Author Archives: Waldo Jeffords

Summertime sadness

Kiss me hard before you go
(In which I argue July mood disturbances right after summer solstice are a real thing)

Trigger warning: just stop reading this stupid post.

The summer solstice was June 21st this year.   Every year roughly two weeks afterward my mood becomes very unstable.  This year is no different.  I think it's all tied to circadian rhythms as to whether it's the most or least sunlight of the year.  I typically have extreme depression in January after the winter solstice.  July is different.  It's close to a mixed state.  It's a dangerous time.  Bouncing up and down. 
In addition to it being a extremely annoying thing to see coming, there's also the annoyance of no one seeming to believe it's a real thing.  It's real people.  It's real.  It's fucking real.  So to my counselors and pdoc... please kindly go to hell with your quizzical looks.  And what can only be a smug skepticism behind that look.  It's real to my mom, her sister, and her brother.  They themselves barely believe it no matter how many times I insist it's not about their birthdays and getting older (they were all born in July).

What I don't get is that my pdoc says it's a good idea to keep using my light box.  Like, there's too much sunlight out there.  That's the problem.  Why should I expose myself to more light.  But I'm doing it anyways.

I'm often suicidal during this time, make medication changes, and self-medicate during this time.  July of 2004 I was smoking weed regularly and stopped taking Paxil without telling anyone.  I ended up alone in a park, under a tree canopy, sobbing in the rain.  With a knife.  Luckily a knife not worth shit.  But I can still see the scars where I cut myself... barely drawing blood. 

Last July I asked my pdoc for a medication at a dose I knew was too high.  Sent me into dangerous hypomania.  Not sleeping.  Weird thoughts.  Journaling weird shit.  Akathisia.

This July?  Giving up the sobriety efforts more or less.  Risky impulsive behavior.  Lottery tickets and scratch-offs.  Waking up at weird times.  More social media involvement.  No patience.  Withdrawal from my family.  Coldness followed by sudden closeness.  Keep bouncing.

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Sobriety is hard (duh)

(In which I whine about not being able to pursue the path to alcoholism)

I officially started trying to be sober on May 14th or so.  I've had one slip where I drank four beers one night.  Honestly to try to feel good about the time sober I'm not sure I'm going to count that.  It has been very difficult to resist drinking.  Which I suppose tells me I really have a problem.  I'm fine acknowledging that I had an issue and need to stop.  What I'm impatient about is when the hell I'm going to stop wanting a drink.

I stopped the weed around Valentine's day.  It had gotten out of hand as I've written earlier.  It was a cheesy stupid attempt to do something significant for Mary other than a box of chocolates.  She was patient and did not demand I stop.  So wise, because I can look back at that and know it was my choice at my time and I don't resent her for quitting.  I do resent myself for doing it though (only kidding a little).  It took a long while for that craving to go away.  Of course, it wasn't too long after that I got to smoke again when I had to travel to... some state where it's legal.  It's a mystery.

As an update, I started writing this post on June 23rd.  And I was definitely thinking about sobriety at the time (obviously).  That night I did not go to the dinner table, drank like a rock star on an empty stomach, and vomited violently.  At least I made it to the toilet.  I have often not made it to the toilet and spewed wherever and whenever it needed to happen.  So... the new date for sobriety is June 23rd.  I'm not sure this all or nothing approach is the best way to do this.  Mary pointed out that losing control every now and then had to be better than drinking every night.  She has a point.

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Daytime drowsiness

Taking it "easy"
(In which I feel terribly guilty about taking a nap during my lunch break)

I like this photo b/c that guy is in business attire and still has his shoes on.  He's looking straight up at the ceiling as if in dread that he should be working but he's found himself in bed.  So relaxing.

I don't know if it's just getting a caffeine tolerance, anxiety paradoxically making me sleepy to avoid work, laziness, or just a habit... but I'm consistently getting so extremely drowsy in the afternoon.

It can't be explained by eating lunch and post-lunch sleepiness one hears about.  I frequently don't even eat lunch.  I've tried adding an energy drink to my afternoon coffee and that hasn't made an impact.  Since I stopped drinking alcohol I started drinking energy drinks.  They feel like the one vice I might have left after weed and booze.

I might feel more panic at getting so sleepy in an office.  I don't know.  Maybe I would go walk around and try to wake up that way.  These days I'm drifting off either on the bed or on a chair during my "lunch break".  And sometimes that 30-60 lunch break stretches into a 90 minutes because I can't get my sleepy ass up.  Of course, that nap isn't restful at all and I'm sleepy most of the afternoon.  I get no energy from that nap whatsoever.  Just a fun dose of guilt.  Just a fun slump in productivity.

Anyway, this shows no sign of letting up.  I'm not sure what exactly to do.  I'm not really fighting it at this point.  One option would be to get off my ass and go outside for five minutes.  It is hot as shit and that does tend to wake me up.  But... I've got to want to wake up and I think that's the real problem.

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Drying up

(In which I whine about my lack of writing)

So it's May.  And I haven't blogged since early December.  And I had a total of five posts last year. I contacted the administrator of Bipolar Blogger Network letting them know of my total inactivity and that I would understand if my blog was removed from the list.  I got no response and mercifully my blog remains on the list.  At one point I was trying to track how many readers I got (maybe 5) but I'm just so not caring about that any longer.

I'm just not writing.  Yet things are happening that seem noteworthy in my life... or at least beyond the monotony.  For example:

  • I started smoking marijuana heavily from October to February.  It was seriously affecting my marriage and being a good father.  My cognition and memory started to suffer (and thus my job suffered).  I threw it away in February and haven't smoked since then.
  • While smoking, I started drinking heavily too.  Once I stopped smoking the drinking continued.  I saw my psychiatrist three weeks ago and he blatantly said, "You can't drink".  I haven't had a drink since Mother's Day.  That has been tough which obviously means the drinking had gotten out of hand.
  • I have experienced more work stress in the past 4 months than ever.  A 3 month project is a month behind and still not done (although nearly).  I've worked a few 50+ hour weeks which may not sound like much but has been really tough for my mental health
And there you have it... the last four or five months reduced to three bullet points.  I wish I was more eloquent or rigorous with the blog.  Looking back, this blog has been an exciting and meaningful part of my life at several different times.  I think that's important and I don't want to minimize that.  And here I am again for some reason writing even though it's been almost six months.  So perhaps it's coming to be another time.

So thus the title "Drying up".  I'm concerned that I will stop altogether.  That's not the only reason I'm writing today.  I think I needed to start somewhere again.  I can't go back and really give a good synopsis of all that time I was high.  A lot of it was a sad blur.  Getting high for me starts out and I like to try to record the experience in some way (pictures or writing) as if it will be interesting later or as if it's a creative act.  Then getting high just becomes a daily thing and even the recording "dries up".  I'm not drying up as a dad and husband.  I think I'm doing better than I have in a while.  But recovery doesn't have to be boring.  There's something worthwhile to reflect on even while I'm well.  

And if you're bored there's always the very surface blog that I have fun with on Tumblr.

Here's to not drying up and to writing more the rest of 2018.

Good wishes to anyone reading this.  Hang in there if it's a shitty time.  Sometimes my bipolar depression flips so fast it makes my head spin.  It's disorienting but after years and years it has given me the patience and foresight to totally say 'Fuck you' to suicidal thoughts.  If you're having them I hope you can see them as symptoms and not listen to them.  I know that's extremely difficult.  Keep moving. 

Your last anything

(In which I contemplate that no one knows the hour of their death)

This can't be my last post
This can't be my last car ride
This can't be my last drink
This can't be my last bowl
Surely I will have time someday to find joy in a fulfilling hobby
I wouldn't get behind the wheel if I had an appreciation of the risks, and that I might not get out of that car.  The airbag light in my car has been on for years.  I'm guessing the airbag isn't working.  Perhaps it won't deploy.  Perhaps it will deploy at such a velocity it will kill me.

I'm not sure it's morbid for me to think about how unexpected death can be.  It's not as if I'm thinking about it constantly.  And, of course, many times I am not controlling the thought... they simply pop up like weeds.  Weeds that if you try to kill just go stronger.  Have to let them wither by ignoring them.  Anyway, the cliche is that it should help me appreciate the present.  Occasionally that might be true.

It's difficult to think about my death without overcome with anxiety about what it would mean for my family.  Those are weeds difficult to ignore.  I am unable to obtain any more life insurance without a medical exam.  I've already failed one of those by disclosing I am bipolar.  What would my family be able to maintain?  How much of their lives could continue and for how long?  Would they have to move?  Could Autumn find a job flexible enough to accommodate unknown events with Phillip?  If she did work, would she make enough to afford child care and have money left over?

Happy soon to be here solstice.  6 days.  For me, the downward spiral happens about 2-3 weeks later.  Roughly.  Need to figure out how to brace for impact.

Image credit: Pixabay

Awful monotony

(In which I whine about how mood swings get really old)

I've been having extreme mood swings where days are radically different.  One day I'm upbeat, energetic, productive, grateful, and optimistic. The little things don't bother me. I'm confident I will tackle them and they are manageable. I will get things done.  My thoughts are quick. They bubble up to the surface. It feels like basking in a relaxing hot spring.
I want to spend time with my family. They are so supportive and they fill me with energy, hope, and love.  I can feel my positive attitude affecting them. It feels so light and effortless. I feel lucky to have my job and my home.

Then, the very next day is the extreme opposite. There is a multi-day streak that feels as if I've been in a deep depression for months. I'm dejected, sad, and hopeless.  At all times a crying jag is three minutes away. The household tasks I've procrastinated are overwhelming. I loathe myself for putting them off for so long. I want desperately to be alone. My family isn't loving, they are an insatiable obligation. They won't leave me alone. They want to spend time with me all day long. They are crushingly dependent on my job and my income. Our lives would completely fall apart if I lost my job. And I don't think I can take my job another day. I'm failing at it. I'm behind. I'm going to blow it. I start late, nap during lunch, and barely get anything done. I can't focus. My moods affect my family and I resent them. They aren't caring but instead are helplessly dependent. I feel their disappointment as they resign themselves to my sudden descent into negativity. The guilt is overwhelming. I feel pressured to maintain a stable mood and shield them from the hell that is consuming me. They see a "bad mood" and I don't think they realize the suicidal thoughts that just won't stop. They see "impatience" and not the rage I can barely suppress. Sometimes I want to hurt them in the most savage way I can imagine. The desperate desire to get away. Feeling trapped and helpless because there's no way to escape this pain without crushing their lives. So I feel even more alone and I want to avoid them even more. I don't have the energy to keep up the facade.

The irony is that it's all so tiresome.  Somehow... the emotional whiplash just gets to be the new normal.  Swinging from love to repulsion.  It's exhausting.  But it just isn't surprising anymore.  Hurrah.

Image credit: Flickr

Vyvanse malestrom

(In which I moan about ADD medication)

I really need to get off the Vyvanse.

I'm almost positive it's giving me terrible mood swings.  It wasn't this bad when I first started taking it.

At first it kind of went like this :

1) Take Vyvanse
2) After about 30 minutes it starts kicking in.
3) Feel upbeat and as if I will be able to accomplish all my goals
4) Stay focused for 6-8 hours
5) Effects slowly wear off followed by a period of irritability and low energy.  Thoughts on the future and what I will be able to accomplish turn pessimistic.

Slowly over time the different mental states became more and more extreme while the  transitions between those states became sudden and jarring.

NOTE: This is an older post.  I am actually off the Vyvanse now and I think it was a good decision.  I'll write more later!

Code monkey trap

(In which I complain about my job)

Work stress is nearly unbearable right now.  Deadlines are speeding toward me.  I am juggling two different projects both with imminent due dates.  I am the more or less the sole person responsible for the success or failure of the projects.  If something goes wrong it will be my ass on the line.

It's not surprising I am not handling the stress well.  To try to make these deadlines I am working from 8 pm to 11 pm every night this week.  It doesn't look like it's going to be enough.  What's worse is that after 11 pm I feel deprived of having any time to myself so I've been staying up until 1 am.  And to get Phillip on the bus, I've got to get up at 6:10.  The ultimate trap is that during the day when I should be busting it out at work... I'm

  • Exhausted
  • Emotionally fragile from the sleep deprivation
  • Dejected about working last night
  • Pissed that I will work that night
  • Freaked out about how I'm not getting enough done

So what is the result of all that?  I am unfocused.  I am not productive.  On two days I've even walked away for two hours.  And there's the trap.  An unproductive day necessitates working that night.  The stress, exhaustion, resentment build.  The productivity drops.  The distance between Mary and I widens.


Image credit: Bear trap

The painbirds are here

(In which I whine about the onset of January depression)

What a shitty 3 weeks it's been.  Vyvanse hasn't made me immune to the depression that always comes this time of year.  I had hoped it would help. Perhaps it has made it less severe, but, of course there's no way to know that.
I don't even know what to summarize things since I was posting somewhat regularly.  It's been a very long time. I've often thought of writing. It's pretty obvious I often have doubts I have anything worthwhile to say. 
My free time starts after 7:30 at night which on the one hand is a luxurious amount of time before bed. On the other hand I'm usually tired and lazy by that time. I frequently disappear into my phone. Unfortunately I've developed a habit of reading the news, which almost certainly is not good for my mental health.  Maybe I'll get back to blogging..

Image credit: Pixabay  

Noon at Ray’s

Time plus two hours and thirty minutes.

Current time: 1:41 pm

Reason, readability, speedily, hurriedly

Free wi-fi for one hour for being T-Mobile customer. Whoo-hoo!!

Baby I could be your man.

National Geographic. Scientific American. Kindle Seveneves. Kindle Ted Chiang short story.