Tag Archives: Depression

Lessons From Substance-Free September: Life Goes On

This is the second part of a ‘series’ where I write about what I’ve learned from Substance-Free September. The first part is here.

Another sad fact I’ve realized over the past month of being sober is that life continues on. There is no “finished” or “over” and there also seems to be no time to properly gain your bearings and figure out the best course of action. No time to take a break or reflect. Life is being stuck in an endless and problematic story where you never really get to take a step away from things and relax.

Maybe that’s just my life, but others probably feel this way too. It’s another trigger to my drinking: needing a break from life. Hell, that might be my main reason for drinking so much. It’s my way of having a few clear and foggy hours to not exist as fully as I usually do. It drowns life out to an acceptable level where I seem to be able to deal with it, until the next day that is. But that’s an easy problem to solve because you can always drink more!

Not a good idea, obviously. A friend of mine a few months ago pointed out that I feel too much, my highs are really high and my lows are supremely low. Apparently despite outward appearance I’m a highly emotional person and this friend being a very insightful person I tried to give him some credit. Sure, I didn’t see myself that way, but was he onto something?

To maybe prove this point, this friend moved away last month. People move, things change, but goddamn do I feel his absence in some way that others don’t seem too. Maybe they don’t verbalize  it (neither do I) outside of the occasional “I miss [person],” but stuck in my head I feel it differently. The fact that people always move, change, grow, decay, and that everything is temporary, everything is inevitably changing crushes my soul. I don’t like it at a visceral level. Something about it seems wrong even though it’s perfectly natural.

And this friend? He seems to be the embodiment of going with the flow and change, the total opposite of myself. I think I admire that about him. He’s the type of person who literally quit his job, embraced all the change through his own actions, and moved thousands of miles away with no guarantee that anything would actually turn out the best for him. No insecurity or hesitation about it, and the part I don’t understand, no fear of loss from leaving people behind. Leaving the memories behind. Leaving everything about your life behind for some unknown clean-slate where anything could happen, good or bad. It’s such a crazy and foreign thing to my insecure self that I just can’t comprehend how someone could go through with it.

It feels like I’m paralyzed by my emotions, hence the drinking to escape them. I used to be really depressive and have somehow managed to get better over the past six months. Still an episode of depression can be so intense that I want nothing more than to zap myself out for a while via alcohol. Strangely it’s not just the bad times I try to escape. Moments happen where something magical will happen; a good day where I see the beauty in everything and can savor every grateful second that passes. Inevitably, this feeling comes with the realization of loss. Why can’t everything remain beautiful? Why does anything ever change? Why can’t things stay in this moment forever? And obviously when that happens I can’t wait to have another drink to escape it.

So maybe I feel too much. Maybe it’s a curse, maybe it’s a gift. I recently read some story drafts I’d written and couldn’t help but see this is what I’m constantly trying to explain to my readers. I’m constantly trying to explain this bitter sense of loss, losing the entire point of life, and trying to understand the cycle of gaining and losing. Damn if I don’t have a heavy dose of loss, nostalgia, joy, and insecurity in everything I write. Everything seems to point to me feeling way too much about the smallest things in life, as if everything is a battle to find joy and survive, to appreciate those small moments when they decide to show up. Maybe it is a gift, maybe this form of suffering is a way to move forward? Maybe I’m just hopelessly bipolar or something.

See what I mean?

That was a hell of a rant. When you remove drinking as a solution there is no escape from life itself. No way to avoid the emotions. They fucking happen and it sucks. But even those are hopelessly fluid. Countless times I’ve been so happy and at peace that I want to cry, and this emotion always passes. It always fades into nothing. Countless times I’ll have a good day and try to force myself to remember the good times as clearly as possible, but I never find success…ever. You can’t remain joyful forever. The same is true for depression: the mood always changes given enough time even if you don’t realize it in the depths of it. Without fighting these emotions with alcohol I’ve learned to be clearly aware of them. Let them pass. It’s like being on a boat in the ocean; the waves pass by you, you’re up one moment and you’re down the next, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Ride the waves, let time pass, and learning to do this is nearly impossible, but you do make progress over time. No one wants to feel like shit, everyone wants to be happy, but it’s like trying to stop the earth from rotating. Find comfort in the temporary joy, and let the waves of depression wash over you. They’re equally temporary.

This has been my life the past month. Each day passes with its own joys and struggles and then…nothing. It happens again and again. A week passes. Two. Three. There is no break, this is no grand pause in drinking to reflect on it all. There is no award, trophy, or magical realization at the end to justify anything you work through. Just more…life I guess? More ups and downs. Endless emotions of ups and downs. In a way it feels like I’m slowly breaking down. I just want a break from life sometimes! Some way to not exist as fully as I seem to exist at all waking moments of the day. Is it just me? Is this how people are? Hell if I know.

There is no grand lesson in this blog post. Which kinda is the grand lesson in some strange way. Life goes on, it raises you up and lowers you like a boat on waves, and you’re nearly useless to do anything about it. Life seems to be about learning to float on the waves, dance on the highs and lows of life, where there is no respite from this dance of life. Up and down. Powerless at all times. Adrift in the ocean of life with no escape from the waves.

The next post: Lessons From Substance-Free September: The Endless Supply of Problems

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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.

Fear and Loathing on my 34th Birthday Sucks

Well, today is sadly June 22 and I’m officially thirty-four years old. I suppose this isn’t quite true until 9:50 a.m. but still, close enough. I’m thirty-four, and what does all of this even mean?

Probably nothing but I still can’t shake the dirty feeling that overtakes you when turning a year older, especially while in your thirties. It’s a mix of emotions that is hard to really process and make sense of. I feel old, but in a strange and unclear way. Not like old-old where I’m going to die soon and not old where I know it’s well past time to work on my goals and dreams. No, it’s like an intermediate old where you know time is running out and it’s about time to get working on your dreams and goals because it’s about past time when you can actually do these things. Over this time it’s time to settle down and find comfort in your life, relax, and reap the seeds you’ve sowed in your teens and twenties. But what if, like me, you haven’t sown any seeds? What if you’re still cruising through life at the ripe age in the mid-thirties still not knowing what you want to actually do in life? What if you’re so misguided that you still feel mentally like a damn teenager where the world still doesn’t make sense? At the cusp of my thirty-fourth birthday this is how I feel: like someone who should have everything figured out but who feels as dumb and clueless as they did nearly twenty years ago.

It’s hard to not shit all over yourself during times of reflection like these. They naturally led your mind to the thought of, “What have I accomplished? What does my life mean?” and I regretfully come up with nothing notable to mention. Thirty-four. Say it again. I’ve had thirty-four years to figure out what the hell my life means, what I want to do, and haven’t came to anything notable. Halfway to thirty-four? Seventeen. Still as clueless as I am now, but still somehow younger, naive, and more full of potential that I still haven’t realized. Fuck, halfway during my current life I was seventeen: Fuck. I don’t know how to even process that. It seems so long ago but yet still so familiar because I’m still the same person really. I feel just as I did halfway through my life years ago: still clueless, still lost, but with some hope that the future might clear something up for me. Protip: It Didn’t. I won’t. Time doesn’t clear shit up for anyone. If you’re in your teens and twenties and vibing with what I’m writing, you’re in for some shit. You’re just like me. You’ll never figure it out, you’ll never know what you want to do. And you better find solace in this fact wherever you can.

I project forward to when sixty-eight years old: the point that I’m halfway towards. I remember being twenty and projecting forwards to forty. There was still plenty of time between forty and the probable end of my life so it wasn’t a big deal. But now being halfway to sixty-eight? Doesn’t the average American male die at seventy-four? Seriously, I’m likely halfway through my life and haven’t accomplished a damn thing really. Fuck. This is scary. Halfway. I’m here. This is it. Time to clear shit up and get my stuff in order. Finish the race on a strong note.

Let’s also not forget that my lifestyle will probably kill me well before I reach seventy, and sometimes I’m worried I’ll die before I’m fifty or fourty. And how do you deal with that fact that you could be 80% finished with your life at thirty-four years old?

As much as I love self-hatred, I still can’t get over some aspect of loving myself. I still think I have something to offer the world — that I’m special in some way — and that I haven’t realized how to channel it yet. It’s a struggle of how to view yourself that I can’t fully explain. I just can’t get over the fact that, yes, I might have something special and meaningful to offer the world and I just can’t seem to realize it and capitalize on it. Like I have all the talents needed to make something of my life but just can’t seem to put it all together into something useful. Like I’ve squandered any gifts that have been given to me and after thirty-four years I still can’t realize how to use the gifts that are somehow inherently what makes me, Jeremy, unique and special.

It leads to a feeling of uselessness: if I haven’t discovered this in thirty-four years, why would I learn it in the next year? The next five? The next ten? Or even the next thirty-four years when I’m likely to be near the end of my life? My life seems to be a mess of squandering anything good given to me in some twisted form of self-destruction. I could’ve been an airline pilot by now had I made the right choices. Hell, I could’ve been anything by now had I made the right choices. But what am I? Some blogger dude who works at UPS, still struggling and floundering to do something notable in the face of total failure that can’t seem to be proud of anything he has accomplished. Today is my thirty-fourth birthday, and it’s going to be a bland day indeed. Another day, another orbit around the sun, and another year of not doing a goddamn thing to further myself. Another day and year to squander my gifts. So, cheers, here’s to another year on the planet Earth…

Cops Finding You Illegally Camping In the Woods Sucks

Note: This post is a mess. I originally wrote the first part while, well, sitting in a Rosecrance waiting room. I never got around to actually editing and posting it though. The draft of this was about three weeks old and I have some moderate frustration over the entire thing, like I went through hell a few weeks ago and think I could’ve made about five coherent blog posts about it all but just never gotten around to tying it all together. So it’s a mess. But this post kinda occurs after this post but before this post if you’d appreciate some chronological order behind it all. I’m serious, the narrative of my life is currently chaos but maybe I’ll make another post tying all of it together, but until then, here ya go.

To update anyone to this ongoing saga of mine: I’m in a Rosecrance waiting room right now feeling super sleep deprived and mildly hungover. And I’m not quite sure how I ended up here. It’s all a blur to me right now.

I slept better than the previous night but was awaken by a female saying something. I don’t even recall what she was saying. Asking if anyone was there, asking if I was okay, and maybe a few other questions that I’d forgotten. I mumbled “yeah” and groggily stuck my head out of the tent. And hey, the female speaking was a poliece officer. Fuck. Not something you want to wake up to at 8 a.m. after only three or four hours of sleep and heavy drinking. She had another officer with her, some dude with a fucking assault rifle. Jesus Christ! Was I imagining this shit? Nothing seemed clear in the moment. No: this guy was totally standing behind a tree with an assault rifle ready to unload the entire clip on me if I did something shady. Not something you want to wake up to, once again. To stress the point some more. Being shocked at sticking your head out of a tent and see a guy with a goddamn AR-15 behind a tree. Anyways, here we go. I fucked up. I was camping illegally in the woods and the cops found me. Whoops. And just to stress again that one of them had a goddamn assault rifle.

“Step out of the tent please. Do you have any weapons on you? I’m going to peek in the tent. Did you know drinking in a park is illegal? And smoking? Yes, we can’t have people smoking in the park; you could cause a forest fire. We can hit you with a ton of tickets.”

Fuck. Me. I was honest and told them that I was dealing with some marital problems and chose to hide in the park away from life and civilization and they the nice female cop were was nice and accepting enough to my plight. She agreed to not write me any tickets and they gave me 12 hours to get the hell out of the park. I didn’t know where I’d go for the next night but I had plenty of time to worry about it later.

My main fuck up was when they asked if I had any thoughts of harming myself. “Why, yeah, of course, here and there. But they’re passing things and I know I need to work through this. I’ll be fine. I’m in a good mental state really.”

Apparently this was not the correct answer. Once again it’s kinda blurry because I was so tired but they basically said, “Alright. Well, would you like to go see someone?” in that vague cop way where you’re not sure if you have a choice or not. I initially declined — “No, seriously, I’m okay. I’m not going to do anything,” — but then the female cop said “No, you really need to come with us.” Fuck. I didn’t think I really had a choice here. Tired and hungover and feeling adventurous I decided to YOLO it. I fucked up with my choice of words and I was being hauled off to a mental instituition. It wouldn’t hurt, right? Who cares, let me follow the adventure of life wherever it takes me.

They searched me for weapons and such and chucked me into the back of the cop car. She was nice enough and tried to talk me into religion while I pounded my Bang energy drink and vaped totally unhandcuffed in the back of the cop car. I was so tired, exhausted, and confused and just wanted to take a goddamn nap and relax. Like the last night was supposed to be the relaxing night where I finally succeeded in the woods and then this was happening. Man, life is shite.

I walked into the clinic along with my armed escort and plopped down with a silly smile on my face. I was totally lost and stricken by what life had just tossed at me. Was I really sitting here in a Rosecrance facility because the cops found me in a park, work me up at whatever a.m. hour it was, and thought I had mental issues. What? Really? I didn’t even know how to process the events of the day thus far. I felt disconnected with reality, feeling like a video game character experiencing life from the third person, watching myself outside as someone going through a really strange and disorienting morning. I could laugh about it in a way and I got my phone out to write a blog post about it, which is what I’m doing here. If my day is spiraling out of control, why not grab the demon by the horns and document it at least. Not like I had anything else to do. Just sit and wait feeling delightful detachment from what is confusingly my life in the moment: this is me and this is what’s happening to me and it doesn’t make any sense but holy hell this is my reality. It’s good in a way being able to view a terrible situation in an impersonal form where you can realize in the moment that wow, shit is crazy today. At least I’ll have a good fucking story to tell about it.

I talked to the counselor/therapist/whatever she was and did my best to prove that I wasn’t really suicidal and that those bad thoughts were just a natural reaction to what I was currently going through. Passing thoughts really, the random idea of how easy it’d be to go buy some rope and dangle myself from the trees that are naturally plentiful in a forest. Not that’d I’d really go buy some rope, just pondering how easy it’d all be to do, almost too easy in a way. The fact that you have so many easy ways out of life is really scary when you think about it. Luckily, she knew my current therapist on personal terms because she used to work there. I busted out the name of Michelle Johnson and she was instantly sympathetic to me. Yes, I was seeing some she knew and was on good terms with and, yes, I was making the correct steps to heal my flawed and utterly fucked-up mind. She seemed to thaw a bit during this revelation and things became much better after that.

She released me because obviously I wasn’t crazy or anything. I asked if I could go outside because I had a “raging nicotine addiction” and at first she was hesitant. If I wandered off into downtown rockford after I’d left it’d be her ass on the line. But she called the female cop again (officer Hodgkins I think) and she was only five minutes away, so she let me go get my nicotine fix. I sat on the sidewalk and vaped to my heart’s content pondering what the hell exactly I was doing with my life. Two days earlier I was happy and content and now everything was spiraling out of control and I felt like I was in a dream. Wasn’t I a writer? Wasn’t I blogger? Didn’t I have a job that payed well? Didn’t I have two stock investing accounts? Didn’t I have a college degree? Wasn’t I a fucking legit and certified commercial pilot? Wasn’t I successful enough and immune to any strange mental occurances in life? Is this what my current state really is? Wow, what a chaotic and hilarious mess; no one is immune to the problems of life.

Officer Hodgkins hauled me back to the park and drove like a fucking maniac on the way there. What sort of fuel mileage did these police SUVs have? It had to be dismal. She was stomping on the gas like we were in a race against someone and made strange radio calls about “Anna Page Park” and shouted out time frames and estimates. What would it be like to be a cop? I had no idea and my curiosity took hold of my mind. I tried to analyze and decifier what was being said and appreciate all the silly mundane and stupid pressures of her job. Hauling drunken campers with marriage issues out of parks at 8 a.m. trying to decide weather to toss the book at them or to have sympathy. Or to decide in the spur of the moment if I they were really going to kill themselves or not. And mostly, trying to decide in a minute or two if they’re worth the effort to save or to toss them to the curb; do you consider them a lost cause and remove them from society as effectivly as possible or try to save them? As much hate as cops get lately, she was genuinely kind and I found myself conflicted by it: weren’t cops supposed to be cruel assholes? Surely the jackass with the AR-15 was your stereotypical militarist police officer dickheard but Officer Hodgkins was a legit good person who commanded authority in an appropriate manner. We arrived at the park and I sheepishly agreed that I was going through some shit and that I’d be out later in the day. And she was understanding and we talked in the parking lot for about ten minutes. She gave me a card to her church’s pastor who had a YouTube channel and I held onto it as a genuine souvenir. (I’d link to it but in the past few weeks of chaos the card has went missing which is very sad to me…) Yes, people do care, strangers and cops none-the-less, and she showed me some grace and understanding where I could’ve very well found myself into some serious, expensive legal trouble, and probably jail. Officer Hodgkins, the middle-aged, very motherly cop in Rockford, Illinois probably won’t read this, but if she did I’d just want to say something like, Hey, thanks for being open and understanding and just helping me along in this bullshit struggle in life. I do appreciate it…

I walked back to my totally illegal campsite and drank some Alka-Seltzer and tried to get my life back into order. Maybe I could salvage the day and get my shit back together? Just a minor hiccup in the day surely. I passed out from the drug and the exhaustion and tried to grab some sleep before work. It was like 10 a.m. and maybe I could get my rest, find peace, and get about my day and feel comfort in my shitty situation. And I did drift off until around noon. But I was awaken by a strangely familiar voice screaming from a quarter mile away, “JEREMY?! WHERE THE FUCK IS YOUR CAMPSITE?!” But that’s probably another story altogether…

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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.

Back to Work Or COVID Testing Sucks

I got my COVID test last wednesday, May 20th. They told me it would take 5-7 days for me to get my results. The earliest I could expect them was monday, but since that was a holiday I was counting more on tuesday or wednesday of this week. I awoke tuesday and hopefully looked at my phone: nothing. No missed calls, no emails, nothing. And the mailbox also had a pile of junk mail that only got my hopes up. Bills, junk, advertisements, an Amazon package, but that was it. The same story happened wednesday although I did finally get my vape juice and pods in. That was the one highlight of my day and something I could be happy about. Maybe things were starting to look up.

Today, thursday, and nothing. It was the seventh day, or eighth if you want to count Memorial Day as an actual day, and knew I had to do something. Everyone knows testing still is a fucking joke and I was dreading not being able to find out anything. Then what? What do I do with no results at all? If I was totally lost in the system?

Let me digress a bit. I discovered my uncle was also tested last week and got his results friday, after only a few days, so I knew I should’ve heard something. Even worse is they called him. Where the hell was my call? I could’ve been back to work making money and having a routine but I’d been patiently waiting for a call. I didn’t want to be a bother. I’m sure the health department is swamped and didn’t want to be a demanding pain in the ass when there are plenty of them already in the world.

So I had to do something today. I called the clinic that was listed on the paper. After playing “push 1 for english, press 2 for our COVID hotline, for [whatever] press…” for about five minutes I finally talked to a fellow human. She said to call the Winnebago County Health Department and gave me their number. I didn’t have a pen and I’m proud to say I memorized the number on the spot. 815-720-4000 if you’d like to call them for some reason.

So I called the health department to be greeted by more number pushing. “If this is a medical emergency, call ‘911’ immediately. If you feel you maybe have COVID or have symptoms of COVID, please call your primary medical provider…” I eventually ended up on a recording requesting me to leave a message. What? So I hung up and tried again. I expected to get the same spiel all over again, had my phone on speaker sitting on the couch ready for disappointment, when a real human said “COVID hotline, how can I help you?” Oh shit. I grabbed the phone, turned off the speaker, and started my request.

My test was negative. Duh. I probably had a cold and overreacted. “Could I have an email to confirm that though? Just in case work needs it?”

“Sure, send an email here: ‘c’ as in ‘cat’, ‘d’ as in ‘dog’, reporting…at…”

I texted my friend/boss and told him my test was negative and followed that up with my request: CAN I COME BACK TO WORK NOW?!

“Yes, please,” was the reply. Thank God.

And then more anxiety. More dreading. I was gone for a week and what would people say? What would people ask? Would I have to explain myself or redeem myself for being off work for over a week? No, probably not. Think if one of your fellow coworkers took off for a week unexpectedly; you probably wouldn’t miss them much. Everyone does their own thing — you included — and most people really don’t give two fucks if you’re at work or not. I don’t know why I’m so anxious over every single thing that happens in life. Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten into a new routine of being miserable and bored just trying to piss time away as quickly as possible. So that routine’s over and I have a new routine, the same routine I had over a week ago but which I’ve forgotten already. I’ll have to socialize. I’ll have to function. I’ll have to be productive. And as much as I dread it I know it’ll be fine. As soon as I pull into the parking lot it’ll feel like I was never off. So what the fuck am I worrying about?

And that’s it: I’m going back to work. Yay?! It’ll be nice to have a purpose again that isn’t decided by me. It’s a pain when you have too much free time because you have to decide what to do. That’s a hard decision indeed and usually leads to total indecisiveness. That’ll be nice to sidestep a little bit, but for now I have two more hours until I must leave. What to do with that time?

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!

Lyme Disease Sucks…Or COVID? Or…Huh?

I don’t even know where to start. The last post left off with my second night in the woods questioning everything about life. And this post is written from the comfort of our living room, and although things still aren’t alright or back to normal, they’re a bit better than they were two days ago.

I’d like to think my past week would make a really rivienting story if I could have peace long enough to piece it all together. As an example: after my second night — this post here — I experienced cops at 8 a.m. (one with a fucking AR-15 by the way), ended up in a mental center, found myself wandering through the woods with a friend drinking beers, calling into work, getting sick, being tested for COVID, and being unable to return to work until I get my results. Despite being back home my life still seems to be in a downward spiral where I can’t grasp onto anything.

So…what was I writing about? What day is it? Oh. Friday. Friday, yes. I came home Tuesday night and set my tent up in the yard. The cops earlier that day gave me 12 hours to get the hell out of the park and I planned on doing just that. My wife apparently panicked when I sent a text saying the cops found me and I was being hauled off to a mental institution and this was enough to muster her effort in helping me pack my shit up and move out. So after two days in the woods I was back home. In the yard, but back home.

Glossing over everything, because I’m not sure of it all anyways, I was back at home, drinking, talking with my wife into the early morning hours of Wednesday. I felt bleak, but hopeful in a way: I was back home at least I’d have the occasional company, but then something happened around 1 a.m.: I felt like shit. I instantly became achy and got the chills. I felt strange and off and I couldn’t stand another night in the tent. It wasn’t cold out but I had a chill I couldn’t shake and basically begged to sleep inside. She was loving and caring enough and I didn’t have to really beg but I was so miserable I felt like I needed to beg. I couldn’t take another miserable night in the tent alone, especially with the aches and the chills.

Inside I started to overthink. I had a strange bite on my arm and assumed it was a tick bite. Or a spider. Whatever. But then the thought of “Lyme disease” popped into my head, I Googled it, and then started to panic. Each of my symptoms fit those of Lyme disease to a tee. Worst of all was the symptom of “confusion” or “slow thinking” and everything seemed to fit that as well. I felt strange, I felt funny, and I felt a way I couldn’t even explain. I felt off and slow and stupid. Everything felt as if it was happening in slow motion and required much more effort than usual. I couldn’t even move my arms to pick up a PS4 controller and it took minutes of dedicated effort to do so. At the time I was totally convinced: I had Lyme disease. Because I got bit by a goddamn tick. Because I was living in the woods. Because I panicked and moved out on Sunday. It’s what I deserved and was fitting. If you act like an idiot, stupid things happen to you.

Somehow I managed to sleep a few hours and awoke totally conflicted at my situation. Did I have Lyme disease? Should I see a doctor? How did all of this work with COVID? And what if I had COVID? I had no idea what to do. Eventually I decided to ignore the possible Lyme disease until I showed more symptoms — swollen joints, constant aches, and a bullseye shaped rash — but thought it was proper enough to get a COVID test just to be safe. Just to protect others. To do the right thing. Luckily, we have a testing center a mile away from our house so it was a quick drive there.

The test took about 15 minutes. I filled out a form on a clipboard and then had a swab shoved up my nose for 15 seconds — the longest 15 seconds of my life! — and then I went back home. But what to do about work?

I wasn’t sure what the UPS policy was about COVID and sickness — and I didn’t feel good at all — so decided to call my full-time supervisor to ask for some details. He’s a good friend and I feel like I can tell him whatever is happening, so elaborating on my Lyme/COVID/woods story didn’t feel too awkward. He didn’t know what the policy was so referred me to a lady and gave me her number. I told her my story and she gave a very simply and straightforward recommendation to me: no work until I got the results back.

And like that my already rocky life was flipped even further upside down by not having work to go to. I love routine. I love having a plan and something to expect from my day so this indefinite lack of work totally threw me off at a time where my life was already thrown off balance. Hell, I was looking forward to work just to have some purpose to my life and that was cut out from underneath me.

So now what? Well, I’m drinking. Heavily. Each day is an alcohol fueled mess where I’m just trying to grasp onto anything — alcohol included — just to keep myself together. I know it’s wrong, I know I’m totally fucking up, but I just want something to do to keep myself distracted. I don’t have work anymore and I don’t have routine. So I drink. Just pissing away minutes, hours, and days until I get my results back where I can have some structure to my life, where I can have some routine to rely on. I don’t feel too bad about it because I know I’m not making excuses or deluding myself at all — this is a problem and this is how I’m coping and it’s not sustainable or healthy — and I know I’ll pull myself together eventually. Despite my endless pessimism when it feels like I’m drowning in the waters of life I still know that I’ll make it. I’ll get through. As shitty as this phase is I know it’ll pass and I’ll be fine.

So today. I don’t feel sick at all. Kinda achy, but nothing special. No COVID cough. No bullseye rash on my arm or body. And I feel even more like shit. I overreacted. I had a COVID test and admitted it to my supervisor. I’m off work until I get results. I feel like I’ve gamed the system to get a free two weeks of vacation for being dramatic. I know in my heart I did the right thing — I was sick, I was tested, and I admitted it to my work place — but I still feel bad about it all. I feel like I’m fucking over my coworkers, being an even lazier and useless slacker than I usually am. Just completely worthless and useless and lazy. And that’s where I am today. Time to crack open another beer…

Here I am, another victim of COVID even if I am an indirect victim of it. I’m out of work, and tossing that on top of my marital problems only makes the week one of the worst weeks I’ve ever deal with. In the meantime I’m doing random pointless things to pass the time until my life pieces itself back together, most of which is drinking: unapologetic drinking to cope with life. I’m living on a very basically level where I’m just trying to survive the next day, and that’s it. This is another bleak blog post, but trying to be positive, the past few days has been quite the adventure. An adventure through hell, but an adventure nonetheless.

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!

Gratitude is Actually Pretty Cool

First, let me do a quick update on the state of my blog. After my streak last month I haven’t done a damn thing here in April. I think this is only the third or fourth post this month. I was prepared for my views to tank due to my lack of consistent posting, but the universe has decided to totally fuck me over once again and has me on track to maybe reach that mythical goal of 1,000 despite the minimal effort I’ve put into blogging recently. The past 25 days of April I didn’t care — I’d save my effort for another month to reach my goal — but now I find myself wondering if maybe I can pull it off with some desperate posting in the next four or five days. I suddenly give a damn again and I’m upset about it.

I’m proud of this though. I’m proud of myself. As much as I like to shit on myself, I can allow myself to be proud of it. And I’m thankful for those who stumble upon my content and actually read/enjoy it. Which leads me to the actual topic of this post: gratitude.

A friend at work who I consider my impromptu unofficial self-help/self-discovery guru started some fitness plan with a few other coworkers. Luckily I wasn’t included in the actual program because I’m a total slacker, but she was thoughtful enough to email me the .pfds of the program. If I wanted to I could get off my ass and ‘unofficially’ do the entire thing, but once again my motivation was/is shit and I couldn’t pull it off. And I don’t think I want to pull it off either. I have a hard enough time writing blog posts and stories to take on the task of getting my entire life in order. I’m a slacker and I fully admit to it, something about loving yourself despite your flaws.

The program seems to consists of three major aspects of health: eating right, working out, and getting your mindset straight. I’m sure you can imagine which one I put the most emphasis on. I think mental health is the cornerstone for any healthy life because if you feel like shit and are constantly depressed you can’t pull anything else together. You mental state is how you process the world — it is your reality — so even if you have the perfect life depression will make you blind to that fact. And while you can eat healthy or exercise when fighting depression everything is a constant struggle that you must use pure willpower to make any progress. For me at least, mental health always take precedence over anything else.

Not that all aspects of health don’t work together in synergy (God, I hate that word). Exercise as well as healthy eating can help your mental state. I also think everyone is well aware of what the need to improve on with those; sitting on the couch eating cheeseburgers all day is not healthy. Improving your mental state is really vague and hard to work on, a lot harder than not eating cheeseburgers/pizza all day.

I read the ‘gratitude’ .pdf and liked the gist of it. The reasoning behind it seems to be that if you start your day off by making a list and actually thinking about what you’re grateful for you’ll improve your entire outlook for the day. You put your brain into a positive mental state which sows tiny seeds that can grow throughout the day. Not that shitty things still don’t happen, but you’re much more likely to think about your gratitude and hold a positive mindset during these times if you’ve written down something earlier.

I used to sort of do these things on the drive to work. Kinda hype myself up for the day. Tell myself that it’ll be a good day, or look in the mirror and say, “You’ve got this. It’ll be a good day. Stop worrying.” In the bathroom a few days ago at work I looked in the mirror and said, “I look good today. I feel good today. Let’s do this.” Tiny shit like that. Obviously anything as spontaneous as this works somewhat, but not as well as anything with structure would do. This ‘gratitude journal’ seemed like the structure that I needed while having stumbled upon the general idea of ‘the power of positive thought’ earlier. Maybe I’d give it a shot.

So I did, begrudgingly. Listed three things I was grateful for. Listed two ways to make the day better. And came home from work and listed three things that were good during the day. And a singular way to make the next day better. Whatever. Bedtime, hours of Reddit, and eventually sleep as the sun came up. The following day I dragged my ass back to the computer to start day two. This time I made a dedicated .doc file for my journal and wrote the questions down so I could simply copy and paste them into the next day’s entry.

I knew it would work, but damn if it isn’t nice to surprise your persistent inner pessimist that it actually does work. It’s so uplifting after a “bad day” to sit down at the computer and uncover two things that actually were good about it. We fixate on the bad so much that it dictates our entire mood for some reason. Capping the day off by writing down two nice things brings your mind back into positive territory where you can enjoy the fact that good shit does infact happen. Daily, too. Wow, who would’ve thought? Days are always a mixed bag of good and bad, and sometimes the good outweighs the bad and you admit that it was a “good day”, but most of the time we only see the bad. By writing down the good you’re forced to acknowledge it.

And writing down positive things at the start of the day also helps, but in a more subtle way. You start the day by acknowledging the good you have and this uplifts your mood slightly during the day. I’m not going to say it fixes the day for you, but it does add that little edge-up on life that might make the difference between you totally spiraling into anxiety/depression/anger or letting it die and wither away before it really gets a hold on your mental state.

Today was the fourth day I’ve done it, and there’s another nice aspect of it; by plopping down at my computer to write things that I’m grateful for I’m setting myself up to actually write. The hardest part about writing seems to be getting the computer and turning it on, and a gratituide journal takes care of this for you. I didn’t really want to write this post, but I had my computer open and had already typed in the journal, so going to WordPress and actually writing was much easier.

As a challenge to anyone who reads this, what are you grateful for? See if you can list three things that you’re grateful for and see if your mood improves slightly during the day. And at the end of the day, try writing down a few good things about the day. Every day offers gems and it’s only our incessant focusing on the shit that makes us think there are no gems in life: every single day has gems if you care to notice them.

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.

“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…