On Absences, Apologies, Moves, and Nightmares

For those of you who still follow this blog, thank you. For those who have and have wondered about updates, I offer my apologies. Not sure why this didn’t get updated between February and April of last year. I’m going to offer depression and anxiety related distractions as an excuse. Otherwise, I don’t know what happened to updating those months.

As far as absences from April of last years to the present, keep reading. This will require a long explanation, which will follow.

A couple of times in the past I referenced a considered move. Because of some family health-related issues, my wife and I made the decision to move closer to her parents in Kansas. The packing began in April of 2021 and the move took place the first part of May. Moving is quite the chaotic event and everything is still not unpacked almost one year later.

Because of the move, we were able to be present as my father-in-law’s health worsened, which was a source of comfort for my wife. Unfortunately in June, he passed away. But I was glad she was able to be near him during his last days.

Fast forward through the summer and fall with job searches, unpacking, getting used to new surroundings, getting established with a new psychiatric team, and other things, the blog took a back seat to other things. Summer, Fall, and early Winter involved Art shows, Festivals, exploring areas of Kansas outside of what we called home.

Then in December my worst nightmare imaginable happened. My wife, Sheila Reynolds, passed away. She was experiencing a panic attack and some fainting episodes the weeks before her passing. On the morning two days before Christmas, she experienced another fainting episode and asked me to call an ambulance. When they put her in the ambulance to head to the local hospital, that was the last time I saw her alive. At some point between, the house and the hospital, her heart gave out.

After leaving the hospital later that morning, I started playing the Hellyeah song “Black December” on repeat and that’s how I got through the first 24 hours and the rest of December. (Thanks again guys for voicing the emptiness I felt that morning.)

A few books got me through the initial weeks of shock and numbness. Philip Yancey’s Where is God When It Hurts, C.S. Lewis’ A Grief Observed, and Philip Yancey’s The Question That Never Goes Away: Why? were all instrumental in getting me though some of the darkest days and I highly recommend them to anyone experiencing grief, loss, or just stunned by the end of something.

Another thing that helped get me through some of the darkest weeks are the ASMR videos of Maimynyan:

and The Healing Room:

I highly recommend these two YouTubers if you’re struggling to sleep or even just relax. Both have helped tremendously. (Thanks Mai and Dee.)

The last three months have involved me just mostly going through the motions of being a functioning adult. I go to work when I’m scheduled and do my job, but outside of that I’ve struggled to produce art, paint miniatures, or even write. Most nights I experience nightmares and struggle to get more than three or four hours of sleep.

In a lot of ways, I’m still just going through the motions, but I’ve finally gotten where I can do things I like again. About a week ago, I cooked my first meal since December instead of surviving off fast food and snack foods. I started painting my first set of miniatures since before December, or at least the Mission Model primer. And I completed my first model kit since before December.

If you’ve been here a while, then you know my past struggles with alcoholism, depression, anxiety, and OCD. I’ve managed to make it through these struggling months, so far, without seeking solace in a bottle, thinking suicidal thoughts, or yielding to my obsessive impulses.

Have I full recovered? Oh God, no. In fact, I just experienced my first full night of sleep last night. (Thanks again Mai.) Hopefully that continues and I’ll try to keep this updated better now. I’m actually adding blog updates to my scheduled to-do list, so here’s hoping.

Clipart stolen from Clipart Library.

What It’s Like Living With Depression, Anxiety, and OCD

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Note:
Yes, this was written during a current dark period. Yes, this may be triggering for some. No, it’s not a suicide note. I recently gave someone a short incomplete answer to the question in the first sentence. This is merely my attempt to rectify that with a better, more complete answer.
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What’s it like living with a major depression disorder, generalized anxiety, and an obsessive-compulsive disorder?

Everyone thinks it’s suicidal thoughts and self-harm, but that’s not always the case. I’ll try to give you an idea of what it’s really like.

It’s staying up way too late not necessarily because you’re not tired, even though insomnia is a regular problem too, but because you don’t want your wife to see you cry. It’s crying yourself to sleep at night because you feel like a failure at everything you attempt. It’s feeling like a burden on your wife and wishing you just don’t wake up tomorrow because you know things would be easier on her if that were the case.

It’s feeling like a failure no matter what you attempt. It’s rejection notices or coming in second or third or not placing at all. It’s not being able to find a way to make an income out of the things you enjoy the most. It’s feeling like every path just leads to a locked door. It’s following a path you think is the right one only to discover way too late that it’s another path to nowhere. It’s applying for jobs you’re overqualified for because you know you should be working, but getting passed over. It’s being absolutely terrified of applying for a job that says “fast-paced environment” or “requires multitasking” because your brain can’t take the stress.

It’s making a set of plans for tomorrow for job searching, resume writing, and contacting potential references tonight. Then, waking up tomorrow too tired, exhausted, and mentally wiped to do things you put on your to-do list.

It’s sitting in a therapist office and playing down how you really feel or what’s really bothering you because you think there are so many others in worse shape. It’s reading the symptom list for ptsd and matching most of it, but not having the “combat experience” to explain why you should have it. It’s hesitating to or not even mentioning the thoughts of wishing to not wake up in therapy because you’re afraid that’ll give them a reason to lock you away.

It’s wanting to have a plan for tomorrow and even making a list, but having your dog prompt you that she needs to go outside being the only reason you get up. It’s setting multiple alarms, hoping one will get you up, but not having the energy because just getting to sleep was a major chore last night. It’s being terrified of your dog getting older and knowing one day she’ll pass because she’s your main motivation for functioning on the really bad days. It’s feeling like the bad days outnumber the good days. It’s feeling like there’s too many bad days and not knowing why.

It’s trying to write a resume but being afraid to put any of your military experiences because a) you’ve been out too long or b) you’re afraid all the press on vet suicides and ptsd will cause them to not call. It’s going through schooling for specific jobs, qualifications, and plans, and then struggling to follow up on those educational experiences because you still feel underqualified or have experienced a lack of resources that makes you doubt your abilities.

It’s finding a little energy to write a text passage or do art work and then having those around you questioning why you can’t find the energy to do another task when you’ve had the energy and time to that one. It’s trying to lose yourself in video games or books because you struggle to put coherent thoughts together and the reading or the game tasks don’t demand as much.

It’s knowing you failed to help raise your stepkids because of things you either didn’t want to address or didn’t know how to address and then having one those stepkids constantly remind you of your failures and declare “you don’t deserve my mom”. It’s knowing he’s right and the knowing you tell yourself the same almost every day. It’s wishing you could have been a better parent but knowing it’s far too late to fix the mistakes you’ve made.

It’s good days providing so much energy that you accomplish so many things and forget to eat or to go to sleep on time. It’s bad days draining you from the moment your eyes open and not eating because the thought of food preparation feels like too great a task. It’s dreading the coming of winter and the fall seasonal storms. It’s desperately wishing spring and summer would never end for health reasons, but being glad they do for financial reasons.

It’s balancing a checkbook and never having enough to do the things you want to do. It’s having to reduce shopping lists and expense plans to essentials. It’s knowing that your lack of an income contribution keeps you from giving your wife the things you want to give her and keeps her from things she wants to do.

It’s wishing you had a way to explain what goes on in your head and inside you, but struggling to find the right words. It’s pouring thoughts onto paper to try and explain something so difficult to explain then having those words never read because it’s too long. It’s always thinking there’s never enough time to do things, but never having the energy when there’s time.

It’s praying for help, but feeling those prayers are never answered. It’s going through the motions of church and faith, but wondering why you don’t “feel” the things you’re supposed to feel. It’s wondering if the silence of your prayers is proof that the atheist are right and there’s no one there to answer. It’s reading about faith but not feeling it. It’s praying for salvation almost daily but never feeling saved.

It’s being medicated but also wondering if the medication is helping, It’s wondering if your dose is high enough at times and wondering if it’s too high at others. It’s occasional cutting because everything about you feels numb because of the medication. It’s finishing every day wishing you accomplished more, but lacking the energy to do anything about it. It’s feeling nauseated and sick for no reason at all.

It’s not telling your wife what you really feel because you don’t want to burden her or cause her worry. It’s feeling selfish when you have to leave somewhere or stop doing something because the dark shows up. It’s being short and rude without meaning to, but because something just feels off. It’s feeling irritable towards your wife when you have no reason to.

It’s never feeling normal.

Clipart stolen from Clipartmax.

When the Going Gets Tough, Hide and Hope for the Best

The last week or so has demonstrated more lows than highs. They say when it rains, it pours. I don’t know that I agree with that, but bad news always comes in waves.

For many military members and veterans, certain anniversary dates carry more weight and are harder than others. September 11 is one of mine. I was active duty at the time and participating in the exercise that was taking place that day. The exercise was to test U.S. Air Force response times to airborne threats. Ironically, for many of us, that day was seen as a failure of what we were practicing for.

That anniversary was followed by a pair of vehicle registration renewal inspections that should have been routine, but saw my vehicle out of commission for the better part of a week and a surprise $2k repair bill.

In the midst of all that, I did manage to meet a submission deadline for an art piece that I’m still waiting to hear back from. More information on that will be coming when I know more.

I also completed a pair of art projects for step-grandkids. Since those are sort of surprise Christmas presents for them, those will be revealed around Christmas to keep the surprise intact for them.

I’ve got a couple of reviews I’ll be posting this coming week. One for a book and one for a movie, both of which will definitely carry high recommendations from me.

Oh, and by the way, I know the science behind full moons, Friday the 13th, and depression says there’s no connections there. But that was absolutely a strange weekend for me.

Bad Days and Not So Bad Days

When I rebooted this blog, I made a promise to myself and the readers that I would never sugar coat things here. I don’t see how my experiences can help others if I falsely portray things as always okay and never experiencing bad days.

The past week and a half has been filled with bad days and not so bad days. A couple of days ago, irritability, agitation, and anxiety kept me awake until about 3am. Then, I followed that by sleeping in until noon the next day.

At first, I thought maybe I’d overcommitted myself. That may still be true. I’m not convinced that’s not part of the problem. I have several art projects running with deadlines coming within weeks, I’ve got writing projects in various stages of completion, I’m struggling to write absurd humor in a period where absurd humor seems to be the new normal of the real world.

I struggle with the issue of art, writing, and resources. I’m in one of the most productive periods of my life. However, I find us just making ends meet. Part of me thinks a new job search is order. Part of me worries that a new job search and a new job would reduce my creative productivity.

In the meantime, I think I’m going to spend some time in Azeroth, while I mentally work though some world building for my own writing.