It’s Been a Long While……

I thought I would be better at keeping up my blog but many times by night I am really tired. I have one year left of coursework for my Ph.D. After coursework I take the exam and then the dissertation. The road I am on is very lonely and you can be in a relationship and not only feel alone but you can feel lonely. All the people that knew me my first go around in studies are all dead and people today will give you a few seconds of kind words and then poof they be gone. Culture has certainly changed a lot. Not sure I like how it has evolved, especially when you have a significant amount of people on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications. When you see statistics this large, you realize (or at least I do) that we have an enormous problem. My support system is nothing of what it used to be and I’m not sure its my fault. One can reach out to people but if they cant be bothered with you then you move on. Everyone seems to be so self involved; usually with their phones. That seems to be the major relationship everyone is involved with now…..their phones, ipads, ipods.  I learned that you never go where you aren’t invited or wanted. Since phones are a solitary device for the most part, you are alone and the more alone and isolated we become the more anxiety and depression will proliferate and I believe its going to get MUCH MUCH worse within the next 5 years. Technology is to assist us not take over as the main mode of communication between people. Have you noticed that people don’t converse anymore? You go out to a bar and everyone is on their phones texting to the guy they want to meet from 10 feet away. Yeah people, we are in a heap of trouble. No one even calls anyone anymore; they text. They propose marriage over a text, they break up over a text, they fight through texting, they make important announcements through texting. No one hears any human voice anymore. you have a computerized voice to tell you where such and such place is. You don’t even talk to an operator anymore to get a number or to ask for directions at a gas station. You TEXT to get answers for everything. This in my estimation is NOT good at all! The human system is broken and we have allowed technology to break us. Rather than have technology be OUR servant it has become our MASTER! Leather groups are becoming less and less, and the only way the “community” gets together is through a contest with brings in the green (money). Leather has become big business and the producers and vendors know it…OHHH they know it. If a producer is losing money year after year that he digs deep into his own pocket to keep a contest going, so much that he has to work all year to produce his contest, he would get tired and stop. The fact that they don’t, means they are pulling profit. NO ONE is going to keep a contest going for 5 or ten years when they have to work at their full time job to keep the contest going because it loses substantial money EVERY year. That don’t make sense and no one loves their community THAT much even when the producer whines about all the money he’s losing  just to keep the contest going! REALLY? So you lose money EVERY year and you work at your job to pay rent food car etc., AND to keep the contest alive? When pressed for a response I get them to admit that well not EVERY year. Sometimes they break even and sometimes they pull in good money.. THANK YOU!! I know a guy who ran a contest and was able to lease new cars to travel all over the place to keep his contest in the public eye but the title holder got NOTHING for his travel fund. He gave nothing to his community but kept his pockets ample! I don’t bother much anymore with what I see. I cant change it but I remain true to who I am and that’s the best I can do. I have wonderful memories that no one is interested in hearing because it doesn’t exist anymore and no one is interested in trying to get back to basics. Too much business and money involved. Leather groups used to be very social within their community. Now they are concentric circles of emotional and sometimes sexual incest. IF you don’t bring in new people then you have this small clique of guys who tend to keep everyone out and never reach out to their community. IF they are solely a social group, they don’t have open social events for others to maybe want to join because they’re too busy and focused on keeping the circle closed. They usually die out because there’s no growth. They pat each other on the back when they really do nothing for anyone but themselves. Yes things have changed a TON! There has to be a way around this.. I just haven’t been able to figure it out….YET.

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More on Anxiety and Depression

I have gotten much more feedback than I ever expected on this topic from private emails. As a result, I am writing a second article on the topic for those who wrote to me. I feel a responsibility to you out there, since I wrote about this, and started the dialogue by “coming out” as having anxiety disorder.  Most people, especially men don’t want to talk about this topic because as one guy said, this kind of stuff usually happens to women who are more emotional than men.

I think that’s where a HUGE part of the problem begins. Men typically hide their emotional feelings in dealing with life where women behave differently by allowing themselves to express emotion. I had thought that the mentality behind this stereotype ended with my parents but apparently it hasn’t. It makes me wonder if the reports of women having more anxiety and depression than men are wrong because as I just stated, men don’t talk about this openly as women do and I believe that men NEED to begin a dialogue about this. I wonder how many men are hiding in fear with this?

Another huge issue (and I touched on this in an earlier post) is you cannot see this under a microscope. You can diagnose HIV and see what it is or cancer, diabetes, a stroke, or cardiovascular disease but (and I can speak from personal experience) you can go to the doctor 100 times take all kinds of tests for the physical symptoms but nothing shows up!

This gives rise to the statements such as, “Just get over it” or “what are you crazy or something?” “There’s nothing wrong with you. The tests show you’re ok!” I want to tell you all something, Just because it cannot be quantified doesn’t mean you’re ok.  Problem is, you’re NOT ok regardless of how you look or how “others” see you or perceive you to be! This is where a good caring therapist comes in, and maybe even sometimes a psychiatrist to prescribe medication to ease the symptoms while you work on your issues with your therapist. MANY times the symptoms INCREASE as you deal with them; the issues you hid, beat down or pushed down so as not to deal with or even look at them.

Now comes the stigma and it can be worse, much worse, than any stigma of HIV or any other disease because people think of mental illness as a person who goes off his rocker and is the proverbial ticking time bomb ready to go off. Or those who think that the person may turn on themselves AND others or just on himself and commit suicide. These are ALL extreme but you’d be surprised how many out there think that. This creates a huge stigma where so many go into hiding (another reason to hide) because of the “name” you get if found out. Well if you hide, you give power to the illness and if you come out you take away the power from the illness, giving it BACK to yourself! You CAN and WILL get better if you seek help and treatment. You CAN live a fulfilling and full life. You are NO less of a man for coming out into the open admitting you have a problem with anxiety, depression, BOTH or any number of other emotional challenges that result in illness. Remember its NOT a disease its an illness.

The beginning of these problems vary greatly from person to person on an individual basis. It can start with nervousness, anxiety or with anxiety that leads to a panic attack, or depression from a traumatic incident, or abuse from parents or siblings, or depression FROM the anxiety and nervousness. Whatever the reason, if you have it you need to fix it. This isn’t going away on its own. TRUST ME ON THIS FACT! Its not a common cold. Repressing your feelings will only make things worse down the road because by burying it now means it will only rear its ugly head later and TRUST me, it ALWAYS does. Any traumatic incident in your life that happens, it WILL come back. IT WILL!! You may have stretches of time where you’re doing fine but then BANG, you get a panic attack or something throws you into a tailspin and you’re back to square one. All the old feelings insecurities and problem come racing back because they were never dealt with. The only way is to face it, deal with it, and get help for it. PLEASE keep writing me. IF you all would like to start an online support group to discuss our day to day goings on, I am up for it.

And Now for Something TOTALLY Different.

After hanging out with a very good friend of mine the other night, I felt compelled to write about this topic. He suffers from clinical depression…and at times anxiety. As a former psychologist (yes I have graduate degrees in psychology and counseling from St. Johns University) I’ve seen how utterly destructive both conditions are and the stigma associated with them. Telling someone to just “snap out of it” or “get over it” just wont work…Well they cant get over it or snap out of it no more than you can snap out of HIV or cancer!! It’s not something so simple as to get over it or just do it. Many times this is a crippling condition that you cannot even get out of bed and have no desire to do ANYTHING! The worst part? you CANNOT see this under a microscope. You cant study it like cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV, psoriasis, or diabetes. There’s nothing physically wrong with you although it does indeed manifest itself physically. Because of this, the stigma is far worse because one is viewed as a mental or nut case. This is however SO FAR from the truth. The majority of times it stems back to events or an event that triggered a pattern which became habitual and so engrained in the person that they don’t know any other way to respond and once the habit is formed they don’t see any way of getting out of it. You don’t wake up with it like a cold. Its a process that sneaks up on you and invades every inch of your life. Where brain chemistry changes or at what point is still under debate and I personally don’t believe they have all the answers yet. The human brain is the final frontier of research because its the most difficult to study given its a jelly mass enclosed in your skull and not easy to get at.

The commercials on TV talking about it don’t really tell the full scope of how devastating this is to ones life. My friend has gone through numerous therapists, meds, groups and nothing has helped much. AS he gets immune to one set of meds they have to move him to a different regimen. Then there are the side effects which have to be controlled. Its a very nasty situation and the majority of people are of no help because there is this value judgment. He has heard awful comments like, “I’ll trade my HIV for your depression”! REALLY? They can do more for HIV than for depression!! With HIV they can actually extract the virus and see which medications are effective against it. With Depression you cant do this. Its a LONG LONG trial and error process where you go on meds and if you still feel like shit after several months AND dealing with side effects, they take you off and switch you until they get the right combination. Because brain chemistry is unique and different in everyone, there’s no way to know how each SPECIFIC individual will react. It’s a miserable ride.

The next topic is going to be on a more personal note. Something I know a lot about. ANXIETY. I have suffered from anticipatory anxiety for much of my life. For me it began with a mother who should have been treated for mental illness. I likely would have been removed from my house as a child due to the physical beatings and mental abuse at the hands of the one person you are supposed to believe would protect you the most. I was a piece of property to her and she had already lost a son to rheumatic fever and asthma. She was almost 40 when I was born and it was her final chance to have a child. She was so afraid something would happen to me so she hovered over me like a helicopter. Since I didn’t come with a manual and back then no one went to shrinks, I learned how to be afraid of EVERYTHING and was often beaten into submission. There was very little joy and peace in my life and that carried over into my adulthood. Panic attacks, anxiety attacks, stomach problems, Irritable bowl syndrome, spastic colon, heart palpitations, rapid heartbeat, headaches…yeah I’ve had all of that. The only time I felt any peace was when I slept. You go for every test in the book and they find NOTHING wrong with you that they can see under a microscope. I hid my condition for decades because of the stigma. I’ve gone to therapy throughout my life trying to fix the damage she caused. When she got old and sick I took care of her form a distance…like a thousand miles. When she died I didn’t go to her funeral. I made all the preparations over the phone from Florida to NYC. She wished I got AIDS, she didn’t want me at her funeral (yes I was told that ) and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I made peace with myself for hating her and forgiving myself for the negative feelings I will always have. As for forgiving her, I have. She did the best she could since she was so mentally sick herself.  I love her but don’t like her. I never will. All in all though, life isn’t so bad but at times its a HUGE struggle and challenge. I’ve managed to live despite it all and without any medications EVER! I have been relearning what life and love is through my friends and the special men that have always been a part of my life. It just stinks that so many of us have had to go through this. So to all those out there who are dealing with either anxiety or depression, OR BOTH, I DO understand! If any of you who read this want to ask me any questions or talk further you can email me here, reply and I will get back to you ASAP because I understand how difficult this is to deal with. The one piece of advise I have my friend the other night and I will give it here. KEEP MOVING FORWARD AND DON’T LOOK BACK!! If you need help, seek it. With all the bullshit, life still holds wonder for me.