No more ghosts for now

Yes, it’s been a long time between updates. No, this is not a continuation of my story. Truthfully, I am not sure you’re ever going to see another update on that idea. I consider it a failed experiment; it’s not really how I write, and it seems disingenuous of me to continue writing in a style that isn’t really mine. My apologies to the handful of you that were invested in what I was writing, hopefully, you will stick around for whatever comes next!

To say 2015 has been a frustrating year would be an understatement, but in actuality the past few years have all been this way so perhaps it’s the new norm. The challenge is to adapt and not let your obstacles permanently detain you, and I am not willing to just roll over and die.

So for now, the postings might be few and far between while I work on repairing my health and continuing my schooling. Thank you to those of you who have been supportive of me, I am sincerely grateful.

Seasons change but ghosts remain (Part Two)

Sitting down on the floor and looking at the bottom of the reddish-brown door frame, I see faces begin to emerge. The sensation of seeing my own visage bleeding through the grain, coming out of the door one slow inch at a time until what’s standing before me is an inverse copy of my own self is a disconcerting, surreal experience. Reaching for the frame, I embark upon popping the pin from the hinges, laying the door over me like a stiff, splintery blanket, using it as a shield to protect my real self from the doppelganger, when the light snaps off leaving me in the cold darkness.

Cold! Where are my slippers? Upstairs. Taking my own hand, I lead the way back to the bedroom, carefully removing the pins from the hinges as quietly as possible before we enter to avoid waking bundle under the covers. The heat blasts like a furnace, and I am tripping over slippers and falling onto an unoccupied bed, hands are empty; I’m alone. Wrapping the covers over me like a shroud, sleep approaches rapidly, eyelids droop, fading to black; gently stroking the cat, rest arrives.

4:17 a.m.  “Would you like some coffee?” my wife peeks her head through the door, smiling. Nodding in agreement, brushing the cobwebs from my eyes, grasping the porcelain cup with both hands being careful not to spill a single drop.

“Care for a sip?” I offer to an abandoned doorway.

Seasons change but ghosts remain (Part One)

4:54 am. I leave out a soft groan as I place the phone back onto the nightstand. There’s no hope for slumber anew, might as well begin the day. Reaching for the bottle of medication only to stop short of grasping it, no, better to wait until later. There will be plenty of time today to swallow pills, don’t be hasty. Stealing a quiet glance at my wife, blissfully unaware of my awakening, I slowly crawl out from under the covers, being careful not to disturb her. Groping blindly in the dark for my pajamas, I trip over my slippers. Strange; last night I came upstairs without them, I had left them downstairs. Confused,  reaching back to the nightstand to locate the mobile phone, knocking over the pill bottle, not being able to catch it before it hits the hardwood floor, echoing like a gunshot throughout the room, whipping around to face the bed; no movement, still asleep.

Collecting my belongings, I approach the bedroom door, being careful to turn the handle gently, making a soft click behind me as I close it once more. There on the landing the chill of the dawn air reminds me to put the pajamas on that are in my hands. Better, warmer, I tread slowly down the steps, mindful of the creaking of the wood as it bears my weight.  Feet starting to feel numb from the cold, I let out a sigh of relief as I pull the warm, cotton slippers over them. Have to remember to check the bedroom floor after she arises, it couldn’t have been my slippers that I tripped over.

Turning on the light by my favorite (and only) chair, I was greeted by two sleeping felines, arrogantly taking up all the space to sit. Cursing silently but not yet admitting defeat, only prolonging it, I approach the kitchen to lure them away with the sound of fresh food hitting their bowl.  Remembering as soon as I turned the light on, bathing me in a harsh, yellow, too-bright gleam that we no longer had pets; the last of our cats had died just last year.

Get on the bus(par)!

It shouldn’t be a shock that the new medication doesn’t seem to be working. The doctor started me on the smallest dosage because that’s what good doctors do. However, I will be paying him a visit today because, after a brief respite, the downward spiral continues. Last night was the worst, culminating in an all night panic attack. Any of you out there who have experienced them know they are no fun at all. I’ve been having mild ones almost every night as of late, but last night I legitimately thought my heart was going to explode, which is, of course, ridiculous. Needless to say, I have an appointment with the doctor today.

Yesterday was a lovely day here, though, and the sun shined bright and warm. The wife and I went out for two separate walks and it felt incredible to feel that fat old sun on my face. I was hoping that it would give me a bit of a recharge, but mental illness is very unpredictable with that; it doesn’t always listen to Mother Nature. I’m not giving up hope, however, that I can become a modern day John Adams with my walks. I don’t think I will ever adopt his love of manure, though; that is a deal breaker for me.

This is one of those boring, mental health posts, and I do apologize. I’m having a rough time of it as of late, and just getting these words out were laborious. Hopefully with the spring will come some relief.

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.