CBD Oil And A New Year

The new year is always ripe with resolutions. Talk of changes we will undertake to make our lives better. I gave up making resolutions years ago. Basically history and experience have shown that I suck at sticking with them.

This year started off the same way. I made no resolutions. That was until I came across this new word and its definition: unfuckwithable.

I love the word ‘fuck’. It is the most versatile word in the English language. This new word and definition encapsulates everything I want to be.

I am tired of living the way I do. I have made so many changes over the years. Many of these changes have led to improvement in my quality of life. I take my meds regularly now, never missing a day. I exercise almost everyday. It rare that I ever miss a day, even if we are away from home for whatever reason. I get adequate sleep. I have started taking some supplements that have improved the efficacy of my meds, magnesium, fish oil, apple cider vinegar, specifically. The list goes on. The point is that while these things have all helped I still struggle to get through many days.

I take Effexor xr as part of my treatment plan but the side effects are ridiculous. There is blurry vision, weight gain, brain zaps, dizziness, lethargy, losing train of thought, vivid dreams, restless sleep, inability to focus, and on and on and on. If you take this drug you know what I am talking about. If you don’t, DON’T ever start, it is pure poison; I could write a dissertation. I often wonder if the side effects are worse than the benefits, actually I don’t wonder anymore, the side effects are far worse.

So, how does this relate to me becoming ‘unfuckwithable’ in the new year. While the steps I have taken are helping there has to be more. The Effexor is supposed to help with my depression but the side effects are worse. My brain is always in turmoil. It feels like my mind is betraying me. The resounding gong and clanging cymbal that Paul refers to in I Corinthians has taken up permanent residence in my head. It is robbing me of a full life. If I am honest it is robbing me of any life. I am exhausted most days from just trying to keep the train on the rails. I am not complaining because things have improved so much but I am not giving up yet.

Step 1 is to continue with my current treatment plan.

Step 2 started today. I am going to stary take CBD oil. The hope is that the oil will abate some of the symptoms I am still struggling with. I started taking it today. So far so good. I took it at 11:22am and it is 1:12pm right now. The blurry vision I have constantly is better. Not perfect but better. I feel less tension. There is a noticeable lack of tension in my shoulders, neck, and forehead. It seems that what is happening is not necessarily an improvement in how I am feeling but what I am not feeling.

Of course the jury is still out and I am going to reserve judgement but there are some encouraging signs.

I think I am going to do some regular follow ups. It will help me keep an objective view and hopefully it will add insight to others looking for something better.

Here’s to hoping for hope to become ‘unfuckwithable’.

As a footnote, I have been researching CBD for more than 6 months and cleared the use with my provider.

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A Book Review And A Couple Of Revelations Along The Way

I just finished reading “A Matter Of Inches” by Clint Malarchuk. Malarchuk was a goalie in the National Hockey League for 11 years and he was also involved in coaching after he retired as a player. He is most remembered for an incident in a game while he was playing for the Buffalo Sabres. During the game he was slashed in the neck by the skate of an opposing team member. The skate severed his jugular vein and he nearly bleed to death.

The book serves as his memoir. In it he details his accident but he also shares his lifelong battle with mental illness, including OCD as well as crippling anxiety and depression and alcoholism. In addition, he describes a failed suicide attempt in which he shot himself under the chin leaving a bullet lodged behind his eye just millimeters from his brain. To say his story is remarkable is an understatement.

The book is introspective and poignant all while being witty and relatable. The book is really a must read for anyone battling mental illness or anyone who knows someone battling mental illness or anyone interested in learning more about how mental illness affects individuals or anyone who likes sports or hockey or…well, you get the point. I am sure anyone who reads this book will find value in it somewhere.

That leads me to the heart of this post. I have read a lot of books over the years and I can honestly say I have never been touched as deeply as I have been by this book. As I read, I found myself relating to this man. It was almost like I was viewing a portrait of my soul. I gained some much needed clarity on things that have bothered me for some time. I’d like to share these thoughts with you but I don’t want to ruin the book if you are inclined to read it. So, forgive me if I am a little vague here and there.

I have always considered myself a fairly tough guy. I have spent 21 years working as a landscaper. Working with my hands in any type of weather. Getting wet and filthy. Freezing in the winter and sweltering in the summer. I have lived through 3 terrible car accidents, one in which a gentleman lost his life. I have run 4 marathons. In 2016, I partially severed my left foot when a running angle grinder fell on my ankle joint. After emergency surgery I was back, kind of working, 10 days later. Eight months later I ran a 5k race. I think a bad day outside is better than the best day inside. Instead of calling me a redneck my kids like to say I am rugged. I am proud of that, I like being a rugged dad and husband and friend.

So, I thought I was tough. That was until I read this book. Clint Malarchuk is a tough son of a bitch. He played in the NHL for crying out loud and he livrs with a bullet in his head. In addition to his hockey accident and shooting himself, he is a cowboy. I mean a cowboy in the purest sense of the word. Growing up in Canada, spending his summers working on a ranch in Alberta. Slaughtering livestock and breaking horses. Riding rodeo at the Calgary Stampede.

He’s a man’s man. The problem with being a man’s man is that you can’t always pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Rugged Individualism only goes so far. You have to rely on others sometimes. Suffering in silence only results in terribly loud suffering later.

Like Malarchuk, I have always thought that admitting I needed help made me less of a man. Weak not tough. Soft not rugged. A very real fear for me is that by loosing my toughness I will be loosing a defining part of me.

He is an example to me, and other men, that being tough doesn’t mean you can’t cry. Pain in life is mandatory. We all suffer pain as we go through life. But suffering does not have to be mandatory. Suffering is a choice. It takes a really tough guy to admit that he needs help and an even tougher guy to fight a daily battle against foes that will never quit. I’m learning I can be vulnerable but tough at the same time. Being sensitive doesn’t diminish my manhood.

I have been struggling mightily lately with the impact of my conditions on others, in particular my wife. Malarchuk speaks so openly and honestly on this topic. In fact he may as well have used my wife and myself as a case study.

Battling mental illness is very self-centric business. It is vital that I take care of myself first so that I can function in a positive manner. This concept is foundational when dealing with mental illness. But for me there has been a cost.

I have used my wife as a target so often. I have blamed her for my conditions, my behavior. Pushed her away. Told her to get away from my and leave me alone, to divorce me, to let me die. I have yelled and screamed about the most simpleton shit. I could write a dissertation on this topic. Malarchuk does and in doing so it was like a dropkick to the nads.

The thing is, she has never wavered. Her capacity to forgive is boundless. Her faith in me and us has sustained our relationship for 26 years. She is my best friend and the love of my life.

I like to write but I am not so good at expressing this sappy stuff verbally. Maybe part of it is me being a tough guy but I think most of it is because my mental illness has made me self centered.

I was so overwhelmed by Malarchuk’ s rawness about this part of his life that I came home Wednesday night after a support group meeting and shared with Debbie all the things I have wanted to tell her for so long. The look on her face and her reaction will live with me for the rest of my days. It was good to put her first.

The reality is that no matter how many times my mind betrays me and I misstep I can make the choice to take the next right step.

Thank you for reading and be well.

Brain Death Be Damned

Let me start this post by saying, if you are easily offended don’t read any further. If you decide to read further, thank you. If you read this and are disturbed, good. If you are offended, good. If it makes you mad or angry, good. Sometimes things have to be said and sometimes these things are offensive. At this point in my life I really don’t give a fuck about what people think about me, as long as what I am saying is truthful and honest, even if the honesty is brutal.

Here goes:

Last week I ran into a friend of mine I haven’t seen in some time, about a year. He has always been an extremely high energy guy, bordering on manic. He has been robust and gregarious and a ton of fun. He has always been one of the most positive people I have known.

I honestly can’t comment on his mental health because it is nothing we have ever discussed. With that said his energy has always reminded me of someone in a manic episode and/or very adhd. I want to be clear this is not a diagnosis but my own non-professional, all be it, well educated opinion.

Now, when we started talking last week it was painfully obvious something was different. He was a shell of his normal self. I could see it in his eyes. You know the look; the blank stare and otherworldly gaze. There was a lack of energy, an apparent lethergy. It was as if he was moving in slow motion. There was no vigor in his handshake. Just a void.

We talked for a bit, exchanged pleasantries and wished each other’s family a Merry Christmas. On the way home and in the time since, I have been ruminating on our interaction. He shows all the signs of someone who has been medicated. Anyone who has taken or known someone who has taken anti-depressants or psychotropic drugs knows what I mean, the existence of someone who has been cast for a lifetime role as an extra on The Walking Dead.

Let me be absolutely clear, I do not know if he has been medicated. But our interaction got me thinking about my own experience with medications and the experiences of people whom I have known over the years.

This has been my prevailing thought. An idea I have held for a very long time.

Why in God’s name has it been or is it currently acceptable to lobotomize individuals with mental illness, whether it be literal or chemical!

I am truly sorry to be a burden on people. I know I have caused horrible problems because if my illness but does that earn me the right to have my identity stripped away. Why in the actual fuck should I or anyone battling mental illness be willing to accept the deadening of our minds because our conditions are misunderstood or not understood at all?!? ┬áThis painfully American concept that says, “here, take this little pill. Everything will be better, even if it causes you terrible side effects. Even if it takes years off your life. Even if it renders you a shell of your former self. As long as you are under control and not inconvenient to society around you, a successful conclusion has been reached.”

This is not acceptable methodology. There has to be more. Those of us who have been affected by mental illness, in any capacity, MUST expect more! We MUST demand more! We MUST do better. My hope is to help silence stigma. I will do whatever I can, how ever and where ever I can. But if you think it is “ok” to render people with mental illness effectively brain dead and/or lock them away because it is the easy solution, get the fuck out of the way! You are as much of a problem as the dollar signs me and my fellow “crazies” represent to big pharma.

I have some ideas about steps to be taken to aid the mentally ill in this country. I am not going to elaborate in this post. It is long enough already. If you would like to discuss ideas please comment or send me a message. That would be awesome. I will be posting a follow-up to share those ideas in the near future.

I am sorry to be blunt. Sometimes the truth hurts but mental illness hurts enough. We cannot allow continued stigma to hinder real solutions.

Eliminating stigma is the first step toward a solution.

 

 

I Am A Hypocrite

It’s getting dark early. SAD days are right around the corner. The holidays and their challenges loom. Etc, etc, etc. And none of it matters because deep down inside I’m a walking contradiction, a hypocrite of the highest order.

Guilt, shame, self-loathing, rage, anger, and all their buddies churn inside. I can’t seem to outrun them. They infiltrate my entire being, controlling my emotions and dictating my actions. I’m cycling again and I know it. I’m fighting, using the strategies I have learned; mindfulness, positive self-talk, going to the gym, concentrating on my breathing, getting enough sleep. But none of those things can prevent the actions that personify the horrible human being I actually am. And I am a horrible human being.

This is not self-deprecating talk. I am not looking for positive affirmation. I am not believing a lie my brain is telling me. This is who I am! I am at a point in my life where I can’t tell if I am the product of my disease or this is just the person I am.

In some ways things have gotten a little better. I am not having the flashbacks to my car accident as often. The night terrors have lessened. This stuff is good

But in other ways things have stagnated or gotten worse. My brain is betraying me. I see myself acting out in horrible ways, if I’m lucky. At least then I am able to gain some kind of control in order to lessen the impact I may cause to those around me. But I have these moments where I go down the rabbit hole and can’t turn back. I’m blinded by emotion, rage and anger mostly. Inflicting harm to the people around me that I care the most about.

Loosing control is one of the worst things. In a split second I undo days or weeks or months of hard work on the road to recovery and loose any credibility I may have gained. The guilt and shame from this is overwhelming. My hyprocracy is consuming.

Where do I draw the line? Is it my illness or is it the fact that I am just a shit? I have no idea. This line is beyond blurry. I think I want to find out. I suppose there is some fight left. But I am exhausted. Why is it so much easier to give into the demons? I will never understand that!

I started this blog hoping my experiences could help others. I am struggling though. How can I be a help if I struggle following my own advice? I feel like a hypocrite and the guilt and shame seem to be getting worse. It is a never ending cycle and the repetition is exhausting. I am so tired and wonder how much fight I have left.

I went to a support group this past week. This was a huge step, I have not had great experiences in therapy or support groups. But the people were awesome and compassionate. It was exactly what I needed. I am going to go back and hope it will help. Time will tell and truthfully I am very hesitant to trust in any long-term success. But I have to believe.

I have to believe that as long as I am still breathing I am never out of the fight. But I am so sorry for not being the man I hoped and wanted to be. I hope you can forgive me.

 

 

Weighed Down

Recently I have been feeling really weighed down. I have been frustrated because I have been unable to put my finger on why but I have just been so apathetic. I have had no motivation to write and have not been able to put into words what I have been feeling. Well, this song says everything I haven’t been able to, the lyrics, the music, everything.

Writing this is revelatory. It is important for me to be honest about what I am experiencing. I am getting good at putting on a good face but that never lasts long. Recognizing the ups and downs is proving to be really important as I cope with my manic depression.

I know things aren’t permanent and this too shall pass. If you have looked at this post, I hope you know you are not alone. There are many of us out here who experience the same types of emotions. Stay strong.

Being Normal

I think this meme is appropriate given it’s Halloween. It is also appropriate for me right now. I have been feeling off for the past few weeks. What sucks is not being able to put my finger on what is happening.

Even now, trying to write is difficult. I’d like to express myself but am not clear on what I’d like to say. This happens from time to time. I know it will pass but it is hard. It’s like I’m trapped in my own mind and that can be exhausting.

Anyway, here is what I am learning. When these periods arise, and they will, positive self-talk goes a long way. Normally I act out when I get like this. Rage comes too easily for me when I experience depression. Repeating things like, “you can handle this”, “this too shall pass”, and “don’t do stupid shit” have helped keep me from doing something I will regret.

Even though it is tiring and frustrating the fight to do the right is always worth it.

My Work Boots

These are my work boots.

My work boots are at the foundation of everything I do at work. They provide me with support and protection. They are comfortable. They are the most important tool I have.

My work boots take a beating. They get soggy and wet. They get filthy, muddy and dirty. They take every bump, bruise, and scratch I throw at them.

My work boots are tough and dependable. They are there everyday. Everyday I put them on and go to work. And even though I take them for granted, they always show up.

I think I need to be more like my work boots.