Feeling the Regrets

It’s been a bit since I last wrote. I’m working from home. My state has a stay-at-home order, so I’m not going out except to the grocery store or the pharmacy. I do go out for some exercise by speed walking a few days a week. That feels good. There are lots of people on the trail where I hardly ever see anyone. I suppose they’re all wanting some time outdoors, too.

I’m sure all this has something to do with these very strange times we’re all living through, but I’m really feeling a lot of regrets from some choices I made in the past. I’m feeling the weight of those choices. I have fantasies about how things might have been had I made other decisions.

I once met a man who was the hiring authority for a school district. I made a favorable impression on him, and I could have become a teacher. I chose not to.

I was good friends with a man who was in a relationship that ended. That man and I started spending a lot of time together, and I could have become his boyfriend. I don’t remember my reasoning at the time, but I can see now that pairing up with a man who’d just broken up with another man would not have been a wise move, but I still regret it right now.

I chose to leave disability and take the present job I have. I had good benefits, and I was building a solid, very small life. I am positive that had I continued on that path and in today’s political climate, I would have been kicked off disability. I would have lost all my benefits. In the small town I was living in, that would have been devastating.

I am a better man for having left disability. I have greater self-confidence, I am more self-assured, and I have much higher self-worth as a result of choosing to take this job and move to a larger city. Most importantly, I believe that I have recovered. I take medication for bipolar disorder, and I will continue to do so for the rest of my life, but that disorder has little effect on my day-to-day life now.

If you live on disability, do not let my circumstances make you feel anything negative about your circumstances. I have a very good friend who lives on disability, and he is doing very well that way. He needs that life. It allows him to live as symptom-free as possible. Working would devastate his equilibrium.

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to date a man. I let him get away. I regret it.

As long-time readers know, I broke up with a man last year. I have very mixed feelings about that. My head knows it was definitely for the best. He was mean to me. I don’t want a reunion with him, but I still have regrets.

Before all this craziness in the world, I started seeing a new man that I’ve known socially for a few years. He’s a remarkably cheerful man, and he’s very intelligent, which I value highly. We’ve continued to communicate by text and occasional phone calls during this time of social distancing. Things are going well, but I can’t help but wish for face-to-face meetings. Nothing romantic has happened. It’s still too early, but I’m wishing for that. Missing it.

I will talk about all this with my therapist at my weekly appointment tomorrow. (The appointment is done remotely.) I will be fine. Writing in this blog is part of the way I process all these feelings. It’s a bit like writing in a journal. That’s a good exercise for people who are dealing with heavy things.

If you have recently tried meditation, I congratulate you. Keep trying. The most important thing to remember is that having thoughts during meditation is not a sign of failure. Thinking is exactly what our minds are supposed to do. Count your breaths. That’s a good way to concentrate on breathing as a beginner. Or do guided meditation like I still do. I still go to My Happy Place. You can create your own happy place. Meditation can be just about anything you want it to be.

Meditation: sit, relax, and breathe. Think about your breathing. When your mind wanders, gently return your thoughts to your breathing. Gently. When your mind wanders again, again gently return your thoughts to your breathing. Gently. A wandering mind is not a failure.

Wherever you are on the globe, I wish you all the best during this stressful time. Stay healthy.

I Don’t Feel Good

I woke in a panic attack yesterday at 4AM. As usual with these things for the past two months or so, I was having a nightmare about my dad. It set the mood for the whole day. I was on edge all day long.

I realized yesterday that since my parents disowned me, I’ve become much darker in many of my thoughts. Some of my actions are not well thought-out. They border on being self-destructive. I’m going to talk about this realization to my therapist tomorrow. I’m also going to ask him if there’s any way to have more appointments in a week. I don’t feel stable.

I’m still doing the things that I’ve done for years to stay well. I take the medication my psychiatrist gives me as prescribed. I’m meditating daily and often more than once a day, but I’ve noticed it’s really hard to concentrate and get calm during some sessions. It was that way this morning. I’m talking to my therapist weekly. We’re meeting by video for the time being during this current health crisis. I’m getting good sleep, and I’m eating healthy food. The one thing I’m not doing is exercising, and I refuse to beat myself up about it.

The current world-wide health crisis makes all this worse. I don’t mind working from home, but the news is scary. I don’t watch news on television. I read it online. I prefer to get my news from a source that I read, because it’s less sensational. There’s less a sense of entertainment to how it’s presented. It feels calmer to me.

Here’s what scares me most: I have a sense that my behavior is self-destructive. I’m worried that could play itself out to become truly so, and I could drink. I’ve been sober twenty years, ten months, and 28 days as of this writing. I do not want to drink for any reason. My drinking days were horrific. I do not want to go back there. I’m grateful that I can go to AA meetings online. I will certainly get to a meeting today.

All this makes me feel bad. I feel damaged. I was describing myself to a friend like an old dented car. I’ve done a lot of work and healed a lot of my pain, but the dents are still there. I’ve only painted over them. I just don’t feel good.

Off Kilter

I’m sad today. It’s not an unreasonable response to events in my life over the past few months.

It could devolve into panic, so to allay that, I’ve taken some medicine to help me stay calm. It’s working.

I had a good meditation this morning, but my mind is not quiet right now. It’s restless. I think that’s the best way to describe it.

I’m not having negative thoughts exactly, so there’s no reason to use the STFU tool my therapist and I came up with. However,  I like that tool. I’m thinking of expanding its use.

Ugh. I just want to shout, “Ugh!”

I know this will pass. Something will come along to cheer me up.

I went out and got some exercise this morning, even though I really didn’t feel like it. That’s two days in a row. Yay me!

This post is rambling like my thoughts.

Again, I know this will pass. I just wish it would hurry up and do it.

The Plan

I had a session with my psychologist after work yesterday, and it was obviously timely. I needed it badly. Anyone who read yesterday’s post will understand I was not in a good mood.

He helped me formulate a simple plan to silence The Voice that I wrote about yesterday. It is very loud, and it lies to me telling me many evil things about me and my self-worth. The grand plan is to stop The Voice and tell it to “Shut the f*ck up!” in no uncertain terms.

The Voice was put inside my head by parents who don’t love me and by a society that really doesn’t give a rat’s ass about how I’m faring in life. It only rears its ugly head when I’m stressed or feeling low due to other matters. January was not a good month for me: my parents disowned me and a reorganization at work is causing me great pain. Those were tremendous stressors, and my grief in the face of the tumult was completely understandable. Yesterday, I experienced a renewed wave of the grief.

That wave has passed. I am confident The Plan will work.

I will continue to use my tools. I slept well last night, one of my tools. My meditation this morning was a good one. I had lots of interfering wandering thoughts, but I was able to get some good breathing in. My psychologist liked hearing that I’m using the medicine I get from my psychiatrist. He said to keep it up. My diet is the same healthy food that I’ve been eating for years.

And to top it off, I went for a brisk walk this morning before work. There it was. I had an extra thirty minutes this morning with nothing really that needed to be done, so I tied on my walking shoes and went out the door. I probably walked a mile and a half, and I went at a much slower pace than I’ve done in the past, but who gives a rip? I have my fingers crossed that I’ll keep up the exercise.

Tools: medication, meditation, therapy, diet, sleep, and exercise. These things keep me on an even keel. I’ve done them today. We’ll let tomorrow take care of itself.

Now, where is that elusive boyfriend?

Being Gentle

I woke up after sleeping seven and a half hours in a panic. I was suddenly awake and afraid. I wanted to stay in bed, but it was useless. I was unavoidably awake.

I struggled through my morning routine. I didn’t just sit and breathe for my morning meditation, but I reverted to guided visualization. I needed the steps of walking through the door into My Happy Place and the continued steps to the place of just breathing.

I reached out to the love that I feel when I get to the place of just breathing and felt it soothe me, but I was just not able to stay in that feeling.

There is so much tumult in my life right now.

I ended up having to stay home from work today. I took medicine for anxiety and went back to bed for another two hours.

I called my therapist and was able to see him this morning. That was helpful. I’m using the tools I have that I know have worked in the past: medication, meditation, therapy, etc, and I’m being gentle with myself.

One of the things I’ve learned about myself through 33 years of therapy is that I am not good at handling uncertainty. I have a lot of that in my life right now, so I’m going to be gentle with myself today.

I really wish I could cry. I can’t. Years of forced repression of my emotions and my homosexuality inhibits my ability to show distress.

At least for today, I don’t feel good. I know this will pass, but I’m feeling it today. I’m using the tools that I know work. I will be OK, but for today, I’m going to be gentle with myself and stay home and read.

Ten Years Blogging

I started blogging ten years ago today. Wow! Where has the time gone?

When I look at old entries, I’m amazed at the change. Ten years ago, I was beset by despair. Today, I live in hope of things getting better.

As regular readers know, January was hellish for me. On January 4, my dad called me telling me – much to my surprise – that he’d recently discovered I was gay and therefore he and my mother were disowning me. I say I was surprised, because I’d come out to my mother more than twenty years before. I always assumed she’d told my dad, but obviously she didn’t.

Then in late January, I found out that in the reorganization at my work, I was being demoted and would have my salary slashed. January was plain hell for me.

Ten years ago, I would have had dire reactions to these events. This year, I had some strong emotions, I took some days off work, but I never thought of giving up. I have tools today to help me in times of trouble: medication, meditation, therapy, exercise, diet, and sleep. I used all but exercise to get myself through the pain of those events, and I’m not beating myself up about not exercising.

Ten years ago, I wrote about living in the hell that was my head. Today, my head is pretty calm. It’s not great, but it’s not scary. In all honesty, I have to admit that the thought of being unlovable since my parents disowned me did occur to me just this past weekend. I talked about it in therapy yesterday. It’s a false notion. My parents are warped. Hopefully, I won’t date warped men.

I have one thing to say about this anniversary: recovery is real. People who live with serious mental illness can and do recover and lead meaningful lives. If I recovered, other people can, too.

Hurting and Angry

Yesterday, I experienced high anxiety all day long. I had to rely on a medication I have for those kinds of days. I also took a nap and restarted my day. When I woke up from the nap, I did all my regular morning routine including meditation. It helped enormously.

However, by the evening my negative self-talk was blaring lies in my head. They only stopped when I went to sleep. I woke up feeling better this morning. I had a wonderful meditation. I didn’t time it today, but it was a really good one.

I am back to feeling lousy, though. I feel just awful, and my negative self-talk is screaming at me.

The title of this blog has the word winning in it. I am not winning this morning. I hurt, and I’m angry.

And I don’t feel like talking about it. That’s true for right now. I have therapy this afternoon. I’ll definitely talk about all this then.

But for now, forget it.