No, It’s Not The Coronavirus That’s Making Me Depressed

The thing that sucks about heading toward a depressive/anxiety episode, as my body is telling me that I’m doing is that there is very little I can do to stop it. It’s just part of the deal with bipolar disorder. I can call the doctor and ask them to up my meds, which I may do in the coming days, provided they don’t demand an office visit. I refuse to pay $152 for something they can just do over the phone. When they insist, I usually just tell them “Never mind, I’ll try to get by” and then I get my way.

I have to make sure that I’m also not helping along some self-fulfilling prophecy. I don’t want to feel shitty and I have to constantly make sure that I’m not overblowing it. My grandmother left me scarred as far as knowing when I’m actually sick or not, so I constantly have to assess the situation and make sure I’m not telling myself that I’m better or worse than I actually am. It’s a little easier with a physical ailment, especially if it’s bleeding, but with a mental issue, I have to double-check that I’m being honest with myself.

One of the slightly annoying things is that I don’t feel like I have the manic upswings I once did. If I have to have the lows, the trade-off should be the highs that I experienced when I was younger. Maybe it’s a good thing they don’t happen now that I think about it.

I’m off to see my therapist in about an hour. I only visit her about once every three weeks now, but I’m going to suggest that we make the next appointment a little sooner. I really hope she doesn’t ask me what my mother and wife have: “This doesn’t have to do with being scared about the Coronavirus does it?”

I wrote about it last week and may have dismissed it a little more than I should have, but no, it’s nothing to do with that. I do think if Tom Hanks dies from it, we should rename it Tom Hanks’ Disease, like we have Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Maybe that’s morbid. No, that’s definitely morbid. The thing that hit me last night was that my uncle who died in late January has no idea that any of this happened. I don’t think his death has actually hit me yet. Maybe it won’t.

Mother Nature can be a bitch, but I think it’s important that humans are reminded now and then that we don’t have the power we think we do. We still can’t control the weather, nor natural disasters and we still can’t control pandemics. The world has had its share of volcanic eruptions that destroy the ecosystem or floods and fires that wipe out huge swaths of land. We’ve seen hurricanes and tsunamis take hundreds and thousands of lives and yes, there have been many diseases and plagues that took the lives of even more.

All that said, the human animal is resilient. We’ve gone 200,000 years and we’re going to go a lot more. In the coming days, you’re probably going to hear a lot more negative news and a ton of new cases, which is going to cause some people to have fatalistic, “the sky is falling” attitudes. To this, I say, “I don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.”

It’s interesting how people who haven’t experienced depression or anxiety think it works. When most people hear depression, they think sadness and when they hear anxiety they think scared. While I do get helpings of each, it’s more about a physical and mental paralysis with me. I physically feel both a tightness and a sense of detachment from my body and mind. For those who have smoked marijuana, it’s a little similar to that high. I just can’t operate at normal speed as I feel impaired.

Last year, I had a horrible bout of this, but I don’t see this one being even half as bad. I think what may have made it worse last year was that I didn’t recognize it soon enough and get the necessary rest to help move things along. I’m not going to make that mistake this time. I’ve cleared a bunch of my work for the next couple weeks and aside from a major radio show this weekend (if you’ve got Sirius XM, I’ll be on Sunday at 6 on Channel 131) I’m stepping back from marketing the book.

Anyway, I think I just needed to get this babbling out of my system before I see my therapist. I hope everyone has a good day. Wash your hands.

Your one-minute answer to “Why Don’t Addicts Just Stop?”

One of the most frequently asked questions I get when I do podcasts is something along the lines of “When the average person looks at an addict, they can’t understand why the addict doesn’t just stop. Why can’t they?” For someone who doesn’t have the experience of being an addict, it’s a question that makes sense to me. I have no idea how so many things in this world work or why they are the way they are. The best way to find out is to ask, so for all of those who have ever wondered, I provide this 1-minute answer from my appearance on The Come to the Table Podcast.

Even if you’ve heard my story before, I’d urge you to at least listen to the first 20-25 of this episode as it’s a conversation I’ve not had before, touching on my spirituality, upbringing in the church, the modern state of the Catholic Church, and a quirky “would you rather” game.

Four Years and A Feeling of Distance

Today is the fourth anniversary of getting sentenced in court. It was a Friday and like they were there through most of my ordeal, my wife and father accompanied me to the County Building.

I was full of anxiety, fear, hope, nausea, etc. My emotions were pinging far harder than they are pinging today. In fact, I’m barely registering the anniversary today.

This may sound like a strange analogy, but I can’t immediately think of anything else that springs to mind. When 9/11 happened, it was a huge, huge deal. You know what I mean if you were around at the time. It changed so many things in the world in an instant. The following year, every TV network had memorial shows. Then, as time went on, the networks stopped covering the anniversary and left it to cable channels. Eventually, the only cable that seemed to care was History Channel, but even they stopped making new documentaries eventually. Now, we have a world where many people who could remember 9/11 are dead and many who can’t because they were too young. Hard as it is to realize, someone coming out of college now was alive for it, but doesn’t remember it.

My sentencing was a pivotal piece in my legal ordeal and it was the unknown hanging over everything in the two years between arrest and sentencing. I was a healthier version of myself than I’d ever been walking into that court room, but I knew logically, you can’t just let someone who did what I did go free. You have to send some kind of message and the six months that was handed down seemed fair to me. I would have felt lucky with six weeks and totally screwed with six years. I know others still have differing opinions, but as I always mention, none of our opinions matter, just the judge’s, so I’ve learned to accept it. It’s also much easier to accept now that it’s so far in the rearview mirror.

This is the first anniversary of sentencing since completely being rid of the legal system, as I left the probation system in mid-2019.

I hope it’s a sign of progress that I’m moving on from an anniversary day causing deep emotions, and not that I’m somehow becoming cold to the events or what I did to end up in that position. In many respects, I can never just “move on.”

The day makes me a little sad because it reminds me of my wonderful lawyer who died a couple of years ago. He was a class act who never judged me and just wanted to help a guy who clearly made a horrible mistake but was trying to fix himself. His nudging toward rehab and reminding me multiple times it was about getting better, not about pleasing a judge, have stuck with me to this day.

Even if I’m not feeling strong emotions today, I thought it was important to at least mention it, remember it, and pause to check in with myself how I’m feeling over the whole situation against the backdrop of where I am now.

Highlighting the Personal Development Areas that Need Attention in the New Year

I never used to make New Year’s Resolutions. I was too much of an edgy individual who wasn’t going to kowtow to pack mentality. That was before I recognized that certain types of conformity are important and are actually the glue that holds a society together.

The always worthy of a read Coaching Skills International posted another great, simple piece on Jan. 1 that was titled Tips for Getting More Out of Life. While I think I’ve developed the ability to accept and/or follow Tips 1-6, it’s those last four I need work on. So, I decided that these will be things to work on in the immediate future. Since I resolved this on Jan. 1, technically it’s a New Year’s Resolution…I’m such a commoner.

These four tips were:

Schedule margin into your life – as something unexpected will often change your plans.

I love the irony of the timing of this bit of advice. This morning, only hours after reading this last night, my wife’s car was dead. So, I gave it a jump this morning and she made it work barely, but it sounds like there’s something well beyond a battery happening. Now, I’ve got to get it towed to a garage to be looked at and who knows the cost of fixing it. In less than one week, we’ve gone from a three-car household to a one-car household.

This would have really set me off in the past with anxiety, but I’ve made some strides in this area. I know in a few weeks things will likely be back to normal, but in the interim, the four of us all have such tightly packed lives I have no idea how it’s going to work with one vehicle. I’m now running through ideas of how to handle this. I really should run through other “when the shit hits the fan” solutions in my life before they occur. What happens if the hot water heater or furnace die today? What happens if my wife loses her job? What happens if my parents die or one of the kids gets sick? You can never predict the unexpected, but you can be better prepared than I am.

QTIP: Quit Taking It Personally.

Do you know the one word you’ll never read on a box of Q-Tips? Ears. You’re actually not supposed to stick them in there and the company will never tell you it’s OK. I can’t think of another product where 99.9% of people using them are doing it for a purpose the company won’t acknowledge…but I digress.

This is another work in progress. I’m much better at this than I was five or six years ago, but I’m not as far along as I wish. Just when I think I have this one nailed, I get bombarded with a bunch of negativity and shaking it off isn’t as easy as I tell myself it is in simpler times.

I think it’s not just attacks. I think it’s not being heard, or at least not having my opinions considered that feels so bad to me. As a journalist, I’m trained to hear all side of things, even if I disagree, and to do so with logic and measured emotion. There are a lot of people who will just trash you and not listen to reason. I guess I take not extending the same courteous to me as the personal disrespect part.

Define what’s necessary; say no to the rest.

You would think that somebody like me has a really easy time saying no to people, but it’s always been a problem. Despite being seen as a bad guy by many people, I hate being seen as the bad guy. It’s ironic. I’ve always, at least in my mind, tried to keep conflict to a minimum with others. I know the way I used to carry myself and conduct my business rubbed many people the wrong way, but I never set out to upset them.

Saying no is difficult for me. It led to too many good causes getting free advertising in my magazine, sometimes subpar movies getting into the film festival I helped produce and spending taxpayers money on a lot of social issues as a city councilor. I don’t like saying no to my kids, wife or parents. I don’t like being the negative guy. Saying no and stepping away is a challenge I face in 2020.

Take a deep breath and wait before responding. Don’t react, and say something you’ll regret.

I’m much better at this than I used to be, willing to say something deeply biting if I felt the situation called for it. Now, I can usually shrug things off one or two times, but if someone keeps poking the bear, I’m really, really, really good at saying hurtful things. Like, if there was a game show where you won prizes saying things that cut people deep, I would have been the James Holzhauer of it in 2004.

I think this goes back to not caring what people say. I’m improving and think that I consciously try to diffuse situations and/or walk away, but if the other party isn’t interested in letting things go, they can goad me into not letting them go. Then I say something truly horrible that surprises even myself.

Maybe by the end of the year I can get it to the point where I don’t react after 2 or 3 times but put it to 4 or 5. I mean, after four time of telling someone to back off it seems fair to go Hulk mode on them.

 

 

Closing out a year, and some kind of chapter in my life, with the end of 2019

By the way, 1990 was 30 years ago…

I’m not posting this one publicly, so I think it’ll be read mainly by just the regulars. If you’ve tried to access at my actual site at all in the last 48 hours, you’ll notice a very different look, which in all likelihood will be mostly a transitionary look until I figure out exactly what direction I’m heading in with this pornography addiction education/authoring train. Frankly, I need it to look less like an amateur blog and more like a website of somebody who is an expert in the field.

I released my first book two years ago this coming week. While it wasn’t available for a window earlier this year after a dispute with the first publisher, it is now back up on Amazon. I’m very proud of that story, and it really kicked things off for me, but it’s a version of my story that I feel like I’ve told very well and I need to now tell other stories.

The story I’m telling about partners is being well received and the new book outsold early projections. I’m told the Kindle is coming this week and will let people here know when, and there is a hardcover version coming in late January/early February. This one is geared more toward libraries that won’t take softcover, but it’s cool I’ll finally have a hardcover book. Makes me feel like a grown-up writer. When I was a kid and told people I wanted to write books, it was a hardcover that I pictured holding. It wasn’t about porn addiction, but hey, dreams have a funny way of morphing into realities.

I like this story and it’s an important story to tell, but what’s the next book going to be? Am I going to keep doing small and medium-sized podcasts or can I land some big-ticket ones? Should I focus on other mediums to get the message out there? Should I pour time into the advising/consulting side of things that I’ve been doing, but not really promoting? Is it the time to be pitching articles to national magazines? Since the religious/faith market is so large, should I explore that? Is going back to school and starting a track toward being a mental health professional the right long-term move?

I’ve been kind of doing the same thing for two years now and I feel confident I’m good at it. You tell the same story 100 times, you get good at telling that story. I see how stand-up comedians hone their craft as I now sometimes repeat, verbatim, parts of my story without thinking about it. I don’t want to be doing this same routine on podcasts listened to by only 39 people for the next 10 years. It’s just not who I am.

There has been thought of walking away. I reached a lot of people, and will continue through the books and recordings of those podcasts. If I bowed out now, I could devote my energy to something else. I don’t think that’s the right move though. This is the stage I’m supposed to be on, but I don’t know what part is best for me.

I’m trying to make this website a little more friendly to people who use their phone to access the site. Apparently, that’s like two-thirds of the audience. I hate reading sites like this on my iPhone and rarely check everybody else’s blogs on it. My dad brought home the Apple IIe when I was six years old, and I’ve never been a big fan of laptops, tablets or phones for anything computer related. I guess if you update your site through your phone, you don’t even think of it as computer-based activity.

The future of porn addiction education and the place it’s going to have its biggest impact is with the younger generation. I think the way you reach addicts over 35 is to go through the spouse. I think those who are under 35 can still be approached directly. That is an audience I need to look to connect with more.

I feel like I’m sort of babbling here, but I really just wanted to say while things will be changing a bit, this blog will always be here and will always be a place I know that there’s a small devoted, supportive community. It doesn’t make business nor education sense to keep preaching to the same group. I’ll keep talking to you moving into 2020, but I’m still not sure the frequency, duration or content. I just know it’s time to evolve this thing I’m doing.

If anybody has any feedback, I’m always open to ideas and suggestions.