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Ralph

So, after starting to think I was doing so much better, the shooting in Orlando happened. I haven't dealt with that very well. I'm still in a bit of shock, as I can't even fathom the loss of life that happened that night. To be honest it's thrown me back into a state of depression. I can feel all those old thought patterns starting up again. Taking everything personally, black and white thinking, perfectionism, all those habits I've worked so hard to undo are back.

This time will be different, though, because I know how I did it before. Doing the exact same thing may not work this time, because I have changed as a person, but I now know my mind better and I know how to work with it, somewhat.

The urge to drink is intense. Not for one or two, but to get so blacked out drunk that I don't wake up for 3 days. I've never dealt with an upset like this before without drinking, so the urge is understandable. I don't see how my self destruction would help anyone, though, so I keep going, hoping to get better at some point.

This is my personal blog, so I have talked about my own reaction, but I want to be clear this issue is not all about me. I wasn't directly affected; I know some folks in Orlando but all are safe, but as a gay male I can only see this as an attack on "my" community and of course I take that personally. If you were affected by the shootings, know that my heart is with you and so are those of the rest of the community including straight allies.

Ralph

Posting Dilemma

I know I have not been very active on this site lately.  There was some discussion of this in the Announcements thread introducing me as a new moderator, but I thought I would add more detail here. The blog feels like a more appropriate place for this, and that way I don't feel like I'm cluttering up an announcement thread with a whole wall of text.

I have made massive progress in the past year or two in learning to stop beating myself up.  I'm starting (just barely) to accept who and what I am, flaws and all. As a perfectionist, I find this to be a difficult thing to do, but I prefer it over the alternative, which is rejecting myself until I meet some artificial standard that I set up for myself in the hope of gaining approval from others.

I'm also experimenting with not giving a lot of weight to what others think of me. That does not imply that I reject social norms (I'm actually rather conventional from most points of view), but rather I am allowing myself to be me, rather than trying to make sure everyone likes me.  If someone dislikes me, at least the are disliking the genuine me, rather than being kind of meh with some fake version of myself.  This is so freeing, but nonetheless I still drop back into my comfort zone of being invisibly neutral whenever I forget to consciously work on it.

I wish I could share this with others, but I had to do a lot of hard work to get here. It took many months of practice and hours of sitting with discomfort, trying out new behaviors (along with new medications, yuck!), and disputing irrational thoughts. I am still not a master of this skill, but I am gradually learning to make friends with my own suffering, and not add to it by layering on additional meanings which are only projections of my reactions to past events I can't let go of.  I definitely have improved, but there is still more work to do.

I'm not a good enough writer to be able to package this up in a way that communicates to others how to do what I did. That's why I don't really post that much, which on reflection probably shows I've still got some perfectionism left to deal with. However, I don't want to say something that causes more harm than good. Given my personality quirks it is easy to take something I say the wrong way, and hear something unkind when I did not mean it that way. In 3d land, (aka IRL or "outside") I am also very quiet for the same reason.

OTOH I don't see how my silence helps others, so I could experiment with being more active. Just writing this out literally made me sweat, so this causes some degree of nervousness on my part. I could view this as a good thing, another opportunity to get out of my comfort zone.

If you have managed to read all this, thank you. I would love your input as to this dilemma. What would you rather see from me - more postings that potentially could be taken the wrong way, but potentially could offer support or understanding, vs being quiet and only stepping in to "referee"?

Ralph

So life has been going pretty well for me. I am on the right combo of meds and taking them as directed. I am taking steps to become more socially engaged in life. My job is very high stress but I do love the work, plus working inside is nice. I'm grateful to even have a job in the first place in this economy. I have some first world problems, most notably addiction. I haven't drank in over four months now, but two months ago I started smoking weed because: a - I qualify for a medical card, meaning I can do it legally under state law if I follow the rules, and b -  I don't have a "problem" with weed. I don't increase the dose until I pass out the way I do with alcohol.

I still feel like it's an addiction, though. I have yet to list out the pros and cons, but on the surface it bothers me that I haven't gone one day without it in over two months. I try to just skip it, but when night time comes around and I can't sleep, that bong is just too convenient to leave alone. Even just thinking about it now I am having a hard time imagining going without it, but I don't want that to be the only outlet I have for relaxing and getting to sleep. I'm also dead scared this thing is going to spiral out of control the way my drinking did. I guess I'm a little gunshy. I know weed isn't necessarily addictive and I think there are folks who use it for spiritual purposes and don't have any bad effect from it. I am starting to doubt that I am that type of person - it's more likely that I am just using it to escape and that is a path to addiction.

I wish I could just be present with myself. This shit would be so much simpler that way.

Ralph

slide

Maybe this is just normal ups and downs, but I am way down right now. Keep thinking about suicide although I have no intent of going through with it. Wondering if I should call a crisis line anyway.  No particular external stressors, actually things are going fine for me, nonetheless these feelings make it like I am going through some intensely distressing times.

Ralph

Alright

I'm getting better and have been doing really well lately. Less isolation, more exercise, stopped drinking (again). Sobriety is my focus right now, because drinking messes everything else up. I can either have the things that I value, or alcohol. It shouldn't be a tough choice, but it is. Even though it's threatening to kill me, I really really love drinking. I don't love hangovers though. I don't enjoy the panic attacks that follow a day of drinking, and the two days of lost productivity that I spend trying to regain homeostasis following a binge. My drinking had really gotten out of control. I used to say my drinking was ok because it wasn't like I was taking down an entire fifth (750mL) of vodka in a night. Well I blew past that benchmark taking down a handle (1.75L) in two nights with some beer besides.

I'm doing a web course that's based on proven methods for stopping addiction. I feel different about alcohol now. During prior quit attempts I would have obsessive cravings for alcohol that happened over and over again. Since starting this course, I've only had a few passing thoughts in a day. I just don't think about it as much. I'm busy thinking about other things, such as my future with my partner and I'm trying to be more self disciplined. I need to be self disciplined in order to lose the weight that I gained from heavy drinking over the past year. Next I need to work on my diet and my procrastination habit. I'm also studying Buddhism a lot and that is helping me with my depression. It's difficult to explain but I've gotten better at accepting what I cannot change and more compassionate towards myself and others. This leaves me with more peace in my mind.

I cannot say how long this will last, but I want to enjoy it while it does.

Ralph

Poisons

I want to drug myself into oblivion with every recreational substance I can get my hands on. I know where this leads though, and I don't like it, so I am trying to hold myself back. It's hard to do. Suicide is back at the front of my mind... for no reason whatsoever, except the pain is so much I feel like it's the only way to deal with it. I guess I should be glad I can still feel anything. When my depression gets really bad, I don't even feel the pain anymore. Want to do what I can to pull myself out of this before it reaches that point.

Ralph

Forgotten Purpose

I don't know why, but right now I feel more depressed than I have in a long time. Possibly ever, although I have been suicidal before, and I am not suicidal now. I am experiencing waves of absolute hopelessness that just engulf me out of the blue. I used to not be able to understand how someone could be so depressed that they couldn't work or even get out of bed. Now I understand.

Possibly it's because I stopped exercising, so I started that again today. No improvement after a workout though, guess I need to give it more time. I'm concerned about this because there is only so long this can go on before I do start having thoughts of escape. I'm doing everything in my power to reverse it, though, including this journal entry. I wish I knew what I was here for, so that I could just get it done and over with. Why is this so hard to figure out?

Ralph

aaaack

So I was cruising along and whomp! life hit me. Normal ups and downs? Maybe. But I'm really struggling right now. I don't feel right, it feels like my thoughts are bizarre, or reality is bizarre and I'm normal; I don't know which. I just know there seems to be a me "out there" that doesn't much resemble the me "in here." Does that make any sense?

No sliding towards suicidal ideation as would be my normal pattern. I believe I have the meds to thank for that, but I see my own train of thoughts and I think, "that is not me. That is someone else." Yet who else could it be. I've fallen down a rabbit hole. Hope I haven't already lost my head.

--Update 5/3/2015 - problem solved with mindfulness. Specifically catching the thought that was causing the worry and checking it against reality. Details in comment.

Ralph

Getting Better

Just wanted to say hi to everyone who reads this. I haven't been around in a while because I've been doing pretty well. After recovering from a deep depression back in November, I am still dealing with some depression, but managing it. I'm also doing modules on ADHD with my therapist that are really difficult for me, but it seems to be helping with a lot of my tendencies toward not getting stuff done and not being organized. I'm also taking steps to make my long distance relationship a short distance one. This is causing stress, but it's also giving me something to look forward to. It's scary and exciting at the same time.

The best thing I've done for myself is to go sober. Alcohol was driving so much of my depression and anxiety that it's like a whole new world has opened up for me when I don't self-medicate. It hasn't resolved all of my issues, but it's the difference between swimming with and without ankle weights. I still have to work to keep my head above water, but at least I don't have something extra trying to drag me down.

Not that I've been perfectly sober, and actually I had one really bad binge recently that I'm trying to use as an extra reminder of why I should leave that stuff alone. I used to not be that bad, but now it's like once I start I won't stop until I run out or get massively sick. So the solution is just not to start in the first place. It would be so nice to be able to unwind & relax with a beer like I did before a problem developed, but now that leads to anxiety and more cravings. Plus it's a bunch of extra calories I don't need.

The other thing I've been working on is setting and accomplishing goals. Getting just one step closer to a goal gives me a good feeling that keeps me motivated. Nothing big like "lose 20 lbs," or "organize the apartment," but small stuff like "eat healthy one day a week," and "check the mail regularly." Hopefully the small stuff will lead to bigger stuff as I get better. That's the intent, at least.

Ralph

Dunno

I am not sure what the point of this post is, except for some reason I feel like I need to do an update. Past couple months have been ok, not great but not terrible. More than I deserve to ask for so I'll take it. The good was visiting my partner and I also seem to be making some progress on a previously intractable problem at work. The bad is that I've relapsed, and I'm reconsidering sobriety, as in, maybe I just can't do this... I'll always be a drunk and if I don't kill myself in a wreck or OD from mixing drugs, then I just might live long enough to destroy my liver. The thing keeping me grounded is that I feel such regret for things I've done while under the influence. I mean, I've had some pretty intense fun making some of those bad decisions, but now my actions are catching up with me and I just have to live with the consequences of my actions.

I want to be better than this. Apparently I don't want it that bad, or I would just do it. Instead I write about wanting to do it. It probably doesn't help that I haven't the first clue of what or how to do what I would like to change. I live in a world of fantasy and it's falling apart. I don't know who I am, or what to do, or how to do it. I don't know where I belong, or when it's right to make a change. In other words, I'm completely lost. Shouldn't be a problem for me since I specialize in solving problems. Yeah, everyone's except my own.

Ralph

Back to Work

I am continuing to improve following my little crisis. Tomorrow I go back to work and I'm a little nervous about that, but the longer I wait, the worse the nervousness will get. Not sure how to explain myself to coworkers, can't very well state the truth as people will not understand. Just have to hold my head up and get through it somehow. Monitoring how I feel very closely. Denial of what was going on inside me is what got me into a crisis state in the first place.

Ralph

Up again, down again

I just cause problems for the people I am staying with. I think after about a week they are just sick of me. I should go away from everyone. Nobody can stand me and I can't stand the loneliness. So the solution is for me to just stop my existence. It's not fair that everyone gets to yell at me for any screw up I do, but if I complain about anyone else's screw up that affects me, well, I am just being a jerk. I don't want to play any more. Society does not need me. I should just drop out. There is no point to all this suffering.

Ralph

Down

I could really use some help. Things are going pretty damn well for me right now, but I still feel like shite. I think it might be guilt over stuff I did in the past. I didn't hurt anyone, I didn't cheat, steal, or even harass anyone. My sin was schadenfreude. I went through a phase where I took pleasure in watching or hearing about the horrific things happening to people that are not me. Somehow since then, probably because of getting sober, my empathy got turned back on and I am now disgusted with that side of myself. Yet I cannot change the past. I do stupid things when I drink, even stupider things when I drink and take cocaine. That's why I am quitting. There are many reasons, but this is one of the bigger ones.

This is a problem because the guilt over what I know is inside me is seeping out to other areas of my life. I'm not as patient as I was just a few months ago. I've turned from someone who loves to smile into an irritable grump who is quick to complain and I'm constantly judging my situation as this is good, that is bad, and so on. I try not to judge people, but that doesn't always stop me. I'm even driving more aggressively - it's like I don't know myself. That creates tremendous anxiety, and I'm afraid that this anxiety will become something I try to escape by behaving badly again. I don't want that. I don't want to go to that place again.

Ralph

Choosing Sanity

So I am up to 19 weeks sober and feeling pretty good about that. I'm making progress with re-learning how to take care of myself, and that is helping me maintain a state where I don't feel like I need substances to escape. For now I seem to be on an upward spiral, which is the end result of some months and years of effort to get better. Which to me, was not a choice, I could only get better or remain miserable. I had to take the chance or my suffering would go nowhere and do nobody any good.

I still struggle with momentary thoughts of suicide, and vast streams of negative thoughts that are just part of my personal experience. We all have our challenges; this happens to be one of mine. Through meditation I have learned not to identify with these thoughts, and that has made a huge improvement in how I relate to my internal world as well as the external one.

I think it is possible to choose to get better. The problem is this takes a lot of work, and in a depressed or anxious state, all that work seems overwhelming so we switch off and throw our hands up, exclaiming that "it's impossible with this horrible depression/anxiety/bipolar/(fill in your diagnosis here)!" Yes, it feels impossible, but it's not. A brain ruled by cognitive distortions has no idea what is truly possible after some work, patience, and persistence. It is used to giving up at the slightest resistance, but this is just not how the world works. There are setbacks and failures in life, and if we demand that there be none, we are only setting ourselves up for frustration.

Ralph

Mazes

There is a horror movie called Hellraiser that I have watched over and over again. The reason is it fits the feeling in my own mind. Specifically the second one. The first two were masterpieces. The rest of the series, not so much. One of the themes woven through the story is that of desire, agony, and ecstasy. Are they truly different, or are they in the end all the same? Another theme is sympathy for the devil. That is, the main character of the story is a demon called Pinhead, who has an interesting past. I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't watched it.

Partly I identify with this movie because it feels like getting into my own mind has been like opening a Pandora's box. Inside has been agony, ecstasy, loss, and love. At every turn something changes and I'm not sure why. I'd like to find my way out of this maze, but I'm terrible at finding anything. Especially when that thing is right in front of me.

I think I need a meds change, but I'm afraid to talk with doctor, because I don't want to be asked to go on anti-psychotics again. The smallest dose of risperdal made me catatonic. I would lie in bed and do nothing, just stare at the ceiling for hours at a time, maybe get up to eat since it made me so damn hungry. That is, when I wasn't passed out. The zyprexa was not as bad, but still took away all my motivation or interest in life. Using AAPs for depression, in my case, was like fixing an out of tune piano with a sledgehammer.

I feel so lost. It's like every time I try to make things better, I just find deeper experiences of despair. I'm always tired, but I rarely sleep. I quit drinking for my health, and found myself obsessed with getting high in some other way. Of course I turn another corner and everything seems fine. I am doing a meditation weekend retreat in a few weeks and I'm sure I'll be happy as a clam after that.

Ralph

Belonging

I'm still taking a break from alcohol. This is my tenth week without it. I've not been entirely sober during that time, but I'm working on cutting down the other substances too. The more distance I get from alcohol, the more I start to feel like the real "me." My old interests are starting to come back. Just a little, but noticeable.

My innate cheerfulness is also starting to come back, which is something I want to cultivate. I used to be super happy when I was a kid. Back then my happiness didn't depend on how others treated me or my material achievements. I had unconditional happiness; I was pretty much okay with whatever came, and I didn't worry about how to survive tomorrow or ten years down the road.

What changed had nothing to do with how others treated me, although it does provide a convenient excuse. What really happened is I lost any sense that I belonged in the world, and instead saw myself as a worthless extra piece the world had no use for. This creates an enormous amount of anxiety: feeling that you don't belong, and that there is nowhere that you do belong. In this light it's easy to see my thoughts turning to suicide as a solution, in fact the only solution. Yet I'm fighting this because somewhere in the back of my mind is this intuition that life is precious, not to be wasted.

If I want this to change I am going to have to figure out how and where I belong. This is daunting. What do you do when you are overwhelmed with life, the universe, and everything?

Ralph

Everything changes

I can't believe it's been over 4 months since I checked in here. I am doing okay circumstantially, but inside my head it's a nightmare. Been off and on with the alcohol and other forms of self medication, six weeks sober but I've been struggling with suicidal thoughts for a while. I found myself today wishing I could get some disease that kills quickly so I could just get it over with and not add in the stigma of suicide. Sorry to be so direct but I'm so tired of trying to put a positive spin on it.

Ralph

Saw my therapist who thinks I can discontinue therapy because I've been doing so well. Which immediately has me going to that place of, well... must not have been that much a problem in the first place right? I don't need to take my meds anymore right? Wrong and wrong. I skipped meds for 3 days and stuff went sideways. Not pretty. Problem is that when I take my meds I feel "normal" (meaning I don't have a persistent sense that something is terribly wrong), and I can't remember the person I am when I don't take my meds. Then I forget to take my meds and I turn into the evil twin.

It's the same dynamic as with my drinking. I get enough sober time and I can't remember what a hangover is, so why the heck not? I can't seem to learn what is good for me and what is bad for me. I'm gradually figuring it out, but it's taken years and years of going round in circles to see this.

The important thing is I have a way to feel stable and sane. I can't say I'm not crazy, because sane people don't need to take meds. All I can say is I have a problem that I can solve if I choose to. It might not be easy, because in addition to the meds I also have to practice my CBT tools to figure out what to do to solve problems instead of become overwhelmed. It's possible though. Compared to where I was, feeling actively suicidal and chronically frustrated, to feeling like I've sort of got a handle on things, that is a long way to come. I'm going to enjoy this while it lasts, because I know what it's like to be in that other place.

Ralph

Guilt and Getting Unstuck

I'm feeling better now. I found that the main source of the noisy thoughts was guilt and shame. Lament and regret over past actions, both what I've done and what was done to me. Crying over spilt milk, to put it another way. This can have a strong and negative influence on future actions. "Bad thing happened to me and I did bad things, therefore I must be a Bad Person. As a Bad Person, I can only continue to do Bad Things, and the worst will continue to happen to me." Self fulfilling prophecy.

New thought, "I've made mistakes and as a human I am allowed to make mistakes. I already suffer the consequences, so there is no need for me to beat myself up further. As for what happened to me, I am relatively safe now. I would prefer to have a wonderful family life with great friends, but if loneliness is the worst I have to deal with then I am doing pretty well, comparatively. What matters now is to learn from those mistakes and figure out what to change going forward."

I haven't figured out the purpose of my life. I don't even have priorities except to ensure my own financial stability. I have figured out, I think, that it will be easier to set priorities and ultimately define the meaning of my life if I get more organized in all areas of my life. This will be a major project as so much seems completely out of control. I will probably have some starts and stops along the way. However, I have been working with my mind in meditation, maybe I can transfer what I've learned to bring some sort of sanity to my work, home, and social lives.

Ralph

Feels like going nowhere

I stumbled across an old blog from July 2012 that I wrote. I had to re read it because I could have written it yesterday. I thought I started in February this year, turns out it was longer ago than that. Still struggling to stay sober, still a lot of depression around loneliness and where I've ended up in life. Not getting anywhere in over a year. I need to change something, but I'm not sure what.

I've identified that I am both mad at my father for leaving me, and mad at myself for being basically a failure at life. I'm not sure how else to put it. I want to live, but not like this.

Ralph

For the Huntress

Take off my feelings

So that I can cry freely

What I did not say

I felt safe with you

Autumn leaves in the twilight

This has come to pass

Snow flies far away

I wish I knew where you are

I wish you were here

~~~

Ralph

netless

It's been a difficult ride with mr. suicide

Guessing what I can show, and what can I hide

The lost girl said she could read me

The wise one called me inscrutable as a dragon

Too young for beauty

Too old for wisdom

Wishing for a different now

Change the past of the future

Don't catch me

There's nothing to fall on

...First attempt at freeverse. I don't consider myself a poet but I felt like experimenting with writing in code. Sometimes I think what I want to say would have a result I don't want, so I keep it shut. This becomes painful so it seeks an alternate means of expression.

Ralph

so what

I've been sober for a little over 5 weeks now. It's getting harder though, and the group I had been depending on for support is not being there for me right now. I just want to give up. It would be so much easier. Nothing seems to matter. Not sure how much longer I can keep this up. Have local meeting tomorrow and hanging on to my last straw. If that meeting goes poorly I will likely go straight to the liquor store afterward. I know it's bad for me, but what does that matter.

Ralph

Not invincible

I was doing really well, then... not so much. It's taking me more tries than I would like to get sober. In the meantime alcohol is messing with my meds and really shouldn't be combined with what I'm on. So I'm not that bright when it comes to nearly poisoning oneself. I am depressed again and generally thin-skinned when it comes to every day frustrations. Thinking about suicide again although I really still want to live. I'm no stranger to ambivalence. Still working on sobriety, using CBT tools to fight urges and social support as well. I will make it, or die trying, as they say. It's that second part that scares me.

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