Sunday August 4th

Happy Sunday everyone. It’s been a few days since I have posted and after leaving the gym I had an urge to post.

This one is specifically for a male audience. Gentlemen, how many time in your life have you heard “shut up, stop bitching” or “get the fuck up, don’t be a pussy” or “stop crying you sound like a little girl”

Growing up I’m sure we heard this from our dads, coaches, uncles even teachers. I loved my dad more than I can say, he was my biggest fan and probably one of if not the best friend I ever had. That being said, I heard all of these things fly out of his mouth growing up. People would say “he’s just old school, he grew up in a tougher generation” or some bullshit along those lines. Like myself you’d probably take it “like a man” and move on, probably harboring a little resentment for a time. Still, you’d accept this as healthy criticism because “I’m a man.”

Fact, men can be much more prone to mental illness. Why? Because we grew up being told to “be tough” and “don’t be a little bitch.” So, as teenagers all the way into adulthood we maybe start to internalize how we feel. Shit, if we talk about our feelings we’ll seem scared and weak right? No guy wants that, tell me I’m wrong fellas. Due to this fact we are at risk. We may suffer from depression, anxiety or having thoughts of killing ourselves. I have dealt with all of this personally and for a long time just brushed it aside because “I’m a man!” Statistically, and feel free to check this yourselves I may have my facts mixed up, more men than women commit suicide. I feel there is a direct correlation between this and how we were brought up. My dad, and myself, are perfect examples of this. His father raised him to not “be a pussy” and “be tough” so ultimately he internalized all of his suffering and eventually couldn’t handle it anymore and put a bullet in his head. He raised me the same way my grandfather raised him. So, years after his suicide, (years I spent self medicating with cocaine, pot, pills and booze) I realized, thanks to my wife that I needed help. At the point where I started seeking help I was years removed from my cocaine addiction. I was however still self medicating with alcohol and pot. Even after starting therapy and being medicated, by a doctor, I still was self medicating in my own way.

I’m starting to ramble, sorry. The point that I’m trying to make is that my decision to get help is what made me a man, made me strong. Self medication and internalization are weak behaviors. Hiding your problems from the world isn’t strength. At one point during my treatment I still got to a point where I was ready to say fuck it and join my dad six feet under, didn’t care. I gave no thought to my wife and my family, I wanted it to end. Then, I made a decision that took real strength. I asked for help. Once I finally told my wife how I was feeling through paroxysms of grief, she rushed me to the hospital immediately. They found me a bed in a local mental hospital within a day or two and ultimately I was able to heal. Not fully, I’m not there yet, but, I’m still putting in the work. I don’t think we ever fully heal, but we can keep opening up, keep fighting to be present for the ones we love who have stuck with us through everything.

If you feel depressed, or feel that ending your life may be the best option, be a man and ask for help. A real man has the strength to lean on others if he has to. No man is an island. If this reaches even one guy out there I hope it helps. I hope you read this and realize that you’re NOT alone and there are so many reasons to live. I’m gonna put a few links below relating to today’s topic.

As always, thanks for listening. Talk to you all later.

Monday July 29th

Happy Monday (jk Monday’s suck). Anyways…it’s been a little over a week since my last post, I’ve had a lot going I guess. To be honest my head just hasn’t been right. Like at all.

In previous posts I mentioned my disastrous vacation from a few weeks ago. Some unforeseen things have cropped up. I’ve seen a drastic rise in my anxiety and irritability. I was really down and feeling ashamed of myself still. Somehow, because my head is a little screwy, I got it in my mind that my wife had reached her limit with me and wanted to leave me. Which wasn’t at all the case. I thought to myself “ok I’ll just leave her completely alone and when she’s ready she’ll come talk to me.” After like 8 or 9 days, nothing. Looking back there WERE several times she tried to engage me in conversation and I totally snubbed her. The reason being that I was starting to get really fucking angry that she wasn’t talking to me. So I started being really cold and saying nothing to her, meanwhile my anxiety is at like 9000!! (Dragonball Z reference for any nerds that read this) so much so that my hands and feet can’t stop shaking and tapping. I had an appointment with my therapist and made an emergency appointment with my psychiatrist on the same day. After talking to both of them 2 things stood out. One…they both thought maybe I needed another hospital stay to kind of get back to normal. Two…that I needed to talk to my wife. My psych doc also upped one of my meds.

So, alot of what I write in this blog centers on mental health and my day to day struggle with it. What I want to talk about is communication. This whole thing with my wife and I could have been avoided if I had just talked to her. I maybe wouldn’t have needed med changes or emergency appointments, or to triple up on sleep meds just to get some sleep, or start having suicidal thoughts. Yup, you read that right. All this could have been avoided. Saturday night I finally said fuck it and went outside to talk to her. Guess what? The fucking situation was a simple misunderstanding. I thought she was shutting me out and she thought I was shutting her out. See? If we had just talked, and by we I mean me, this would have never gotten so far. So we talked, and cried and hugged and kissed. Just like that everything seems to have gone back to normal just cuz I opened my mouth.

Next month will be the anniversary of our first date, 16 years ago. This October will be our tenth wedding anniversary. I have been with this woman that I love more than anything for almost half of my life. This is someone I adore and cherish, she’s my best friend and I almost let it slip away because essentially I’m an idiot. I’m no marriage expert, but, I do know this. The one and only thing that will keep your marriage together in my opinion is communication. The love is always there even if you have to dig for it from time to time.

My anxiety and depression still are worse than I’d like right now, but that isn’t really the point of this particular entry. It’s about talking to your significant other. Don’t let your pride get in the way of your love for each other, it isn’t worth what you may potentially give up.

I hope maybe someone will read this and will help them in their relationship.

As always, thanks for listening talk to you all later.

Sunday July 21st

It’s 2 am sunday morning and my head is spinning. I can’t stop thinking about Chris Herren. I spoke about him in my last post. He’s a former NBA player who went through 14 years of hell because of his substance abuse problem. Now he goes all over the country as a motivational speaker talking to teen age kids, professional sports teams and corporate presentations. In the last 2 days I’ve watched Unguarded an ESPN 30 for 30 where he tells his story. It’s really excellent I suggest you watch it. ESPN just aired another program called the first day starring Mr.Chris Herren where he talks more about addiction. I’ve taken to YouTube and watched some of his other speeches.

Maybe it’s because we’re from the same state and background. Maybe it’s because of how brutally open and honest he is about his life. I don’t know why but I’m obsessed with his story. He was so deep in a hole and has turned things around to where he makes a nice living for his family. Not only that but he’s positively impacted hundreds of thousands of lives. All of this has made me think. Am I still at risk??

I haven’t touched cocaine in 14 or 15 years, I recently gave up booze completely, but, I still smoke weed. I get excited when I’m in pain because I hope I’ll get some good painkillers because I don’t know how to score them on the street. When I do get them prescribed for let’s say a 3 day supply. Gone in one day. I talk so proudly about how I beat cocaine and quit smoking cigarettes and how I made a personal decision to not drink. That personal reason being that booze fucks with my psych meds. So, I am responsible when it comes to managing my mental health…right?

While watching all of Chris Herrens various speeches I keep relating parts of it to my life. Maybe I’ve watched too much, so much so that I’ve convinced myself that I may still be an addict. When he talks about how his heroin habit started with pills, it gives me pause. So I keep running it through my head. Here’s why I think that I may still be at risk. When it comes to smoking pot I don’t hide anything, pretty much everyone who knows me knows that I’m an advocate. The pill thing though, that worries me. I get them prescribed legitimately, but the more I think about my behavior when I have them, the more concerns I have. I shouldn’t feel like I have to sneak pills that I have a prescription for, but there it is. Obviously I am ashamed of my behavior in this situation. I have a legit prescription and immediately abuse it. I must have a problem, I don’t know. I’ll have to talk to my therapist about this one.

Talk to you all later

Saturday July 20th

I usually talk about mental health on my blog. Specifically how it has affected my life and my day to day struggles with it. I want to switch things up a bit, I want to talk a little about substance abuse. I haven’t used any names in my blog to protect myself and my family. I did mention though that I’m from Massachusetts. I want to mention someone from Massachusetts that I admire. His name is Chris Herren. He’s maybe 4 or 5 years older than I am, he was a basketball player, like I was. I played ball but I never had the talent of this dude. For real he’s one of the best I’ve seen. Forget the fact that he’s a fellow Masshole, that has nothing to do with it. He could straight up ball. McDonald’s high school all American, recruited by Duke, BC and almost every major program in the NCAA. A stud. Chris has a well documented history of substance abuse. He was the first or second pick in the second round of the draft. First rounder without the stigma surrounding him. Drafted by the Denver Nuggets, traded to the home team Boston Celtics. I’m sure there are a lot of stories like his in our state and across the country and the world. The point of all this isn’t about his skills on the court or the what if of his NBA career. ( he’d be a hall of famer probably, he was that good in my opinion) Not all the wasted opportunities, or the overdoses, he had 4. This dude is an inspiration because he lived this life and has rededicated his life to helping others. He hit bottom time and time again and made it out. Now, he goes all over the country talking to high schools and college and professional sports teams about addiction. That’s incredible to me. Not only does he still focus on his own struggles, which I can tell you never go away, he also goes all over to help others. I’ve wanted to do what he does, I want to help people.

I’ve had my own long battle with drugs in my past. Like I said I want to help people. Whether about mental health issues or addiction issues. I just want to help. Maybe this blog will help someone, I don’t know. I can only hope. I’ve started rambling, sorry.

Anyways, the point I think I’m trying to make is, are mental health problems and drug abuse related? Can one lead to or be caused by the other? These are questions that I ponder. Being someone who has and does deal with those things, I wonder. I’m not a doctor, I have no medical answers just what I’ve learned from my own life.

I’m going to do a little research on the topic, but I’ll say this. Why do kids start experimenting with drugs? I think it’s different for every case but I believe an underlying reason is acceptance, wanting to be accepted. When you are willing to put yourself at risk to fit in with kids you’ve known your whole life that’s sad. There seems to be an issue of self confidence, or having a poor self image, a lack of confidence or whatever it is. These are some of the reasons I started messing around with booze and pot. At first I did this to “fit in” maybe that’s how it is for everyone. For me, it started there but evolved. I started using these things to escape from everyday life, I loved the way getting high made me feel. What happened next is pretty common probably but every time something bad happened or I felt depressed I would turn to weed, why not it made me happy when I was sad. I developed a dangerous coping mechanism, I was 15 or 16. Sixteen years old and coping with life through drugs. It’s just a little pot right? Who cares, no biggie.

Fast forward a few years. I’m 19 and my dad killed himself. The summer after my disastrous freshman year of college where I wasted his money by skipping class, smoking weed drinking every day and eating as many shrooms and acid that I could. Anyways, my dad, he killed himself. I already at a younger age established a habit of self medicating when life got hard. How do you think I reacted to this? Poorly, that’s how. It started with the usual suspects my old friends pot and booze.

A few months after he died I received about $30,000 in life insurance money. I could write down a million things that I SHOULD have done with that money, here’s what I DID do.

I was doing my thing, masking my pain with pot and booze. One day a friend of mine had some cocaine. He offered me some, I said no. I wish I could go back to that night. I did say no, and I sat there for an hour or so brooding over it. When no one was looking I got my friend alone and said I changed my mind, I want to try it. Well, long story short, $30,000 went up my nose. I could talk all day about my misadventures, my rock bottom etc.

Embarrassed. That’s one word that, for me, that connects my addiction and mental health issues. When I was young I developed a dangerous coping mechanism for dealing with sadness and depression. Why? A combination of things I think. Thinking back I know that I was always battling depression. I knew something was wrong and I knew that drugs helped, plain and simple. I was embarrassed to admit to myself or my parents or any adult that could help me out. If I could go back I would start a dialogue with my folks and get some counseling. Learn some healthy coping mechanisms. Maybe my dad would have been proud of his sons son’s ability to ask for help. Maybe he would have looked inward and realized that he needed help too. Who knows, I can’t torture myself with what ifs, especially when it comes to him. So I was embarrassed, I didn’t ask for help, I did learn the wrong way to deal which had a ripple effect on my adult life.

I’m 39 now. I’ve learned, finally, better ways to cope. I take my meds and go to therapy. The stupid things that I did, the mistakes I made and the hearts that I broke made me who I am. Would my life be easier if I hadn’t done those things, maybe. Can’t think like that though. Life moves forward not back. Those decisions made me who I am.

Writing this blog over the last month or so has been good for me, but, I’m not doing this JUST for me. Someone told me, hey, you started a blog?! Dude that’s sweet you can make money. Maybe I can, someone please tell me how lol. Just kidding, it’s not about that. I’ve had many people help me on my journey. I haven’t helped anyone myself though. That is the point of this blog. If my experiences can help one person, just one other human being, then I have succeeded. Maybe someday, like Mr. Herren, I can do more than writing this blog. That would be amazing, because at the end of the day every human life is worth saving. I can’t help everyone but maybe I can help someone.

Thanks for listening, talk to you all later.

Friday July 19th

In life there are always consequences. For every action there is an appropriate reaction. This applies to all of us. Especially those of us with mental health problems. We can’t use our sickness, disability, complex or whatever the fuck you want to call it as an excuse when we can’t handle our shit.

If you read my previous entry you’ll know that my little vacation was a fucking disaster, and, it was 100% my fault. Of all the times to have a meltdown. There were alot of factors that contributed to the situation, not making excuses, giving reasons. Anyways…..

Before vacation my car started acting funny, had to get it towed somewhere near them, an hour from where I live. This is the freaking day before. So whatever it gets towed, my in laws let us use their car cuz they had the camper. So far so good. Fast forward through the stupid vacation, we get home unpack and drive to the dealership it got towed to to find out what’s going on and to set up a loaner since we needed to get the car back to my in laws. Next day we get the loaner. So all in all everything seems to have worked out, right? Wrong!! There was a cloud hanging over all of this, here’s where the consequences come into play. My wife is super pissed.

She seemed to be cool before we left new hampshire. After all the car drama and stuff she seemed really mad. At me? At the situation? Who knows. I think she’s stewing over something I said in anger while we were away. I threatened to drive home and leave and never come back, didn’t mean it but I know it hurt her. We’ve been home 2 days now and we’ve barely spoken, and when we have it’s been icy. I’m a grown man and can take ownership when I fuck up. I’m scared though. She is my biggest support system and I’m scared that she just can’t deal anymore. If I lose her I’m scared of how I’ll react. Sometimes I think that I need to be set free and be single again but then I come back to earth. I need this woman in my life but I don’t know how to fix this, all I can do now is wait.

Anyways…those of us with mental health issues need support, but, we also need to remember that we still need to take responsibility for what we say and do. The illness isn’t an excuse, it’s still up to us to put in the effort. If you lean to hard on your support system eventually it collapses. Take responsibility, lean gently. Don’t try to use other people as a crutch.

That’s all for now, thanks for listening.

Tuesday July 16th

Hey all, on vacation in New Hampshire……finally. Leaving in the morning but I have some stuff I want to talk about a little bit.

I would like to impress upon people how important good mental health is. Take me for example, I have some problems obviously. The difference between me and a lot of people is that I’ve had a good support system, alot don’t. I take my meds every day, but, it’s not a blanket cure. I still have to work really hard to keep things under control but sometimes I still just can’t. We were able to bring our dog which we’ve always wanted to do. This was a bad idea. The 3 hour car ride was a nightmare, the first night when we arrived she was an absolute nightmare as well. This shot my anxiety through the fucking roof. I won’t mention any names or titles but certain family members wouldn’t let us just deal with her in our own way. They were all expert dog handlers all of a sudden. I took this extremely personally which in a normal situation I wouldn’t have been so offended. So these 2 things are major factors. The real big factor being a simple memory. Friday the 12th was was the 20th anniversary of my father’s suicide. How hard it would be this particular year was unexpected and unwelcome. I really thought this year to be different. I thought it would be ok.

My sister and I wanted to do something special for the 20 year mark. Back in June we did an overnight walk with the AFSP the American foundation for suicide prevention. We entered into this with open minds and hearts. The whole experience was so warm and positive being with all of these people who have lived through the death of a friend or loved one by suicide. Also it was amazing to have this experience with my sister who unfortunately I have distanced myself from over the years. In recent years we have reconnected and it’s been awesome.

After having this positive experience being able to honor my dad was simply amazing to me. This was the first year in twenty that I thought that I’d be ok. I was wrong.

I’m not sure if I consciously let it overwhelm me or if it just happened that way, no idea. So the following Sunday when we left unbeknownst to my wife I had been really struggling with things. So with that hanging over my head and the other factors that I mentioned I was absolutely freaking miserable. So much so that I just let myself filter into anger and misery which incidentally ruined my family’s entire day. We went to Clark’s trading post and I just was an asshole plain and simple. I was rude to everyone, my wife, my mother and father in law my nieces and nephew etc.

The point of all this is to illustrate that even with the help of medication you can still very easily go completely off the rails. Even while it’s happening you know that you’re wrong but just can’t stop. I’ve never been so ashamed of myself. Now….let’s imagine that I WASN’T on meds. There is a pretty good chance that I may have hurt myself or others, or, when later in the day my nephew who is 18 years younger than me, stood up to me about my behavior. Without the meds I would have beaten the shit out of him and the consequences would be extremely dire. Divorce, arrest etc. I’m not excusing my behavior but trying to illustrate that meds DO help, therapy DOES help. Most of us DO need help with this.

There are many understanding people out there, but, this is for you all that aren’t as understanding. We AREN’T looking for attention, we ARE NOT simply unable to handle life. We just need a helping hand or an ear to listen to us. Instead of judging you can try and maybe help a fellow human.

That’s all for today, thanks for listening.

Friday July 12th

Today is 20 years since losing my dad to suicide. Anyone else out there who has been through this, you’re NOT alone. This is hard to talk about but has shaped my entire adult life in both negative and positive ways.

Obviously he had some mental health issues. We had no idea about this until we buried him. I hate living my life thinking about what ifs. But, in this case it’s appropriate. What if we could have spotted this earlier. What if he opened up to my Mom about how he was feeling? What if he could have gotten some real help? What if he never died? How would life be different? That last question I think is what suicide survivors ponder second most, the first question being why.

I used to spend a lot of time pondering this question because of the ripple effect his suicide has had on my life. Maybe I wouldn’t have blown all the money he left me on cocaine. Maybe I would have finished college like he wanted. Maybe I wouldn’t be struggling with my own mental health issues which for a long time I thought wouldn’t be there if he lived. This isn’t true though. Some, maybe all mental health problems are genetic in some way. I was told once by a doctor that suicide can actually run in families. And a few years ago I wanted to join him. Unlike my father I realized that I needed some help. Looking back on my life knowing what I know now I can safely say that I’ve always battled depression. I was already in counseling and therapy and taking meds before I was hospitalized due to my suicidal thoughts. I bounced back though, but not everyone does. The simplest thing you can do for someone that you think may be in trouble is listen. If we can confide in someone about how we feel some of that darkness can be lifted. Obviously that’s not a blanket cure, people like myself need therapy and sometimes medications.

His death has had a powerfully negative effect on my life, but, there is one thing that if he hadn’t died probably wouldn’t have happened. This thing trumps any negative effects on my life. If he hadn’t died I may never gone down the road that led to my wife. I’m so lucky and grateful to her. I got to marry someone who’s not only the love of my life and my soulmate but my best friend. So in some ways she may be the last gift he ever gave me.

Life is hard folks and we need people to lean on. If you know someone that needs your shoulders or someone that needs a shoulder don’t be scared. Open up and talk, I believe that is the first step to getting better.

Thanks for listening talk to you all later.