Anxious Away!

I’ve been on many prescription drugs in my lifetime, mostly all of them having no positive effect on my disorders. A combination of depression, anxiety, and OCD (newly diagnosed!) can be a tricky thing to prescribe for, especially if you’ve been constantly mis-diagnosed (I was once put on anti-psychotics that knocked me out; I couldn’t even function. I’m not psychotic.) About a year ago, perhaps a bit longer, I decided that I was fed up with the toll the drugs were having on my body, and my life, and decided to stop taking them. I really was in a bad way. Of course, my life slowly spiraled even further out of control, opening up a new Pandora’s Box: do I continue to slide further into this misery I created, or raise the white flag and try again, this time with a new set of doctors and therapists? I chose the latter. I had a superb therapist before I moved, and I was lucky to find another great therapist where I am currently living. I approached her with some ideas about psychotropics, and she helped guide me towards something she thought would help me accomplish a semblance of normalcy; she even went as far as helping me find a doctor. This time, I found a doctor who was more interested in my well-being than just pushing the pills down my throat.

Yesterday, I sat in the office, talked briefly, but intensely with the doctor, and left with a new prescription (again.) I am already feeling the benefits of the drug, which doesn’t need to build up in your system in order to be effective, nor is it habit-forming, which was a concern for me. I know it will be a long road of psychotherapy and pharmacological therapy, but I’ve finally admitted that I am sick, and I can’t do this alone.

The resolution feels good. Let the sun shine down on me, and all of you, as we all live in this world together.

The porch

When we moved to our new house in August, I became quickly enamored with our front porch. There is a tremendous delight in being able to sit outside in the cooling last nights of summer, listening to the cacophony of competing cicadas, their calls bouncing from tree to tree back and forth through the neighborhood. I was never afforded that luxury where we lived prior; living in a larger city before this, we did have a side porch, but the view was a dirty alley and some dilapidated garages. My new view was rows of green trees, and cute little houses up and down the main road.

The porch itself is small, but there is enough room for our blue, round plastic table. You can choose to sit on three plastic chairs the colors of green, red, or yellow, all custom painted by my wife, who would not let them remain their original color of white. No, we need color! Atop the table usually sits a rather large citronella candle that never really keeps the mosquitoes away but when the sun goes down gives off a pleasant, yellow-amber glow. Fire can be dangerous, of course, but a candle has always been soothing to me.

To my left is a brick wall that reaches up my waist when standing, but when sitting is the perfect height for giving your beer glass a rest. What better refreshment than a cold glass of beer? Hemingway got something right, at least. To my right, I can see the neighbor’s porch, and I could step right off the porch into the dirt (not much grass) if I so desired; there is no wall, just a small jump down into the soil. Terracotta flower pots are buried up to their rims around the edge of the porch, stopping when reaching the sloping cement walkway that leads either to the sidewalk, or back up to our summer hangout. Depending on the season, there could be mums in those pots; gold, maroon, purple, they add some more color to offset the dullness of the cement foundation.

Of course, there is a porch light if we ever wanted to use it, but we prefer to sit by candlelight, or moonlight, if it’s bright enough. The purpose of a porch is to watch, not be watched. It’s a place to relax, share moments of your day with family and friends, discuss current events, or just sit and listen to the language of the cicadas, under a lush green umbrella of trees. Once fall, and especially winter arrive, the umbrella turns to bony fingers; the trees have been stripped of all their foliage, the cicadas have gone away, and it is much too cold to sit out there. So we sit inside our living room, counting down the days until summer, when we can return to our little front porch.

Damn Hoover

Why aren’t we doing more to help the poor?

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services lists a family of three taking home an annual income of $19,790 to be at “the poverty line.” That is not nearly enough to support a family of three. Sadly, whether it be from a lack of education, poor job market, a spouse being incarcerated, many families are scraping by, living from paycheck to paycheck. I don’t think poverty can truly be appreciated until you’ve lived it. If you pay attention to the world around you, you might start to notice that the decks are stacked high against impoverished families to succeed. Government assistance does not make you wealthy, but I’ve read many online comments from regular citizens that state the contrary. According to a NCBI study done in 2006, it showed that poorer neighborhoods had four times as many liquor stores as wealthier neighborhoods, as well as fewer fresh fruits and vegetables stands, bakeries, and natural food stores. You need only take a drive around the poorer sections of your nearest city to notice all the Pawn shops and “Fast-Cash” places. These stores are predatory in nature, and do nothing but prey on the poor. The school districts that need money the most, get it the least, while the wealthier suburbs reap in the tax dollars, affording better materials, better teachers, and better equipment. The system is rigged for most, and poverty becomes generational for some, instead of an unfortunate isolated incident.

Society judges poverty harshly, as if everyone had a choice in the matter. We are fortunate many times by circumstance. We were given the opportunities we had based on the luck of the zip code. This is a systemic failure on our society, and it’s time we stop demonizing the poor.

Chocolate Malaise

It’s been a challenging 10 days. Between a major colitis flareup as well as a heavy depressive episode, there have been brighter moments in my life. I don’t feel like complaining, because I am aware that millions of other people are suffering through various ailments of their own. I will admit to being tired, physically and emotionally. Sleep isn’t coming easy, and the fatigue seeps through my skin and invades my brain, smashing my neurons to bits. Writing is almost impossible; I can barely read more than a few paragraphs before I want to close my eyes. I know I am painting what appears to be a bleak picture here, but I am aware of a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

I’m going to try meditation. Enlightenment is not what I seek; I seek only clear-minded thinking. Thoughts are racing constantly, and that adds to the malaise I feel during the day, and I’m sure are the direct cause of my panic attacks. It’s not normal to lie in bed at night and obsess over your death. What’s normal is to roll over and hold your wife (in my case) tighter. I should entertain the thought of taking walks again, it’s just so cold and mucky outside at the moment.

Well, there it is. I apologize for the clunky nature of this update. I have several ideas floating around in my head at the moment; I just need to crack the coconut.

In lighter news, in case you missed the fact that I am a NATIONAL HERO:

Sorry, Cadbury.
Sorry, Cadbury.

The Incident

It was one of those spring days that stories are often written about. Bright, warm, and inviting, my friends and I were engaged in a game of wiffleball on the busy city street. It was the year of my third grade. We were all at ages where crossing the road wasn’t an option yet, so we chose to play our modified rules game right there on the sidewalk. Looking back on that day now, I don’t know how we even managed to play at all. The tightly boxed in vehicles didn’t give us much leeway as far as our swings, and I’m sure the neighbors were none too pleased about the possibility of that little, white plastic ball ricocheting off their shiny cars. But, we played on.

As anyone could have predicted, the ball soon rolled into the street. Now, when I say it was a busy city street, I’m not talking about a booming metropolis. My friends and I happened to live in a small city, if it could even be called that, and the street happened to be the main drag in town. It was even called ‘Main Street.’ Nevertheless, it was a fairly busy road. One needed to be careful. Volunteering to fetch the ball, I looked both ways, and not seeing any cars coming I darted out between two parked cars in search of the elusive wiffleball. I don’t remember the sound of tires screeching, but I’m sure it happened.

I was lying on the sidewalk, and I could hear my friend’s mother calling the police, and then I could hear my father being beckoned; I only lived about 6 houses down from where I was struck by the car. Time was fluid, because the next thing I know I’m being lifted into an ambulance on a stretcher. I politely asked the medic not to run over any railroad tracks, because I knew it would hurt. The man smiled at me and promised they would be extra careful. He kept his word.

At the hospital, my mother was by my side. My father must have called her (they were divorced, and their relationship was far from amicable) and I can only imagine the abuse he suffered from her acid tongue. She was talking to me sweetly, trying to divert my attention from what the doctors were doing to my right leg. When they were done, I was allowed to look over. There was what looked like a giant mechanical screw imbedded in my leg, surrounded by brownish residue, and my leg was suspended in what now I believe was traction. I was in awe. How did I not feel it? This was awesome! Of course, that euphoria would be short-lived as the shock wore off and pain moved in to take its place.

The end result was two broken legs, one worse than the other. My right leg wound up growing a bit shorter than the left, which gives me trouble to this day. The woman who hit me was found liable, but I really can’t hold any resentment towards her. I should have known better, and even though I remember looking both ways, I obviously did not. Memory is like Play-Doh; you can shape it any way you want to over time. One thing is clear, however: I will never forget that day.

Cemetery Gates

I enjoy cemeteries. Ironic, really, since I am absolutely terrified of using one as my final resting place. I may hate my life, but I don’t loathe it enough to find out what, if anything, is on the other side.

Unless, of course, god turns out to be pepperoni pizza.
Unless, of course, god turns out to be pepperoni pizza.

I do my best thinking walking among the tombstones and mausoleums. Although, being a fan of Phantasm I tend to avoid getting too close to the latter.

Thank you very much for that, Angus.
Thank you very much for that, Angus.

When I was younger, cemeteries were creepy. After all, every horror movie I ever watched taught me that only bad things come out of graveyards. Zombies, vampires, witches, etc: These are all things that I want no part of in real life, unless…

Yes, why I DO happen to have a moment to talk to you about your Lord and Savior, Lucifer!
Yes, why I DO happen to have a moment to talk to you about your Lord and Savior, Lucifer!

Now that I am older, and perhaps a bit more emotionally intelligent, I realize cemeteries for what they are: memorials of loved ones, and also works of art. If you take the time to walk around the majority of burial grounds, you will find lots of marble sculptures like this one angelweeps, which you’ll find if you are ever in the cemetery which holds quite a few of my relatives. You don’t have to believe in a higher power to be moved by these creations. They are beautiful, and one can only hope that the person they are dedicated to was worthy of it.

Now, instead of traipsing through the graveyards looking for ghosts, I stroll through them looking for clarity. I take time to look at the names, how old they were then they passed, and wonder what kind of person they were. Sometimes, depending on my frame of mind, I can become melancholy and distant, but usually it awakens in me ideas that were dormant. It fuels the creativity. I want to live up to my headstone.

An angry draft

A white, Christian male enters a coffee shop, a gun hidden beneath his coat. As he approaches the line of people waiting for their morning beverages, he brandishes the weapon, yells out “Repent, Sinners!” and opens fire on the unsuspecting customers. The aggressor in this instance is upset at the shop’s owner, who happens to be an Atheist. The owner, another white male, decided that he was going to open his shop up on Christmas day, to take advantage of the opportunity to be the only shop open for the many non-Christians and Christians alike who happen to want a coffee on Christmas morning. There were 12 people in the shop, including 10 people that had never stepped foot into the place before that day. The gunman, obviously mentally ill, a lone wolf, is captured a few hours later by the police. It’s a horrible tragedy, but an isolated incident, and the general public sleeps soundly knowing that the bad man is behind bars, awaiting his justice.

A dark-skinned Muslim man enters a coffee shop, a gun hidden beneath his coat. He immediately opens fire on the unsuspecting customers. He is angry that the shop employs women, and that the owner does not close for Eid al-Fitr, which he perceives as an attack on his religion. There were 12 people in the shop, including 4 people who themselves identified as Muslim. It’s peculiar to the media and the government alike that there would be Muslims in a coffee shop, considering some Muslims will not drink coffee due to their beliefs. Obviously, they can’t rule out that the 4 “victims” were not somehow involved, perhaps part of a bigger, sleeper cell organization in the area. Local Imams are questioned and their Mosques are put under secret surveillance. Residents of the nearby towns are in a panic, and local government officials demand that the Muslim community leaders speak out at this vicious terrorist attack.

Indeed, Allah enjoins justice, and the doing of good to others; and giving like kindred; and forbids indecency, and manifest evil, and wrongful transgression. He admonished you that you may take heed. (Al Quran 16:91)

The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:31)

Think about the world around you. Think about how the news is reported. Think about what you’ve heard people say, the vitriol they spew. Change the dialogue.