Tuesday, March 18, 2014

        I am writing what will seem today like a very scattered series of thoughts or instances.  In part its because I don't know that I ever intended this to be read.  It has been written in part for almost a year, and it has since changed quite a bit as the situation changed. Blogging can often be a very therapeutic way to express your inner most thoughts.  The downside of course being that realizing those thoughts are present can often be as disturbing to you as it is to people who might read it.  However I think if we keep things bottled up what can start as a stray thought can often lead to darker periods of self doubt and make a simple thought turn into a slight obsession.  Now if you think I am going to reveal some dark secret, sorry I do not have anything all that exciting.  But I will admit 2013-2014 has been a very turbulent time for me.  As my MS has progressed I think at some point a part of me has started giving up a bit on the future.  Like a mountain ground down over time by the elements disease has a way of grinding even the happiest person down over time.  When simple actions become a challenge, and you find yourself asking for help more then you would like, its hard not to give in and give up.
      I even have to admit for the first time in my life, I began to have those kind of thoughts that no one should ever have.  "Is my life worth living?",  "Am I really making my families life better or worse for being around?", I even began to question my relationships with family and friends.  I think my final warning sign that something was wrong came when I began to realize that all I really wanted was to be alone.  I sat in my bedroom, at 1:00 PM in the afternoon knowing my wife would leave to get our kids, had been working all day and I had done absolutely nothing positive the entire day other then feel sorry for myself.  Normally this sort of self awareness of my own self pity party would be catalyst I needed to make me mad enough at myself to get up and get moving.
      In today's world its easier on men I think.  Our father's were never allowed to show "feelings" sadness depression.  Of course they did, but it was interpreted differently and normally their wives or loved ones bore the true punishment of suffering with someone whom refused to seek any sort of treatment, or did not even know there were options.  It was not okay back then to be sad, or to be less then the ideal example of a manly man.  Thankfully these days while some would say we have softened too much (a sentiment I can sort of agree to) There are resources in place now to make it easier and less ego bruising (lets face it men's egos account for a lot of problems) for men to seek answers and find hope.
       First off, one of my problems was that the VA had been raising my dose of prozac for the purposes of energy production due to MS fatigue syndrome.  The downside was they pushed it up a level where it was actually having a psychoactive effect on me and my levels were way out of whack.  The doctors of course apologized profusely but warned me that as I reduced the prozac it could also have some side effects of its own as I came down off the manic depressive wave of fun I had been riding mistakenly for 3 years.   As I rode the roller coaster of emotions, I have to admit once again my confidence went to an all new low.   I bought books to read, comics to collect, bought gaming things.  Nothing seemed to be able to fill the void of this total emptiness I felt inside.  I tried to talk with my wife, but she and I on some things are wired entirely differently, which is great in my situations as I believe it allows us to come to a decision that is both rational but still compassionate instead of being all the way to one extreme or the other (hers being the rational mine being the bleeding heart)  I talked with my parents some about it, but frankly their plate is also extremely full with their own trials with my grandmother whom is suffering from medical issues as well.  Often when your feeling useless the last thing you want to do is put more issues on people you can clearly see our burdened already.  Anyone who knows my parents, knows they would give the shirts off their backs to anyone whom truly needed help.  I have watched them care for elderly friends, family and neighbors when no one else would and my parents never gave it a second thought.  They do it quietly, humbly and without thought of payback or gain.  I watched my father and mother care for people who all but spit in their face, and yet they never once quit on them.  This is the blood that flows in my veins as well.  It has to mean something more then just bad hair genes and slightly raised chance of obesity. (We Bishops come a little stocky)
       Then one night as I sat there fretting about money, fretting about my children, and then moving on to fretting about why I bought something on Amazon, it hit me.  I needed to grow the !@#&* up again.  My wife present me with the first opportunity.  As we were deciding what projects we would divvy up our income tax return to, she brought up my credit card use.  While I followed the guidelines of not exceeding half the credit cards worth never maxed things out, I still charged a bunch of stuff that while nice was by no means a need and certainly not worth paying interest on.  I had allowed myself to subscribe to the american symptom of Right NOW.  I admitted tearfully to my stupidity paid them off and chopped them up, opting to keep one just to keep revolving credit going for my credit rating and pay it off slowly but still make double payments to eat the interest down.  Instantly, though it had nothing to do with my health this gigantic soul crushing weight came off my shoulders.  I felt horrible that I had in essence been robbing my family of some income, and it had just been grinding away at me for months and months.  
       Next I began looking around my home. We had a TON of cool stuff to do that we never did.  We just kept getting more cool stuff.  Once again we had hit another of the American flaws.  The need to have the latest and greatest without really even using the older thing.  I have been pondering this a lot lately.  I have 20 or so Xbox 360 games sitting on a shelf.  I have played some of them less then 30 minutes at best.  Yet, my son and I sat there obsessing over one game or another for this reason or that.  But we never played them.  So I made a promise to myself to start doing things more with the kids.  I also took note that my CONSTANT MMORPG game switching was out of control.  I had sometimes went between 5 games in the space of a month.  NO more I told myself.  I play WoW with my family now and a few friends and just stick to non MMO games for other activities.  I am about 2 weeks in to this.  I will admit the pull of new games on the horizon is strong, BUT I am really gonna spend time gaming more efficiently.  Not let it consume, as its easy to do when your somewhat disabled with free time, and put it back in the leisure zone.  I also decided about some other things.  Miniature painting has been very therapeutic for me as it engages my artistic side, keeps me busy and is time consuming, plus at the end you have a finished product you can be proud of.
        I guess this whole blog has just been an example of one man's inner thoughts as he struggles to identify small changes he can make to better his life.  I would never suggest I was ever at a suicidal place but I was certainly in a very black spot for a while.  I think every human being needs to have some sense of worth and unless your just a total mooch very few people can tolerate feeling completely dependent on others to accomplish things.  It is hard to ask for help but its worse to ask for forgiveness because you were to stubborn to ask for help and it spilled over and hurt the people you care about.  I also cannot stress enough how important it is that we do not trust our medical systems to be as concerned with our welfare as we are.  They see millions of patients with millions of issues, its VERY easy for you to become lost in the shuffle and years to go by with you taking something at a level its not intended.  I am an ex nurse paramedic, so there REALLY was no excuse but I got to a point with so many health issues going on that I just let others guide me along.  Your health is your responsibility, do not trust someone who sees you once every 6 months to know the ins and outs of what you are taking and what other doctors are doing even if they are in the same institution and office.  Frankly doctors don't have time, they overwork the 1 nurse they might have in their office for chart review and the rest of the staff are glorified paper pushers.  Really look around any doctors office and you will see what I am talking about.  The days of the provincial doctor who can sit down discuss your life your family and your health all in one are gone.  Now its a frantic treadmill of HMO forced 15 minute appointments, no follow through and lets try this because its all insurance will LET us do.
      Look out for yourself and don't be afraid to engage in a little self reflection.  It can open up new doors and restore new hope.


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