Caged and Cornered

•9 December, 2011 • 2 Comments

So this morning started out normal enough aside from the fact that I’m kicking a head cold and woke up stuffed-up with a hoarse voice and cotton-mouth. As we were leaving for work I got into my car to grab something and on her way out of the house my wife presumptuously barked “I already got your cards outta there”. With eyes like daggers I zinged back with a big fuck you disguised as “Turn off the light in the house”! Touche. This pissed me off because she ALWAYS does that shit. It doesn’t matter if I’m driving or what, she acts like I’m retarded and thank god she’s around because I would forget to put on clothes and wander off into a blizzard. I’ve told her I hate when she’s bossy, it’s very immasculating and contributes to my low self-esteem which is already bad enough. My tactic is usually to just kind of mention that it makes me feel stupid and I have my own social security number for a reason when she does it, but today it had finally hit a critical mass and I’d had enough of it so shit really hit the fan on the way to school.

I brought up a really old issue that drove a wedge between us that I legitimately still relive and get pissed about but that she thinks should be dead and buried. I don’t blame her for thinking this way because I would probably be the same, but she cut me pretty deep and it very nearly ended our marriage. It didn’t help that I took my son to our school’s wrestling duel last night and he was there hanging out behind where the athletes sit with all his smuggliness like he was part of the fucking team and not somebody that shouldn’t even be allowed near a school because of all the inappropriate shit he’s pulled with underage girls and everything all came rushing back to me and I just wanted to shoot him in the fucking face! I still have my hopes up because several students have complained so maybe he can be gotten rid of for good unless he pulls the race card again.

I’ve built a really good security apparatus with unlimited recall ability.

I also bashed her parents even though I love them and they really are pretty sweet in-laws. They do however know how to strike a nerve when they offer unsolicited advice which, now that I think about it, mimics what my wife has been doing to me so I can see where she picked it up. I hate being made to feel dependent or subordinate to anyone.

By the time we got to the day-care to drop off our son we were at the peak of our meanness as the argument blazed out. I think part of that has to do with how frustratingly fast things can go downhill when we it seems like things are going too well between us. It also sucks when things we had planned for the weekend are cancelled because we hate each other. The worst part of all may be that I know she thinks I’m the asshole and she’s the poor beaten and abused wife who is sure to portray that to her friends five minutes later when they start texting each other.

I guess I just feel like not only an animal that has been domesticated, which is how it goes when you chose to settle down and start a family, but one that is caged up and proded at just enough to resent the aggressor. Once that aggressor prods one too many times somebody’s pulling a stump back out of the cage. I always feel terrible when our communication breaks down and we hurt each other but it is what it is.

I’m wondering how many others have experienced something similar and how do you cope? How do I let go of past wrongs even though I emotionally relive them just like they are happening? How do I stop ruminating and obsessing about everything?

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Homeland

•6 December, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Though I usually stick to watching sports, comedies or programs with educational aspects to them like Dexter, The Walking Dead or pretty much anything on the History or Discovery Channels, I am always looking for something that stands out from the bevy of pretentious and boringly predictable shows. I want to drive my car through an elementary playground when I have to hear about shows like “Kate Plus 8“, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” or “Real Housewives“. It’s not only frustrating that people are rich and famous for accomplishing absolutely nothing in their lives, but that so many people actually invest time in following them.

I’ve become enthralled with the Showtime original series “Homeland“. The show is actually a remake of the Israeli TV series “Hatufim” (Hebrew for prisoners). “Hatufim” traces what happens when three IDF soldiers, captured in a botched mission in Lebanon, return after being held captive by Syria for 17 years. (Syria occupied Lebanon for nearly thirty years). Their wives and families become household names, and their ordeal sparks national debate about how Israel should handle prisoners of war. There are about 1,500 repatriated hatufim living in Israel, and much like the war veterans here in the United States, they are forgotten after the parades and celebrations end and are left trying to rebuild their lives and reintegrate into society.

Creator and director Gideon Raff (executive producer for “Homeland”) meticulously researched the subject by interviewing former POWs, their families, and the psychologists who treat them. He wanted to understand what life is really like after you’ve lost years of your life being tortured and left rotting in a dungeon in some foreign country. While “Homeland” is more of a thriller exploring the American psyche upon the tenth anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, “Hatufim” is more of a domestic drama of life after captivity.

I guess what really draws me to “Homeland” is the focus on the psychological aspects of national security and how much of myself I see in the characters. There’s the bipolar CIA agent who must keep her condition secret from her employer for fear of losing everything she cares about and has worked so hard for. She exhibits some risky behavior and can be vulnerable and insecure one moment and ruthless the next, but she is driven and refuses to lose or ever give up.

There’s the depressed CIA agent who’s wife has finally left him for good because he hasn’t spent a full night at home in years and when he has been around hasn’t been completely “present” because of his intense focus on his calling. He is a shadow of the man he used to be and seems resigned to being alone for the rest of his life.

There’s the Marine sniper suspected of having been turned into an al-queda operative who is trying to rekindle his marriage after his best friend served as his proxy for several years. He is also trying to reconnect with the two kids who don’t really know him. In addition to this, he is being marketed as the poster child of liberty and pressured by the Vice President not only to re-enlist but to run for a seat in the House of Representatives. He is being pulled in all directions and trying to please everyone except himself, which makes me wonder if he really was brainwashed in captivity and is now a part of a bigger cause.

There’s his wife, who six years after being told her husband was dead and she had started receving death benefits, finally tried to move on with her life and fell in love with her husband’s best friend.

There’s his best friend who, regardless of his best efforts and good deeds, has been brushed aside like nothing happened and forced to let the love of his life go without a fight because he is a nice guy who respects his friend. All he got was a pat on the back and a “thanks dude”.

There are so many layers and plot twists to this series and the time and effort put into producing the show respects your intelligence.

Abilify

•5 December, 2011 • 1 Comment

So I ended up going to my psychiatric appointment last Wednesday. I told him that I had stopped taking Fluoxetine a while back because I was getting really gnarly heartburn every few days and still felt anxious. I also told him that I wasn’t sleeping much and didn’t like taking Trazodone because I would wake up with cotton mouth and feel all weird and drunk, even with half a pill. So he gave me a month’s worth of 2 mg Abilify tablets to try out with the Lamictal I’m taking at bedtime.

I’m kind of freaked out after reading some of the negative side-effects like weight gain and some muscle problems, but also hopeful that it will work for me. I’ve only taken it 4 nights so far, but this morning I was pleasantly surprised to look at the clock when I woke-up and it was 4 a.m. and I didn’t feel super tired.  To be honest however, I have been delving into my wife’s pain meds on a recreational basis, usually every other evening. She has some back issues she’s taking care of but has an absurd amount of these pills and they allow me to wind-down.

As for my fitness quest, I’ve been eating about 80% healthy meals and drinks free of refined sugar, caffeine and alcohol. There’s been a few times things have snuck in there or I just outright cheated. I also haven’t bought any chew, although I have bummed a couple of pinches from my brother. I haven’t been able to work-out just because of time: in addition to teaching I’m also riding with driver’s ed students after school to try and show them the ropes. I am however going to install pull-up bar my buddy with the CrossFit affiliate gave me a great deal on. I can work on grip strength, core strength, flexibility and hip movements which all serve as the foundations for many of the olympic movements utilized by CrossFit. I’m also going to jump rope and do a lot of air squats, sit-ups, push-ups and streching. Go me!

Teachers rarely hear good things from people who don’t have any idea of what really goes on inside their kid’s schools. We also feel scrutinized by administrators who are under pressure to comply with federal and state mandates based on standardized test results. But today I covered a class with a practicum student that had been observing all year so far. She told me that I communicated and connected with the kids 100 times better than their normal teacher, so that made me feel pretty good about where I’m at professionally.

On a side-note, I had an awesome weekend! My wife and I went snowboarding for the first time this season on Saturday. My college roomie and his family came to visit so we got to catch up and share some laughs. We all went out to eat and when my wife was putting her coat a waitress tried to sneak between her and the wall with a tray full of drinks. It didn’t turn out well but at least nobody got wet. Sunday night was my other buddy’s son’s 2nd birthday party so we tore it up at a McDonald’s playplace. It was so much fun watching the unbelievable joy my son and my friends’ sons experienced. That was absurdly hilarious end to the weekend.

Are we on the road to tyranny and ruin?

•28 November, 2011 • Leave a Comment

With all of the uncertainty in the world, you’d think that we would be the beacon of liberty and prosperity shining the way for the rest of our socialist world on a dark and stormy night. But things are different from when America was the superpower with the bomb who had just simultaneously defeated Germany and Japan through our industrial might and followed-up by rebuilding Europe as well as overseeing an unprecedented time of peace and prosperity. Different from when Reagan outspent the Soviet Union into collapse.

The more I see stories like the one about trigger-happy fascist foot soldiers raiding the home of an Iraq war veteran, I begin to wonder where we are headed as a nation when the people sworn to protect citizens and uphold the law can murder someone while executing a warrant for a guy suspected of smuggling drugs. To be quite honest, what we put into our bodies is none of the governments business anyways. This was done to a Marine with combat experience in the middle of the night. Who wouldn’t grab their weapon to defend their family from unknown assailants? The same thing could have been accomplished during the day at the guy’s job. Instead, his son will grow up without his father and nobody will be held accountable. The sad part was that a search of the home after the shooting revealed nothing illegal, although officers found weapons and body armor. The five deputies involved in the shooting remain on active duty. No criminal charges have been filed and no disciplinary action taken.

And then there’s the Kansas girl who bagged on her state’s governor in a tweet meant for her friends and acquaintances as a joke and was ordered by her principal to write a letter of apology after a staffer notified him of the tweet. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think freedom of speech is still one of our rights, inalienable and protected by the 1st amendment so long as it does not threaten to or directly endanger others.

Under the unconstitutional law called the “Patriot Act“, the writ of habeas corpus has been suspended, so if you’re labeled a terrorist have fun spending the rest of your life being tortured at one of the CIA’s clandestine Eastern European prisons. Federal investigators can monitor your phone, internet or even library activity without probable cause and you would never know the difference, until you said anything slightly un-American. As I’m writing this post I’m waiting for a knock on the door, or maybe they would just bust in shooting since murder is now merely frowned upon if you’re a law enforcement officer.

As if these gross civil rights violations weren’t bad enough, left unchecked, entitlement spending is projected to cause a complete economic collapse by 2030. There are more seniors living longer and drawing benefits supported by a dwindling number of people paying into the system. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the interest on the national debt accrued paying for these entitlements account for most federal spending, which is set to railroad everyone under the age of about seventy into abject poverty. ObamaCare, military spending and everything else pales in comparison.

With civil liberties and human rights being trampled, combined with our economic problems, I worry what kind of world my son will live in with a bipartisian legislature hell bent on trivial pursuits like gay marriage and re-election instead of tackling our real problems. My wife and I are refinancing our home to save as much money as we can, knowing we are on our own for retirement and paying for college someday. I worry if our son will ever even own his own home or be able to send our grandchildren to college.

Another quest update

•28 November, 2011 • Leave a Comment

One week in, my quest to dominate and pound my bipolar II symptoms into submission is going pretty well. Saturday night I had my last drink (pinky swear) until at least two weekends from now when my wife and I are going up to the mountains for some snowboarding and wine tasting. That last part isn’t my idea of fun but includes a free stay at her friend’s friend’s condo if we play along and put up with her princessy bullshit so its whatever, that’s where the wine will come into play.

Yesterday I stayed really busy getting stuff done around the house and had the last chew I’m ever paying for (I reserve the right to barter) in the process of splitting logs and hauling in our recyclables. Asking for one not only limits my options but the frequency and size of pinch I take as well so I’m not a mooch. I started using chew to wind down from the stresses of work and school and it just sort of became a routine that when I got in my car I threw in a chew and tossed it when I got home. At night I also used to smoke on the stoop with my roomy as we’d ponder life and the mysteries of the universe. Every now and again I’ll get a hair up my ass and smoke a pack just to mix things up, but that’s not an option anymore either.

Last night for my usual wake up in the middle of the night famished routine, I resisted my first instinct to ravage the oreos and instead went for a lean turkey sandwhich (go tryptophan) on whole wheat bread and a bowl of cheerios. I washed it down with some melatonin and crawled back into bed. It was a way better choice that didn’t involve refined sugar or any further negative effect on sleep when I’m already losing enough of it already.

I’m continuing to do CrossFit and I’m scheduled to see my psychiatrist Wednesday, although I’m thinking of cancelling because the meds I’m on are working and I have plenty of refills to last me until next year. I also don’t want to throw-away $85. I’ll probably go anyways to see if I can get a referral for a sleep study to see if sleep apnea is contributing to my symptoms. My wife hates my snoring and tossing and turning and all too often, in spite of wearing a breathe right, I wake up exhausted and act like an asshole. Might as well do it now since we are WAY over our deductible for this year and I think it might help.

Thanksgiving crash

•27 November, 2011 • 1 Comment

CrossFit, diet and meds can only get you so far when you are bipolar. At the end of the day you still have it, no matter what you tell yourself. I noticed the change Wednesday night when I started tripping over my thoughts. The best analogy would be when you play Tetris and the blocks start dropping WAY too fast for you to deal with but you still try to stack them until the screen fills up and its game over. Its very frustrating because you go from performing at a high level mentally and physically back down to normal faster than you would like. Thursday was probablly the worst day to have reached the apex of being so moody and agitated. My extended family is pretty simple, and by simple I mean annoying white trash without any kind of filter. I would rather drink bleach than spend time with them. After dinner a few of us started playing Rummikub, but everyone has voice immodulation and I felt like I was in the middle of a British Parliament debate and I couldn’t concentrate on or enjoy the game. So I went downstairs to watch some football and take a nap but my kindergarten-age cousin wouldn’t stop badgering me to go outside and play football even though I was sore as shit from working out on top of being tired. I told my wife, who shares my sentiments about my family, that we were bugging out because “our dogs needed to be let outside” wink wink and I cruised out to the car without saying a word to anyone. Just like that the bottom dropped out.

Quest update

•22 November, 2011 • Leave a Comment

So today, as well as for the past few days, I have been feeling fantastic and I’m hitting on all cylinders. So far I really haven’t made too many big changes save for the small choices I make throughout the day. I got my Lamictal prescription refilled and am taking it consistently again. I realize that I cannot just stop all meds and will a medical condition away. I am never going to take the Fluoxetine again because of the heartburn, but I visit my psychiatrist next week so maybe we can come up with something else.

I am mindful of what I am putting into my body and I make it a point to stay active at home by playing with my toddler and doing things around the house like I get paid by the chore. At school I barely have time to sit down so there’s not much room for change on that front.

Ironically however, this all kicked off Saturday night with me breaking my 18-hour-old commitment to not drinking alcohol, using chew or staying up late. That’s willpower if I’ve ever seen it. I didn’t get crazy by any means. In fact, I was driving my two buddies around so I was very cognizant of how much beer I was nursing along. I also used chew and was up till 330 watching some hilarious Louis C.K. and Jim Jeffries stand-up specials my buddy had on his dvr.

This got me thinking that diet, exercise and all that other stuff isn’t everything. Social relationships and having some fun can do absolute wonders for your mental state. The quest didn’t last long once it went up against reality, but I plan to keep making a concerted effort to accomplish what I set out to. Tomorrow is the first day of Thanksgiving break and I’m hitting up my buddy’s CrossFit affiliate for some punishment. If you haven’t heard of it, Crossfit is pretty much the holy grail of exercise. It will kick your ass and get you fit in a hurry, and I’ve found it’s so much more of a team sport and way of life than your ordinary boring workout routine. With that said it is WAY past my bedtime.