Sunday, February 2, 2014

Facing my chronic depression..

Where to begin with this...probably for the last 12 or 13 years or so, I've been dealing with social anxiety and depression.  Social anxiety my entire life, actually.  It's probably one of the main reasons I didn't go to college, because the thought of public speaking is petrifying to me.  It's a problem.  My depression has evolved over time.  I have a bit of delayed adolescense for several reasons.  I never had much of a social life growing up, mainly because of my father.  He was very controlling, and wore the worst hairpiece/toupee you can ever imagine.  And he wanted his privacy, and the ability to leave his hairpiece on a wig block in the middle of the kitchen table without the possibility of me coming home with a friend.  Fucking ridiculous.  I think i was in my early 20's when I realized how crazy my father was, then felt it necessary to reevaluate everything he'd ever taught me, every value and concept I held, that perhaps he had had a hand in forming in my mind.  About that time, my dad suffered a series of strokes, which further complicated my life, because my Mom and I had to care for my father at home full time.  This, too, put a serious damper on any socializing, plus now it was up to me to pay most of the bills and keep a roof over our heads.  There was no way I could "move out" because my parents could not make it on their own.  I felt trapped.  Finally in 1998 we could not care for my father any longer at home.  He was difficult to deal with, and frequently he would fall down while I was at work and my Mom would have to call me to come home from work and help her pick him up.  Sometimes he would fall outside.  Many times he would get up in the middle of the night, find a way to make it to the kitchen, turn on the garbage disposal and every water faucet in the house, open the garage door, turn all the lights on, turn the thermostat down to 55 degrees...and one time, even called a friend of mine's mom and told her, "the Russians have launched their Nuclear weapons...we have less than 30 minutes to live..we're all going to die."  Enough.  We put him in a nursing home, and my Mom decided to move to Bahrain with my sister.  They have since (2007) relocated to Tucson, Arizona.  When I was 33 I finally came out of the closet and told my family and friends I was gay.  Most of them had figured this out, but some were surprised.  Shortly thereafter I had my very first sexual experience...yes, I was a virgin until age 33.  When you're gay and 30 you've pretty much missed the Gay Boat haha and now I'm 44, never been in a relationship, and feeling alone.  I've never liked my kind very much, and cannot stand the whole 'gay pride' movement or the typical gay male.  To me, walking down main street in a parade with an "I swallow" t-shirt on does nothing for acceptance of homosexuals.  I'm embarrassed to be stereotyped with those individuals who give the rest of us a bad name and perception.  So, I'm gay and 44, about to turn 45, and I'm not attracted to guys my age.  In fact, I'm mainly attracted to straight guys who are half my age, and I admit, an occasional younger girl.  I've obsessed over several guys over the years, currently a 23 year old co-worker, which really sucks.  We are so much alike, text each other at the same time...finish each others sentences, but he's straight and not available in that way to me.  It's a problem.  Guys my age I find to be stuffy, and most of them don't take reasonable care of themselves.  Most people think I'm in my early 30's and are shocked when I tell them I'm 44.  I've never had a cavity, go to the gym, look reasonably fit, but I just can't seem to find anyone I click with who is available.  But then, I need to get myself right before that can happen.  I realize that wanting to be in a relationship just for the sake of being in one, is not the answer.  Nor will another person be able to fix all the issues with ME.  I need to look within and find a way to beat my depression first.  I have found myself working too many hours, mainly because it is a distraction from thinking about my problems.  I used to distract myself with hobbies, but my two main hobbies are very expensive...working on and restoring cars, and flying airplanes (private pilot).  These two passions have been out of my reach for a few years.  And now that I have admitted that I'm depressed and need help, who knows when I will be able to fly airplanes again.  Any diagnosis of depression or subsequent medication or treatment makes the FAA very nervous.  I finally broke down and went to a doctor on January 9th.  My doctor of 15 years retired, and I hadn't been to a doctor other than a walk in clinic once, for over 3 years.  I found a very nice new doctor of internal medicine that an acquaintance recommended.  She did blood work, and listened to me, deciding to prescribe Effexor XR.  I'm taking 75mg per day.  It has been 3 weeks...I have the usual sexual side effects, and it has affected how I urinate...making me feel I really have to go a lot, when it is only a small amount...and the stream is not I can't fully empty my bladder.  I have to get up every 2-3 hours in the night to go.  But when I do sleep, I sleep very deeply.  I think it's helping my anxiety a bit...but today I slept till 11 and found it very difficult to leave the house.  Finally about 4:30 I forced myself out the door to the gym and grocery store.  I go back to my doctor on the 24th of this month to discuss my blood test results and get a full physical.  Just admitting that I'm depressed and reaching out for help is somewhat of a relief...but I have a lot of work to do and should probably consider counseling as well.  I just couldn't go on any longer as I was.  I've become spiritual over the last 3 years or so.  I have no use for organized religion, but I've learned to respect nature and all forms of life, and I believe in cosmic connectedness, that everything in this world matters somehow and is all connected. Sometimes it feels like the more I learn, the more I realize how fucked up the world is and how in the dark most people are about what is really happening, the harder it is to cope.  It all seems so overwhelming sometimes.  So many ignorant people and a government that has us all in the dark.  I've lost 2 of my best friends to death...I still feel their presence, but I miss them.  2 of my other good friends have moved away, and one of my best friends of the last 13 years recently has become Mental or something and is just a chore to be around, so I have distanced myself.  I feel very alone and isolated...basically going to work, gym 3 times a week, and just sitting in my soon to be foreclosed house by myself, watching Netflix in between those activities.  I'm grateful for my overall good health..but just...lost and wondering what to do.  I've thought about moving to Arizona to be with my Mom (age 86 and healthy) and my sister, niece, and nephew.  They all live in Tucson.  Ahh, life.  Better than the alternative I suppose.  This post was quite a ramble and not very structured..but I needed to get all this out.  Love and light to all of you reading this...thank you!


The Spirit with an Earring Fetish?

I've always had a fascination with the paranormal, but had never really had anything definite happen that didn't have some plausible explanation.  Twice in the last 3 months I've had a Visitor while putting in my earrings.  I keep my earrings in a small plastic dish like they serve ketchup in at restaurants.  During the first incident, I had closed the sink drain as a precaution and dumped the earrings out of the cup onto the sink.  I always leave the studs and retainers apart.  So, I put the left one in, put the retainer on the back.  Then, I took the other stud, put it through the front of my right ear.  When I went to reach for the retainer to put on the back, I felt something brush my chest, then heard something hit the floor.  I looked down to see my earring with the back retainer ASSEMBLED together, on the center of the bathroom scale to my right.  I could see if the stud just fell out and hit the floor, that is explainable.  But for the stud to fall out of my ear, somehow have the retainer pushed onto it, and both pieces to hit the floor assembled...that's just...freaky.

Nothing else happened for maybe 3 weeks.  Then another morning, I had showered and was in front of the bathroom mirror about to put my earrings in.  Same story, dumped all 4 pieces out of the cup onto the side of the sink.  Installed the left earring and retainer.  Reached down to pick up the other stud, and something had assembled the retainer onto the stud and pushed it all the way on, clear up to the diamond.  I said aloud, "It's neat that you have a Thing for my earrings, and you can stay as long as you're friendly!"

Nothing has happened for the last 2 weeks.

It's been a long time since I have posted...I hope to start regular posts again and will keep you posted about the Ghost that likes my earrings!

Be well!


Monday, March 28, 2011

On Synchronicity and the Power of Thought...

Many of us have had the experience of thinking of a close friend, then deciding to contact them, and as you reach for the phone, they beat you to it, or perhaps the other way around. Or maybe you think to e-mail that person, only to find a note from them when you check your inbox. I have had several more intense instances of what I like to call 'thought energy' happen in my life, and a couple of phenomenal ones recently. The first significant time was in 1995 when I was 26. On a late Sunday afternoon, I was driving home from the beach, and went over a drawbridge. I recalled that one of my customers, Jack Andersen, was one of the bridge tenders of that bridge, having the job of communicating with boats, and operating the draw bridge as needed. I didn't think any more about him until the next day at work, I had gone home for lunch, and on the drive back, I thought of Mr. Andersen. When I walked back into my department, he was standing at the counter. A few months later, I was thinking of John Hite, one of my early mentors when I first got into the auto parts business back in 1987. Just wondered where he was and what he was up to. The next day he stopped by and ordered parts from me. I hadn't thought of or seen him in 8 years. In January of 2011 I was working out at my gym. I was on the elliptical trainer, when suddenly the words "heart attack" popped into my head. I wasn't sure why, and I checked my heart rate, which was normal for the activity I was doing. I looked up, and my eyes were drawn to an older man who was working out on the chest machine in front of me. I had a foreboding sense that something was about to happen. I watched him for a minute, and as he finished his routine and stood up, he collapsed. Gym personnel made him comfortable and the ambulance arrived within 5 minutes, tops. I stood there in awe, in disbelief that I had sensed this occurrence in advance. The man survived. I truly believe that I picked up on his thoughts of chest pain and his impending collapse. The most intense evidence of the power of thought energy happened to me Wednesday, March 23, 2011. The night before I had been driving thru Dunedin, FL, which is just north of Clearwater, where I live. I drove through a familiar area and was thinking of the couple who helped us get established in Florida..they used to live in that area. They were "snow birds", spending summers in Galesburg, IL where I grew up, and winters in Dunedin. Bill and Evelyn Corbin knew my parents for years, helped us find our first place to stay here, showed us around, etc. Bill died 19 years ago, and I think that's the last time I talked to Evelyn. So I was thinking of her the next morning here at work, and Googled her name to see if I could find a phone number (or an obituary, she's almost 87). I gave up, no info, really. Early that afternoon, my phone here at work rings. "Is this David Cunningham? " "Yes, is this Evelyn?" And it WAS! She said she'd been thinking of me and my family all morning, and the last thing she remembered was that I worked for Saturn. So she started calling ex-Saturn dealerships and got Tammie Smith on the line at our St Pete location, who told her the number here at Kia. Evelyn keeps busy, she's a retired hairdresser, "I go to the nursing home twice a week where my sister is, and i do all the old folks' hair just to keep busy." We vowed to keep in touch and maybe get together.
Talk about the power of Thought and energy in the universe. Things like this have happened to me before, but never so intense; I haven't seen or talked to this person in 19 years, and we both chose to think of each other at the exact same time. It gives me hope! Nine months ago, my middle school bus driver back in Illinois (John Connors) came in with his Kia on my first day here as parts manager. My co-workers think i should play the lotto more often!
Just thought I'd share. I still have goosebumps!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

It's been 14 months...

Wow, does time fly! I can't believe it's been 14 months since my last post! Since then, I left Saturn and went to our VW store where I worked 9 months on the parts counter. Then a parts management position opened up at our Kia store toward the end of May, so I took that promotion. Things are going well there, and ironically the service manager who I worked with at Saturn is now the service manager of our Kia store. Kia is a great product. I was able to trade my Saturn in on a new Kia Soul towards the end of September. It's a great car. Very economical and comfortable. My finances are a bit better, although the credit card that I mentioned in a previous post, is still circulating thru various collection agencies so it is still haunting me and my credit rating. Luckily I bought my car during a one month 'window' where my credit was fairly good thanks to a credit clean up/counseling service. I'm just hoping that I don't get sued over the debt and I'm trying to stay positive about it. It just sucks that I tried to be proactive and work out payment arrangements with the original creditor, but they refused to help or work with me. So, I just paid my mortgage and my other essentials, and walked away. Bastards. Not much new to report; I'm going to drive to Arizona to see my Mom and family for Thanksgiving. My friend and former roommate Max is flying in from Colombia for a visit and will go along with me. Should be a great trip! I can't wait. So far today, I've slept in, drank coffee, did some laundry, etc. I think a bike ride is in order! The temps are in the low 80's and it's beautiful out there! Take care, and be well!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Kayaking today..

Today I got up around 9 and took roommate Max to work, then Nick came over and we loaded up his kayaks which he keeps in my back yard. We drove down to Shore Acres, a waterfront subdivision of St Petersburg, where we met his friend (and former client of the flight school I managed) Mike Kutz and his two daughters Lydia (10) and Natalie (13). Mike already had his big green Coleman canoe in the water and was waiting for us. We unloaded the kayaks from Nick's truck, then Nick drove 2 blocks over to Mike's house and left his truck there. He walked back to the shore and we dropped the kayaks in and paddled across the bay to the mangrove "tunnels" cut around Weedon Island. I hadn't been in a kayak since Nick and I went 10 years ago! It came back quickly. I can't swim, so of course i wore a life jacket, although the water was seldom over waist deep, and at times was less than a foot deep. It was a gorgeous, warm day with barely a cloud in the sky. I wore my Tilley hat that Linda and Maynard, my "2nd Parents" bought me many years ago to prevent sunburning my shiny bald head. Paddling through the mangroves, we were met with shade and a nice cool breeze. Crabs clicked along on the branches overhead and to our sides, and Nick pointed out two very large banana spiders overhead. None of the critters bothered us though, thankfully. Halfway through, we beached the kayaks and carried our cooler containing sodas and a couple of Subway sandwiches to a designated picnic area and rested for a bit. My shoulders were very sore from the rowing, so to prevent having an OAR-gasm (badoom-pshhh), Nick switched boats and oars with me. After sharing food and beverages, we shoved off again, navigated through a couple more miles of tunnels and clearings, and then to a large sandbar area where many other boaters had beached and were wading around in the water, playing ball with dogs, fishing, etc. Mike likened it to that country music song, "Redneck Yacht Club." We all got out of the kayaks and waded around for a bit, then made our way back to the launch point. I helped Nick lift the kayaks up to the top of the seawall, and somehow managed to slip on a sharp rock and slice the bottom of my left foot didn't bleed, but is like a big, deep paper cut...very painful and cut down thru the first layer of skin. I didn't even know it was a cut until we had carried the boats back up the street to Mike's house, where I took my sandal off and had a peek. By then my foot was talking to me with a throbbing pain. We had a couple beers with Mike and his wife, and I shaved Nick's head in the front yard with a #1 looks nice. Then we rinsed off the boats and loaded them back up on Nick's truck and made our way home. We unloaded the kayaks, then nick took our shared golden retriever, Bentley, and went home. I showered, then treated my foot with peroxide and neosporin, bandaged it, and then wrapped it with an ace bandage. Next, I went to pick up Max at work. He works for Staples, and since school has just been in session one week, they were bombarded with needing school supplies and such. So, I had to wait for him over an hour, but didn't really mind because I was happy to be sitting in my Saturn Ion Redline, held snugly by the Recaro seats, relaxing. We came home and I made some pasta shells topped with Ragu garlic cheese sauce. Good stuff. Other than doing laundry and mowing my yard, that was pretty much my weekend. I think tonight will be an early night! I will post this, then it's bedtime. I hope all of you had a good, healthy weekend!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Lessons of a Tough Economy

If you're like me and probably 80 percent of the population, you've had to make budget cuts to make ends meet lately. In my case, it seems that every time the 'ends' are just about to 'meet', somebody or some Thing comes along and moves the 'ends' further apart. There goes any hopes that my finances are about to turn the corner and let me breathe a bit. Perhaps the worst side effect of this Mess we're in is the increased stress and the poison it can inflict on our physical bodies. Stress takes its toll for sure. The background noise in our mind increases as the ego, disappointed that its needs aren't being met, creates and runs movies of scenarios, what if's, etc in an endless loop. We feel helpless. Friends call and invite me out to eat, go bowling, movies, a beer, whatever..and I have to politely decline because there's no discretionary income left for Fun. I work in the auto industry as parts manager of a Saturn dealership. That being said, my salary is not what it used to be. Over the last year or more as the economy slowed, I was in denial. Whatever deficit existed in my budget, I compensated for with my credit cards. Before I knew it, I was buying gas, groceries, even paying some bills with them. I've had 3 surgeries over the last 3 years, 2 of them major, and the co payments that my supposedly good health insurance didn't cover (probably $18,000 all told..) all went on my cards. And on top of that, I took in a 17 year old roommate who'd been kicked out by his alcoholic dad and tried to point him in the right direction. I couldn't reach him and I failed, but not before I paid for a rebuilt engine and transmission in his car so he could drive to work, then discovered on my credit card statement over $9,000 in charges and online purchases in ONE MONTH that he'd made without my permission. So he's gone, and my new, more responsible roommate is moving out of the country in 2 months. Stress. Long story short, last November it came down to paying my credit cards or paying my mortgage. I called the bank with my largest card balance ($48,000) and told them of my situation, that I wanted to be proactive about it and work out a payment plan. I'd had the card and kept a significant balance on it for over 10 years, so they'd made plenty of money at my expense. They pretty much told me "we can't help you, have a nice day." So I decided to stop paying them and enrolled the card in a debt re-assignment program and it has since been turned over to collections and charged off, but my phone still rings constantly with threats from debt collectors. I contacted Hope Now and they helped me put the heat on my mortgage lenders to modify my $200,000 in mortgages on my now $100,000 house. My 1st mortgage lender was quick and painless about it, converting my shady adjustable rate loan to a 30 year fixed at 6.3 percent loan with minimal paperwork. Finally after I threatened to stop paying them, my 2nd mortgage lender converted my loan from a 10.25 balloon down to 5 percent fixed rate, but is dragging its heals on finalizing the modification, and even though I've made 3 of the new reduced payments, their system still shows my old loan as 'delinquent, >60 days' and has reported it as such to the 3 major credit bureaus. So between my credit card charge off, and my 2nd mortgage, my credit is shot for now. I intend to start fixing it next month with the help of a specialized company. As I type this I have $1 in my wallet, a maxed out American Express card that I'll be paying late this month, and a check card linked to my account that currently has $7 left in it. My car has 1/4 tank of gas left in it and I can probably raid the kitchen cabinets and squeak by till payday which is still 6 days away. I always seem to run short lately. If you visited my humble home, you wouldn't find extravagances such as big screen TV's or anything's all basic needs that I'm fighting for right now. I'm grateful that aside from the credit card that's been charged off, I'm able to pay my bills. They may be late, but they get paid, somehow. Despite the stress, some good has come from this mess. I've learned to appreciate the value of a dollar and be frugal. I've learned you can always get just a little more peanut butter or mayonnaise from the empty jar if you are patient enough. I've learned to squeeze the hell out of an empty toothpaste tube to get a few more brushfulls from it. I've learned that store brands aren't so bad, and often better than the pricey national brands. I've learned that I'm not that bad of a cook, and have enjoyed experimenting and coming up with new creations, the leftovers of which become tomorrow's lunch. I've learned that I really don't miss cable TV all that much; the new antenna I tossed up in the attic and my converter box (Thanks, Nick) do just fine. I've learned that the slower, cheaper internet access isn't that much slower, if at all, than the Turbo Speed for which I paid dearly. I've learned the value of reading and appreciate good books over cheap coffee made at home, instead of that $4 caramel macchiato. If I do go out for coffee, I just buy the cheap regular stuff and doctor it up. I've learned I don't have to pay extra for New Releases and just pay $1.00 for plenty of movies that I've not yet seen. I've also learned to appreciate my local library, they have free movies too as well as books. I've learned to enjoy the many parks that are near my home. Being outside, whether walking or biking, does wonders for my mood and helps me to appreciate nature. I work many long hours at my job and am happy to do it, feeling fortunate to be employed. Every day that the key fits the lock here, that's a good day! I have over 2 weeks of vacation that I will lose if I don't take it, but I can't afford to go anywhere, and being busy at work keeps my mind off of my situation; the interaction with customers and co-workers helps me feel needed. I suppose that in lieu of a whitewater rafting vacation in the Rockies, one could set up a Slip n Slide in the back yard with Alka Selzer and raincoats and just Pretend, or failing that, just dump the Alka Selzer in the toilet and flush 3 times, and see how long you can stay 'on'. Obviously the tough economic times have forced me to be even more creative. I have learned who my real friends are, and re-classified many others as acquaintances. I find it foreign to be the one in need, when my entire life I've helped others out, often putting myself last. It's been quite the adjustment. Every day I stand up out of bed in the morning and say out loud "Thank you", happy I made it through the night and happy for the opportunity to hang on and try to turn things around. Then it's off to work, where I put on my Game Face and try to cheer everyone up, and in turn, myself. We're all in this boat together, I'm just hoping that Real Soon somebody finds the plug and puts it back in! If you're in a similar situation yourself, try to stay positive, as within, so without. I know it's very hard, and I can't imagine people with families and single parents having to deal with this mess. It's overwhelming, but I'd like to think we're at the bottom of the valley now, and it's time to start climbing back out. It's got to get better! As with most things, I feel Humor is the best medicine.