B. No one was molested, abused, or tortured. We never starved. We never suffered. But I think this made it harder for me to accept the damage; by not having a Bad upbringing how much damage could’ve been done? It doesn’t take a dramatic event to mold you though. The small and nearly imperceptible hits you take daily slowly bend and form you even if you’re unaware of it.

The Mom

My mom was crazy. Unhinged. Angry. Depressed. Memories are vague from my childhood but she would always be yelling at us. Tell us how ungrateful we were and how we didn’t do anything to help out around the house. Her anger was always relegated to yelling and despite constant threats to “beat our asses” she was rarely violent. We’d usually laugh it off because she was never a threat. A dog with a fearful bark but no bite. My dad and her would scream and fight at each other and I vaguely recall her grabbing knives a few times, but usually would just throw random shit at him. He never seemed to do anything bad to her, but I later come to understand what I had missed with age; my dad wasn’t a saint.

She was very selfish and self-centered. Everyone had to cater to her. She is still this way although she has improved immensely over the years. But she is still a fucked up person. You always need to do the work, or to have an understanding of her unique situation; she always needs to be catered towards. If she owes you money, for example, you need to drive to her house and get it yourself. And you need to be grateful that she even paid you back the money! “I hope you’re happy” she has said to me a few times upon paying me money for our mutual phone bill. Yes, I’m serious. She also “borrowed” $200 from me once and upon nagging her for a payment, she wondered why I didn’t want to help her out and wasn’t grateful for her raising me. It wasn’t the point, I said, a loan was a loan and you can’t just change the terms of what was agreed upon. I still don’t have my $200 either…ANYWAYS…

Apparently she struggled with mental illness and depression the entire time we were kids (and still does), but it always seemed like an excuse. She’d endlessly bitch, yell, complain, and scream at us and justify doing so with her depression. If you tried to argue any opposing point of view about anything she’d usually break down crying, play the victim, and talk about her depression. Always on the attack until you attack her and then she is the victim. And endless “woe is me” story. You literally cannot tell her she’s wrong in a firm way without her being a victim. Considering the previous paragraph, depression always seemed a way for her to make anything instantly about herself. She was the one hurting, no one else understood this, and to hell with anyone else suffering: it was her that needed the most help.

The Dad

My dad was much more “normal” I guess, but his demons and flaws were just not as obvious to us kids. I remember writing a paper in fifth-grade calling him “my hero” and also remember my mom being ultra-pissed that I wrote it. “He’s not a hero, you don’t know the bad things he’s done.” I attributed it to her being mean and pissy (like always) but surprisingly she was onto something. Dad is fucked up, and maybe even more so than our mom. We just didn’t know it really. Mom was openly fucked up whereas dad wasn’t.

He sometimes would drink and would become mean and violent. He’d throw shoes at us. Always the loving father sober he would be transformed by a few drinks into a total asshole. He told us many times “I never wanted you guys anyways” or something along those lines. When we’d get upset by it he’d claim that “drinking made him tell the truth.” It’s one of those things you don’t think sticks with you, but apparently when you write a blog post about it decades later it still hurts. LIke, shit, that was really mean. I was really hurt by it. Luckily he didn’t drink that much, maybe once a month if I could guess. But when he did drink things weren’t good.

That was a classic sign of my dad’s flaws: being too hidden to be honest with himself or others. He’s still that way too, maybe even more so. Passive-aggressive as anyone could ever be. He never directly insulted you or had an opinion as most of his actual opinions and thoughts were hidden behind jokes where he could say what was on his mind and laugh it off if challenged or questioned. Anything emotional was hidden. I’m assuming this is why he’d be a dick when drunk. Everything came flooding out and you couldn’t really blame him because he kept packing baggage deep within himself. And this is why my mom would be immensely mad at him; he would say smart-ass “joking” remarks that were very incendiary towards her, and her being fucking crazy in the first place would totally lose it. He’d pick at her, subtly insult and provoke her and all of this went right over the heads of the short and ignorant children that we were. Dad wasn’t evil, but as mom was well aware he wasn’t a saint either.

I’m certain my dad’s emotional immaturity stems from his mom’s — our grandma — death from stroke when he was twelve. I assume he was faced with some serious emotional shit and coped by just stuffing it deep inside and ignoring it. He had a slew of brothers and sisters and being one of the oldest required him to grow up quickly and act as a parental figure. As I’m talking about myself being fucked up by my childhood situation, you also have to realize my dad is also fucked up from his childhood situation. You can’t blame him I guess. I guess you can’t blame anyone really. It’s one big giant chain of fucked up people raising fucked up kids. And so on.

And Myself

And now onto myself. How am I fucked up? That’s hard to answer because knowing yourself is hard to do, at least it is for me. I struggle with depression, maybe some genetic holdover from my mom. I don’t know. And my depression is usually hidden, tucked away, and kept quiet possibly due to my mom’s bombastic treatment of the subject. Remember depression was her go-to, catch-all reasons for everything. It didn’t feel like serious depression even if it really was. It seemed like something she’d bring up to win arguments or to get us to do things. She never tried to get help (that I recall), making it seem even more trivial. I guess I’m totally opposed to this. I see depression as a serious thing, so don’t want to bring it up to strangers and coworkers every day or to play the victim all the time. In a way I probably keep it too hidden and end up being more like my dad. Shit.

Most of what I learned through my mom was an opposite reaction to her. She was open about mental illness to a degree that trivialized it; I keep it hidden because it’s a serious subject to me. My mom would also yell and act generally crazy while I try to remain calm and logical. She was/is also terrible with managing money, and as a response I ended up being super talented at managing money; this still leads me and her to arguing like the examples above. I do have her mouth, as you can fucking tell from my writings, but otherwise she taught me who not to be and it probably worked out for the best honestly.

As for my dad? I think I have the same “opposite action” thing going on from him, especially lately now that I’ve realized the ways he is flawed. As stated my dad avoids problems by not acknowledging them. He recently had a pulmonary embolism where his breathing became worse and worse over a few weeks. A few weeks. Just avoid the problem until it goes away, right? He’s also terribly overweight but doesn’t seem to care about it, not enough to change his habits at least. He’s also diabetic but doesn’t give two shits about insulin and checking his blood sugar as well as he should. It’s the same emotionally: closed off and not acknowledging any issues whatsoever. So as a reply to this I’ve been trying to be much more open and receptive of my problems. Realize the problem, make a plan to solve the problem, fix the problem. It’s easy and the hardest part is realizing the problem in the first place.

On a more visceral level I think I’m so terrified, anxious, and frightened because of my upbring. Once again our parents arguing was never an obvious problem at the time, but something seems to have been carried into adulthood from the fights. One scenario really stands out. A few years ago my dad moved in with my mom to help her pay for her house (yes they are divorced and yes they did move back in for financial reasons and no it did not work well at all) mostly because she’s bad with money. They somehow got into a yelling argument just like they did decades ago and something deep inside me appeared. A visceral terror and fear of people arguing. The precipice right before a simple disagreement turned into full-fledged yelling, and possible knife-grabbing and waving and object tossing affair. I felt panic and on-edge and tears creeping around inside my eyelids but adult me was able to choke the feelings back down, but in the moment I felt like I was instantly teleported back into my eight or ten-year-old body feeling as helpless and terrified as a child me would feel. When you have those memories from childhood hidden deep down inside you where you’re not even aware of them, is it that hard to imagine that they might also be the source of anxiety and fear that seem to haunt me daily?

I also have very strong beliefs about my upbringing and my inability to persevere in the face of difficulty. I totally blame them for how I am with this aspect of my personality. I had very good grades as a kid. I was smart. I was the kid the teachers would “want an entire classroom of!” or some bullshit like that. I didn’t have to try hard to succeed at school or anything academic. My entire life in school was one of ease — no effort, no motivation, no difficulty — and I’d be rewarded anyways. They also kept telling me how smart and talented I was and how I could do anything I wanted to do if I just applied myself! Bullshit. This is my biggest regret about my childhood and what I blame my parents for the most: I didn’t learn how to persevere.

I know they were trying to be supportive to their kids (maybe as a reply to their own parents’ lack of support?) but that’s how you scar them and cripple them as adults. Before this blogging ordeal I never tried anything difficult that was outside of my comfort zone and in some ways I think I enjoy blogging so much because of the challenge to persevere in the face of zero obvious progress. I never experienced failing over and over until I succeeded because I never had to do that as a child. By endlessly encouraging me as a child they crippled my ability to weather defeat and learn perseverance. I learned that I didn’t need to take chances. I’m a softy. I can’t take rejection or failure. I can’t hear criticisms. And damn is it a struggle to unlearn things you’ve had beaten into you for literal decades.

This was a really long and rambly post that probably didn’t offer any readers anything in return, but I wanted to vent a bit. How have your parents (or other adults) fucked you up? Did they do it in small and subtle ways like mine did despite having an average childhood? Do you have strange personality quirks that you’re not sure where they came from? Did you have a good childhood and your parents actually didn’t cause you much harm? Are you a well-off and well-rounded adult? Or did you have a childhood from hell where all you learned to do was be beaten and insulted day after day? Where your adulthood is mostly a struggle to live and deal with all the trauma inflicted upon you?

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.

(Fixing Your) Self-Esteem Sucks

I’ve been trying to churn out a meaningful post about something, anything for the past week. Sure I got out the therapy post, and the bullshit Halloween post, but those seem like more of the low-effort stuff that I try to stay away from. The problem isn’t that I don’t have anything to write about; the problem is that I have too much to write about. I’d say there are about 5-7 topics floating around in my head and they all seem interconnected and interweaved that I can’t write about one without it bleeding into the other topics. One rant would turn into another rant and eventually I fear I’d have a giant, rambly mess about a multitude of things without saying much about anything in particular.

I want to write about anxiety. I want to write about enlightenment. I want to write about impermanence and how I (we?) naturally despise impermanence. I want to write about video games and how they’re a form of avoidance. I want to write about drinking/not drinking. I want to write about depression. The challenge of seeing a therapist. I want to write about love, friendship, loss, and new beginnings. I want to write about life.

I also want to write about self-esteem. And I’m going to try to do that here. It is one of the interwoven topics tied to depression, drinking, and writing but seems to be the most separate topic that I might be able to make progress on. The fact is I’ve already written about self-esteem, but it was mostly in regards to writing. I have no self-esteem in regards to writing, nothing else, or so I thought. But once again things that are terribly obvious to everyone else can be a mystery to yourself as if the safest place to hide is within your own self-ignorance. I did have an idea though. I read through a few of my past posts: the self-esteem post, the Stardew Valley post, and a bunch of other posts pretending to be a detective looking for clue to the true state of my mind. It hit me hard when I realized it: I have zero self-esteem. It’s everywhere in my writings. Shit.

What I realized was that I could take my self-esteem post and slightly change it to be about any situation and it would fit. It accurately described how I felt about life in general if I just changed a few of the subjects. Here, here’s an example tweaked and edited to be about talking to people and making friends. It’s the exact same mindset though. Also note how the second paragraph needed minimal editing because shitting all over yourself is a pretty general thing to do.

Naturally, I started thinking I would fail from the start, which is a big red flag in terms of self-confidence that also should’ve been apparent. Surprisingly, after posting the first few chapters going out of my way to talk to people I had tons of positive feedback. I was shocked. Some people would ask me if they could be in my stories strike up a conversation with me. Others gave feedback in the form of blog/Facebook post likes and comments positive social cues such as laughing, smiling, and appearing at ease. I mean why would people like and comment act like that if they didn’t like the work fundamentally disliked me as a person? Would people really do that to feign support? And one of the best signs of not sucking was when one of my “fans” “friends” (she called herself that. I’d never call people who read my stuff “fans” talked to me a “friend” because I don’t know if they feel that way about me) mentioned to someone else that I was a good writer person. You don’t recommend stuff you hate to other people talk positively about people you hate to other people. Overwhelmed with actual positive feedback, I was set right? Free to write socialize with all the confidence I needed to push through chapter after chapter and finish a book conversation after conversation and have actual friends. It sounded like my plan was a soaring success.

OF FUCKING COURSE NOT! The plan was a miserable failure. What would happen was a wildly successful post conversation would be followed by a not-as-successful post conversation and instantly my brain would conjure up reasons for everything successful to be a fluke to be a lie. Just me getting lucky for some reason or another. No, success was never from actual skill. Failure is my natural state, and anything other than that is an accident. Maybe I just got lucky on the popular posts a few conversations? Maybe people wised up to the fact that I’m not really good at writing and all my chapters are kinda samey really a terrible and boring person and constantly talk about the same stuff. Maybe everyone dropped the facade of liking my stuff me because it was exhausting to do so.

So once you admit you lack self-esteem, then what? It’s not something you can go to the store and buy exactly.

Getting Help With Self-Esteem

Obviously seeing a therapist would probably help, but I’m still slacking with that matter at the moment. (It should be noted that I’d rather write a blog post instead of search for a therapist. It’s pretty fun when something you used to procrastinate doing becomes its own version of procrastinating something else. Productivity right?) Luckily my supervisor is the most intuitive person to ever exist. While struggling with my lack of self-esteem and the fact of it over the weekend, I went into work to be greeted by her handing me a book. The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden. Holy shit. Was it that obvious to everyone else? This situation sounds like something that would happen in a story or a movie where one of the characters is going through some shit and another character hands/tells him/her the exact thing they need to assist them in their problem. I’m not making this up either. It’s like the universe is trying to tell me something and is working directly through her. And who am I to gripe about how the universe does its shit? I lack self-esteem not intelligence. I can take the hint.

The introduction to the book stressed the importance of self-esteem and how it underlies everything about mental health. If you have self-esteem issues they’re likely to bleed into other areas and can attribute to anxiety, depression, substance abuse, etc. The book, not being too cocky about itself, also stressed that self-esteem isn’t a fix-all solution to every problem; there can be serious mental health issues in people with high self-esteem. Luckily for me, self-esteem does seem to be my main problem. It does seem like the fix-all for me, although I’m weary of falling into that mindset lest it be wrong. Even if it isn’t my main issue, it sure is up there in importance.

So for the past week I’ve made a dedicated effort to read the book, process what the book is saying, and to incorporate it into my life. And it’s been working wonderfully so far! There still does seem to be some underlying depression that exists outside of my self-esteem issues, but it’s far less threatening than how I’ve been feeling in the past month or two.

I was going to continue this post, but I think I should break things up. It’s just a really big topic. I’m writing a blog post here, not a fucking book. My “self-esteem journey” seems like it’ll be an interesting process and a few other posts might sprout out of the journey. Why try to cram it all here? In closing: I have self-esteem issues. These issues might be my main problem that needs to be fixed. I’m going to make a dedicated effort to improve my self-esteem. And you’re welcome to come along for the journey!

Getting Help Sucks

Last week I decided that I should probably go see a therapist. For most of the week and for various reasons I felt as though I was on the verge of a total mental meltdown. It was especially terrible while at work with me nearly going home early because I couldn’t deal with being there. I was antsy, jittery, and my body had sort of a nervous hum to it, like the hum of a fluorescent light bulb if that makes sense. I was shaking and bzzzzzz constantly. Just a total feeling of being on edge and ready to lose it all. My mind was in overdrive thinking (mostly worrying) about a wide range of things where it was impossible to not think about them. I was utterly depressed. I felt lonely. I felt hopeless. I felt like a loser, like everyone probably hated me and only dealt with me to be nice. Despite me knowing that I was overreacting, it’s hard to get yourself to actually internalize it. I knew I was being fearful, scared, and irrational with no way to actually think rationally about things.

It was in this rare mental state that something snapped and I realized something obvious but difficult to admit: I was not happy. Life was not enjoyable. Like at all. Something was not working. I felt on the precipice of something very dark and scary. My drinking had picked up again. I was anxious and terrified of everything. Day after day was a struggle against the dread of existing. And that probably isn’t how a person is supposed to feel. Certainly isn’t how a person is supposed to feel. I admitted to myself that I needed to go see someone about my mental state.

So how did that go? Well, I don’t know. I still haven’t went because getting help fucking sucks.

You’d think the main difficulty in actually getting help is admitting that you need or want help, but this is only the initial part of the challenge. Once you finally admit that you need help, you actually need to find someone. And holy hell is that another shitty adventure all on its own.

The fact is that mental health issues are still stigmatized in the United States (maybe the world, I don’t know) and it’s very difficult to find someone you can open up to between family and friends. After you admit you want to find help, it greatly helps if you have a support system who can support your choice to find someone. I think I’m pretty lucky in regards to having friends and family to talk to, but other people? It’s terrifying to put myself in someone else’s place who has no support. If a person like that did admit they needed help, there isn’t anyone to support them along the way. Finding help is solely on them, and that is terrifying. Everyone needs a support system.

So knowing that you want help, now what? You find someone to go see. How do you do that? Once again it’s up to you to do most of the work. There are no mental health “general practitioners” to go see, no one to recommend you to someone, you have to find them your own. And mental health is different from general health. If you have a physical problem any doctor should be able to help, or at least point you in the right direction to someone who can help, but with mental health? It seems there needs to be a good relationship between therapist and patient and sometimes people just do not bond or feel comfortable with others, even if there is no outward reason to feel so. I guess I’m trying to say finding someone for mental health issues isn’t as easy as going to your insurances’ provider finder, typing in your address, and going to the first place you find. You need to do research and research is not something the depressive person is actually up to doing.

One of my friends directed me to psychologytoday.com. You can search for therapists/counselors/psychologists/psychiatrists in your area. (What are the differences? More on that shortly) This helped a ton as you can still search by insurance providers and you can read their profiles/treatment techniques/see what their specialized in, but there were still too many to choose from! I didn’t want to start limiting my choices based on stupid shit like how friendly they look or if they’re young or old. It seems like I could miss a good person to go see by using such pointless criteria. And once again a person in this mindset probably isn’t the best at taking the initiative or being motivated to continue the search.

And there’s always the question about who exactly I should go see. Therapists and counselors are kinda the same thing (I think. But one has more schooling? I don’t know.) while psychologists have more schooling or something. I think the psychologists are meant for people who have more clinical disorders who might need specific treatments. And psychiatrists? Apparently they can prescribe medicine. (Also, let’s not forget the fact that psychologists and psychiatrists are both spelled similarly and are equally difficult to type. The psych- is so fucking clunky to type out, try it for yourself. Every time I write one of those I get a big, squiggly red line under it.) I don’t really know and if anyone wants to clear these distinctions up feel free to correct me in the comments. I don’t know if my case is serious enough to require a psychiatrist or if I just need someone to talk to, like a therapist. Being depressed means you don’t fucking know. So if I don’t know, how am I going to know who to see? I’m just trying to stress again that a person in a depressed state probably doesn’t want to research the intricacies and differences between certain mental health professional’s titles, schooling, and specialties. It’s daunting at a time you don’t want to face anything daunting.

I think that’s about it (so far). I feel that admitting you have a mental health problem should be the primary key to finding assistance. It should be your ticket to freedom, sort of like a call to 911 in a medical emergency is enough to get help. The emergency room doesn’t require you to select a pulmonologist or a cardiologist because they figure out what is wrong with you and find a person to treat you. With mental health? Nope. It’s up to you to find someone even though you’re as confused as you could ever be. You need to go through a mostly bullshit, confusing, and complex process mostly by yourself to actually find someone to see. It’s a pain in the ass even if you weren’t in a shitty mental state, and being in one only makes things harder.

We have a ton of work to do in the US and probably the world at large in regards to mental health. I’m almost certain that a massive amount of people quietly go about their lives abusing drugs or whatever or hiding behind hobbies, entertainment, and other things to keep busy so they don’t break down. Putting on a mask and struggling in silence. Like everyone is dealing with something and even if some look like they’re fine many might be close to their breaking points without showing any outward signs of it. There is no clear way to get help, no clear way to talk about how you feel or to be open about it, and maybe people turn to suicide as a way to ask for help because mental health is so stigmatized. If you do admit to get help, good job on you. Congratulations, it’s probably the hardest thing to admit! Hang in there. But it’s still going to be a pain in the ass finding someone to go see.

Crickets Suck

Well, once again it’s a ridiculous time of the morning and I still haven’t been able to sleep. The current time is 6:14 a.m. I’m tired but unable to sleep. Insomnia. You know the deal.

The problem tonight today? Crickets. Yes. Crickets.

Part of the problem is that I sleep in the basement. Apparently crickets love basements. And on top of that, the basement recently flooded. Apparently crickets love moist locations. Basically I’m trying to sleep in a moist basement that is apparently a paradise to the annoying black bugs and they’re moving in as such. Damn.

Having insomnia is bad, but what makes it really shitty is how every little thing can bug the hell out of you, pun maybe intended here. It’s not necessarily that I can’t sleep, it’s that anything minor bothers me so much that I can’t sleep. Like the bed sheets don’t feel right, or it’s too hot down here, or how the crickets won’t shut the fuck up. Something minor that with nothing else to focus on your mind fixates on.

The thing people don’t realize about crickets is that they’re loud as fuck. This is obvious when you think about it; you can hear crickets outside chirping at night through the walls and windows. This isn’t really a problem, but the fact that you can still hear the bastards when they’re outside is testament to how loud they actually are.

Now imagine one or more of these black, creepy fuckers a few feet away from you while trying to sleep. They’re loud. At first you can kinda tune them out and not let their sound bother you, but as the hours pass without sleep the noise works it’s way into your conscious thought. You can’t not hear the crickets chirping. Chirp, chirp, fucking chirp. Hours upon hours. Chirp. Actually more like CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP.

It wouldn’t be bad if the chirps were consistent white-noise like a fan, AC, static on the radio, rain falling outside, wind blowing through trees, traffic on the nearby road, or even the high pitched buzz of a phone charger. Something that can blend into the back of your mind where your brain can tune it out. Nope. Not the fucking crickets. Sometimes these loud fuckers stop chirping only to randomly start up 5 minutes later. This instantly raises my pulse because I’ll have anxiety about how long the silence will last. These devilish bastards will be silent for 10 minutes, let out two quick chirps to get my blood pressure up, and then go back into silent mode for five more minutes. It’s like they’re purposefully tormenting me, just breaking up the chirping with silence to remind me they’re still there, not letting my brain completely tune them out.

Each cricket also has its own chirp too, like how people have different voices. Some crickets  chirp in a well defined way, a clear and rhythmic chirp, chirp, chirp, whereas the one droning on currently has a very persistent and staticy sound to him. Like a constant buzzing noise. A sort of CCCHHHHHRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. The sound could easily fade into white-noise if he’d be consistent, but he stops every now and then to remind me that he’s there. What a fucker.

A few nights ago I snapped on a cricket. One wouldn’t shut up and I started moving furniture to violently murder him with a can of Raid. I’m usually not hostile towards bugs (except mosquitos for obvious reasons: if something is trying to feed off of me they’re going to die) and I even let spiders roam the house unchallenged (at least spiders are quiet), but the cricket had to go. When I found him I angrily used way more Raid than was required. I was really upset and took it out on the poor guy. This is what anger can do to a normally passive person.

After writing this post, Facebook started giving me ads for Raid. Companies totally aren’t spying on us at all. Fuck you Google, stay outta my docs.

The one haunting me now is smartly hiding under something that is basically unmovable. At least that’s where I think he is; I can’t find him anywhere else. That’s another thing about crickets; their sound is really hard to locate. The noise has a way of scattering all over so it seems like it’s coming from everywhere all at once. You can figure out his general location, but this isn’t good enough if you’re looking to hose him down with poison. You gotta know exactly where he his. So if he isn’t around the heavy wooden chest I’m assuming he’s under the damn thing.

I didn’t think I could write an entire post about crickets, but they can go fuck themselves. I’m actually looking forward to winter when there won’t be bugs invading the basement. Maybe then I can actually get some sleep because as of now I’m just listening to these annoying bugs making loud obnoxious and inconsistent sounds. I swear any cricket I find I’m going to kill with my economy sized can of Raid with zero guilt. I don’t care. I wish death and destruction on their entire species. Fuck em.

Update: I was able to sleep after putting ear plug in my ears. Luckily I work at an airport so have ear plugs all over the house. It made sense to use them. There was another problem though: apparently when you block sound from your ears in a mostly quiet room, your brain starts to hallucinate sounds as sensory deprivation seems to do. I couldn’t hear anything but occasionally would hallucinate sounds. Unusually these were electronic beeps and boops sort of like what you’d find in old NES video games. While I didn’t hear the cricket anymore, I was terrified of my own brain making up sounds and scaring me because it had nothing else better to do. At least that problem is way more interesting than crickets chirping.

Drinking Sucks: 10 Reasons to Not be a Drunkard

Lists of ten, top-ten lists, or whatever you want to call them kinda suck in their own right, but I want to write one anyways. It seems fun, clickbaity, and will be a challenge putting together ten individual items to discuss here. Since my slew of vacations and my mental meltdown I’ve had one hell of a time with alcohol, and in a way I think I’m writing this post mostly for myself to get back on track. So what better way to make a “top 10 list” than to bitch about alcohol abuse. So I hereby present to you ten reasons to quit drinking!

10. Save Money $$$

The best motivation to do almost anything is to make money/save money; it’s the driving force behind everything in a capitalist society. Despite this, I put saving money as far down the list as possible. This is due to a few reasons. Firstly, people don’t change addictions based on cash savings; no one would smoke, drink, or shoot heroin if this was true. Addiction is one of the few things that exist outside the motivation to make/save money. Secondly, alcohol is actually pretty cheap! Smoking a pack a day will leave you out literal thousands of dollars in a year. If you are an alcoholic you simply won’t save a ton of money by quitting. The benefit it in everything else.

While alcohol is cheap (and probably the cheapest of any substance addiction you can have) it still isn’t free. Even if you won’t save as much as a heroin-addict would by getting clean, you still are saving a bunch of cash. Consider a six-pack, three-days-a-week sort of drunk: a cheap six-pack can cost about $5 (if you’re not buying utter trash beer that is). This would be $15 a week, or about $800 every year! If you drink every day of the week this cost obviously doubles to well over $1,500. While saving money shouldn’t be your primary reason to not drink, it also shouldn’t be forgotten.

9. Not Be Hungover

Anyone who has drank moderately/heavily in a single sitting should be familiar with the dreaded hangover. I don’t need to explain it too much because if you’re reading this you’re probably familiar with the symptoms: the dehydration, dry mouth, rapid heart rate, anxiety, jitteriness, hunger, nausea, lethargy, light sensitivity, and the pounding headache. I mean what else can be said of the hangover? Sometimes I find music sounds better when hungover, but besides that they’re fucking miserable and horrid affairs. Obviously if you don’t drink, you don’t deal with a hangover.

8. Eat Better/Lose Weight

A serving of alcohol (can of beer, shot of liquor, glass of wine, 5 pumps of hand sanitizer, etc.) has some calorie content to it. This varies greatly, but the fact is that alcohol itself has calories means there is no “diet alcohol” or whatever you’d want to call it. By simply drinking you’re consuming extra calories than you normally would. Consider that a shot of vodka has about 70 calories: six of them would have 420 calories! This isn’t a whole lot but it’s the bare minimum you can get drunk from. A can of beer has over 100 calories (usually) and anything with added sugar is even worse. The fact is if you’re an alcoholic you’re probably consuming a fuckton of calories and probably packing on weight. The term “beer belly” has reasons behind it.

This is considering that you’re not exercising or lowering the amount of food you actually eat. If you’re drinking heavily it probably means that you’re not exercising or taking good care of yourself: in fact I’d assume you’d probably be eating horribly! Everyone knows alcohol, greasy burgers, and fried foods fit together perfectly (shout out to pizza here) and the alcoholic isn’t usually stereotyped as deeply athletic. This stresses the point even further: if you’re an alcoholic you’re probably also getting fatter. So if you quit drinking you might lose weight.

7. Sleep Better

While alcohol can knock your ass out in heavy doses, it doesn’t seem to give you a good night’s rest. Even if you pass out drunk and are unconscious for eight hours you’ll wake up feeling like you only had an hour-long nap. While this might not be detrimental here and there, dragging this shit out for weeks and months of fully-fledged alcoholism, you will end up feeling like shit. Even though you’re sleeping enough your body simply isn’t repairing itself and recovering like it is supposed to. By not drinking, you just rest better and feel better during the day.

6. Stave off Insomnia

This is probably a subset of what I talked about in number seven (sleeping better), but fuck you because this is my top ten list. I can break it down into as many or as few sections as I want! I separated them not only to add more numbers to this top-ten list bullshit, but because insomnia usually occurs a few days after bingeing. Since your sleep quality is trash when you’ve been drinking, when you stop you do get a few days where you’re so tired and worn out that you sleep really well. I’m talking nights where you sleep 10-12 hours and wake up feeling energized and refreshed.

The problem occurs after those restful days. I think, and I don’t really know for sure, this is due to alcohol being a depressant and “slowing your body down” or something. The human body adapts, or tires to adapt, to things; if you’re drinking a depressant your body “upregulates” everything to keep you moving. It’s like the reverse of drinking caffeine, a sort of “inverse crash” or whatever. As your body finds itself without alcohol, you find yourself “upregulated” and your mind just constantly keeps running, especially at night. This is especially bad because you might turn to drinking just to sleep normally. Another downside to insomnia is that you’d think if you couldn’t sleep you’d be awake, but you’re not. Alcohol insomnia leaves you tired, exhausted, and unable to sleep. It sucks.

5. Have a Better Memory/Focus

Drinking puts you into a haze while sobriety clears things up. If you drink a lot, you’re basically entering and exiting hazes daily (or whatever) and this makes reality get kinda…confusing. You start to forget what you were actually doing in regards to life planning/projects you’re taking care of. Take writing a book for example: you need to remember what the hell you were actually writing about to make progress at it in the future. I, like many others, have found that drinking greatly improved my ability to write at the expense of having no idea what I had actually written. This leaves you feeling lost in the grand scheme of whatever you got going on. It becomes hard to tie thoughts together into a coherent project.

I’ve also realized that I’d forget what I’ve talked to people about even if I was sober at the time. Like I’d tell a coworker a story and repeat the story days later without remembering initially telling them. I found myself prefacing every conversation with, “Not sure if I told you this before, but…” just to acknowledge that I was at least aware that I might be repeating myself.

This is related to drinking but I don’t know how to explain its direct relationship to it. Obviously you forget shit when you’re actually drinking, but a general effect on memory seems to exist and is especially scary. Everyone expects to forget shit when drinking, but when this effect spills over into the weeks after drinking it is especially frightening. Quit drinking and you might have a better memory and won’t feel like you’re on the verge of Alzheimer’s.

4. Have Better Teeth

I don’t know if this is really a thing, but whenever I’d go to the dentist for a routine six-month cleaning they’d always ask me if I drank a lot of pop. I’d always say “no” and they’d give me a look of complete and total skepticism. The dentist and the hygenist know exactly what the effects of sugar look like on teeth so they’re the last people you want to lie to about what you actually drink, but fact is fact: I didn’t drink pop hardly at all. I’d have a can of pop once a week, maybe twice, but this wasn’t nearly enough to cause dental trouble. And I’d brush everyday! What the hell was going on here? Why were they looking at me suspiciously like I was telling a lie?

It might be alcohol. As we know, alcoholic drinks have sugar and starches and whatever else and this can’t be good on your teeth in heavy amounts. This is another one of these “I don’t know this for a fact but I assume it’s true” things: drinking probably fucks your teeth up just as much (if not more) as heavily-sugared sodas do. I did tell the dentist/hygienist that I did drink a lot of beer but that I didn’t, in fact, drink soda ever. I mean if they’re going to accuse me of dietary habits that were fucking my teeth up they need to at least get it correct: beer was fucking my teeth up.

3. Anxiety

I was sober for a span of 5 months this year, and holy hell, I didn’t have any anxiety. I mean there was still a background level of anxiety, but it was nothing like the physically-shaking-before-going-to-work style of anxiety that I was used to. This was surprising because being a total alcoholic lead me to believe that maybe I just had anxiety that badly naturally. Sobriety made the anxiety just disappear. It was a slow and easy-to-miss process, but after a few months I’d find myself not worrying as much about stressful upcoming events. I’d still be stressed and worried, but for some reason this didn’t translate into anxiety. You might drink to help relieve your anxiety, but in reality it is probably making it worse. By not drinking you might find that your anxiety slowly vanishes, or turns into something manageable.

2. Motivation

I like to think alcohol works by moving happiness from one point of your life to another, usually from the next day to the present. You drink and you feel better, but you pay for it the next day by feeling miserable. This “sum of happiness” never changes but it’s just shifted around and isn’t a scientifically quantifiable amount at all, but it makes some sense I guess. I think this happens with motivation too.

Drinking for me gets my ass in gear. I love drinking on the weekends and doing dishes, cleaning the house, work on blog posts and stories, and generally just knocking out projects I need to do. The problem occurs the following day when I seemingly moved motivation to the previous day: I’m lazy, uninspired, and don’t want to do a damn thing. This can obviously lead to problems where you drink just to get your motivation back and this snowballs quickly into alcoholism.

By not drinking you can have motivation!

1. Not be Depressed

This one is very similar to #3 (anxiety) in that drinking probably makes a problem worse that you’re trying to cure in the first place by drinking. I think many people have a sort of “background level” of depression and if a notably shitty day happens, they drink to make themselves feel better. But like with anxiety, you end up shooting yourself in the foot because over time drinking just makes you even more depressed where you need more alcohol to feel better. And so on.

And like anxiety it’s hard to notice it happening. Over months and years of periodic drinking you accept your current depressed state as just how things are, and that not drinking can make things worse for you, and even make you feel suicidal. It’s this that keeps drinker hooked and coming back for more with almost zero choice in the matter. While it’s true things usually get worse when you initially stop drinking, hanging in there can prove beneficial.

Months after not drinking your mood is just lighter and you feel better. And like anxiety, it’s hard to realize this and one day you discover that your perpetual depression has just kinda melted away. You stop thinking that people hate you and are trying to avoid you or that everyone talks bad about you behind your back. You stop feeling bad for the shitty state of your life, and with no alcohol to feed the self-doubt and self-hatred, you find yourself making progress towards improving things. I know this might not be true for everyone, but after not drinking I have found zero downside and all upsides to it. And when you find yourself in the clear you wonder why you tortured yourself for so long, because sometimes you realize that life isn’t too bad and in some ways it’s downright enjoyable.

So if you’re a drunkard, maybe consider these ten items and maybe attempt sobriety. It’ll take some effort and it won’t be easy, but usually immensely beneficial things take time and effort and this is certainly one of them. Drinking sucks.