Saturday, August 30, 2014

A walk through my mind

Yesterday I took a ridiculously long walk - about 4 hours, and ended up at a place called Mental Health Connections. I am a member there, but I rarely go down to take advantage of the offerings. They include free gym membership at the YMCA, seminars, dances, computer lab, a games room and more. They also offer lunches everyday for free. It's a great place to go and meet new people and take part in the activities. 

I go there because I suffer from a mental illness - Bipolar Syndrome. We're not allowed to inquire about other peoples maladies while we're there so I wouldn't know who's crazy or not. Yesterday I saw a woman in the lunch room going around fixing all the chairs and tables. She straightened up an unruly pile of newspapers that were actually being read at the time. She was obviously OCD in the extreme sense. She was interesting to watch in the sense that this was a woman who had serious issues and one wonders what kind of therapy she is going through for it.

I sat and drank a coffee wondering if I should introduce myself to some of the clients. Some were playing cards, some were taking part in the Summer Dance in the main hall. But being an introvert I chose to sit alone and watch the woman fixing tables. I was quite bored. It was a depressing situation. I walked all that way to take part in the activities only to sit and drink a coffee before leaving. I suffer from depression - it's part of the illness, and this day did nothing to change my outlook. 

My wife often makes reference to my little grey cloud that follows me around. Yesterday it followed me all the way home, and stayed with me the rest of the day.

I know in my screwed up little mind that I should have taken part in something, I should have talked to someone, I shouldn't have just had a coffee and left. But our minds take over and give you instructions you aren't comfortable with. Your mind is a powerful piece of human machinery that can control every aspect of your being. If it goes south, you're in trouble. I envy people that don't suffer from mental illness, they all seem so normal. But what I'm dealing with is my new normal. Medication, side effects, panic attacks, depression, lack of judgement issues, and more. I hate it. But that's the card I've been dealt. I have to deal with it all the best that I can. It could be much worse, I am still standing on two legs, I still have my health, I just have to deal with the grey cloud.

The depression is the worst of it all. The mania and other symptoms can be controlled with my meds (I take six different medications), But the depression is always omnipresent. It can be brought on by any number of negative events, like what happened at the Mental Health Connections, or money issues, job issues, and more. In my case it's the fact that I'm not working anymore and I can't stand it. I've become a house dad. Some may say that sounds like a fantasy, trust me, it's not.

Robin Williams suffered from severe depression (and Bipolar Syndrome). He struggled most of his life with alcohol and mental illness. Some have even called him an insane genius. But the fact that he took his own life seemed to bring his problems to light too late. He was always crying out for help, but being the man he was, he got laughter. He was very open about his alcoholism, but not so much about the depression that came with it. This happens to too many people. Last year in the US, 39,000 people committed suicide. In Canada the number was about 4,000 and that number is rising. These are scary statistics.

About a month ago I was suffering a lot. My meds were not working, my depression had grown exponentially, my panic attacks were growing more frequent to the point that I was afraid to drive anywhere. I was in trouble. But never once did I consider suicide. To me it's the coward's way out. So I went to the hospital. I sat in the ER for about 8 hours waiting to see a doctor. He changed some of my meds and sent me on my way. What I really wanted to to be admitted for further care and observation. I was told there were no beds available, and I would only be considered if I was suicidal. So they sent me on my way. A week later I had an appointment with my psychiatrist, who took it upon himself to change my meds again, in some cases back to what I had before. If I wasn't depressed before I certainly was now! It was a ridiculous experience, but one that I have unfortunately been through twice before.

So I endure, I cope. I have been through the entire mental health system from therapy to a place that specializes in helping people cope through activities - Mental Health Connections. And I still seem to be followed by the little grey cloud. It will get better, someday, but not today. 

Today it's supposed to rain.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Morning With The Dog

This day started like it should have, at 4:30am.
Wait, scratch that, it should have started at 7:30am. So I went back to bed for three hours.

I put on a pot of coffee, checked for burglary damage, and headed up to unleash the beast - Our 40 puppy Labrador/Greyhound cross. I encouraged this ball of energy to head straight outside - I even had the door wide open for him, so he could hopefully perform his morning ablutions. But alas, he stopped in the front hall and dropped one. We use puppy pads for training, the dog, like so many men,  has no sense of aim. So I cleaned up both messes and carried on. I fed and watered the beast. Only then did he go outside.

His name is Prometheus, but I call him lugnut; mainly because he has the IQ of one. Prometheus was a Greek Titan. In Greek Mythology Prometheus gave fire to man and there on was named 'Friend of Man'. We can't do anything simply around here. We couldn't have named the dog spot or something.

I finally had my coffee and by this time Kim was up joining me. The dog of course, was not going to make morning coffee easy for either of us; he kept attacking us with an old shoe we gave him to chew on. Problem was he couldn't tell the difference between us and the shoe, we too, got chewed. After a while it was time to take Kim to work. Imagine how much fun it is to put lugnut into the crate. He whined and bit while being dragged to the infernal thing. 

After a short trip to drop off the wife I returned to find lugnut (I really should call him Prometheus, but lugnut is easier to type), sitting patiently in the crate, not making a noise. I let him out, then let him run around the back yard for a bit, before he crunched on the couch. Such a tough live he lives. The only stress he has is trying to avoid the cat (who by the way also is not named Spot - we named it Skimbleshanks, from T.S. Elliot's CATS). The dog and cat hate each other respectively. Sometimes it gets entertaining. Anyway back on track here; The dog fell asleep so I took the opportunity to close my eyes. 

But my evil side kicked in, I had an anxiety attack. Too many things on my mind and no release for them all. When things subsided I resumed my siesta. I woke up fine an hour later with the dog licking my face. My glasses were still on. Yuck. It hasn't stopped since. He's got the energy of a horse, and fucking sharp teeth - not a good combination!

So as I sit here writing this, I'm fending off attacks from either side. He's got a penchant for biting your sleeves just above your wrists, I'm covered in scars.

Anyone want a free dog?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Medication Mania

If you haven't been here for a while, well, let's face it, nobody has been here in a while, including me. Anyway, if you have been following this you'll know that I have developed Bipolar Disorder. That's the reason I haven't written for so long. At first I wrote furiously about the new challenges I was facing, about this new road I was on and so forth. Since then I've dwindled off into the twilight of the blogosphere. 

There are many reasons for this, first and foremost being the side effects from my medication. The simple fact is I can't remember the simplest things anymore. As a writer in waiting, that makes putting stories together a slight bit difficult. It drives me nuts when in the middle of a conversation I have to stop and think what word should come next. That never happened before I became more medicated than a tranquillized elephant. 

That all being said I haven't come anywhere near the computer lately, lately meaning about six months. Not a way to keep your readers happy. But I'm not happy either. There was a time where I could spit out stories about almost anything, many of them ending up here. I know I can write so dammit! why can't I put two words together now! 

I have other side effects besides loss of memory, such as constant drowsiness, hallucinations, and other I'd rather not name. They almost make the side effects worse than the disorder itself. 

One thing I do have in my favour is time. Lots of time. Not working has allowed me the time I need to write, however I have found other things to occupy my days. I have chores to do, a big lug of a puppy that needs constant attention, and now that spring is finally here, yard work. Between these I have naps. Many naps. It's hard to make it through the day without them. The puppy is just like a baby - sleep when they sleep. This is a dog who thinks it's name is "no".

My wife has a new mantra - positive spin. When bad things happen, put a positive spin on the situation. Find something, no matter how insignificant, that you can spin into a gain in your favour. This doesn't always work to change your mood but if you try it you'd be surprised. I've used this philosophy lately and find that it really does do you some good. So you see it here, I've gone on about how bad the side effects are and why I can't write as much as I used to. Then the positive spin - talking about my home time and how I can use it to my advantage. I just have to keep the philosophy in the back of my mind at all times. I have to remember that I can do this writing thing. I have to put the side effects away and just do this thing.

The hard part is turning the computer on. The easy part should be changing a white screen into black and white.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Writer's Block

Again, I haven't written in quite a while. For those of you who still even remember I do a blog, thank you for your patience. For the rest, you've moved on with your lives and have begun to ignore mine.

I have had serious writer's block for months now. I have had no desire to write anything, or have had nothing to write about. Some days there is a freight train in my head bearing down - ideas coming loud and clear. Ideas that make it hard to concentrate on any one thing, causing me to pack it up for another day. A day when my thoughts are more clear and concise. Obviously that day has been a long time coming. Other days, I hear crickets. Nothing. Not a thought to ponder, not a notion to perceive. 

I can contribute some of this confusion to my disorder,  Bipolar makes one slide back and forth between depression and mania in the blink of an eye. With the sliding scale being one of panic and anxiety. Finding the Eutheric (middle ground) state is not easy, and then to find the opportunity to write within that state even more difficult.

Today I've found it. A quiet Sunday morning, laptop in hand, nothing to listen to but birds outside, even if it is the sound of their frozen bodies crashing to earth. The cat is cleaning himself, and the coffee pot makes the occasional hiss. Short of that, it's the sound of the keys and my own breathing. Total relaxation. Total Eutheria.

This being my first post since March, I should write something profound. Trust me, I'm looking for it, keep in mind that I make this shit up as I go. Let's start with new developments in the life of a mid-life crisis. After all, that's what this blog is about! We've started a new tradition here at Wilsonworld, Sunday is Dr. Who and weird food day. Every Sunday since January a good friend of ours brings over a thumb drive containing this week's Dr. Who episodes. He's downloaded ALL of them, starting in 1963. And we watch. So far we've made it to season 16. In the midst of that we have begun to experiment with interesting dinner ideas, with Jarrod's eclectic assistance. Some are winners some are losers, but all are worth trying. If anything it has opened our minds to new ideas for dinner and made us all try new things. Even the kids get involved, not to mention they love Dr. Who. Jarrod is also a serious gamer, and always brings a selection of games in case we change our minds. It makes for an interesting day.

The second big change here is my son getting a job. He's working part-time at The Keg. It's not really a big deal unless you consider that it makes him actually grown up now. The realization that I am the father of an adult has not quite kicked in. He's planning post-secondary education, getting his license, working, and he voted for the first time this year. All the things that makes one realize that mid-life really has arrived. 

Thirdly, my youngest turns 13 this week. Last week we went to the High School information night, where she will be applying for the International Bachaloriate Program. This program is advanced academics with additional focus on community service, extra-curricular activities and more. When she completes the program she will be awarded three university credits, and her chances of getting into almost any school she wants will be greatly increased. It's a difficult program, and she must still be accepted, but she's determined. Even if it means taking the bus across town to get to school everyday.

But enough about the kids, they're vastly overrated. Kim is in training at work. Firstly for server applications, secondly for management qualifications. She's doing them both at the same time, so she's driving herself nuts. Soon, she'll catch up to me. This workload has given her the preverbrial get out of jail free card - we don't bug her if she wants to sleep, go out, or anything else. She's earned the right to do just about anything.

Finally, there's little old me. Still nuts. Still Bipolar. But with a few added features. I'm now a member of the Mental Health Connections program, which gives me access to many programs that I would not get elsewhere. For example, free gym membership! I'm also signed up for something called the Experiential Training Program, where I actually work for the Canadian Mental Health Assocation in some capacity or another. The idea is to get back into the workforce slowly while at the same time having my needs met by CMHA staff if I need it. They also help with job seaches, resumes, portfolios, and more of that good stuff. 

And with that you are caught up on my little life. My peace has now ended as people are starting to move around and start their days. I hope you all have a good one yourselves. Watch out for falling birds.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Anti-Psychotic Dreaming

I just realized the last post I put up here was November 28, 2012. Wow, I'm really lazy. In that time many things have happened, almost all of them I won't make public. The rest, I just haven't felt like writing about either because of depression or maybe it just wasn't worth the effort. Either way, last night's dreams deserve mention.

I'm presently taking a slew of medication to control my Bipolar problem. They're all anti-psychotic meds with differing side effects. One causes short-term memory loss, one makes me sleep like a bloody narcoleptic, and one; my favourite, causes dreams that might be on par with an acid trip. Last night it kicked in. I want to get this down before I forget about it because it was so vivid and so strange. So sit back and enjoy a taste of my drug-induced subconscious...

The tower as it appeared in my dream.
I didn't add all the details, nor did I even
count the floors, but you get the idea.
I didn't want to spend all day on this.
I was sitting in my home office designing the new sky scraper that was to be my office. Once I was done, I picked a location and hit print. The wi-fi controlled 3D printer immediately began to construct the tower - 84 floors. I don't know how long it took to print the building, but I was soon moving into my office on the 42nd floor. I have no idea what or who occupied the rest of the tower.

Family and friends began to gather to celebrate. My car was in there too, again, I don't know how. My father showed up with his car, a 1952 Alpha Romeo sport. He had an entourage with him, his own friends some of which I knew, the rest were strangers. Somehow they all fit into the two-seater. It looked like a convertible clown car.

My father died in 2009.

More people began to gather. Now people in business attire trickled in; I assume they also work in the new tower. We were in a room that closely resembled a log cabin. Hand-hewn logs for walls, plank boards for a floor, no windows, and a great stone fireplace. Off to the distance I notice a bar. We, complete with our two cars, were in an Irish pub. While people drank my father handed me replica antique cars he said we could use. I argued with him because they weren't the same scale as the replicas we intended to use. I of course, lost to my father. I have no clue what the significance of the replicas were, except that we were sitting in our respective cars while having this arguement. 

More people came in. Everyone was talking about the upcoming wedding - in three days. There was a table set up near the door where people were depositing flowers. Strangely, all the same kind; mostly stems and leaves with small white flowers. The table quickly piled up. Some people simply entered, deposited their flower gifts, and respectfully backed out as if someone would ensnare them in some sort of trap if they entered. There was more talk of the wedding, but no talk of the bride and groom.

Later, there was news of a death in the family. I don't know who, as far as I knew every member of both families were already in the room. I looked around to see if any of them were actually dead, but everyone was drinking merrily. The news spread fast, everyone knew of the passing within minutes and the party turned into a wake. After all, we were in an Irish pub. (with two cars on the 42nd floor of a tower). The problem quickly became apparent, the wedding and funeral would have to take place on the same day, but which had priority? One suggestion was to lay the body out in the casket at the back of the church. Another was to.........

This is when I lost it. I either woke up here, or my brain just had enough. I've spent the morning trying to jog my memory, but there is nothing after this thought process. Maybe that's a good thing. I'm quite disturbed by the imagery in this dream. especially my father showing up. I know it's common to dream about relatives we've lost, but this was so NOT my dad. Everything about him differed in some way or another from the subconscious portrayal. Maybe I was dreaming of the way I wanted him to be? Maybe the way he wanted to be? I don't know. After all it was just a dream.

The night before I had a less intense and much shorter weird dream. I had joined the US Army, but I wasn't at any sort of boot camp, it was more like an academy. The uniforms were not military - short sleeve white collared dress shirts and navy blue dress pants. The shirt had a small patch on the sleeve the simply said US Army.

From the time I got there everyone seemed to know me, and all gave salutations as if I was a celebrity. I remember heading up to my classroom one day with books in hand. When I sat down I was handed a brochure with my name on it. Apparently I had won free flooring for my entire house from Marquis Tile in Windsor. So I still lived in Windsor, I have no idea where this academy was, what I was doing there, why I was known, and why I won. Again, just a dream.

So now you have it. This is what my medication does to me. I also apparently talk in my sleep. The kids have great fun when I crash on the couch and begin to chatter. One in particular I found amusing was telling Riley to cover her brother Iain with chocolate and put him in the oven on 400 for about an hour. I have no recollection of that or any other verbal dreams. But as long as I keep people entertained, that's fine by me. 

As least Kim knows that I can never keep a secret from her.

I promise to write again soon!