Monday, July 25, 2022

Consistently Inconsistent

I had every intention of trying to write daily for my own mental health, as an escape or at the least to have an outlet to express myself.  Clearly even that I couldn't do.  I haven't worked out daily for the last nine months after having done so for the last 20 years.  I haven't taken my multivitamin (Athletic Greens- AG1, which I HIGHLY recommend if you can only afford one supplement) every night consistently for months after having done so for the past 20 years.  I am finding more and more things that I did daily for the past 20 years, I just stopped doing altogther.  

Paddy Pimblett is trending all over social media, not only for his victory on Saturday night in his UFC fight, but moreso for his post-victory speech about men's mental health.  Realizing men's mental health is stigmatized to a certain degree still today, it was encouraging to see a man given the platform use the time not to gloat but to normalize and encourage men to seek help when things are hard.  Every one is going through shit, I'm not unique, I know that.  It's clear that I am going through some mental health challenges.  I feel isolated and unable to talk to anyone.  My parents are two time zones away and have their own issues with my sisters to deal with so I don't need to create any additional stress in their lives, they're 83 and 74, respectively. My childhood and college friends are busy with their own families and their own lives and also hours away.  My wife hasn't paid a minute of attention to me other than on my birthday and father's day for the past ten years and I realize this is pretty common with marriages once you have kids.  I did therapy, I did the CBT with an LMFT.  I have paid for apps that I find remarkable and well worth the cost and all work when I make the effort to use them, Headspace, Intellect, Habit Tracker, Carbon, Endel, but even with investing the money to use these to make myself better, I still cannot do it consistently.  

I would be interested to hear how others are struggling with these same kinds of issues.  I know I am not alone.  I know others within my age group, I know men and women alike are going through something similar.  If you are reading this, I would love to know how you deal with these types of struggles.  How are you trying to work through it every day?  What tools do you use to help yourself?  

As an addict, I quit drinking and smoking by focusing on what I could control one day at a time and I recognize the same thing applies herebut fuck I can't seem to stay on track with this.  if you're struggling, feel free to write, maybe it can help you too.  


Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Recovery, Depression, Reinjured

Hoping like most that 2021 would provide a fresh start and be more tolerable than 2020, I expected to get through the physical therapy from both shoulder surgeries, recover, regain my strength and move on with my life.  Suddenly the gym equipment became available from different stores.  I went on a nice spending spree getting a squat rack, hundreds of pounds of weights, dumbbells, bought a Peloton Bike and Tread for my wife since all she wants to do is cardio, and I slowly regained the 20 years of muscle development I had lost to atrophy from COVID and the surgeries.  Finally, I was back to being normal, lifting again, following the routine, managing stress and using the gym as an outlet to release all of my unfulfilled needs.  However, even with the new house, the new gym and no real wants or needs, having the kids schooling virtually was an absolute nightmare and constant strain on me professionally and on our home personally.  

The complete lack of boundaries as we all tried to navigate educating young children via zoom was unbearable at times.  Working in the garage because I lost my office space I had in the old house, it was damn near impossible to do anything meaningful, let alone try to attend meetings via zoom or teams or webex as my kids came out to ask for help, as my wife came into the garage to do laundry or workout since everything was in the garage.  I found myself living in a twilight zone.  Up at 4am, into the garage, coffee, read, workout, shower, garage again to work.  I was spending 15 hours a day in a dusty, busy,  icebox during the winter and sauna during the summer.  Because I get up at 4am and evidently I snore, I became further and further detached from my family and house.  I was spending most nights on the couch, most of my toiletries were in the front bathroom to avoid disturbing anyone, I eventually moved my entire closet to the garage so I could get dressed without disturbing everyone and ultimately, one day I realized, other than the toiletries in the front bathroom, I have nothing of my own in the master bedroom, not a single item, let alone anywhere else in the house. I think one can imagine how wild and fulfilling my marriage had become.  

The pandemic had not yet slowed, people were still petrified to do anything and that was quite prevalent in my house.  While I continued to believe that taking care of myself and following the advice of my doctor on dietary supplementation (I've supplemented Glutathione, Vitamin D, Quercetin, Multis, Omega, Turmeric, Creatine daily for years) that I would be in a position to fight any viral infection and that if I did get exposed, there were antivirals in market that could be taken to help mitigate the severity of the symptoms.  We had now begun to fundamentally disagree about pretty much everything, including on how best to keep ourselves and our children healthy.  I was displeased with a lack of intimacy before COVID but now it was non-existent and I found myself retreating further into a lonely cycle of apathy towards life, anger and resentment towards my spouse, and depressive bouts of melancholy about where my life got sidetracked and became unbearable.  Finding gratitude was damn near impossible.  Meditation didn't help.  Lifting didn't help.  Cardio didn't help.  Spending money did.  I found new ways to spike the dopamine and manage the valleys of despair.  

In a fleeting moment of joy during the summer, post-surgery recovery and cleared to start throwing baseballs, footballs and the like to my son and daughter, I got a little too excited throwing water balloons and as you might guess, reinjured myself.  I tore my labrum off the bone.  Completely detached the labrum from the shoulder and again wound up in an MRI.  Just about one year to the day as the first injury, I had found a way to plunge further into the valley of despair.  Surgeon recommended the same surgery for a third time but I was unwilling to undergo that again.  I was unwilling to be put under a third time in one year, to undergo that level of surgery and recovery.  The alternative option he gave me was PT and hope I have a high pain tolerance.  Luckily, as an addict who refused any narcotics post-injury or post-surgeries, I had learned to live with the pain.  To anyone who lives in constant physical pain, who does so without chemical intervention (alcohol, advil or any opioid), I hope you have found a release for the mental health issues that accompany constant physical pain.  

I took up journaling which helps to, at the very least, express my anger and frustration with life.  Being in pain and having a sexless marriage will make you angry at everything.  Having no physical release is debilitating. No one has a perfect life, I know that.  Everyone has struggles.  I realize I am well-compensated, never have to worry about food or shelter, about my safety, about my kids not being fed or safe but nonetheless, the struggle we all feel, is real.  There can and will always be worse than what you're experiencing now but that doesn't diminish the struggle.  I am grateful for everything good in my life, I just wish some of the most important things to me were better and everyone should have the right to search for the things in life thsat can make them happy.

Until tomorrow, or maybe the next day.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Starting Again

I had grand visions of making this blog something interesting during the pandemic.  With lost access to the gym, no real outlets and a need to express myself somehow, I thought the blog would provide some mental relief.  Alas, my complete apathy towards everything extended to this expected release valve.  

So what's happened in the past two years . . . well during the height of the pandemic in 2020, I sold my house and bought a new one in the neighborhood my wife and kids had been asking to move to for years.  Evidently the nine mile commute to school, on country roads, never in traffic, was too much for everyone to bear much longer.  Really, it had nothing to do with the commute and everything to do with the zip code, the mom group and the minor detail that the house is one mile from my in-laws.  Just as an aside, if you are thinking about moving up-market to appease your spouse or in some way hoping it will ease the complaints, I assure you, it will not. Zip code changes, increased square footage and proximity to your in-laws will not mitigate the litany of first-world problems.

Because I stopped lifting and there was no gym equipment to be found anywhere, I had to row, run, and do pushups.  One day while trying to install irrigation for new sod I was laying in our new backyard, I attempted to strip an old electrical wire and it the midst of trying to sheathe the hardened plastic, I pulled apart so hard I tore my subscap, biceps tendon, labrum and ruined my right shoulder (I'm right handed).  Evidently heavy lifting for 20 years with no breaks places your tendons in a precarious situation when you stop lifting altogether.  That fun little surgery to rebuild my shoulder was a fun Halloween present to myself.  

As one does after they have a major surgery, I had the pleasure of going to physical therapy.  On my second day at PT while doing farmer carry with a kettlebell, the doctor suggested I do both arms so as not to create a structural imbalance.  In my infinite wisdom, I bent down and picked up the 30kg kettlebell with my left arm (not more weight than I can lift) without positioning my legs or my torso correctly and guess what, I tore everything in the left shoulder as well.  Yes, I had the exact same surgery on my left shoulder that I had on my right, a mere five weeks apart.  Positive note, there was only really a few days of having to wear two arm slings (imagine using the bathroom and showering).

Few challenging things I found with two surgically repaired shoulders that were not healed.  Putting on t-shirts is an awkward movement.  Showering and washing the back side or your arms and torso is a really awkward movement, pretty much the entire posterior for that matter.  Cooking a turkey and cutting it on Thanksgiving was definitely a challenge becasue evidently shoulder strength is essential for using a knife.  Hanging Christmas lights on the house, also not a fun chore. Lastly, to anyone who reads this that lives in pain, who goes to sleep in pain, who is awoken because sleeping causes pain, I feel your pain, it's debilitating and really unhealthy mentally to suffer in constant physical pain.  

Nonetheless, 2020 was one to remember for so many reasons.  

Tomorrow we'll cover how life continued to find ways to challenge my mental health in 2021.